This Erotic Life

“As a Black lesbian feminist, I have a particular feeling, knowledge, and understanding for those sisters with whom I have danced hard, played, or even fought. This deep participation has often been the forerunner for joint concerted actions not possible before.”

Another historic eve.  Another election.

Go out, go vote.  I am.

But I’m also sitting in the lab, folded around my work, reminding myself and reminded that community is created through love making on the daily.

 

 

[Full Text: Audre Lorde, “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” in Sister Outsider: Essays & Speeches By Audre Lorde (1984; repr., Berkley, CA: Crossing Press, 2007), 53-59.]

 

Hero Work: Leslie Brown (+ Piri Thomas + Clyde Woods) #iRemember

Leslie Brown

Thinking a lot of academy thoughts this week.  Reading Telling Histories: Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower.  

Dr. Brown just articulated better than I ever could what it is like being a College Educated Negress:

Where can students of color get intellectual validation that does not require them to so fully assimilate that they lose the best of themselves, their families,and their cultures? It occurred to me that through grade school and high school we had learned to compete, to keep up, but not to surpass; to stand alongside but not in front; to fit in but not to reshape.*

Standing alongside you begin to know the discomfort of ghosts.

And that pressure to assimilate, to choose between where your family is and where you are…well.

Piri Thomas

That feels a lot like the dissonance of being raised under the determined, near frantic optimism of a colorblind, post-Movement, Puerto Rican mother and an African-American father seething with internalized racism in cocaine80s Chicago.

And that feels a lot like wanting things and not having them and striving for things and not getting them, and dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s and still watching the goal move further away again and again and again, and picking up Piri Thomas for help and picking up Cherríe Moraga for help and picking up, good gawd, and picking up and holding close and hugging Gwendolyn Brooks for help and good heavens almighty, it feels like picking up Octavia and picking her brain and reading every word and holding her hand when things were too much….

And it feels a lot like frustration and tastes bitter as blood.  Because Piri is dead now. And it took over 24 hours for an obituary to post.  And I never had a chance to tell him what his work meant to me.  And Gwendolyn is dead.  And she lived in Chicago.  And I, knuckle-head high schooler I was, missed the chance to tell her what she meant to me.  And Octavia is dead.  And she lived half a country away and I was never gonna get to tell her what she meant to me but damn if only I could have.

And….

And it feels like the cold that sweeps across the back of your neck when you realize a mentor you loved like a father…his facebook page is still active.  Active. Alive. Living.  And you want to post something but you can’t.  Because how do you tell someone that you are also active.alive.living now but only because they lived?  How do you tell someone that you have survived this far in part because of what they were and that you are remembering them all the time and regretting every phone call you didn’t make and even that doesn’t make you feel better because you know they knew that they knew that you knew you were loved anyway.  That nothing you could do could lose their love for you.

And it feels like ……..

But is also full of promise.

After all, here I am.  Writing stuff.  Grateful for things like Facebook profiles and black Latinidad Twitter communities and emails from mentors that affirm that “yes, I check it too” and voices who check in with me from across social media to say, “Hey there.  Hey.  Hear my voice.”

I am still here.  Writing stuff.  Thinking thoughts.  I haven’t disappeared yet.

#Lawd

*Leslie Brown, “How a Hundred Years of History Tracked Me Down,” Telling Histories: Black Women Historians and the Ivory Tower, 262

On Alter Egos and Infinite Literacies, Part I

Fleshy Professional Avatar spent the weekend in Richmond, Virginia with colleagues and friends at the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History.  I tagged along for the ride, made a minor appearance in time to introduce myself to amazing and dynamic public intellectuals like @NewBlackMan and @DrJamesPeterson.  Then I dove right back in to life and work here in the DMV with the arrival of the Mobile Homecoming Project (@alexispauline and @juliawallace) for their week-long university residency.  This was another event Fleshy Professional Avatar was signed up to do but I hung out in the wings, dipping in when Alexis and Julia referenced their trip to AMC 2011 and the Shawty Got Skillz workshop, taking a breath of peace when I saw @Mdotwrites and as I was introduced to another professor-cum-insurgent.  And when I looked up, I turned around to find we’d formed a circle of womyn of color who do intense intellectual work and activism around saving our own lives in spaces that are almost universally hostile to everything we are and represent.  And yet…there we were.  Queering the space with our very own light energy, turning the room on its side and moving the group as a whole along a new wavelength of ultraviolet visibility.

For a moment, just long enough to breath in and out twice, I was able to be Kismet and Flesh at the same time.  The two bodies overlapped and co-existed in time and space together.

But it was only a moment.

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Owning Privilege, Power & Skin Color (Dark Girls Trailer)

Ahhh…..Friday!

So I was at an academic dinner last night and ended up in a long conversation about Beyonce’s three performances of her “Run the World (Girls)” single:  the video, the Billboard Awards, and the Oprah show.  Since a computer is always nearby, we pulled up all three (along with Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” video–more on that later).   The conversation reflected a serious generation gap (lots of “Why can’t she cover up” type of talk) but was engaging all around….

Until a colleague of mine, peering over my shoulder at the “Run the World (Girls)” video, tilted her head and asked me, “So is Beyonce saying sexy, light-skinned, long-haired women run the world?”

*crickets*

Well, well.  Remember this image?

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Sunday Livin’: Matana Roberts’ Coin Coin

 

Writing so often (and in such crowded cafes), working alongside music aficionados, and teaching about New Orleans is forcing me to reconsider getting into jazz.

My knowledge of the form pretty much begins with Natalie Cole and ends somewhere in the blue with Miles Davis.  And it’s not that I’m uninterested.  But I’ve got a tendency to play what I like over and over until I’m sick of it.  And since that process may take years, I miss a lot of great stuff in between.  Like Cassandra Wilson…

…which popped up in my Pandora station one day (her ole fine self, singin like an angel…lawd).

Enter Matana (Mah-ten-ah) Roberts:

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Updates! Updates! Updates!

Things have been pretty quiet lately.  But spring is here and everyone is waking up.  Ms. Walker‘s in the kitchen, making dinner.  Pretty Magnolia is with her, washing the greens and watching her own reflection silver through the running water.  The Sable Fan Gyrl is walking barefoot outside, waiting for the sun set.  And I’m writing to you.

I’ve got updates.

  • Shawty got Skillz: Nuñez Daughter is trying to get to AMC!

Actually the whole crew is.  The WOC Survival Kit, theSable Fan Gyrl, Zora Walker and Pretty Magnolia will be there & in full effect.  If we can raise the funds.

Allied Media Conference is an annual gathering of journalists, writers, bloggers, artists, organizers, mamis, youth, pets–folks who are really interested in participatory media & social justice:

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Kismet is trying to get to AMC!

Kismet Nuñez, the WOC Survival Kit and the rest of the iwannalive crew is going to be at the Allied Media Conference this year! And we are sharin’ our skillz with other fierce folks from across the interwebs. But to get us all to Detroit, shawties gotta fundraise:

Hello Interwebs!

It’s about that time again for the best conference ever! Yes The Allied Media Conference will be happening June 23-26 in Detroit and we want to be there!

Who are we?

We are the Skillsharers of the 3rd Annual INCITE! Shawty Got Skillz workshop! We are cis women, trans* and genderqueer people of color making media that directly mingles our personal lives with the political issues we care about. We believe, as Audre Lorde did, that “it is better to speak, knowing we were never meant to survive.” We are all pushing the boundaries of what media is capable of and sharing the lessons of that experience with each other, and would love for you to help us get to Detroit this June to do just that!

Skillsharers include but aren’t limited to:

Shelby Goodwin

Zach

Blackamazon

Kismet

L

Alexsarah

Mdotwrites

who will be presenting topics that range from: Nihilism for Negroes, What Up Doe! Detroit Hustle & Resistance, Sex Worker Saftey, How to Tumbl & Tweet for Social Justice, and so much more!

YOU can help us get there by:

  • Reposting! – Tell folks that we are trying to get to the AMC! Tweet, Tumbl, Facebook, Myspace (I mean, there are still some folks on there) telling folks about what skills we are sharing and ask them to support us getting to the conference! Should you feel so inclined to blog or tumbl about it we can put your post on our site!
  • Pre-Buying our ‘Zine! – We know a lot of folks aren’t going to make it to the AMC and we also know that what we share there is going to be amazing! We will document all the fabulousness of the skills shared with a zine, dropbox folder, and cd that encompasses digital versions of the skills we shared all housed online in a dropbox or via a CD or zine we could mail to you. For just $7 (the price of a fancy cup of coffee) you can live or relive the dream that was this years Skillshare!

We need to raise $6 G’s to get all 15 of us to the AMC (a low estimate)! YOU can donate Here! We so appreciate what ever you can give! A reblog and a tweet make us so happy!!!

http://quirkblackgirls.chipin.com/shawty-got-skillz-skillsharers

xoxo,

Shawty Got Skillz Skillshare Crew

Help us get there! Kismet’s been daydreaming about being at AMC–where black girls are queerky, mamis are radical and activism is sexy–since she first began a little ole blog named Waiting 2 Speak. YOU can help her make it happen! Let’s go! Fifty dollars or fifty cents (no really; she’ll take it…..)

Head over to the Shawty Got Skillz Tumblr to donate, browse our projects, read our bios, and hear more. And please support!!!!

ATL Shawties got skillz too! We are traveling from all over!

Happy Mother’s Mama’s Day Round Up

This post may be late but don’t worry.  Nuñez Mom got her Mama’s Day gift right on time.  An Apple gift card (—>Because I am the best daughter ever).

There is no serious writing of my own in this post.  But the work that spilled into my feedly over the weekend reminded me that being a mother of color, a poor mother, a queer mother, an immigrant mother, and/or a childless mother is still a contentious matter.   I can’t do the issue justice.  But they can:

Asians Communities for Reproductive Justice  on a new tradition: Mama’s Day (via Latoya Peterson blogging at Racialicious (and the reason for the strikeout in the title):

This Mother’s Day, we will be commemorating Mama’s Day: a celebration of the mothers in our lives who are often overlooked during traditional Mother’s Day conversations. In particular, we want to give love to those mamas who are immigrants, single, young, queer or low-income. We know these mamas are often at the core of our families and communities, but are often overlooked or worse — they are scapegoated by policy-makers and right-wing conservatives. Watch the stories unfold on our blog. Download this image and others like it here.

via moyazb posting at the Crunk Feminist Collective:

….There’s an irony here that has afflicted black and brown women since this country’s illegal founding. Black and brown women are continually disparaged for not being good mothers yet are constantly roped in to taking care of white women’s children, often as a means to try and financially support their own families. Even as they are paid chump change in relation to their employer’s incomes, they are still regarded as con artists scamming altruistic white folks.

These shows illustrate the need for support networks beyond a nuclear family. Even in two parent households, the amount of labor childrearing requires often exceeds what  a mom and dad can hold. That support should be standard and not only accessible to those with financial means and traditional family structures. Take note #NWNW.  Wouldn’t it make sense to have more people trained and prepared to take on these care taking tasks before there’s an actual pregnancy? Wouldn’t it be awesome if we actually supported parents in child rearing as opposed to expecting them to do it all themselves? With news of the amazing sociological project by high school student Gaby Rodriguez and the lovely video circulating giving love to young mamas, the conventional script of women of color mothering is being interrupted but we still have so far to go.

via Lex and courtesy of the Inspiration Station, an event for all of our complicated relationships to motherhood and mothering:

“Once I Was Pregnant”: Stories of Abortion and Miscarriage and Rebirth

By popular demand and with infinite love WE CONTINUE a seven month process called Rainbowed Reclamation, a colorful women of color juicy poetry and food-filled space of sacred discussions that reclaim our bodies, collectivize our spiritual energy and the brilliant choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf…..

Visit the Facebook page for more details.

Leslie Pitterson blogged at Clutch Mag about Nina Simone’s daughter launching a site to commemorate her mother’s life and memory:

Ninasimone.com has been under construction for a year, but it was well worth the wait.  The site includes an archive of content sure to occupy fans of the singer for hours. In addition to a 24-7 streaming internet radio station of all Nina all the time, the site will also include hours of interviews, recordings and commentary from Nina’s contemporaries and those influenced by her work. Best of all? The site will feature previously unreleased songs sung by the jazz great….

& the First Lady:

And I’m going to *blow kisses* to some of my favorite mommies, mamas, mamis, madrinas and madres: mamitamalaLa BiancaFreedom Fighterbfp and more.  They are all mothering in ways that run from mentoring to godparenting.  And I appreciate them.