Monthly Archives: April 2012

Post the Sixty-Ninth or On Why Exotic is NOT a Compliment

The other day I was working at my coffeeshop and this white hippie woman comes in. She had two short braids and a number of necklaces adorning her neck and chest. She orders a double espresso over ice and as I take her money she says, “You are very beautiful.” I smile and thank her for the compliment but she wasn’t done. “Yeah,” she says, “You are so exotic looking. You have a very exotic beauty. Where are you from?”

It was like a record needle screeching to a halt. I blinked twice. How did this “compliment” start off so lovely and end so disastrously? I give her what she is asking for, if only to get rid of her, “My mother is from Colombia,” I say.

She replies, “Oh yeah. Your people are so magical. They really had it figured out. I went to South America to study with some shamans…”

At this point, it’s all I can do from throwing scalding hot coffee in her face and tell her to go fuck herself.

This is just one example of the objectification and commodification of PoC and non-Western cultures for the easy consumption of white folk. By labeling me “exotic” and calling my people “magical” she was otherizing me and my people. I’m a fucking first generation American, not some noble Native princess. In trying to give me a “compliment” she only succeeded in stripping me of my humanity and reduced me to a caricature. She completely erased all of my struggles, fears, triumphs, hopes and dreams and placed me in this tiny little box so that she could feel comfortable with my brownness. My otherness challenges her whiteness and so she erases my personhood to feel comfortable with me.

The reason for this is because being “exotic” means that you are not natural. My brown skin, full lips and wild hair are all aberrations from the norm. I am not white, so I must be from some mystical, far-flung land. I am not strange or unique. And most importantly, my brownness makes me an object to be consumed by my white counterparts.

And she did this to not only me but also to South America and all of its inhabitiants. Because, you know, we are all magical and different countries/nationalities don’t exist when you are magical!

And she can do this because she has the societal power of whiteness.

I am so tired of being a stranger in a land that, in all honesty, I have more of a right to than these white folk whose ancestors colonized mine. And the worst part is that if I called her out on her racist bullshit, she either would have started crying or get defensive or turn and call me racist! And that is one of the most egregious aspects of white supremacy today; if you call bullshit, the white folk deny that they are complicit in it, and they call you a racist for accusing them of racism! It’s so hard to engage with white folk on their racism because they have been taught to not see it. And so when it’s pointed out to them, all they can do is point it back at the victim. Its a fucking catch-22. You grind your teeth and bear it with silence or you call it out and get your experience erased.

Either way, headaches and heartaches will ensue.

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Post the Sixty-Eighth or Forced Silence/Forced Speech

My body is like the land

Lush and wild

Untamed and beautiful

The hairy expanse of my thighs

Mirroring the long rolling hills of forest

The smooth perkiness of my breasts

Reflecting the heartbreaking heights of mountains

The soft brownness of my skin

Matching the fecund loam of the earth.

My body was once untouched by the white man’s Rapaciousness

And then

They came with their guns

And their ships

And their Pox

They came with their Great White God

And their Great White Book

They came with their promise of “civilization” in one hand

The lash in the other

Civilization always seems just out of reach

The lash is always too close

 400 hundred years

And 1600 seasons later

She says

I don’t see race!

He replies

Will someone please think of the white Man!

And my head is pounding

 ‘Cause My body is still colonized

The land of my foremothers is still being desecrated

And I am still struggling to survive in a world

That hates all things

Trans*/Brown/Queer/Woman

Pushing my way against the swiftly-moving river

Of violence and lack of resources

That somehow has managed to make itself invisible

They say that we’ve come a long way

That so many things have changed

That hope has come at last

But now I’m fighting for recognition of my oppression

On top of the oppression itself

And it’s like trying to scream

When your attacker is already at your throat

Like trying to escape a thousand tiny pinpricks

While your whole body chained to the ground

Like having rocks tied to your feet

Being thrown into the sea to drown

And never dying

Say something in Spanish for me

He demanded

As if the language of my people was a

Circus trick

  That I was required to perform at his request

As if my vocal chords were his to command

How’s this

Come mierda y muérete

Colonization is the stuff

Forced Silence/Forced Speech

Is made of.


Post the Sixty-Seventh or Distance

Distance

That place where time and space meet

Which is infinitesimally small

And infinitely large

Boundless possibilities exist

In the distance between two people

The distance between two hearts

It is in that distance that we see ourselves

Reflected

In the other

In that distance

Where we find ourselves

Quite by accident

Unsure of how we got there

Not knowing where to go from here

But aware that this distance

In this moment

Is precious

Unlike anything we have ever experienced

Exhilarating

Like the view of New York City from the Empire State Building

Feeling like one false step could sending you plummeting

And yet knowing that you are safe

Terrifying

Like the first glimpse of the endless expanse of the Pacific

Knowing that you could drown in those dark, unfathomable depths

But feeling like you could float to islands unknown

Where sweet fruits and soft sands await

It is in this distance between you and I, my love,

where I meet myself

And realize that I have always known you

Always loved you

It is in this distance that I

Realize that goddesses could die

Empires could fall

Worlds could crumble

lovers could move on

And I will still be here

Loving you

As hard and as fiercely as the day we met

Regardless if we are fucking or not

Because you are my family

And if we aren’t there for each other

To celebrate our victories

Or

When the distance between hatred

And our bodies close

Than who?


Post the Sixty-Sixth or Why I am a Fierce Bitch

Every morning I paint my face

With three words stuck on repeat

Fierce

Devastating

Sickening

Every day I pound the pavement

With three words stuck on repeat

Tough

Hard

Untouchable

My look is my life

And my walk keeps me safe

Because I know what happens to young brown

Trans women

If we are not being harassed

Beaten

Or killed

Then our voices

And the narratives that we have written for ourselves

Are being ignored

Discounted

Or invalidated

Whether I am at a queer party

Or walking home late at night

I need to be read

And read well

Perhaps that’s why I get so frustrated

When the brush doesn’t do precisely as I demand

I look in the mirror knowing

That to fuck up

Is to take a risk I can’t afford

Perhaps thats why my face

Is carefully sculpted into two expressions

“Don’t fuck with me”

and

“Really don’t fuck with me”

I look into the eyes of others knowing

That to show weakness

Is to invite death

They were surprised

When he told them that I was a sweetheart

He told me

I see you

And I am shocked

That anyone has the eyes

To truly see me

And what a blessing that is.

Every night I lay next to my lover

With three words stuck on repeat

Love

Love

Love


Post the Sixty-Fifth or Love like Hurricane

His love is like a hurricane

All fire and fury

Honest in its intensity

And inexorable in its execution

A hurricane

The roaring gale force winds ripping away all those thoughts

That do me harm

The rising waves washing me clean

With cold salt water and brine

Of those conceits that blind me

From seeing beauty

The torrential pounding rain changing the landscape

Of my skin

So that scars become sublime

And stretch marks become exalted

The crashing flashes of lightning

Lighting

Those dark slumbering places

And I am electrified

My skin tingling in anticipation of his touch

 My body ridged with the thrill of his hand on my thigh

My body aching with white hot fire for his lips upon mine

The calm serenity of the eye

Reflecting me back to myself

And I rejoice

For what I have is legendary

And you would give all of this up?


Post the Sixty Fourth or My Man

I could never marry a white man

I’m too smart

Too brown

And too uppity.

My man though

He is as black

As the iced Americano I drink every morning

2 shots

Extra sweet

Hold the cream

Black

Like the space in between

The stars that bloom in my mind

Whenever I enter him

Black

Like the soft wetness inside of his mouth that I explore

With my breath

Black

Like the dilated pupil of my eye

(Open with eagerness)

 As I lower my face to that

Ambrosial joy between his thunderous thighs

 My man

He is tough

Like the wild buffalo

Surviving in spite of those who would commit genocide against the Sacred

Tough

Like the grass that grows between the cracks in the sidewalk

Thriving in spite of the crushing weight of manmade cruelty

And cruel fate.

 My man

He is gentle

Like the bracing waves of the warm Caribbean

The clear waters belying a depth unsurpassed.

Gentle

Like full moonlight filtering through a curtain of clouds

Illuminating the path before me

The dance of shadow

Exposing magic that I hitherto had not known

I had possessed.

My man is

Fiercely Sensitive

I know he would go to the ends of the earth

Walk along the bottom of the ocean

And take the next flight off this planet

To plant a single kiss upon my brow.

 He would take out whole zipcodes

Call in all favors

And rewrite reality itself

To protect me from harm.

He loves me hard and true and pure

A love that blazes like diamonds

And burns like ice.

A love that can make you cry and laugh and cum

All at the same time.

A love that even the Gods are envious of.

A love that heals.

And I know he will love me until

The cows he don’t have

Come home.

He will love me till the sky falls

The earth busts open

And white people stop complaining about reverse racism.

I know he will love me

As I love him.

They asked if he made me feel like I woman

I replied, No

He makes me feel human.


Post the Sixty-Third or Feel Me

He said that I write

With a pen dipped in blood

But I wonder

Is it my blood

Or theirs?

I’m angry

That bring down whole buildings

kinda anger

That cut people up

kinda anger

Anger that starts in your belly

Works it way up into your heart

And out your eyes like lasers

kinda anger

Mountains move at this type anger

And whole societies are built

With this kinda anger

This is that anger that yo mama

Warned you about.

My hands are soaked in gore

From beating against this pavement

Trying to dig holes in concrete

With nothing but nails and fingertips

So that I can plant this precious seed

Of rebellion

Given to me as a gift from those

Mothers that came before.

Can you cultivate plants from stones?

The lines on my palms are cracked and hard

Callouses rising to meet the scabrous sandpaper of daily living

A physical reminder

Of memories and histories

That have not passed.

His death is as keenly felt today

As it was 50 years ago

Or yesterday.

The latest felled tree

In a long line of deforested land.

I will chain myself to my lover

And bomb the logger’s machines

And shoot down the lumberjack himself

Before they harm even a limb

I still worry that won’t be enough.

The conversation is the same every time

A corrupted MP3

On repeat for 400 years

Only now

We debate over it’s very existence

Does a colored queer actually rage

If there is anyone around to feel her?