Monthly Archives: May 2012

Post the Seventy-Fifth or Where do I begin?

Where do I begin?

The soft folds of her body

&

The fierce fire of her eyes

Are a good place

I remember what she said

That distant fall morning

“Don’t get lost”

My heart is a warren

Of old hurts

And new triumphs

The walls

Are the pink rosy gold

Color

Of hardship

The rooms

Are filled with the faces

Of those that I love

Like radiant, shining beacons

Beacons that light the way forward

The rooms are filled with memories

That I would rather forget

Her head lay on the ground

Very much detached from her body

She looks at me with reproachful eyes

Almost as if

It was my fault

As if

I could some how prevented

Her murder

How dare I remain alive

When she was dead?

It is the responsibility of the living

To bury the dead

But

It is the dead

Who must remind the living

Life is short

Where do I begin?

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Post the Seventy-Forth or I Refuse to be Silent

The other day, one of my white facebook friends posted on my wall saying that being “hateful” against white people is “racist” and that its just as bad as what white people do to people of color. This lead to an over 150 comment thread with multiple people weighing in. She insisted that we were being racist. Apparently for her, holding white supremacy accountable for its crimes means that we hated white people and that we were racist. Needless to say, we are no longer friends.

What I want to talk about here was a specific comment that was made from another person that we will call Georgia. Georgia (who is a white lady), at first, used one of MLK Jr. quotes saying something to the effect that love is good and we should all love each other. My friend’s bullshit detector went off and quickly supplied her with many, many, many other quotes from MLK that backed us up. She then replied that “negativity will only spread negativity” and that “we all bleed red”. This was after over 100 comments where we clearly disproved this. So, I flippantly replied, “Where is your reading comprehension? Want me to help you find it?”

At this point, the original post had been taken down and all of the subsequent comments with it.

But.

This white lady messages me something to the effect of, “Don’t make fun of me. You are a meany and the biggest racist I’ve ever met. White people suffer too. I’m not responsible for genocide or your oppression. I know myself but you seem pretty lost. It’s a shame that your powerful voice is wasted because you are so angry.”

This made me so angry. Like, the kind of anger that gets you thrown in jail for trying to choke someone out. The kind of anger that makes most people want to run in the opposite direction. The kind of anger that gets me into trouble. Thankfully, I was at home with no fragile and expensive objects within reach. Well, except for my laptop but I need that.

The reason why this made me so apoplectic is because this white lady, who insisted that she had suffered SO much, was deciding for me that it is pointless to speak on my experience because I was so angry. Her message was so condescending, paternalistic and steeped in privilege. She thought herself the Supreme Arbiter of Effectiveness, apparently, which somehow gave her the authority to say that what I was doing was a waste of time. Being angry about white supremacy, calling out people on their racism, saying it unapologetically and refusing to placate white people’s ego is, according to her, a waste of time. This because they won’t “hear” me because my anger and resentment has clouded my voice.

This is symptomatic of the attitude that “well-intentioned” white liberals have. They support you as long as you make them comfortable and don’t challenge their authority. They think that they have the “objective” and “logical” stand point and often refuse to see the privileges that white supremacy gives them. It is astounding how seemingly smart individuals suddenly throw all critical thinking skills out of the window when it comes to matters of race. Like a slippery eel, their minds just cannot seem to grasp the concept that white people have power over people of color. I’m starting to think that they are just willfully ignorant.

Further, since my voice does not “conform” to her vision of “love” she can suddenly decide that nothing I have to say is worth listening too. The underlying assumption here is that she has a right to dictate to me the form in which my voice manifests. She has a right to tell me what to do with my voice. Since whiteness is the pinnacle of “logic”, “reason” and “validity”, anything that strays from that is wasteful. Since I am not white and my anger is in total opposition to whiteness, that means that I have nothing good to say. She assumes that she has ownership over my voice and my body.

And if I would just be nice to her, and by extension all white people, they would just listen to me and relinquish their power and privilege. If I ask politely, massa will give me my rights.

But this totally misses the point, doesn’t it? Because this analysis of racism assumes that racism, and other forms of oppression, are just psychological processes that need to be eradicated through reform and education. Its an interpersonal, individual problem that needs to be fixed with polite discussion where the oppressed educate the oppressor. But this completely erases that institutional and systemic causes of racism. It erases the very real, very desperate, very lethal forms of racism that exist. It puts the onus on the oppressed to fix it and washes the oppressor of any responsibility to do anything. There is no need to protest or be angry or revolt because once we educate white people they will learn the error of their ways and everything will be fine! And you can’t say anything mean or angry because thats just reverse racism and it means everything you have to say is wrong.

But fuck all of that bullshit. I am the only one with the right to my body. I am the only who can decide what is appropriate and what isn’t appropriate for the use of MY OWN VOICE. I have a right to my anger and goddamn it I’m going to feel it. I am going to express it. I am going to shout it from every single rooftop and post it all over my Facebook and write every single blog entry about it that I want. I am going to keep talking about until I don’t want to anymore and anyone that has a problem with that can go kick rocks. White folks have colonized my land, committed genocide against my people and continues to consume my culture and I’ll be damned if they have anything else of mine. They will not have my anger. They will not have any other parts of me.

I refuse to be silenced.


Post the Seventy-Third or For Fierce Brown Mamas

Conflict minerals

As if

The diamonds that encrusted

Her neck

Were not paid for in blood

As if

Someone just argued over them

As if

They weren’t clawed out of the Mother’s belly

By fingers filthy with the gore of greed and madness

As if

There wasn’t a reason why

Our lands and our bodies continue

To be pillaged

She holds her baby tight to her bosom

Hoping

That the toxic fumes of colonialism

And industrialization

Won’t kill her child

Or

Transfigure it beyond

Recognition

This is for all the

Fierce Brown Mamas

Who hold it down

Who work two jobs

And raise three kids

Who risk deportation

And rape

Who push against

Images

Of the Welfare Queen

Or The Neverending Strength of

Black Women

This is for those Mamas

Who give

And give

And give

So that her future generations will

Thrive

Who fight

And fight

And fight

For their family’s

Survival

This is for those Mamas who never had kids

This is for all of us

Whose insides

Will never match our outsides

For those of us

That are pursued

By hearts filled with

Avarice and fear

For those of us

Whose glory is unmatched

Saved by the Sun

This is for those of us

Who refuse to have our

Stories and Herstories

Erased or rewritten

For convenience

For those of us

Who refuse to be silenced

For those of us who

Stand and Fight

With glitter, fake eyelash and

High Heel

Against the pollution of our

Spirits

Justice

Is never simple

But it is

Clean


Post the Seventy-Second or The Sun still Rises

She tells me

“I am an old thing

Full of creaks, cracks and wood worn smooth

Full of recuerdos y canciones

Full of life but filled with the memories of the dead”

I ask her

What do you remember?

She tells me

“I remember

falling from my mother’s arm

and slowly poking my way up

through the brown soil

I remember

Growing tall

And reaching deep

I remember

Feeling the glory of the dawn each morning

And the restfulness of the dusk each evening

But I also remember

White men coming to my island

Needlessly felling my sisters

And uprooting the land for their consumption

I remember

The people that I used to shelter under my majestic boughs

Needlessly cut down by sword and disease

Families uprooted and enslaved for their profit

I remember

Weeping

When they brought people of black skin

From over the sea

To work in fields that ruined the land I so loved

Ruined the spirits of those who were so far from their own trees

I remember

A country fighting for independence

Only to be recolonized”

I remember-

Stop! I say

It is too much

I ask

How do you hold so much pain and not go insane?

She replies

“Insanity is the only appropriate response to genocide

But the Sun still Rises.”


Post the Seventy-First or On Rewriting Narratives

This week is Boston’s LGBT Film Festival. Held over many days and in many different theaters, the festival screens films that celebrate and shed light on the queer experience. And while most of the films are centered around white queers, there were a number of films that featured QPOC only cast. Yesterday, I saw one of those films. It’s called Leave It On the Floor. The program billed it as a black gay musical inspired by the groundbreaking documentary Paris is Burning. There were gorgeous boys and sickening queens, voguing and lots of singing. And, for the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was the perfect mix of campy realness and torrid love affair drama.

About half way into the movie, however, one of the characters dies. I’m sure you can guess what her identities were. She was a poor, black, trans woman. And this really, really bothered me. And while she wasn’t murdered, she died in a car crash, it still frustrated me. She was also the only character in the movie to die. Why is it that many, if not most, portrayals of black and brown trans women in the media have them dead? Without fail, when a trans woman of color is introduced into a film or TV show they are dead before the end of the movie. Even in the news, we never hear about the victories or successes of trans women of color. We only hear about their murders, if we hear of them at all.

On top of that, the protagonist of the movie was kicked out of his home for being gay by his mother. Her character was completely one dimensional. She was callous, completely unremorseful that she was sending her kid to the streets.  She verbally assaulted and insulted the protagonist for being gay. She was written in such a way that her only defining characteristic was her hatred for her son.

The reason for this is because that is the narrative that society has given to us. The script, if you will, that is given to all trans women of color. We come out, we get kicked out of our homes and we are killed. Since PoC, apparently, have the patent on homophobia and transphobia, there is no other result to our coming out. What is particularly egregious about this instance is that the writer and director of the film were both gay white men. These two men were not only operating from two of the worst of QPoC narratives but they were also doing so with complete lack of analysis as to why they are problematic. It is an extremely sneaky form of racism because for all the audience knows, this film was a production for black queer and trans* folk for black queer and trans* folk. The cast was entirely black. And this makes it easy for the audience to miss the implicit racist stereotypes.

We need to be rewriting this narrative. We need to take our stories into our own hands and rewrite it to reflect our own lives. We need to be telling our own stories for ourselves, for others like us. We need to stop blindly accepting the messages that white supremacy, heteropatriarchy and capitalism would have us consume. We need to start telling stories that demonstrate our lived lives. We need to write poems, short stories, plays, screen plays that celebrate our identities, that reflect our experience has survivors. We need to make art and space that is meaningful for us. That accurately represents us. I’m not saying that we should erase the hardship that surrounds our lives because that would be just as bad. What I am saying is that we need to be talking about our victories, our loves, our hopes, our accomplishments.

What I am saying is that we need to rewrite the narrative so that we become human and not just corpses.

My story used to end with my early death at the hands of transphobia. I had no doubt that it was a question of when, not if. And that is because I accepted the narrative given to me. I won’t lie to you; I still often worry about that and I know it is a very real possibility. But it’s different today. I know that I am given that narrative so that I give up before the fight has even started. And I know might story might still end up that way, but I am determined to make sure that it isn’t a certainty. I am determined to rewrite the ending so that women that come after me can have hope.

I am determined to rewrite my narrative for myself.


Post the Seventieth or I Want to Live

I used to be gagged by

Fear

My mouth stuffed with

The white cloth of silence

Stifling my screams

Sometimes it felt like I was biting more than I could chew

A constant, overwhelming, emptiness that filled my mouth

Othertimes it felt like my very soul was being pulled out

Inch by agonizing inch

To be consumed and erased by those who say

I’m colorblind. Can’t was just love everyone?

And then

I looked up at the night sky

And saw myself written in the stars

I looked down at my feet

And felt the fierce gentleness of my Mother

I looked behind me

And saw the many miles that my ancestors walked

I looked into my lover’s eyes

And saw myself reflected in his love

He reached into my heart

Eased the knot that constricted my spirit

And my voice

Burst out fierce, blisteringly hot, and blazing with a power

That moves to tears

And makes white supremacy uncomfortable

A clarion call for revolution

A challenge that says

I won’t be silent any longer because

Silences equals Death

And I want to live

She told me that she supported me

But that I was too angry

And wouldn’t it be better for everyone if you just toned yourself down?

I told her

My anger is a result of my experience

And wouldn’t it be better for everyone

If you just gave back the land that you stole?