Rosa Cabrera (who also wrote this piece I admired) has written this wonderful essay in The Feminist Wire, “Black Feminist and Dominican: How Black Male Writers Shape My Practice”. She’s not only the daughter of a black man, she’s also the mother of a young son so loving and understanding black masculinity is right in the heart of her feminism at the moment and she’s a terribly introspective writer. Lovely stuff.
I can’t really know what its like to be conditioned to suffer privately. The world seems pretty comfortable with the image of the damsel in distress, although to most people I’m close to, its an insult. So, to be forced to suffer privately I think has something to do with the way Black men respond to guns aimed at them by manic police or their own brothers, being publicly shamed for writing about what they see, the word nigger being delivered with inflicting threat, being pushed out of school, and being told by their mamas that they need to be better at being white than white people themselves, for their own safety. I think Black Southern writer, Kiese Laymon’s decaying emotional checkpoint, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” echoing within him as he strikes back with fists, suicidal dares, or becomes trapped in a blazing instability in the face of these life-threatening moments as described in “How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America: A Remembrance,” and Baldwin’s freezing blood before he flings that water filled mug, has something to do with needing to shout back at a world that is threatened by any display of Black boys and Black men bearing pain. When I read the line, “I’m not the smartest boy in the world by a long shot, but even in my funk I know that easy remedies like eating your way out of sad, or fucking your way out of sad, or lying your way out of sad, or slanging your way out of sad, or robbing your way out of sad, or gambling your way out of sad, or shooting your way out of sad, are just slower, more acceptable ways for desperate folks, and especially paroled black boys in our country, to kill ourselves and others close to us in America,” I feel like Kiese Laymon takes the gun he has turned on himself, the gun the world has turned on Black boys and men, and instead aims it at that bodiless, aggregating villain that’s been keeping an apartheid wall between the hearts of men I attempt to love, beginning with my father, and my own heart.
The concluding statements in her essay, where Cabrera ties her questions back to her feminism, are incredibly thought-provoking but I won’t give them away here. She also has a kickstarter running at the moment for her memoir which you can support here. Hurry, final days.