For Simone, her return to the Montreux Jazz Festival was a grudging reclamation of the stage after a period of tension back home. For Hill, her Unplugged performance was a gentle but unapologetic expression of her new identity as an artist. Chappelle’s performance in Hartford felt consistent with his decision to leave his show eight years prior (his departure was in and of itself perhaps the most profound act of self-definition any black artist has committed in the 21st century). “I still don’t understand awards shows,” West said. “I don’t understand how they get five people who work their entire life, won, sell records, sell concert tickets, to come, stand on a carpet and for the first time in their life, be judged on the chopping block and have the opportunity to be considered a loser. I don’t understand it, bro! I’ve been conflicted. I just wanted people to like me more. But fuck that, bro! 2015. I will die for the art—for what I believe in—and the art ain’t always gonna be polite.”From Rod Bastanmehr’s “When black artists declare their autonomy” in The Atlantic.
Archive for the ‘race/anti-racism’ Category
your auntie & ‘nem done finished the wine & put on that Ohio Players or whatever album makes them feel blackest. they dancin’ nasty & you watching from the steps when you should be sleep. your uncle is usually a man of much shoulders & silence but tonight he is a brown slur in the light, his body liquid & drunk with good sound. you feel like you shouldn’t be looking at how shameless he moves his hips, how he holds your auntie like a cliff or something that just might save him. your mama is not your mama tonight – she is 19 again, unsure what burns in her middle. your not-mama is caught in a rapture so ungospel you wonder if this is what they mean by sin, & if it is, how, like really how, could this be the way to hell? you’ve never seen her this free, this on fire this — “BOY!” she screams at you but not so you’ll go back to bed. she calls you to her, you grab her hands, she shows you where you come from.
From “Notes For a Film on Black Joy” by Danez Smith in Gawker.
I want you to think about this. I believe it is important. I don’t need your empathy to take the form of you trying to understand my pain as a black person in America. I need your empathy to take the form of you examining your apathy, inaction, and complicity, as a white person in America. I need you to do this, for there to ever be hope that such violence will end. This is the greatest act of love you could give me in this horrible moment.
From “Charleston, and what I want from white people” by Mawiyah at Each Little Spark.
Link from Ruth DeSouza.
“Quarantine With Abdelhalim Hafez”
the lyrics do not translate
arabic is all verbs for what stays
still in other languages
تصبح to morning what the
translation to awake cannot
honor cannot contain its rhyme with
تسبح to swim t to make
the night a body of water
i am here now & i cannot morning
i am twenty-three & always
sick small for my age & always
translating i cannot sleep
through the night
no language has given me the
rhyme between ocean &
wound that i know to be true
sometimes when the doctors
draw my useless blood i feel
the word at the tip of my tongue
halim sings أعرق a’raq
I am drowning i am drowning
the single word for all the water
in his throat does not translate
halim sings teach me to kill the
tear in its duct halim sings
i have no experience in love
nor have i a boat & i know he
cannot rest cannot swim
through the night
a wound in it a man who could
only have died by a form of
drowning let the song take
its time let the ocean close
Absolutely gorgeous poem from Safia Elhillo.
From Hannah Black’s “Crazy in love” in The New Inquiry.
B was not my first encounter with paranoid thought. In my father’s house, intense young men pontificated at length about white devils and black ancestors. The symbolism and codes of this strand of black radicalism make up an elaborate structure of thought that is partly a mocking parody of academic “paranoid readings,” and partly a serious effort to interpret a world, this world, that appears from the perspective of blackness as formally insane. The everyday beliefs and activities of what we could call white supremacist capitalism, or perhaps less precisely life as we know it, are all, from this perspective, more deeply disturbing than the craziest fantasy you’ll find on a high-security ward. But how is a person supposed to live this knowledge? Unlike me, B was quiet, absorbing everything. Could a white-passing boy even picture the black world that animated his father’s dreams? By the time they all settled down to a quieter middle age, we had spent years steeped in this atmosphere of pain and conspiracy.
In psychosis, no event or thing is small enough to escape the tightly woven net of personal significance. A clock means a bomb, a sunset is a message, and so on. But how do you live in a world in which everything signifies? How do others who live in this shimmering, terrifying world treat you? One time B was found cowering in the restroom at a café, too afraid to leave, and was arrested. Just as much as they are implacably hostile to blackness, for reasons both mysterious and self-evident, the police are also structurally fated to hate the mad. Arrests, harassment, and lucky escapes punctuated the acute phases of B’s illness. Now, every so often, another story of police hurting or killing a mentally ill person surfaces, and I am momentarily gripped by the kind of intense, helpless pain that must be what people mean when they talk about being triggered. Still, it’s important to not overindulge in other people’s trouble, even where it affirms your own. The duty of a crazy person’s friends and family is far more practical: Our duty is to appear, as much as possible, not crazy, so that our loved one will be allowed to live.
We had to act a certain way in the hospitals, to show the doctors that B was not trash. I would put on the smooth neutral suit of sanity, which is smiling politely, listening carefully, and in all ways acting as bourgeois as possible. Those times when my mother forgot her armor, when she begged and cried, I saw how the doctors looked at her, as if she were the really crazy one. But B too knew how to put on the smooth and neutral suit; he knew how to answer the doctors’ questions with enough of an appearance of sanity to escape imprisonment, even when he was in desperate need of help. In an emergency ward, my mother cries and B shouts. We would be a spectacle if anyone cared. I adjust my dress and smooth down my hair, momentarily wishing myself whiter so as to be better able to resist the implications of the doctor’s sneer, which is on the verge of becoming impossible to ignore. I see we are all in danger of falling out of the hole in the skin of the world. Come on let’s go, let’s just leave. I remember my mother crying in the car but I don’t remember what we did next.
Here’s the thing. When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before.
Right. It’s ridiculous.
So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.
It’s about white people adjusting to a new reality?
Owning their actions. Not even their actions. The actions of your dad. Yeah, it’s unfair that you can get judged by something you didn’t do, but it’s also unfair that you can inherit money that you didn’t work for.
From an interview with Chris Rock by Frank Rich in Vulture.