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Archive for the ‘race/anti-racism’ Category

Dear Brenda: I have started writing again after the great silencing that was the election and the installation of that person and all those who stand behind him and his supremacist notions. Now I am carrying a very small, very cheap, very inconsequential notebook, and sometimes I write things in it. It feels like something, and it also feels like nothing. Like all those calls I keep making to my senators and representatives.

Here is a photo of the little gifts you sent Callie Violet. They are leaning against a start from one of my African violets. All of the violets have done so well in our living room that they outgrew their pots. I’ve had to give them new homes. They’re struggling now. But they are hanging on.

My whole life feels like a metaphor these days.

All love,

Camille

From “Notes from the lower level” by Camille Dungy in The Guernica. 

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This documentary film, Hotel Coolgardie, looks amazing and somewhat terrifying.

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Autumn. Somewhere over Michigan, a colony of monarch butterflies, numbering more than fifteen thousand, are beginning their yearly migration south. In the span of two months, from September to November, they will move, one wing beat at a time, from southern Canada and the United Sates to portions of central Mexico, where they will spend the winter.

They perch among us, on chain-link fences, clotheslines still blurred from the just-hung weight of clothes, windowsills, the hood of a faded-blue Chevy, their wings folding slowly, as if being put away, before snapping once, into flight.

It only takes a single night of frost to kill off an entire generation. To live, then, is a matter of time, of timing.

I am writing because they told me to never start a sentence with because. But I wasn’t trying to make a sentence—I was trying to break free.

From Ocean Vuong’s “A letter to my mother that she will never read” in The New Yorker. 

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Great stripped down hip hop with wonderful archival footage from Aboriginal political history for the video clip.

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When I think of my relationship with my mama, I think of this poem, not because I feel Mama asked me to remember her memories, but because I think my mama feels like I’m trying to punish her by honestly remembering mine. I know what it’s like to punish vulnerable people for holding onto memories I wish they’d forget. I’m just telling you that one way we might help each other is if we try to share our sad words, funny words, whole stories, half-relationships, empty mysteries and full memories we don’t want to be true. Nothing in America encourages this kind of reckoning or liberating transformation so we have the interior lives, the policies and the president we currently have.

We do not have to be this way.

From Kiese Laymon’s “Our generation has not given you a healthy model of honest reckoning” at Mic. 

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As for the topic of race, I subscribe to American author Fran Lebowitz’s position, in which she says first, it’s only a topic to white people, and second, well-intentioned white people should stop asking, “What would it be like to be black [or brown]?” and to instead seriously consider what it’s like to be white. And that’s to concede that being white is not to talk about levelling the playing field, but to acknowledge that “white people own the playing field”.

From “White Noise: When white privilege drowns out reality” by Virginia Larson in Noted. 

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From Baker Boy with Cloud 9. Rapping in the Yolngu Matha language of his homelands.

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This is the most delicious interview.

It’s a conversation with poet, Ocean Vuong at The Creative Independent on “being generous in your work”. It’s about the nature of creativity, the past, being home, the problems of criticism without engagement, the limitations of purity, everything being related to everything, survival, closeness, connection, the fetishism of certainty, and the action of paying attention.

What’s your mood when you write?

When I’m lost in the work, I’m curious. I don’t know if curiosity is a balm, because it often gets me in trouble, but it gives me control. It becomes fuel, and it brings me out of myself and into the world, even if I’ve just been sitting at my desk and thinking about spirals, which is what I’ve been thinking about this morning.

The Italian philosopher Vico had this theory that time moves more in a spiral than it does in a line. He believes that’s why we repeat ourselves, including our tragedies, and that if we are more faithful to this movement, we can move away from the epicenter through distance and time, but we have to confront it every time. I’ve been thinking about trauma—how it’s repetitive, and how we recreate it, and how memory is fashioned by creation. Every time we remember, we create new neurons, which is why memory is so unreliable. I thought, “Well if the Greek root for ‘poet’ is ‘creator,’ then to remember is to create, and, therefore, to remember is to be a poet.” I thought it was so neat. Everyone’s a poet, as long as they remember.

 

 

 

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All They Want Is My Money My Pussy My Blood

I am free with the following conditions.

Give it up gimme gimme.

Okay so I’m Black in America right and I walk into a bar.

I drink a lot of wine and kiss a Black man on his beard.

I do whatever I want because I could die any minute.

I don’t mean YOLO I mean they are hunting me.

I know my pussy is real good because they said so.

I say to my friend I am broke as a joke.

I am Starvin’ Like Marvin Gaye.

I’m so hungry I could get it on.

There’s far too many of me dying.

The present is not so different.

Everybody looks like everybody I worked with.

Everybody looks like everybody I’ve kissed.

Men champion men and animals.

Everybody thinks I’m going to die.

At the museum I tell the school group about Black art.

I tell them the word contemporary.

I have a nose ring I forget about.

I have a brother and he is also Black.

I am a little modern to the fault.

I say this painting is contemporary like you and me.

They ask me about slavery. They say Martin Luther King.

At school they learned that Black people happened.

The present is not so different.

I’m looking into their Black faces.

They do not understand that they exist.

I’m Black in America and I walk

into a bar and drink a lot of wine, kiss a white man on his beard.

There is no indictment.

I could die any minute of depression.

I just want to have sex most of the time.

I just want my student loans to disappear.

I just want to understand my savings account.

What is happening to my five dollar one cent.

I am free with the following conditions.

What is happening to my brother.

What if I do something wrong.

My blood is so hot and wet right now.

I know they want it.

I do everything right just incase.

I don’t want to give away my money but here I am.

It’s so stupid I have to say here I am.

They like to be on top.

I am being set up.

I am a tree and some fruits are good and some are bad.

– Morgan Parker

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Y’all I’m really struggling with this attempt to displace vaginas from feminist conversations. Honestly, I don’t think this is the move.

Here’s the thing: feminism taught me to love my vagina. (Hip Hop) Feminism gave me the courage to use the word “pussy,” when I need to make requests in the bedroom. (Cues Missy E.) But feminism a la bell hooks also taught me about the historical politics of “selling hot pussy.” Feminism taught me years ago not to feel embarrassed about telling y’all a period story and gave me the structural analysis to think about why we ask women and girls and all people who have periods to hide them or feel shame about them. Even in 2017, I still have to walk into women’s and gender studies classrooms and tell my intro students about the historical reasons for period shame. Their faces still turn beet red – all of them.

But also: we live in a world that doesn’t love vaginas. Vaginas are structurally maligned, and considered the property of men. Just ask your new president. Let us not forget the transvaginal ultrasound fiasco of a 5 years ago, when several states tried to make it legal to put a phallic like ultrasound probe into a woman’s vagina against her will. In a hierarchy of genitalia, penises are chief. Vaginas are near the bottom. And then the genitalia that intersex people have labor and languish in epistemic obscurity, by which I mean, that up until only the last few decades or so, science chose not even to acknowledge that penises and vaginas aren’t the only configurations of genitals that exist.

When I think about what it would mean to build a Black feminist framework which decenters the pussy, it gives me pause. The call is of course to decenter cisgender Black women from Black feminist frameworks. Again, this move, and the ways in which, in far left social justice spaces, such moves are assumed to be a clear mandate, a clearly desirable end of our politics, gives me pause.

From The Crunk Feminist Collective with “Pussy Don’t Fail Me Now: The place of vaginas in black feminist theory & organizing”.

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