Tuesday, February 28, 2006

My favourite musicians, bands and singers...

Last week I did a list of my all time favourite movies. This week in darkdaughta's "this is your life" list of lists...my favourite musicians. Now keep in mind I grew up listening to radio and still have a teeny tiny music collection.

So, my music taste is all over the place, very defined by the sorts of stuff I've heard on really mainstream radio.

A lot of my taste was shaped by what I heard first in public school, junior high and high school.

Some of it dates to my coming into consciousness as a Black person in the world which happened during university.

For anyone wondering, you won't find Tori or Ani. There isn't any.

Some are cheesy to the point of being embarassing.

For the fans of present day hip/hop and brainless bootylicious babes, you won't find much here cuz their blatant lack of intellect combined with crass Black people targetting commercialism and consumerism have gutted Black music and left the corpse dying by the side of the road. I'll dance to them at a bar, but do I want them and their "don't think too hard" music dismantling Black consciousness in my house, nope. Same with the "conscious" mc's. I remember asking one of the wimmin in my community who is a hip-hop head who will reference some of the black male rappers and call them conscious, whether she actually thought any of these folks had more analysis, more consciousness than she did? She looked uncomfortable, smiling, eyes darting and said: no...but they're conscious, I guess compared to the rest. :(

For the fans of various African musics, I won't even bother for the sake of political cred to say that I am a fan. I've had conversations with the two continental african wimmin who were in community with me where I said that I didn't necessarily think of these musics as liberation musics any more than any other, that to me they were pop musics in other languages. I went on to say that as a diasporic african woman embracing a class analysis, the very fact that these musics are so embraced by members of the Black middle-class, conservative set, for me automatically put into question the power of the music as a radically political transformational force when transplanted to north american soil. But I'm also just really north american in my music tastes

Soca, reggae, calypso? Nope. I get triggered by the giant gap between allowable musically expressed sexualities in caribbean communities and the harsh reality of our cultures so grounded in outdated colonial/victorian moralities, sexual conservatism, christianity and what is understood as good behaviour. Dancing and jumping up gets to be really painful when I'm fully grounded in what all this means for me personally. But, I'm also just extremely north american in my music tastes.

Other "world" musics, classical, the majority of jazz...well, let's just say I'm not there right now.

There isn't any lefty stuff here. The way I see it, I'm such a hard ass, unrepentantly attempting to squeeze analysis into almost everything I do, see, speak, encounter, music has been my big place of fucking off...just think of me taking an extended audio vacation.

I like to sing along, to play air guitar and to dance by myself or when no one is looking. These aren't in any particular order.

Earth Wind and Fire

Roberta Flack

Tears For Fears

Depeche Mode

Old U2 (definitely a high school thing)

Bob Seger

Joe Cocker

Bonnie Raitt

Eurythmics

Annie Lennox

Kate Bush

Nina Hagen

The Police

Mariah Carey (okay, this is embarassing)

old Jodeci

old Public Enemy

old KRS-1

Heart

old Prince

Donna Summer

The Bee Gees (their voices make me giggle)

Chaka Khan

Metallica

Black Sabbath

Old Ozzy

Genesis (with Peter Gabriel)

Led Zeppelin

old Stones

old Whitney Houston

The White Stripes

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

Stevie Nicks (a voice that sounds like she drank one too many tequila shots)

Eagle Eye Cherry (well, only "save tonight")

Neneh Cherry (mostly songs from "raw like sushi")

Lenny Kravitz

Me'shell N'degeocello

old Elton John

The Eagles

Nine Inch Nails

D’Angelo

Queen Latifah (when she was butch)

TLC (when they looked like pretty little bois)

Ya Kid K

Money Love

old Salt n Pepa

Foxy Brown (more for her absolute brazenness)

Peter Tosh (the dark man who taught Bob Marley to play the guitar)

Outkast

Living Color

old Duran Duran

Old Madonna

Smashing Pumpkins

Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Audioslave

Stone Temple Pilots

old Joe Jackson

old Elvis Costello

AC/DC

The Clash

Billy Idol

Dire Straits

The English Beat

Tracy Chapman (when I need to cry, cuz she’s so depressing)

Rough Trade (I was singing along before I was old enough to realize what she was saying)

Old David Bowie

Simple Minds

Missy (fatty girl version)

Nirvana

Jet (well, only "are you gonna be my girl?")

The Cure

Simon and Garfunkel

The Pretenders

Seal

Prodigy (really, just “firestarter”)

Michael Jackson (before the face and complexion thing)

The Doors

Luther Vandross

Rush

Red Rider

Robbie Robertson

Foreigner

Journey

Cameo (Well, only “Word Up”)

The Who

Pat Benetar

Cyndi Lauper

Pink Floyd

Neil Young

Survivor (well, only "the eye of the tiger")

Fleetwood Mac

Billie Holiday

George Benson

old Queen

old Eric Clapton

The Kinks

old Aerosmith

Pet Shop Boys

New Order

Aretha Franklin

Mary J. Blige

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

Talking Heads

Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five

The Sugar Hill Gang (rapper's delight)

Jermaine Stewart

Alanis Morrisette (only her first album after leaving canuck pop stardom behind)

Michee Mee

Bif Naked (only "I love myself today")

Janis Joplin

Erasure

Soft Cell (well, only "tainted love")

Rupaul

New Edition

old Janet Jackson (mostly before she got the stoopid abs and the butt done)

Monday, February 27, 2006

Foremother passes...

Octavia Butler is gone...
She was a foremother of exceptional vision. She filled a gap left open by feminist theorists and women of color academicians who could not quite see how we would transcend and transform the future. She wasn't just a series of books on an academic course list or a writer whose style needed to studied and deconstructed. She was a seer blessed with crystal clear sight whose presence on this side will be missed. She was one among a few in a breed that is ageing and passing, irreplaceable...

more
more

"all that you touch
you change.

all that you change
changes you.

the only lasting truth
is change.

God is change."


(photo)

Resisting the watershed effect...

My belly is looking more and more like a pregnant belly everyday. It's round and hard. All the photos are still in the form of film. When they finally come back, I'll be doing probably a good few photo postings.

I have pregnancy induced yeast. That's lots of fun as I itch my way into a self-induced state of frenzy knowing that regardless of of much sugar I x out of my diet, the plain yoghurt shots I down or the acidophilus gel caps I take, I'm going to pretty much stay right here in this state until I give birth...if I stay true to form and continue to mimic the vagaries of my last pregnancy.

I'm as insomniacal (is that a word?) as ever. Stopped sleeping right through the night over four years ago during the second trimester. My world has never been the same since.

The baby moves and kicks. I'm glad and invite feeling hands often, relieved cuz for a little while there I was worried it was dead.

Still continuing to deal with depression and to enjoy the simple pleasure of seeing the sun every few days and experiencing a related jolt of happy invigoration because of it.

But mostly, I'm standing on top of a watershed, successfully navigating the many facets of myself and my chosen identities including my existence as a mama.

The watershed looks like the divisions between various communities - kink, feminist, mama, wimmin of color, lefty, immigrant, fat, queer, working-class. Me navigating it looks like not being willing to be completely defined by my relationship to any one of these communities. Me standing at the crux of the watershed looks like me claiming all simultaneously, stubbornly unwilling to choose, because to do so would mean the erasure of other parts. This runs counter to my agenda to be as whole and reconciled as I can be.

Dominant pregnancy lore says that a mama who enters her labour internally unreconciled enters a war field of her own making where she will be tense, fearful, unwilling to surrender to the surges of creation power that course through her body with or without her say so.

Before this space is a space of contact and seeking, it is a space of rumination and reconciliation where I prep myself psychologically and emotionally for what lies ahead. There is no control of what will come in June. There is only me dealing or not the best way I can.

23 weeks and counting...pregnant yeasty mama signing off.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

This back is not your bridge...

Been surfing around for a few weeks now and noticed a trend that happens in realtime, too. A lot of the folks I've engaged with around their political blind spots namely in the area of what constitutes radical or feminist or sexual conservatism have utilized my words as a jump off point to foreground their own pet political interests while completely sidelining if not out and out ignoring the challenges I had initially posed.

Today, I found that a blogger who had pretty much nothing to say about the post I wrote regarding sexual conservatism in our various movements for change accessed the work I did and used it as the jump off point for her own exploration of another phobia in the matrix of domination and power. One which although paralleling sexual conservatism quite nicely, doesn't actually address the issues I raised at all.

It's hard not to understand my writing in opposition to her list when this is so obviously one of the results of what she's done. That feels nasty.

Another blogger took the challenge I posed about ethics and radicality, erased any reference to my blog from the discussion and started stroking her own political ego to make sure she felt radical enough, rather than actually deal with what I had asked about an expression of political radicality that does not account for the oppression of people who fuck against the grain.

As I've said before, I've experienced this in real time. I've work, researched, promoted and planned for events and had very poor attendance even from people I knew should be coming. Then they turn around and host their own events making sure not to include me.

Sadly, this sort of stuff has mostly happened in communities of resistance because we all know how stinging and damaging exclusion and ostracism can be. We also know, from observing state and media spin doctors, how to do things up right, so we come off looking clean and nice.

Not a problem. It's not as if I thought that political folks in the blogosphere would behave any different than folks do in real time...not...really...

Saturday, February 25, 2006

An abortion manual...

Over at Bitch I lab, there was a post about the repealing of Roe vs. Wade and what this will mean for wimmin seeking abortions. In places like South Dakota abortion as a basic right has already been withdrawn. more

Here in canada, I know that if the conservative government has its way, we may not be far behind.

Bitch's post contains a link to a site with information that every pro-choice blogger should have in their list of links. Don't know who will need information about performing safe abortions or when, but it may shortly be very important to have these instructions close at hand.

for the women of south dakota: an abortion manual

Here's the link to a post I did for Blog For Choice Day which has some information about herbal abortions at the end.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Oh, if I haven't said it before...

FUCK the olympics.

Ever notice Black amateur athletes concentrated and excelling mostly in sports where the results are clear for all to see, where there are no judges. Hmmm...

Consistently fucked over by racist, patriarchal Olympic judges who consistently gave kudos to wimmin with less talent during her time as an amateur athlete representing france, her pictures and talent speak for themselves. Though ten years earlier they liked the american Debi Thomas who played to the skating barbie image they like. She wasn't half as talented as Surya...

Surya...
They called everything short of an ugly, ungraceful, unfashionable, untalented, brutish beast...well, actually, they pretty much did.


MY girl, Surya Bonaly. There are manouvers she developed that no other skater man or woman has been able to duplicate.She is the only person, male or female, able to land a backflip on one foot. She is also the first and only person thus far to land a backflip on one foot at the Olympic Games.






















































"The most controversial point in Surya's career came in 1994, when she refused to stand on the podium during the awards ceremony of those World Championships, in protest of not winning the gold. Surya skated a technically superior free skate program filled with energy and flair, but was awarded the silver medal for the second year in a row. The ISU judges decided instead to give the World title to Yuka Sato, who was skating in front of her hometown audience in Chiba, Japan. Surya has never lived this down, and continues to receive discouraging marks on a consistent basis from the judges. Regardless, Surya continues to skate for herself and the crowd, and will surely one day win the World Professional title.


Surya competed as an Olympic-eligible amateur skater from 1987-1998, which is a credit to her longevity. During this time span, she competed in 3 Olympic games, won the 1991 World Junior Championships, 5 European titles, 9 French National titles, 4 Trophee Lalique titles, and the 1994 Goodwill Games. Surya was 3 times the World Silver Medalist, and won the last Trophee de France ever held. After years of coming so close to a World Championship title, being in the midst of judging controversies, and suffering an Achilles injury so severe that her doctors said she would never skate competitively again, Surya turned professional following the 1998 Winter Olympic Games, in which she finished 10th. Not only did she come back to skate competitively, but she was right back where she left off, with the best in the world. She announced her intention of becoming pro not in a press conference, but rather during her long program at the Nagano Winter Olympics, where she performed her trademark 1-Footed Backflip, a move that was made explicitly illegal by the ISU, right in front of the judges. She would end that last program of her amateur career with her back to the judges, a symbol of her defiance of the ISU, after years of low marks and poor treatment by the ISU."

more about Surya

This lefty mama's emotional/familial crap...

I had an appointment with a new counsellor yesterday. She's an older white woman who has an analysis of oppression and social positioning...or so it seems. She didn't look at me like a mutant when I started explaining to her all the past (and present) stuff I'm dealing with. She asked intelligent questions and clarified things that actually needed to be clarified.

When I asked her to talk about how she got into counselling and what doing the work means for her, one of the things she talked about was being trained as a social worker. She said she got the distinct feeling that she was being prepped to be an arm of the state through social services (welfare) and child services (your friendly neighbourhood children of color kidnappers). She also said that through doing work in community, she had realized that a lot of what was getting in the way of us actually realizing political goals and developing solid agendas was not our belief in our various struggles, but the personal, emotional, psychological baggage we all carry. Our unexamined internal landscapes fuck up our political, revolutionary resistance work.

I said that I had understood this too and that it had actually changed a lot of what I saw as my work in community whether it be building spaces of resistance or my writing or my mamawork. It all needed to be infused not just with a politic or with passion and wordy analysis, but also backed up with emotional grounding and self exploration.

For me, this backing up is crucial to my mamawork. I don't want to offer a willingly and stubbornly wounded mother to any of my children...let alone offer a willingly and stubbornly wounded woman/friend/ally/lover to anyone else. I want to live powerfully in the present yet ground consistently in memory and in the power of speaking to move me. I need to remember that I've been at the work of dealing with my core stuff since I was in my late teens which was when I voluntarily started seeing a counsellor to deal with pain, depression and alienation in my life. I want to commit to continuing on with the work of understanding myself as part of a wounded extended biological family all descendants of the Middle Passage until my death bed.

This emotional consciousness and intelligence is the most daring, useful, beautiful gift I will be able to offer from myself to my children. It won't be perfection, as I'm far from that. It will be me trying to get down and dirty...real.

I've been giggling with my partner in a laughter of the damned sort of way, recognizing that I haven't written about my parents on this blog site. And saying they're not really part of my life is a bit of avoidance for someone like me who tries to walk everywhere with a flashlight for obscured corners.

I love my parents...in a pained sort of way. Why is all the love in my life pained? :)

I started writing a post about my father a few weekends ago when he had scheduled time to take me shoe shopping...a few weeks ago. I started writing and the post just got longer and longer, which is fine cuz I like long, but it started branching out all over the place, roping in other family members, bouncing back and forth through time.

I realized I had an opus post on my hands.

But, I had started and therefore had to finish. I'm like that - hate not finishing what I've started.

Here's what I have so far...

This morning I'm going to go with my father to the store of a friend, a Muslim man my father met at the mosque.

I don't think I mentioned that my father, after years of resisting the advances of Christianity and, I think missing something in his life that was powerful enough to equal the love and the pull of the music he had played (more about that in a sec) for so many years, my father converted to Islam.

He looks more grounded. Well, actually, he is more grounded, reasonable, engaging... He's not such an emotionally stifled, depressed, wandering workaholic. Now, he's just a workaholic. He goes to a mosque only a few city blocks from here and as a result, I see him way more often than I've seen him since I went away to school in Ottawa when I was eighteen thereby distancing from our up close and personal roles as battling father and daughter.

I was raised by a bar band musician. My father plays the trumpet, acoustic guitar and bass guitar. He was a large black hat wearing twenty eight year old musician when I came here from Barbados. I first remember the music I discovered through his record collection -- stuff like the beatles, the eagles, simon and garfunkel, linda ronstadt, roberta flack, millie jackson is what comes to mind easily.

I won't give a blow-by-blow of what's happened over the 38 years that I've been part of his world because I'd be writing for a really long time. But I'll give you a run down...(interjection a few weeks after I started writing this post...it seems I'm going actually going to try and do a summary of the past 38 years.)

My parents conceived me while fucking as two (whoo-hoo) unmarried 21 year olds in Barbados where they were both born and raised. From what I can glean, they were still liking each other at that point, but had to go and legitimize the whole "accident" (me) by getting married. They had two more children together, my brother and sister under less than friendly circumstances. During that time, my father was physically and emotionally abusive of my mother and eventually my mother divorced him. Most people I've told that they're two geminis aren't suprised, on an astrological level that the relationship couldn't work. Me? I just think that my mother did the right thing by leaving him...even if the long term consequences of some of the decisions she made had absolutely devastating consequences for me.

In terms of my mother's abuse I don't remember it. I was the oldest of their three children and so, I know I was, age-wise, probably the one who saw and understood the most of what happened. But, given the intricacies of the human brain, and after years in therapy off an on from my teens to my late twenties, I understand that I've just "rested" all crucial images and sounds somewhere nearby to be reaccessed, I'm sure, at some really crucially vulnerable moment in my life down the road.

What I do remember is that my mother moved back to my grandmother's and my grandmother accepted her and us kids. This seems to be a rarity among abused women who have been married because the mothers of these wimmin, lacking any sort of analysis usually tend to not understand why these wimmin have left the "sanctity" of the marriage bed. Oftimes, their own mothers send them back to more torment, emotional abuse, physical harm and/or death.

My grandmother...
She was the mother of three girls who she protected, if not actually cared for in that patriarchal cooking, cleaning sort of way. My mother as the oldest was the one who I think looked after the other two while my grandmother initially worked after the loss (death? I'm not sure) of her last husband and then while my grandmother ran her own supermarket supply business.

So, the story goes that my mother went back to living with her mother. My father follwed menacing her one night. My grandmother put an end to that by menacing him with a sharp ice pick. He stopped. End of story.

So, we lived with my grandmother for what must have been about four years. At this point my mother says that I had been asking to go live in Canada with my father for quite some time and she could find no possible reason under the goddess' good sunlight to stop me. Hmmm. Lacking an analysis of power, control and domination that could have told her that human beings automatically tend to gravitate toward beings who manifest as dominant, lacking an analysis that would have led her to actually work with us children to unpack our misconceptions about what had occurred, my mother, so recently abused by my father, sent me to live with my abusive father. Her reasoning is the same line I've heard from divorced wimmin, separated wimmin for eons, something to the effect of: "He was a good father and I didn't want to turn his children against him".

My sister, who is one year younger than me also ended up coming to canada. We travelled by plane bearing two crocheted winter hat and scarf sets my mother had made. Mine was blue and pink. My sister's was orange and pink. I think my mother doesn't remember making them. Seems her memory of painful events is about as good as mine. I still have the scarf, though.

My sister was sent back to Barbados a few years later where she lived with my Grandmother along with my (then) youngest sibling, when my mother decided to move to the States. They were there for most of their childhoods and a good part of their teens. So, they were pretty much raised away from my mother and my father. Abandoned by both.

I stayed in canada. Unbeknownst to me, the adults had discussed it and the consensus was that I was old enough to take care of myself and to be away from everyone. I'm assuming that they counted on me continuing to be as restrained and understanding as I had always shown myself to be, mature beyond my years.

So, here I was in Canada with my father and his new white wife, my stepmother. She was nice enough in her role as my new mother figure. Lucky for me I had one, since my mother sort of disassociated from her role as my primary parent after I got on the plane. Years later when I asked her about it, she couldn't really give me any solid answers, except she didn't realize my father would be emotionally abusive and abandoning to me, his daughter. But, she added, she would ask god, the new Catholic god her present husband brought to her life, for forgiveness.

Know what I think? I think my mama is in denial of a few factors that influenced her decision to just let me go completely and hope that everything would work out.

For one thing, I'm what old timers would refer to as "the spitting image" of my father. I think that to have to look at a face so resembling the husband she had left everyday for the rest of her life would have functioned as a constant reminder of the suffering she had endured.

I also think that it's pretty common for divorced men and wimmin to utilize economics and the children as sites of struggle. My father would have gone on to start a new life in a new country with a new and as yet oblivious wife. My mother would never have been able to raise the money to leave the caribbean while attempting to raise, feed, clothe and educate three children. In the language of cold hard economics, it was probably easier for her to make him "pay" by send some of us to live with him. I think sending me and my sister to my father was a complicated yet convenient relief.

So, I started with shoe shopping. Am I jumping all over the place? Well, the story is layered. But what in life isn't?

So, after having a daughter, my half-sister, with my father, my stepmother finally realized that there was something off about him and left my father. She took her daughter and went back to Newfoundland never to return. As an adultified, pragmatic child who always accommodated and made space, never whining about what the adults did or didn't do, I understood why she had left, but added her leave taking to my list of abandonments nonetheless. We never said goodbye. They were just gone one day. Of course, I understood completely and mourned silently.

So, then there was my father and me. Life went on. I knew I had a mother I think she called occasionally and I knew I had relatives in Barbados, a grandmother, some aunts, a brother and a sister, but since I never saw them and so very rarely got letters or spoke on the phone with them, it was pretty easy to create the life of an only child without family that didn't include or reference any of them.

I made friends with the children who lived in the cul de sac of apartment buildings I grew up in and spent way too much time at their homes pretending I was part of their families. I played every inch, what people would refer to as a tomboy, only in dresses. I really liked dresses a lot. Them and barbies. I used to cut and style my dolls' hair. Make them clothes out of cloth scraps. I had the basics of clothing construction really young because my mother sewed as well as crocheted and cooked and braided.

I learned a lot of self-care skills after my step-mother left. My father worked a lot and dated, so I was a latchkey who was in charge of myself including decision making from about eleven or twelve years on.

I consumed books. Dictionaries, encyclopaedias. Read the bible three times cover to cover (tried church for a bit but god was scary, controlling and didn't seem to understand my raging hormones). As a public schooler greek/roman/celtic/egyptian mythology had already been part of my repertoire cuz the babar, curious george, dr. seuss stuff was so dull. To that I added science fiction/fantasy (Heinlein, Herbert, Tolkien, McCaffery, LeGuin, come to mind), historical romances (boudicca or Mary Queen of Scots, anyone?), epics like the Illiad and the Oddessy...basically anything that went on for more than a few chapters. Since my actual home so defied my understanding I had to find somewhere else to live don't'cha know.

I took care of myself. But, I'd been prepping for that for quite some time. Some of what I know how to do also dates from being in Barbados and being prepped by the school system to either excel intellectually (becoming a teacher or bureaucrat of sorts) or as a (field, factory or tourist) worker. I excelled at everything...except math.

I embroider, I sew, taught myself to knit when I was really young. I braid, do weaves, extensions and colours. I cook and everything else I'd need to be able to do to take care of myself and run a house without having to lean on someone else or take their labours surreptitiously or manipulatively. Funny how one branch of feminism has concentrated on denying the reality that wimmin, along with men actually need to do all sorts of home related things to survive and not capitalize of the labour of others.

I've met so many supposed feminist wimmin who can't cook, so they eat out all the time. Can't sew, so their clothes are in rags or they just buy new ones or they rely on someone else to fix them. Couldn't cut, style or braid their own hair if their lives depended on it, so they go to barbers or salons to get it done or hack away at it themselves in not very aesthetically pleasing ways.

So, all this time my father had been playing in bands. He had some sort of meltdown, a reverse epiphany, probably brought on by realizing that he wasn't going to make it big in music. We often had little or no money for rent, food, clothing, electricity etc.. A dire lack of money is is one of the reasons I never went "home" to see my relatives on a regular basis.

So, he grudgingly "settled down" and started trying to get hired to work for a company or a business. I think it really broke him and made him come face to face with depression. He was never the same after that. As child, I have to say he was fun, did fun things. But as I got older and neared puberty, his new wife left and he stopped playing in bands, I can see now that he sunk into depression, uncommunicative, surly, prone to rages. That's who I lived with.

In terms of employment...He's done a lot of different things. He studied computer programming before the big boom. He's very mathematically inclined which I think goes hand in hand with being good at music. He went to college and couldn't get a job in computer programming. He drove a truck. He drove a taxi. He worked for a department store's collections department. He's done a whole lot of jobs that I can't even remember trying to "keep a roof over our heads".

During this time, my mother moved to brooklyn and started working as a nanny for rich people, the sort who had condos in Manhattan and sprawling homes with lots of land outside the city. She had remarried to a stiff Catholic man from Barbados. I wasn't invited to the wedding, maybe my brother and sister were, I don't know. She eventually got pregnant when I was in my mid to late teens I think and had a daughter, my other half-sister Heidi...another biological connection to add to all the others I don't know but feel a distant affection for.

In my world time had slowed down as much as the actions of others had left me behind as they sped up and sped away. All I know is one moment I had a mother, single and living in Barbados, the next moment she was married, with a young baby and living with a stranger in New York.

The rest of my teens was spent with my father and occasionally making trips to New York to see her and eventually the baby. These didn't go well. I was a latchkey child grown to a loner teenager. I was accustomed to making my own decisions about everything from where I'd go to school (after my father vetoed my acceptance to a school for the arts, I sort of decided that his decision making capabilities in the area of schooling weren't up to spec) to what time I came home (mostly from the video arcade or from the library) to what clothes I'd wear (even if they smelled funny cuz I went on shower strike after my father linked water and servitude to womanhood as I entered puberty).

My (absentee) mother wanted to pick up where we had left off as mother and daughter so many years earlier. I didn't have words, but I resisted this knowing that it didn't feel right for me. Sure I loved the increased connection and time spent with each other, but having her and her husband control my life and movements? Naw.

I think I was around sixteen when we had a really large fight during a visit. She understood it as being about a dress. I understood then and now that there were problems long before the dress sauntered along. We parted ways. I didn't see her again until I was in my early twenties, finished with school and living back in TO with my first dyke partner.

My relationships with my mother and father have always seemed very voluntary and conditional on all our parts once I discovered that I had a rage about my childhood and learned not to be so agreeable and accomodating about the decisions they made that impacted me and my life. Then I became a bad child, an ungrateful child, a child who would suffer, a child who needed to go live with/go back to whichever parent she wasn't presently with.

I ran away from home a lot during my teens. That was what autonomy looked like for me in the face of two parents whose decisions where mostly about them and their convenience, never about mine.

My father and I have been adversaries since I entered puberty and realized I actually had feelings. When I was a teenager he used shunning for weeks or months on end in a vain attempt to discipline me. Since I've become an adult, he looses our contests of wills a lot. But, it's cyclic as he never "behaves" himself, keeping his patriarchal, authoritarian ways in check for very long.

I'm the only woman who has ever successfully stood up to my father and matched him rage for rage, word for word, cuss for cuss. I remember as a teenager him calling my mother complaining that I was swearing like a fisherwoman and that (between working and dating) he didn't know what to do with me.

As a teen I would leave home, garbage bag in hand and go to different shelters depending on where there was room. I've stayed at most of the shelters in the downtown area, plus a group home in the 'burbs. I didn't get comfortable in these places. Saw them as way stations. I had my schooling and mostly straight A's to maintain (complete with invitations to do cultural/linguistic student exchanges with youth from other parts of the world, which I knew we couldn't afford and therefore, didn't tell my father about). I had work to do especially if I was going to realize my ultimate escape plan - leaving the city for university anywhere else to study whatever. I had a job. Eventually, I even had this very nice middle-class white Estonian boyfriend who liked reggae more than me, played bass and taught me some rudimentary Estonian. Tere. Kuidas kasi kaib?

Okay, enough background...It's not all here. But I'll be writing forever if I don't stop now.

So, these are my parents. My father and I live in the same city. He's in his late fifties and I think trying to make reparations with me, my sister and to a lesser extent with my brother who he's angry with because he keeps breeding with wimmin and running away or they leave him. Hmmmm...

From what other people have told me my father understands me as intelligent, powerful and defiant, as someone who always speaks her mind and tends to come out of left field. Because of the already conditional nature of our relationship, it's always been easy for me to be who I am and to say what I need to when I need to regardless of what he's said or done. I came out to him during my first dyke partnership in my early twenties. He cried and went incommunicado for three months. Eventually he telephoned asking what I'd like to be called. I told him lesbian was fine.


My mother, I would have told if she had been in my life. When she called years later, I told her too.

I think they both got confused when I started seeing men...okay they did. After years of barber shop fades with 'burns, construction boots, black converse runners, shiny black lace-up dress shoes, blazers, levis jeans sitting low, boxers and briefs, Michael Jordan t-shirts, plaid shirts with the sleeves ripped off, then switching to wimmin/butches who dressed this way while I explored my femme self, they didn't quite know what to make of another twist in the story of me.

My father mostly talks about business and the mosque these days. He seems very interested in this pregnancy, probably partly because he was away for my last one, right up until my daughter was in her third year. I think he's triggered around all the family events he's already missed more so than actually interested in me or this pregnancy.

I called my mother recently after her calls started to peter out in the year after the birth of my daughter. I don't think my mother knows what to do with her still out queer, polyamorous, anti-patriarchal (with man), forthright daughter.


I've moved twice between the time I last heard her voice on the other end of the phone going on and on about shopping at Macy's or some other department store and about the property she's managed to buy in New York and Florida...while I waited and listened to see if she would allow insights into any of the questions I've asked her about me and our family to surface in conversation.

I've moved twice but felt like I had to make contact to at least tell her she had another descendant on the way. So, I emailed my half-sister told her about the baby and let the info trickle back until I got an email with my mother's telephone number.

My mother said that she had tried to make contact but that her calls weren't returned. I said: Oh. But knew this wasn't true, knew that she had called less and less until she stopped and that I'd watched and waited. I had expected the lessening of her calls. I'd already made the choice to not chase after her, emotionally limping and holding out my clinging castaway child's hand.

I thought about the fact that since I was a child I've always been responsible for maintaining conversations and connections between myself and my biological family. I realize that my connections with both my parents are now a responsibility I shirk at will in favour of intentionally creating full and whole family spaces for myself elsewhere.

I realize that both my parents, through abdicating the responsibility to deal with the scattered bits and pieces that are their children's lives, have both left me to deal with (or mostly to avoid) what it means to be a "big sister" who wasn't raised for any extended period of time with younger siblings who nonetheless understand/construct/refer to me as "big sister" while I understand myself mostly as an
orphaned only child.

I understand that this family story is why I've worked so hard and so creatively in even the most fucked relationship dynamics I've been offered during the course of my adult existence. (crying break...) I want to be able to let go of my parents, my family, but how exactly does one go about doing that, really? Differently, why couldn't I really have been orphaned and/or adopted? It would have been easier to explain the distance.

My pain and rage are complicated by being really thankful that due to immigration, family distance and parental disinterest, I didn't have the opportunity to grow up being a "good" Barbadian girl complete with classist, shadeist, colonial and conservative outlooks, suppressed rage and an iron grip on all "unacceptable" emotion. I've only met two, no, three Barbadian wimmin I liked who liked me back. One is now a man, one is my partner's mother who, at the age of 67, embarked on her own journey to self recovery and emotional self understanding. The third bajan girl is...well...me. My female relatives don't count as their attestations of affection arise out of questionable biological family linkages not out of actually knowing who I am and I'm not sure where my affection for them springs from...besides a knee jerk need for something I have never consistently had.

Growing up here instead of in Barbados has meant having access to (mostly free) post secondary education, ideas, freedom of movement, sexual exploration, time to think and space to grow that I wouldn't have had as a girl child if I'd grown up with my mother or with my grandmother back home.

Through their inability to effectively parent and therefore guide me, they have freed me to make life, love, identity decisions of my own without having to look over my shoulder fearing being disowned or abandoned...that's already happened. So, I don't have to live in fear of it.

sigh...

I realize that there is no going back and that I will never be an eight year old with a mother explaining about period things and armpits and hairstyles and clothes and bras.

I realize that the emotions that well so furiously inside me have to continuously be processed by me if I am not to visit them on friends, family, lovers, children and random strangers.

I realize that this is a legacy my parents have left for me which is a version of what their parents left for them and so on, and so on...
That this legacy is combined with our daily/historic oppression as Black, African people brought to the west, combined for me, my mother and my sisters with the reality of being wimmin living under patriarchy, combined with so much more...
THIS legacay is what I'll have to reckon with if I am to create the sort of chosen/extended family life I want, if I am to build the sorts of solid emotional connections I would like to have with my children, if I am to be a present and loving part of any adult relationships, if I am to actually grow and mature as a whole being in the world.

In regards to the new counsellor? Yesterday was a free consultation/ information download. I told her I would think about the session and send her an email with my feedback and a "yes" or "no" in regards to whether I'd like another appointment. I also asked her to think on her end and to give me feedback in the form of an email as to whether she thought she could/would be interested in working with me.

More on that as things move along...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Another African Liberation Month Gift...

This is another older post that was offline for a few months...

Rat Boy sent me a poem today. Thanks. I don't remember the last time someone sent me a poem. Not often I get to be the muse or the source of attention in that way. It felt good. Thank you.


Here's something back. It's continuing on the theme of African Liberation Month. Oh, yeah, I've noticed that most of the american bloggers call it Black History Month. I mostly know it and refer to it as African Liberation Month. Even as I know the continentals are probably getting their underwears in a hitch, it's good for them to remember that some of them are over here, stolen and never really got the hang of being free.

Still trying to reconcile all my various pregnant parts with my politicized perversion under patriarchy, I stumbled across yet another site that had listed this blog as sexual in nature (danger! danger!). Why am I getting the feeling that I'm surrounded by a bunch of giggling teenagers who fall to the ground in paroxisms of repulsion/attraction at the sight of a naked body? Has the christian right really taken over the left? :)

This is an artist's statement I wrote for an exhibition of some oil pastel drawings I did over a period of a few years. I was fucking one of the male owners of a Black, urban store and he had asked me to put up my work. His business partner (unbeknownst to me, he would end up being the very disgruntled brother of my present partner) (does this sound like a soap? I really don't like drama, but sometimes it just comes to me), had other ideas. He was terribly worried and put off by any of my art work containing nudity, let alone actual sex. He didn't understand any of the work that was too abstract, either.

He set himself up as curator of the work that would go up in the store. As I often do with backward folks who (I think) are supposed to be allied with me, I attempted to have conversation with him, assuming that if he had read books and magazines, had been living in our urban center all his life, he might have something intelligent to say. Not. He stormed off in a rage and that was the end of his part of the conversation.

This is the artist's statement I displayed and performed in his store...

Troublin’ Tha Waters
One Black Queer Woman’s Thoughts on Black Womanhood and Sexuality
By T.J. Bryan © June 2000

Wade in the water
Wade in the water, children
Wade in the water
[I’m] gon’ trouble the water

Mangled excerpt from an old spiritual

"An orifice, an opening through which I will ENTER. One of MANY such daughters. A Black and truly precious thang..."
Excerpt from It Takes Ballz – Reflections Of A Black Femme Vixen In Tha Makin’, T.J. Bryan © 1999

Bearing images of community and family, images of SELF, a renaissance, queer femme cums with her thoughts, her intensity, her knowledge, her words, her views.

Vulnerable yet powerFULL, this daughta of the Diaspora cums not to be tolerated or given permission by those with heterosexual and class privilege, but to take up the space that is her right by BIRTH.

Wrapped in her Blackness, the presence of ALL colours, an ebony dark beauty, your mirrored reflection cums laughing, marching, cussing, questioning, dancing.

Seas and lands you recognize flow rhythmic 'round her hips even as she moves to her own beat.

An Ashanti Amazonian whose weapons of choice are images and words, I cum OUT in/to spaces of potential, yet, sadly unrealized resistance. Spaces of Diasporic African(ness) where same-sex lovin' and sexin' have always BEEN present.

Cumin' OUT...
My face, my body defiantly visible queer injections...
A wombed rainbow ejaculating creativity and self-knowledge in/to shadowy places previously (mis)construed as hegemonically male, middle class and straight.

Cumin' OUT...
Without compromise or shame, having traveled/immigrated/wandered too far to evah turn back...I still got many rivers to cross. Wanna take my hand and walk on water?

Cumin’ OUT demanding change...
I speak with the power of one bolstered by the sacrifice of many. My stance is not about courage or controversy. This is about necessity and survival.

Know this:
My allies are NOT my allies 'less they can deal with ALL of who I am. 'Less they can witness ALL of me and survive to tell the tale.

Fearlessly walking. A nomad. Clanless yet connected by histories with links stronger than the chains that bound middle passage ancestors but never their souls or their dreams.

Fearlessly facing retribution and attempted domination this Black conscious, pro sex HOO/chee is playful, in-your-face and resistant as she visually and verbally explores what it means to make love to other wimmin and through them to herself.

My work, my art, my revolutionary mode of expression is often deemed unpalatable or pornographic by those who choose NOT to include critiques of sexuality and sexual practice as part of a viable Black, African politic.

For me speaking of my OWN sexuality and incorporating it into my visual and written work IS political. It IS about the decolonization of my Black female body.

Remember...the colonizer took the fruits of Black wimmin's labour. YES. But they also colonized our foremothers by attacking the very source of their most intimate pleasure. By raping, brutalizing, utilizing their genitals.

But, you say: We got free. They let us go.

As far as I can see, many Black wimmin, the descendants of these violated and disrespected slave wimmin are writhing in the grip of some serious erotophobia (scared of tha nasty). Struggling with an unwanted inheritance – the aftermath of our foremother’s historically used, bruised and damaged erotic. Struggling to reconnect with our sexualities. Struggling with ourselves and our desires. Struggling with our lovers. Struggling with artificial community standards applied to Black wimmin but never to Black men. Struggling to keep our heads above water. Struggling hard just so we can figure out what to do with the padlocks the massa put on our bizness.

This is especially true in a world where we are sexualized everyday. Where so many of us react to the lies told about us by distancing ourselves from the healing power of our erotic.

Very often in community Black wimmin’s disassociation from our sexual selves is not identified as a mark of our continued oppression or as something that needs to be named, examined and made whole. It is instead worn like a badge of pride, perceived as evidence of supreme consciousness and purity.

Caught up in the grip of masculinist, classist, sexually oppressive value systems that run like the threads of a malignant tapestry through the hearts of our Black communities, so many sistas leave it up to others, often men, to decide when, why, how, sometimes even IF we will be sexual or show evidence of any sexuality at all.

And so...
Black wimmin's possession, the ownership of our flesh by others, the determination of the limits of our very psyches by others continues...

"If you are worried 'bout where...I been or who I saw or...what club I went to with my homies...baby don't worry, you know that you GOT me..."
The Roots with Erykah Badu

Poor ting.

Or should I be sayin’: F**k DAT!

I need to ask:
Does the brotha referred to in this song have this woman because she gives herself to him and only him of her own free will? Or has she been coerced? Cleaving to him monogamously, heterosexually because she fears the ramifications of possible alternatives? Fears the power of sexual agency in her life? Cuz she knows that men, who (rightly) view wild wimmin’s/queer wimmin’s connection to their own desires as a threat to continued male dominance, will seek to regain power (over her) by repudiating and undermining her strength? Should she be worried that they will try to shun her or call her out of her name by labeling her dangerous, evil, promiscuous, slut, phreak, hoo/chee, skettle, a bitch to be destroyed?

And what about her sistren?
If this woman sets out on her own path toward (self)recovery/discovery, will patriarchally identified wimmin, sensing the implicit critique of their own stagnant sexualities and oppressed realities, withdraw their support, their love, their presence? Will they instead opt to ally themselves with the sources of male dominance in their lives by questioning her politic, her truth, her integrity, her sanity, her spirituality, her consciousness, her right to exist?

Baby, don’t worry. He knows that he’s got you.

Anywayz...
A sexually self-actualized woman who takes and gives pleasure without being owned is a revolutionary, a weapon. SHE is dangerous to the powers that be. Even as she cums loudly, proudly, screaming with orgiastic and orgasmic release she inherently rocks the roots of white/male/heterosexual/class domination and power.

This flesh is possessed by NO colonizer, by NO man...or woman.

This body, this 'nani is MINE to envision, to draw, to describe, to give or to take b(l)ack. Not to be defined or commoditized by the rules and regs of well-mannered, middle-class (identified) Black community or by society at large.

My queer flesh struggles to be free of limited sexual identities. My Black spirit longs to be done with false consciousness and oppressive, white, western, conservative, nuclear family values. My woman-centric desires will eventually be let loose on Black community, for that matter, on the whole dyam world.

I fight to remain unconstrained by the discomfort of others. By those who have not done their work. By those who have not assimilated the full significance of the readings they claim to have done. By those who choose to not make the links. By those who make the conscious choice not to seek TRUE revolution in ALL its many forms.

This darkly, queer gyal wants NO part of any one dimensional, (a)political, urban, surface glitter, fifteen minutes of fame seeking, trendy, empty word playin’, (counter)revolution.

This daughta of the African Diaspora will continue to be a Black, queer, female, common-class force of devastating change in and of her/SELF.

What about you?

Wade in the water
Wade in the water, children
Wade in the water
[Let’s go] trouble the water.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Questioning her feminism...

I went to Fiercely Feminist today. I found a post she wrote where she explores the contradictions of feminism namely the gap between her theory and her lived experience. I won't get into whether I agreed with everything she wrote because, frankly, that's not the point. She's running an internal diagnostic, doing (self)critique, ruminating on her choices. Thinking hard and deeply is ALWAYS a good thing.

Unpacking Feminism

an excerpt...

"applying to graduate school made me do a lot of reflective thinking about the work that i've done while i've been an undergrad. most of my research has revolved around the margins, the places untouched and vehemently dismissed at times by the theory and activism that for so long i have identified as being a part of. there are times when i read feminist theory and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth because it encapsulates the problematic baggage i take issue with. and there are other times i read pieces, and i say to myself "yes! this is what i've been thinking and saying for so long now." i wonder if the reason i am interested in what i am interested in is because of my own life experiences. its so difficult to completely abandon identity politics as a means of theorizing, as many issues and problems i have with it, because so much of my unpleasant experiences have revolved around my identities. i've felt the sting of marginalization from queers because i am a bisexual femme, from lesbians who doubt my politics because i fuck men, from many queers because i refuse to buy a rainbow flag, or because i dislike the emphasis on the marriage movement, from other class privilaged feminists who refuse to take into account their class status when theorizing about oppression, who leave working class women behind in the trenches. i've felt the sting as much from communities i am supposedly supposed to be able to align myself with as the forces of white supremacist heteropatriarchy they say we are against."

Now, I want to find a (pregnant) mama who fiddles with her own existential innards and the politics of pregnancy and birth while changing diapers, breastfeeding, homeschooling, co-sleeping and changing pee-pee sheets.

Searching...searching...searching...

I thought the way people were looking at politics in the blogosphere was a little odd

I found a summarized american history lessen that is helping to explain the obsession with following news about the affluent, white, male politicians and their of color and/or female lackeys as they do their various governmental ritual dances of world destruction.

If you've been wondering, too, try reading this essay on nyc indymedia that I got through a link on a blog called Eve's Apple that I think I'll be visiting more often. And I found this blog through Fiercely Feminist who wrote a post where she asks herself some really crucial questions about her feminism and feminism in general that I want to talk about in a separate post.

In The Name of Anybody But Bush: Liberal Left "Fights the Right" By Chasing After It


this is an excerpt...

"The liberal left defines salvaging the Democratic party as the limits of what is “possible” because they accept the eternal existence of capitalism as unquestionable and limit their goals to fixing, rather than nixing, it. This was only re-enforced by Bush's re-election. Many of them expressed bitter disappointment and disbelief in the American people for their having chosen Bush over Bush-lite. Others, kept up the ABB act by insisting that the Democrats really won and refused to make a peep in protest as Bush, with the full support of Kerry, flattened Falujah. In spite of the deep dive taken by Bush in the polls of late, profound pessimism, disguised as reformist "realism" remains the dominant view of the mainstream left. That’s why they refer to themselves as “progressives,” rather than as “radicals,” let alone “revolutionaries,” the way many anti-war activists did in the sixties. Not only was the Vietnam war the liberals’ baby, but it was part and parcel of a global system of imperialist injustice that liberal Democrats like JFK and LBJ upheld every bit as much as conservative Republicans like Richard Nixon did. Many global justice activists drew much the same conclusion with Bill Clinton and Al Gore vis-a-vis "globalization," and flocked to the Green Party and the Nader campaign, as a step in the direction of independent political action. Now that the movement is in retreat, many Green Party activists are retreating with it, back into the Democratic party.

Having “matured” and gotten “knee-jerk” anti-imperialism out of their systems, today’s “progressives” have gone back to following the lead of the Democrats, the way they did during the hey-day of the anti-communist “Cold War.” So in order to "broaden" their appeal, they try to appear even more concerned with opposing America’s “enemies” than the reactionary right is. When they find themselves opposing America's wars, it’s almost always within the framework of “peace is patriotic” nationalism, ie, trying to out-do the right in flag waving. Hence the outrage amongst this milleau over Bush's outing of a CIA agent; an act usually associated with the spy agency's critics on the left, not its employers on the right. All this, however, is par for the course. For the CP of the '30s and '40s, when the left could be both patriotic and progressive, is seen as the model to be emulated. Minus mean old Uncle Joe and the Soviet connection, of course. Only this is a game that the left can never win at. The CP, which defined “Communism as 20th Century Americanism” during the hey-day of the “Popular Front” and WWII, found this out the hard way during the "cold war" red scare that followed, when they were witch-hunted by the same Democratic party politicians and trade union bureaucrats whom they had subordinated themselves to in the first place."

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Holy SHIT!

"Last August in Tahlequah, Okla., Lucy Allen appeared before the Judicial Appeals Tribunal, a three-person court that hears constitutional questions in the Cherokee Nation. Allen is suing to become a Cherokee citizen. Born in Vinita, Okla., within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation, she is far from your typical Indian wannabe. She has nothing in common with the Virginia town-and-country crowd who claim descent from Pocahontas, nor does she subscribe to the Shaman's Drum or share sweat lodges with New Agers who seek enlightenment and Kokopelli souvenirs in the Southwest.

Allen, 73 years old, is descended from African slaves who for generations lived in the Cherokee Nation and labored for Cherokee masters. She is attempting to overturn a 1987 Cherokee law that makes the descendants of these slaves ineligible for Cherokee citizenship. Depending on the Tribunal's forthcoming decision, her case could reverse years of legalized discrimination against freedmen, as men and women descended from Indian-owned slaves are collectively known today. Allen v. Ummerteskee could become the Cherokee Nation's own Brown v. Board of Education."

salon.com

Kinda puts a whole new layer on the conversation about racist relations and (sometime) animosity between First Nations people decimated by genocide, dominated on their own lands and Black folks killed en masse during the middle passage, forcibly brought to occupy, breed and work for others on First Nations land.

This is a comment I left on Rat Boy's Anvil...

I went over to see Rat Boy's Anvil and found a post about the newly surfaced photos from Abu Ghraib. Please go over to his blog and follow the link to salon.com. In the meantime, this is a lightly edited comment I wrote after I saw his post. I say lightly edited because the second I clicked on the publish comment button, a few other pieces clicked into place for me which caused me to adjust what I wrote here at One Tenacious Baby Mama.

"I went to salon.com to see the photos. I'll have to read the text later.

I think what I find striking about the photographs is the way that nudity is used and the way that a perversion of sexualness and a nonconsensual domination comes through really clearly.

The torture is about racist domination and harming by patriarchally and homophobically sissyfying and woman-izing these men of color, by turning them into homophobically and patriarchally dominated sexual objects to be harmed and played with in whatever ways their captors see fit. For patriarchal, heterosexual men this kind of unconditional treatment would be the essence of horror, pain, torment and death divorced from sexual domination and humiliation would be awful and traumatizing, but the pictures would not be so scandalous, would not pack this kind of punch without the little added "twist"...wimmin's underwear over the head, an object shoved up an ass, naked and tied to a bed.

This is definitely one of the ways that living in a supressed society terrified of a healthy erotic acts out its fear and trauma on the flesh of the dominated. This is the unpretty flipside of sexual conservatism, this beast, this predator, this evil. The undealt with shit under pressure has to surface somewhere. Battle fields, prisons, catholic schools, foster homes, etc, are as good a place as any.

The images made me think about a passage from Toni Morrison's Beloved where she describes the sexual abuse of Black African men under slavery. The horrific nature of the abuse is predicated on an understanding "real" manhood as grounded in power over those seen as weaker and therefore available to be unconsensually, forcibly sexualized. It's part of what gave birth to the whole "I'm a MAN" movement in Black communities that continues on in various forms today.

"Real" men, those who dominate, are not forcibly rendered vulnerable, naked, dominated, humiliated sexually, patriarchally, homophobically as those they have power over have been for eons. Real men are seen as intrinsically able to avoid this kind of treatment by virtue of their masculinity. Their stunted logic says if you can't avoid it, then obviously, you're not a "real" man. As they would say to a rape victim, "Well, you must have done something to deserve or invite it." And isn't that what the American government has been saying as they've forcibly screwed the whole population of Iraq?

I'm frustrated because this disease isn't specific to these soldiers overseas. It's some of what hides behind people's avoidance of conversations about the links between systemic domination, desire, power, nudity and the supressed erotic.

This is some of what would surface in open conversation if folks could be forthright about how erotophobia controls our communities and about the ways our healthy erotics can be used against us, perverted into the service of those who would humiliate and dominate us.

I saw one of the US army officers return from Iraq on a really mainstream pregnancy and birth show I watch sometimes...well, often...well, everyday practically.

He came back looking innocent, saying he was unchanged by the experience...(of wholesale slaughter and imperialist domination). He came home to his made-up, dressed-up sheltered American wife and their new baby with all its body parts and health intact. They were all so happy to start playing American house again.

He looked guiltless and healthy, red cheeked, plump faced and smiling. She looked completely unfazed by the news of what had been happening over in Iraq. She had her big, strong husband back. She had been staying with her family...all alive and well. Now, her and her returned husband could go home to their house...it hadn't been blown up or looted.

What a happy picture of the American family.

The level of denial and happy self-centeredness they managed to construct between them was horrifying. I just kept seeing blood everywhere and wondering who this fine, young american boy/father/husband had raped, beaten, blown up, traumatized, tortured while he was gone.

I wondered where in his psyche he had stored/locked/banished that information -- the memory.

I wondered when it would make its own way to the surface of his consciousness and what things would look like for his loving family then.

I'm screaming inside. "

Talking with my partner's mother...

I should really title this post talking with my mother as I spoke with her for the first time in a few years tonight. But that's complicated, even for me. I will have to ruminate and then post when I've got something that looks like clarity. That should happen tomorrow.

In the meantime,
I just wanted to write a quick post to say my partner's mother called and through the course of our conversation about her work, my work, her bio family, my chosen family, she mentioned that she had visited my blog. She said that she found the use of my nude image to be a really radical expression, something she wouldn't have thought possible for a Black political woman in her day.

I smiled and settled down for some solidly intelligent conversation.

It felt good to engage with this 68 year old second wave feminist in conversation about Blackness, sexual conservatism, feminists of colour and my understandings of radicality, which by the way, position me as pretty mundane in the grand scheme of things. I told her that there is a world parallel to the one occupied by most sexually conservative people where ideas about nudity, sexualness and relationship possibilities are considered part of everyday conversation. Common, not out of place, controversial or different. I said that I only occupy the outskirts and am actually not particularly radical in relation to many others.

When I remember this larger, other world so populated with peoples of all shapes, sizes and desires, when I can talk to an educated, Black, caribbean woman, who is a writer, a historian, an academic, a mother and a feminist about this place, for a moment, I feel contextualized and supported. I cease to feel misunderstood, crazed with pain, sadness, rage, aloneness and alienation. Could be I am not a raced, gendered, binaried, westernized, classed, queered, perverse, radically politicized and pregnant anomaly, after all.