Friday, March 31, 2006
I've left some provisions and a few directions. Not many. I wouldn't want the crumbs I leave to end up on someone else's blogsite transformed into their words and ideas...any more than they have already. So, consider a scorched earth policy to be in effect.
I'll leave you all to you all. Here's hoping that your inability to reason out and to process even the most obvious bits of information, to recognize and name even the most obvious button pushing, guilting and manipulation doesn't allow you to teach too many of the wrong lessons to those (women of color, Black people, feminists, queers, gender fuckers, progressives, liberals, lefties) who happen across your blog sites in the days ahead.
The three short months I've spent among you has given me a really sweet idea for a research and blog project. I'll be around, you just might not really recognize me. ;)
I'd love to say Adios. But whenever I try to shape the words they come out more like to hell with the lot of you. But wait...that makes no sense...we're already living there...go fuck yourselves?...nah, you're/we're doing that already, too.
Yesterday I told my fetus/son to go back, to swerve away from this diseased world, to not come. It's more messed up here than I had imagined in even the worst of my nightmares.
And again one facet of me says to another facet: "Don't worry darkdaughta. You're the powerful, radical woman of color, freedom fighter, rogue theoretician, queer, femmy, matriarchal, slut, lefty mama you've been waiting for.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Ground Control to Major Tom
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on
Ground Control to Major Tom
Commencing countdown, engines on
Check ignition and may God's love be with you
Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six, Five,
Four, Three, Two, One, Liftoff
This is Ground Control to Major Tom
You've really made the grade
And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear
Now it's time to leave the capsule if you dare
"This is Major Tom to Ground Control
I'm stepping through the door
And I'm floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today
Am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do
Though I'm past one hundred thousand miles
I'm feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell my wife I love her very much she knows"
Ground Control to Major Tom
Your circuit's dead, there's something wrong
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
"Here am I floating round my tin can
Far above the Moon
Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do."
My circuit's dead, there's nothing wrong...
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Jay's doing the next Carnival of Bent Attractions and I thought I'd offer something...voluntarily. :)
I started work on this piece a little over ten years ago. It was published in Sistervision Press' MÁ-KA Diasporic Juks: Contemporary Writing by Queers of African Descent.
I was more involved in experimenting with dominance and submission,
MELTING MY IRON MAIDEN
T.J. Bryan, © 1996
Been noticin’ that acceptable (read: no risk involved) scenes of egalitarian, “womyn loving womyn,” feminist sex just don’t do it for me anymore. I mean, it takes a lot more to push me over the edge. The edge being where I find m’self after a long day of dealing with life outside my apartment walls. No matter how much I resist, the residue of oppression festers in me, fuckin’ me over from the inside out. The kicker is, I’m not even allowed to scream out my rage and hurt on the sidewalk without little men in white coats wanting to sedate me and carry me away to Tha Clarke. And showing pain, even in front of collectives and community groups, is seen as weakness – a signal to upwardly-mobile, “political” barracuda sistren and brethren that I’m ripe for the kill...
Extreme times call for extreme measures...
PRECIOUS IN TORONTO: Blk, 30-year-old dominant sista in search of fierce release, catharsis. I wanna bottom in safety between tha sheets. U R a sober, yet demonic butch/sista whom I will gift with the power of my raw, carnal lust. A daddy who can take me to tha brink & back, SAFELY, U have enuff strength, intelligence, capacity & compassion to receive tha personal power I willingly & temporarily give up. Send photo and taped voice message to...
Till she shows herself, I’m finding that obnoxious dyke porn, skanky het porn (whiter than white/Black/’coloured’...it’s ALL good) does my pussy good. Been reading and writing stories like:
junior looks like a dark brown calvin klein poster boy. sweet thang’s daddy delroy goes out of town on business, leavin’ junior all alone to fend for himself. of course, junior gets up to mischief...with a crew of banji boys from deep scarberia. they drive him out to cherry beach & take turns fuckin’ his ass & his face with dicks of all shades and sizes. junior doesn’t beg for mercy, though. he just does as he’s told.swallowin’ their jism when commanded. lyin’ on his back, spreadin’ his well-muscled cheeks & relaxin’ his hole on demand. what’s a girl to do when daddy’s not around?
But where do my politics fit? Sometimes I’m not sure they do. Most times I sorta tuck my anal retentive, Black lesbian values outta sight before I lay back to fuck myself. Without self-doubt and self-censorship hanging like twin albatrosses ‘round my neck, I’m free to sweat and rock in time to the action on my page. FUCKin’ ecstasy.
That is...till I flip back a few pages and start wondering: did the author think about the hordes of non-Black men who could be wankin’ their man-meat to a feverish frenzy at the thought of a young, Black man/boy getting raped?
Well...uh...probably not. Truth is, it was the uneasy tension between those sorts of questions, my values and my desire that made my pussy juice in the first place. The top girl in me reacted to a situation of absolute domination, my submissive to the total imbalance in power and the loss of control. When I read raunch I damn near soak my panties as my mind absorbs and accepts the violent implications of words on the sticky, wet page.
What does this say about me? ‘Bout my womanNESS? ‘Bout my diasporic African lesbian feminism? Is it possible for me to take a long hard look at my sexual practice/attraction/perversion and still GET OFF? Why not?
ONE SWEET FANTASY:
she, fierce, black, dreadlocked butch goddess with shoulders out tuh here, kicks down my bedroom door & snarls. “down on your knees, now!” whack! she delivers one hard slap to the side-a my face. overwhelmed by her courage & her strength, i obey. hot tears begin to flow. “think you’re a big woman now? don’t look at me. eyes down! crawl to tha bed and spread your fuckin’ legs bitch.” i do as she says remaining on my hands and knees, i await her bidding. she straddles my body & i arch my back to receive the warm piss that she showers down on me.
Most times I’m so damn proud of the decisions I make and of the company I keep that I forget these are dangerous times for wimmin who believe in life after tribadism and IWD. Society’s suppressed, conservative swing is mirrored back to me in many wimmin’s/lesbian communities. Instead of admitting what they don’t know or don’t understand, many anti-S?M lesbian feminists are struggling in the grip of some serious erotophobia (scared/uncomfortable with sex/sexuality). They hide their fear, confusion and ignorance behind a feminist banner. Ostracising, isolating and back-stabbing sexual outlaws all in the name of tha cause.
WHOSE CAUSE ARE WE SERVIN’ WHEN OUR ASSES ARE SO TIGHT W CAN’T EVEN WORK A BUTT PLUG UP THERE IN CELEBRATION OF OUR LOVE AND OUR LIVES?
Somewhere along the line, me and your regular, garden-variety, birkenstock-wearin’, empty-theory-spewin’, vanilla-fuckin’, granola-chewin’ lesbian feminists parted ways. Though they comprehend how this society seeks to control our communities and our bodies, some of them are a little misled in other areas. They insist on confusing the pain we’ve suffered at the hands of our oppressors and abusers with the power/aggression/domination that can be a healthy part of the erotic. Instead of being part of the solution, they’re fast becoming a part of my problem.
years ago, when i told friends’n lovers ‘bout my favourite pre-orgasm fantasy – bein’ cut by my fuckmate, havin’ her initials etched into my flesh – my girlz responded with fear & discomfort. they wanted to know if i was going to talk to my therapist about this & get some support to work it through (read: stop being so fucked up). though i took a hint & stopped speakin’ ‘bout my lust for rough, menacing sex play for a long time, i didn’t stop wanting it...
In an atmosphere of growing fear and mistrust, the witch hunts, accusations and limited analysis aren’t leaving much space to deal truthfully with the realities of sexuality and desire in lesbian communities. It sure as hell doesn’t allow enuff safety for me to admit what goes on between my thighs and more importantly, between my ears. This jus’ ain’t gonna cut it, miss thang.
Call me utopian, but I need to believe that anti-S/M, Black lesbian foremothers like Audre Lorde and Pat Parker, if they were alive, would be secure enuff in themselves and in their desire to at least sit down and discuss their opinions with young(er) Black dykes who are choosing other paths.
her strong hand roughly caresses the smoothness of my piss-wet skin as she corrects my posture. “chin up. cock that back, baby. i already tole you, legs apart. don’t fuck wit’ me, little girl.” she lubes her latex-gloved fist & then my twat. “yeah...that’s it. relax...damn! that’s my good girl.” i smile, happy that my compliance has pleased her.
she fucks me slowly. bending my iron will to hers, entering me, one finger at a time ‘til her fist fills me. my back supports her sweating, straining weight as her teeth rip into my skin. my pussy tightens around her pumping hand. sweet pain grounds me in my flesh.
IF THE SEX WAS GOOD, THERE WOULD NO ONE ON TOP OR IN CONTROL. I WOULD BE ABLE TO RELAX, SMILE AND MOAN POLITELY.
SO, I COME BACK WITH:
CAN’T U SEE THAT MY SLOWLY SIMMERING CASE OF STRONG-BLACK-WOMAN-GONNA-TAKE-CARE-OF-BUSINESS BURNT-OUT IS INTRICATELY LINKED TO THE WAYS I GET OFF?
Now, I need to add here that there are vibrant and well-organized (largely white) S/M organizations and communities in Toronto. But I’ve have almost no contact with them. Although I’ve read some leather mags and quite a few S/M anthologies, and ‘though I often rummage through downtown stores in search of toys, tools and information, I haven’t been to any dungeons, play parties, leather events, workshops or conferences to date. In part, this is because I’ve always had difficulties navigating cliques, dealing with group/mob mentality and deciding if I want to ‘BELONG’ or not. But I’ve also had enough problems validating my status as a novice player without having to measure my worth with someone else’s yard stick, too.
WHEN I’M WRAPPED IN YARD UPON YARD OF COLOURFUL CLOTH, HEAD TIED, ACCESSORIZED NOT CHROME, LEATHER AND CHAIN, BUT IN COWRIE SHELLS, BEADS AND RAGAMUFFIN GYAL GOLD HOOPS, WILL YOU SEE THA KINK IN ME? EVEN IF I COULD AFFORD THE TICKET, WOULD YOU ALLOW ME INTO YOUR LEATHER BALLS DRESSED AS IS OR STOP ME AT THE DOOR WITH LECTURES ‘BOUT STRICT DRESS CODES AND THE (WHITE) QUEER S/M AESTHETIC? WHAT D’YOU MEAN MY KWAMINA THE ESSENTIALIST, WANNABE, CONTINENTAL, AFRICAN QUEEN WEAR AIN’T EXACTLY THE SORT OF FETISH WEAR YOU HAD IN MIND?
‘Til I see a more obvious and public examination of whiteness and how/.why it dominates information produced and distributed about queer S/M culture. ‘Til I witness all the self-professed, pierced-up, tattoo-covered, scarified, branded, euro ‘urban primitives’ try and arrive at some clarity ‘round issues of racism and cultural appropriation, this novice bottom won’t feel safe enuff to rush naked and vulnerable into their open arms. As I contemplate my emergence into S/M I’m realizing that community is less about finding my place among a group of strangers and more about dedicating myself to seeking out players who respect the emotional under-currents of S/M and whose race analysis equals the intensity and complexity of their sexual politic.
At this point, I’m doing less tricking and more exploration of the psychological and literary spaces where Black wimmin’s/lesbian’s common history of oppression and our unique view points mingle. Right now, it’s enough to understand that my Black, Diasporic African consciousness can help me navigate and survive in the chasm that separates my experience from the words of white people like Patrick Califia-Rice, Trish Thomas, Wickie Stamps and Dorothy Allison.
Yeah, my favourite whiter-than-white, kinky, queer sex radicals have expanded my understanding of what a dyke/feminist is and how/who she can fuck. But I’ve had to move past their experiences, moving toward an analytical S/M framework of my own making or risk becoming a caricature of myself – a white S/M dyke in black-face. NOT! ‘Sides, as a sista friend recently reminded me, the Marquis De Sade was just a fucked up white boy with a cruel streak. Girlfriend asked if I really wanted to name what I do after him? I think this Black girl has had it up to HERE with white, upper-class bully boys who don’t know their place...haven’t you?
I’ve GOT a culture (albeit a mix-up/mix-up one). I had an identity, a history and an extended community/family before I began guided exploration of sadism & masochism/pleasure & pain/submission & domination. And though the scenes I’ve done have have been birthed from a place of desire and fantasy, this will never be a racially, culturally or historically neutral place. How could it be when I live in a society steeped in the domination of the powerful over the powerless? Role-play doesn’t mean denial or forgetfulness. My play has GOT to fit into my struggles, with who I am as a Black woman and with where I’ve been (literally and metaphorically) in the REAL world.
THIS FLESH WAS BOUND FOR THE AUCTION BLOCK MORE THAN THREE HUNDRED YEARS BEFORE I WAS EVEN BORN. BUT BE FORWARNED: I’M NOT YOUR POSSESSION, NOT YOUR SLAVE. I’M MORE THAN A SLUT WITH A BIG BUTT WHO CAN DANCE & FUCK BETTER THAN I CAN THINK OR FEEL.
As one of the colonized I incorporate a view of race into my sexual politic that goes beyond integrationist and simplistic questions ‘bout whether a sista should top or bottom for a white gyal. Or whether there are enuff of US at leather events. Even as I delve into the depths of my own perversion I hold tight to the memory that Black wimmin, our sexualities and our bodies have always been seen as deviant. I have met some Black lesbians/wimmin who have chosen to react against, yet sadly, to also internalize racist views of ourselves by manufacturing asexual, good girl façades that are more about our oppressors than about who we wanna be. I’ve made a decision to become a self-actualized, sexual being. While I can’t help but ground myself in a knowledge of history and in Black people’s collective (de)colonization, I also consciously identify, confront and bust out of the limitations society has placed on my Black female sexuality. I feel myself grow in power and (SELF)understanding.
WATCH this! Sitting in a white dominated, queer bar I inhale the sweet odour of sweat and black leather as a white butch stomps by. Since my common sense is situated much farther north of the wet, hot delta between my thighs and since I’m such a BIG process queen, I take a long look at why my clit’s hard. Do I want to trick with this swaggerin’, thin-lipped, flat-butt, cock-packin’ white gyal? Or am I more attracted to those expensive, black leathers she’s wearin’ and what they signify? And as for her, does she even SEE this big, Black body? And if so, how? Answers are invoked through the power of my gaze as I scope the room, taking in with a mixture of amusement, pain and anger, white gay and lesbian S/M communities’ long-standing love affair with pale/white-skinned femme(INESS) and obsession/eroticization of BLACK (animal) skin – leather.
I look around the bar some more. Silently tallying the amount of people in black leather clothing and accessories. Something about this picture makes a lotta sense. I struggle with this and then it comes to me – the parallels between black leather and my African skin. Parallels probably as old as the white power structure itself, fill my mind. I think about the ways that Black people are often perceived and about society’s and MY reading of people IN black leather.
OTHER, OUTSIDER, PRIMITIVE, REBELLIOUS, HIDE YOUR WIMMIN FOLK, BAD-BEHAVE’, MENACING, SEXUALLY AGGRESSIVE, EMOTIONALLY UNSTABLE, CRIMINAL.
Too bad, so sad that so many people can’t at least understand that this radical sex business can have as much to do with reinforcing society’s racist beliefs ‘bout dark/Black skin as it does with resistance, queerness, cool wardrobe and sexual practice. I laugh...a painful laugh. Bizarre irony: people payin’ through the nose, hundreds of dollars at a time, for the vicarious experience of risk and persecution wrapped in Black skin/leather while I got the experience of oppression and my gorgeous, chocolate Black (leather) skin for free from my mummy at birth.
I usually go to bars face painted, high-heeled, dressed to kill, hair (if I have it) teased to tha max. It’s all about drag (as in Queen) and parody of the femme(inine) mystique. I walk arrogantly with the knowledge that my dark, Diasporic beauty is light worlds away from the weak, wash’ out, euro-culture influenced image so many of the non-Black gyals around me are workin’. Butch/femme role play is fine but me and most of the Black wimmin I know have been measured (with varying results) against other people’s light(er)/white(r), scrawnier, smaller, weaker, wealthier femme(inine) ideals for eons. So, I do the round-hipped, pert tittie, garter belted femme than with a conscience. Camp it up, work it out, fuck it over, loot it, chew it up, takin’ what I need and horkin’ up the rest. Though dress-up and play acting leaves me hot and bothered, ‘femme’ will always evoke a whole heap of dynamics straight outta my present and not too distant past.
SO, I WONDER...IF SOJOURNER TRUTH (THE AIN’T I A WOMAN? sista) WAS ALIVE TODAY AND PROCLAIMED HERSELF A LEZZIE AND A FEMME AT THAT, WOULD ANYONE TAKE HER SERIOUSLY? WOULD BUTCHES COME FROM FAR AND WIDE TO GROVEL AT HER FEET AND VIE FOR HER FAVORS? WOULD SHE BE UNANIMOUSLY VOTED MOST HIGH QUEEN FEMME OF ANY WHITE, OF COLOUR OR EVEN BLACK LESBIAN COMMUNITY?
ANYways...can you see why I usually wanna say: Talk to tha han’, when someone labels me or themselves a ‘FEMME’? That word wasn’t built to hold all of who I am.
At the end of the day theory and analysis stand side-by-side with endorphin over-drive and feral emotion. All the complicated words, phrases and questions flow back to me and another soul sista reekin’ of leather, sweat and cunt juice, doin’ tha nasty, ODin’ on the power of our flesh, soul and fury combined.
Her fist explorin’ my pussy is the closest I’ve been to another human being in a very long time. As this realization floods over me, I begin to scream. The toxins I’ve been carryin’ rise to the surface of my skin & evaporate into the open air like sweat.
My fierce butch growls as I slide my cunt back & forth ‘round her wrist. With her other hand she begins to deliver deliberate, slow, stinging slaps to my ass. Moved beyond boundaries, politics & acceptable feminist behaviour, I cum cussin’, drownin’ the two of us in a wash of pussy juice, lube and grateful appreciation.
Sniffling, weakened & for tha time bein’ emptied of my pain, I fall asleep wrapped in her loving arms. The next morning strong-Black-dyke-gonna-take-care-of-business awakes, leavin’ fierce butch to her much-deserved rest. Cast iron armour & arrogant attitude intact, I stand once again ready to take on the whole damn world.
THIS HERE’S AN ATTITUDINAL, BLACK CONSCIOUS, BAJAN-BORN, URBAN, DYKE GYAL/ CUMIN’ AT Y’ALL LIVE FROM THE CROSSROADS OF MANY DIFFERENCT REALITIES/ IS THERE ROOM IN YOUR COMMUNITY FOR A MULTIFACETED ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS IRON MAIDEN WHO GETS OFF AND SURVIVES/ BY MAKIN’ LINKS AND PUSHIN’ HER OWN LIMITS? I’M OUT HERE IN LEFT FIELD SEEKIN’ WOR(L)DS FILLED WITH MULTIPLICITY/FERTILE WITH POSSIBILITY/FORMIN’ SENTENCES WITH ENUFF EXPLOSIVE POTENTIAL TO PROPEL ME OFF IN SEARCH OF PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN BORDERLANDS/RIPE WITH FUNK/FUELED BY POTENT RAGE & THE POWER OF MY PERVERTED/PORNOGRAPHIC/EROTIC/I WANNA RIDE YOUR ASS THERE/ARE YOU PREPARED TO PRANCE ‘N WHINE?/RECEIVIN’ THA PAIN, DISPLACEMENT & ANARCHY THESE WORDS MAY BRING?/ DO YOU HAVE THE DISCIPLINE IT’LL TAKE?/CAN YOU OPEN YOURSELF WIDE ENUFF?/ STRETCHIN’ YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS TO ACCOMMODATE THE IMMENSITY OF MY DEMANDS?/BUCKIN’ YOUR HIPS AS I ASSAULT YOUR IGNORANCE WITH THE SCOPE OF MY COMPREHENSION?/IF YOUR ANSWER’S YES...ASSUME THE POSITION & IT WILL BEGIN.
I started writing a brief comment back to her that sort of expanded and expanded until I realized I had another post...
This is a lightly edited (added to) version of what I wrote in the comment box.
In my city, there was a moment where many different kinds of wimmin would come together to organize despite their differences, they came together with men despite their differences, too.
I actually got back to the city from being away at school in a border town just around the time when people were getting close enough to rub each other the wrong way. More differences than were comfortable were rising to the surface and being recognized. I don't think any of the wimmin I found there, or I knew what to do with the profound gaps between us. It was a challenge they were not prepped for, that terrified them and forced them to back away from working in solidarity with each other in ways that were meaningful, deeply political, with clear sight.
It was painful and terrifying and enfuriating to see the fissures begin to form. One that I witnessed was an all wimmin of color dance where some of the wimmin had white lovers and friends they wanted to be allowed in. The organizers, friends, colleagues and lovers of these wimmin refused. Thing is, I think they were actually surprised about who asked to bring in their white acquaintances, as if they had not been living in community together all along. I don't think some people's alliances survived that night.
For me the telling moment was also in my twenties, a time of exhilarating (self)discovery where I understood that I was lovingly enveloped in a world of men and wimmin who were dedicated to liberation on all possible fronts. Of course again, I hadn't actually been listening or paying attention to what they were actually saying about their politics at all.
That is until one of my lovers was violently driven outta Dodge for being a woman of color who was way too different to be tolerated. She was constructed as an abuser by the wimmin she had organized with (some of them dated/fucked) because as a leather wearing, boy bottom/masochist, with a dick, who was Black/Asian/Carib Indian who had come out in a time when these weren't identities that most understood could be held inside the body and spirit and politic of a woman of color, she was too many things at once for our allies through the skin to understand or tolerate.
Her shunning led to my having a complete systems failure, shut down, does not compute, breakdown. That was when I first started spending most of my time in the house and not coming together with the other race wimmin I knew and had formerly been allied with.
The safe home I had read about and had been taught to see went poof and I was terrified and enraged and confused. The realization that this place with wimmin who looked like me was not (necessarily) home came crashing down and destroyed me. I stayed in the house for six months.
In a lot of ways I understand I've got healing to do around that moment in my life and a few other "choice" experiences that have led to realizations and epiphanies I could have done without but that have made me who I am nonetheless.
Even as these flipped scripts have taught me and violently propped opened my eyes, they've also profoundly shifted my understanding of human dynamics in ways that mean I don't take so easily to mob...unh...I mean group situations. I understand how easily a grouping, even one that seems political on the surface can become a tool utilized for the imposition of convention and largely agreed upon values.
Being lovers with the woman I mentioned up above, by proxy going through her ostracism from circles where she had been a queer youth leader showed me that none of my alliances were permanent or strong just cuz they were called strong.
I developed a way that many would consider anti-social, of pushing the bounds of any alliance, purposefully seeking out the raw spots, the weak spots and poking there. To my mind it was no use hiding these areas or protecting them as eventually they would be found and exploited at the most inopportune moments. Better embrace those messy little bits now rather than be compelled to look upon them later.
Witnessing what I did taught me to not be afraid, taught me a crucial lesson about what it means to step up to the plate and be in community with someone others consider distasteful. It compelled me to grow and change and question in ways that eventually morphed me willingly into a being others might find to be difficult, irritating, to be avoided...distasteful.
I understand that when people consider allying with me, they're actually considering allying with a profound lack of popularity, lack of group presence, a life of aloneness, a life of stringent exploration... not the glamorous kind, but just inner seeking. Them realizing this early saves me a lot of heartache and energy in that my forthrightness forces people to choose really early on instead of allowing them space to construct romanticisms about who we be that might cloud their or my vision.
My work to date in the blogosphere looks like holding those who attempt to create false homogenieties accountable to the lies they tell to themselves and to each other and to me so that the veneer of sameness can remain intact.
It means realizing that I will often be constructed as a threat to any monolithic (seemingly) homogeneous grouping of people simply by pointing out how very much we aren't the same.
It means that I will be understood as a danger to be neutralized for speaking openly about differences and about the bits and pieces of oppression and power attached to them.
But watching the ways that difference is ferreted out and attacked even as many/most make a show of being "open", "progressive", "radical" means that to not speak would mean a life of hiding and cowering for me where I could still expect to be eventually witch-hunted out into the open for easy disposal.
Not okay. So, I say pretty much wherever I go and encounter stuff that breaks my heart: I'm standing eyes wide open. If this, this, this way of behaving, denying, obscuring is what you've got for me? Then, bring it on.
Been thinking about the fear of actually dealing with disagreements that are charged with experiences of oppression, that hit close enough to home to bring up the bio familial triggers of those involved and/or mirror back to us things we don't want to look at or deal with now or ever.
I'm thinking about world politics, the kind that most in the blogosphere write about and incessantly comment on?
an ages old or extremely new conflict between people x and people z that starts out small and solveable that eventually the rift becomes too messy and too public to ignore.
People x send forth their politician/diplomat/leader to meet with the politician/diplomat/leader of people z. A provisional truce, an agreement based in really surface issues is hammered out in record time. Everyone involved celebrates while continuing to sleep with one eye open.
Well, the reality is that nothing substantial was actually tackled or moved. The summits did not involve delving into the source of the disagreement because this would be a lengthy process, a BUMpy ride. Why would the leaders want to dig deep when they could arrive at a seeming, instead?
End result? Two weeks or two months or two years or two decades later, boundaries erected during the few day summit are torn down with the bare hands of people on either or both sides. There was nothing substantial to bind them to the agreement as it didn't address their issues in the first place.
As a responsible member nation of this blogosphere this is what I'm bringing:
An experience of having to emotionlessly, responsibly, "objectively" facilitate discussions about my own issues with others where I am expected to give care and offer a sense of stability while those I have questioned and requested reparations from simply sit in their hurts, issues, assumptions and misconceptions and continue to benefit from whatever bridging or dialogue space I create.
An experience of dealing with third and fourth parties sitting uncomfortably in their own skins, unable to manifest powerfully in a situation involving disagreement or outright conflict. Their visions limited by what they've been taught: Choose a "side" and prepare to fight; try to smooth it over and shove it under the rug; avoid both parties involved and hope that things blow over.
As a human being attemtping to develop emotional intelligence that can serve me wherever I go, this is what I'm bringing:
An experience of having been a beneficial bridging force between disagreeing parties (papi and his mama; ex partners and their girlfriends, friends and their friends, every single relationship in my present chosen family)
An experience of realizing that conflict and disagreement do not mean death, that possibilities for new ways of dealing rise out of chaos
An experience of understanding how a third or fourth or fifth party willing, intelligent, insightful, fearless, a participant in heated dialogues can move dynamics to useful, loving, creative places.
An experience of always being the person willing and able to come with these sorts of knowings, never being the person to benefit from others being willing to ask solid questions, to dig past covers and perpetrations, to compassionately hold both and support conscientized interactions.
An experience of powerfully craving having even one of the disagreements I've named, not started, being explored in an open forum where folks don't just pose and perform leadership, but actually maintain presence in ways that builds community even on the rockiest soil.
Here's another relevant post from pascasia's phoenix..."Dear Chicana:
Why are you positioning yourself as having been victimized and attacked when you are being asked to be responsible and accountable to decisions that you made regarding the January Carnival.
You say: “a blogger was pissed off that she was included in the January Radical Women of Color Carnival”
The blogger did not say she was pissed off that she was included in the Jan carnival—she made a number of insightful points that problematized the process of the carnival- which you chose not to engage. And instead of stating what these were and interacting with them- you are now repositioning her as an angry (black) woman that attacked you.
You say that "she felt unsafe and attacked".
What actually happened is that in the Carnival you put in a post by a woman of color blogger who wrote in a post essentially about the merits of monogamous relationships (an article that she wrote in response to encountering 'said blogger’s' comments/posts on how the world leaves no space outside of monogamy and heteronormativity and is therefore oppressive to folks who are polyamourous and sexually radical).
Said blogger was upset that the carnival—which had included her without consulting her, was putting her work (without her permission) in the same carnival with the blogger who wrote the pro-monogamy article (which essentially was an attack on polyamoury and sexual radicality).
This blogspace by virtue of including and not questioning the fact that the pro-monogamy post was oppressive to sexual radicals—while putting both articles in the same carnival under the banner of radical women of color--- was obscuring and unwilling to engage the reality that the pro-monogamy article is oppressive.
For me it would be like including a pro-heterosexuality article in a ‘woman of color’ space and then when a queer woman comments that (in a world where heterosexuality is the oppressive and compulsory norm), a pro-het article can only exist to oppose any voices that rise to challenge heternormativity---- in effect to put them 'back in their place'.
The same applies with a pro-monogamy article. Given that the world is already compulsorarily pro-monogamous or monogamounormative—monogamy is dominant. Those who argue ‘for monogamy’ are already in a power position and are already in a dominant position… it would be like arguing for ‘men’s rights’ or ‘white rights’ in a context where they are already dominating—and so the only point of arguing thus would be to silence any voices in opposition, any voices that challenge.
So, a woman of color wrote a blogpost in “defense” of ‘monogamy’ or ‘pro-monogamy’ in a sexually conservative/pro-monogamous world—in response to reading posts that challenge sexual conservatism in feminist/women of colour/activist spaces.
And the radical woman of colour carnival supports her work, supports her post and includes it in their Carnival...
...Hmm, well given that you weren’t attacked, and that no one has asked you to fight anyone or to tear apart any community …
In fact, what you’ve been asked is to make this community stronger by addressing the oppressions and concerns of other women of color so that we can all safely share space
I don’t understand why you wouldn’t take the opportunity to engage in honest and constructive dialogue about what happened with the previous carnival—and maybe about your feelings at being challenged on your power/privilege and support of others in positions of power and privilege.
INSTEAD of repositioning yourself as the ‘victim’ the ‘attacked’ and thus to avoid having a responsible, accountable and honest engagement that could actually help build women of color community.
I hope you'll leave this comment of mine online longer (than one day) than the last one I made."
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Week before last they came home talking about a strategy suggested by professional child workers that chilled me to the bone.
It involves ignoring any of the child's behaviours that parents or other family members consider inappropriate or harmful. The theory is that existing for that moment with the astounding silence surrounding whatever choice the child has made, given that the child normally experiences loads of attention and verbal reinforcement for behaviours considered valid by the adults that surround him or her, the child will eventually understand that there are certain things you do and certain things you just don't cuz people won't engage with you when you do.
An adult, responsible, defiant, questioning, honest, verbose resister, I have an experience that disturbingly parallels this childrearing strategy.
It involves a tool often used by wimmin (feminist, radical or otherwise), by politicos (lefty, anarchist, progressive, etc.) but also in a lot of ways by the general populace. It involves the ability and willingness to ignore what I say or write when my critiques hit too close to home. I understand that most would rather literally close up shop, run, turn the other way, ignore the value and purpose of my words, perhaps even taking the extra step of demonizing me -- showing me as threatening scary in the best racist traditions, to be avoided. Sometimes what I've encountered is an attempt on the part of a few intrepid souls to come step to me anyways putting on a smiley face as they pay attention to other things I write, say or do...
All this rather than engage in dialogue that is close to home that can actually impact all of us and our struggles for change in really beneficial ways.
Ignoring as a strategy utilized with children comes of age in adult interactions, to silently "teach", "instruct", "nudge" me in the "right" directions, "modelling" what is expected as I move through life and sometimes through the blogosphere.
Thanks to Janine at Startle the Echoes who responded to a comment a wrote on her blog a few weeks back asking me a very good question, something to the effect of (and I'm completely paraphrasing here): "What did you expect to find in here the blogosphere?"
Janine, I acknowledge that I didn't give you my full answer, preferring to talk about the babel tower aspect of blogging instead. I was disappointed and had nothing I could share in conversation with you that wouldn't sound petulant and spoiled. :)
Now, smiling, I recall the initial exhilaration of coming into a new world built by a medium that was new (for me). My little devil's horns grew a few millimeters as I realized that with my own publishing venue, no one would be able to block the flow of my free verse. No struggling with idiot publishers refusing to pay me, trying to get me to write less ebonically, no spoken word event organizers complaining about my copious use of sexualized, erotic "profanity", no community radio announcers chastising me and pulling the plug for talking 'bout tha nasty in the light of day rather than under cover of the dark, no ignorant event attendees looking for sound bytes when all I had was words, words and more words. Glorious.
The blogosphere seemed so full of promise. I figured, another world, another growing medium for ideas, bravely created and embraced ways of engaging, an alternate set of values forming...perhaps a place...I could add to my list of homes...only in a less pained way?
Just the same old same old wrapped in a shiny cool wrapper. The same prohibitions, the same discomforts, the same collective coping strategies that haven't worked for any of us, our families, our communities, our world real time.
For me, I understand I brought my real world analysis, the same set of extra eyes that people "praise" me for when I write things that please them, the analysis I utilize not to garner any person's approval or validation (save my own) but instead to light my way, to guide me as I move through this life.
It's this analysis I use even in those moments when I speak/write critiques that curl the hair, bulge the eyeballs and stop the breath. It's this critical gaze I use to name the nasty shit I encounter up close and personal, the nasty (seemingly unnameable, but not really) shit that deprives me of sleep, leaves me thinking suicide or at least of ceasing to communicate at all.
But, I'm seasoned in these kinds of battles and stronger than that. I understand that to leave any space where I encounter harm, ignorance or disinterest in my issues even from those who at least in name and theory understand themselves as being politically allied with my issues, would mean my death.
I've left real time circles in this city, don't socialize, don't return calls, don't respond to most emails because of hypocrisy around things political, social and personal and the gaps people create between to serve themselves and allow them to not come correct in ways went beyond not serving me right on into doing stuff like blocking my work/career, friendship, growth possibilities.
And again, I find myself on this brink with nothing particularly debate worthy to say. No hole to hide my emotions in, no witty political references to tie the crap I'm experiencing back to larger conversations about George Bush and who shot who in the ass or South Dakota or returning soldiers.
Me and the issues I raise mostly exist in spaces where no conversation has surfaced, been allowed to surface to be spoken to, written about, witnessed. Of course the irony is that this is precisely why the nasty shit keeps floating back up to the surface not just in my life, but from all accounts I've received in the lives of many.
And so, this is me saying, I have no one I can guilt into believing I'm powerless and unable to "defend" myself. I understand that in this moment I can only expect to come out seeming the mean a-political aggressor speaking/writing inappropriately.
I understand that in this moment of continued clarity for me, with confusion around what exactly is possible reigning supreme in the minds of others, I will be constructed as that bad girl child again engaging in behaviours that need to be ignored until she realizes that the deafening silence emmanating from those around her is for her...
Monday, March 27, 2006
Sunday, March 26, 2006
is when I move past the vomitation stage.
is when I take what has been channeled through me from the ancestors and into my computer a few steps farther, honing my understanding of their spirited communications.
is when I start to examine word redundancies and usage, subsituting repetitons and near misses for needle sharp precision.
is when I check for (my messed up, fucked up understanding of) grammar and spelling.
is when I hone and craft page upon page of wordings and phrasings, carrying hardcopies around with me, kept closer to my breast than any lover or child, printing, scribbling, reprinting, more scribbling, travelling the bus/train/street car head held down focussed for months on end until I can't sweat or weep or bleed anymore. Til I can't make even a single word tighter or any proposed idea stronger.
doesn't flow and fly free, a few paragraphs spewed out without reflection, un(der)developed, followed by a swift click of the "publish post" button.
This blog ain't my writin'. It's just me checking to see if all my parts are still there and where new appendages are growin'. This is just me getting stronger, coming into more power. This here's me getting unblocked and set to fire fresh rounds of lyrical ammo. Getting set to travel once more into tha breach, tha gap separating theory from lived reality with full revolutionary fury unchained...
I remember us talking about the reality that we are only about 4, perhaps five generations (this might be generous), removed from the experience of the Middle Passage - The Black Holocaust - that mostly only us descendants of the African people's dragged to the west understand as a horrific genocide still having ripple effects on the continent of Africa, on our relationships to First Nations people's here on Turtle Island, on relationships of power and dominance with most of the "first" world imperialist states, on the ways Black folks are perceived by other people of colour and most crucially on how our families and relationships (don't) function, for the most part.
I wrote a post a while back where I referred to myself as suffering from ongoing traumatic stress disorder. What I failed to mention is that I've inherited the ongoing traumatic stress disorder not just of my parents and grans, but also of a whole peopling dislocated out of their chosen places and spaces, forced under duress to realign themselves according to the values, cultures and malignant ways of being of their colonizers.
Then, after a few hundred years of this embedded, internalized abuse, they/we were freed and invited/ordered go forth and perform happy, thankful, relieved and multiply, creating our own families and relationships once more.
It's been said before, but I just gotta say it again...
Do you understand how fucking ridiculous it was/is for them/us to actually believe that given the repeated, merciless verbal, mental, physical and spiritual abuse/assaults these survivors had experienced, that we would just be able to miraculously pick up from where we left off (in truth this point of experiencial and existential departure being a mystery for the descendants of the middle passage to this very day), and just start building loving, safe, nurturing, transformational families, communities and relationships?
And so, I talk about the nasties on a regular basis. About the shift in perception created by what we yearn after, what we construct as surface seeming as opposed to the harsh reality of what's actually t/here.
And because I am linked up all over the place I end up talking about this difference, this gap between who we'd like to be as opposed to who we actually are, as I walk through every and any community I may provisionally call my own.
I talk about silence as a killer, as a site of strength only for those who are positioned with something to gain, something they don't want to loose that buys their closed lips even as they continue to describe and ineffectually struggle against their own oppression.
I talk about the failure to purposefully transgress as one of the many ways the oppressed maintain the yolk of our own oppression.
I talk about suppressed emotion as a relic from our collective pasts brought terrifyingly into our present day.
I talk about the possibilities for creating spaces that don't negate the reality of present day oppression all around us, but that offer possibilities for alliance grounded in something other than how we've been oppressed by white people. If race and racism are all we have in common, when whitey's not around, there's always gonna be hell to pay as every link and layer we've ignored renders the spaces we share completely unsafe...for some.
I'm trying to understand what it means to be the great-granddaughta of a blue black skinned man who was disinterested in my darkness and attracted to my sister's lightness, who was probably born a slave or the son of freed slaves. Though, in truth, the significance isn't a mystery. What exactly I'm gonna do with the crap I've inherited is.
More mamaWORK designed to safe guard my babies, definitely.
Thanks to rat boy who sent me a link to the work of Joy Degruy-Leary who writes about a concept called Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.
My elitist stuff related to who's a feminist scholar and who isn't is kicking in really strongly. It doesn't do so in relation to folks without letters who write their truths and theorize on their own behalfs.
But my red flags fly when wimmin so grounded in academia don't according to their own wordings and self-descriptions come with an analysis of oppression and power across the board, start theorizing about race. I've seen enough of theoreticians saying fairly solid things about race initially but ending up in really odd (meaning seriously fuck'd) places when it comes to assumptions about the centrality of heterosexuality, the erotic, conservative Black family values, controlled Black womanhood, Black masculinities, our relationships, etc.
Bearing in mind that I don't identify as an African-american (being caribbean and canadianized and not interested in hyphenated identities that link me to any oppressive white, western state) but also... (Note to self: Will have to go into the oppressive significance of this labelling of all Black folks as hyphenated, defacto "americans" due to the cultural dominance of descendents of African people's located in the US over all other African descendants located in other parts of theAfrican diaspora)
There's something here and I know I can't control whether this woman's ideas are used to diminish the oppression of me and mine or to further entrench it. I haven't read her book yet. So, I can't say whether she reaches conclusions that allow me, her and others to fly or whether she does all the necessary research foot work only to end up once more stuck in sticky oppressive mud.
"In her book Dr. Leary first exposes the reader to the conditions that led to the Atlantic slave trade and allowed the pursuant racism and efforts at repression to continue through the present day. She then looks at the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that our ancestors faced as the result of the slave trade. Next she discusses the adaptive behaviors they developed, both positive and negative, that allowed them to survive and often even thrive. Dr. Leary concludes by reevaluating those adaptive behaviors that have been passed down through generations and where appropriate, she explores replacing behaviors which are today maladaptive with ones that will promote, ensure and sustain the healing and advancement of African American culture."
"So, have you all seeen this piece of work?
Streetwalking in Silicon Valley: Has Prostitution Found its Place on Craigslist?
Well, I'll recap/highlight some parts for you:
Craigslist is unique in that it plays host to both real estate brokers looking for a sale and horny twenty-somethings looking for a date in the same place. Believe it or not, it didn’t take long for these two disparate sectors to find some commonalities on the community site, and unnerving postings like the following (posted on 3/19/06 in the “manhattan rooms & shares” section) began appearing with frequency:
“FEMALE ROOMATE WANTED ONLY WHO IS PRETTY & IN GOOD SHAPE.TO RENT, WITH ADDED SEX INCLUDED. AND SHARE A 1MEDIUM SIZE BEDROOM.2WINDOWS.UTILITIES/CABLE INCLUDED. SHARE KITCHEN.AND BATHROOM. RENT CAN MAYBE BE NEGOTIABLE TO A LOWER PRICE WITH ADDED SEX INCLUDED.”
In several major cities, including New York, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco, and undoubtedly many other places around the country, men are offering free or discounted rent on their shared apartment space to young, attractive women who are willing to negotiate sexual favors as payment. For the past year, stories such as the one that appeared last Sunday, March 19 in the Miami Herald have chronicled the practice as a growing phenomenon. The disturbing trend in this coverage is that very little preventative measures are being taken; the authorities are always seen standing on the sideline of the Internet with a dumb stupor, wondering what laws they should consult, and whether or not they should intervene at all.
Sometimes, posters will mask their sexual solicitations with more vague terms such as “services,” or by requesting other suggestive activity, such as regularly cleaning the apartment in their underwear. Frequently, potential roommates will be asked to send a provocative picture for review. Nearly always, what is being asked for is explicit enough to scare away young women not wishing to prostitute themselves, yet implicit enough to avoid legal prosecution.
In February of this year, the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a lawsuit against Craigslist’s operators, claiming that the site is in violation of the Fair Housing Act. In reality, the group was attacking the vile sexual solicitation they found becoming a rampant problem in their city, but legally they took the case against Craigslist to another level. The Fair Housing Act in question outlaws “discriminatory preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap.” This means that the Chicago Lawyers Committee found Craigslist postings making specifications such as “Godly Christian Roommate Wanted” (a surprisingly frequent occurrence) to be on par with “Female Only CHEAP RENT FOR SERVICES.” Their lawsuit is still pending.
This legal strategy conflates the real problem of sexual solicitation with the imagined threat of housing discrimination. People should be allowed to say if they prefer to live with someone who has a similar background as them (provided that they don’t directly attack those people they prefer not to live with). They should not, however, be allowed to sell their ritzy Manhattan penthouse for daily sexual gratification, at least not on Craigslist where their vulgar offers contaminate a shared community space.
angry for a reason goes on to write...
Oh yesiree, we have reached the age where men (no women place the ads, how strange) seem to think that it's ok to exploit women's need for shelter and their inherent belief that all women will want to have sex with their socially inept, misogynistic, slimy selves. I mean, does that sound like a fun or even fair trade to you?"
This darkdaughta's thinkin'...
Did anyone ever see Soylent Green the dystopic sci-fi thriller about a vastly over populated new york where the majority live on the streets, a curious police officer who uncovers horrific information about organized cannibalism disguised as food distribution for the masses and the "new" world order? Well, it seems we're well on our way.
If you don't believe me rent the Charlton Heston classic or try googling "Soylent Green, furniture".
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Think of me like a flood. I have overrun the banks all thought would hold me and mine. I am raging, bound to inexorably flow into every space I can. My purpose? To overcome by permeating, locating every nook and cranny possible.
Unstoppable, I've been at this work a long, long time.
Think of me like a virus.
I'm absolutely incurable. Even if you can't stand what I say, how I say it and don't understand why I do it, it is possible for me to still infect you with the essence of what I am.
On bad days I phreak and refer to your ungrateful, pissant, oftimes surface absorption, pillaging of my critically, fierce lyrical fury as teefing my words and work.
On good days, I know you can nevah be me and that you try out of anger, tantruming because I will not concede to your (relative) power and because you understand my singularity as vulnerability.
On good days I see you trying and failing because you haven't yet found your own voice, your own way.
On good days I understand that although you may attempt to destroy that which you seek to mimic, you cannot destroy the brilliance at the core of she who has terrified and galvanized you. You will not be able to destroy anotha daughta to make space for yourself as you struggle to finally get a grasp of your own potential. Secret is, you can actually create for creation's sake while making enough room for those who choose to follow you to come to voice, arriving at an understanding of who you all will be without adverse reaction or malignant side effects for me.
I just won't be around to witness your trip. See, I've got other places to be and your starting point, so recently declared in the here and now is somewhere I done visited already.
On good days the fear and insecurity are less and I understand that I'm on my chosen path headed somewhere else. Separate but equal and up to tha task at hand. Walking a mostly solitary road...I'm doing the work I was meant to. Breathe...
photo by nvision photography
My high school was different than many in that it had a functioning birth control clinic specifically for teens located within its walls. The clinic was started by Sue Johansen, a white elder, (conservative) sexpert and public health nurse who made it her mission to educate teens about sexual health...
These pictures of my pap examination are about a month and a half old. Just got them back from the developers fairly recently. I had an internal battle about whether I should post them or not. It's not as if they're exactly glamorous...
I like them because they don't romanticize my cunt and surrounding area. One of the things this deviant mama has found so problematic about most of porn I've seen is the emphasis on rendering female genitals into something to be consumed (er, pardon the pun), something air brushed, unreal, clipped and polished. An absraction, an idealization.
My cunt isn't like that. It's just a regular everyday hairy beasty that sometimes gets entangled with bits of toilet paper, has different scents at different times of the month and different consistencies of juice...
There was also the prerequisite baggage...many other wimmin's not really mine...(I resent always having to protect myself from the criticisms that will inevitably come from within the ranks of the pure)
A color'd twat splayed and on display in the light of day for just anyone to see? Oh dear me! I'm sure the foremothers didn't have this in mind when they set out on the path to liberation...
Yeah, I know say they didn't because they couldn't see this far down the road. They just knew that they wanted their daughtas to be able to continue travelling down the road bravely and in peace, making choices, having the freedom and presence of mind to explore and not hang back from our destinies...
I live in a different time than when women of color foremothers Gloria, Audre, Trinh, Gayatri, Barbara, Beth and all the rest started writing and resisting. I have access to more information and viewpoints than they did.
My understanding of my intersecting identities is as layered as it is because they bought me space with their blood, sweat and tears. To do anything less than voraciously and vociferously pursue full knowledge of all I am would be a slap in their faces, deep disrespect, spitting on their contributions to the future in which I live. And I'm nothing if not a "good" ancestor worshipping radical queer Black woman of color feminist...
As for the photos themselves...
The taking of them was a fairly mundane affair with the exception of the fact that L. our studen midwife asked I think more than once whether I was okay with papi coming in with us to have the examination done. I said that he could of course come in because I wanted him to photograph the whole thing...given that I'd never actually been able to witness my own firsthand myself. Keep meaning to buy a plastic speculum online so I can get a closer look at what goes on inside there, though.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Just to be clear, I really like the idea of folks citing my words, posts, thoughts on their blogs. It's an excellent way to circulate ideas and new slants. And I actually approve of the post that was chosen for the feminist carnival...wthout me knowing.
Where I always want to get off the bus is over the issue of carnivals designed with a specific theme in mind, by folks I may not always be allied with utilizing my work perhaps in contexts that I may not agree with or in contexts that are harmful to me or perhaps not quite posessing of the political consciousness, complexity or acumen I want to associate myself with.
But, sadly, there seems to be no choice. If someone wants to use me...unh I mean, one of my blog entries, they can.
This was one of the first lessons I learned courtesy of some wimmin of color during my first bit of time spent in the blogosphere.
We don't have to take your feelings or your needs into consideration.
Would you like to facilitate a discussion about your own feelings of oppression at our hands? We'd participate in the conversation you worked to create. Can you do it on your blogsite so that ours can continue to seem politically bang on and ethical even as we place our boots squarely on your neck? Other than that, we don't have to actually deal with your concerns. Sucks to be you. We're not bound to do anything for you. Bye for now. Solidarity.
And now, it seems that in a continued attempt to avoid the issues I raised and to deal with me in any ethical, forthright, non-power based way, one of them continues to dig a denial-based, passive- aggressive hole for herself and is being encouraged to do so by those who should know betta.
What I understand...
This is about speaking and what happens when I speak on my own behalf as a dark-skinned immigrant, queer, Black woman attempting to resist while functioning inside power hierarchies based not just on privileges associated with race, but also on shade and american imperialism and a whole host of others.
(NOTE: if you write a comment to me without looking at these three links, you'll be missing the entire point of what I'm trying to say and still trying to have addressed.)
even more still
I wrote to someone trying to get me to attend a conference recently that they shouldn't make the mistake of assuming that all people of color are aligned or allied. Our issues are complex incorporating experiences of privilege and oppression layered on top of each other.
To foreground race as the primary source of oppression for all people of color obscures the reality that multiple kinds of oppression function inside people of colour circles as effectively as they do on the outside. To establish race as the sole criteria for people of colour allying with each other is irresponsible and analytically simple. It functions to erase any possibility that an understanding of our multiplicity will develop through conscious exploration of all our facets.
There is no possibility that conflicts will be solved when the idea that silence and disagreements between people of colour be shielded from the eyes of white people means that often those who are oppressed inside our circles (not because of race) cannot get an ear let alone have justice served.
If many are engaged in developing an analysis of the nuclear family that allows us to understand how malevolent and damaging not speaking about hurts and disagreements is, then why is it that our movements for change are still so inundated with this misbegotten philosophy?
For me, situated at so many different points of alliance because of the layered identities I claim, this means that although I am often the one requesting accountability inside people of colour circles, uncritiqued hierarchy and domination means that I very rarely get my issues seen to in ways that are ethical.
Situated at different points of alliance because of who I have chosen to become, I don't bow to prohibitions forbiding the speaking or the airing of dirty laundry. The speaking and exposing of oppression I experience is how I save my life, mySELF, how I remember, how I resist.
When my speaking is defined as oppressive by those who refuse to deal with their own actions, especially other people of colour, when my speaking is received as a negative critique of others who choose not to, for their own reasons to speak, I understand that many who may have positioned in relation to me as allies, will step back, because of guilt and/or fear...fair weather radical allies.
Linked up all over the place with roots in all sorts of communities, I understand that no one will stand for me, but me. Even as most agree, I'm not crazy and that my analysis is bang on, my motives when I speak and critique close to "home", are automatically suspect. There's not even a shadow of a doubt as to whether the analysis of all involved and observing are up to the task of reading what is happening. I am wrong and those who cling to race as their only means of analyzing any given situation, are sacred cows. They are right.
When I am found at the center of yet another tussle going down in the street, I understand that most will just turn a blind eye and wait until I shut up about what actually happened.
I've got years of these sorts of stunted interactions in real time and online under my belt. I'm greying and wrinkling up out of sheer rage, frustration and sadness.
This is getting more painful, damaging, but also really tired.
And still there is no accountability. I can expect no space of understanding or reckoning to be offered. I've got a list of tangles with women of colour, people of colour lacking particular kinds of analysis, willing to slam me for not being quiet about our shit that goes way back. No problem developing analysis off the backs of Black foremothers. Just have problems accepting respectful, insightful, forthright critiques from real life Black wimmin.
Where race enters for me...
As a Black woman already playing caring, nurturing, extending, fix-it mammy to the people in my community, I have no interest in taking care of those who harm and then cry foul when I speak to what they've done, cry victim when I ask for accountability. It's energy draining and just plain upsetting. I try to set boundaries so as to not drain my energy by engaging in that sort of crap.
Tomorrow will be another day.
Oh, and I found this curious blogsite by someone I may very well know. It had an interesting post about wimmin boxers.
"Women as MENTORS without sabotage - without passive aggressive competitiveness? This was my first experience of female peers who wanted me to do well. Who hoped I improved. Who taught me things and cheered me on. Who didn't criticize me or blame me for not doing well. Who didn't campaign behind my back to discredit or disempower me.
I think in many ways we have been taught to see the world as a limited place. The world hasn't got enough of whatever we want (and that all us women want the same things) so if your sistah got those bits there would be less for you. We are taught there is no room for encouraging your sistah to get more - 'cause that means you'd have to give up your portion. Overcoming that and seeing that there is abundance out there and that you actually create more by encouraging others to get more is a big jump. Unhealthy competition is what girls get taught - having no space to directly express power causes girls to subvert their power and hence the terrorists in the school yard (you know how evil preadolescent girls can be.)
Of course, I could then go off on the tangent about what is female and what is male "natural" behaviour... Most would agree that is the nurture that wins out. It's your environment that determines how you behave - what you learn is right and wrong as one gender or another. But, then there are people who just don't fit into those strictly defined spaces and break those rules. That is the nature side of things... But don't tell me women have no aggression or violence in them..."
It just gets aired and expressed differently.