Saturday, February 24, 2007

Reparation...

typos, typos, typos.
I've gone back into this and done some fixits...

I heard that the movie The Queen raked in quite a few awards at the big yearly movie awards show.

cheups.
The romanticism of harm and domination, I'm thinking. See, I come from little England...Barbados. And as far as I can figure, that old woman doesn't need any movies in her honour, she needs to do some serious community service all over the world on behalf of crown she wears.

In any case,
My five year old wants to write a letter to Queen Elizabeth demanding money (what we call "budget") in return for all the years of suffering Black people have endured.

Yeah, I know all about the reparations movement.

But, I've got another idea.

Dear Queen E. and family,
I know you and your crazy ass family weren't the only white imperialist royal house from an imperialist euro state involved in colonization of various peoples around the world. But for quite a few years your ancestors did manage to cause quite a bit of harm, murder, torment, torture, rape, theft, poisoning, addiction, horror, despair, suicide and genocide all over the whole world.

You've inherited quite a bit of blood money. Actually when I look at you I realize that I see red not because of the degenerative eye disorder I have, but because you're literally covered in the blood of millions.

I'm writing you today to let you know that I've been in counselling trying to sort out my family baggage. My counsellor wants me to express my rage and my upset. I explain to her that I actually have no problem doing that. See? (I'm roaring right now).

My problem is that every time I start trying to trace my family's abandonment of me, I go to my mother and my father and I see them here, in my mind's eye and realize:
No, it wasn't all their fault. They were recipients of a horror.
Then I go to my grandparents and try to get angry with them for believing in power over, authoritarianism, physical punishment, yelling not speaking, the church and domination. And then I realize:
No, it wasn't all their fault. They were recipients of a horror.
Then I go to my great-grandparents. Did I tell you my great grandfather lived to the ripe old age of (at least) 105, queeny? They can't tell for sure cuz his identification was nonexistent. It seems he may actually have been born a slave...oops, the child of slaves. In any case, from what little I know, he was a terror and an abuser. So, I try to get mad at him. And then I realize:
No, it wasn't all his fault. He was the recipient of a horror.
Then I go to my...
But wait. That's where it all fades to nothing. You see, the memory of who actually lived fades from this point and becomes murky.

What I actually think happens it that the memory of ancient harm literally bred into these people, visited on their children and carried forward by my grandmother and my mother is too painful, too much trauma for them to actually want to bring into the light of day. So, I try to get mad at them for letting the memory of such recently passed ancestors fade into nothingness.

But I realize what they're doing, the hiding and the secrecy is about denial and colonization. This is our shame. This is wanting to look forward, never back. This is my family

So, I try to figure out why anyone would purposefully move in this way. Why would they want to pass these ways of being on from generation to generation to generation?

I think about the fear of anything different and about the ways they find my openness, my truths, my nakedness, my resistance, my rage so unbearable, so reprehensible, so easy to dismiss.

Queeny, m'dear...
I gotta tell you I stay up nights searching for solace on the net like Neo in The Matrix. I keep an ear out for everyday words of rude dissent. I flip through all the books I've ever read and re-read. I reach into my own memory banks accessing all the politicized insightful thick conversations I've ever had with other diasporics, feminists and activists.

It's then that I have these moments of unclouded sight.
It's then that I realize...

Queeny...your peeps have been over tha top, hardcore not nice long before me and mine ever saw these shores.

Some of the teensy tiny emotional core issues I've got on my plate actually stem from your country's imperialist colonial agendas dating back hundreds of years.

Queeny,
I wasn't born yet when you visited Barbados (that's where I'm from) in '66, but I feel as if I see you everyday. Oh, wait! I do, on all the money in my wallet. In any case, you and I are closely tied, no?

So, I need to get to the point of my little communiqué.

You see, every week I open my wallet and willingly hand over green to a feminist counsellor who walks with me as I try to thread my way through pain and horror and alienation and domination recent and past.

Every week I go to her office and diligently (my inner child is a real good girl you see) try and unpack a suitcase of shit bequeathed to me by you and yours.

And you know what?
I'm not feeling like you're really supporting me in my little venture. You don't call. You don't write. You don't send those grandsons of yours to shovel my driveway. Charles and Camilla don't send the car around so I can get to my therapy on time. Nothing.

This will definitely not do, Queeny.

So, I've figured out a plan of action and I'd like to share it with you all personal like because although we've never met, I know that if you met me, you'd take to me in an instant fer sure. My locks are bright pink. I've got a bit of a belly left over from the two pregnancies. I squint cuz the optometrist can't get a prescription that fits what's happening with my bumpy corneas. But I also tend to look just a little bit surly and tense. If you can't remember why this might be, feel free to flip back up to the top of this note, it's all there, okay?

Anyways,
I'd like some proactive support from you, Queeny. I mean...if you can shell out money for all the trips and the clothes and those weird ass hats you like to wear and the castles and the servants and the, the, the, whatever else you're paying for,
I think a few hundred dollars every month paid out to a Black girl your ancestors helped drive insane shouldn't really be a problem.

Don't send a cheque. They can be so tricky. The money might be in your account, or it might be in an off shore account in the caribbean or more likely in a few different swiss bank accounts. I'm not trying to say anything. I know you're good for it and that you totally do not have a problem sharing funds with anyone who points out the way your nation tried to destroy or minionize every single being they encountered on the face of the planet. And yes, I know, you're all about apologizing. No joke, I completely believe you care.

In any case...
I prefer cash. So, a suitcase sent by armed guard once a year to my family estate will do nicely. Use the side entrance cuz I'm trying to maintain the appearance of looking like an independently wealthy cosmopolitan chick rather than everybody realizing I'm actually an economically challenged shut away who doesn't like to leave the house on account of the fact that I hate dealing with most people because most of them have this strange look, a sort of cross between the stepford wives and night of the living dead, in their eyes that I just find a lit-tle bit disconcerting.

Queeny, now that we're both in agreement that the worst emotional problems, depression, addiction, despair, alienation, frustration and a general state of everyday malaise which probably most of the non-white peoples on the planet can claim as theirs, I think you'll agree with me that you've got a giant bank account that says to me your peeps had something to do with it.

I know you're really feeling my pain and upset. And this is why I know you won't be too put off when I say, I'll be sending a few other....million coloured people by to see you or email you or snail mail you with requests for some tangible support for their recovery-from-colonization processes, too.

I hope you enjoy the stories and the mail. Hugs to you, too. And I'll let my kids know you said: "Hi".

darkdaughta

Friday, February 23, 2007

A bit of yesterday's school communication

I've made sure to take any actual names out of this posr because the information is really what I wanted to convey.

You won't fully understand what's happening here unless you read this post first.

Hi School Founder,

Thank you for responding to my email. Ummm...sigh...I like to remind myself and others in moments such as these which I've had with friends, family, papi, caregivers aplenty, that I have one really crucial job where Stinkapee and the Shmolian are concerned. I am their first and last line of defense. My margin for error is nonexistent. If something gets by me, there are two permeable, damageable, malleable children who will pay the price. So, I make no excuses for the questions I ask or for the time and energy and thought I request.

Roughly eighty percent of the adult women I've met in my lifetime, very brave and smart women, have had experiences of some form of abuse which they were primed for in childhood by having restrictions placed on them around speakin or speaking up when they felt or observed or experienced something that did not sit well with them. They were taught as girls not to point out when harm was being done. They were taught that they were always wrong and that should they speak, no one would give credence totheir words and that they would not be supported or defended.

I feel sad that I am hearing about what has been happening for Stinkapee in the school only after she brought something to my attention.

Information about Stinkapee's actions offered by school principal and by yourself feel not like information shared so as develop understanding, but more like defensive strategies designed to shift the weight of some perceived blame or guilt from parts unknown to Stinkapee's five year old shoulders.

But...
I don't want to stay with that feeling. I'd prefer to dispel it and continue attempting to create the foundations for an amicable, proactive and interactive, sharing relationship between papi/myself, Stinkapee, her classmates, Stinkapee's teacher, school principal, other school teacher and yourself.

I think that we're new to each other but that newness doesn't need to lead to discomfort and noncommunication. Fear of the unknown and the ways it shuts down possibilities for interaction and cooperation is such a completely useless approach.

Having said that I'd like to support and encourage you and Stinkapee's teacher and school principal to unpack some of what is unfolding in the school as it experiences and makes space for Stinkapee. I have a lot of information that I can share that will be useful as you and your staff attempt to get to know Stinkapee, how she moves, how she understands, how she asks questions, how she is. Please make use of the document I sent. A lot of the answers you may need about who Stinkapee is can be found there.

Of course the doc will not give you any clues as to how you or your staff may be responding to what Stinkapee is bringing.

The document will definitely not offer you or your staff any information about how your own family shaped beliefs, cultures and approaches to life may be butting up against something new and unfamiliar that will not be reshaped, must not be reshaped into a package that is more comfortable for yourselves but not for Stinkapee or for us as we attempt to parent her to the best of our abilities.

To deal with how we can all make sure Stinkapee is educated and socialized without having the values of the majority imposed on her, I'm still supporting the idea of sitting down so we can put our adult heads together.

Other than that, my comments about what has occured and about the information shared with us after the fact are below in black. Thanks for getting back to me, School Founder.

Respectfully,


darkdaughta

School Founder wrote:
Dear darkdaughta and papi
,
Thank you for your message. I had an opportunity to speak with Stinkapee's teacher about this and found out more details that I wish to share with you. I would like to begin by apologizing for not communicating with you earlier regarding the situation on Monday when Stinkapee was exposing herself to "rattid little bwoy in Stinkapee's class" who felt very uncomfortable about this.

darkdaughta wrote:

"when Stinkapee was exposing herself to rattid little bwoy"?

School founder, this is extremely loaded language bearing a lot of implied meaning with very little words of explanation. What is your understanding of what Stinkapee was doing? What is your understanding of what is happening for Stinkapee? What is you understanding of what Stinkapee is feeling when said bwoy is questioning her understanding of her gender?

I wrote the document about Stinkapee so as to support room for dialogue and information sharing. I'm concerned that this is only happening when we ask questions and that what is being offered sounds defesive and strategic.

Papi and I have meant to stay with the school so there is no need to fear that we will absent ourselves because of issues that arise during the course of Stinkapee's day. These are normal occurances.

What strikes us as odd is that we seem to only be getting information defensively in response to our concerns about Stinkapee's treatment and experience at the school. I feel uncomfortable with this approach.
School Founder wrote:
I can appreciate that you want to be informed right away of any situations like this so you can speak with Stinkapee right away.

darkdaughta wrote:
I also want information so that I can speak with you or school principal or Stinkapee's teacher or school's other teacher and find out their perceptions of what happened, what approach they used and how Stinkapee responded.

School founder wrote:

I spoke to papi this morning and let him know that I asked Stinkapee's teacher to inform school principal or me of any future incidents so that we can contact you right away and provide details.

darkdaughta wrote:

Contacting us right away isn't necessary. We pick up Stinkapee everyday after school. We've been coming very late. So, I understand that there isn't always time when we come to have a conversation in passing. But when we check in and ask how did she do? or how was her day? This isn't euphemistic chit chat or an invitation to exchange a few smiling words. We're actually wanting to know what her high points and low points looked like. Otherwise, we'll be getting her back everyday and not understanding who is standing before us. So, this is less about your ability to manage what goes on in any given day or about mistrust on our part or about you and your staff having to report in. It's about us continuing to be connected to our daughter as she makes her way through her elementary school years.

School principal wrote:

I also shared the following with papi regarding the situation that occurred yesterday.

Stinkapee's teacher was sitting with the children as they were eating lunch. Stinkapee said, “I feel like a boy today.” Same boy replied by saying, “You can’t be a boy.” Stinkapee's teacher told me she validated what both students said by first saying to Stinkapee, “Of course you can feel like a boy today” and then she talked about how girls can dress up as boys. She also spoke with Same boy and told him his feelings were also correct.

darkdaughta wrote:

Same boy did not express a feeling, he imposed a perception. If Stinkapee's teacher had supported Stinkapee's understanding of herself (which is what she's requesting in her own five year old way) and if Stinkapee's teacher had then asked Same bwoy why he felt it necessary to imposed his views on Stinkapee as she spoke her truth, then followed this up with inviting Same bwoy to explore his feelings about and understanding of his own gender, then Stinkapee's teacher would have been encouraging Same bwoy to deal with his feelings and to understand them as correct.

As it stands from what you're writing up above, Stinkapee's teacher supported Same rattid bwoy to underrstand that it was within his rights to impose his limits on Stinkapee who doesn't understand herself to be limited in that way. And potentially left Stinkapee with the feeling that her self perception, her truth is not fully supported. Stinkapee lives in a house where surface attempts to deal with deep issues are openly questioned. Not to say that Stinkapee's teacher did not try. But Stinkapee knows when an issue has not been fully aired.

School Founder wrote:

Stinkapee's teacher said no one was upset during this conversation.

darkdaughta wrote:

What is this perception based on? Stinkapee comes home everyday speaking about others telling her she can't understand herself as boy if she so chooses. What tools does Stinkapee's teacher utilize to help her come to an understanding of who is harbouring feelings about this particular topic? It seems to me that if Same bwoy wasn't upset about what Stinkapee was/is saying, he wouldn't feel the need to attempt to silence her and challenge her perception of herself.

School principal wrote:

Another student commented that he felt he had powers sometimes and another student said sometimes she feels that she is flying. The students all enjoyed expressing themselves.

darkdaughta wrote:

How did Stinkapee participate in this shifted "superhero" conversation? She's not saying she has special powers. She's saying that she understands herself to have infinite possibilities as related to how she experiences her gender. There is tons of literature and research about children and gender that is uncovering the fact that children's gender identifications are much more mutable than adults who have been taught to exist within set limits, believe. I could recommend some books or websites if you'd be interested in finding out more so as to continue to support all the children as they develop their concepts of self. Gender is a huge unspoken issue about the education and rearing and caregiving of children. This is the time where they are offered information about how they understand their place in society. Children do pick up on what adults want and expect, they do take cues from the adults who are around them that either gives them space or limits how they relate to themselves in a completely gender split world. But, yes, I'd recommend books, lots of books.

School Founder wrote:

Later in after care, Stinkapee went up to Same bwoy and said, “You said I can’t be a boy and you came close to my genitals.” Same bwoy was playing with play dough at the time. Stinkapee's teacher said Same bwoy did not get close to Stinkapee's genitals and feels Stinkapee was collapsing what took place on Monday and what happened yesterday.

darkdaughta wrote:

Did Stinkapee's teacher ask Stinkapee what she meant and what she had experienced? Did she ask Stinkapee when this had happened so as to make absolutely sure that it hadn't happened at any time? Papi told me about Stinkapee and her new friend going puddle swimming at recess without teacher supervision. So, the children are not always 100 percent supervised. Therefore, I think that before what any child says is denied, it would be good for the adults involved to work through their reactions and, once they're clear about what's happening for them, they will then be able to truly see and engage with what has actually occurred.

For an adult in a position of authority to formulate opinions without checking in with the child about her understanding of the facts, however disjointed is a really steep slope I just don't want to go down. I know that Stinkapee blends bits of information. But I also know sh lives in this world and has daily experiences she tries to process by engaging the help and experience of the adults around her. She has a right to have her attempts to understand and to communicate about her experiences validated by having them engaged with by the adults she communicates with. To my mind, this is how she will develop an understanding of her worth and potential contribution not to mention a belief in her own developing powers of observation.

Having said that I would agree with Stinkapee's teacher that Stinkapee can and does collapse events across time. And I would also add that Stinkapee is five and that Stinkapee's teacher did not explore the possibility that Stinkapee was attempting to communicate and reopen the subject of how Same bwoy relates to her gender perception in ways that she can.

From where I'm standing, it's obvious that she doesn't feel the issue of others attempting to impose their views about gender on her and to limit the space within which she can perceive herself, as over or closed. Usually when she's bringing back an incident and adding new spice to it, it's because she wants to have attention for something upsetting her that people have long left behind. It's intelligent, really. Add a new element to a real life incident and people will perk up and take notice again.

Perhaps instead of defensiveness or shutting Stinkapee down, it might be possible for someone to actually examine and support Stinkapee to discuss what is happening for her. She might not act out all the time by slapping or clinging to Stinkapee's ankles or yelling, but this doesn't mean Stinkapee doesn't deserve understanding and an exploration of her thoughts and feelings which she offers by attempting to communicate.

Please let me know if this is too much to request.

School Founder wrote:

Stinkapee's teacher also told me that Stinkapee told her she wanted to use the boy’s bathroom

darkdaughta wrote:

I really wish that someone would ask us questions and let us know what is happening. I also wish that the letter I wrote would be taken to heart so that Stinkapee doesn't have to suffer because of what other people don't understand.

sigh...

School Founder,

I come out of a lesbian and gay community that understands gender binaries and rituals as limited and limiting. Up until the Haris political era, any trip to a gay or lesbian establishment be it the 519 Church Street community center, a doctor's office, a family restaurant or a bar would show everyday people using whatever washroom worked for them. The pictures on the doors where just pretty decoration not at all indicative of where a person, man or woman or a plain old human being could go.

In the world at large I've been in situations where the women's washroom was filthy, crowded or out of order, where the men's washroom was clean, close at hand or unused. If I had to "go" and there was a perfectly usable washroom available, I "went" and paid no mind to the scandalized stares from the men I encountered on my way out.

All this to say these pictures on the door mean very little to me and this is what I've taught Stinkapee. Often, if she needs to go to the washroom papi will take her to the men's washroom with him. Because work in our family isn't divided according to gender, this is just as likely to happen...actually more likely to happen because I'm very often primarily taking care of the Shmolian.

So you see, the gender conversation Stinkapee keeps trying to raise in her own five year old ways is crucial to how she moves through the school. There is a book written by a member of the queer community who is transgendered (maybe one of the other parents have told you about it?) which is about gender. It's for young children. You might want to consider tracking it down. It is possible to have solid and meaningful conversations about gender without any of the children being demonized or misunderstood, but also in ways that mean some don't have to suffer because others don't understand this society's shifting relationship to gender.

School Founder wrote:

Stinkapee's teacher told Stinkapee that it is okay for her to feel like a boy and she still had to use the girl’s bathroom for her safety. Stinkapee was told that if she wanted to see inside the boy’s bathroom she would have to ask a teacher or one of her parents to take her there and she was never to go into the boy’s bathroom alone.

darkdaughta wrote:
:) I think that Stinkapee needs to supervision wherever she goes. She's five. :) I think that before she's instilled with a fear of going into the boys bathroom or anywhere else, it might be better for you to make sure that all the girls, for that matter all the children are safe and respected, not just in the classrooms, but in the bathrooms as well. Although I do understand that her roaming into the boys bathroom may cause other issues to be raised that the school may just not be prepared to deal with.

School Founder wrote:

Regarding scheduling a meeting for all of us to meet, I still need to find out from everyone when they are available. Stinkapee's teacher often supervises childcare so we will need to find out when she can stay late an extra evening when she is not supervising students. I will get back to you with possible dates as soon as possible.

darkdaughta wrote:
I understand about the scheduling dilemmas. Ummm...really what I'm after is a sense of where Stinkapee's teacher feels challenged in her readings of what I wrote in the 15 paged document I emailed. I have no difficulty with her emailing me with her thoughts or alternately of her passing her thoughts and concerns onto you for discussion with papi and I.

School Founder wrote:

I hope I covered everything. If I missed something, please let me know.


darkdaughta wrote:

School Founder, please read on...

School Founder wrote in a subsequent email:

I forgot to mention in my last email that during lunch today Stinkapee told School principal and another student in her class that another boy didn’t like going to girl birthday parties. This boy overheard this comment and said “What do you mean, I go to my cousin’s birthday and she’s a girl.” Stinkapee laughed and walked away.

darkdaughta wrote:

sigh...

I covered this in my letter. Stinkapee puts things out to see what people will say. These little potholes thrown in other people's way are her questions. She's not clear about where people stand and wants to see what other people will say. At her old school she had boys who wouldn't come to her birthday party. It sounds to me as if she likes This boy and would like to invite him to her next one, but isn't sure is he would like to come, because she's not sure where he stands on the division between boys and girls that some of the boys she's met uphold with such vigor.

In any case, School Founder...

Please don't worry about offending me. I'm looking for some forthright communication. I understand clear sharing of feelings, thoughts and concerns as the building blocks of soli relationship. And Stinkapee will be more likely to remain in the school if there is a solid base for sharing put in place by the adults.

In any case I do look forward to reading your reply. Take care. darkdaughta.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Fuck, I'm already having to do Management Mama...

sigh,
I just had a really annoying conversation with the principal of Stinkapee's school. Beyond a few platitudes no one at the school has actually responded to the 15 page document I sent them as a conversation and interactive work. That sucks.

Papi and I already agreed that we won't be committed to any school unless it's actually doing right by Stinkapee. I've already thought about the possibility of her doing six month stints at different private and alternative schools for the whole of her elementary school career. These times could be conceptualized as different educational cycles where she would be exposed to different ideas, people and learning strategies. Does that sound crazed? I'm willing to try anything at this point.

This is an email I sent today. If you think you're hearing a bit of snippy sarcasm at some point...it's because you are. It was sent to the school's founder, the principal and papi.

Hi School Founder,
Yes, either or both Papi and I will come out to the neighbourhood parent's meeting. This will probably be the most (only) time we've actually ever spent with any of our neighbours as we've always arranged activities for Stinkapee outside the community and have also mostly chosen to socialize and organize outside the neighbourhood as well. The other location you're thinking about really isn't an awful location for us in that we like exploring new locations around the city and meeting people outside this part of the city.

On a related note, I just finished speaking with principal. Stinkapee spoke with Papi about Boy in her class getting into an argument with her about her gender. It seems he thinks she should only be a girl. :) Stinkapee says he went on from there to attempt or to actually examine her genitals.

Principal pointed out that both her and Stinkapee's teacher were aware of an interaction between Stinkapee and Boy in Stinkapee's class but that no one saw Boy in Stinkapee's class attempt to touch Stinkapee in an inappropriate way. Principal went on to point out that she had actually seen Stinkapee expose herself by pulling up her skirt the day before. Though the context for Stinkapee doing so, I can't be certain about.

I'm writing you to request that we be given a little more information about what's actually happening in Stinkapee's day to day. I think that the challenges she faces are very important for us to be aware of so that we can do what's possible to support her on our end.

For instance, if Stinkapee should be exposing herself, we'd like to know so we can check in with her about what's happening and what she might or might not be doing. Also, if students are requesting information about Stinkapee's biological gendered physicality as a way to determine how she can define, this is something we'd like to know about as we can do work on this end to make sure that Stinkapee has the support she needs right here at home.

(I'm inserting here: backward)Principal also mentioned that we needed to be careful that Stinkapee not impose her views about her gender or I think about gender generally on the boys in the class. We totally understand that not everyone is raised to believe that girls have more abilities than just cooking, cleaning, sewing and giving birth to babies. And we understand that for some girls and boys this may be how they want to divvy up gender roles. It's obviously worked well enough for most of the planet since here we are so many thousands of years later still doing the same thing.

We totally want to honour that experience held by so many adults and children. It's not our intent to try to move Boy in Stinkapee's class or any other child Stinkapee encounters away from that particular approach to life and living. It's just that we want to make sure that Stinkapee has sufficient space to continue to grow and discover her full potential not as a girl but as a growing human being so full of spirit. I'm hoping that principal didn't feel I argued that point too strenuously.

Thank you for taking a look at the document I emailed. As I wrote near the end of the email, I expect the document to be used as a resource by her teachers, a guide of sorts that can help give a sense of what our boundaries look like.

But more importantly, the document is supposed to be a conversational tool. It's supposed to lead to conversation among the staff but also with us. I know that you're in the middle of planning the parent's meeting. I'm hoping that once this busy period has passed, that you can reserve some time for papi and I to sit down for an hour with you, principal, Stinkapee's teacher (who feels it's okay to refer to Papi as "DAD" blech) and the school's other teacher (who has admitted to not really agreeing with the educational approach the founder has chosen) so that we can answer any questions any of you might have about what was written, so we can address any concerns there might be and so that papi and I can find out what sort of approach Stinkapee's teacher has decided to use to teach Stinkapee for the remainder of this year.

Our schedules are flexible where Stinkapee's education is concerned. So, I'm hoping that you'll be able to reserve some time for us in the next few weeks. Please let us know what works best for you..

darkdaught and papi

Settler Colonial Realizations, take II

This piece has grown...
It's still really raw and messy...
It's still morphing as I develop my ideas further. I'm struggling with language I'm not accustomed to utilizing. I'm struggling with analysis I'm not accustomed to aiming at me. So, if you're reading now. Keep going right to the end. Afterwards, you might want to start again or return in a few hours, or days or weeks, because this is a set of ideas and explorations in tha makin. I write and delete and insert and read. Then I go away and talk and think and chew and gag and ache and return to write again, inserting more ideas and questions. As a result, this piece is growing as I do.

A set of cascading realizations
In tha gut...
roiling, gurgling.
Do you listen to your stomach?
I do.
This is difficult...
hee, hee, hee...
exciting, a new set of realizations and interrelationships to process and explore and gnash my teeth about.

I've got to document an email exchange I had with a Native woman who lives here in Toronto. She had been trying to make contact with me about talking, processing emotions using a radical anti-oppression framework.

Life, as indicated from the various postings here on this blog, has been chaotic, crazed, unintelligible, horrific too much of the time for me to be able to see or think clearly enough to support someone else's self-uncovering.

So, I didn't return calls, emails, or when I did I was non-committal.

Intentional community woes behind me, blogland skirmishes where I sustained way too much idiot friendly fire, baby labour behind me, recuperation well on the way
and my counselor getting a solid, thick earful every week...

I engaged, connected fully present and ready to offer life support.

Still, when we finally began communicating I realized I was annoyed and felt as if she wasn't getting me and how I am located as a Black, caribbean born, woman.
I had flashbacks to other conversations, terse conversations with Native women I'd met over the years. I remembered feeling defensive, indignant, misunderstood as if they couldn't possibly want to lump
me in with white colonizers and immigrants from other parts of the world...as if they couldn't actually be trying to say: none of you should be here, so get tha fuck off our land.

Thinking about immigration as a misnomer from where I, caribbean born into the western hemisphere via the horrors of the middle passage, stand, I regrounded comfortably in a refusal to understand myself as "landed" or as "immigrant". Since, to my mind my people's had been forced to occupy space in the west for hundreds of years. Coming to kkkanada was just a shift of neighbourhood from the islands off the coast to the mainland.

Thinking about shade, lightness, white-skinnedness and darkness, I grounded in a consciousness which allowed me to see the ease of misdirected and/or projected rage originating from behind light skins readily smeared on those inhabiting dark skins, those understood because of their location as accessible, easy targets.

I really tried hard to stay with the familiar, the place I've been sitting all these years.

I talked/wrote about the Middle Passage and said that Black people didn't come to Turtle Island voluntarily that we were forced, dragged, stolen.
Our relationship to the land, this land started there. Others who came later, whether they were enticed by faulty adverts or running from persecution, ironically enough seeking "safety" from harm, only to be fuk'd over, head taxed, coollied, deported or workfared into submission by white people's racism, came willingly.

Black people, I asserted and maintained, were different.

And fucking hell, we are. More than I had been willing to see.

Did I say this is difficult? I'm excited...and scared. Shivers.
I am human, able and willing to ignore certain hard harsh truths if they're not sitting right under my nose. Denial.
I am human. So, this woman's presence with spirit, truth, self-knowing and clear conscious sight has galvanized me, drawn me, invited me, forced me off the edge of yet another flat earth. Her stating of a very simple truth: It's not possible to cry out against the Israeli occupation of Palestine or against the US invasion of iraq without reckoning with the invasion and occupation of this place. These thoughts send me bungee jumping again...I don't know where or when I'll be able to land...

Shifting...shifting...my mouth feels dry and my heart's skipping beats.

Feeling uncomfortable I'm hearing this woman's pain, heeding her truths, listening to an invitation direct from my spirit to feel my way through, deeper, deeper. I hear a word she uses, so foreign to my tongue. I use "colonizer" meaning a white person not me. She uses "settler" which I understand encompasses the white people, people of colour on this land and...me?

I couldn't stay with that thought for very long at first.

But my ethics, a sense of what makes sense so defined by the writings I've had the privilege of reading and understanding not just as academic, theoretical, political frameworks, intellectual exercises divorced from reality, but filters through which to see and templates from which to craft tools which can be used to build consciousness of my own location and privilege, guided me true and brought me back.

Power, privilege and oppression, a new blend, tha, tha, tha remix.
Here I go again.

I remember going there little by little at first...
Writing her that Black peoples living in the Americas had made some really limited choices, to say the least. We hadn't allied with First Nations peoples across the board, but only in pockets here and there. And yes, I know there are pockets of Black folks all over the place with Native DNA and Native people with African DNA. That still doesn't quite get to the root of what's happening for me.

This is what I know:
Malcolm traveled across the Atlantic to Mecca and connected with Muslims and Pan Africanists. He didn't stay at "home" to seek counsel from Native elders and join his struggles by any means necessary to theirs.

Martin read from the "good" book, he didn't ground his pacifist dream for a brighter Black settler future on the struggles for this bloodied and captive land so rocked by genocide
...maybe he would have realized he needed to fight not turn the other cheek and die.

To call these
historical moments epic mistakes or major lapses in critical vision may sound dangerous, like a capital offense to some. But from where I'm at this admission just isn't enough. It sounds really weak, somehow. These moments have been pivotal, diverting the path of Black people's histories and herstories, forever. Forever linking us not to the land, but to the land theft agendas of the white Settler Colonizer here in the Americas.

Sure, immediately following "emancipation" some left for Africa. Liberia...my partner's mother adds Sierra Leone to my picture.

But so many remained. And those who remained had choice. They made decisions. They/we did not collectively ally with the custodians of the land and collectively attempt to link our political agendas with theirs. We did not collectively request permission to be here any longer than necessary to collect our things and go. We did not ask permission to take up permanent residence from the original and true custodians of the land.


Stockholm Syndrome in overdrive we internalized the settler colonial attitude that gave us a sense of entitlement, a sense of ownership based on underpaid work for bible thumping white supremacist colonizers still hell bent on theft and murder.

In that historical watershed moment, brutally, psychologically, emotionally, physically abused, torn, raped, infantalized, dominated, ethical centers so far off kilter, our moralities and world views substituted with that of our abusers, our colonizers, we stretched out trembling needy, covetous hands, reached for power, legitimacy and survival means all derived from the proceeds of stolen land.

And ever since then we've focused on struggling self-centeredly against white folks for a better share of the land, for better treatment on the land while working with them, alongside them, helping them to imprison the land and its peoples through the apartheid system of bondage South African whites learned from Canada.

We kept tha peace to get a piece. Allying behind the scenes with our oppressors to further their colonial settlement project built and financed on our broken backs. Supporting their plans to dominate and then parcel out the land, we lent a hand.

Our complaints were that we didn't get enough respect as fellow settlers, that they should stop tormenting us and killing us Black Settlers and that they really shouldn't be raping Black Settler women.
We complained that we didn't get enough land to settle, that we got land full of rock stones, never the "good" parts of the land. After all, we just wanted to work the land alongside them and their Settler families without any trouble. We just wanted to settle down and take care of our own Black Colonized Settler families.

Sometimes we hit the "jackpot". In the West Indies, the Haitians warred over half the (is)land and "won" the land. In Barbados, where I was born, we were "civilized" (historically crushed, made an example of by the British who wanted a completely controlled island without the uprisings plaguing other colonies that they could point out as proof that the slavocracy worked). More British than the British (to this day still taking pride in this) we waited
peacefully until we were granted the right to govern the (is)land, legitimized by our betters - the imperialist, colonizing white royal family.

Some of us actually define ourselves, understand ourselves as "indigenous", originally coming from the land. I spoke to my sister years ago about our elementary school education in Barbados. We both agreed that we'd been left with the distinct impression as children that Black people had always been on the island, that we were originally from the (is)land.

Part of the problem with this self-naming is the utter avoidance of the memory of enslavement and an avoidance of our Africanness. Black Africans who live in the caribbean are indigenous to somewhere. We did spring up from the soil of a land...just not in the Caribbean. Those islands are Native land, too.

There is rage about being left in limbo, I think, on the part of us descendants of enslaved Africans. The continentals often make fun of us. They sometimes understand us as cash cows blindly seeking fetishistic objects that will help us feel more like we belong with them, a l'il something, a piece of carefully worn cloth, a wall hanging, a carving, a mask, an ashanti chair, anything to help pacify the pain of separation, profound dislocation. I've heard us described time and time again as lost and fucked up cousins, descendants of slaves...not directly related to any continental...unless the link is of strategic importance.

Knowing that the shoddy records kept during slave times mean that many of us, most of us cannot supply such precise information, I've seen continentals snicker about us saying: "You're from Africa?...Africa's a continent. Which part are you from? Which exact location on the continent?" The agenda? To show that we don't fully belong, no tribal linkage, no family to directly claim. Just a messy dna soup with nowhere to call "home".


But really, given the petroleum wars (Oil companies in Nigeria causing civil strife), the blood diamond wars (engagement ring people aren't really in the business of love, after all), the cell phone mineral wars (coltan mining companies creating strife to divide and conquer thereby keeping mineral prices low and profits high), the genocides perpetrated with arms purchased from all too willing euro-descended providers, the AIDS crisis the West created, the poverty, corruption, the neglect, the starvation all evidence of meddling by imperialist Colonizer states (former or present colonial powers) and corporations, Africa's wealth continues to be siphoned away. So much of it goes to Settlers of all races here in North America, increasing the quality of life for so many of us Colonized Settlers...
Given all this there is no mass exodus of Black people wanting to vacate these occupied settlements and go "home". Yeah, for a vacation maybe, to look for spouses/friends/allies/hazy tribal links, to attend conferences, to go to the festivities and ceremonies unfolding around Project Joseph.

But not many, myself included, want to actually give up perfectly useful Settler status here to really go "home" to stay.

We tell ourselves we've set down roots here, struggled against white settlers, struggled against the odds to grow our gardens here. White Settlers forcibly transplanted us here and now we claim the rotted roots sucking sustenance from these lands as necessary to our continued survival.

And we've been fighting the White Settlers on that point ever since. Here in kkkanada they question the false land claims of us Colonized Settlers so as to assert their dominance. They ask: "But where are you really from?" In response, fearful of being seen as the dispossessed, we cling tightly to the lie of our claim to this place and demand validation and recognition from those who originated the lies.

So, we're in this "new world" and if we don't understand ourselves as linked directly to the land by ancestry, by "rights", then we really are nothing, we really are the dispossessed. And none of us want to claim limbo as "home". We behave as if the fact that we don't want to wander as traumatized scatterlings anymore, justifies us supporting and perpetrating settlement projects in the Americas. We were forced to work, to suffer, to scream, to cry out. For that we have a right to rest, even if our resting place is in someone else's bed.

We want to finally belong somewhere.

Me? I'm linked tuh me. I belong tuh me. I come from my ancestors by blood right and no matter how I behave, how rude I get, how much I fuck up the tidy little stories my peoples tell to themselves, to each other and to me, no one can take away my roots. NO one can nay say who I am and from whence I come. That's what I've got to keep me warm as I continue to do this work. I understand that my genes are a jambalaya, a mix up, a stew. These cells hail from a lot of places...just...not...here.

Another piece of the Black "indigenous" misnomer is about an avoidance of the knowledge of the peoples who originally occupied those islands, some of whom are still there. Black Africans living in the diaspora have prided themselves on the creations of "new world" musics - jazz, blues, r&b, funk, house, hip-hop, soca, calypso, reggae, dance hall. We've prided ourselves on maintaining links between Africa and our present locations as evidenced through a multitude of creoles and dialects. We've synthesized traditional African dress, art forms, cooking and the list goes on. We've created cultures that have traveled and morphed...which is a beautiful thing.

We've re-created ourselves post emancipation, fresh, new and more human and smelling of the salt sea breeze. We celebrate for a whole month, every year, our histories and herstories of collective self re-creation and "politicized" revolution. Of course another way to understand Black History Month is by pulling the veil off the uplifting story and acknowledging the not-so-beautiful tale of how Black people moved from human chattel on up the ranks to low level settler class. We, myself included, celebrate mostly without stopping to take stock of where this transformation has occurred, who benefited or whose suffering has continued unchanged and unchecked.

We throw giant Diasporic Settler cultural festivals (Carnival or Caribana, anyone?) in different parts of the Americas trumpeting our reslient, persistent presence here for all to hear. Colonized Settler revelers parade in costumes that to my eyes could easily resemble the fancy dance dress of some Native peoples.

We party and revel and remember struggles for our own civil rights while legitimizing falsified land claims that have allowed us to ignore our ethically and morally bankrupt status as Colonized Settlers in the Americas.

Why, in Toronto, folks even complained about having the big Colonized Settler Carnival removed from the downtown core to the lakeshore lands south of the city proper.
Now...
Keep in mind WE weren't taken out of our homes, moved to the lakeshore lands and forbidden to travel or to identify ourselves as ourselves if we left those places without the permission of Settler government officials.

Feel free to ground in the reality that OUR CHILDREN weren't taken away from us, moved to the lakeshore lands there to be subjected to a state sanctioned, massively traumatizing, abusive and brutal (mis)education, christian religious, brainwashing program from which they and their descendants would never fully recover.

Nope...
Our big, once a year, tourist money making, weekend fete, party, jump up, booze fest, meat market, jam up ram up, cultural celebration, opiate of Colonized Settler masses, was moved to the lakeshore lands.

No disrespect or erasure of police stalkings of Black Colonized Settler youth during this city's Colonized Settler carnival festivities or at any other time of the year for that matter. No denial of taxis passing Black men by or police killings and strip searches. And no, I don't forget how we came to be here in the first place. I'm just trying to add some new layers as I broaden my own perspectives and adjust the focus of my political picture.

Still, can you just picture in your mind's eye:
Colonized Settlers party, drink, eat, ritual/performance rut and honour links to Middle Passage ancestors while jumping up on soil that is ancient, bloodied, in bondage and still at war?

These are big parties even the white Settler Colonizers come to when they want to forget themselves and the horror they've birthed onto the land. These are comfortable places for all of us to go when we just want to have a good time.


Our carnival songs, our freedom songs, our redemption songs, our songs of revolution do not reflect who we've become in this place - Settlers. Our politics of resistance, with very few exceptions, does not reflect the knowledge of our history of collusion and participation in an atrocity spanning a few hundred years. Our cultures serve a dual function: support our continued existence and resistance while perpetuating the erasure and domination of Native peoples who don't exist tangibly in our new settler stories, songs and other expressions of consciousness. The settler agenda is reified. Native people just don't exist. And if they don't fully exist, then we don't have to ground in our Colonized Settler realities.

I'm thinking about the nationalism of the denizens of the caribbean islands and about the DNA of Native people still flowing through some of our veins. I'm thinking about Black people and Asian people and Arab people and South Asian people working, buying, owning and governing native lands.

I'm thinking about South Africa during the era of (official) apartheid. The category of coloured was invented, literally brought into being as a space reserved for mixed race people, South Asians and Asians who didn't have to be lumped in with the roiling masses of Black African people. Although they weren't going to be able to access the privilege of the white colonizers, they were offered some perks and privileges. In this way most willingly chose to function as a collective human buffer, a middle class existing between the dangerous darkies and the lily pure and powerful whites. Many defended that settler project because defending it meant maintaining the access they enjoyed.

I'm thinking about Black Nova Scotians, about the Black people in southern Ontario...
I'm thinking about African- "Canadians" and African-"Americans" who proudly claim a place in the bosom of these apartheid states through what Black South African professor, writer, poet, philosopher Dr. Rozena Maart calls hyphenating their identities, linking themselves to state-sanctioned horror by name.

Our focus, whether it has been to struggle for better treatment or to be seen as fully human (meaning as good as white) or demanding more say or better wages, has always been about understanding and positioning white Settler Colonizers as center, as the legitimate "owners" and "rulers" of the land...thereby erasing the land rights of Native People.

Might (the ability to emotionlessly torment, dominate, rape, pillage, steal, poison, drug, torture, starve, imprison, massacre, lock away, partition off) means right. And because the white Settler Colonizers had already convinced us of their "might", we focused on them, allied with them, becoming a part of their settler project.

Black folks living in the West, those descendants of stolen Africans set a precedent for all coloured folks who would come later:
Don't undermine the Settler Colonial project
See what you can get out of it and agitate behind the scenes
Sabotage if you need to
But don't destroy the project
If there's something you can get out of it
There's no need to throw
the putrid, diseased, rotten, cancerous, virulent, contagious, insidious baby
out with the bathwater.
We set an example for all coloured peoples who came later:

Even the dispossessed can look forward
To having a share of the land
Might get spat on
Might get lynched
Might get cheated and fuk'd wit'
Might have to sit at the back of the bus
Might have to walk
Might have to bus your kids
Might have to take care of theirs
But always remember you're a part of the new state being built on the ashes of scorched earth, blood soaked land
You have a right to a share of the booty.
Black people set an important imperial standard. We made an example of ourselves:

If the human offal they worked and bred and killed and raped and damaged and mind controled
Don't mind lending a hand
Tilling the land for a share of the profit
However meager
However dusty the land
Then life here in the western hemisphere
In "the americas" (caribbean totally included)
Might be lived out within acceptable parameters.
If the slave times had really that bad, there would have been mass exoduses back to Africa, there would have been mass murders the moment Black people were declared "free". It would have had to be us or them. They would have had to deport us en mass...either that or massive group burials of really dangerous, violent, rabidly angry, foaming at the mouth "freed" men, women and children.

Washington would have been burned to the ground, like Montreal. North and South would have been fighting on the same side for their fucking lives, not against each other whistling muthafuckin dixie. Scarlet and Rhett wouldn't have had the time to make any little tow haired settler colonizing babies, they would have been building a goddamn siege wall around Tara and praying to their Gawd to save their scrawny white necks.

The white slavers, plantation owners, all those politely diseased white families in their big houses, the folks who were there when the hurtin' happened, who were the people who profited from the hurting would have been struggling against us for their very lives, no?

But that's not what happened at that particular historical juncture.

The white Settler Colonizers went on to breed, expand, steal some more, murder some more, rape some more, dominate and terrorize some more. They built cities and countries and they're still here.

And Black people, the descendants of those African slaves?
Well, we found a way to settle down and swallow the pain. And as a result, we're still here. We're still here.

Because we found a way to live alongside the pain, to understand our pain as a fact of life, we've collectively "prospered". As a grouping of settlers we own a sight more than the proverbial forty acres and a mule.

Some own real estate, homes, cars, jewelry, stocks, bonds, planes, businesses
all on the land. Some of our children can attend exclusive schools alongside the descendants of the settlers who colonized our ancestors, stole the land and killed its people. We hang out with white settlers, joke and drink and play and fuck and get better jobs than some of them too. We teach in their schools and get tenure in their institutions of higher learning. We work in their imperial banks of commerce, protect their investments, and put our money in their banks. We attend the churches where the bible (they used as an excuse to indoctrinate and brutalize Native children after they had been torn from the arms of their family members and put in residential schools) is read each and every Sunday. We shop at their Hudson's Bay Company (been bought by American settlers for a tidy sum), store still decorated with the colours of the measles blankets they used as biological weapons to murder millions.

And all the while the conscious Colonized Settlers remember to celebrate Kwanzaa (the festival of first fruits of this land), wear ethnic prints and purchase African objets d'art to decorate their/our homes built on the land
.

Collectively we've arrived...the nouveau riche Colonized Settler class occupying stolen land as we attempt to deflect enough White Settler racism so we cam claim more proceeds from the land.

But even those who haven't managed to get a full share of the spoils of the land, even those who haven't quite "made it", know they can dream about the day when they too will be able to be more privileged descendants of slaves morphed into Settlers reaping the benefits of stolen land.

Colonized Settler Oprah rules tvland and soothes her guilt by posing as benevolent aunty to young continental girls. Colonized Settler Condi plans out new imperialist wars for her white Settler master the illiterate yet supremely powerful village idiot. Nerdling Colonized Settler P Diddy is making millions from perfume. Colonized Settler Tyra is binging and purging and complaining about fucking being seen as, constructed as fat while making millions. Colonized Settler Whoopi has to be tracked down by desperately pleading officials from impoverished Guinea-Bissau after a PBS television show traced her million dollar DNA back to Africa. Colonized Settler Spike makes a documentary about how badly the Black Colonized Settlers were treated in New Orleans, how so many of them still don't have anywhere to live, anywhere to call their own. Colonized Settler actors complain about not getting enough representation on the silver screen...they want more oscar popularity nods from the white motion picture academy, a bigger share of the profits and more attention for their/our Colonized Settler movies and television shows.

All the while...
White settler colonizers visit the Caribbean and sip drinks alongside the wealthy north americanized Colonized Settler descendants of African slaves, while not so wealthy Colonized Settler descendants of slaves beam hate-filled, jealous smiles, braid hair on the beach, mix drinks full of spit, clean their hotel suites, plot tourist murders in cane fields for the lot of them and dream of the big time...all on stolen land.

And all the while...
Colonized Settler civil rights activists stage demos, marches and the like demanding better treatment for themselves and for their Colonized Settler communities...for ourselves and for our Colonized Settler communities.

All the while...
The original custodians of this place and their children cry foul and shoot us dirty glances we claim...I claimed not to understand or deserve.

And all the while...
Black Colonized Settlers ally with Coloured Colonized Settlers who ally with white Settler Colonizers to protest the occupation and domination of Palestine and its original people by Israeli Holocaust Survivor Settler Colonizers. Now, say that ten times fast.

So, here I am, even still more layered and complexly vexed. The culturally and racially mixed and mixed up descendant of stolen peoples "freed" only to turn and enslave the land and undermine the struggles of its peoples. We effectively block their liberation while we cry out for our liberation, allying with their oppressor who we'd like to understand simply as the oppressor of us all. Now how fuk'd is that?

I'm bloodied and not all the blood I'm trying to scrub off is my own or from battle with my oppressors.

Can't go around this. Can't go over this. Can't go under this. Gotta go through it even though I know I'm not gonna be able to take back what has already transpired. I've got a shitload of options and choices to make or break up ahead. One things for sure...

I'm a Settler.
I am a Settler.
I really don't feel comfortable being a Black settler colonized and colonizing.
Identifying as a settler doesn't feel attractive, neat or clean. It feels ugly, messy and embarrassing like I've got my own shit stuck on my fancy shoe. I want to scrape it off, off, OFF!

I don't want to have to add this to the identities I claim. I don't want to add this to the list of ways this oppressed body can oppress.

HOLYSHITHOLYSHITHOLYSHITHOLYMUTHAFUCKINSHITFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK. Somebody, ANYbody EVERYBODY SCREAM!

I'm a Colonized Settler breeder meant to birth millions/minions to solidify false land claims to stolen land by sheer force of numbers.
I'm a Colonized Settler mama, part of a human/plague/virus that spread across the land.
I'm a Colonized Settler mama who can either decide to breed settler dissidents or Colonized Settler dominators hungering for their (un)fair share.
I'm a Colonized Settler with no choice but to embrace difficult consciousness and spoon feed it to my little colonized settler babies so they will know the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

This is crucial.

This is how I got to this breaking point, cracking my own false consciousness wide open, pealing off what feels like a layer of my own skin in an agonizing home surgery.

Mamabrain or no, my five year old needs me to have a brain and to make use of it. My daughter's questions are keeping me honest...much more so than I would have liked, much more so than I would have planned.

Today...
I had to explain to her that we're Colonized Settlers who have helped to steal the land and dominate its people...
She did a double take because my usual wordings are compartmentalized:

We were brought here as workers, packed into big ships like sardines, forced to work the land for the pale people for free. They took our children and sold them. They told us we were ugly and stupid. This was very bad. We are still very angry about this.
- on this side....
The First Nations Peoples' land was stolen by the pale people. The pale people gave them measles blankets. They poisoned them, poisoned the land and the animals, too. The pale people killed so many of them. Their children were/are stolen. They were/are harmed. They are very upset, very angry. They are fighting.
- over there on that side.

No connection between the two, no context we can share in common, no link I wanted to establish...until now.

She'll want to know more, want to know how and why. She'll come back with more questions...I'll need to understand more about me and about US so I can give her some more imperfectly layered answers.

Happy Black Colonized Settler History Month.

Monday, February 19, 2007

There, there, pretty belly...










So, I sent this photo to a blogsite that shows belly pictures cuz I wanted to share. This is another one of the photos from my birth. I would have had them all up already except for the fact that my former house elf of terror and mayhem, bonga, the photographer uploaded all the photos I asked her to take of me labouring and reoriented them so that none of them are upright. Think of this as a silent scream coming from someone who doesn't forthrightly express her feelings. I've been living with this way of dealing for quite some time.

All this to say, it'll take time for me to turn all the ones I want to use around and prep them for uploading. Bonga figures she took them, so she needs some more stroking and attention and say-so about what happens with them. Since she feeds off it, rather than food, I decided to opt for dealing with the issue of reorienting them myself.

In any case, I sent this photo to a belly site, pointing out that it was a photo of me during my labour. This is how the woman who runs the site responded:

darkdaughta,

Thanks for the picture. Unfortunately, we are looking for more artistic pics.

Have a great birth. Congratulations.

And this is what I wrote back:

Hey ____,
When you say artistic pics, d'you mean photos that are pretty, posed and framed a particular way so as to work well as a decorative element when hung over someone's couch in their family home? :) Hee, hee, hee. We do have different ideas about what constitutes art. But, thanks for the response anyway.

P.S. I'm not sure you actually read my email. This is a photo from my labour. So, I already had a good labour.
Hmmm...
Maybe she thinks I look ugly, upset, sweaty and disheveled. Now, that's not artistic. :)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

I'm really glad I found this...

I've been crying in my therapist'ss office for months attempting to explain, to sort out my life so impacted by the kinds of lovers, friends, community members I've had the misfortune of encountering.

I've been feeling like a freak, like I was imagining things, blowing things out of proportion. I've debated with myself wondering if my understandings of truth and ethics were too stringent or too severe. I've wondered about my sanity since most of the people I seem to encounter have a whole different approach to dealing and manoeuvering through life that I can sniff out from a mile away but don't share.

I've felt like some sort of mutant magnet consistently encountering people who hide their feelings, lie about even the most mundane actions, manipulate, cheat, indirectly harm without ever breaking out in a sweat, without ever glancing behind to see who is looking, without shame, without conscience, without admitting they've done something wrong even when challenged...they fully believe their own lies.

I've been terrified almost paralysed at the ubiquitousness of this way of being. I've been second guessing myself. Tonight I was searching online and found this...

"
Imagine - if you can - not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends, or even family members. Imagine no struggles with shame, not a single one in your whole life, no matter what kind of selfish, lazy, harmful, or immoral action you had taken.

And pretend that the concept of responsibility is unknown to you, except as a burden others seem to accept without question, like gullible fools.

Now add to this strange fantasy the ability to conceal from other people that your psychological makeup is radically different from theirs. Since everyone simply assumes that conscience is universal among human beings, hiding the fact that you are conscience-free is nearly effortless.

You are not held back from any of your desires by guilt or shame, and you are never confronted by others for your cold-bloodedness. The ice water in your veins is so bizarre, so completely outside of their personal experience, that they seldom even guess at your condition.

In other words, you are completely free of internal restraints, and your unhampered liberty to do just as you please, with no pangs of conscience, is conveniently invisible to the world.

You can do anything at all, and still your strange advantage over the majority of people, who are kept in line by their consciences will most likely remain undiscovered.

How will you live your life?"

read some more

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Settler colonial realization meltdown...

I started here. But the piece has grown and I want to make sure the updates are still centralized on this blog and not lost in a haze of less significant (for me) postings. So for the most up-to-date version please go here.

This was my original vomitation...

In tha gut...
roiling, gurgling.
Do you listen to your stomach?
I do.
This is difficult...
hee, hee, hee...
exciting, a new set of realizations and interrelationships to process and explore and gnash my teeth about.

I've got to document an email exchange I had with a Native woman who tried to make contact with me.

When we finally began communicating I was annoyed and felt as if she wasn't getting me and how I was located as a Black woman.
Thinking about shade and misdirected and/or projected rage, feeling uncomfortable I talked/wrote about relations between Black peoples and First Nations peoples.
Did I say this is difficult? I'm excited...and scared. Shivers.
I talked/wrote about the Middle Passage and said that Black people didn't come to Turtle Island voluntarily that we were forced, dragged, stolen.
The relationship to the land, this land started there. Others who came later, whether they were enticed by faulty adverts or running from persecution only to be fuk'd over by white people's racism came willingly.
Black people, I asserted and maintained, were different.

Shifting...shifting...my mouth feels dry and my hearts skipping beats.

I wrote to her that Black people had made some really bad choices. We hadn't allied with First Nations peoples across the board, but only in pockets here and there. Malcolm went to Mecca not to see Native elders. Martin read from the "good" book, he didn't smudge himself and ground Black people's struggles on the land in struggles for autonomy and the land.

Major mistakes.

We've focussed on struggling selfishly against white folks for a better share of the land, for better treatment on the land.

Sure, immediately following "emancipation" some left for Africa. But those who remained had choice and made decisions. They/we didn't ally with the custodians of the land.

Stockholm Syndrome in overdrive we internalized the settler colonial attitude that gave us a sense of entitlement a sense of ownership based on work for white supremacist colonizers bent on theft and genocide.

In that historical moment, brutally, psychologically, emotionally, physically abused, torn, raped, dominated, we reached for power and legitimacy and survival means derived from stolen land.

We allied with our oppressors to further their colonial project, supporting their plans to parcel out the land. Our only complaints were that we didn't get the "good" parts of the land.

We set a precident for all coloured folks who would come later. Don't undermine the colonial project, see what you can get out of it.

So, here I am, even still more layered and complexly vexed. The descendant of stolen peoples "freed" only to turn and enslave the land and undermine the struggles of its people.

How did I get here? Ask my five year old. I think her questions are keeping me honest...much more so than I would have liked.

Happy goddamn Black History Month.

read the updated and majorly expanded version

Monday, February 12, 2007

Cruisin'...

I went driving today, ran som errands, tried to parallel park, reversed, drove busy downtown streets, stopped perfectly at all red lights, crosswalks and stop signs. Even drove on an in-town pseudo highway. Papi sitting next to me was very proud and coached me all the way. Now, i just need to get a license...unh...a learner's permit. :)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Hooligans...

"PARIS (Reuters) - Spanish fashion designer Paco Rabanne has criticized John Galliano and Alexander McQueen, calling them "fashion hooligans" whose provocative designs had chased people away from Paris fashion.

"With Balmain, Balenciaga, Givenchy and others, you can once again see that vein of chic and elegance which had deserted the capital with the arrival of those fashion hooligans, Galliano and McQueen," he told an Intercontinental hotel magazine, referring to recent collections at those fashion houses.

"Paris was once immensely envied and copied throughout the world. But these two Anglo-Saxon designers, in fact extremely talented, subjected it to a frontal attack by cultivating a gratuitously provocative and ravaging form of anti-fashion."

The 72-year-old Rabanne, who himself caused a stir in the 1960s with his futuristic plastic and metal dresses, said their designs were at odds with the Parisian spirit and had given Milan "international supremacy" in the fashion world.

"Paris has just discovered its new state of grace," he said.

Gibraltar-born Galliano was appointed designer at Givenchy in 1995 before switching to Christian Dior the following year. He also has a label that bears his name."


I really appreciate this. No one has ever called me a hooligan, but I suspect some think it. :)

Did I ever mention I sew and had a gynormous collection of Vogues and Elles in my twenties?

I would travel with them back and forth from university.
I used to plaster my walls with pics of models and then I'd squint and imagine them nice and fat and dark...
Then I'd make clothes for myself based on what I imagined I'd look like in one of their dresses sized perfectly right for me. :)

There are all sorts of ways to culture jam, no?

Picture lesbianly me in a floor length gown I made with construction boots with the toe leather exposed to show the steel, underwear stuffed to make a nice basket, head shaved with sideburns carefully razored. I would have loved me. But wait, I did love me.