Monday, December 17, 2007

Our Kwanzaa Tree...

Nana Peazant I ain't. But the idea of staging decolonizing moments of rebellion by appropriating icons the dominant culture attempst to cram down Stinkapee and Shmolee's throats and repositioning all the christian/commercial clap trap as something we can use to further our resistance has always been a big favourite of mine.

When Stinkapee was smaller she understood all the lights put up in the city for the holidays as Kwanzaa Lights. There were so many beautiful Kwanzaa lights everywhere.

Now that she's older and she goes to school with white teachers and with white students who feel the need to colonize the overwhelming majority of children of colour students in the school by force feeding heaping doses of christmas lore to them while hiding it under liberal inclusive speak about "happy holidays" and "holiday celebrations" Stinkapee is coming home with questions and odd experiences.

Stinkapee told me about a movie about a reindeer with a red nose. I asked if his nose was hurt or sore. But then we had a conversation about the christmas movies trying to control children's brains and make them want to celebrate christian holidays.

Then she told me that the teachers forced her to watch christmas movies at lunch or recess, even though she explained that we don't believe in christmas because we're not christians. She says that the children who believe in christmas try to tell her that she, too, will be watched by Santa for good behaviour. I explained that since we don't believe in Santa, because he's a tool christians use to make christianity seem fun, that we don't care if Santa is watching. Christians aren't the boss of us.

Strange, she also told me that one of the muslim children in her class told her she was going to go to hell. I told Stinkapee that since we don't believe in hell, we couldn't possibly be headed there. Besides, she knows that since all energy comes from the universe, when we pass over, our bodies will go into the ground and the rest of us will float out all over the earth and become a part of everything around us. Simultaneously, we'll also be ancestors one day and keep watch over our descendants. Whew energy from the universe really gets around, don't it?

Today we were talking about the lights around the city. Stinkapee explained to me that the lights are all christmas lights. I told her that since we already know that not all the people living in this city aren't christians and don't necessarily celebrate christmas, the lights could be for any of the holidays that happen at this time of the year. Although we don't know all the different holidays people can choose to celebrate during the time around solstice, including solstice itself, we know that not every light hung up in the city is for christmas.

Just a shadow of a doubt. That's all I really need to create. From there, I have all sorts of space to culture jam and to create. And because no one is the boss of us, we can mush whatever bits and pieces of celebratory matter together in whatever ways we see fit if it means that our children will have the support they need to hang on until they're old enough to mount resistance of their own.

So, you see that tree with the lights at the top of this post? That's our Kwanzaa Tree. So far it's decorated with paper snow flakes we made on the weekend and white lights.

In the next few days, we'll celebrate solstice, probably with lots of candles, staying up late and maybe taking a midnight stroll...I made the last one up...it just popped into my head...but Stinkapee will probably fall asleep and we'll put her in Shmolee's stroller and carry Shmolee in the baby carrier he inherited from Stinkapee...Papi will, his back is stronger.

Also, I'll be doing a life size drawing of the Kwanzaa Goddess. Although we'll do the candle lighting and the woven mat and
though we'll read about the different days of Kwanzaa, we're not strict Kwanzaa Afrocentrists. :) We dabble in a bit of solstice, in a bit of goddess worship, a bit of the universe and then sort of roll up together in a bundle that we recognize as ours that works for us.

With that in mind, we discussed it and decided that The Kwanzaa Goddess (who in all our minds looks an awful lot like the witch Karaba in Kirikou et La Sorciere) is the aspect of Goddess Mother Earth who brings us Kwanzaa. She is the one who brings us the food we'll be eating, watches over any altars we'll create and gives us any gifts we might end up giving to each other.

Notice I didn't say gifts we'll be giving each other? Nobody actually goes holiday shopping for gifts in our family. If we pass something and we actually have budget, which we don't right now, we might. But Stinkapee's real favourite part of the holidays is seeing people, spending time with her family, cooking with family and watching dvds.

Tonight we watched Kirikou and the Sorceress which is one of her all time favourites. We like Kirikou because he's small but mighty, like Stinkapee. She always smiles when he does amazing feats. Since she doesn't live in a gender challenged house, whenever she sees the little boy's character save the day, her eyes glow with a light that says the message is getting through to her, too.

We're also going to watch Daughters of the Dust. Powerful lessons in that movie, too. Nana with Yellow Mary's St. Christopher's charm, the scraps of memories from her tin wrapped 'round a bible, I ain't. But I do understand how to tie Kwanzaa tight to that rattid plastic tree and send the holidays back on "home" with one of their colonizing tools recycled and reused as a tool, a vehicle to transmit some protection from the madness in the days to come.






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Stroke them on your face cuz they don't love that either...











I was looking for this quote from beloved which is a movie I really liked for having the guts to try and capture the very real horror and ghosts that inhabit the lives of all us children of the middle passage.

It don't matter how well "educated", "proper", "comfortable", "well spoken" or otherwise cushioned through multiple layers of denial from those times we may like to think we are...there are hidden bits of memories in all our family closets with roots dating back well past what most care remember or to speak of.

For me, as I engage in the day to day struggle to remember to love myself, my body, my features I would do well to continue to keep foremost in my brain that scene in Beloved (the movie) where the elder woman held a giant group therapy session in the woods to try and help her community vent and come to grips with some of the nasty shite smeared on them by the experience of living under the boot of white people, living next to white people and being treated like cattle by them, being forced to work for them and being forced to run from them and then being forced to smile with them after all this right on down til present day...
There was a quote, something the elder woman, Baby Suggs said...
I had it in mind as I snapped shots of me and paps and stinkapee, not shmolee...shmolee is sleeping, betta let him rest...he woke up, breastfed and fell asleep...I photographed him as he slept on the couch...
But while I took these and then had the fleeting thought of not using these because our noses and mouths seemed so prominent...
I thought of the people in that clearing and of Baby Suggs entreating them to love themselves and their bodies in every way possible.

I searched for that quote and found it over at blac.sapphic...

"Here in this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don't love your eyes; they'd just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it. And O my people they do not love your hands. Those they only use, tie, bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands! Love them. Raise them up and kiss them. Touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face 'cause they don't love that either..."






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Ten days later...

This was a good month...nothing major to throw the power surge off. Yesterday...no, actually early Saturday morning my cervix opened and the purge began. It used to be 14 days from twinge to purge...I tracked everything for years and the purge was always around the 13th. After Stinkapee, the blood came in two months. I really felt deprived because I know that some wimmin don't menstruate for a year...maybe two?

No such luck for me. In any case I know the whole cycle had shifted it's location in relation to the rest of the month. But today, when I counted the days in between the twinge and the showing of the first blood, it now looks like nine days.

I'm thinking about menopause and how I think it can come early for the wimmin in my family...hazy memory...didn't my grandmother start hers in her forties?

tick, tock, tick, tock, ti-




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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Stay inside snow day...






































It snowed...a lot.

Did I mention I've been in north amerikkka for almost...thirty...two years?

Still not really excited about snow...must have been public school where they thought that forcing the black caribbean immigrant girl to ice skate in little mermaid walking painfully on razer blade skates, brave biting wind and snow at recess, struggle home and not make it in time only to end up peeing in her snowpants and to absorb the impact of snowmixedwithiceballs slung by mean little white boys...nah...I was never really that excited about winter. Nice pictures of the backyard, though...






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More solid reading for white midwives, doulas and especially for white homebirthing mamas....

The 19th Erase Racism Carnival






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I read this and commented...

But after I got a response from Change Seeker, I was struck again by what the amerikkkan government is trying to do and with the fact that they're getting away with it by burying the former residents of New Orleans in governmental red tape...
After I stopped to think about what it all means in the macro about just how bad things are not just there, but for any of us who have felt sheltered by living on these occupied lands, I felt overwhelmed by the mess of it. I just hung my head and cried.

The Looooooong Road Home to New Orleans







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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Oppressed people's seek place in military hierarchy demand "respect"...

I found this segment of another post on Orcinus today, too...

"In a 1992 senate race Huckabee when asked about allowing openly gay Americans to serve in the military said:
I believe to try to legitimize that which is inherently illegitimate would be a disgraceful act of government. I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can pose a dangerous public health risk.

Wow Mike! Tell us how much you really hate The Gays.

This revelation comes on the heels of Huckabee defending his statement about quarantining people living with HIV, Huckabee saying homosexuality is a sin and saying that gay marriage is a threat to civilization.
"
which made me think about an email oyadele at incredible ju ju sent me a few days ago...
"Army pays $725 to WWII vet for unfair trial, imprisonment

Samuel Snow thought when he got a check from the Pentagon that the Army was finally ready to give him the apology and the compensation he'd been denied for 63 years. He was wrong.

The Army imprisoned Snow in 1944 for a crime he says he couldn't have committed. The military overturned his conviction this year and sent him his back pay for the 15 months he spent in prison: $725.

Snow is one of just two defendants still alive from one of the biggest military trials of World War II.

Twenty-eight black soldiers were sent to prison after an Italian prisoner of war, Guglielmo Olivotto, was found hanged to death following a night of brawling at Fort Lawton in Seattle, Washington.

At a time when the military forces were segregated, 41 black soldiers were tried in one large group and were provided two attorneys to defend them all.

According to the Army, 28 of the soldiers were convicted of rioting, including Pvt. Samuel Snow, who spent 15 months behind bars.

Two of those soldiers also were convicted of manslaughter in the death of the POW and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Thirteen of the men were acquitted.

After being released from prison, Snow returned to the segregated South. He arrived home with a criminal record, a bad conduct discharge and no benefits such as those provided by the GI Bill of Rights. He became a janitor.

In October, the Army Board for Corrections of Military Records determined the defendants were denied a fair trial. The board said the prosecutor refused to give defense attorneys access to confidential evidence.

As a result of the findings, the Army overturned the convictions -- but stopped short of finding the defendants "not guilty."

"What it is saying is that they didn't receive their fair day in court," said Army spokesman Col. Dan Baggio.

The Army wrote checks to the surviving defendants as compensation for the back pay they were denied while in prison. Snow assumed that figure would be a substantial amount of money -- until the $725 check arrived at his home in central Florida.

If the payment had been adjusted for inflation, Snow would have received $7,768.13, according to the inflation calculator on the Labor Department's Web site.

If the $725 had been invested in 1946, when Snow was discharged from the Army, at 8 percent interest, compounded annually, it would have been worth more than $82,000 by now.

The Army said there are no legal provisions that allow it to consider adding accrued interest, adjustments for inflation or compensation for lost benefits.

Snow said the size of the check didn't surprise him. "I didn't think it was no kind of mistake," he told CNN. "They don't care."

The case might have been buried in history if not for the work of Seattle author Jack Hamann.

Hamann, a former CNN correspondent, spent years detailing the riot and flawed prosecution of the black American soldiers for his 2005 book, "On American Soil: How Justice Became a Casualty of WWII."

Fort Lawton is now a public park, and most of the buildings have been torn down. But Hamann was able to pinpoint the very spot where Snow says he was knocked unconscious as he left his barracks. The author said it proves Snow was innocent, because he never made it to the Italian POW barracks to join the fight.

"He never had a chance to be involved in the riot," Hamann said. "He was just responding quickly to what he thought was an attack, and he was knocked out of it almost immediately."

The revived story of how Snow and 27 others were convicted on little evidence caught the attention of Congress. U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Washington, asked the Army to review the nearly forgotten case.

"A real injustice had been done to a whole lot of black guys who were serving their country, and somebody had to speak up for them," McDermott said.

McDermott told CNN he does not blame the Army for going by the book but said he will look for ways Congress can help. Snow said he wants his name cleared, medical benefits and retirement pay.

But at age 83 and in poor health, he said he wonders if he will live long enough to see it happen."
To the Orcinus post I responded with this comment...
"I know your post was about this man Huckabee, but I ended up getting fixated on the stuff about gays and lesbians in the military.

I thought about Black people, (insert: and other people of color) Native people, wimmin, gays and lesbians...all seeking to have their citizenship(insert: /participation) in the imperialist settler state validated (insert: at different historic moments) by sacrificing their blood on distant shores.

All these people seeking external validation from a state that will never fully accept them, seeking to be allowed to finally take their place as equals through fighting for "respect" in the ranks of the military, in effect fighting for the right to be killed on behalf of an imperialist nation that shows time and time again how much it hates them .

Sad."
It pretty much holds true for Oyadele's email, too...



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I'm still wondering about that sense of peace and happiness...

That gentling spirit of contentment I encounter when I visit...okay...mostly lurk at the white amerikkkan homebirthing, baby wearing, attachment parenting blogsites.

I don't see their blogs afire with issues that relate directly to the white amerikkkan nation they insist on pushing with such languourous joy out into this diseased and racist world.

I found this on Orcinus which is a blog site I don't think I've visited before...or haven't visited in recent memory...

"I've been trying to envision what Mike Huckabee's immigration plan -- the one calling for the deportation of 10 to 12 million "illegal immigrants" within a 120-day period -- would look like.

After all, we're talking about truly enormous numbers. The logistics alone would be daunting: we're talking about rounding up and shipping out 100,000 people a day. These are numbers that make the notorious Palmer Raids of the 1920s look like a drop in the bucket.

Just to get a rough idea what we're talking about, let's review what recent raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids have looked like....


Arkadelphia, Ark.:
On Tuesday, July 26, between 30 and 35 children, some as young as three months old, were left stranded when federal agents arrested 119 immigrant workers at the Petit Jean Poultry plant in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. No provisions were made for these children as their parents were carted 70 miles away to a detention center to await deportation.

Many of these families, now forcibly torn apart, had lived and worked at the company for years. Of those detained, 115 were from Mexico, two were from Honduras and the other two were from El Salvador and Guatemala.

This surprise raid caught the town’s mayor, the Clark County sheriff, and the plant manager by surprise, and no provisions were made to care for the children or to alert relatives. The federal agents failed to even contact the Department of Human Services, the agency that is usually responsible for abandoned children.

“A lot of those families had kids in day care in different places, and they didn’t know why Mommy and Daddy didn’t come pick them up,” Arkadelphia Mayor Charles Hollingshead told the Associated Press.

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman claimed Friday that every one of the immigrants had lied to the agents, telling them they had no children. He later changed his story, admitting that the detainees did tell the agents that they had children left behind. Still, the agents did not allow the detainees to contact their families to make arrangements for their children.

Jose Luis Vidal told the Associated Press that his sister and brother-in-law left behind children aged ten, five and one when they were deported to Laredo, Mexico.

This is just a sampling, of course. Now try to imagine, if you will, these kinds of nightmares being amplified by a factor of a half-million or more.

... I know it's hard to imagine such a thing. Because we all know that as the push to search out all 12 million intensifies, so will the ugliness of the raids.

And let's not forget that rounding people up is only the beginning: There is, fortunately, such a thing as due process in America, even for non-citizens, which means that each one of these 10 to 12 million people will have to have their cases reviewed. In the meantime, they'll have to be placed in detention centers.

When you're talking about 100,000 people a day, you're talking numbers well beyond the capacity of any current holding facility or detention center operating in America. And because the need will be ostensibly short-term, that means we'll almost certainly once again be building temporary mass detention centers -- otherwise known as concentration camps.

Of course, this country already has some experience with that. And sure enough, in response simply to the increased demand under Bush's relatively modest push for illegal-immigrant roundups, we're building them again.

Just what kind of America is it that Mike Huckabee envisions? Has anyone thought about what this country will look like -- not just ethnically and racially, but ethically and morally -- after he has his 120 days?
"
the rest of this post has descriptions of the mass deportations leaving small children unattached without parents in their loving co-sleeping beds, without access to any extended breastfeeding bonding moments, unable to find anyone to cart them around in their mexican baby wraps...well, this is definitely a huge white amerikkkan mothering issue from where I'm standing. Don't you think?

This is definitely all about the business of being born into or next to or defined as alien to the amerikkkan homeland.

So, I'm wondering...
Will any of the mamas host a discussion in their town or community where the mamas can discuss how their birthing revolution is contributing to the formation of a new fascist state?
Will they gather to strategize about how best to stop contributing, eyes wide shut, to the domination of other wimmin, their children and extended families right in their own backyards?

Now that would be a mama gathering I'd have to leave my yard for.







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Friday, December 14, 2007

Just relaxing...

This evening we watched a poo bear movie and the latest harry potter.

I was supposed to be having dinner with a dyke I met when I first came out. She had a home made hair cut, furry legs and hairy pits when she came to one of my classes at school.

At that time I was mostly working black converse or men's leather lace up shoes, black levis, baggy men's shirts and a flat top fade I had to update by travelling into the heart of black maledom - the barber shop.

I remember one time my partner and I were there to get our fades updated and one of the men, curious, asked if we were in the military. We looked at each other shrugged our shoulders and said: "Yeah. Elite special forces."

So my old friend was out when I was just new on the scene, well before I really understood anything beyond what the books told me about feminism.

I guess in some ways she was the beginning of my "end" in that she was the one who introduced me to Califia, macho sluts, smut and to the notion that maybe the political could be broader, more reflective of what was actually happening in our bodies and our minds, that maybe it didn't have to be so stiff, self conscious and circumspect.

I was really uncomfortable with a lot of what I saw for many years. My understanding of what it meant to be a lesbian was very by the book...well, the books...the ones everyone read by the famous lesbian feminists...I studied...a lot. But my discomfort over the complication she brought to my consciousness didn't stop me from being curious and attempting to learn more.

Years later, I'm in a relationship with a man (not some big political statement at all, more of a major compromise based entirely in pragmatically surveying my long term goals for survival and staying in this life) and the mama of two children. My friend was supposed to be bringing over dinner and her new man friend to have dinner with me and Papi after Stinkapee went to bed.

I haven't mentioned that over the past few days I've developed a really nasty, deep, hacking, dry cough. I sound like a barking seal. I smell like vicks and I've got a hot water bottle permanently attached to my chest.

So, anyways, she called to cancel and I explained that in the midst of all the hacking, I had forgotten about our bizarro double date. :) The queer wimmin, ex lesbians and their male concubines.

D'you think JoAnn Loulan created some sort of meme virus that spread? :)

So, we stayed home and had family movie night. Here Shmolee is breastfeeding while Stinkapee practices braiding and Papi tries to recoup after spending about 14 hours working outside in the snow...doing physically demanding work he really likes. :)

Thanks for the note, Amy. More context is always good.

Am I done with the topic?

I wasn't quite sure what the topic was but the conversation was/is useful. I don't really know any other way to have conversation. As I said, it doesn't scare me or hurt me. The spaces, the gaps, the purposeful avoidance that has become so much a part of community life scares and hurts me way more.

Feel free to comment when and where you will as long as you realize that this is how I roll.





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Papi and I had lunch...I made it...





































































































if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

Gently...I've said it before and I'll say it again...

People, this includes bloggers, don't know how to deal with real conversation.

Second Waver, thanks for putting a comment to the post that I wrote in response to Amy's Brain's comments.

sigh...

I'm going to try and find a way to do this so that it doesn't create more...stuff...

I invited you over a few days back, which is what I also did with CJ and with Starchildwitch, who were the only other people who come here regularly who I thought might be interested in participating in the conversation Amy's Brain had initiated. I even indirectly invited Goddess Glory over as my viewing of her blog definitely complicates the conversation in ways that will put me on the hot seat. Though, in truth, it may be a few days before she notices she's got another link on this blog.

Fireworks for EVERYONE!

I'm thanking Amy for the attempt at conversation. Of the feminists whose blogs I saw and who I encountered in that first year when I first came to blogland, she's actually the only one who has bothered to make concrete reference to her understanding of what happened for her when she encountered my blog.

I say "her understanding" because when I read her comments, I realized that besides the compliments, there was a lot there that I thought would be useful to tease out into the light.

This is what I began to do. Why? Even though it seemed messy and potentially uncomfortable?

Well, I think that wimmin's political alliances are built like our parents built our families. You skim over the stuff that's unpleasant, back away from it slowly while smiling and concentrate on the positive, on the things that unite.

As we all know, this approach has not worked for many, dare I say, most of us in our families of origin. And yet, we continue to use this tried and (un)true method of giving compliments as a way to build relational foundations rather than intentional, analytical truths so as to better forge bonds that survive the shite that eventually comes down the road.

I come out of a therapy background. I believe in digging at the shit before the shit digs at you and gets smeared on the people around you.

And so, yes, I read the complimentary things she had said. But in truth, these did not explain an almost two year absence. They couldn't. These did not explain why, as with so many other bloggers who write to me saying they appreciate my work, why it is that my blog is not referenced on their sites, not linked to on their sites.

Just to be clear...this isn't whiny tantrumy stuff. This is me saying there is a way wimmin even lesbians are taught to move which resonates with avoidance and denial. It's not specific to what is happening as I make my way through blogland. I'm just saying since it impacts me, too, the buck has got to stop right here. :)

I was excited about Amy's overture. I look forward to more as the conversation for me is about looking at our context. The context for her compliments. The context for her drawing away. The context for her fear. The context for the sadness I feel when wimmin come nigh yet explain that they can't or don't visit very much and why...

sigh...

There's meat here. There's deep conversation here. I don't fear it. I don't think it will be the death of me or the death of us if I continue to invite these conversations and attempt to make space for them here.

Second Waver, I giggled with Papi over the first comment you left on that post where I was talking about wanting to be seen and defined according to my own systems of value. :) I said to him it was almost as if you poked your head in the door, sort of went: "Oops! You two are having a difficult conversation. I should leave you to it. Love you both. Admire you both. Hope it works out for the two of you. I check back in later."

:)

sigh...

This is difficult for me. I firmly believe that without the context, insight, emotion, grounding others can offer in the moment, difficult conversations usually flounder and fail.

I think we're taught to do crisis management, damage control, putting out fires after the fact, after things have derailed, after people have drawn apart.

It doesn't work. It comes of sounding a bit hallmarkish because the moment, that crystal clear moment when truths are trying to be born has been avoided. Afterwards, all that's left, may be space for placation.

It's so sad.

Aaaammeeeeey...
I'm still here. I actually enjoyed the conversation. But before it got light and all giggly, before it swerved and became about how best to kick the hell out of patriarchy, which will always be a more convenient place to focus, I wanted to make sure that you and I were truly good. Not surface good. Not trying hard to see past some shit good. Not feminist coalition work can be uncomfortable, let's get back to the war good.

No, at this point in my life, a few days now from the fortieth birthday, I only want alliances that are good good. :)

This is hard, sweaty, difficult, layered, messy, inconvenient work. It's pleasurable, for me because it's invigorating, gets the blood flowing, the mind jumping, opens old wounds, cleans them out, dresses them and readies them for healing.

I was glad when Starchildwitch came and added her two cents worth, glad when Second Waver came because I don't actually understand this as my work and your work, alone, Amy.

From what I see, wimmin have these aborted conversations all over the place in blogland and realtime. What I know is that our alliances suffer when we choose to step back from this place and when we model this balking, this avoidance to those who are newer who come in seeking something different.

I'd like to offer them something different. Wouldn't you? I'd like to offer them a passionate, powerful, insightful coming together of potential allies who are committed to doing the work needed to cement ties.

The absence of models for negotiating and forging alliances is is part of what broke my heart about being in wimmin's community. So much potential. So much unrealized potential. So much hidden, not written down in minutes...wouldn't want anyone to come years later and see that others had that exact same argument about fifty ga-zillion times now, would we? Nah. Let's not put that stuff down in the minutes. Or if someone pushes for it, lets couch it in such oblique language that it will be of absolutely no use to any woman who comes seeking years from now.

Amy.
My blog is nekkid so as to be better perused by any woman, head reeling, tears flowing, confusion making a mess of her insides, not able to find the answers she needs, the models she craves so as to better hold fast and make her alliances, her loverships, her friendships work. My blog is nekkid so that should a woman, reeling from the experience of being told that something is wrong with her, but intuiting that something is deeply off course with the movement...that if she is seeking examples of others who dared to say something, to ask questions, to demand changes, that maybe she'll find this space probe and be thankful for it.

I haven't had that experience. I've searched for years. I've cracked open books aplenty, I've done cross disciplinary research, I've cried out and voiced my best, most positive manifestations and affirmations. The only answer I ever seemed to get back was that I was the change I was seeking. But supporting self is a tricky proposition I won't doom any other woman to have to work out if I can help it.

And so...
In the hopes of creating other models and demonstrating what can happen that is good when wimmin come together to speak fer real I offer invitations sometimes real time and sometimes in blogland. I invite those who come and present in some powerful way I can wrap my mind around to step into the crucible with me.

"Whoa!" isn't the response I expect to get back. :)
Whoa is what you say to a horsey. Whoa is what you say to a being whose trajectory you may understand yourself capable of stopping or derailing.

There will be no "Whoa!"
But there may be mutually beneficial space big enough, broad enough for us to walk next to each other as we do individual and collective work.

I just had another flash of the women of color who I am still hoping will be able to engage me in less hierarchical ways that resonate with their understanding of themselves as more powerful, somehow more "right", that I must be silent and follow because I am one and they are many...I hear a cacaphony of accusations about who I privilege conversations with...

why have conversations with men when you can have them with wimmin, why have conversations with heteros when you can have them with dykes, why have conversations with white wimmin when you can have them with wimmin of colour, why have conversations with feminists when you can have them with black people?

I know it sounds a little desperate and really in the early morning hours when I look at Papi and have to admit that we still don't have any shelter before the coming storms, I know that I am driven to desperation often...
I have to be open to whoever comes in whatever shape they come as long as they make sense and we can vibe. I'm open to all on equal footing as long as people come correct and don't purposefully mess with my shite.

sigh...

Second Waver, this is not me freaking or being angry. This is me trying to keep on being nekkid and real...saying to whoever is watching or lurking: "Enough. I don't have time to chase after all of you on an individual basis. My children are getting older. I'm getting old. So, let's parlay."






if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My mother - detail...

This chalk pastel drawing dates from the time when I still believed my relationship with my mother was all above ground. It's an oil pastel that's about 2/3 my height. It's in a narrow hallway just next to the stairs. So I haven't figured out a way to photograph the whole thing as yet. Don't want to take it down...too much drama to put it back up. It's from a photo that was taken of her in the seventies when she was in her mid twenties, I think when she worked in a tourist hotel in barbados.






if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

Starchildwitch's comment...

I invited Starchildwitch over to respond to yesterday's post which is a conversation that unfolded with Amy's Brain.
starchild has left a new comment on your post "I think I'm still trying to be read according to m...":

"When we all look so different, when even black dykes aren't necessarily recognized by white wimmin (this was supposed to read white dykes) on sight when they pass in the streets, who gets to decide how identity coincides with visibility?"

Perhaps I shall start from there, DD?
This is a piece of many conversations I have had for years now. Who is it who gets to define what is the centralizing factor of someone's identity? Or rather, who THINKS they are the one who gets to decide that? The problem for me, ALWAYS, ALWAYS was and is that there is an expectation that I will somehow centralize whiteness and everything that comes with that as the ordering factor of my identity and therefore appearance and therefore choices and therefore politics and therefore communities and so on and so on. When really the issue for me is--what do I really have invested in a white lesbians' recognition of me? Or what did I would be the proper tense. At the end of the day, it (the investment) had to be made into nothing because there was and IS very little that they really had invested in me.

That said, I have come out on the other side of trying to "identify" as anything, practically--except for remembering my parents' advice that all I have to do is stay black and die. And even that is tenuous--I get stopped at least once a day by someone wanting to know "what" I am. I am unrecognizable to many.

I understand that wanting to belong to something, even at the cost of sometimes having to keep quiet or deal with something later. but it is SO not worth it.

I guess people who so fiercely guard identities should understand that 1, yes, as DD said, there's no scarcity. And 2, why not question, every now and then, what makes you so ideal to hold the line or determine the borders around what that identity means?

I no longer identify as a lesbian and am married to a man and the other thing I want to say related to that is this:
my first sexual relationships were with women, not men. And there's not one of them that wasn't so fraught with these women's internalized patriarchal stuff. By the time I got to a man, I actually felt damn free! I could just have sex, however I wanted, with my pleasure and his in mind, because I didn't have to fight through the muck of people's issues with men who were not actually there in the bed with us! The amazing thing was that the things the women I was with were all caught up about--whether they were their own experiences or just imagined assupmtions or real observations of other people--were just not there when I finally got down to it.

I say all of that to say--I finally came around to the fact that lesbianism is not hallowed ground. We are all complex people, even within our "identities" and oppressions. I am not interested in the back and forths people tried to bait me into after I met my partner about losing some kind of lesbian street cred and so forth.

Because really--SO? As much as I value and respect experiences and thinkers and people and writings and all of that, and like to form community and all of that, I refuse to centralize anyone's standards other than my own. If I happen to agree with yours, if they're compatible, fine. But if I can't live by my own tested and tried, self-assembled through my own research and experience, ways of being and relating to people and the world and so forth, what the hell am I living for? The sanctity of a feminism that at some point or other has and will again shut me out? The hallowed ground of whiteness that I am not a part of because, hello, I am black so why would I fight to uphold it?

I recently began practicing Buddhism, and the main thing that regardless of the sect, Buddhism teaches is that there's no point in following it if it is of no benefit to you. Go and try it out and judge from your own experience if it actually makes any damn sense.

So I guess this is a response to you, DD, and to you, Amy's Brain. Maybe not to very specific picked out points, aside form the first, but that's what your exchange has brought up in my mind.

Thanks!
I really like what Starchildwitch wrote. It resonated for me and fit with a conversation I had this morning with Papi who was talking about hegemonies inside hegemonies. He was thinking about blackness and about the maleness, the male collectivity he has been so harmed by that he receives ongoing invitations to participate in everyday even as he flashes back to the abuse he's incurred at the hands of men attempting to usher him into the "club".

We both agreed that groupings of people are artificial compartments designed by those who dominate to harm those who are subjugated.

How do we do battle without creating new compartments that contain and silence?
How do we fight the good fight without membership in our circles coming at the expense of presenting, speaking, being open or being proud of a multitude of truths?

Papi said that he thought I was exposing stuff that isn't supposed to be exposed. I said that I think people who understand themselves as freedom fighters may continue to be annoyed wiht my insistence on speaking openly about who I am. I think I will continue to be a dirty little problem in some circles. So be it.

I get the distinct impression that people don't understand why I beam me so clearly, so openly. "You should hide your shit away...aren't you scared of men wanking off at the sight of your pooni?"
When I was a young dyke, I walked the streets of the city without comfort. I felt disgusted and utilized when men, black men, asian men, south asian men, white men, ethnic white men stared at my breasts or at my legs. I felt the urge to cover myself up. If I showed less flesh, they would be more respecful. If I showed less flesh, I'd be justified in cussing them because they knew better than to stare at a woman who is dressed modestly. If I covered myself up, I'd be safe from their gaze.

How simple. They didn't stop, The leering continued. Soon I realized that it wasn't my clothing that invited them, it was their indoctrination, their understanding of what it meant to be male that invited them to visually consume me, to undress me in their minds.

I think it really clicked for me when I realized that men will rape 90 year old wimmin in smelly polyester house dresses. They don't care what wimmin wear. If they are inclined to agress us, undress us or molest us, they will.

The whole clothing, covering up thing is myth and oppressive indoctrination. It's about control. Wimmin are supposed to think first about men when they decide how they will clothe themselves. Whether thinking about men entails attempting to attract them, or attempting to keep them away, it's all one and the same, because we're centralizing them and their desires.

Covering up is something our mothers and fathers tell us to do so that we can be recognized in a world diseased with patriarchal domination as good girls. Good girls make sure cleavage is kept to a minimum. Good girls keep themselves covered and only show what they have to the man they marry. If you don't stay covered wimmin who do will worry about you, will focus on your actions, will attempt to communicate a profound state of upset and disgust about what you do. They will not applaud you. They will fear for you.

But I wonder, when wimmin attack or disregard wimmin for baring their flesh in flagrant opposition to gender based ritual restrictions observed across most of the planet which are considered necessary for the very survival of the species, who should I fear? The men? Those hormone driven idiots? Or the wimmin who tell me they fear for me in order to justify feeling put off at the sight of my transgressions and turning away from me?
sigh...
complete sidebar related nonetheless...
Glory, I've been trying to avoid dealing with my feelings about your blog. I'm glad you wrote me way back and said you wanted to connect. but I wondered wny/how? This was after I went to your blog and tried to read it, tried to read it as in understand who you are and what your agendas are. I don't agree with everything you write, but obviously I don't need to. I mostly relate to your irreverence. But I guess I'm wondering what your irreverence is about? Are you rebelling against parental units? Are you just trying to get famous? What's your plan? We're not aligned politically some fairly substantial ways, but the images of you and your hairy black crotch jar me and make me ask questions about where my edges lie and about whether I can honestly say, that I don't believe in some boxes myself. Kicks me in the head, it does. And for someone who learns through listening to their places of discomfort, this is a good thing.

Having said all that...
I struggle to not end up caught in small rooms of people whose identities speak to certain parts of who I am but not to others. When these differences cause trouble and pain for me, but never for them, when they are fine keeping silent about why I am crying, why I am fearful, why I am enraged, why I am outraged, I understand that I am not and will never be a collection of tiny, stuffy, separate rooms.

I am a whole being.

I read racial realist's blog recently, she was speaking about black people and about us respecting each other and prioritizing dealing with each other. I understood what she was saying in that post about loyalty and respect...just as I understand what Amy's Brain is saying.

But understanding the implications of this approach for someone like me, who stands simultaneously in so many different dimensions is painful. There is no way for me to stand solid on one flat earth and will myself to stop shifting in and out of various identities in the round.

This is who I am.

I am a whole being, a complex being, a layered being of thought, spirit, musky flesh and fierce fire.

This is me.

I am committed, loyal, respectful and bound by blood to multiple struggles on multiple sites of engagement simultatneously just by existing, just by drawing breath, just by eating, just by shitting, just by pissing and bleeding at the crotch.

It's all in me. But as Amy's Brain pointed out, Audre Lorde said this such a long time ago. She already talked and wrote about not being able to surgically cleave apart and leave segments of who she was behind. What she says still resonates for me.

If I am not to grow old surrounded just by my children and one partner, I will have to seek with much focus. I'm seeking in between the frontierlands cuz the frontierlands have centers built into them filled with people who are not equipped to see me as anything but borderland territory to be nudged back as the frontiers sprawl and take their own rightful places complete with hierarchies aplenty.

I push farther out and breathe in enjoying space so hardwon. The breath may catch and hook onto tears or shrieks, but at least, this far out, I can have my feelings. And I do.

Yeah...
This whole being is seeking people in the most unlikely places. I will utilize whatever highways or avenues I can to locate the handful I'm seeking. They won't look like me. They may not even speak like me or put together political ideas like me.

Therefore, I will have to seek them out wherever. Beaming clear to them, risking being seen in the most unlikely, most horrifying, most disgusting places in the hopes of one of my peeps catching sight of me and knowing me as kindred.

I'll beam my signal from feminist places, from anarchist places, from lesbian places, from queer places, from anarchist places, from MOM places, from mama places, from midwife places, from unassisted birthing places, from fucked in the head survivor places, from leftover food reuser places, from cheap as all hell frugal places, from anti-war places, from home decorator places, from homeschooler places...

I'll beam my signal from the fucking rooftops and be naked in every single place. I'll beam me because I'm my message and somehow or another, I'm gonna find "home".







if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

Responding to Red Pomegranate...

I just wanted to say a quick congratulations to Red Pomegranate who just had a baby daughter named Poppy. Here's her birth story.

This morning Red Pomegranate left a comment on the post I wrote about Durmstrang's butch daughters.

Red Pomegranate said...

This made me think about the way we parent our sons and daughters. I already reject the femmy frilly pink clothes that inevitably make their way into the hand me down bags from friends and family and much prefer the little green pants and the shirt with the screen print green owl on it.

Will you, or have you written on this before?

I certainly encourage my son's interest in make-up. Kid has a huge box of my old stuff (I am quite femme, but I have an inner butch, not bitch). I wonder if it's unfair not to encourage my girlie in the same why but think "No, she'll receive plenty of messages about being 'female' just fine thank you, no need for me to push that bullshit agenda-r too"

Already I'm priming her to be tough in a way that I'd never encourage in my son. Already I'm whispering words, telling her to be a scrapper, telling her to stand up for herself.

I have other worries for my son. Worries about cops harrassing him, worries about the fact that the world will only see him as the very threatening urban young man of color. How the fuck am I supposed to teach my baby to fight against that?

10:08 AM

Delete


Dark Daughta said...


Hey Red Pomegranate,
Yeah, I do worry about the Shmolian.

kkkanada is such a weird place. We're completely surrounded by these fake smiling white people who are terrified of black people. They smile nervously whenever our paths cross. I read an essay recently online that I'm going to have to post. It spoke about toronto's reputation as the most successful multicultural city in the world. The person who wrote the essay defined it as an urban myth because they could find no documentation to back up toronto ever having received such an award. White people, conservative, liberal and radical are completely victimized and haunted by the contradiction between their racism and the image they are forced to uphold because of this urban myth. So they smile their uncomfortable smiles and do everything they can to restrain themselves from running in the opposite direction when they encounter a black person. Papi and I were out at a cafe recently where he overheard a conversation between two wimmin both born in south africa. One was a light skinned woman the other was a white woman. The white woman drew a comparison between south africa and kkkanada and in a nutshell pointed out that the strangest thing about being here was the way that white people lie to themselves so as to better deny their own racism and the racist roots of this country.

All this to say, I definitely hear you about worrying for your son's safety. Here the police work as an arms length body upholding the will of the white middle class citizenry, who then hide behind the afore mentioned urban myth and disavow any knowledge of why it is that the police would be so brutally violent.

I'm going to continue this as a post...

11:02 AM

So continuing on...
I had so much difficulty when I realized Shmolee was shaping up in utero as a boy.

First off, I didn't want any boy children. I wanted girls. I wanted amazonian girls who knew how to kick butt. I've got one...she's fine boned, high of voice, analytically sharp, loving, fierce, mouthy, emotional, brave. I wanted more coming in whatever physical configurations they wanted...thick fattys preferred, but I can't pick and choose. :)

Really didn't want boys. Genitalia seemed so alien, so messy and odd. I think something about being so female centered was offended by having to parent a penis possessor. I would be raising a patriarch? :)

Shmolee came along, I was emotionally shut down, I wasn't there in a lot of ways. It was a struggle to come back. What so many people respond "negatively" to about this blog is what was playing out for me as I tried to grapple with who I wanted to be, who I was dying to be.

Shmolee came and I worked to get grounded and as I did, I began to do more than just hold him and feed him and sleep next to him. I began to see him. I became real to me. A real life flesh and blood human being.

And as he did, I made my peace with his various pieces to the point where I grew to have affection for his process of discovering his own penis. Loving him, I developed affection for his little business which was quite a leap from feeling slightly repulsed or put off.

So, I've got a black baby patriarch. But does he need to be an oppressor? I'm really glad you wrote about your son because as I've been responding to Amy's Brain, I started having flashes of Audre Lorde's son who ended up in the military. Audre Lorde's son.

I thought about his childhood. Wondered about it. Wondered if all those wimmin who flocked to his mother showered affection on him or simply thought of him as a distraction, something, someone, a little patriarch they needed to smile and swiftly move around so as to approach his mother, the real target of their affections, attentions, adulatin?

Did they see him, I wonder?

This isn't a rhetorical question as I've been living around lesbians and feminists up until very recently for years. The racism combined with rightful fear of patriarchy of many non black wimmin probably meant that they could not create any true sense of communion with this tiny black male child.

Their "sisterhood is global. I am your sister" stance really left no space to grapple with a young black male child in their midst. They had more important things to deal with. There was an anti-patriarchal resistance movement to build.

Who in that visionary's extended village community of sisters, which group of wimmin had time to create a revolutionary creche specifically designed to teach, love, rear and protect children? Who had time to protect a tiny child from growing up to identify with the very evils they thought they were trying so hard to resist?

Feminism failed Audre Lorde's son, I'd say. It did not fail his mother. She is remembered and loved by so many for so many different reasons. But her son, a child, a boy, a black male child, ended up in the mofo military. Given all the brain power in the various rooms where his mother spoke, trying to rally our troops, ringing the bell of a few different revolutions, how did this happen?

I'll drop that there for now...unless anyone wants to talk about what happens to the boy children of feminists and about how there is no body of knowledge designed to combat patriarchy by raising sons who are sensible enough, courageous enough, loving enough, grounded enough to kick patriarchal butt in their communities.

So, yeah, I think about how I'm gonna do this. Make up is definitely part of the equation. Papi modeling alternate male aesthetics will help. But he says, and I do agree, that both Stinkapee and the Shmolian will not have the space to be pacifists. I don't want to have any white coppers pulling up to my door saying that they were thrown off an over pass by a bunch of their fellow teenagers who hated them because they were too different.

I'm not interested in raising martyrs. I want live children who live a long time.

So, just call me terminator ii mama cuz I'm think integral combat systems. Stick fighting, knife fighting and hand to hand combined with strict moral prohibitions against using these for anything more than self defense.

Counselling for both around puberty, with someone who is a trusted family friend so they can dump their shite about me, Papi, the family and the world without being betrayed because their counsellor was an arm of the state in disguise.

hmmm...

Lot's of talking.

Street wise strategy sessions...
Did I ever mention that Papsi gets picked up by the white police fuckers whenever he drives his paren'ts european car? He used to come home with the shakes, completely freaked out. I offered him so ideas. When they're following your car, don't give them any time to run a plate or figure out what lie will work best. Carefully park the car, walk to a corner store and buy a chocolate bar and go for a walk. If there isn't a corner store in sight, go into a restaurant and have a coffee. If there isn't a restaurant, say if you're in a residential area, still try parking and get out.

These seem to be working well. He hasn't come home with the shakes in quite a bit.

So, basically, I'll have to do the same thing with Shmolee. I'm hoping that he will feel full enough of himself that he won't need to spend all his time in strange places with groups of children. I feel like protecting him.

But I make the distinction that many mothers of male children, many even feminist mothers of male children, of black male children don't seem to make between protecting their sons from oppression and protecting their sons from consciousness of who they are as men, as patriarchs, as bio weapons set to harm wimmin, as men having relative power over wimmin, over queer people, over poor and working class people especially wimmin.

I've seen and experienced those poor, endangered black men and men of colour doing some fairly fucked up things, oppressive things and counting on the protection they can rely on close to home or in community to bar them from having to be fully accountable. Not attractive.

I want to nurture and educate a thinking, feeling, open, grounded human being. Best done at home, I suspect.

So, home will have to be a good hang out place for Shmolee...and by extension for his friends.

Home for booze experiments. Home for drug experiments. Home for sex experiments. Home is where you run when the police start closing in. Home is where mama will be waiting to find out what tha fuck happened and stand watch.

Home, home, home. Home will have to be a wonderful and welcoming place for pimply faced, snotty, attitudinal teenaged boys. Home will have to be a place with enough food and with a couch, television and bar fridge int he basement.

Basically Stinkapee's friends, even as five understand that her place is a magical space where they can run through the house and play hide and seek. I'm planning on expanding this program as they get older.

Cuz really? I'm not sure what else to do. :0





if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I am...I am...does not compute...does not compute...

But the unanswered questions, that space of possibility, that dimensional shift, the free fall turning into the wind so as to better soar and climb again...all of it happening where none save I can recognize and quantify...where they can never say for sure, where they are forced to rely on my words, thoughts, ideas, images and spirit as their only guide into the heart of me...that's what I like about being me the best. :)







if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

Although...

I don't miss being a lesbian, I miss the belonging as mythic construct that I never fully experienced, save in those moments when I crafted spaces to my exact specifications. It's a construct. It's an artificiality maintained by those who articulate sexuality in ways markedly different than how I stay at this moment in time. I was never a belonger. I think part of what excited me about being a lesbian, beyond the really beautiful wimmin, was the possibility of a homeland, a motherland. I've seen enough mud slinging, backstabbing, betrayal and just general fuckery to know that lesbians are separate but equal, equally human, equally imperfect, equally real. I miss a construct. I dreamt a construct, turned them into rose coloured glasses which I wore for many, many years. I miss my rose coloured glasses. Oh fuck. I stomped on them. They're bent up and shit. I can't put them back on. Navigating through group spaces is really difficult without my rose coloured glasses. Even Papi looks weird without my rose coloured glasses. People on the street seem so daunting. Every day I wait until the absolute last minute to go pick up Stinkapee because I can't stand her teacher's smile when seen without rose coloured glasses. I miss belonging. I miss my rose coloured glasses. I miss standing somewhere clearer, less hazy, less uncomfortable, less contested. I miss being easily seen and read...through other people's rose coloured glasses. I'm so far from there. I'm so far from "home". Nowhere. I think my life may be a post modern joke. I'm not laughing. St. John's Wort, anyone?






if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

Wordless Wednesday...Stinkapee's eye...


Stinkapee took this photo of me and Papsi.

For more Wordless Wednesday, please go here.






if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

I think I'm still trying to be read according to my own systems of value...

I had a visitor yesterday. It was sort of exciting, sort of scary. One of the feminist wimmin I encountered, I think when I first came into blogland, came by and commented.
For me the implicationsof her visit are numerous. Also, there is what came up for me as I read her comments:
Amy's Brain Today has left a new comment on your post "Allowing the other shoe to drop...":

Hi dark daughta,

You said a mouthful here. I left a response to you over at secondwaver's where you commented briefly on the Audre Lorde quote, but I see I didn't even begin to understand what that raised for you. I'm really sorry you felt guilted by it. Coming from where I'm coming from--a movement (radical feminism) containing lots of people who seem to think everyone who isn't doing everything the way each one personally thinks people should is an enemy, it was helpful, to start thinking about who I think is on the same side as me, and who isn't, and why. That's what I found in what Audre said. Did you see the longer excerpt BTW? It's about the uses of anger. I think you're doing here exactly what she was talking about.

Anyway, I'm just starting to try to move away from that constant stance of criticalness and defensiveness--even though it comes from feeling attacked all the time, it's not doing anyone any good, not helping us make connections, not helping us make change. I really appreciate what you're writing here and I'll keep reading. Thank you.

that comment was followed by...

Amy's Brain Today has left a new comment on your post "Stalk much?...":

Though I know it's true, I can't FEEL how anyone could read what you write and not love you. It was your willingness to be so vulnerable that I glanced at and left, a long time ago--I was afraid for you, and didn't read enough to get that you weren't another "choice" feminist who thought putting up naked pictures of herself was just sooooo transgressive and revolutionary!

I get you better now.
I was happy that she came by. Her visit jogged a lot of memories and brought up a lot of stuff. That's good.

Dear Amy's Brain, stuff has come. I'd like to share...

I'm thinking about patriarchy and about what it means to rebel against it. I'm thinking about how the vast majority of wimmin of any sexual orientation aren't actually raised with the tools needed to fight patriarchy.

I'm thinking about the fact that wimmin are taught to love, accommodate, nurture and just generally get along with the patriarchs in their general vicinity. I thought about C.J.'s questions for herself about whether she would be able to maintain a viable radical feminist stance while existing in close proximity to a man, a patriarch she cares about.

I'm thinking about what it means to resist close up. I'm thinking about being seen and treated as a shrew, a bitch, an aggressor, as lazy or just plain not nice by wimmin who see how I have chosen to deal with Papi when he comes all covert, soft, smiling, patriarchal.

Most wimmin are taught to attack wimmin in relationships with men who decide that fun and games are done and now the work of unpacking shall begin.

I have no friends among lesbians where I live anymore. I already didn't want to play along and keep silent about the numerous things they choose to be silent about. They were already pissed about me. Once I decided to not be isolated, not to be lonely, not to swear off relationships because the ones with wimmin were...were...so sad, so convoluted, so challenging of my beliefs about lesbianism, feminism in so many ways that just spelled disease...once I left, I understand that wimmin who felt uncomfortable about the questions I chose to pose, breathed a sigh of relief, they felt comfortable again because they could now choose to understand me as a privileged pawn, as a tool of the patriarchy, as a betrayer, as a defector, as laughable...they underestimated me, underestimated what I would do, underestimated who I would become...they thought I was finished...they believed that without the lesbian feminist nation at my back, I would just shrivel up and die...they knew I was out in the cold...they didn't realize that while I was among them, I learned to shelter myself...they didn't realize that I would continue to bring the noise in some unforeseen ways.

I really like having a blog. :) It's so google-able. :)

sigh...
I'm also thinking about lesbian feminist separatists as holding a particular front line of attack and defiance. They are the first and last line. I love them still...just not good at being a group member's'all. Nonetheless, I understand that they hold the line firm.

I'm all a-tingle with consciousness of the fact that lesbian feminists stand as warriors vociferously against patriarchy on all possible levels and take no shit about it. I miss numbering among them. But, I'm fine with being out in the cold...in some ways.

I remember standing among them for a time...as a black lesbian feminist separatist who chose to not take any shit from the white world, chose to not let the white world in at all. I looked on men with a jaundiced eye, openly, but my black consciousness told me that part of my resistance means lay with black men, even if I still kept a jaundiced eye on all men.

sigh...
walking in my own shoes...
I'm thinking about blogland and about lesbian separatists being understood as warriors...being defined as the only real warriors against patriarchy because they choose to not sleep with men.

insert: because wimmin are taught to smile with the men they desire...myself included, taught to make allowances for the men they desire...myself included...taught to let them get away with shit...taught to accommodate their shit...myself included. That's what I was taught. That's what I've done off and on before coming out and at some very notable and sometimes embarrassing points, since. :) I am sitting with all of who I am and with all of what I've done. This is really the only way.
All grist for the mill, I say. :)

What does it mean to define as a warrior against patriarchy when you stand close to a man? It means something very different than when you choose not to hold one (or more) of them dear.

Standing farther away allows space to not have to see, engage, deal up close with the very insidious nature of patriarchy.

Standing farther away allows space to not necessarily reckon with childhood and girlhood conditioning that we carry because it was what we were taught.

Standing farther away from patriarchy is one approach to fighting it as you get a full view of the field and don't have to deal with sticky stuff like desire, affection and potential alliance and with how all this interfaces with a strident feminist politic.

These things just don't come up in the same way when you're dealing from a distance.
I know. I have the experience of having stood apart and having stood next to. Standing next to definitely challenges my politics and my patience on the daily. :)

So, yeah...
Is it possible to stand up close and look a loved patriarch in the eye and carefully, openly roll up your sleeves and prepare to do battle with the beast that lies behind the smile?

Would this simultaneously loving and defiant act be defined as warrior work?

Would this act basically up close pulling the teeth of the beast so as to profoundly influence the choices of an agent, one who was consumed before he could talk...would this tandem reclamation project be defined as something done in the service of other wimmin so that they encounter one less beest of a man accustomed to getting his way?

Is there space for others save lesbian separatists to be understood as fighting the hardcore fight?

Are intimate battles with patriarchy where childhood memories and abuse, where childhood understandings of masculinity, where the very nature and importance of the phallus as fleshy weapon occupying space, where that voice, that booming, invasive, overly assertive male voice, where all these are called into question on the daily so that a patriarch, inculcated with change like borg injected with nanobots can return to the great patriarchal unconsciousness and seed it with what it most fears...change...

Are these battles worthy, necessary, important, fierce?
Do I hold the line where I can as best as I can with a memory of those who hurt and sweat and fight and defy?
...tears...
Come visit my house when Papi is feeling cornered because I made a link between something his father (the covert patriarch) modeled to him, that I want him to deconstruct so as to not pass it on to the Shmolian, come stand nearby as I invite him to look the Shmolian in the open, malleable baby sweet eye and think about how he will explain himself ten, fifteen, twenty years hence to this child and to Stinkapee who knows enough to call him when he is not doing his work, if he chooses to not do the work of unpacking how he was turned into a covert patriarch...
Come visit my house as I have conversations with him about the unimportance of the erect cock, about the possibility of decentralizing the cock, about the necessity of shutting the cock down by closing or crossing his legs so as to not take up more than his fair share of space...
Come visit my house as I engage him in conversation about both our fathers, their pain, their vacant eyes, their rage, their childhoods and how this links right back to what sort of man we plan on supporting the Shmolian to be...
Come visit my house when I grab Papster in the kitchen :) , bend him over and hump him from behind like Nikki Payne humps the air in one of her comedy routines :) (loud, hard, laughter, sparkling eyes...)
Come visit my house and let me know if I am battling or acquiescing. Better yet, read my words as I type: "I am a warrior who battles patriarchy on many different levels, in many different ways, nonstop...up close."

How many different warrior attack approaches and configurations does feminism need? How many different warrior attack formations can feminism tolerate? How broadly can we define a courageously radical feminist stance so as to not exclude those who give their blood, sacrifice their reps, sacrifice safety, sacrifice easy belonging among the herds of hetero patriarchally conditioned conservative smiling accommodating hesitant force fuckable procreational breeding stock?

Do you think they accept me as one of theirs without having to do some serious mental math to help avoid the bits that seem...a little...odd...uncomfortable...unattractive?

Do you think I make their act of denial easy?

sigh...

I don't usually go back. I usually spread out and forward. From this place I can say that I probably won't be a lesbian separatist again in this life.

But I can also say, that who I am. And who I am...the passion, the rage against what is wrong with this planet, the courage to do what I can, what I must, the willingness to put it all on the line even in my intimate relationships and the ability to expose it all here I learned when I was a dyke...meaning when I loved, supported, allied with, saw beauty in, slept with only wimmin.

sigh...

I visit the blogs of those who define as lesbian separatist feminists, as radical lesbian feminists...okay fine...I lurk. I can't decloak my vessel there. I get worried about being fired on by people whose politics are not complex enough to offer them the tools to make sense of who I am...that's already happened here in blogland in spades. Enough, already, I say.

I don't think these are places for the creature I've become, am becoming.

Make no mistake, I like so much of who I am morphing into. It's just that I'm a complicated beesty. So may lumps, bumps, scratches, rips, tears, gashes, gaps, highlands, lowlands, deltas, orifices. I am complicated and full of a process that seems to have no end in sight.

This makes me happy as I'll have something to keep my brain, my psyche, my heart busy right up until my death bed, which I hope is far away.

I visit the blogs of the wimmin who define as radical warriors and don't see my radicality reflected there. I see parts of who I understand myself to be potentially subjugated or misunderstood there.

Can't stand the "nice" debates as I very rarely pop into mind when people think of "nice"

Can't stand the "porn" debates as I'm a writer of dyke erotica, what some would refer to as a pornographer...I remember freaking out a fellow black dyke when I read her a homage I wrote to Chaka Khan where I sprouted a flesh cock and she sucked it while "Ain't Nobody" played... And no one who has come here has ever commented on my opus - The Sending - where I use a short erotic tale to tussle with the legacy of pain and erotic alienation/confusion bequeathed to black wimmin, but specifically to black lesbians, ruttings considered anathema by those who claim to "tolerate". Fuck tolerance, I always say. Why would I want to be tolerated? That's a complete power differential. If someone is going to be tolerated, I will turn my nose up at the inept, clumsy, stunted fuckings of heterosexuals and let them know that I will tolerate them as long as they keep it in the bedroom.

Can't stand the "sex work debates". This is work that wimmin have done from time. Like it? Don't like? That won't change a thing. Outlaw it as the governments have done? Sentence these wimmin to whatever hell they understand themselves to be avoiding by doing this taboo work. Find possibilities for sharing knowledge among all wimmin? Yes. Increase possiblities for wimmin to not be trapped into making particular choices? Yes. Continue to challenge patriarchy and to decentralize the cock? Yes. Increase AIDS education? Yes. Form safety patrols so these wimmin don't have to die of violence? Yes. Define these wimmin as stupid, stunted, pawns, vessels for use? Unh...pardon me, but isn't that the same thing the men are doing?

Can't stand the "gender debates". I was born with a pooni. I was indoctrinated as a child to understand that this came with me agreeing to understand myself as weak, useless without a man, prone to silence, naturally humble, naturally hesistant, naturally unclear, naturally a breeder, naturally heterosexual, naturally someone who gives care. This is nurture, not nature. I understand that there is so much outside my realm of understanding, to which I will not be able to afix easy political labels. I have loved and fucked wimmin whose relationship to constructed femininity was so tenuous it hung by a fraying thread. :) I loved them for that. I have loved and fucked wimmin whose fraying threads finally broke, completely releasing them to rebirth themselves in ways that caused them less pain in this patriarchal world. Sitting in this body, in this experience, forced time and time again to resist what it means to present, speak, debate, fuck, walk, rage, think as "woman", I envy them their broken threads. Forced to resist patriarchy as one who was supposed to bow down under it, I envy them their release.

sigh...

So, I come in from time to time, feel my chest seize up and move away again, back to this blog, this work in progress where I try to work out for myself much of what I encounter.

But most days...

I'm not sure if this blog is beaming me through as myself. I think part of the reason for this is that my self is multifaceted.

I visit blogs of people where I ask questions related to what they don't say, what they don't write, only to realize when they respond that there's more to them than meets the eye. This is good, solid information.

I wish they would speak, write, layer their truths when they engage, when they write, when they blog.

Interwovenness shouldn't be something they cart out only when requested, should it?

I walk and think and speak and write and blog layeredness, interwovenness because there really is no other way for me.

I notice in blogland that people mostly choose to powerfully put forward one or two or three facets of who they are as a sort of brand.

I am a radical feminist vegan mama.

I am an anti-racist white queer.

I am a cullid feminist academic.

I am a frugal homebirthing co-sleeping mama.

I am an irish married writer with unshaven pits.

I am a radical lesbian separatist.

No offense intended...
I mean...
I know that more comes through in the wash as people comment and ask questions. But the branding usually emerges as dominant voice when many blog.

mmmm....
What's my dominant voice?
Obnoxious fire spitting far left anti-authoritarian anti-social apostate? :)

It's tricky though, cuz I've purposefully mixed it up to challenge the branding process which allows most readers and/or bloggers to easily enter the mind set of any given blogger they may choose to read.

In the process I'm realizing that I'm so many things combined, some seeming contradictory to others, nonetheless residing quite nicely under this skin.

I am...
I am...
I am so much...
I came here nekkid and smiling. The nekkidness was fer real, visible, but it was also metaphorical. Though, I think most, even as they consumed what was exposed here, actually missed the metaphor, missed the implied point.

I came naked, saying: This is me. I have nothing concealed. I even showed pictures of a cavity search so that people would get the idea that I was trying to hide as little as humanly possible.

I came naked as in unclothed, as a purposeful reaction to the idea that the only good feminist, only powerful feminist is a covered feminist. Having resided inside lesbian feminist circles for so much of my adulthood, I have intimate knowledge of how this plays out among wimmin, of the discomfort, the denial, the hiding, the pain, the fear of the erotic...so much discomfort. The clothed (read: presenting as asexual so as to be better respected in a patriarchal, exploitative sexual climate) feminist is not necessarily a universally useful norm or measuring stick.

I came naked as in unclothed, as a purposeful reaction to the idea that the only good (read comfortable with her body, comfortable with her pregnant self, comfortable with her experience of birth) is a white mama, with "flawless" pale, flushing lobster red skin as she pushes more whiteness into this world already so diseased with whiteness. Black skinned, pregnant, birthing, proud but with a critique that included a challenge to things heterosexual, patriarchal and monogamous I came naked.

A question mark and a proud exclamation.

How did I come to be?
Who do I think I am?

Well, I always start with Black...it's probably in part because when I look at the keyboard, I first see my lovely chocolate coloured skin. It's beautiful. Stinkapee and I are real black skin connoisseurs. We love our black skin.

But Black is so far beyond skin colour, really...unless you're dealing specifically and only with a five year old. :) This is a statement of a politic grounded in an understanding of white domination in the outside world but also in the lesbian feminist nation. More importantly, this is a statement that locates me as a Middle Passage daughta with infinite space to morph and undergo seachange as I travel all nomad like in exile.

So, yeah for me, I was taught and still believe that blackness is of huge importance.

I'm also queer...if you read a bit...you'll realize that this isn't a recent development. I didn't find out about queerness or my own lesbianness in wimmin's studies last year or the year before or the year before or even... the year before that.

hee, hee, hee...though, I think that's the only paradigm most have to layer on top of me when I say that I'm married and queer. I must be opppressed. I must be closeted. I must be sneaking and confused and biding my time and struggling with what to tell my children and more sneaking and creeping and meeting wimmin through newspaper ads...oops!...I did do that when I realized that it was becoming increasingly unlikely that I'd meet any new lovers in the circles I ran in...but I was out...I just wanted to meet some new wimmin was all. :)

I sent a letter of inquiry to an anthology that was being put together about married lesbians. :) Married to heterosexual men. I explained who I was and they wrote back that my words wouldn't fit. The editor didn't explain, but I think she meant I wasn't tortured and closeted enough. The scope of the book was...narrow, I guess. :) (that's not really a smile...I think I use smileys to take the edge off of stoopid crap when I'm forced to experience it, grapple with it, which usually means writing about it here...)

Soooo....
I was looking over my magazine collection recently...
I'm a collector. Before I got sense in my head, I had a massive collection of Vogue, Elle and Harper's Bazarre. I like(d) clothes. I'm a seamstress. So, cloth is a passion, draping is a passion, disguise, veiling, casting glamours using clothing are all passions.
But I went away tree planting one summer following a gay portuguese artist - Luige - who I met at school when I was coming out and had a major crush on...major enough to pack up all my belongings and head to Wawa...trees hanging off the edges of igneous rock cliffs...I love the shield....it's so old, so prehistoric...bear strolling on the land I was supposed to be planted...they never really explained what to do if you were planting a tree and a bear decided to come for a visit...freeze and hope it goes away...giant moose on the way to pee and poo in a hole...veer off road sharply into bush, wait....one...two...three...go back...phew!...it's gone...
In any case, somewhere between packing up and traveling into the hinterland, the collection disappeared. So did my lust for the artist. I temporarily fell for this white girl who was the girlfriend of my future partner, who then went back to the city and broke up with her girlfriend, my future partner after which I met her and we became partners...the "L Word" triggers me deeply. :)

So I started a new magazine collection once I came out...let's see...what do I have here?...
I have a lot of kkkanadian feminist mags going back probably to the late eighties...sticky fingers...when I see them rotting away in places where they are dusty and obviously unread, I pick them up and add them to my collection...which sadly, is mostly dusty and obviously unread in recent times, thought protected and hopefully of use to at least Stinkapee and the Shmolian when they get older and have to do special school projects. :)
I would run down the list of the kkkanadian stuff, but I think it might read as jibberish to amerikkkan and/or amerikkkan focussed feminists...why is feminism as constructed by amerikkkan feminists so myopic, self centered and limited? There are other agendas out there besides the ones put forth by amerikkkan feminists in blogland and realtime. Not everyone is enamoured with Hilary or thinks that the repealing of Roe vs. Wade will be the undoing of feminism around the world. :)
Moving on...
I've got quite a few issues of Sage - A Scholarly Journal of Black Women dating back a ways...these I definitely hijacked from some white wimmin studies department.
I've got Women in the Life out of D.C. ... this one is from 1996... special black pride issue...
I've got Spare Rib... what would I call it?...politics and feminist culture...this issue is 1992...
I've got Heresies from 1990...The Art of Education...
Hot Wire - A journal of Women's Music and Culture with a big picture of a smiling white lesbian on the cover...
Connexions - An International Women's Quarterly with a picture of four brown wimmin's hands, fingers intertwined...it was stirring then when I didn't understand how those fingers can be seen/experienced as intertwined while the fingers of some just feel bent back. :)
Ms. Magazine from 1991...
Off our backs with a black and white photo of Urvashi Vaid...1997
Outlook...which wasn't feminist, more so the gay, lesbian, queer, I guess with a wonderful image on the side of a bus of a gay male couple kissing and a woman of colour coupling kissing...shaved head at sides and back, long and standing up on top, I've had that hairstyle quite a few times over the years...

This is good for me. But it's also weird, like I'm doing some kind of audition.

Barring any handy dandy letters that I can easily afix to the end of my name, which many seem to mistakenly, automatically understand as evidence of a radical feminist and/or lesbian politic...how weird is that?...I feel as if I'm presenting my credentials...or my pedigree...rhyming off the list of my ancestral ties so as to have the attacks and the dismissals end...

When I came into blogland I didn't think that would be necessary. I didn't understand how feminist circles in blogland worked. Or, more to the point, what I've avoided in my own city real time, what I thought I had managed to get away from, was already lying in wait inside here among all of you when I came...

sigh...

Amy's Brain, so much came up for me when I read your words...
I'll continue to offer context and meaning as best I can...

My conscious engagement with my sexuality spans about 17 years. I was indoctrinated into heterosexuality probably at birth if not shortly thereafter. I understood that this was what was expected of me and never had an inkling, never gave thought to any other route...for years right up to my late teens.

At one point I was a fag hag hanging out with the white gay men I met through my best friend in high school who was a closeted gay man completely at odds with who he was, who eventually started to come out and pretty much invited me along for the ride. :)

When the ride ceased to be a ride and became a thought process, an emotional process of becoming, completely intermingled with my exploration of who I was as a black person living in kkkanada, and who I was as a feminist (though this process dates back to the seventies well before I started desegregating the soccer field in public school cuz the girls had a right to be there, too) I decided to define as bisexual because I had been "tarnished" :) by the sticky stenchy goo of sperm. :)

When I got over that whole internalized, self hating "tarnished" thing, I decided that I would choose to define as a lesbian...feminist...black lesbian feminist. That was around hmmm...'93 0r '94. I would have been around...26 years old?

Women's Credit Union, joint account with the partner, Pride, die ins, Off Our Backs (followed tentatively less comfortably by On Our Backs), "We want to be married", There were also white lesbians likeJo Ann Loulan Lesbian Love, Lesbian Passion (Brave soul, most understand that blocking change and transformation, Judy Grahn - Another Mother Tongue, whatever it brings is a bad thing...so sad that hers has brought so much anger).

And Audre Lorde...
Audre Lorde (Yes...the uses of the erotic, sister outsider (the master's tools, open letter to mary daly), a burst of light, cancer journals, zami, the uses of anger)...

I guess what I'm saying is that I've been at the work of reading for meaning for quite some time. Audre Lorde was a powerful beacon for me. She said it all...as she understood it...during a time when things were not so confused...in a time that is so different than now - when allies aren't clear or easy to come by if a warrior presents as having multiple identities that challenge the sisterhood...not like now - when they speak of feminism, speak of her and then do precisely the kinds of alliance busting things that she spoke out against...silence...denial...cowardess...

We're in a serious double speak time where corps utilize the language of revolution, where governments fund activism, thereby buying silence, where community members reposition silence as an empowered and wise choice and where, as a result, the communities of many are threatened as never before.

Damn right I read her, mourned her, thought about her, utilized her words as a basis for my own. But I never canonized her, never stuffed her and preserved her in effigy...
I decided to use her words as a jump off. A beginning, not an end. Reduce, reuse and recycle. She pops up all over my writing. It's just that the ways she pops up will not be a carbon copy of what she would have liked or understood.

I do use the meaning of her words rather than the letter of her words to the max out of deep respect. To do otherwise would be a waste. All that work? All that traveling? All that passion? All that creative warrior woman spirit? Just to end up being used like a dusty old feminist bible? Just to be thumbed and quoted word for word.

Are you a christian? I'm not. But I've read the bible three times. Fascinating reading some of it. Ever heard of the parable of the talents? I don't ever want to be the feminist who hid what she recieved. Hid it, didn't use it. Buried it so as to freeze it in time. Buried it so it would not change...

I don't come out of a strong christian background. So, I don't have that urge to venerate icons hardwired into my psyche.

I like to interpret creatively and make use of what I can find in whatever ways I see fit.

Since feminism isn't a branch of the catholic church, I don't need any high officials to intercede on my behalf or to grant dispensations...though, I do think some have attempted exorcisms in the past. In any case, the stuff about not needing a power based hierarchy to define my politic or my agendas for me was the point I tried to make when I entered blogland and realized that there seemed to be some people who were understood as high femininist officials. These were prominent blogland feminists who were turned to, looked to as sources of feminist wisdom, who would explain what was happening to others who just didn't understand the sacred texts as well. They would intercede with those who had passed over. They would be the keepers of the old ways.

I came into blogland explaining as clearly as I could who I was. I wrote to pretty much all of the highly visible feminists saying: i am darkdaughta and i am approaching. This I did so as to not shock or upset, so as to warn that I intended to take my place regardless of whether others understood who I was or what I was doing or not.

And verily she saideth unto us: "I am your sister." :)

I understood that I was her daughta (meaning the recipient of everything she wrote) as I understood/understand myself to be the daughta of many different feminist visionaries. I was able to receive what she wrote as useful and allowed it to change me not because anyone told me or acknowledged my place or my use to the movement. I was so from the moment I felt my heart stir and knew that her words, their words spoke to me, answering questions I hadn't realized were profoundly unanswered until I heard the call...directly...with none to intercede on my behalf.

And so, not being inclined to turn her words into the basis for any religion, having traveled far since I first encountered her and knew she was right, having encountered others since who also spoke to parts of me in particular ways and having just as much right to combine her meaning with the meanings of the others I encontered, I interpret the sacred texts according to my need, as befits my struggles and agendas but keep their essence, the passion, the courage, the voice, the critical analysis, the confidence close to my heart.

Her subject matter looks different from where I'm standing stab up and bleeding copiously from many different entry and exit wounds. It looks different from where I am queered, deviantly sexual, partnered with a man...after entry into the lesbian nation, not before...

Would she understand me as a daughta if was to meet her today, if cancer hadn't taken her? My little girl says "yes". My teenager says "nope".

No matter.

What really stings right now, is that so many of those who read her, dog eared the pages, memorized her, quote her, hold her close don't see kin when they see me, don't see me as an integral part of feminist struggle, don't get me.

Their blindness forces me to struggle with two children on my back on the daily. Despite their blindness, I continue to request not entry, not acknowledgment but instead, a space where I can count on not being harassed or sabotaged as I continue to do her bidding as communicated to me, as communicated in different ways for different purposes, to all of us, so as to better dismantle the masters crazy ass house on all different levels, in multiple, simultaneous dimensions, from various vantage points...
Each in her own ways according to her experience to the best of her abilities.

So, yes, Amy's Brain...
I've read Audre Lorde. :)






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