im searching for sources on the history of race/Blackness in Puerto Rico, specifically political organizing, but will settle for ANYTHING. if you know of any legit books, essays, articles etc., hit me up!
- sometimes i get mad at myself for leaving the house without an audre lorde book to peruse in my down time.
- i feel strongly one should not read Saidiya Hartman’s Scenes of Subjection on the way to work. unless of course your job involves a college classroom, or space of black radical intellectualism. not that it should not be read… its just makes the day a bit more difficult to get through.
- i don’t understand the emphasis on hoodies lately. i know it has to do with trayvon. im not sure if people wearing them are in solidarity with trayvon and other Black bodies murdered by the state or state sanctioned violence, but people are wearing and talking about them a lot. im not sure if i care to have anyone explain to me either. hoodies are about as relevant as keri hilson’s career.
- when one has a bad day at work, one should not come home and listen to a lecture by Frank Wilderson. it will cause a resignation letter to be drafted and contemplation on “what the fuck am i doing with my life?”
- the world is surprisingly yet unsurprisingly racist
- people that found Obama’s comments on Trayvon profound… really?
- people that found Obama’s comments on Trayvon racist… wait, what?
- i genuinely fear rooms full of white people, but they generally fear me. it is in that fear i find comedy, which i sometimes use to my benefit, and at times mistake for “my advantage” or sometimes a more misguided notion of “power”
- queer black men and straight black women really need to have more dialogue. then we should both shut up and listen to queer black women.
- i really wish erykah badu would hurry up and drop another album
- there are a few nikki giovanni poems i read on the bus or train, and they seriously make me contemplate launching massive amounts of violence upon any and all non-black people in my reachable space.
- ive started to read Toni Morrison’s Paradise now about four times over the past two years and still have not finished it. and its not because its not good. perhaps im lazy.
- my hate of Alice Walker may or may not be irrational. im genuinely not sure. i took an african feminism seminar and we read a lot of Oyeronke Oyewumi’s work, and she leans in to Walker real good. and through that, my view of Walker is tainted. and though i hate her (and that may be irrational), i own the The Color Purple musical soundtrack, and i listen to it often.
- to the folks that have reached out and asked, “where you at?” (i suppose because im not posting consistently anymore), i’m still around. sometimes i just need to read, and listen, and watch.
- how does one find queer Black radical community organizing to participate in? is there a section on craigslist?
Nat Turner and Waka Flaka, or what happens to a black student activist trained in critical black studies trying to make it in the world without getting arrested (again).
despite my post college financial insecurities and the fact my three degrees in political science. art history. and african american studies (not listed in order of importance) are so abstract it qualifies me to work in pretty much nothing except the field of academia. i quit my non-academic full time job today and traded in my benefits to (in the romantic answer) sit in this coffee shop in the middle of the day and read and write. or (in the unromantic answer) i quit because it was a job made horrible by a number of factors, mostly constructed by issues of race, class, and sexuality. and while i knew my side career in the world of fashion and retail would be no comfortable space for a radical black queer writer/activist, rent needed to be paid and working various jobs as a stylist and visual merchandiser has proven something im good at and gives me an outlet to release some of my creativity. with a full understanding there is no “safe space” in an anti-black world, a loose form of toleration becomes a tool of survival, and an unsteady peace can be found in the silence of non-response. but there is only so much a black queer can take. or something on the matter of what happens to a black student activist trained in critical black studies trying to make it in the world without getting arrested (again).
when i was working as a student activist and community organizer, my comrades and i found ourselves (more than we wanted to) having to explain, speak to, and testify against the micro-aggressions of anti-Black violence—those spirit injuring qualities of Black everyday living. though we found ourselves center stage, celebrated, and given “support” during high times of anti-black racism (“nigger” incidents, nooses hung, acts of police brutality[i], etc.) it was difficult getting our environment to reckon its ‘latent anti-blackness,’ or the fact just being Black is stressful enough. we racked our brains to the point of insanity coming up with nuanced ways of addressing the invisibility of Blackness while at the same time defending ourselves and “community” against the hypervisibility of Blackness. a task much better fought in numbers than alone. and here i find myself, on the streets of chicago, largely alone, trying to make a life for myself. running into the same issues of the past and trying to figure out the right strategies of dealing with it. which is a polite way of saying, im trying hard to keep my Nat Turner ambitions at bay and resisting the urge to send out a distress call to my various comrades now scattered throughout the world. and while im positive they are dealing with similar situations, they would laugh at me for this particular form of resistance, i quit, but before i did, i used some waka flaka flame (to perhaps my detriment).
i accepted a position as a visual merchandiser at a downtown corner store with large windows! for those not familiar with the world of retail, this means i had a lot of space for me to create displays in the most focal part of the city. too bad i worked with a bunch of rude racist transphobic white hipsters.
in queer-social spaces, its no secret black queers are not automatically accepted as part of the group. ive learned to deal with that, usually leaning on my middle-classed demeanor. ive written elsewhere on notions of beauty and class in queer spaces and my particular experiences, so i wont hash that out now. but at this new job, i was assumed straight (until one day i wore some short shorts), and in that initial assumption i was deemed outsider, which made for a horrible work environment, largely because white queer boys can be evil brats, particularly when they are hipsters, working in fashion, and ugly (okay, that last one was just me venting and being stupid, but seriously). the black queers i used to organize with would always joke, ‘the world doesn’t think Black-queer, you are either queer or you are Black, and since the Blackness is undeniable, black people can’t be queer.” Well that joke preceded me in my new job, and everything that comes with being Black in the world of fashion followed. there is some really interesting work out there on the position of Black bodies in the world of fashion and im surprised there is not more prominent work done on the relationship between black consumers, criminality, and retail. general assumptions are made concerning theft when Black bodies enter stores, not because Black people generally steal (there is no research to support that), but because Black people are assumed criminal (there is research to support that). this plays out in particular ways concerning my creative job inside stores, and will be something i need to work out without quitting and/or resorting to waka flaka flame.
when i style, or create a look, or come up with a concept, im usually envisioning a Black woman (I work mainly with women’s fashion). what colors, styles, cuts, textures would look good on my sister, friends, mom, aunts, and cousins. further, what looks go with the world i surround myself with on a daily basis. what could i create that would repeatedly flow down my tumblr dashboard? that creates a particular conflict between my coworkers and myself. though i was working at a store where black people shop (not just steal from), my visions of Blackness were deemed irrelevant or suspect, and no amount of queer boy fashion stereotype (in my short shorts) could save me from that shadow. so my sense of fashion, taste, and style was in question (and rest assured it wasn’t because I don’t have style, come see ‘bout me!).
i don’t want this post to become a list of grievances with the job/company i just said bye to. i tendered my resignation to free myself from that burden. just know that after some tortuous days of catty white queer hipster boys, i seized my chance to make them a bit uncomfortable. it was late at night and we were changing around the store for the new spring season. i was in my zone choosing outfits for a display of nine mannequins, lost in the sauce of florals and pastels, someone asked me if i wanted to choose the music for the hour. i looked around as all the boys were watching me, walked up to the computer and thought about erykah or maybe d’angelo, but then i said to myself, i said, “self, lets get real ‘Black’ in here.” i put on waka flaka flame Pandora and turned it up. what i thought would be an interesting moment of awkwardness became a sad show of minstrelsy. two of the white boys knew every word, to every song and censored themselves from the word “nigga” but in a way that let me know, if i wasn’t there, they’d lean into that shit real good.
a few more days of contentious attitudes, and one particular email warning the sales staff to beware of the “trannies.” apparently “trannies” steal, and “trannies” are “African-American males with rough looking faces wearing girls clothes.” i tendered my resignation and here i sit, free to write and search for another job where i will have to keep my Nat Turner ambitions at bay. which doesn’t mean im not keeping them at bay right now.
[i] I paused before adding “police brutality” to this list. Blackness as criminal and criminal as Blackness structures the logic of U.S. policing; that said, the police structure is a day-to-day institution that reimagines, reinvents, and ultimately reinforces the aforementioned statement on the other side of the semicolon. The coupling of Black suffering and police violence is so naturalized that the conditions of possibility (time, space, and attributes) is a gendered race and class calculation when rendering a Black body “victim—” despite the mundaneness of police violence against Black bodies (psyche included). My list was meant to mark those moments deemed “events” in Black suffering, yet my comrades and I pushed back against the rhetoric of “event” and termed them “spectacles,” distractionary moments from the spectacular nature of Black everyday living. My pause comes from a meditation on the mundaneness of police violence and why so few Black bodies get turned in to “victims,” or cause for celebration, protest, and thinking through the institution of policing.
someone tell me this is not one of the coolest muthafuckas you’ve ever heard. tell it to me.
Cannonball Adderley. from his live album, “In New York” (at the Village Vanguard).
"hipness is not a state of mind, it’s a fact of life. you don’t decide you’re hip, it just happens that way"
Adderley’s rich sound often gets me through the day. and though this is just a clip of him talking, its cool. look up this album if your curious. the opening number “Gemini” is crazy on point. and while Adderley is probably best known for his alto sax work on Miles Davis' Kind of Blue album, he was band leader himself and a force to be reckoned with in the world of jazz.
“I will know the difference when I start seeing these policemen shoot white boys in the back—because they have keys in their hands that look like guns. Then when you ask me that question, I’ll say: ‘We’ve got there.’ If they can do something THAT outrageous and talk to some white parents and say, ‘Oh! Excuse me. I thought it was a gun.’ And when THAT makes sense, then we’re in good shape.”—Toni Morrison on when she will know that America has made racial progress. (via sonofbaldwin)
What do black people text about? (on popeyes, royalty, and KONY 2012)
negrosunshine:what's too early for popeyes?
lifesdisciple:uhmmm, i mean whenever it opens, i believe is fair game.
negrosunshine:its 1030am, i dont want to walk across the street to find out its closed and im pulling on the doors like a fiend for the yard bird
lifesdisciple:no use in hiding the truth ya know? my guess would be 11, but i'd be down to petition for a popeyes bfast menu, chicken biscuit sandwich anyone?
negrosunshine:i just had the strangest dream that Prince Harry took me as a date to a royal "cookout," we sat at a table with Brad Pitt and Cameron Diaz. And this was the way he came out to the world. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME!?
lifesdisciple:hahahahaha! i dunno, but i hope its foretelling something in the near future!
lifesdisciple:on another note, have you seen this KONY 2012 documentary
negrosunshine:NO! I keep seeing mentions to it in the blog world. What is it?
lifesdisciple:watching it now. some white guy on a mission to stop Ugandan rebel group and child soldiers. I'm of course uneasy about watching it :( but i figured i should be in the know
negrosunshine:lol. ill check it out now
negrosunshine:i feel queasy six minutes in. white fascination with black suffering?
lifesdisciple:lol, suffering they are directly responsible for
negrosunshine:as if Katrina didnt happen, and there is not desolate poverty in the U.S.
lifesdisciple:yeah, i mean if they are saving children i cant be mad at that, but it still does not address the larger or actual problem. Kony is not the problem, i can tell you that much. Pat themselves on the back for the good deed and then continue on with their lives. "good deed"
negrosunshine:i cant watch this. it starts with a white woman giving birth. then we have to watch this little white boy try and figure out the problem. i cant. i turned it off.
lifesdisciple:lol. i dont blame you. empathy only comes by replacing the object with self. cant read suffering unless its their own.
negrosunshine:truth. but remember to place black in front. can't read Black suffering.
lifesdisciple:just wanna let you know it ends with his child saying "imma be like you dad. when i grow up. im gonna go to Africa." I CANNNNNNNOOOOTT. i need the mayans to be right about 2012. fuuuuuccckkkkk
…and then there’s those days when i want nothing more than to open a window and let the wind blow through my apartment while Miles Davis’ “Sketches of Spain” plays. i would sit atop my freshly made bed and read the poetry and prose of Sonia Sanchez. i close my laptop and put down my pen. in search of inspiration or perhaps just affirmation. its days like those i dream of as i dress myself in preparation, of slaving away for the rent.
It was getting deep into the night now and the conversation kept twisting in circles. Billie, vice-chair of the Black Student Union and proud Black lesbian, was walking around the circle of chairs as the group debated a course of action. They had been deliberating long enough now for her to open and close the windows at least three times in accordance to a comfortable temperature. She walked around and glanced over to Isaac standing at the door listening in to the conversation and snickering at its indirection. Isaac was the president of the Black Queer Alliance and veteran member of the BSU. The Black men were trying their usual course to resolution, while the Black women fought back demanding more attention.
Alma, another veteran to the Black Student Union, and president of 100 Black Women, stood up and took the center of the room, “What are we going to do about this? It’s about time we show this campus we will not stand by while our sisters are attacked in the streets.”
“We don’t even know what happened. Will someone tell us what happened?” one of the first year boys yelled from his chair.
The room erupted in side conversations, Billie was getting tired of the bickering, it had been going on unofficially now for three days, and now that everyone was finally together in a room, the group couldn’t decide what they had thought of the event. Alma tried to raise her voice along with her hands, but she couldn’t get the rooms attention. Billie walked around the room to Isaac and whispered in his ear, “this shit is nonsense. What the hell are we doing?” Isaac shook his head, smiled at Billie then stepped closer to the center of the room. “Clap once if you hear my voice!” Isaac yelled to the group. The room fell silent as a thunderous clap roared through the building. “Clap twice if you hear my voice!” Two smashes of sound resounded through the room. Isaac stared at Alma, as she returned the gesture with a glare.
“What is it you propose we do, Alma?” Isaac asked.
“I’m not sure. I just think we have been weak as a group lately addressing the issues of Black students, and in particular Black women.” Some of the women clapped in the room as heads began to focus in on Keylon, the chair of the Black Student Union. Isaac glanced at Keylon, and then turned back to Billie as she began to walk up behind him. “Does anyone in here truly understand what’s going on right now?” Billie asked the group. Heads began to turn to each other searching for someone else to answer.
“That’s the problem, no-ones teaching anyone anything.” Alma mumbled, but said clearly enough for the group to make out the comment.
“Well, what the hell do you think we are trying to do now?” Isaac shot back as Alma began to walk back to her seat. Billie reached out and placed her hand on Isaac’s forearm as she stepped in front of him into the circle. “I think what Isaac is trying to say is, the purpose of this meeting is to get everyone on the same page, and figure out what we want to do, if we want to do anything at all.”
“If? What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Alma yelled into the center of the room.
Isaac stepped in the circle, “If we can’t define the problem as a group, how the hell do you expect us to respond as a group?”
“Isn’t that what we elected y’all for?” one of the women asked.
“No! We didn’t elect them to speak for us. The Black Student Union can’t speak for the Alpha’s nor any of the other Black Greeks.” One of the affiliated men shouted out from outside the circle in the corner of the room.
“Well, what the fuck y’all doing here then?” one of the men shouted from the circle. The group exploded again into side chatter and bickering. The Black Greeks were getting up to leave. Alma had stood up and began a speech about how the BSU was ineffective. Some of the freshmen began to pack their bags to leave. Billie and Isaac stood in the center of the room watching the chaos. Half the room watching on disenchanted, the other half either engaged in the fighting or on their way out.
“Clap once if you hear my voice!” Keylon had gotten up on a chair and began to shout to his constituents. The response was weak, he called again, “Clap once if you hear my voice!” A thunderous clap echoed through the room. “Clap twice if you hear my voice!” Two claps brought the group back to attention.
Feeling the wind blow through the room, Billie stepped outside the circle to close the windows again. Isaac made his way back to the door as Keylon began to speak.
It was a pretty standard ‘we need to come together and fight’ type speech. A few snaps from some of the people inspired Keylon to carry his ‘sermon’ a bit longer than it should have been. In the end, one freshmen boy raised his hand and announced, “I still don’t know what happened.” A few grunts and some “tsk” came from all parts of the room. Isaac laughed, and once again Billie placed her hand on his forearm. Alma stood up and took the floor again, Isaac rolled his eyes and Billie socked him in the shoulder.
“Nicole, the first year, was called a nigger by a group of white boys. We need to not sleep on this.”
“Alma is right,” Billie said as she walked into the circle, “the problem is what do we do? Ask for more diversity classes? Demand an apology?” Isaac stepped in the circle and added, “or bash some heads in…”
“Alrite, that’s enough” Keylon interjected.
“That’s the problem right there, y’all want to joke about everything while Black women get brutalized on this campus.”
“The only problem is, he isn’t joking” Billie said as she smiled. The group looked on as the four “leaders” bickered in the center of the room.
“Is all we going to do is sit here and talk? What are you going to do?” Alma said looking to Keylon.
“We are trying to get on the same page” Billie announced as she looked around the room, “What do you want to do? What are we going to do?”
“This is the first step to doing something, talking.” Isaac said as he looked at Alma. She rolled her eyes to the comment.
Keylon raised his arms and shouted, “Okay, okay. We are going to act. We need to show this campus we are not going to stand for this, and we need to protect our women. Make them feel safe and wanted.” Alma nodded her head as Isaac rolled his eyes and looked around the room as some in the group began to snap. Billie grabbed Keylon’s arm to stop him from talking. She whispered in his ear, loud enough for Alma and Isaac to hear her, “Protect? Make feel safe? Nigga please.” Isaac laughed. One of the first year girls raised her hand and said, “I’m not sure I know what’s going on.” The four “leaders” in the center of the room shook their heads and walked back to their respective corners. The group erupted into side chatter and bickering.
*The Soultronics were the backing for D’angelo in the studio while recording Voodoo (easily one of the greatest R&B/soul albums of all time; and in a realm where its almost misunderstood as a scattering of sound and thought and its genius is slept on) and on his Voodoo tour.
?uestlove on the drums, James Poyser on keys, Roy Hargrove on trumpet. my god my god. as a radical black activist i can be painted as grumpy and overly romantic because i was not around in the late 60s to participate in the Black protest struggle of that period. perhaps im really just grumpy because i was only 12 during the Voodoo tour and missed out on some of the THREE HOUR SETS D’angelo and the Soultronics would throw down.
the highlight of this audio clip is Anthony Hamilton killing it in the choir next to Shelby Johnson and Jack E. King III. and well, D’angelo’s voice (talking or singing) gets me in a mood… and that mood can never be characterized as grumpy, perhaps romantic… but let me stop here.