i write a lot because i feel a lot

November 4th, 2015
other cities
other countries
other incidents
 
I’m tired, y’all. I write a lot because I feel a lot. I write a lot to connect a lot; to remember that this shitty shitty shitty world of ours occurs on beautiful land, inhabited by some beautiful people, doing beautiful things to combat all that is shittiness.
Please go out and do beautiful things. Celebrate each other while we’re living. Spread love.
I‘m tired of living in a world where I have to second guess
  1. not using my turning signal
  2. going to my college campus
  3. going to movie theatres
  4. wearing a hoodie
  5. carrying skittles and an iced tea
  6. riding BART
  7. any interaction with the cops
  8. walking anywhere while Black
  9. doing anything while Black and queer
  10.  fill in the motherfucking blank.

If you see that a friend’s mental health is deteriorating, reach out to them. If you have a hateful friend, call them on their -isms and -phobias. If you see something fucked up happening, assess the situation and figure out what you can do to help. If you see the cops getting rowdy with someone, pull out your phone and record them (it is perfectly legal to do this). We really don’t even have to like each, I’m just sick of crying. I’m sick of being angry. I’m sick of people not standing up for other people. And I’m not exempt from any of this. Let’s all do better, y’all.

Please.

on Claudia Rankine’s Citizen (an extended poem)

no exaggeration to state that my body quakes
my eyes the amateur boxer
versus
experienced tears the reigning champion
the internal awakening is incomparable

the way I feel when I read my people

truth sucked from my soul onto the page
size 14 black font
white paper
Arial?

Rankine’s, Baldwin’s, Jordan’s words
yet the truth is mine

the avid reader I am
since childhood:
leaping from cliffhangers
hiding from the shadows
burying in the pages of fantasy

but only these Black voices evoke
quakes
gentle caresses validating previous thoughts
unearthing my Blackness under the weight of hooded spectres
tectonic plates of Black theory colliding creating new matter

page 14: I stop to write
this brink
this precipice
feeling like a citizen

page 17: forced to pick up my phone at 2:53pm
my black pen testifies to
“newly found uncles and brothers”
and Eve Ewing, Chicago summer 2015 speaks through
the brother who walked past
chimed in later with an are-you-alright to the group
the group who went out to meet the woman
the woman who the group hadn’t met in person
Mellon Mays and @ signs tying a string around our color
the woman who live tweeted
the campus police
the city police
the campus police and the city police
inhabiting four large sports utility vehicles
apprehending three young men
three young Black men pulled over for biking
while Black

one supposedly stole a phone
Eve questioned
can police question
can police hold kids without their parents
‘Curfew’
the group
the group who went out to meet the woman
containing only male: me
the group of many sisters
one brother to protect these young brothers
to meet up with this sister
yet it was too late
police took the kids
their bikes
‘away’
vehicles remained

afraid of the fate of Sandra Bland
the woman cried in her car
helpless in the face of hapless cops
the young woman
a hero stood yet
in the face of the slave patrol
a single Black woman is never safe

page 18: tears
when the new therapist yells at the author like a dog
“When he door finally opens, the woman standing there yells, at the top of her lungs,
Get away from my house!
What are you doing in my yard?”
“I am sorry. I am so sorry, so, so sorry.”
I have no patience for whiteness.

page 25: “what does a victorious or defeated black woman’s body in a historically white space look like?”
all I can think is: where in the U.S. do those spaces exist.
the Black church the result of, the mark of, settler colonialism
the Black _______ tainted by ________
the Black hair salon may be one of the only spaces
unless one wants to venture into
domestic work
the Black launderer
the Jezebel
what is a historically black space?
where is a historically black space?
why does she not capitalize the b?

this poem becomes a note to self: look up Patricia Willians’ Alchemy of Race and Rights, as cited on page 34

page 36: ignored as I view

page 37: a white blonde woman tennis player whose name is irrelevant
stuffed bra
stuffed ass
skirt with the adidas logo embossed
underneath the logo in the designer’s name:
stella mccartney
all lowercase letters
elbow pointy
hair frizzy
glossed nails pointing
cupping
her fake ass
yet not making contact
don’t forget
teeth-baring smile
she knows what she is doing.

I must ask myself:
how do white people move through life in such an ahistorical manner?
I tweet about this I move back to

page 36: disassociation
Beyoncé as Sasha Fierce to perform
the claim that Serena Williams “has had to split herself off from herself and create different personae.”
survival strategies

Page 41: section III reminds me that I fly through this book because it is my truth
“What did you say? You ask, though you have heard every word.”
as familiar to me as my first name
as if I am reading theatre directions that embodies the director’s intents
the author’s intent
down to the syllable.

Blackness is creation: reverberations of #SpringValleyHigh

Do not read this unless you’re ready for a long read (almost 2,100 autobiographical words) on Blackness and the necessity of creation. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Today is Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 and I had a revelation today that I didn’t think I would have: Blackness is creation, but not just Blackness; marginalization is creation. And not on some bullshit intangible wavelength, but on a very real level. And for anyone outside of myself to understand what I mean and to not write my very personal words as idealistic ramblings, I think some personal context is necessary:

  1. Yesterday I was tweeting about what #BlacknessIs and what Blackness isn’t.
  2. Today I was tweeting about humanity, dehumanization, and cops.
  3. Tomorrow I’ll probably be tweeting about anti-Blackness, transphobia, or maybe even s’more about Drake.
The point is that for me, writing is thinking. It wasn’t until Alisa, the writing coordinator for my research fellowship, said this that it clicked that most of us process through writing. What I mean by that is that writing is thinking. Many of the members of my cohort have found that our undergrad career is more draining and stressful than advertised. Speaking for myself and my positionality, I’m a non-traditional student, a first-generation student, a military brat, an INFJ, a Leo sun with a Pisces moon, an empath, a highly sensitive person, a queer person, a Black person, an unfortunately disassociated Afrikan, a Native person, the great-grandson of a white grandmother, a cisgender man from a two-parent working-class home. I’m the second oldest of four kids but I was the quintessential middle child until I turned 13 and a week later, my little brother was born. I give you this mini-biography not because I’m obsessed with labels—although I’m a sociology, so I might be—and the deconstruction of them, but because they are important in understanding where I come from in what I write, how I think and what this is all about. Recognizing these different parts of me helps me see why undergrad—at 26 years old—produces more stress and anxiety than I could have ever predicted.

So back to writing: writing is thinking. Since the end of 2014 I became very active on twitter, despite having an account for years and tweeting about acting. And I think for much of 2015 I’ve been trying to find reasons to justify or explain away my social media addiction/co-dependence/reliance. There is no way to separate my social media consciousness raising from my need to share from my constant refreshing and composing on Twitter. One aspect is that I have been a natural student and teacher—or know-it-all in some cases—since I was young. I’ve always questioned and I’ve always taught as soon as I learned new information. While Facebook and Tumblr can also be sources of information and sharing, Twitter fits in a very particular space. Facebook is personal, but limited. Tumblr can be personal and broad, but it is easy to get lost. The same could be said of Twitter, but for me it is a space where I learn something new everyday and often influence at least one person’s thinking. Twitter is a space where I can actually ensure that what I’m giving and what I’m receiving is heard.

The second aspect is that I’ve gone through many life changes in the last year: studying abroad, moving multiple times, moving in with a partner for the first time, a breakup, housing insecurities, overextending myself, serious depression, and academic stress & anxiety. Twitter is a place for me to share what I’ve learned from this as a sort of online journal, especially because up until my last month in Cape Town I kept a physical journal that I haven’t written in since December 2014.

The third aspect is that Twitter, for me, is a space for theorizing. Writing is thinking, right? And I need to write, I always have, even when I didn’t realize it. Sometimes I don’t know how I feel about something until I process it through speaking aloud or writing it down. When writing a first draft of an academic paper, the point I’m trying to make doesn’t actually emerge until the end of the paragraph and then I go back to revise the whole paragraph for clarity. Sometimes I intend to write one or two tweets and then the rest flows out into a series of 10, 20, 30 tweets. I know, what’s the point of a character limit when I choose to write a series of tweets? It serves as an intentional stream of consciousness that shoots from my thumbs to the internet and allows my brain to theorize and make sense of the world in a more casual way than sitting down to blog, write a paper, or even journal for myself. These three aspects—teaching & education, life lessons, and live theorizing—cannot be separate from the fact that I just like twitter, regardless of the truth of this paragraph or my efforts to justify why I tweet so much.

In the spirit of writing to process, I have a few people in my life with who processing comes through iMessage decompression, escalation, and affirmation. When some bullshit goes on, like with the Spring Valley High case, someone will inevitably text me, I will inevitably rant to someone else, or else the information rots away our insides. Knowing too much about the sicknesses of the world makes me and other sick. I know that I am only one person and I believe in the power of the individual, but I’m only one person. Ingesting too much of the evil byproducts of white supremacy, capitalistic greed, misogyny, transphobia, or homophobia doesn’t actually solve anything except throw me into a cycle of depression at the mere scope of the reality we live in. So when these events occur and I know about there, you’d best believe that there is a flurry of iMessages shooting back and forth from me to my friends. This is a ritual for me, a healthy form of self-care that allows me to preach to the choir, praise another’s testimony, and realize that it’s going to be okay. These text messages with folks like Luna, Reggie, Celeste, Joel, Emon, Colin, Chayanne, my mom, and others are a lifeline. Which brings me to the point of this particular piece of writing…

Marginalization is creation. What I mean by this is really not too hard to grasp. I need to create to live. People of color, queer people, differently abled people, trans folk, and more all need to create. It’s honestly what keeps us alive. To put it into a binary, I often live in two headspaces. The first is “this world is a piece of shit and no matter how much we protest, share ourselves, or try to unite our people, little change has come and I won’t see much by the end of my life.” The second is “one person has and will change the world and just by existing in this body that is not defined by marginalization but is indeed marginalized, is an act of beautiful resistance.” My revelation came when I was simultaneously texting Chayanne and Reggie about two things related to the dehumanization of Blackness. With Reggie I was discussing a link that I refused to open from the title alone: “Sheriff says Spring Valley cop Ben Fields id sating a Black woman not racist.” The second was an article by a young white woman whose heart hurts when she reads that a cop is slain, but clearly does not care about when a human that isn’t a cop or her father (a white cop) is slain. At one point the two conversations with two people who are important to me, but have never met, converged. I sent Chayanne a screenshot of something I had said to Reggie in response to us both being utterly THROUGH. The text read:

     “I’m right there with you. And overtime I dream of traveling somewhere else or self-segregation I remember the problems within our own communities. And then I sigh. Because it’s all so fucked”
     What I mean is that these interlocking systems of oppression work within and outside of our communities, and they often feel so impossible to dismantle that not existing seems like the way to go. Or moving. Or just going to bed and thinking that oppression will be gone by the time we wake up. Because at the end of the day I don’t feel like it’s that hard to treat each other like humans. It really isn’t. Yet time and time again I’m proven incorrect. And that’s when I get cynical. Just when I think #NotAllWhitePeople I see the white devil rear it’s ugly head. Just when I think people are really learning to trans folks as humans, I read about someone like #ZellaZiona.

     But tonight was different. Tonight is one of those nights where I have a paper due tomorrow that I just barely started—due to typical procrastination & senioritis, intensified by deep depression and unnecessary-for-undergrad academic anxiety—and I decided to write anyway. I realized that yes, it’s 10:35PM and I need to—and will—write this paper. I want to get good grades in order to get into a good grad school, and so far I have. Tonight is one of those nights where I give up sleep so that I can write what my soul is telling me to write so that I am able to focus on what the academy tells me is necessary.

The reason tonight is different is my conversation with Chayanne where I felt both of my camps: pessimism and optimism. I reminded myself and my thought partner that creation is necessary. Telling our stories is necessary. Telling our stories is not only important, but vital for keeping us alive. Some people, including myself, may read this and go “I know.” But often…I don’t. Sometimes I wonder what the use of “telling and sharing our stories” is in a world that is constantly trying to destroy us. And then I realize in this decompression iMessages, or at 1am as I scroll through Twitter, or whenever I’m talking to my mom about the fucked up things live hands us, even with out immense amount of privilege…in this moments I realize that this is how I stay alive. Not “bitching” about oppression or defining ourselves through the eyes of the oppressor, but being reacting as a form of proactivity in remaking and reclaiming who we are.

As Chayanne said, “its a way of producing SELF-KNOWLEDGE.” I need to create for myself and for others. I need to see the creations of others to remember that I’m alive, they’re alive, and we’re all making it. It’s not something that we can choose to “not have the time for,” it’s something that we need to do in order to keep living. Blackness is creation, Blackness is the act of staying alive and thriving, even in the various cages that trap us. Blackness is painting, drawing, singing, writing, tweeting, doodling, conversing, theorizing, composing and more. If you find yourself saying that you don’t have the time to create a collage, listen to music, or dance then my response to you is “you can’t do that to yourself.” I’m not saying the creations always need to be shared. I’m not saying the creations need much time put into them. But I am saying that creating, producing—but not being bogged down by the obligation to produce but instead of the gift of inspiration when it strikes—is life.

Marginalization is not anything I would wish onto anyone. Being Othered is one of the worst things in the world. But through this struggle—and not because of this struggle: this distinction is important—we must do more. Do not create solely for others if there is no joy for yourself. Find whichever avenue of creation works for you, and then pursue it in order to not only survive, but thrive. This act of making, of using the whole of our bodies/spirits/minds, is necessary for living in a world that predicts and foreshadows your death on a daily basis. And to prove my point: this theory of mine would not have occurred if I hadn’t tweeted tonight, if I hadn’t talked to Reggie, if I hadn’t talked to Chayanne. This piece is a direct result Twitter—both the isolation and the international connection of it—and Blackness in the form of Chayanne and Reggie. Art is life.

Now stop messing with me, I got a paper to write!

Peace, love, and creation y’all.

Poetry – 1R at 7:10

1R at 7:10

Brown skin, blonde hair

what is that about?
if I asked you
you might just say
     ‘I have no doubt
     that I’m ahead of the game
     I don’t wanna hear no complaints
     this is just what I’m about
     not white supremacy but brown free thought’
but homegirl
that Taylor swift blank space
tells me where you’ll write your name
so tell me when it’s over
if the high is worth the pain
because you can dye your hair whatever color
we’ll tell you you’re insane
because no matter what
these people
don’t
wanna know your name
This was a freewrite I wrote on the bus about two weeks ago about a fellow passenger. No shade to any of my sisters of color who dye their hair, but this was how I was feeling when I looked at the straw-yellow locks and hearing the sound of Blank Space drip out of her earbuds in an era where despite our choices [respectability politics], black and brown bodies are target practice.

Songbird: ‘A Doll House’ rap

I’ve been slacking on my blogging, so here’s a cheat (since I wrote it for something else). For my English class I had to create a project based on A Doll House  by Henrik Ibsen. We were given free range to be creative, and as I was writing a poem I had the idea to write a satirical rap from the rather one-sided view that Torvald possesses. Enjoy.

Songbird

I’d like to dedicate this to my baby boo
My precious little squirrel, yes Nora, that’s you.
You’re my odd little one, but you hold it down
My sweet little lark don’t mess around.
She thinks she’s slick with her macaroons
Baby girl, I’ll let it slide just once for you.

‘Cause the way you move them hips, the sexy way you dip
Let’s exchange those sweets with a treat for two.
This is grown folks business, you know what I mean
No kids, no bank, no Rose-Marie.
‘Cause when you’re in my study we lock the doors
Renewed nuptials on the hard wood floors.

Not just a baby momma, Maury you’ll see
Go ahead and object, it doesn’t faze me.
Never mind her sweet tooth and spending habits
You have to love her just like a pet rabbit.
Always there, looking so fine
The best trophy wife a man could find.

Confessions of an emergency room clerk

“My advice? Don’t drink four pints of vodka before lunch,” the nurse said with a straight face.

He took his eyes off the work on his screen, starting to crack up at this seemingly random piece of advice. It had been quiet, and each of them kept to themselves for the most part. He was using the downtime to work on his homework. She was enjoying the break from the usual rush of patients, most likely by searching the web.

She continued on, explaining her reasoning for the unsolicited tip. She added with a smile, “I should be able to do better, but that’s it.” They talked, entering each other’s worlds. It was nice, for both of them. Trends occur all the time, if you keep an eye out for them. One day there are multiple patients who happen to drink four pints of vodka…before lunchtime. One day there are many patients of Salvadoran descent. And some days the patients are just pleasant. The conversation was quickly dropped when a patient arrived at his station, ready for check-in. He finished her registration and the patient went to the next window. The nurse checked her vitals. Her name was called shortly and off she went to be seen. During this process he returned to his work, as did she to hers. Eventually it was silent again, comfortably silent.

Whippersnappers!

You know those people who smile when they talk? I love them. You know the ones I’m talking about. Those people who tell a story with a perpetual, genuine smile that makes you want to smile.

Happiness is contagious. It’s so easy to sit and blog or read about x, y, or z, but putting these ideas into practice is another step. Little moments in life inspire me, but try as I might, I often forget the initial impact they had on me. One of my new goals in life is to make sure that I record those little moments that brighten my day. Not just in my memory, but in writing. I want to make sure I can refer to them and manifest the thoughts that initially occur after the event into reality.

Perception is really interesting to me, because without thinking about it, so many thoughts go through my brain upon seeing a person. Where are they going to? What is their background? Do they have a girlfriend? A boyfriend? A sister? Oh, are they an only child? Why do they dress like that? What makes them walk like that? Who influences their style? All within seconds, these questions whiz past me in my brain and I often don’t realize it until I actually meet the person.

I have school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Typically I see the same people walking around because I walk the same route from class to class. The campus is not small, so I don’t know most of them. I also couldn’t describe them to you, but once I see them on Tuesday or Thursday, I recognize them. “You’re that guy who walks with his chest puffed out.” Or, “you’re that girl who is always laughing and having a good time in the cafeteria.” At school today (yesterday), I met an older black woman who I always see walking around campus. I’d see her and wonder where she came from, if she had any kids, and how she found the courage to go back to school at an older age. It’s inspiring to me, because I know it can be a mighty large piece of humble pie for some people. After living life, it feels like starting over at square one. That is not easy for many people, and I predict that I would have a hard time going back to school. Not only that, but some of us college kids are a nuisance. So to deal with that within oneself is a mighty hard thing to do, let alone deal with a bunch of kids who may or may not want to be there. And I’m pretty sure it’s the former, not the latter.

Back to the woman. I was sitting on a bench near the library with a friend of mine, chatting about various subjects. Then this older lady who I recognized, but did not know, asked if either of us had a cell phone. I said that I did, and she asked me to make a call for her. This woman was overweight, and she was over 70 years old, so she needed me to check and see if the campus shuttle was coming to pick her up. As I was on the phone she sat next to us, on the end of the bench. I finished with the phone call and we started to talk. Turns out that she just got off the bus from Dixon, but she wasn’t feeling too well. I told her to take the day off. She affectionately called me baby, mentioning that her day just started. Even if she did want to go back home, she couldn’t leave campus until 4:30pm. So we both agreed she might as well go to her classes if she was already home. As we conversed she impressed my friend and I with her spirit. Here she was, trudging through her day, while other people ditched school because they just didn’t feel like going. Here she was, a recent high school graduate (at age 70), thanking God for all that she said he has done for her. Here she was, inspiring the both of us and teaching us something new. Her psychiatrist said she wouldn’t ever amount to anything, and here she was at school with us. Situations like this make me feel good about life; sometimes people aren’t always dealt the same cards, but it’s how you play them. This woman chose to make something of her life, and that is honorable. Considering how many homeless people exist in the world, how many of them are veterans, and how simple and tempting it is to let circumstance govern your life, she was not one of them. I obviously don’t know her life story, nor do I know her past. But judging from that meeting, she is one who could have easily blamed the world for her problems and gave up, but so far she hasn’t. With age comes wisdom, and she schooled us in the most positive way without even realizing it.

This woman wasn’t one who smiles when she talks or even appears pleasant. But she definitely brightened the day of my friend and I with her humor and with her spirit. She talked about how the disability staff can be rude to her, but how she’ll lay low and get them back in a few days. She joked around with the driver of the shuttle who picked her up, ending our conversation. When the shuttle driver asked if the staff was giving her a hard time, she replied that “it’ll take something bigger than a fly swatter to get rid of me,” causing all four of us to erupt in laughter. It’s the little things in life that count, and this one definitely counts.  Although it happened over the span of four minutes, it definitely is not something easily forgettable. People like that give me hope, and I hope this very simple event continues to inspire me. You’re only as old young as you feel, yeah?