“What we call black literature is really summed up for me by the whole career, let’s say, of Bessie Smith, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, because that’s the way it’s been handed down… We had to smuggle information, and we did it through our music and we did it in the church.”—James Baldwin in a 1972 interview with Nikki Giovanni (via daughterofzami)
“This attitude, this behavior, this shackled life caught in the noose of shame and disaster rebels, hates itself, struggles, howls, and, my God, others ask: “What can you do about it?”, “Start something!”, “Start what?”, “The only thing in the world that’s worth the effort of starting: The end of the world, by God!””—Aimé Césaire (via hypnoperv)
because ever since my senior year in high school a billion years ago (when my white classmates who i had considered my friends for 4 whole years abrubtly thought our small “bigbangtheory-like nerd group” needed nigger-jokes to feel complete) i have stopped not seeing the potential for racism in every word and action, regardless of race.
i’m not surprised when seemingly nice mannered people say something entirely inappropriate - if you spend enough time around someone then it’s always gonna happen… this is america. inappropriate is what we do.
so im not emotionally triggered when ignorance is spouted especially from white friends trying to judge just how relaxed they can be around me - the answer is “very relaxed”, not “dangerously stupid” - the relationship just changes gear and i say “oh, there it is… 16 months, 12 days, 5 hours. better timing than i expected.” it’s not irrepairable, but the damage is done and most just dont know me or themselves well enough to properly fix it. and thats okay… its not like theyve earned peace prizes and have legacies to live up to. anyway, im older now and such things happen less (but they still do happen, no matter how liberal my friends say they are. america happens)…
racism, subtlely, sublimely, and even innocently at times will always surface. its our cultural default. it surprises me but im not shocked by it; usually i just roll my eyes, jump ship and swim to shore….
so when the elderly white gentleman with his deep southern drawl began speaking to me at the bookstore i was immediately aware of the mile markers pacing his historical perspectives… he entered the store and was very polite and politely announced that he was looking for old bibles …and wanted to know if we had a special place where we … “kept them segregated.”
intellectually, i KNOW he meant “categorized”… but he saw me and his brain slipped to a mile marker from 1965 and in freudian fashion he said “segregated”.
the right half of my brain imploded and what i meant to say was “yes, we have bibles… we keep them stuck up your ass you ancient piece of shit”…
i havent been that verbally caught off guard since 1984! i wanted to choke the shit outta this man for a simple faux pas knowing that my skin color had triggered him as much as his use of “segregated” had triggered me…
he shanked me with a single sentence… bravo, old fuck, bravo… and here i was, mistaken in my belief that im a pro with this shit.
so in reality i just bit my tongue and showed the old fucker our small … segregation … of bibles.
i mean, the damage was done… how could i undo it? engage him in his slip of the tongue? and then what? and then WHAT IF SAYS “NO, I did MEAN TO USE SEGREGATED… YOU COLOREDS STILL NEED TO LEARN THE LANGUAGE I SEE.”
when i snap and go to revolutionary-wannabe-jail then i dont want it to be for the random reaction out of anger… i want it to be intentional and oh-so-very-gratifying. planned. full of purposes that future generations will write poems about.
i cant go out as “the cautionary tale” —- “see, that nigga thair just went crazy for no good reason; done shamed his whole family. i told yall it was gonna happen.”
i just didnt realize i could still be got like that… i have been in arguments and have cut folks down like rotted lumber… i am black belt jones with my anti-racist rhetoric… …i wish a PhD would!
you cant trigger me.
but an old southern fucker did it.
with the smoothest ease i done ever seent.
24 hours later and i am still pissed.
all i can do is bow. and vow it’ll never happen again. i mean, it takes me being emotionally vested in someone i love for them to have the power to piss me off like this… i dont like thinking that there are random strangers out there that i will never give a damn about having so much authority over my state of mind. i mean - he just walked up to me and muttered a single word and i unravelled. THAT is fuckin crazy.
Muhammad Ali is my patron saint, afterall… Cossell tried, but no one ever rattled The Louisville Lip. ever.
so there’s a verbal payback coming. it might not be on him… might just be some random white guy by proxy…
and all he can do about it when it happens is say “oh… there it is… 16 months, 12 days, 5 hours… better timing than i expected.”
it might not be appropriate. but it’ll damn sure be poetic… so if you ever have to stoop to ignorance in your societal reactions then elevate the ignorance to a level you can be proud of.
my entire life ive been the solid
citizen - shovelin’ the shit, shootin’
the breeze to boss hogs and top
guns. but still, a good life; caint say
that i personally
was played the fool. a good life.
but blacks, we look at the entire
wreckage not the incremental
balms / the sub-sufficient
paregorics. my life, it IS wonderful.
but had it not been built on ruin?
a citizenship from carnage?
by the way, Haiti had to pay 80
million dollars to france for freedom.
stolen property paid reparations to
thieves. thief said: “we made you
kings a thing; suckled honey from
your breasts until they bled…
we wed you to an everlasting
cataclysmic system. and now,
you must pay us for that privilege.”
perversions to power…
then global change killed the ice
caps and Haiti sank back in 2052…
their flotsam flesh deemed ‘a 2nd class
pollutant’, behind oil spills and plastic.
we are tired of saying “thank you”
to devastation, ingratiating our
offspring to armageddons
easily avoided. you know, for
a people so hung up on
the paperworks of liberty and
the quantum physics of anarchy,
why are they so angered
that their cash cows kept a ledger?
“the times they are a’changin’?”
i can’t tell. but if i can pull this off
then my people will all descend from
one single odalisque. she’ll be royal,
no mere paramour, but a paragon! and
the Mother-Muse of all Romanticism;
her name will be Olanrewaju. apotheosis
unparalleled. just you watch.
People say, ‘I’m going to sleep now,’ as if it were nothing. But it’s really a bizarre activity. ‘For the next several hours, while the sun is gone, I’m going to become unconscious, temporarily losing command over everything I know and understand. When the sun returns, I will resume my life.’
If you didn’t know what sleep was, and you had only seen it in a science fiction movie, you would think it was weird and tell all your friends about the movie you’d seen.
They had these people, you know? And they would walk around all day and be OK? And then, once a day, usually after dark, they would lie down on these special platforms and become unconscious. They would stop functioning almost completely, except deep in their minds they would have adventures and experiences that were completely impossible in real life. As they lay there, completely vulnerable to their enemies, their only movements were to occasionally shift from one position to another; or, if one of the ‘mind adventures’ got too real, they would sit up and scream and be glad they weren’t unconscious anymore. Then they would drink a lot of coffee.’
So, next time you see someone sleeping, make believe you’re in a science fiction movie. And whisper, ‘The creature is regenerating itself.’
"i’m what is known as ‘a gawlologist’, wedding facsimile to pretense… this isn’t prose or poetry… the page is a house of stone, to make it breathe is mashairi: music and memory. bone marrow is the wick for magic and if your songs do not sop up sorrow then you never knew the instruments, never listened to your instructors, and never had the license to sing. you just abducted dust, so hush, child. you’ve come a long way but this is as close as you get, the beginning and its end… but i mendicate with the medium keeping the middle on loop…
so (by law and lawd) i’m obligated, disclosing infinity in the fine print / applying disco ointments to a stiff upper lip, lapping away at language…
heed what i decree / Elegba’s legalese:
we alone conjure on a closed course; meaning, don’t try this shit at home.”
nothing to do with sex or gender… just in my perspective. i’ve identified with that word since i first picked up a crayon to draw caricatures on the inside of closet walls (shout out to all my grandsons carrying on that tradition!)
i’m not goofy… i’m not quirky (tho i long to be both!) i’m just queer.
i love my family without hesitation (except for some of my louisville fam where ‘hesitation’ is our way of emphasizing our statements; it’s a louisville thing - yall caint sit at our table and yall caint show love like us. sorry).
i’m strongly affectionate towards the people and places that matter - it might not always show up that way because of my deep proclivity for introversion. to borrow a phrase from a friend, “i would fight a brick for them”.
i love chauvinism. i love feminism. i love mankind in all of its dualism and multidimensionalism (my browser is telling me that “multidimensionalism” is not a word but i fucking know that it is! stop spreading your lies to me, Artificial Intelligence!). i love contradiction for it is the most human trait a person can have - where else in nature does nature contradict itself for reasons other than strict survival?
i love straight people. i love gay people. i love people… especially the people most often attacked for their own individual peoplehood. and if you also identify with queerness, if you query internally for queerness, then i love you most of all.
if we share the same aesthetic then i love you too… i just wont care too much about you. if we are too much the same then that’s lame to me - i already enjoy talking to myself, how could interacting with you be any different if our identifies continually mimic? your individual queerness better be pretty damn dope, playa.
just offer me something new within you for me to explore within myself and we’ll be cool. we may not necessarily “get along” because i often struggle with that type of maintenance. especially if your presence or if just simply knowing you requires my devout attention. i’m too walter mitty for all that shit; i caint be your acolyte, i’m already a follower of shadows and i do not want.
anyway, i’m just a very queer man. a big, black, cis, queer ass man.
and i wish queerness on you and everyone you love, that’s about the only way i could ever see us getting along with each other.
the ability to sexually objectify women in your media
is the only prerequisite for consideration as a modern civilization.
"come hither" is the god-given name collectively given to their daughters at birth and it is a father’s role to deliver his daughters into the hands of commerce for all tutorials on "refined womanhood" until they are labeled useless.
a woman is only considered “useless” once she loses the desire to seduce and it can happen at any age (be aware of the warning signs that your daughters are considering a useless lifestyle, there are many and most begin with books that can not be made into movies).
once useless, she will be labeled a “hag” but there is always hope that she will return to a softer posture for the appeasement of society, then the west will train them as “educators” (a “bitch” is a woman that chooses to seduce off-cue and for her own pleasure, but as long as she retains a commerce-based sexual desire then this is ideal, although not optimal).
parents must reassure their daughter that such dreams are not impossible (and propable, if your daughter is nonblack).
ladies, welcome to the destiny of a desireability demographic.
please dispose of all prepackaged aspirations in proper order for maximum consideration in feminine idealism or you may find your privileges zeroed out to a non-commercialized sum.
stop saying “well, at least being black today is better than being black in 1955.”
stop comparing your hardships against the hardships of your parents; they are not your oppressors.
progress against your elders is a false equivalency. blacks in 1960 were not saying “at least its better than 1860!”
EVERY generation, white or black, perceives itself progressively against its elders…
…but your black generation is not in a race with my black generation. we KNOW you have progressed because we fought hard for you to have better… your “progress” was planned and expected.
but white society progresses also.
do not compare your progress against the past… instead, please compare your situation against your contemporary white counterparts because progresses against your granny mean nothing if you are not GAINING against the society that is also planning its own progressive dominance with its children over your children.
cultural advancements are never progressive over systemic oppression.
eating where your granddaddy couldnt is great (i suppose) - but all they did was spit on him and deny him service… now, you can eat there, but if they claim your fork looked like a gun and they kill you then where are you at as a citizen?
EVERY generation makes progresses;
not every generation makes GAINS.
full citizenship is the yardstick; comparisons to anything else is a false equivalency.
do not just progress against your supporters… make gains against those oppressing you.
It is more important for fictional realities to provide real representation for real people in the real world than for real people in the real world to yield their real identities and their real experiences to hypothetical fictional contexts of race and gender.
The Enchanted Forest may not have…
this is my entire philosophy as a creative. the first wall of defense against racism begins in the imagination of children - “if the children of another people can not imagine themselves as your greatest heroes then there is nothing to for them to build upon as adults when measuring your humanity against their’s and will not subconsciously respect you as a people.”
in the late 1980’s, black artists and educators were criticized for romanticizing Africa. we were told that we wasted too much energy on fantasy and not enough dealing with the realities of hunger, impoverishment, apartheid, civil rights, violence, etc. we were told “you can party and bullshit but please do not celebrate your mythologies or even think to create new ones.”
but every civilization makes itself legitimate by institutionalizing the mythology of its people.
cultural essays should be written only when you have devoted the time and privacy of thought to fully engage your topic… essay writing while answering phones and waiting on customers really should be frowned upon and i seriously advise against it…
no good can (or will) come of this, i know…
but Bessie Smith been needing sugar in her bowl for a 100 years.
the emergence of sexual agency in black music is not a new phenomenon. and appreciation for sexual gratification is not new among feminism - bell hooks herself has written about passion for the penis (link to the article below)… from blues women Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Memphis Minnie to the soulful Betty Davis, Minnie Riperton, and Nona Hendryx to early hiphop leaders such as Sweet T, the Real Roxanne, Salt n Pepa, Gangsta Boo, Mia X, YoYo, LIl Kim, Foxy Brown, Adina Howard, and many, many others - gender equality and representation in music has been fiercely defended by progressive artists, who may or may not have considered themselves “true feminists” but most certainly touched upon those aspects of feminism that mattered most in the culture of their profession. and understand this: one does NOT have to single-handedly represent every legislative word of “old guard feminism” to be an advocate for women’s empowerment. ‘empowerment’ is the end result… but how you get there may not represent the ideals of feminism and that’s at the social crux of our contemporary debate (the same debate exists with empowerment for black people as a whole: do we achieve it through the traditional practices of civil rights or do we take a more aggressive route since society no longer seems dedicated to black enfranchisement).
as it currently exists, club-centered hiphop has evolved (or de-evolved, depending on your source) into hiphop burlesque - or hiphop exploitation, (again, depending on your source), but hiphop has always been used by those of us commonly represented as caricatures in american media to voice our agitations or agreements with contemporary living. an artist can be racially charged and not be revolutionary… or in favor of women’s equality and not be an activist for feminism. for some, the path to empowerment matters more so than the results….
modern female pop singers are building their sound and style on the generations of avant garde and burlesque that came before them, the Grace Joneses, Meshell Ndegeocellos, Erykah Badus, the Madonnas, and the Ms-Jacksons-if-you’re-nasty…
Azealia Banks, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Nikki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, Miley Cyrus… they all have supporters and detractors who glean into their work looking for self-esteem or self-hate - there is evidence for both in the works of all listed.
the problem for “feminists” is not the actual employment of sexual agency/fantasy in the routines of these artists… it’s the traditional glorification of gender roles in women that is the most troubling - traditional feminism has battled to lessen the role gender plays in societal policies, leaving what sexually goes on in ones home up to the individual - be a sub or a dom, feminine or butch, but patriarchy is institutionalized and men are stupid and will use those against you wherever gender inequalities are still the norm.
a “Beyoncé-feminism” works for women in the same way that voting Republican works for lower class Whites: noticeable progress for my generation has been slow to come, so i might as well support what makes me FEEL better about my circumstances than what COULD possibly change those circumstances. or “this will have to do”, as Billie Holiday sang “until the real thing comes along.” —- but for many, THIS overtly sexualized stance IS the real thing. and the problem with that, as a political statement, is that it fails to challenge men on any idealogical level - “oh, you’re gonna roll the partition up so you can please me without agreeing that i might hafta please you in return? shit, that’s cool with me! do your thing, bae!”
and that’s the main concern between feminism and empowerment - feminism understands that gender inequality is the flaw of MEN and seeks to address it (just as racism is not “a black problem” but an issue of whites refusing to share privilege). Beyoncé teaches empowerment, not equality, and does so without addressing the need for men to expand their understandings. women have the RIGHT to do whatever makes them happy without having to seek permission from ANY man… approach us half-dressed and we’ll agree to any politics that helps us keep you that way, continually seeing the caricature of your womanhood from our selfish perspectives. just as racist continue seeing blacks as a whole.
feminism requires more than a dedication to yourself as a woman, tho women do have every right to stop there, but men hate feminism because it makes us THINK about our actions out in public or on the job. it forces us to ACT like we respect whether we actually do or not… if a man who has no pressure to challenge himself cosigns on your freedoms as a woman, then he is selfish and not your ally and as soon as he stops seeing the reward factor in your liberation then he’ll move on to the next woman who is ‘liberating’ at no expense to him.
Beyoncé has used burlesque to empower herself and to make her fortune. it is an empowerment that uses sex and sensuality for personal financial freedom… but if it is truly ‘feminist’ it would mean that ANY woman can utilize commercialized standards of beauty to achieve economic freedom… but this is a culture that only ‘bows down’ to beauty it can appropriate for its own pleasure and gain. this is a country that has cast Zoe Saldana over India Arie or Viola Davis to play Nina Simone.
Beyoncé can be the cultural avatar for young girls, pale or darkly hued, but neither will be accepted as Bae’s successor - black women will not see a white version of Beyonce as their spokesperson and a dark skinned version of Beyonce will never be commercially endorsed enough to enjoy the full financial liberations that come from extreme pop star status. Bae’s brand of self-empowerment has taken advantage of all the sexual tropes that patriarchy has afforded her and it’s been evident since her days with Destiny’s Child that she “was the pretty one”… and in america, when the pretty one adorns themselves in bustiers and lace, then we will always anoint her the “Queen/Baddest Bitch” of whatever she aspires herself to be. but if no other woman is afforded those levels of freedom while your brand of liberation profits from it, then a good portion of your devotees are voting against their own best interests.
where’s Bae’s dark-skinned, bald-headed economic counterpart? or the short-haired, pear-shaped black women soul singer? when Bae’s crown is usurped by one of those standards then we can truly measure her credibility as an advocate for women and say “see, Bae woke EVERYBODY up like this.” but as society currently stands, only one of my two granddaughters will “have what it takes” to reach that level of financial self-fulfillment… i recognize the Queen in both of them; but if their politics has to legitimize (or at least play along with) institutionalized patriarchy in order to be empowered, then one of my granddaughters is gonna end up kicking her in-laws in elevators on her way to the top.