Nobody Mean More to Us: Every Time (From Artists/Teachers/Intellectuals Responding to Police Violence)

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Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 8.38.15 PMLast night a hopeful, anxious, heavy, urgent, connected, inspired group of artists, writers, scholars and teachers gathered to collectively tap into the legacy of June Jordan and Audre Lorde as we respond to police violence in this moment.

We called in our folks, lifted up our communities of accountabilities, honored our feelings, learned about the specific ways that June Jordan and Audre Lorde were impacted by and worked to respond to police violence, looked at the complex ways we are connected to police violence and our communities of accountability, recommitted to and recontextualized our daily creative praxis, activated the Lorde Concordance Oracle, held each other in process, shared our fears, hopes and lessons and created poetry together.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 7.27.39 AMWe chose the letter b (for brave for #blacklivesmatter for the bold act of listening our intuition) and we were blessed and broken open by the Lorde Concordance offering from the poem “Power” that spoke so directly to our process in the moment.   We reached for ways to ground our actions and decision making in legacy, ancestral guidance and profound purpose instead of reaction, scarcity, ego and panic.  The poems below are in the tradition of June Jordan’s “Nobody Mean More to Me Than You and the Future Life of Willie Jordan” and her “Poem About Police Violence.”  We place them here in honor of the communities we love and towards the world we deserve.

P.S. If you are interested in going deeper into this process of drawing on ancestral depth for this time of urgent change check out our upcoming 3-day intensive Breathe Underwater: A Baptismal Intensive for Ancestor Accountable Artists, Activists and Intellectuals.   And if you are interested in applying the wisdom of June Jordan and Audre Lorde to your work of solidarity against police violence, in support of transnational liberation movements, as and with precarious intellectual workers in the adjunct movement, as students and faculty of color confronting anti-blackness in the Ivory Tower consider coming to the in-person Brilliance Remastered Retreat Nobody Mean More in Durham, NC this September.

Nobody Mean More to Us

a roll call poem by the participants in Nobody Mean More

 

Nobody mean more to me than black & brown folks, black queer folks, haitian folks, young folks.

Nobody mean more to me than Black mothers

Nobody mean more to me than elders and ancestors

Nobody mean more to me than brilliant black women

who refuse to give up or go unheard

Nobody mean more to me than black mothers and babies

birthing and living free

Nobody mean more to me than queer youth of color

breaking through to love

Nobody mean more to me than sick disabled injured queer trans brown black broke and healing friends

Nobody mean more to me than black elders

Nobody mean more to me than my invisibly disabled community

Nobody mean more to me than black and brown folks

not only surviving but thriving

Nobody mean more to me than crip queer poc

sick and surviving still

Nobody mean more to me than babies

bringing light and blackness

Nobody mean more to me than all of the students of color at our school

and all of their communities and loves

Nobody mean more to me than students

who refuse to belong

Nobody mean more to me than anyone

willing to learn

Nobody mean more to me than poor folks

hustling daily

Nobody mean more to me than crip brown & black youth

teaching us

Nobody mean more to me than young people

who bring energy and passion to their despair and confusion

Nobody mean more to me than all people of color

excluded from home yet still resist

Nobody mean more to me than Black diasporic GNC Queers

coming up from nothing and claiming a right to their ancestors and culture

Nobody mean more to me than Black disabled femme folks

who can’t get out of bed sometimes

Nobody mean more to me than God

the orisha, ancestors and the lukumi community

Nobody mean more to me than us

Black and Brown folks

who hold us close and set us straight

and remember us on the days and nights we might forget us

 

every time

by the participants in Nobody Mean More: Artists, Intellectuals, Educators Responding to Police Violence

“Tell me something

what you think would happen if

everytime they kill a black boy

then will kill a cop

everytime they kill a black man

then we kill a cop

 

you think the accident rate would lower

subsequently?”

-June Jordan, “Poem about Police Violence”

 

 

 

what if every time was the last

 

what if every time

we killed the part of us that did this

 

what if every time

the dead returned to reckon with us

 

what if every time

we outsmarted our fear

 

what if every time

every one else had to hold and feel the pain of the mother for one day

 

what if every time

we were believed

 

what if every time

whiteness choked on its own violence

 

what if every time

the sun went out

 

what if every time

the water turned to blood

and we couldn’t drink one drop without tasting it

 

what if every time

all of the tears shed were collected in a vessel

and transformed into the power to dismantle institutions

 

what if everytime had already happened

and this was a question for historians

 

what if every time

we rush the road with 10,000 beating hearts

running perpendicular to the Mississippi

 

what if every time

videos of black bodies being murdered

were not played on a loop

 

what if every time

the TRUTH was broadcast far and wide

and false media messages were laughed at and discarded

 

what if every time

we dislodged the cold stone in our throat so we could speak

 

what if every time we loved each other more

 

what if every time

we admitted how hopeless we actually are

 

what if every time

we chose to continue to have hope in spaces of collectivity

 

what if every time

we knew there would be justice.

 

what if every time

we were allowed to grieve without any shame

 

what if every time I asked for one day when I do not have to think about being Black

but just being human

I got a day

 

what if every time

we had a national day of mourning

 

what if everytime police sacrificed black life

white people just went out and sat all over every police car in the whole country so they couldn’t drive out get out of the car for a day a week

 

what if every time

the “good” police officers

stood up en masse denouncing their colleagues

 

what if every time the police murder someone

a week’s pay of every police employee is withheld

 

what if every time

a politician chosen at random lost their position

 

what if every time a black body is shattered

a thousand more were loved into existence

bathed in joy, shown the power of our own wings

 

what if every time

we were allowed to feel Black Joy

 

what if every time

we could feel free to stop proving our right to exist

and get to the business of feeling the joy our existence

 

what if every time

we intentionally breathed into our bellies

 

what if every time we were afraid

we danced

 

what if every time

we allowed ourselves the space to cry outside

 

what if everytime

we put a bowl of water under the bed and ask our ancestors to dream us a way

 

what if every time

we were raptured away to a new dimension

to start again

 

what if every time

no one had electricity

and our news was our talk between stoops

 

what if every time

we read all day aloud while standing on corners

 

what if every time

we lost the language

and had to make a new one from scratch

 

what if every time

we would communicate without words

but make sounds from deep down

 

what if every time they kill black folk

everyone lays down in a grave

everyone

and rises up with dirt to do

 

what if every time

we planted a garden

 

what if every time we must create hashtags

we open the borders for ten days and allow 1000 refugees places to stay

 

what if every time

we gave a scholarship to a student of color

 

what if every time

we put a love poem into the pocket of every black child we know

 

what if every time

we made space to be gentle to each other

 

what if every time

we stole our days back

 

what if every time

we took a broomstick to the stained glass

 

what if every time

we centered in our dignity

 

what if every time

we allowed ourselves to be

 

what if every time

we remember how resilient we are

 

what if every time

we dreamed

we created new worlds with new possibilities

 

what if every time we hurt

we gain direct access to healing ancestors

with remedies to soothe our pain

 

what if this time

police were disarmed

and trained as midwives and doulas

 

and the midwives and doulas

became the keepers of safety

 

you think the “accident” rate would lower

subsequently?

 

 

I Love My Own: freedom-seeking/freedom Producing Writers Speak!

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Sitting by the river. Photo by Dannette Sharpley

For the past three days I have had the healing, transforming, invigorating honor of facilitating 9 black and brown femmes (including myself) in a love-filled intensive inspired by our recent ancestor Michelle Cliff and her magical realist historical novel Free Enterprise.   We drew on the militant legacies of Mary Ellen Pleasant and other participants in a plotting to arm enslaved people and create a free black state to clarify our relationships to our own writing lives in these urgent times.   We spun and unraveled the stories of our names, created aliases to live into, cultivated our relationships to necessary refusal, found our concealed weapons,  made bottle tree monuments to our memory and healing and gave ourselves permission to love the communities of accountability, visions of freedom, daily practices and physical tools that make our freedom-seeking and freedom-producing creative lives possible.   The following is one arrangement of our closing blessing and affirmation of the deep love that fuels our work.   I encourage you to repeat the refrain “I love my own,” aloud as you read the poem.

P.S.  If you want to sign up for our next intensive, Breathe Underwater: A Baptismal Intensive for Ancestor Accountable Artists, Activists and Intellectuals click the link for more info.

i love my own

“I don’t hate you and yours.  I love my own.” -attributed to Mary Ellen Pleasant by Michelle Cliff in Free Enterprise: Novel

(by the participants in Free Enterprise: Towards a Sustainable, Autonomous, Accountable Writing Life)

i drink water

i love my own

i listen to whales

i love my own

walking up early to be with the beautiful thoughts that arise with me from dreams

i love my own

visiting ancestors while dreaming

i love my own

remembering my dreams

i love my own

i love my own

bed

all the fabrics

i love my own

watercolor paints

i love my own

things to collage other things with

i love my own

feathers and stones

i love my own

rose quartz, black onyx, lapis

i love my own

sewing machine and old clothes

i love my own

bodily integrity

i love my own

freedom of form

i love my own

reciprocal relations to earth

i love my own

refuse scarcity

i love my own

define accountability

i love my own

Abolition now!

i love my own

sun and moon blessings

i love my own

clean water free healthcare

i love my own

writing while Black

i love my own

beautiful brilliant black

i love my own

concealed weapons

i love my own

making magic

i love my own

we have the tools

i love my own

ancestry

i love my own

abundance

i love my own.

poetry

i love my own

saying what i mean

i love my own

saying i love you

i love my own

what can we do together today

i love my own

what would the Ancestors say

i love my own

the ancestors who mean our freedom

i love my own

space and time to grow food

i love my own

my time in the sunshine with you

i love my own

staying free

i love my own

ancestors, blood and chosen

i love my own

my mentor and teacher

i love my own

my mothers (all of them)

i love my own

black women regardless

i love my own

if she hears you, does she feel your words?

i love my own

poet homies

i love my own

black girls in white spaces

i love my own

children who need to learn their histories

i love my own

youth organizers

i love my own

black and brown femme artist theorists who are unafraid

i love my own

a movement that came from deep within me

i love my own

living with our spiritual gifts in the open, without fear or shame

i love my own

do you want to know the meaning of your name?

i love my own

Swahili names!

i love my own

The African Diaspora

i love my own

choosing to uproot

i love my own

our selves always in relation to others

i love my own

always with intention and integrity

i love my own

we have everything we need to be FREE

i love my own

no police to make me anxious

i love my own

kissing my daughter without fear that it will be the last time

i love my own

black babies, safe here and there, always

i love my own

spirit and goddess manifested in the vulnerable and oppressed of the world

i love my own

sun kissed/ never burnt/ moon held/ always revealed/ glowing expanded lives and spirits/

i love my own

dancing warm bodies alive

i love my own

sing, dance and love our entire, beautiful and difficult selves into fiery existence

i love my own

capacity, agency, space, and discipline to create media and art for the revolution

i love my own

freedom is where each of us gets to be our full selves, always and all ways

i love my own

i love and care for for Earth, my universe home

i love my own

being held and nourished by my own

i love my own

laugh with a cousin every day

i love my own

black music for any mood

i love my own

i love us

i love my own

Breathe Underwater: A Baptismal Intensive for Ancestor-Accountable Artists, Activists and Scholars

pedagogies-picBreathe Underwater: A Baptismal Intensive for Ancestor Accountable Artists, Activists and Scholars  July 25, 26, 27  3pm to 6:00pm Eastern.

There is so much to react to in this moment.  The media and the ongoing triggering reality of intersecting oppressions has us frantic.  We have to do something.  We feel we aren’t doing enough.  Haven’t we been doing this forever? Why isn’t this over yet?

Breathe Underwater is designed to wash us clean, reset our clarity, renew us for the long-term.  Recognizing the unsustainability of reaction-mode alongside the urgent need for meaningful action in this moment, we call on the ocean as the oldest place we know and as a repository of resistance, memory and rebirth.

This online intensive uses a curriculum informed by June Jordan’s Who Look at Me, Jaqui Alexander’s Pedagogies of Crossing and M. Nourbese Philip’s Zong along with guided meditations, writing exercises and facilitated conversation to immerse participants in the peace, urgency and depth of ancestral accountability.  Building on the work of the Guardian Dead Retreat, this online experience will provide tangible ways to root your action steps, creative decisions and intellectual offerings in a profound connection to legacy and power.

Hold your spot with your $50 deposit here:  

registration for the whole intensive is sliding scale $175-300.  (Installment payments available upon request.) Email brillianceremastered@gmail.com and let me know your goals for the course by July 23rd.

Nobody Mean More: Online Workshop for Writers/Artists/Scholars/Teachers Responding to Police Violence

june-168We are out in the streets.  We out of words to describe this.  We are walking in circles.  We are out of our minds. We are out of our bodies.  We are everywhere.  And we are nobody.  And it hurts.   This course is for those of us who are scholars, writers and artists who are figuring out our role in a moment characterized by (a need for) drastic change.  This one night workshop draws specifically on ways that June Jordan and Audre Lorde responded to police violence as poets, university teachers and public intellectuals.   We need the depth of their legacy right now as much as we ever have.

The class will draw on Sista Docta Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s chapter “Nobody Mean More: Black Feminist Pedagogy and Solidarity” in the book The Imperial University: Academic Repression and Scholarly Dissent (eds. Piya Chatterjee and Sunaina Maira.)

As she says in the chapter itself “This chapter is a meditation on what it means to be nobody in a university economy designed to produce somebody inviduated, assimilated and consenting to empire.  Is it possible to instead become nobody in the academic space? Is it possible to align with the illegible oppressed/contemporary subaltern, the falling apart abject nonsubject, inside a university English class?” (Participants in the course will get a pdf of the full chapter to refer to for the class.)

If you, like Audre Lorde and June Jordan, are a writer or teacher or a theorist or a thinker or an activist or a mother or all of these things at the same time, join us for a supportive space where we tap into the the power of black feminist legacy and empower each other (the nobodies that we are) to face this moment.

Sliding Scale Registration here.

FAQs

Who should take this course?

Anyone who identifies as an artist, writer, scholar or intellectual who wants to clarify their revolutionary role in this moment by learning about the approaches that black feminist ancestors June Jordan and Audre Lorde took.

How do I log-in to the course?

Log-in information will be sent to participants who have registered for the event on Eventbrite 6 hours before the event and 30 minutes before the event, through the Eventbrite platform. Please be sure to register before 6pm on the night of the event and please check the email address associated with your paypal or eventbrite account.   We will be using a technology called Zoom which is accessible from computers and phones.

What if I just want to read about this on my own?

Please read The Imperial University: Academic Repression and Scholarly Dissent which in addition to Sista Docta Lex’s chapter on June Jordan and Audre Lorde also includes chapters by many other activist scholars.

and i will

candle-546563_960_720Last night in honor of Michelle Cliff about 20 self-identified flamboyant writers gathered to honor her legacy by writing our love in fire.  We are taught by Michelle Cliff that the work of loving our people, embracing our divinely destined communities and audiences and writing the words that we need to burn through the systems of oppression that divide us is complex and necessary.   Through a series of activities inspired by Cliff’s essay “If I Could Write this in Fire, I Would Write this in Fire,” participants lit candles that brought our flamboyant loved ones (and the loved ones who make our flamboyance possible) into the virtual space and then we did the difficult work of mapping the distance between us and those we want most to embrace with our words.  We grappled with the depth of grief and love that our connection requires of us.  We used our own writing as a reflective surface to go deeper into the reasons behind the moments we shy away and the instances where we sometimes reproduce our separation in our own acts of articulation.  We stated our love as boldly as we could and then we found even deeper love under that.  I am so grateful to each of the participants and everyone who sent love and good thoughts for this gathering.  If you want another opportunity to learn from the legacy of Michelle Cliff, one of our newest, fiercest ancestors, consider signing up for this month’s 3-day intensive Free Enterprise: Towards a Sustainable Autonomous Writing Life.

For now, here is the group poem of commitment that we created in the flamboyant tradition of Michelle Cliff which burns through us.

 

and i will

 

a group poem by the participants in the Write this in Fire online workshop

 

“There is no end to this piece of writing. There is no way I can end it.”

  • Michelle Cliff in “If I Could Write This in Fire, I Would Write This in Fire.”

 

si pudiera escribir mi amor en el idioma de tu alma,

escribiría mi amor en el idioma de tu alma.

y lo hare

 

if i could dance this bass and rhythm in honor of pleasure and sensuality

i would dance this bass and rhythm in honor of pleasure and sensuality

then i will

 

if i could write this in a free and uninhibited, raunchy and elegant dance

i would write this is a free and uninhibited, raunchy and elegant dance

and i will

 

if i could write this in excessive glitter that will never be ignored

i would write this in excessive glitter that will never be ignored.

and i will

 

if i could write this is in the freedom of my body through swinging hips and thick thighs in “too bright”, “too tight” dresses

i would write this in the freedom of my body through swinging hips and thick thighs in “too bright”, “too tight” dresses

and i will

 

if i could write this in the erotic epiphanies that manifest in long walks at sunset when all the connective tissues of the universe become apparent

i would write this in the erotic epiphanies that manifest in long walks at sunset when all the connective tissues of the universe become apparent

and i will

 

if i could write this in free holistic integrative healthcare for all of us and everyone we love

i would write this in free holistic healthcare for all of us and everyone we love

and i will

 

if i could write forcefields of protection around the beautiful vulnerability

i would write forcefields around the beautiful vulnerability

and i will

 

if i could write this in the words you long to hear spoken

i would write this in the words you long to hear spoken

and i will

 

if i could write this in Sunday dinners that you don’t have to cook

i would write this in Sunday dinners that you don’t have to cook

and i will

 

if i could write this with the hope that i’m trying to untangle from the thorn bushes of indifference,

i would write this with the hope that i’m trying to entangle from the thorn bushes of indifference

and i will

 

if i could write this in skywriting on fire above 32 south flagg st, worcester ma

i would write this in skywriting on fire above 32 south flagg st, worcester ma

and i will

 

if i could write this in the last storm cloud you left on your bedroom floor

i would write this in the last storm cloud you left on your bedroom floor

and i will

 

if i could write this in water that envelops and holds

i would write this in water that envelops and holds

and I will

 

if i could write this in lovenotes that will reach you one day

i would write this in lovenotes that will reach you one day

and i will

 

if i could write rain into the parched places

i would write rain into the parched places

and i will

 

if i could write this into the broken places and by writing manifest something whole and abundant

i would write this into the broken places and by writing manifest something whole and abundant

and i will

 

if i could write this in oven-clay fingers,

i would write this in oven-clay fingers.

and i won’t — they are much too hot –

but i will sculpt you the poems that i owe our femme bodies, darling

i will pick your lilies

 

if i could write this into wretched tears and each drop be a new birth

i would write this into wretched tears

and each drop be a new birth

and i will

 

if i could write this in the scars and tender places on our souls, I would write this in the scars and tender places on our souls

and I will.

 

if i could write this in healing rosewater baths to soothe our wounds, so we can see each other and ourselves clearly

i would write this in healing rosewater baths to soothe our wounds so we can see each other and ourselves clearly

and i will

 

if i could write this in dirt for us to grow through

i would write this in dirt for us to grow through

and i will

 

if i could write this into the earth beneath our feet

the soil touching our soles

i would write this into the earth beneath our feet

and i will

 

if i could write this in liberation songs sung deep into the core of your bone marrow i would write this in liberation songs sung deep into the core of your bone marrow and i’m sent to

i’m damn sure sent to

 

if i could write this in the cells that are you and already know the magnificence of your being

i would write this in the cells that are you and already know the magnificence of your being

and I will

 

if i could write this onto your beating heart so you can see me in my entirety

i would write this onto your beating heart so you can see me in my entirety

and i will

 

if i could write liberation into every beating heart

a freedom that cannot be removed

that would be unnecessary

it’s already been done.

Free Enterprise: 3 Day Intensive Towards an Autonomous Sustainable Writing Life (After Michelle Cliff)

Free Enterprise: Towards an Autonomous Sustainable Writing Life (After Michelle Cliff)

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July 11, 12, 13th 12pm Eastern, 9am Pacific

The late  Jamaican black lesbian feminist genius Michelle Cliff wrote a historical novel about Mary Ellen Pleasant aka Mammy Pleasant, a freedom-fighting radical who collaborated with John Brown and also funneled escaping enslaved Africans through a hotel that serviced the richest white folks in San Francisco and who also disagreed and theorized across space and time with black and indigenous thinkers about what how black freedom could im/possibly exist in capitalism.

What does that have to do with you?

You are a writer from and accountable to oppressed communities still seeking freedom through black words  on the white paper and screens of an anti-black capitalist context.  This three day online intensive connects the freedom-seeking in Free Enterprise to our fugitivity in this moment and offers exercises, insights and technologies to go deep and emerge with tangible strategies and goals for your autonomous sustainable writing life.

Hold your spot with your $50 deposit here:  

registration for the whole intensive is sliding scale $150-300.  (Installment payments available upon request.) Email brillianceremastered@gmail.com and let me know your goals for the course by July 9th.

Write This In Fire: One Night Webinar (In Memory of Michelle Cliff)

CliffMichelleWrite This In Fire (In Memory of Michelle Cliff): Thursday June 30th 6:30pm EST

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/write-this-in-fire-tickets-26207353901

On June 12, 2016 on the same day as the Pulse massacre, we lost the genius, jamaican, black feminist lesbian author Michelle Cliff.  In honor of Michelle Cliff and her legacy and all of our unkillable queer of color flamboyance this one-night webinar is for writers who want their words to make the impossible possible, those of us who will not be content until the bodies of our readers answer the challenge of our words. Through exercises inspired by Michelle Cliff’s work and in honor of our loved ones at Pulse we will bring our words together in a cleansing, purifying, unforgettable flame.  In preparation (or to convince yourself it’s worth it) read Alexis’s 2009 essay on Michelle Cliff’s book If I Could Write This in Fire:  http://vc.bridgew.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1186&context=jiws

(what we know, don’t know, pretend to know, wish we knew and where): 125 Sites of Knowledges from Maroon Studies Session 2

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Last week Maroon Studies Session 2: Necessary as Water confronted what we know, what we cannot know, our desires around knowledge and how place and relationship transform the possibility of knowledge.  Jacqui Alexander and Chandra Mohanty in particular challenged us to produce alternative sites of knowledge and to knowledge how the knowledge we know gets made.  Here are 125 affirmations, desires, questions, places, and possible and impossible knowings we remembered, found and articulated together.

things I know

I know I am loved.

I know my ancestors are with me.

I know I am loved by my ancestors.

I know that I am loved and loving.

I know how my lover takes their coffee.

I know love.

I know that my name is a prayer that carries love.

I know loving on the land.

I know how I’m not supposed to love.

I know refusal.

I know that it was not always this way and that this too shall pass.

I know contradiction.

I know loss.

I know that plants are medicine.

I know swimming in water is good for my soul

I know that every living thing and being is connected.

I know my own little secrets.

I know the power of prayer

I know that dreaming holds me.

I know what I am here to be.

I know how to change a flat.

I know how to build a fire.

I know survival.

I know very little about most things and infinite amounts about a thing or two.

I know that somehow this is enough.

 

 

 things I don’t know

 

I don’t know my grandmother, my father’s mother.

I don’ t know the stories of my grandmothers.

I don’t know my great great grandmother’s story.

I don’t know pathways.

I don’t know survival.

I don’t know who in the hell set things up like this.

I don’t know what childbirth feels like.

I don’t know what giving birth will feel like.

I don’t know exodus.

I don’t know what happened to the journal I lost so long ago but still miss

I don’t know what of what we planted will grow, and what will just not.

I don’t know if the rain will come.

I don’t know how deep the deepest point of Seneca Lake is (even though Wikipedia says it is 618 feet).

I don’t know utopia.

I don’t know how to fly a plane.

I don’t know edges.

I don’t know what kind of spider bit me or why.

I don’t know how to talk back to harassers.

I don’t know what my face will do.

I don’t know what I can and cannot accomplish in any given day.

I don’t know when and how long.

I don’t know what day I will die.

Or the days that everyone I love will die either.

I don’t know how the story ends.

I don’t know how to make it right.

 

 

things I pretend to know

 

I pretend to know that the sun will keep rising, even though I am sometimes surprised.

I pretend to know my own enoughness.

I pretend to know who I am.

I pretend to know why I am pretending to know who I am.

I pretend to know why I am doing what I’m doing.

I pretend to know where I’m going.

I pretend to know directions in general.

I pretend to know how to handle difficult situations, right in the midst of them.

I pretend to know what’s wrong and how to fix it.

I pretend to know ethicality.

I pretend to know how to make choices that impact my children.

I pretend to know how to cook.

I pretend to know how to garden.

I pretend to know that I am hungry when it’s eating time.

I pretend to know the meaning of heart murmurs.

I pretend to know community.

I pretend to know people whose names I cannot remember.

I pretend to know what all the initials stand for.

I pretend to know militancy.

I pretend to know who my congress people are.

I pretend to know how to write academic papers.

I pretend to know how to act at an academic conference, and other approximations of upper-middle class professional environments.

I pretend to know survival.

I pretend to know loss.

I pretend to know why it hurts.

 

 

 

locations that challenge what I know

 

embodiment

my lower back

my left knee, which challenges what i think i know about healing

western medicine

my left big toe.  (people always step on it.)

places where i feel small, insignificant, unworthy, and un-belonging

boxes, corners, squares

my mother’s bed

1321 Highland Ave.

blackness

floors

colonial spaces

classrooms–sometimes more and sometimes less

meetings with my supervisor

courtrooms

queerness

my Beloved and our partnership, in more ways than i can count

the Rothko chapel

survival

the airport, which challenges what i know about human goodness, and the essential kindness and decency of humanity

Tel Aviv Airport

5 Edgegrove Street.

Anguilla BWI (emphasis on the BWI)

my altar

poetry

 

things I wish I knew

 

I wish I knew my Uncle Fred better, he’s hardly ever around.

I wish I knew how Malcolm felt approaching Mecca.  Do I?

I wish I knew that I would finish my dissertation.

I wish I knew that the decisions I am making now will be the best ones for my three children and myself.

I wish I knew how to grow tomatoes.

I wish I knew how to say no with more ease, less guilt, and with a forgiving heart

I wish I knew what it felt like to be deliberate and afraid of nothing.  Do I?

I wish I knew how to best be of service in any number of moments

I wish I knew the undercommons.

I wish I knew how to give without taking.

I wish I knew forgiveness.

I wish I knew how to unburden my mother.

I wish I knew survival.

Where does being a granddaughter go, when your grandparents leave this world?

I wish I knew the stories of my Indigenous grandmother and grandfather.

I wish I knew how to pray right.

I wish I knew how to access my dream knowing inside of my bone, and sinew

I wish I knew what my great great great great great grandmother felt like when she was dancing.  Maybe I do.

I wish I knew how to relax into sleep when it is time for these things.

I wish I knew that this too shall pass, that that possibility is a given.

I wish I knew mourning.

I wish I knew why lovely loss rises up in moments least expected.

I wish I knew love in exactly the moments I forget it.

I wish I knew how to make my love work in the world.

I wish I knew love.

Maybe I do.  Maybe I do.

******************

Now is the time to sign up for August’s Maroon Studies Session #3

Intensive #3: Blood, Water and Land August 10-12, 2015 (12pm to 2pm Eastern)

This webinar is for ride or die radicals who live to love the people. Drawing on the legacy of Sisters in Support of Sisters in South Africa, the solidarity journalism of Alexis DeVeaux, the blood ecologies of Jewelle Gomez and Audre Lorde and the salience of spit, saltwater and sangre, we will explore connections, contradictions and discursive possibilities across imperial divisions towards tangible outcomes.

8 spots are available. $175-225 sliding scale (payment plans available).

You can reserve your spot by offering a $50 non-refundable deposit here (please include the name of the webinar in the notes):

 

Prepositions: (On Our Relationships to Difference) by Maroon Studies Session 2

pedagogies-picLast week Brilliance Remastered convened the second session of Maroon Studies.  This session called  “Necessary as Water” after Audre Lorde’s poem “On My Way Out I Passed Over You and the Verrazano Bridge,” explored our contemporary challenges with relating across difference informed by transnational feminist critiques of knowledge production and black geographical frames.   We engaged work by Audre Lorde, Jacqui Alexander, Chandra Mohanty, Katherine McKittrick and Michelle Wright and shared generously and bravely from our own experiences.

On of the poems we created together is called “Prepositions.”  We started by describing what we were relating “across” in our community accountable intellectual and activist work and then we started to imagine additional relationships through alternate prepositions.  We found that holding one preposition “across” was difficult.  It felt stiff in our bodies.  We noticed that different prepositions rang differently with different nouns.  We created space for more clarity and questions about the nuances of our politics in relation, of relation, as relation.  We ultimately created an archive that we hope you will participate in.  Check it out!

Prepositions  (On Our Relationships to Difference) by the participants in Maroon Studies Session #2:  Necessary as Water

 

1. across what?

 

across time zones

across the digisphere

across partitions

across galaxies

 

across borders

across harm

across generations

across dispensations

 

across sounds

across town

across trades and talents

across life and death

 

across nations

across experiences

across what’s been forgotten

across what can’t be separated

 

across salt

across species

across the table

across her face

 

across the way

across the lake

across our adornments

across our bodies

 

across home

across poems

across circles

across domesticity

 

across children’s bodies

across our ancestors

across spirit

across forgiveness

 

2. or…  (other prepositional possibilities)

 

between

around

underneath

 

beside

with

against

 

about

in

inside of

of

 

under

behind

from

 

for

past

by

 

through

 

3.  (relate)

 

this is your opportunity to use the archive above to make your own poems

how does it feel if you replace “across” in poem one with another preposition from poem two?  Everytime? One time?  What prepositions and nouns resonate with your experiences of working across/through difference?

 

Eg.

through our ancestors

around our children

beside harm

of forgiveness…

Feel free to share your poems in the comment section!

Also if you would like to participate in the August Intensive of Maroon Studies you can sign up right here:

 

Intensive #3: Blood, Water and Land August 10-12, 2015 (12pm to 2pm Eastern)

This webinar is for ride or die radicals who live to love the people. Drawing on the legacy of Sisters in Support of Sisters in South Africa, the solidarity journalism of Alexis DeVeaux, the blood ecologies of Jewelle Gomez and Audre Lorde and the salience of spit, saltwater and sangre, we will explore connections, contradictions and discursive possibilities across imperial divisions towards tangible outcomes.

8 spots are available. $175-225 sliding scale (payment plans available).

You can reserve your spot by offering a $50 non-refundable deposit here (please include the name of the webinar in the notes):