mardi, avril 25, 2006

So Seductive

"The need to be perfect is driven by a white supremacist society that obscures its own pathology."

-From Michael Eric Dyson's "Rethinking Black Identity" lecture at Boston College on January 31, 2005.
Dyson* deconstructs the hip hop binary (positive hip hop vs. negative hip hop) and waxes eloquently as expected. I am constantly amazed by this man's intellectual breadth and linguistic facility. I took issue with the title* of one of his earlier books, Why I Love Black Women because it suggests, No!, rather it asserts that one must have a reason for loving black women and that those reasons, not being explicit, must be conveyed to the not yet weaned but contemptuous multiculti masses. Or to quote Dyson out of context from this lecture:

“Even the choice of metaphor in the broader network of race in America belies certain prejudice.”

I'm certain of his benign intent but nevertheless the title has and continues to irk me. Nevertheless, I'm grateful to have stumbled upon this lecture. Boston College has streaming video and audio up. I strongly recommend it.

And another choice MED quote :
"Cam'ron's flow is ridiculous on Purple Haze."
*Dyson reminds me of Kanye or vice versa in this lecture. It has something to do with transcending self-consciousness and/or a fondness for unexpectedly breaking out in rhyme.
** I did not read the book and have no commentary on its content. My issue was with the title and the message it communicated albeit unintentionally.

dimanche, avril 23, 2006

After "Mother, May InI?"

"I resolve not to run on hatred but, instead, to use what I love, words, for the sake of the people that I love."

-June Jordan (amended from past to present tense in more ways than one), Civil Wars
Research (for me) is not more than a fishing expedition. I cast a line and wait. I don't throw anything back. I leave not satiated but not so hungry. Water-logged. It's more like rassling obscured possibility. My aims change. I don't find fish*, and if that is what I thought I wanted, I failed only in self-conception. Again, I don't throw anything back.
"My life seems to be an increasing revelation of the intimate faces of universal struggle. You begin with your family and the kids on your block and next you open your eyes to what you call your people and that leads into land reform into Black english into Angola leads you back into your own bed where you lie by yourself wondering if you deserve to be peaceful or trusted or desired or left to the freedom of your own unfaltering heart. And the scale shrinks to the size of a skull: your own interior cage.

And then if you're lucky..."

JJ finished that thought but it seems a little premature of me to cite, chirp, claim as mine own. Anyway "Back to the grill again!" (As much Serch as "Cooking Session" Blakey) I got work to do.

*"I'm still standing; I'm still strong!"

vendredi, avril 21, 2006

Coffey is the Color

Eddie Steeples (The Rubber Band Man /Joy's hubbie on My Name is Earl) and date at the Hollywood Premiere of Akeelah and the Bee (via Concrete Loop)

This picture is notable for two reasons:

1: It's so unHollywood. My summer in L.A. included plenty of Westwood premieres and you just DON'T see black couples, and certainly not a brown chick with natural hair.

2: They are TOO cute!

jeudi, avril 20, 2006

...It's Me, Margaret

Frank Jude, Jr., Post PoPo Pummeling
"Did Jim Crow die in the sixties or did he move to Milwaukee."
-Father John Celichowski, pastor of St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church in reponse to the not guilty verdict in the Jude, Jr. case.
I know I'm late. I don't know why I'm astounded. This type of egregious misconduct/racially motivated criminal behavior by law enforcement is far too common. On a completely unrelated laughing-to-keep-from-crying note listening to Doris Jude Porter's-the inspired organizer of the Justice for Jude, Justice For All campaign--audible linguistic ineptitude was pretty funny. You've really got to listen to her on Democracy Now! And I say this as a proud malapropper. (So that last word can not be found in the OED. Which reminds me: I've been wondering why intentionally defying linguistic laws is different than stumbling through them and how a listener or reader makes that distinction esp. in light of Safire's essay in last week's NYT magazine. This whole notion of intent buffering/thwarting impact has got me thinking about hipster irony again given that social location seems to wholly inform assumptions of intent.)

lundi, avril 17, 2006


My chest's is on fire and has been since last night. It's a peptic ucler, a side effect of long term ingestion of large doses of Ibuprofen, 800 milligrams every 5 hours, for three days every menstrual period since, now that I think about it, I don't know. I can't remember when I started my period probably because I thought it was something to keep under wraps. I know that I didn't tell L'Erin until a few years in at which point I realized she too had started a period too but hadn't felt comfortable sharing. We were in her mama's van going south on I-5. We were beneath an underpass downtown; I remember that because it was an AHA moment for sure. A lesson in the futility of shame and secrets. I know that in a lot of folks eyes I started my period early. In fact, with C-cups in the 7th grade I was supposedly an early developer. Apparently, boobies and periods in late adolescence was/is odd. Apparently, I should have been skinny and flat chested (not that there is anything wrong with that). I guess I would fit the prevailing black girl body narrative (we're thick from drinking HGH milk and eating HGH beef and other unhealthy foods supposedly popular in black and poor communities). But wait my parents were progressive health nuts. They both played competitive sports on an international level in their youths and then engaged in vigorous athletic activity throughout our formative years and they forced us to do the same hence my stints with Basketball, Volleyball, Crew, Soccer and tenure at Ewajo dance studio. They both fed us organic foods. I been drinking soy milk since way before Silk. We shopped at the PCC in Ravenna. Then it wasn't a fashion statement. The Co-op's staff were grown folk with families and responsibilities and ascribed to philosophies of healthy living. My mother knew their names. They knew hers. Which is to say that a body that's not white girl thin (not all white girls are skinny but y'all know what I mean) is not the result of over indulgence and disregard for health and regardless I resent a lot of the talk about black girls bodies being too big or too voluptuous and somehow abnormal. I resent how society's perversions have indicted and ostracized our bodies. I resent that relative emaciation is understood as normal. I resent how thickness, if appreciated, is sexualized. I thought I was digressing but I'm not. This pain in my chest is another marker of the war I am waging with my body, the war a culture has waged on black girls bodies. Most folk that know me know that I'm a long time aspiring anorexic. My greed has inhibited my success. I think about food a lot whether I'm consuming it or not. I admire Mary Kate and other skinny white girls (I know eating disorders are no respecters of race so don't leave me no comments stating this fact) for their unfailing discipline. It's hard to abstain from food. A dear friend who's going through the fire told me how she hasn't been able to eat and lost 7 pound last week. I was jealous. It was an irrational response. I can't say that I envy her pain but 7 pounds! Damn, I think I could stand a little heartache for more svelte physique. And I am not trying to diminish her pain but communicate my stilted state of mind. I'm stressed about the summer. I would love to be 20 lbs lighter by its onset. It's an annual ritual. I achieved it in 2004 'cause I was still working part time and so I had plenty of time to hit up NYSC and in 2002 when I living a leisurely life in body conscious L.A. but my schedule is really tight now. I can't devote myself fully to that aim and it's difficult to accept.

The pain in my chest makes me feel that my body is working against me. Why the pain every month (and don't say Eve in the comments) shooting up and down my legs and back incapacitating me without the IB and sometimes even with. I've taken BC not to mention other anti-inflammatories. None work. IB's the best I got for now and even if the cramping subsides the peptic ulcer rears its head. I'm not sure what to do about it right now. I disdain doctors 'cause they disdain me. They don't listen. They appease me with BS treatments that they know won't work. They rush me out of their offices. They treat me like I'm stupid (i.e. I told a Dr. I was concerned about a mole I had-I have a lot and I have had pre-cancerous moles removed before-and this bitch just showed me her moles and said "I have them too. They're not dangerous" and refused to refer me to a dermatologist) They don't care and I'm sure there are ones that do but they don't accept my insurance and I won't revert to my mama paying for my healthcare 'cause I'm grown. I pay my own bills, which, BTW, is so overrated. I'm rambling..

I was in my other mothers office when this fire started 5 years ago. I slumped to the floor. I don't recall much of what happened after (I do remember what I was wearing: a Versace Sport fleece, Katayone Adeli top procured from Saks a few days earlier, DKNY low rise pencil leg stretch jeans and sleek DKNY leather moccasin/boots, a silver pendant of the Chinese character for love on a silver chain, some silver/marcasite drop earrings, a black Vestal watch and a bunch of silver charm bracelets) except I didn't move for a few hours and kept my hand to my heart. I'd never experienced heart burn or any ulcer like pain so I was a little shook. It was years before I connected it to the IB. But that revelation hasn't seemed to matter much. It's still the only thing that brings me up the three days a month that I would otherwise be down. I gulp cold water to tend to the fire, breathe deep, fast and pray.

dimanche, avril 16, 2006

Light a Fire & Pee it Out

It's a nickel plated road dusted with gun powder so we don't crackle with expectation. Each spark promises a fire next time and after that. Depressants help us deal until the water runs high and higher still. Then we slip 'n' slide down trash bags writhing in a spilt reservoir of would shed tears.

vendredi, avril 14, 2006

Let the Dollar Circulate!

Synthia Saint James, "Angel of Love"
Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it
I know they're wrong, wait and see.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Who said that every wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that
And someone believed it,
And look what it's done so far.
What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing?
And what do we think we might see?
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

All of us under its spell,
We know that it's probably magic....

Have you been half asleep
And have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same.
I've heard it too many times to ignore it.
Is it something that I'm supposed to be?
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.
The lovers, the dreamers, and you!

~Kenny Ascher & Paul Williams
My mama didn't send me to Lakeside* for nothin'.

*Where I sang this song in middle school chorus. Can't remember if it was Byrdwell or Johanson.

mardi, avril 11, 2006

Earth Girls Are Easy

Last night a loc'ed, Brown, Sarah Lawrence undergrad, huffed some B.S. to the incredible "Executive Decisions: 30 Years of Powerful Women in Hip Hop" panelists 'bout going back to hip hop's "golden days" and equated this regression with "womanist" values. While futura Negroes like Andre, Kanye, Pharrell, and Sa-Ra talking 'bout spaceships silly incense burning baby negresses talkin' bout backward time travel. I can't say I'm surprised. As a vegetarian, environmentalist, and Black feminist who camps, globe trots and has a hemp bag or two --I got rid of the Mephisto's when I found out the homies was calling them "J*lyl*h's Jesus sandals" behind my back but I might get a new turquoise pair this year though-- I wear a press with pride just to differentiate myself with carbon copy chicks like last night's earth girl. No wonder so-called conscious rappers have renounced these women and their back-packed stick-chewing bred'ren.

I'm sick of self-righteous, nappy headed, broads sporting ill-fitting identities pilfered from Alice Walker, India Arie and other notable Black bohos. I'm sick of the bullsh#t cascading down from their black soap boxes. I'm sick of their castigation of the mainstream as they traverse its tributary in a school of undifferentiated fish.

Rhetoric about exceptional Black difference reifies simple stereotypes of Black homogeneity, of unchanging same, of primitive folk authenticity, of chicken grease stained bibs, and collard green regularity. I respect the process. I understand that many folk try on a host of identities before they become comfortable in their own skin. I understand that finding a home in your fleshy frame requires a personal acknowledgment of your exceptionality, that of the burgundy highlighted Baby Phat spokesmodel strolling through Fulton mall, and the stiletto'ed corporate exec. yoked to her blackberry. You are no better or no worse. You are no more f*cking profound or insightful. All this is to say that you (anonymous black boho) are presently extraordinary and pure potential like every other being on the planet. By towing the afro beat party line you not only annoy the hell out of me but you inhibit your own spectacular Blackness and undermine your own hallowed humanity.

*Respect to curator/producer Jason King. Honestly the best Women in Hip Hop panel I've attended (and I have attended a lot).

jeudi, avril 06, 2006

Scars for Freedom

I'm not on top of this story but Lynne is and so are the folk running Justice 4 Two Sisters. A while back Courtney asserted that rape should be recognized and tried as a hate crime. She ain't never lied.

For information and activist resources on violence against Women of Color visit INCITE!

mardi, avril 04, 2006

Bruin Ruin

I was with the Gators from jump. Last night's tip off, really. I haven't watched a college b-ball game since The Kingdome, '95. The Final Four was in the hometown. Me and my sis' didn't have tickets for the big dance but we checked out an open practice with what seemed like the whole of Seattle. But last night I ate dinner, a mesclun salad, while watching The New Adventures of Old Christine 'cause I like Julia Louis-Dreyfus even though her sitcom's laugh track works my nerves. Too tired to get up and shower and go to bed, I ended up catching the start of the championship game. The Gator's energy, execution and general handsomeness kept me tuned in. Brewer's the truth and has a spectacular smile. Don't remember too much about Horsford's game but he's quite the hottie and Noah, too, in a high school sort of way. They were a fun team to watch. The post-game show, of little interest to me, crept up on me while I stabbed at my laptops broke down keyboard. Assembled behind coach Billy Donovan stood the 19& 20 year old victors exceedingly crunk up on it. One of CBS's old white color commentators asked how they were feeling. Noah said something about not doing HW for the next 2-3 weeks. And then a voice rang out in the revelry,
"American wanna see us live not work!"