mercredi, mars 29, 2006

Courage! Courage! Nous n'avons pas peur...

It's not that I don't have anything to say; it's just that I'm saying anything elsewhere. My purple, handcrafted-in-Port Townsend, WA-in-2001 journal (a gift from Jah Sr.), for example. I can't believe I used to post stuff here daily. But everything in it's right place (Erro and Osunlade version). Celebrate me for liking the sound of other folk's voices, the rhythm of stranger's speech, print not cursive, books, eagle/vulture assaulted baby goats dangling from far flung barbed wire, Drifter tanks and tees, Jak&Rae jeans, Kenny Loggins, Vesta, Sisters on the Sojourn, double dutch, pogo sticks, kickball, "Rise & Shine", volunteer aunties, second mothers, Kale Bone strips, Resurrections, Big Mack Daddys and BabyCakes.
"I’m not comfortable with categories, and I distrust most definitions. The word definition is based on the word finite, which would seem to indicate that once we’ve defined something, we don’t need to think about it anymore."
Artie Shaw

"Too many artists have ideas instead of intuitions. We could use more introverts."
Mark Stevens

"It is fascinating to me that we can make incredible art yet be awful people, that there can be such a canyon between what we create and who we are."
Sylvie Lewis

"Looking for your sound is like looking for your nose. It's right there on your face. You are born with your sound. However bad you sound, no one sounds like you."
William Parker

"One thing that life cannot do...It can't take your song from you "
Lizz Wright
"Everybody's pretty to me."
Sister Bisi
...avec de courage je suis courageux.

Flipside (clap for me mami), I'm trying to figure out what it is I have to say on a really basic level. What I have to say outside of banalties, trivialities, and jokes. What I have to say underneath respond/react. I think I'm gonna buy myself that All About Me book ('been known to gift it). The All About Us one is cool too but at present inappropriate. So I'm gonna get the book (or maybe this one) and get to know myself better. Ask myself some of the questions I ask of and listen for in other people and see what happens.

PS-I should call my blog sentence fragments. Ideally, I'd adhere to the laws of grammar but as Bernie Mac said, "When we break, we break!"

mardi, mars 28, 2006

Morning Sunrise

Image via LA B.O. DE MES JOURS
Six Tips for Happiness

Advice from Tal Ben-Shahar.

1. Give yourself permission to be human. When we accept emotions -- such as fear, sadness, or anxiety -- as natural, we are more likely to overcome them. Rejecting our emotions, positive or negative, leads to frustration and unhappiness.

2. Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable. When this is not feasible, make sure you have happiness boosters, moments throughout the week that provide you with both pleasure and meaning.

3. Keep in mind that happiness is mostly dependent on our state of mind, not on our status or the state of our bank account. Barring extreme circumstances, our level of well being is determined by what we choose to focus on (the full or the empty part of the glass) and by our interpretation of external events. For example, do we view failure as catastrophic, or do we see it as a learning opportunity?

4. Simplify! We are, generally, too busy, trying to squeeze in more and more activities into less and less time. Quantity influences quality, and we compromise on our happiness by trying to do too much.

5. Remember the mind-body connection. What we do -- or don't do -- with our bodies influences our mind. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits lead to both physical and mental health.

6. Express gratitude, whenever possible. We too often take our lives for granted. Learn to appreciate and savor the wonderful things in life, from people to food, from nature to a smile.

jeudi, mars 23, 2006

After Combahee...

Spelman women at the March For Women's Lives, April 25, 2004

The Toni Cade Bambara Collective
Location: Spelman College Cosby Center
350 Spelman Lane, Atlanta, GA
Friday, March 24, 7:00pm
Saturday, March 25, 7:00pm
Phone:(404) 270-5625

The 6th Annual Toni Cade Bambara Scholar-Activism Conference continues the legacy of African and African Women's activism at Spelman College. The conference will engage Spelman students and faculty, and members of the Atlanta community in panel presentations, discussion forums and interactive workshops that explore multiple forms and sites of activism including: writing, filmmaking, cultural/artistic expressions, popular education, and grassroots community organizing. There are no registration fees. Don't miss out on this wonderful event!! March 24-25, 2006.

Full Conference Schedule

mercredi, mars 22, 2006


I saw segments of the funeral (no thanks to shame/black-faced BET). I was disturbed by not only Bush (wolf) and for that matter Clinton (wolf in sheep's clothing) but the centrality of an oppressive white supremacist capitalist patriarchal power structure at the funeral of a woman whose life's work and interests ran contrary to it (They monopolized the time AND the space of the pulpit). I was disturbed that pimped out preacher Eddie Long (I say confidently: he is not in tune with spirit) steered the ship. I was disturbed by the spectacle of celebrity (i.e. the woman who harangued the audience for not giving Stevie Wonder a rousing enough applause by saying and I paraphrase: "Come on you can do better than that. Give another hand to Stevie Wonder.")

To learn, via Democracy Now, of Harry Belafonte's disinvitation hits me hard. It hurts. Is the social justice movement so corrupted, so detached from itself and its aims that it would prostrate itself before the demi-Gods that exploit them? Are we that starstruck by whiteness, by privilege, by power? Lowery's the reason that tarnished, troubled, disrespectful co-opted "memorial" was tolerable. And to hear this... To hear this! To hear that on the lower frequency, the boomerang upside my head frequency, the damned if you do f#cking frequency that they don't speak like me.

I know right now that I am silenced that I am silencing myself in punk fear. That my ethics and values run contrary to instutions, employers, colleagues, friends and because I don't want to be any further marginalized I self-censor but I cannot live with myself this way. I cannot live this way. I am not living this way. Forget fear. It's time to openly, honestly, loudly, live with integrity and that may mean that institutions, employers, colleagues, friends will shun me but I'll be damned if I, if we, shun ourselves.

I have been this close to losing myself, my breath, my orientation towards the world from all the fracas around me (that I privileged) that says you're too much, you're too little, you're too wrong, and I couldn't hear me over the cacaphony.

Right living does not promise anything: not tomorrow, a rainbow, or a pot of gold. I know this but ambition and ego, stubborn as they are, get in the way. I know that all that I can expect is peace of mind and that has to be sufficient.

And I honor Ms. Coretta, Sister Rosa, myself, my Mama, my Sister, this family, even my father, the ancestors: the generations of them that loved the idea of a free me, with my life.

lundi, mars 20, 2006


"Miror, Mirror", Carrie Mae Weems

Talkin' To The Mirror
by Kate Hymes

He better believe
he got his hands on
some damn body-
not just some body
used for his pleasure,
fuck then move on.

More to this body
than round, brown mounds
squeezed in the dark,
than hard nipples suckled,
than the creamy, juicy place
between its legs

In the morning this body
get itself up from
sex-stained sheets,
wakes the babies,
washes sleep encrusted faces,
wipes butt cracks,
changes pissy diapers,
cooks milk, honey, and cereal,
feeds new day hunger.
All this
before it even looks
in the mirror at

This body pushes
one baby in a stroller,
holds tight the fidgety
hand of the terrible two;
slung across the opposite
shoulder hangs
baby bag
book bag
lunch bag

Five minutes to board
the downtown bus and
no body offers to help.
No damn body.

From Cave Canem's 2001 Anthology

jeudi, mars 16, 2006

Not for Church Folks

"Never make someone a Priority who only makes you an Option!"
The above is forwarded advice from muh dear. Something to hold on to.

Hier soir was cool. Jack seems like an almost (but not counterfeit) Joi (they are both children of Mademoiselle Mabry and Millie J.), that is, a painfully self-aware Joi with limited vocal range. Joi is unrepentantly trashy; Jack seems to be in rehearsal. For what? I don't know. Something strong and counterculture. Joi is exo-culture (meow). The porn in the background of their set felt antiseptic, landed diffused. Jack flicked her scanty top turned dress but not very far. Jack's stuff was boy shorted and obscured. Her boots looks vintagey and designer. When I have seen Joi her stuff showed from the second her scuffed stripper heels assumed the stage. Jack seemed like she didn't want to go all the way with it even as she sang the opposite. But I liked her. I really liked them. They were enthusiatic, elastic, not yet disdainful of the people who may or may not have paid money to see them and not put 'em up and clap and smile and express anything other than indifference or gawk and yell and drool and spill beer and jump & funk like their lives depended on it. Jack moved well. She has a thing, a presence unlike some well-intentioned chanteuses. She told her story with that voice about which I haven't made up my mind. It's not great like Yummy or Teedra or Leela. It's just there. But I don't know if any other voice could live there and explore the same territory. Brook's beats were hot. "Private Parts" was the highlight. Lowlight, you ask? Summer ain't never lied.

Why isn't Joi a superstar? Why did damn near all of ATL and a little of Dallas (Badu) shamelessly jack her style? Where is Whyld Peach? Joi's intro and exit vamp been stuck in my head since the A train ride home last night (meow).

lundi, mars 13, 2006

The New Negress

If this show is half as good as the Sa-Ra show it will be worth the Thursday morning lethargy.

Not much else to report. I got a little overwhelmed this morning and it made me want to bid adieu to anxiety, again, once and for all. "Overjoyed" is the new negress national anthem. The motto. No more drowned world.

I encouraged an artist friend to attend a free introductory session of my women's writing workshop. She hustled her way there after work but reported back that is was blah which shocked me. Many friends, like me repeated registrants of the weekly workshop, love it but for her the short exercises didn't prompt the type of writing she wants to produce, slam poetry ("sha clack clack!"). When she told me this I thought you (not a prompt) create the type of writing you want but I didn't say anything. I started to explain how I rarely produce any conventional narratives in the class but stopped. The conversation reminded me of my writing: disjointed, percussive, and increasingly non-sensical. I relish that. I celebrate my developing perfection inhibitors. I write what comes with as little intervention as possible. It is, as our instructor says, about flow. I didn't enter the workshop seeking to develop a product; I was looking for an outlet/an energy and I found it in the space of a supportive sister circle. My friend, on the other hand, is looking to produce slam poetry. She is looking for an instructive means to a concrete end. Different strokes for different folks.

It's funny; I don't know why I am so aghast at her indifference towards what has proven a Godsend for me. I am very clear on how people/places/things can rub other things/places/people (friends even) different ways. I'm a poster child for people who dislike their friends friends. I never was one for cliques or crews though I rolled with my share. They are incredibly comforting (they buffer you from yourself and the maddening crowds) but weighty. They require false affinities. At least I think so. I like who I like and they don't have to like each other or be similar or have anything in fucking common with me or my loved ones. Matter of fact a major annoyance is people wanting to connect with me cause we have something or someone in common. Who the fuck cares! Friendship is about energetic connection not biographical symmetry. I am kind and open and polite but so not interested in knowing people 'cause we like the same band or are from the N.W. or used to live in Asia or have gaps between our teeths or round bellies or mothers from foreign and daddy's that sometime dislike us. It's wierd 'cause while I stick by my ethos I can see how it trips me up and my aversion for superficial connections makes me too averse to people, especially those who may like doing the things that I like to do which has me often feeling like I have great great friends but few, how does Friendster put it, "Activity Partners." Genius. "Activity Partner" is the best term created in the 00's. The best word of the 90's was "pyroerotic" coined by yours truly freshman year in the comforts of my A/C'ed dorm LLCI, Rm. 213 while surrounded by an amazing cast of characters I came of age with. A crew of the first order. An exception to the rule I just layed down in 8 point Arial. But that's then and this is now.

I'll pray for you and that's not incumbent on whether you pray for me but that would be nice.

jeudi, mars 09, 2006

Smoke & Rum

Ms. Wilson is back at it again. She has a new album, Thunderbird, dropping April 4, 2006. It is exquisite, novel, funky, and I'm not just saying this 'cause I'm an unabashed fangirl. I'm saying this cause the good folks at Blue Note got a Thunderbird Digital Player previewing the new release, in its entirety, linked to their site. Go (to Mexico)!

mardi, mars 07, 2006

"You know, the camera is not meant just to show misery."

Gordon Parks
November 30, 1912-Tuesday March 7, 2006

The Frederick Douglass Housing Projects, Anacostia, D.C., 1942

No Nose Job

Adrian Piper, The Mythic Being, I Embody Everything You Most Hate and Fear, 1975
There are really two faces of egotism. We typically think of an ego trip as being "its all about me, and look how good I am." But the preoccupation with "I'm not good enough" is just as much of an ego trip. Both are barriers to actually doing the work that we're here to do. It's not about you.

~Robert Gass, "A Conversation with Robert Gass & Nina Utne About Spiritual Activism", Utne Reader, Jan./Feb. 2006
This is not altogether new to me. I always felt my esteem issues were an expression of some seriously grand self posession but I'm not sure what to do with it. All I can see before me is a bruising bind with masochism on one end and egotism on the other.

I used to be good at telling folks "It's not about you," but I'm done. I'm tired of the drama. I just don't need conflict in my life. I don't think conflict is bad; I just don't have the energy for it. As much as I lambast insincerity, these days I feel incredibly insincere, but only in so much as I am exhausted. I shun lying but when people want what you ain't never had but still won't accept that as an answer what other option do you have? Sometimes I wish I was rude.

Like on the train Saturday and every other day when men's unsolicited stares stalk me across the platform and follow me onto the train obtrusively and offensively f#cking up my rotation. I've particularly had it with the 40+ set. Stalk someone your own age! I'm incredibly offput by men's obsession with young women. How come y'all aren't hollering at 40 and 50 year old women? Leave me be. Since we're being ageist I should call out the high school boys who harass me on the train. I've been grown for a minute and I'm therefore off limits to your snide sexual remarks and physical intimidation. And to the teeny brown boy on Hanson Place who exclaimed "Bring that milkshake to the yard." (I was gonna rework a Big L line right here but since my God-fearing family reads this I'll refrain and say this:) I feel sorry for your mother. (Self-censorship is a b*tch but it keeps your relations in tact.)

Annika Ström, I have no theory about this text, 2004

What really got me going today, other than the mundane banality of being holed up in my apt. for the third day in a row after six hours of vomitting, 2 hours of dry heaving, and a trip to the ER for what I now know is Gastroenteritis, was looking at pics of Black Hollywood sirens on Crunk & Disorderly and Concrete Loop. Not too long ago Court' and I were trying to determine the least common denominator for Hollywood's standard of black female beauty: small facial features or light complexion. Now we all know there won't never be a black female star that looks like Wesley, Tyrese, Taye, Don, Morris "jb hearts u more than words can express" Chestnut, and (insert any dark-skinned actor here) but I think complexion is necessary but not sufficient for Black Hollywood stardom. It's also requisite that one have what I'll call anti-bulbous features. The only starlet with a nose coded as "big" by Hollywood's standards is Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon. Help me out here if I'm wrong. It seems a brown-skinned girl, though no one nearly as Black as Wesley or Morris... can get it if her features aren't "big" whatever "big" means. So being a pop culture junkie, a big/bulbous-nosed black girl, incredibly sensitive, and easily affected, this conversation/fact hurts my head in the worst way. I told Court' the main reason I wouldn't get a nose job is cause I don't think people would recognize me. Who cares if I looked like a fucking million dollars if I didn't look like myself. So for now I don't think I'll go under the knife but I'm not ruling out Botox when the time, unforgiving as it is, comes.

lundi, mars 06, 2006

"You ain't knowin'"

"For those of you keeping score at home, I just want to make something very clear. Martin Scorsese, zero Oscars. Three 6 Mafia, one."
-Jon Stewart
When every African-American on the program feels the need to defend the nomination and the subsequent victory, something is palpaply wrong. Coonery, once again, was triumphant in Hollywood.

samedi, mars 04, 2006

Chappelle and (My) Cuzo

That's her on right in the striped tank.

vendredi, mars 03, 2006

Home to Harlem

B.L.A.C.K.- An Aboriginal Song of Hip Hop
by Grant Leigh Saunders

B.L.A.C.K. deconstructs contemporary issues of Aboriginal politics and culture. The empowering acronym, scribed by indigenous hip hop artist, William Jarret aka Wire MC, re-establishes the authentic B.L.A.C.K. voice in hip hop. (26 mins)

World Premiere, Saturday March 4, 2006, 12pm, Aaron Davis Hall