we disturbed a continent
-June Jordan "Who Look at Me"
Sunni Patterson, brilliant poet, mother and displaced New Orleans resident, is magical. Her powers of intention and resonance are undrownable and unstoppable. As a person who is still unjustly displaced from a New Orleans that she and her family helped to create which is now too expensive for her to live in...she wonders aloud in Jordan Flaherty's book Floodlines, about what the impact of the people of New Orleans, those deep determined make way out of no way folks stirring magic into food, street celebration, music and babies will mean, now that they are scattered all over these magic needing heavy and broken places where black folks keep reinventing life.
I am shocked at Sunni's ability to be optimistic in the face of her own outrage about being distanced from her home, but I also know the wisdom that she brings. Displaced New Orleans residents have long since brought insight and new forms of community and love sharing to my city. What a dangerous set of black people who dare believe in their own brilliance. What a necessary glass of water in the faces of those who think that we were never meant to survive.
Jacqui Alexander (cherished QBG mentor) writes about the scattering of the most crucial of energy across the planet, and what forms that scattering has taken in her book Pedagogies of Crossing. Anticipating the insight of Sunni Patterson and fellow travelers, Jacqui Alexander redefines the middle passage as something that goes far beyond the intentions of capitalism and the geometry of the genocidal and dehumanizing triangle trade. She asks us to consider the possibility that even as our ancestors lost everything, most of all each other, most of all the communities they loved and had helped to create, even in the most tragic moments, when the bodies of captured Africans were dumped overboard, or when people chose drowning for themselves or their children over the horror of slavery, even in the bleak face of what humans can do in the name of dehumanization and made up profiteering gods, even there, even then, Alexander asks us to imagine that an energy that cannot and does not die was in the process of surviving. Of putting itself everywhere. Everywhere. Everywhere. Even right here. Even in ever drop of water that has evaporated, every tree that breathes or breaks into paper. Can you even imagine what energy can do? That which cannot be destroyed but only transformed and transforming and present? Can we even imagine that?
Lucille Clifton could...
Even Octavia Butler, QBG trickster of the first and troublesome degree predicts in her Parable Series (spoiler alert) that Earthseed the beautiful aligned, small organically farming, collective, acorn tree fabulous community that Lauren Olamina helps to create is not the form through which humanity finally evolves, survives and thrives. In Parable of the Talents the approach must change drastically with believers in the radical vision of taking to the stars scattering everywhere building the belief that they themselves are possible.
This must be what we are doing we QBG's scattered everywhere, often feeling so out of context and alone. This must be why we are embedded in the face of this and every beast instead of all living in a QBG highrise with a spiral wrap around porch.
And I hold onto this when I find myself ready to whine the fact that so many QBG's I love and live with and for, so many of the folks I feel really best understand and reflect my walk in this life are scattered all over the world. How can you do me the injustice of living outside the range of my walking feet? Why don't you all just move to Durham already!?
I remember that we are not scarce. We are infinite. We are everywhere and now more and more we are aware of the ways we are interconnected. We can see the bright and tiny constellation of our love. What world is possible with these quirky black girls all over everywhere inside and outside of every kind of institution and neighborhood. What world is possible with these brazen bastions of shocking light open and knowing about each other and affirming our complicated and interlocking existence?
I love you for being yourself where you are. For doing your work. For shining so bright that I see you. I see you from here.
Write a note and let us know what you are up to..
And I know that June Jordan was writing from the future looking back on the way that we won a world beyond our dreams when she wrote...in a children books of all appropriate places, the truth:
"new energies of darkness
we disturbed a continent