Monday, November 28, 2011

Some Thoughts on Jay-Z and Those “Occupy All Streets” T-Shirts


Sent to you by moya via Google Reader:


via The Crunk Feminist Collective by Reninaj on 11/28/11

Sometimes, for the life of me, I cannot figure out why we expect rappers to be invested in social justice. Rapping is a job.

This is not to say that they can't be. I only ask why we expect them to be.

When Kanye showed up at OWS NYC, I thought this is interesting.

The US has an interesting history of Black celebrities using their voice to advance causes on the behalf of those who have less social power than they do.

Think Muhammed Ali.

Think Sidney Poitier y Harry Belafonte.

Think Lena Horne.

There are countless others.

There were also several other folks as well who are not necessarily Black. John Lennon and Yoko Ono come to mind.

The process by which a person becomes politicized, and by that I mean becomes willing to read, think and take action to change some janky shit (on an individual or a systemic level) varies from person to person.

It may come from participating in an event at your school and realizing that if you become organized you can change things.

It may come from registering folks to vote in your neighborhood and realizing that if you become organized you can change things.

It may come from working with a youth advocacy organization and learning that if you work together you can prevent the city from implementing a 17 and under 10pm weekday curfew and building a half a million dollar youth detainment center for those who were caught outside past curfew. That would be mine. We did this in 'Frisco.

I do understand that given the history of rap music that there has always been a variety of voices, some progressive (PE, early mid career Ice Cube), some partying and misogyny (Too Short) some fun (LONS, Digital Underground) some darkness (Geto Boys). The point is that not only was their variety in content, but because it was largely marginalized music, remember MTV had to be convinced to play Rap videos, it existed on some pop stations and largely on college radio and mom and pop outlets.

My point is that I don't romanticize rap music as some glorious do-right genre.

However, I do think that there is something particularly important about the fact that these t-shirts even exist (or existed).

When I saw the shirts, I thought of the contradiction.

With Jay-Z, here is a man, who embodies a rags to riches story, in possibly the most American sense possible. One of the richest Black men in this country. Low income kid from the hood who did good. We are similar in that way. Why is one of the richest Black men in the country making money off of a movement based on people taking action because many of them are not eating. The hood is not eating. Apparently neither are the suburbs.

For examples of people missing meals see:





In some ways those Occupy All Street T-Shirts reminds me of how capitalism, in its very DNA, will try and squeeze profit out of everything it comes into contact with, even if it is blood from a rock.

You know how Ross has Maybach Music? When I saw those t-shirts, I thought of Watch the Throne (Jay Z's and Kanye's new album) as 1% music. How could it not be?

All of these thoughts leave me with a few questions.

What do we stand to gain if we stop looking at rappers as "activists"?

Why do we even do that in the first place?


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?uestlove was Wrong — Kinda


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via Black Youth Project by Summer M. on 11/28/11

Last week, The (Legendary) Roots crew, ?uestlove in particular, got into a bit of trouble for choosing to play Fishbone's song, "Lyin' Ass Bitch" as the walk-on music for Republican presidential candidate, Michele Bachmann during her appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Brother ?uestion was wrong. But I understand. It was totally impolite. [...]


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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

CeCe is a creative and energetic person who, before her life was so unjustly interrupted, was studying fashion at MCTC. She had a stable home where she lived with and helped support four other African American youth, her family. CeCe's family describes her as a leader, a role model, and a loyal friend. She is known as a wise, out-spoken, and welcoming person, with a cheerful disposition and a history of handling prejudice with amazing grace. <a title="PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS! Read about CeCe in her own words here.

Around 12:30 am on June 5, CeCe and four of her friends (all of them black) were on their way to Cub Foods to get some food. As they walked past the Schooner Tavern in South Minneapolis, a man and two women (all of them white) began to yell epithets at them. They called CeCe and her friends 'faggots,' 'niggers,' and 'chicks with dicks,' and suggested that CeCe was 'dressed as a woman' in order to 'rape' Dean Schmitz, one of the attackers.

As they were shouting, one of the women smashed her drink into the side of CeCe's face, slicing her cheek open, lacerating her salivary gland, and stinging her eyes with liquor. A fight ensued, with more people joining in. What happened during the fight is unclear, but within a few minutes Dean Schmitz had been fatally stabbed.

CeCe was later arrested, and is now falsely accused of murder

For a month, CeCe was kept in solitary confinement "for her own protection"; she had no say in this matter. Finally, she was transferred to a psychiatric unit in the Public Safety Facility. It was nearly two months before she was taken back to a doctor to check up on the wound on her face, which by then had turned into a painful, golf ball-sized lump. CeCe has since been bailed out of jail on conditional release.

Later on, CeCe's friends were harassed on the street by people they recognized from the scene of the fight. Individuals circled the block that CeCe's friends were walking on and called them 'niggers' and 'faggots' and told them to 'go back to Africa.' When they attempted to wave down a passing squad car for assistance, the officer driving the car said he would not help them.

Help us fight for CeCe, and for an end to racist, transphobic violence in our communities! Visit our What You Can Do page and find out how to get involved.

Monday, November 21, 2011



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via Black Youth Project by Summer M. on 11/21/11

When I was a kid, after every Thanksgiving dinner my dad would go around the table and have each kid say what we were thankful for. It was an excruciating process–and nothing like the scene from The Cosby Show. Since my siblings were younger and cuter they came off a lot less abrasive than a [...]


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Conflict is forever: Can we change attitudes about diamonds?


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via The Crunk Feminist Collective by eeshap on 11/21/11

It's holiday season.  Often, this time of year, people feel romantic. Consequently, engagements and gifts of jewelry abound. Having many people in my life become engaged and married of late, I've been thinking a lot about all the bling that goes along with these endeavors.

Specifically, I've been thinking about diamonds. Why, you ask? Well, because as I see more and more friends and family become engaged I have been seeing more and more diamonds. To be clear, I have not become pre-occupied with the idea of engagements and rings, but with the desire for diamonds in particular. I've been trying to  understand just what it is that makes them so desirable, given that we all know, on some level, that the market demand for these stones fuels violent conflict, war and suffering in many places of the world. That is the connection that I aim to tease out.

A caveat: I have many friends and family members who own diamonds and covet them. In fact, I, too, find them quite beautiful, as a self-professed lover of shiny, beautiful baubles. I possess one pair of diamond earrings that belonged to my Nani (grandmother) in India and were given to me by mother after Nani passed. I love those earrings, and wear them rarely, with a mixture of both sorrow and joy. When I see diamond rings, earrings and necklaces on others, I admire their beauty. Increasingly, though, I find it very hard to un-remember the social ramifications of our cultural desire to give/own/receive diamonds as declarations of love and affection. Especially, when I think of the wars that these beautiful objects make us complicit in.

In specific regard to engagements: others have argued about whether or not they are an outmoded social custom. Quite honestly, I believe in living and letting live on this issue. I'm not here to be the crunk feminist betrothal police. I certainly, have my own opinion about engagements (I'm down) and weddings (it's complicated) and the relation of all these things to romantic love (perhaps a forthcoming blog-post?).

A smidgen of history: The "tradition" of the diamond engagement ring is actually rather new. The first known diamond engagement ring was commissioned for Mary of Burgundy by the Archduke Maximilian of Austria in 1477. Then, in the late 19th century, mines were discovered in South Africa, driving down the price of diamonds. After which, Americans regularly began to give (or receive) diamond engagement rings. Before this moment, some women got thimbles instead of rings to signal their betrothal.

Now here's the clincher (from a great piece by Meghan O'Rourke in Slate):

"Even then, the real blingfest didn't get going until the 1930s, when—dim the lights, strike up the violins, and cue entrance—the De Beers diamond company decided it was time to take action against the American public.

In 1919, De Beers experienced a drop in diamond sales that lasted for two decades. So in the 1930s it turned to the firm N.W. Ayer to devise a national advertising campaign—still relatively rare at the time—to promote its diamonds. Ayer convinced Hollywood actresses to wear diamond rings in public, and, according to Edward Jay Epstein in The Rise and Fall of the Diamond, encouraged fashion designers to discuss the new "trend" toward diamond rings. Between 1938 and 1941, diamond sales went up 55 percent. By 1945 an average bride, one source reported, wore "a brilliant diamond engagement ring and a wedding ring to match in design." The capstone to it all came in 1947, when Frances Gerety—a female copywriter, who, as it happened, never married—wrote the line "A Diamond Is Forever." The company blazoned it over the image of happy young newlyweds on their honeymoon. The sale of diamond engagement rings continued to rise in the 1950s, and the marriage between romance and commerce that would characterize the American wedding for the next half-century was cemented. By 1965, 80 percent of American women had diamond engagement rings."

[For an interesting demonstration of cultural production, please see the DeBeer's Website for their version of the history of the engagement ring.]

So, in light of all this, let's return to the central question: what exactly is a conflict diamond?

From the UN:

"Conflict diamonds are diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council."

According to the NGO, Global Witness, conflict diamonds have funded brutal conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and Côte d'Ivoire. These conflicts have resulted in the death and displacement of millions of people. Diamonds have also been used by terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda to finance their activities and for money-laundering purposes.

Brought into the mainstream by the film Blood Diamond, which featured Hollywood heavyweights like Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou and Jennifer Connelly, there has been some attention drawn to conflict diamonds and the long standing movement to curb and eliminate their production.

In 1998, Global Witness (which was co-nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for this work) launched a campaign to expose the role of diamonds in funding conflict, as part of broader research into the link between natural resources and conflict. In response to growing international pressure from such NGOs, the major diamond trading and producing countries, representatives of the diamond industry, and NGOs met in Kimberley, South Africa to determine how to tackle the blood diamond problem. The meeting, hosted by the South African government, was the start of a complicated and fraught three-year negotiating process, which culminated in the establishment of an international diamond certification scheme. The Kimberley Process was launched in 2003, and endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Security Council. According to NGO's like Global Witness, who are monitoring and evaluating the Kimberly Process it's clear that diamonds are still fueling violence and human rights abuses. Although the Process makes it more difficult for diamonds from rebel-held areas to reach international markets, there are still significant weaknesses in the scheme that undermine its effectiveness and allow the trade in blood diamonds to continue.

Knowing this, here's why I decided to research and write this post: we can actually stop this. Diamonds are not food. Diamonds are not required for survival. A change in cultural attitudes can actually stop these conflicts. It can stop the violence in communities where these diamonds are found. If the desire for diamonds were to vanish, these conflicts would lose exactly what fuels them.

I don't write this post to make people with diamonds on their fingers feel bad. I shop for bargain goods that I know are made in sweatshops. When I purchase produce, I know that it was grown and picked by laborers whose rights are violated. I try to make ethical choices, all while knowing that I am complicit in a world economy that is rooted in human rights violations.

This is the beautiful thing about symbols, they can be changed. They have only as much power as we give them. We can actually stop much, if not all, of the violence that is a result of the demand for diamonds. They way that our cultural attitudes about buying fur have changed within a generation, so can our cultural attitudes about diamonds, I propose. It's not really going to be easy, they are a beautiful and powerful symbol of wealth and status. Increasingly, I hear many politically conscious people say they want a "vintage" diamond. This is clearly an effort towards detangling oneself from the trade of conflict diamonds. My point here, though, is about the cultural cache of diamonds. While purchasing a vintage one might not support the blood diamond industry directly, it certainly does nothing to challenge the value that diamonds have in our society.

All that being said, I think we can indeed move the needle.

"Diamonds are forever" it is often said. But lives are not. We must spare people the ordeal of war, mutilations and death for the sake of conflict diamonds."Martin Chungong Ayafor, Chairman of the Sierra Leone Panel of Experts

However, eventually, I think we can change the way we think about diamonds. If we know more, and if we are challenged to face the truth about the havoc they wreak, we might make different choices. We might not choose diamonds after all. They have nothing to do with love, as it turns out.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

whirlwind for the warrior healers

to the warrior healers organizing trust

notes from post-tornado Durham

with Audre Lorde in transition

after Gwendolyn Brooks

“You have enabled yourself to prove of incalculable aid to many, many women—not just today’s women, but women down the ages...I am have been and always will be proud of you.”

Gwendolyn Brooks to Audre Lorde

“This is the urgency: Live!

and have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind.”

-Gwendolyn Brooks “Second Sermon on the Warpland


brook open stream woke

this is how we conduct our blooming

brash and gentle at kitchen tables

falling apart

on living room floors

noise and whip and head turned around

did you just say…

something scattered here

(our several dreams)

played into particles

stepped and stepped over it

trip and trip over

trip over



something flew apart

arrival is in the instant of yes

glitter your hands with the grace of grief

knot your hair with knowing

never meant to hold money

never meant to braid it into noose

never knew another way was



warrior healer be we

who know

how to go there

and when

warrior healer be we

who wont be who we are

until we are

warrior healer be

we who don’t know what

to say

until we say

who speak

when voice shake

better be


say this

warrior healer be


just be

warrior healer be


salvation salvaged

medication defined

stylized splendor

for Bessie and we


warrior poet be watching

smiling sometime


warrior mother poet be

looking down

picking up




Wednesday, November 16, 2011

'Indigo Was the Folks': Afterschool Brilliance

"There wasn't enough for Indigo in the world she'd been born to, so she made up what she needed. What she thought the black people needed.

Access to the moon.
The power to heal.
Daily visits with the spirits."

-Ntozake Shange on little sister Indigo in her first novel Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo

We are in my car with the top down dodging the falling leaves when Assata drops knowledge on the subject of grades, a new clarity gained during this first term of 6th grade: "Grades are bullying the alphabet." The girls find out that their hands can bend in ways they never knew. They read outloud parts of the books they are reading. They punch each other very lightly at the sight of a volkswagen bug. And this is just the car ride.

The Indigo Afterschool Program was an idea that 11 year old Alex Lockhart shared with her mother, using the words: "I want to go to an afterschool program at Alexis's house." Inspired by Ntozake Shange's character "Indigo" from her first novel Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo, the Indigo Afterschool TeaParty is a place to share dreams, make art, blow bubbles and investigate Indigo's practices of healing, self-love, dream interpretation, doll-making, compassion and full self-expression! Girls from 3 Durham middle schools participate!

We check in over tea and snacks letting a deep breath out at the end of our check-ins by blowing a real or imaginary bubble. We make dolls that listen, healing remedies for emotional emergencies, books for our dreams, collages for our visions, love notes for each other in the name of Indigo who used all these things to create the world she needed when she was right in the arena of the menstrual transformation.

It is an honor to participate in the building of community and sisterhood among these brilliant young women, and as the Crunk Feminist Collective reminded us with their development of a women's studies 101 workshop for high school students (
the intentional support and nourishment of the love, transformation and brilliance that is already living and growing and possible in young people can never start to early.

Indigo Afterschool uses the model of Indigo...just one of many audacious, inventive, complex, community accountable and wise young Black characters created by Black feminist writers to give young folks a chance to love each other and explore their own magical skills, a space to critique the norms they are noticing at school, and a validation of the practices of breathing, creating and listening.

As people around the country reclaim space in their communities to activate their visions I am proud that the space that these 11 year olds (who have just proposed an expansion of the program to bi-weekly sessions) have decided to takeover my living room with their dreams.

(Here is what Alex left on the chalkboard)

Indigo Style Remedies:

Yesterday we read some of Indigo's remedies that she creates after difficult experience and share with her community of dolls so that her growth can also benefit them. Oh Indigo!!!

Rock in the manner of a quiet sea. Hum softly from your heart. Repeat the victim’s name with love. Offer a brew of red sunflower to cleanse the victims blood and spirit. Fasting & silence for a time refurbish the victim’s awareness of her capacity to nourish & heal herself.
-from "Emergency Care For Wounds That Cannot Be Seen" in Ntozake Shange's Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo

The Indigo After School crew also wrote their own remedies yesterday (they also wrote a healing recipe for popcorn, getting past writers block and "boredness").

Here is some of their advice...that I recommend keeping on hand or enacting right now for your own healing:

Emergency Care for the "the funk"
by Bailey
(i.e. like on Glee, when they were in a funk because they were afraid their singing group wasn't good enough)

Surround oneself with loved ones, then go on top of a tall object and scream to hearts content all of ones deepest feelings. If this does not work, go in private room and listen to songs that mention only of happy things, then write down all of ones problems and think of a way to turn them around.

Emergency for Sadness
by Assata

1. go to the bathroom and turn on hot water. let it steam.
2. get your favorite incense and burn it
3. get a robe and put it on
4. put the incense in the bathroom
5. put a stool in the bathroom
6. write all the things you are sad about on a piece of paper
7. write on the steamed mirror all the things that are peaceful
8. sit in the bathroom and be peaceful with the steaming and the incense

Forged by Fire (for hard experiences that change you forever):
by Alex

Bathe in a tub of warm water without bubbles. Slowly lie down and let all the bad energy out. When you get out, don't dry off, instead go to a silent room and let the peaceful air dry you off. Next rub your skin with soothing lavender oil. Now go outside and let the sun wrap its loving rays around you.

Amazing! Priceless and here is how you can support this space!

1. Of course donating to the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind one time

or becoming a monthly sustainer helps infinitely to sustain this free program for superhero youth.

2. This community of readers is the best thing ever. Want to send as a winter break gift 1 or 3 copies of your favorite young adult book from when you were around 11? The Indigo afterschoolers are self-identified "cool nerds" and will need a lot of reading material when school lets out next month to keep their brains engaged! Email for the address.

3. Or contribute to the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind Library that surrounds and uplifts the participants and their parents and grandparents and younger siblings and friends by donating a book from the Eternal Summer amazon wishlist!

Keeping it quirky, eternal and off the hook!

The Immediate Need For Emotional Justice


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via The Crunk Feminist Collective by moyazb on 11/16/11

The Immediate Need For Emotional Justice
Guest Post by Yolo Akili

Oppression is trauma. Every form of inequity has a traumatic impact on the psychology, emotionality and spirituality of the oppressed. The impact of oppressive trauma creates cultural and individual wounding. This wounding produces what many have called a  "pain body", a psychic energy that is not tangible but can be sensed, that becomes an impediment to the individual and collective's ability to transform and negotiate their conditions.

Emotional justice is about working with this wounding. It is about inviting us into our feelings and our bodies, and finding ways to transform our collective and individual pains into power. Emotional justice requires that we find the feeling behind the theories. It calls on us to not just speak to why something is problematic, but to speak to the emotional texture of how it impact us; how it hurts, or how it brings us joy or nourishment. Emotional Justice is very difficult for many activists, because historically most activist spaces have privileged the intellect and logic over feeling and intuition. This is directly connected to sexism and misogyny, because feeling and intuition are culturally and psychologically linked to the construct of "woman", a construct that we have all been taught to invalidate and silence. So by extension we invalidate and silence the parts that we link to "woman" in ourselves: our feelings, our intuition, and our irrationality.

This disdain leads to many things: a dismissal or minimization of our own and other's feelings, a fear of revealing oneself as "emotional" (instead of as sternly logical) and a culture of "just suck up your feelings" or shrug them off. All of these responses to our emotions have consequences that contribute to a range of emotional and spiritual stressors which impact our lives.  In this article I am going to focus exclusively on the reasons I believe activist communities struggle with emotional justice and why the integration of our emotional selves into our activist work can't wait.

Reasons I believe activist communities struggle with emotional justice

1. Activist Organizations Are Often Over-capacity
Many grass roots organizations and non-profits operate with a small staff that is expected to complete herculean tasks. This expectation leads to fatigue, stress and emotional imbalance. Asking to add emotional justice discourse(s) to the workplace/organizing is seen as a waste of time when organizations are trying to survive and fulfill grant/monetary obligations with limited resources. Yet it is an emotional discourse that could offer many movements opportunities for self-evaluation, especially as it relates to perpetuating models of capitalist productivity that they are often seeking to end.  Regular guided dialogues and retreats must become a priority and should be led by outside consult. They can help build connections, clarify the mission(s) and re-invigorate the collective.

2. Emotional Justice Has No Succinct Time Line
There simply is no timeline that can be put on someone else's healing. Within an emotional justice framework, someone is able to bring up their pain as they feel the need. Our patriarchal emotional discourses will push back against this, however, and  will instead encourage us to deny, dismiss, and move on as quickly as possible from difficult emotions. Engaging emotional justice requires us to check this attitude within ourselves and develop ongoing strategies that allow us to express our concerns and feelings.

3. Emotions are Used as a Tool for those with Privilege to Avoid, Minimize or Escape Accountability
In an experience working with a group of queers on a racism project, a white identified cis gendered woman in the group would constantly break into tears whenever someone challenged her on the choices she was making that perpetuated racist themes. Her crying, which happened in several sessions, led to the entire group, especially the women of color, to comfort and assure her that she wasn't a "bad person."
Yet in the midst of attending to her emotional expressions, she continued to evade accountability and perpetuated the same dynamics. When she was challenged on her use of crying, she was able to come to an understanding that as a child crying had been a tactic she had used within her family to avoid being held responsible. This awareness led to her participate in the space in a much more accountable manner.
Stories like these happen all the time. Unfortunately in most spaces there are not always individuals with the skills to compassionately address these kind of emotional dynamics. This lack of skill prevents many from engaging emotional justice for fear they will get lost in these issues. This another reason seeking the support of healing justice/emotional justice educators is necessary.

4. Very Little Knowledge of the Emotional Body or Emotional Language
What is a feeling? What are the lessons they offer us? How can they invite us into ourselves? These are the questions that emotional justice guides us toward. Emotional justice can help many begin to work with their feelings in constructive ways that can help the movement as a whole.
An example: If someone asks many activists, what do you feel? The response may be something like,
"I feel like we just need to hurry up and make this thing happen because they keep on trying. yaddda yadda."
But that was not a feeling. That was a thought. A feeling is one word. The feeling for this statement could be: "I am anxious, or I am frustrated". Aiming directly for the feeling, as opposed to the thought around it, can help save time and address deeper issues.  If feelings are continually confused as thoughts, then the intellectual debate process kicks in, and before you know it, we are battling for philosophical dominance instead of saying that we are hurt.

5. Lack of Self-Awareness into how our own unique Psychological Frameworks, Trauma and Social locations inform our Interpretation of Reality
Journeying into our own narratives and seeing how they inform our current understandings of others around us can be  invaluable in times of challenge.  There are many tools for this;  one in which I find very effective is Psychological Astrology; as it invites us to explore, whether we believe in Astrology or not, what our motivations are, what we need to feel emotionally satisfied, the root of our personality conflicts with others, and how we express our aggression. This exploration can help us recognize an area of difference that is predicated on the ways in which we psychologically experience the world around us, a recognition that can help us understand and hear each other better in conflict situations.

6. Ideological Violence
"We were often poised and ready for attack, and not always in the most effective places.  When we disagreed with one another, we were far more vicious to each other than the common originators of our problem. " -Audre Lorde

It is apparent from Audre Lorde's words that ideological violence was a big problem for her generation. Many years later it continues to be, as unproductive ego wars rage amidst our movement spaces.
These ego wars (or as many of my friends say, "intellectual dick fights") are for many apart of the academic environmental training that encourages us to battle for philosophical dominance. While debate in itself is healthy and can be empowering, the challenge here is that this "training" is colored with patriarchy and a "power over others" construct. Tactics such as Interrupting, yelling, belittling each other, and personal attacks, are dynamics of patriarchal communication and must be seen as the acts of emotional violence that they are.* As this is acknowledged, steps must be taken to train and understand assertive communication and the myriad of cultural communication styles that allow us to express our hurt, rage and frustration in ways that minimize harm.

Emotional Justice is not anything new to our movements. It is already being enacted in many spaces and in organizations all across the country.  My hope in writing this is that this work is expanded, illuminated and raised to a level of importance on par with our intellectual critiques.  It is my hope that we realize that just as we must construct new systems and institutions, we must also develop new ways of relating with each other and to our emotional selves. These models of relating will call on us to develope skills and  to work with our feelings, our trauma and our pain. It calls on us to recognize that emotional justice is an immediate need, not only for our movements, but for the world at large.

Yolo Akili is an Emotions Educator, Performance Artist, Practicing Astrologer, Yoga Teacher and long time activist. He can be reached at

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

PARIAH - Screening and Q&A Invite - 11.16.11


I have attached the flyer for a special Q&A screening of PARIAH on Wednesday, November 16. PARIAH (synopsis below) will be released in Atlanta on January 13, 2012.


Immediately following the screening, we will have a Q&A with the film's stars Adepero Oduye and Kim Wayans, as well as the film's writer/director Dee Rees and producer Nekisa Cooper.  We would love to extend an invitation for your friends, family and group members to attend this exciting event.

Wednesday, November 16 at 7:00PM

Landmark Midtown

Feel free to forward this invite to anyone interested in attending. Just remind everyone to RSVP to by Monday, November 14 if they plan to attend.

Thank you again for your continued interest in our film!




pariah (puh-rahy-uh) – noun;

a person without status. a rejected member of society. an outcast.


A world premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, the contemporary drama Pariah is the feature-length expansion of writer/director Dee Rees' award-winning 2007 short film Pariah. Spike Lee is among the feature's executive producers. At Sundance, cinematographer Bradford Young was honored with the [U.S. Dramatic Competition] Excellence in Cinematography Award.


Adepero Oduye, who had earlier starred in the short film, portrays Alike (pronounced ah-lee-kay), a 17-year-old African-American woman who lives with her parents Audrey and Arthur (Kim Wayans and Charles Parnell) and younger sister Sharonda (Sahra Mellesse) in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood. She has a flair for poetry, and is a good student at her local high school.


Alike is quietly but firmly embracing her identity as a lesbian. With the sometimes boisterous support of her best friend, out lesbian Laura (Pernell Walker), Alike is especially eager to find a girlfriend. At home, her parents' marriage is strained and there is further tension in the household whenever Alike's development becomes a topic of discussion. Pressed by her mother into making the acquaintance of a colleague's daughter, Bina (Aasha Davis), Alike finds Bina to be unexpectedly refreshing to socialize with.


Wondering how much she can confide in her family, Alike strives to get through adolescence with grace, humor, and tenacity – sometimes succeeding, sometimes not, but always moving forward.A Focus Features, Northstar Pictures, and Sundial Pictures presentation in association with aid+abet, Chicken & Egg Pictures, and MBK Entertainment. A Dee Rees Film. Pariah. Adepero Oduye, Pernell Walker, Aasha Davis, Charles Parnell, Sahra Mellesse, and Kim Wayans. Casting, Eyde Belasco, CSA. Edited by Mako Kamitsuna. Production Design by Inbal Weinberg. Cinematography by Bradford Young. Produced by Nekisa Cooper. Written and Directed by Dee Rees. A Focus Features Release.



check us out in the 1st episode of SIGNIFIED, by Anna...


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via bklyn boihood on 11/10/11

check us out in the 1st episode of SIGNIFIED, by Anna Barsan.

for more peep,


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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How Talking to Your Homegirls Can ‘Liberate’ Your Sex Life


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via The Crunk Feminist Collective by crunktastic on 11/9/11

Over the summer, while I was visiting Crunkadelic, she and I ended up brainstorming methods for positioning oneself at an optimum angle for penetration in the missionary position.  Yes, that means what you think it means. #selfcareisnotagame

For professional Black and Latino women (source) who are often dogged by long periods of forced celibacy, "getting it in" cannot be merely a declaration. Sometimes there needs to be a pragmatic conversation about how to, um, get it in and keep it in.

At some point, we thought that perhaps a pillow under the bottom could provide that extra lift, and since nothing is new under the sun, we figured that some sex guru had already invented such a pillow.

A Google search confirmed our suspicions.

So I thank/blame Crunkadelic for putting me on to the Liberator wedge and ramp and all the other goodies that they boast at their website.

You can imagine then that it was a pleasant surprise to discover via my FB newsfeed (which is how I find out most things worth knowing these days) that three of the cast members of the Real Housewives of Atlanta visited the newly opened Liberator Store in Atlanta on the premiere episode.

Now I was busy watching #BlackGirlsRock, on BET.

And we do rock, in case anyone was wondering. S/N: I was pleasantly surprised to see the embedded layers of social critique within the program—discussion of the prison industrial complex (from the venerable Angela Davis), discussions of sex trafficking of Black girls and women, and of course, a range of challenges to the paucity of representations of Black female subjectivity in media.

Back on FaceBook, one of my male friends remarked on the alleged contradiction of having Black Girls Rock on at the same time as RHOA. In my estimation it was a failed analogy, unless, the argument is that Black women should only be center stage on one channel at a time, or that we can't be both fabulously fly and outrageously over-the-top at the same time. Now I agree that if there is a such thing as authentic representation, it is probably somewhere in between the hyper-positivity of BGR and the hyper-negativity of RHOA.

And while I stopped watching RHOA for all the obvious reasons after season 1, I found Sheree, Kandi's, and Phaedra's trip to the sex store important for a couple of reasons.

1.) Black women are pro-sex, notwithstanding the bad reps we get as denizens of respectability. And as others have said, since Black feminist sex is the best sex ever, I need Kandi to make it happen with her sex toy line.  Every grown woman needs sex toys.

2.) If you want to have better sex, you should discuss it with your homegirls. I'm serious! Frankly, I would venture to say that the good sex I have had is as much a result of "consultations" with my homegirls as it is a result of the skills sets of my chosen partners.  It is my girls who have encouraged me to be bold in asking for what I want and to try new things, disabused me of my investment in being a good girl in the bedroom, helped me to know what is "normal" (namely anything that I and my partner willingly desire and consent to do) and what is not acceptable (e.g. being used as a partner's masturbation machine,  being pressured, and being in pain [BDSM isn't my thing]).

Me and my girls routinely have intense conversations about our intimate lives, what it looks like to have the kind of sex we want to be having in our 20s, 30s, and 40s, and the nuts and bolts of the acts, when necessary.  I have helped homegirls plan whole seduction schemes from the lingerie to the breakfast menu, and they have reciprocated. When it comes to getting it in, my motto is be intentional.

So of course, I was slightly offended when one of my FB friends had the nerve to question why anyone would need a pillow during sex. It reminded me that in a culture which privileges smaller body types, it rarely enters into the purview of the slim (and the able-bodied), that all bodies can't and don't and don't want to have sex in the same ways. Because fat people aren't seen as sexy, most folks think that fat people aren't having sex, or at least not good sex. Lie Number One.  Truth: The Overweight Lovers are in the house! (Much love and RIP to the Original Overweight Lover Heavy D.)

And Lie Number Two comes from big girls who are fronting and faking like sex happens for us in the same ways as our skinny counterparts. Yes, there are some big girls who are flexible and acrobatic, and they are my sheroes. But it's not a leap to recognize that physical acts work differently on bodies that are 120 or 150 pounds versus bodies that are 250 or 300 pounds.  Can we be real about that? Extra weight requires extra creativity about most things, from fashion to sex. And ain't no shame in admitting that.

So if the Liberator pillow (or any other similar product or strategy) can offer support for F.A.T. (fabulous and thick) girls or people with disabilities who may be less flexible or need additional support for the elbows or the posterior, then I say get free! Trust I will be getting free as soon as freedom is in the budget.  This weekend when I head to Atlanta for NWSA, I got two words for y'all: field trip!

And let me say it one more time: #blackgirlsrock!


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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hip Hop for Palestine feat. DAM & Invincible, Tomorrow, Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 9pm

Hip Hop for Palestine is unifying Atlanta's hip hop community in support of Palestine's biggest hip hop crew, Da Arabic MCs (DAM) and their message of resistance. 

For over 10 years, DAM (Suhell, Tamer and Mahmoud) have told their stories of Palestine's plight. DAM's music is a unique fusion of east and west, combining Arabic percussion rhythms, Middle Eastern melodies, and urban hip hop. One of the first groups to rap in Arabic, DAM's song "Min Irhabi" ("Who's the Terrorist") became the anthem for Palestinian resistance both within and beyond their borders.

With resounding support from the hip hop community, Hip Hop for Palestine welcomes Detroit's Invincible, an MC on the forefront of the Palestinian cause & Khaki Mustafa, a socially conscious Palestinian-American hip-hop artist, plus addresses from prominent local activists and appearances by local MCs such as J-Live, Rasheeda Ali, Sa-Roc/Sol Messiah, Ras Kofi, Methuzulah and Khalila Ali.

Find out more about DAM at

Wednesday, November 9, 2011
The Loft @ Center Stage - Atlanta
1374 West Peachtree Street
Atlanta, GA 30309

Doors at 8 pm, Show at 9 pm
Tickets $15

Tickets available online at

Monday, November 7, 2011

(More) Sad Black Girls


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via Black Youth Project by Summer M. on 11/7/11

Last week, this site featured a trailer for the documentary, Dear Daddy, about young black women who grew up without fathers. In these last few months, it seems to me that documentaries about black women and their relationships to men and their relationship to the standards and mores of larger society have been of interest [...]


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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Next generationFIVE 3-Day Training: Dec 9 - 11, Bay Area

generationFIVE 3-Day Introductory Training

generationFIVE is a national organization whose mission  is to end child sexual abuse within five generations. Through survivor leadership, bystander involvement, community organizing, and public action, generationFIVE works to interrupt and mend the intergenerational impact of child sexual abuse on individuals, families, and communities. Rather than perpetuate the isolation of this issue, we integrate child sexual abuse prevention and response into social justice movements and community organizing targeting family violence, economic and racial oppression, and gender and age-based discrimination.  It is our belief that meaningful community response is the key to effective prevention.

generationFIVE (gen5) invites you to participate in our next 3-Day Introductory Training on December 9 – 11, 2011 in the Bay Area.

During the gen5 3-Day we will:
  • Explore the intersections between child sexual abuse, other forms of violence, and social justice organizing.
  • Introduce the impact of trauma on individuals, communities and movements and relevant ways to integrate our understanding of trauma into organizing and activism.
  • Introduce participants to Somatic tools for working with and around trauma.
  • Intersect child sexual abuse respond and prevention organizing and other community work and social justice movements.
  • Introduce and develop organizing and agency practices that integrate personal, community and political transformation.
  • Support individual and community resiliency-based work as key to social change.
  • Introduce participants to the principles of Transformative Justice and responses to incidences of child sexual abuse and other forms of intimate violence that prevent future abuse and intimate, community and state violence.
  • Introduce and invite specific ways to integrate child sexual abuse and prevention and response and the work of gen5 and our collaborative partners.

This training will be lead by Micah Frazier and Mia Mingus.

To Apply to the 3-Day Training:  
To express interest in and apply to the 3-Day Introductory Training, download an application/interest form from our website. Applications are due Wednesday, November 9th, 2011.  We will follow up with confirmation and specific information about location, and times. Please note that due to the large number of interested participants, filling out this form does not automatically guarantee space in the training.

Please contact or (510) 251-8552 with any questions. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Making Majority: Majority Consciouness and Black Feminist Protest Poems (Fo...


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via littleblackbook by lex on 11/4/11

Making Majority:  Majority Consciouness and BlackFeminist Protest Poems
For the RaleighReclaimers   
Nov. 3 2011

Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Let's make somenoise to stay warm out here!!!  Make some noise if you are part of that 99% they keep talking about onthe news!  Make some noise if youlove how our people in Oakland took over the highway and closed down a majorport in their general strike yesterday!   Make some noise if you grew up working class.  Make some noise if you are queer.   Make some noise if you are in collegenow or if you have a college degree.   Take a deep breath and make some noise if you are ablack feminist!!!!!!!   Andmake some noise if you are a white person…
            Yeah. Majority is complicated.  And it can be exhilarating.  And it can be facist.  And it can tell the truth.  And it can lie to our faces.   The truth is that we areprofoundly interconnected.  We arebigger than ourselves.  We aresharing something that we don't know how to describe, right this second withall the people who live now and all the people who have ever lived.  We are sharing something right now withevery energetically linked piece of matter on the planet.   We are huge.  We are more than 99% we are cosmiceternal quantum dust crashing into itself.   The vibration we just made from shouting is more thanwe can know it is.
            Atthe same time, majority is complicated. I live in Durham, North Carolina. A majority people of color city with a majority white occupymovement.  Majority is complicated.  Because the tricky statistics ofmajority has been used as a tool of white supremacy to create norms for a longtime, it is not merely a coincidence that one of the largest, most compelling,media-effective and participatory convergences of direct action that I havewitnessed uses the colonizing military language of occupation.   This is where white descendentsof settler colonialists get off calling themselves native North Carolinians,for example.  And this is animportant question, not just of terminology, but also of mathematicalunderstanding, because it is not merely a coincidence that the most marketabledirect action we are participating in right now coincides with many actualimperialist occupations by the US around the world and the ongoing occupationof this land that something now called the United States stole throughgenocide.   I'm a blackfeminist nerd,  I teach about blackfeminist poetry and when it comes to our power, when it comes to our revolutionI care a lot about what words we choose and what numerical reality weimply.  But I don't want to throwthe baby out with the bathwater. It matters to me that what makes folks love this movement of reclaimingour lives and protesting against the violence of capitalism is a deep andgrounded energy, tapped into a planetary connection which is actually not thesame thing as whatever energy has caused white people to believe that they arenormal, straight people to believe that they are normal, middle class people tobelieve that they are entitled to whatever the abject poverty of women of coloraround the world and finger breaking work of  working class people in this country invisibly buys us.   These two things, the majorly transformativepower of interconnected struggle and love and the majorly status quo affirmingreproduction of normalcy, in my mathematical opinion , are not equal.  They are not equally powerful.  The first one just might get us theunimaginable world we deserve, and the other one will at best case get us backto the messed up place we were 5 years ago.
            Itis the statistically significant difference between  saying.  "Hey! Iam part of the 99%.  Everyone elseis just like me and I am just like everyone else and I deserve the job andeducation I always thought I was entitled and damn the 1% fat cats for stillbeing able to maintain what I always thought I deserved and could get if Iworked hard enough and was smart enough and white enough and straight enoughfor long enough."   It is thedifference between saying that and saying "I am part of this planet and I am interconnected with all life.  I refuse to continue to contribute myenergy to a system that is killing all of us.  I refuse to consent to the fragmentation of capitalism and Icommit to building power creatively with everyone and everything that isdifferent to me towards our common survival which could also be calledlove.   I am interconnectedwith everything and I am promising with my body to reclaim the truth.  I am connected to you from a deeperpalce than I can see and I am doing my best to act accordingly."
            Y'allsee how these are not the same things? And I care about this movement. And so I am bringing what I love most into this conversation, that whichhas brought me most clarity and refined my actions.  Also known as the longstanding intersectional super stars ofkeepin' it complicated all days in all ways…I am bringing Black Feminist Poetsinto the mix, towards the movement we deserve.   Drawing on a very different tradition of MajorityConsciousness coming out of the anti-colonial movements in the Caribbean and inAfrica and in Asia, Black Feminist in the United States were part of the thirdworld consciousness raising movement, affirming the reality that the majorityof the people in the world are people of color, the majority of the people inthe world are women, and yet, the most consistently oppressed category ofalmost person on the planet is this same powerful group:  women of color.     So as you think aboutthis, think about your interface with the movement of the 99% not so poeticallycalled "occupy" and think about what the role of women of color has been in thesegment of this movement that you have seen.   Think about whether and how the absence, presence,form of labor, forms of leadership, interventions of women of color have beenreceived by the false majority and whether that honors the majority of peoplein the world.    On NewYear's day 1989 thinking about the prospect of a black presidential candidateto the White House (named Jesse Jackson), Black feminist lesbian warrior mother poet icon Audre Lorde feltcompelled to bring out fractions. About how the US and USSR (at the time the main interlocuters in thedebate about the destiny of the planet) were only 1/8 of the population,actually.  And that African peoplewere also 1/8 of the population and that ½ of the people in the world wereAsian.   Lorde breaks it down,slowing to the methodical tempo of white supremacy and then speeding up :
"So most people in this world/
are Yellow, Black , Brown, Poor,Female
And do not speak English."
Most of you, probably all of you,know this intellectually.  It goeswithout saying.    So whydoes Audre Lorde bother to bring the math into it, in a poem, in English.   The language I am using now,which as she points out most people on the planet do not speak.   Because the question of majorityis always at stake.  This is whythe "I am the 99% campaign" has been so important as a way of actually talkingabout the experiences of most of the people when television and the songs ofthe radio seem to come from the experiences of only the super-rich in order toencourage consumerism.  If I wereto believe the "I am the 99%" posts that I have seen on the internet it wouldseem that the majority of the people in the world have massive studentloans.   And while I certainlyworked my way through college and took on major student loans in the processand I think it is very important to unpack meritocracy and throw off the shamethat is associated with debt.  We also have to remember privilege.  It is not that the majority of people in the world areoppressed by student loans.  Themajority of the people in the world are oppressed by capitalism such thatcollege is not an option.  Themajority of this generation of college students may have student loans, butthese two things are not the same.
   Because another important thing about Lorde's poem isthat she maintains difference.  Sheis not arguing that everyone on the planet is the same, she is giving us thefractions.  There is actually somuch difference on the planet that is completely left out of theconversation.  So the liberatoryquestion is not how can we all lump together as the same thing, the realquestion is the one Audre Lorde asked in her essay on the creative power ofdifference, and which, incidentally Angela Davis, black feminist freedomfighter raised at the Wall Street encampment a few days ago:
"Howcan we come together in a unity that is complex and emancipatory? Differencesmust not be merely tolerated but seen as a fund of necessary polarities betweenwhich poles creativity can spark like a dialectic."

And indeed, as many people before mehave said the most important and exciting thing about this whole movement thatwe are participating in is that it truly has brought different people who arenot generally in the same spaces and not generally speaking to each other,together in powerful ways, and asked all of us to be creative in our listeningthrough the demands of direct democracy.   It inspired Angela Davis to say last weekend that "Theold majorities are the new majorities," that there is something, awakened,referenced, remembered by this contemporary movement that precedes it, that themajority that we invoke is not simply the breakdown of American wealth amongthe living, but actually includes our collective ancestral power, including thepower and resilience of the indigenous inhabitants of this land and includingthe power of the enslaved people who build and bled into this structure andloved anyway, and including all of those movement warriors who have burnt out,gotten sick and died, been killed via hate violence or by police.  It means when we invoke majority we arealso saying, we are all here, our mandate for changing the world is certainlybigger than those of us who have the time to be here physically and is biggereven than the combined bodies of those of us who have survived this system tothis point.  Our mandate to changethe world is old and it honors our ancestors and it calls up their energy.
            NikkiFinney, a black feminist lesbian poet from South Carolina believes that thereis such as thing as ancestral rage. That oppression in the present not only disrespects and dishonors thoseof us living through it, but it also disrespects the work and truth andbrilliance of those who came before us, who deserved better than what theyexperiences and who expect more from us than this.    In her first collection of poems On Wings Made of Guaze,  Finney has a protest poems that speaksout against the Atlanta Child murders, a rash of murders and disappearances ofBlack children in Atlanta, the city where I grew up, and where Finney lived atthe time of the murders which began in 1979, the same year that  closer to home in Greensboro, the KKKopened fire on economic and racial justice organizers at a rally in the middleof the day.   Which is alsothe same year that in Boston 12 black women were found dead day after day in 3short months.  In each case thepolice did not respond to the murders as murders.  In the case of the Greensboro massacre the people who wereattacked were the ones brought up on charges.  What does one do in a year like 1979 where the lives ofblack women, black children and black activists are so clearly devalued by thestate, and how is it related to what we do this year, when Troy Davis issacrificed to the right of police officers to threaten people to get falsetestimonies and to fulfill their so-called justice agenda by choosing anoppressed person to prosecute for any crime that happens?  When those who are having to face themusic about the low value of their lives are more  and more of the population that used to feel safe and worthyall the time.
            NikkiFinney invokes a majority constructed of time and the natural world to dosomething related to what we are doing here today and in the next couple ofdays when we move whatever little money we have out of the big banks and intothe community credit unions, asking for a new set of accounts.   In a poem that she dedicates to "thechildren of Atlanta, the children we claim who died, who are dying because theyare Black….for the children whose lives we claim and whose deaths now claimus"  Finney calls on a higher senseof balance and justice than what the world bank would use to classify debt andwho is a drain on the system.  Forthose, who like me, were not born yet in 1979, we have to remember that 1979 isthe same year that Ronald Reagan won the presidential election with a campaignthat centered on the characiture of the welfare queen and the untrue projectionthat the majority of people on welfare were black women who were cheats, thatthe primary beneficiaries were black children who were a drain on the nationalbudget and didn't deserve anything.  It is a major year for the growth of what we now understand as globalneoliberal capitalism, a system of debt-making in the name of restructuring onthe planet.  1979 is also the yearthat the major institution that laid the groundwork for what we know of as theRadical Right  was created, calledthe Moral Majority.   See whatI mean.  Majority is complicated,and everyone invokes it when they feel like it   So what kind of Major are we?
      Nikki Finney calls on the world towitness the violence against Black children saying:
don't ever come to us again
heart in hand
hoof in mouth
ancient eyes in full bloom
don't even look this way
asking to replenished
to be restocked
we are paid in full
for this
and for the next millenniums

incensed enough we are
until this world ends
and something else begins
paid up we are
tell your hands world
sign it out to your fingers
insist that your eyes remember
how this time
we have overpaid you

we owe nothing
no more
pass this word on
to the rivers behind you
for the next one thousand years
we are paid in full

In the economic frame of 1979, thisis a big deal.  In fact in thecurrent economic frame where most of us are in debt, and those of use who don'thave the credit to get any more debt are positioned to conceptually owesomething to the society that profits off our lack of choices this poem is veryrevolutionary.   Look at theviolence we are experiencing, Finney's poem says, what kind of balance is this?  What kind of accountability.   Forget it.  We do not owe anything.   Not only because our lives havebeen unjustly sacrificed in many ways, not only in honor of those ancestors whowere forcibly removed from this very places, or those other ancestors who wereforcibly brought to the place and built it for free without freedom, but alsobecause we are beyond the economic calculations that make up our lives.  We are more than a market.   And as Finney's poetics reveal,we persist beyond that which would crunch us into numbers as debt.  The "We are" of the poem moves out thenormal position within a sentence.  In the second to last stanza of the poem she offers "incensed enough weare,  paid up we are"  instead of we are incensed enough, weare paid up.  The "we are" thestubborn miracle of our existence, is still there, yoda like, after thedescriptive action.  And actually,the original construction that she starts with "we are paid" leaves poeticambiguity about who we are actually , the first line "in full we are paid"  is an archaic construction that leavesquestions about what is the subject of the sentence.   We, paid. Is paid an action, an adjective. Is full a place to be.  Looking at Finney's poem about reckoning accounts makes me wonder aboutthe economic arguments we have been making from a poetic standpoint.    We have been affirming thatwe are the 99%. Individualizing:  "I am the99%"  Now is the time to lookcritically 99% percent we are.  To truly examine what we are part of beyond the desperate gratitude ofbeing part of something is the task before us.   What is truly major about this, and how does it impactwhat we do.  To use Nikki Finney'slanguage who claims us, where is the accountability that transcends howdisgruntled we are about our bank accounts?  Who do we honor with these actions?
            Whatthis movement is demonstrating is that where we place our bodies is a questionof accountability, honor and claim.  In Philadelphia and other places explicit solidarity with, andleadership by homeless Philadelphians who have been criminalized for claimingspace in the streets has been crucial. What does it mean for people with homes to place their privileged bodiesbetween the action of the police and the right of a homeless person to sleepsomewhere.  What does it mean forthe outrage at police acts of repression and violence in several cities to belinked in the news media, in the form of images and focus, on the fact that somany white people are being arrested, so much of the population that the daybefore they became protesters, were inequitably over-served by the violence ofthe police against more traditionally oppressed communities?   Tear gas canisters and billyclubs, rubber bullets and the training language among the police that thenon-violent orchestrated protests around the country should be treated asriots?  One way the Wall Streetincarnation of this movement responded to some of these questions was to usethe mass of people reclaiming the street create a direct action in Harlem,specifically challenging the violent racist practice of the police stopping andsearching black people on the streets.   June Jordan, black feminist poet with intimate andviolent experience with the actions of the New York City police department,again invoked what I call black feminist math, the alchemy of poetry andproportions to look at the meaning of police violence, in one of her mostfamous poems;  Poem on PoliceViolence:
On the heels of the acquittal ofpolice officer Thomas O'Shea  forthe murder of a 10 year old unarmed black boy named Clifford Glover who wasrunning away from O'Shea.  The agreement by a jury that Thomas O'Shea was justified in his actionbecause of how threatening black children are to grown white policeofficers  with guns.  Thomas O'Shea was recorded saying whilehis police radio was on: "die you little motherfucker" as he shot 10 year oldClifford in the back.  In court hedefended himself by saying "I didn't see the size nor nothing else.  Only the color."
    So June Jordan asks:
"Tell me something
what you think would happen if
everytime they kill a black boy
then will kill a cop…
you think the accident rate wouldlower
And she goes into the math of it;
"18 cops in order to subdue on man
18 strangled him to death in theensuing scuffle (don't
you idolize the diction of thepowerful: subdue and
scuffleoh my) and that the murder
that the killing of Arthur Milleron a Brooklyn
street was just a "justifiableaccident" again
How do we live in a world where ourbodies are not equal.  Where thelife of a police officer and the life of a black child are not equal.  Where to be honest, the white body of acollege student and that body of color of a college student are not seen thesame as police or school administrators.   Where safety means different things for those of uswho have survived sexual violence. Where the bodies of homeless people and the bodies of students, wherethe bodies of students and the bodies of workers do not balance out into anykind of equation.  How do we useour privilege? Where do we place our bodies?  Who should get arrested? Where should we stand in order tostand up for each other? Who should do what kind of work?  18 to one or one to one?  Beyond Jordan's propositions aboutproportions are the places where she falls out of rhythm and reveals thatactually what a life is equal to cannot be quantified.  It only be approached by poetry.  She says
"sometimes the feeling like amazeme baby
comes back to my mouth and I amquiet"
"sometimes thinking about the 12thHouse of the Cosmos
or the way your ear ensnares thetip
of my tongue or signs that I havenever seen
Our bodies are possible futuresthat end when we are sacrificed by the state or by each other. Amazement.  Signs that we have never seen.   Our bodies are places where lovegets actualized and electrified.   That one body that you live in, the body of a personthat you love is not interchangeable with anything on a one to one or eighteento one basis.  How do we hold themath and the meaning together in a way that honors everyone here and everyonewho is not here for any reason and everyone we remember and everyone we hope willbe born.  Majority is complicated.
            Andfinally how do will fill this time, activate our purpose, understand theinterconnected issues that my not be calculable into unpaid bills orpercentages of debt to be decreased, or lost retirement savings or years leftto work? How do we hold the ongoing violence of genocide in mind whileinsisting and benefiting from the language of occupation on stolen land?  How do we account for the needs of themajority of us who are survivors or co-survivors of sexual violence and manyother forms of trauma in an anarchist or directly democratic space likethis.   The last blackfeminist poem I will bring is Ntozake Shange's With No Immediate Cause.
Where she reminds us what is goingon in our society most of the time:
"every 3 minutes a woman is beaten
every five minutes a woman is raped
every ten minutes a lil girl ismolested"
She goes through her dayencountering the traumatic repetition of system violence, using the statisticsgenerated by the movement to end violence against women to create anothermajority, the perpetual presence of violence, and the perpetual traumaticreawakening of survivors to the trauma they have experienced.   As a survivor and a person who ishorrified by any act of gendered violence, she has to wonder if each person sheencounters participated in the routine practice of violence at some minute,three minutes ago or 30 years ago. And when she reads her newspaper outraged that they report:
"there is some concern
that alleged battered women
might start to murder
their husbands & lovers with no
immediate cause"
We should think about those in thismovement of the 99% who dismiss the concerns of survivors of sexual violenceabout what it means to truly create safety, not only from the police, but alsowithin our progressive movement where gendered violence is still an issue as itis within all communities.  Weshould think about what it means to dismiss those concerns in favor of more"immediate" priorities, like how to look badass and have an encampment.   We should think about those whodespite the critique of the language of occupation brought by indigenousactivists and allies again and again feel like at this point the brand is moreimportant than our outrage. That the immediate issue is the banks and thatsettler colonialism is an issue that is somehow over, when the land is stilloccupied, when genocide is a traumatic violence that we experience right now inthe present through the continued disrespect and refusal to acknowledgeindigenous presence and history all over this continent.   And we should learn from Shangewhen in response to the nonsense about no immediate cause, and theadministrative inconvenience that the self-defense of survivors of genderedviolence would cause she says,
"I spit up I vomit I am screaming
we all have immediate cause
every 3 minutes
every 5 minutes
every 10 minutes
every day…"
We have cause to stand up for eachother.  Immediately.  And ethical majority, meansacknowledging that time is full with reasons to listen to each other, tosupport each other, to transform ourselves towards true solidarity with eachother across so many differences.  Thankyou for finding immediate cause to act on what you believe in.  Thank you for filling your time withthis experiment of how we can live and for how long together.  For asking how solid our solidarity canbe.  You are more than 99%.   You are the whole future.  You are doing this in the sight of ourancestors and the trees that used to be here and the sun that could rise.  And history will ask us what was thismostly about, will ask, while making major history, what kind of a majority didwe make together?   And whenit adds up and we answer I hope all my black feminist ancestors and elders willbe prouder than a math problem, proud like a poem beating in the middle of yourheart, in the ground and all around. I hope you will be proud of who we were.  This complicated majority.  All of us.
 Thank you.


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