white people aren’t worth the time

Being a Black american, or rather just an individual with eyes and ears and a soul and a conscience, it has been rather impossible for me to not notice the impact that whiteness has and has had on societies and cultures around the world, and to not feel pissed off about it. Ask any of my good friends, and they will easily tell you that white people (and whiteness) is a subject matter for shit-talking for me; I really could go on and on and how many times in my life have I said the phrase, “Giiirl, don’t even get me started on white people!!?” (hint: many). Talking shit about white people is an entertaining past time as any poc can attest to, and of course the reason for such is that it is a form of catharsis and connection: catharsis because we have an opportunity to speak about our experiences, connection because our experiences are common. Like any type of social interaction, it is easiest to connect with others over shared experiences because then we feel like we can relate and be understood by one another. This is why it is so important to have the opportunity to say fuck white people, fuck men, fuck capitalism, fuck Apple or whatever, because it acknowledges amongst ourselves that we similar experiences in relation to those things (saying “fuck bitches” is a different type of community-building btw).

And so talking shit is one thing –  catharsis, entertainment, connection, etc – but what is really behind it? Why is there a need for catharsis, why is it that there is a community of people who understand the concept of whitegirlenvy, or laugh at the idea of whiteboy trying to be down? Our need for catharsis and simply having the space to be able to discuss such things stems from our shared experiences dealing with and navigating whiteness, i.e., the world(s) we live in: the ambiguous “compliment” received, the looks of surprise or the lack of looks at all. The reason poc are seemingly able to connect with one another more easily (than connecting with white people) is because we share an understanding of the world that has been tainted by racism and white supremacy, an understanding of the world that actually has no choice but to keep it real, because “real” is our lives and the realities we embody.

Underneath the layer of humor and the playfulness of shit-talking lies a stew of emotions for each of us as we continue to move throughout the world in our particular bodies: sadness, anger, confusion, frustration, futility, humiliation, grief, hope. While the individual components of this “stew” may be different and unique for all of us individually, what is the same is that it is there, and more often than not it includes some level of indignation with having been cast second-class citizens by the global powers of our world. This shared sense of indignation is what has allowed me to connect so well with the closest of my friends; of course, our friendship is more than just a shared frustration about racism and white supremacy, but without that, our friendships would certainly take on a different character. This is only because whiteness, white supremacy, racism, all of these things, are such a big part of our lives. To those of you accusing “us” of making everything about race, it is a little hard not to when we are being reminded of our race/position on a constant basis. Don’t tell me not to make it “about race” after one of your white homeboys decides to call me exotic. Don’t tell me not to make it about race when “ching chong” is the only thing you know about Asian culture (which, for the record, is not monolithic).

See racism plays such a big part in our lives that the “stew” of emotions that comes with it ends up taking up quite a bit of space within our mental and spiritual file cabinets, because ANY emotions that are a result of racism are unnecessary, because racism is unnecessary. And while the shit-talking is fun, and I would never advocate for anyone to stop talking shit ever, the emotional cauldron can bear such a burden on our minds as to distract us from the things that should really matter in our lives, like cultivating our spirits, exploring our passions, spending quality time with the people we love. When the cauldron begins to bubble up and overflow, it spills into the spaces of our psyche that should be free for living our best lives. And that, my friends, is what we call “the struggle.”

The struggle doesn’t only have to be the obvious struggle, the day-to-day frustrations like wondering how to pay rent, hoping your name won’t turn a potential employer off you, having to be the “first black person” of anything. The struggle is the distraction, the distraction in our minds that racism creates, having us worrying about things that no one needs to be spending time worrying about, like damn am I the only black person at this party?, or, maybe I shouldn’t live in that city because it is predominantly white, et cetera, et cetera.  Well I am here to tell you that: white people aren’t worth the motherfucking time – I know that we are struggling in relation to them, but they are not worth our struggle, they are not a cauldron’s-worth worthy of our time and energy and emotions.

I only learned this because – I have spent so much time in my emotional cauldron, I have spent so much time being angry at white people, “struggling,” feeling bitter about racism and hateful towards any representatives of its institution. I used to go out of my way to make white people feel uncomfortable, and be adamant about asserting my identity and creating my space within a world that doesn’t make space for me. When I left the United States at the time that I did, I was more than bubbling over with an emotional stew of resentment at things that I had not chosen, I was ready to knock a motherfucker out (still kinda wished I did though). And all my anger and sadness and indignation and grief enticed me; it drew me into a place with the promise of understanding the things happening around and to us, when in all honesty, the consequences and expression of racism in the world is quite incomprehensible.  I was so wrapped up in my anger that it directed me. My anger became a framework through which to understand the world, and in turn my interactions with those around me, particularly white people.

It wasn’t until this year, a year after I left and lessened my exposure to the fucked-up-ness of it all, that I started to have more focus and catalytic energy towards what was actually making me a better person, and not worse. It wasn’t that white people were no longer around me or that racism has stopped (yeah right lol), but rather that I was becoming burnt out on the fuel of resentment, and it wasn’t doing anything for me. As mad as I was at white people and as uncomfortable as I may have tried to make them feel, at the end of everything, they are still white and still get to enjoy the privileges of that, and my anger means nothing to them. It is like preparing to tell your boss off during your entire commute to work, only to find out that she has taken the day off. Like anything else in life, we should only put in as much as we are getting back, and yes, there is the inverse of that logic that argues that you get what you put in, but guess what? With white people, you get nothing. Ha! Joke is on us.

When I was at the height of my anger and resentment towards white people, I thought that I would never not want to be angry at them. Rightly we have just reason to be indignant, and I didn’t want to “let them off easy” by being one of those people who weren’t angry. But the anger never did anything for me (nor to a white person), and in exchange my cauldron kept taking and taking so much energy to fuel itself that it was becoming highly un-economical. It has been difficult to make the transition from having so much active resentment to actually more or less just being really sad; it is a loss of identity for me, an identity that empowered me no less. But there is a threshold as to how much our unacknowledged indignation can empower us and give us strength to assert our identities before it takes over and instead renders us helpless to grow above, and beyond.

We owe it to ourselves to reinvest our emotional fuel in the things that actually make us better people and just stop giving a fuck about the discomfort of white people, showing them our teeth and making sure they know the score (with us). Because while for us those things might be wrapped up in a whole legacy of racial indignation, for them it just rolls off of their backs – the angry black woman or the weird brown guy – as they return to their boring, boring lives. White people just ain’t worth our time y’all; or our anger, our sadness, our grief and our struggle. Those feelings may still be there, but instead of projecting them onto the white people around us, we can just laugh at the ridiculousness of their lack of understanding (it is not even worth pity). To stop giving a fuck about not giving a fuck about white people is to be the most baller you can be.

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so Take a Moment

(This picture): A moment from the best morning of my life, a morning where I laughed so hard I thought I would puke, and although all the things around me were still there, I didn’t care. And it is difficult – not to care, and sometimes it feels like: am I just leaving my people behind, am I just basking in my own undeserved privilege, am I just being apathetic to things that too many people are already apathetic to?

But happiness is not privilege, and happiness is actually something that we can all attain, like love. At first I want to think that as the layers of oppression are laid upon us it is more difficult to be happy, but let’s reverse that and see that the happiest places and the happiest people are often the ones who have the least, Any one of us can be happy at any moment; no, not happiness as a myth of continued and maintained joy, but joy in a moment – a moment of laughter or of surprise or of a surge of the feeling of love.

It can seem so difficult sometimes, those moments, because we’ve been working so hard to find them that we miss them or because we’re so mired in grief that they seem impossible and almost wrong to experience – but it is quite essential that we open ourselves to noticing them when they arise, because it is those moments that are resistant. The moments where we feel joy in our hearts, even if only fleeting, are the ones that make up our internal collage of the feeling of love: the energy of resistance and the frequency of life.

I’ve wondered lately what it means to heal; what it means to be healthy and whole in a diseased environment (how does one heal a wound that will never close?) – and maybe the answer is that the healing comes from the inside. The environment itself is stubbornly slow to change, and it will keep inflicting blows upon our bodies, but perhaps instead of looking for a salve to rub upon our wounds we fight it from within… Joy is the antibody to the virus of oppression, and we owe it to ourselves to be happy. We owe it to ourselves to experience moments of joy wherever they may come to us. We owe it to ourselves to take a break from the fight, to sit for a moment and laugh if even only at the ridiculousness of it all, to put ourselves before the struggle, because we are the struggle. (what’s the point of getting to the other side if we don’t know how to be free?) Not every single one of our actions has to be towards the greater fight; there is merit in simply doing something because we want to and in doing it we can find a shrug of joy in our hearts.

Let’s make less time for guilt and obligation and grief and instead let it inform our deep saturation within those small moments where something so ordinary can be extraordinary because we have learned to value bonheur as much as our tragedy. Appreciation, if only for the knowledge that we are alive and so able to continue to live our stories; appreciation for all the moments that are devastating and for all of those whose stories no longer continue.

Happiness is resistance and joy is love.

The Black Joy Project. #blackjoy

love/death

love is devastating. Not devastating sad, like “oh, I broke up with my lover, I am so devastated,” no – devastating as a feeling to feel, if I could even call love a feeling more so than an energy; love (the only word that seems fitting) is an energy that makes me feel as if I am made of tissue paper, held together by the delicate pressing of hands, fragile in my composure and at times falling apart at every seam. The falling apart part only happens for a moment, a really fleeting spatter of seconds in space where life and death are one in the same and it must be what it feels like to die – at least if all that “life flashing before your eyes” stuff is true. Love makes me feel as if I am barely being held together; that my physical body is just a clever scheme that gives the illusion of together-ness but is really just this mass of atoms that don’t actually ever touch and are only held together by chance. When love devastates, I feel as if my atoms are about to break apart, the contents of my self to be strewn in with the others.

so interesting (yet relevant) to juxtapose love and death side by side… perhaps it is love that is the opposite of death and not life. After all, how much of our living selves are walking death? Love as energy awakens the parts of us that have yet to animate, so love is the real yang of death, not life. (But did we already know that?)

I usually write from the vantage point of death: in the deep well of my most intimate and painful remembrances of it, I write about love as a way to quell my grieving and to do something in those moments where everything seems to come together and compress into a tiny little stone of exquisite incomprehensibility in my mind.. like love, those moments are fleeting, but powerful in their ability to make me feel completely incapacitated. Perhaps in those moments we are truly one with the world, and existing fully as human atom-masses on our beloved space-speck called Earth; perhaps in those moments we get a chance to experience a different part of our consciousness, or even, our whole consciousness..!! Could you imagine? What it must feel like to access your entire range of consciousness and feel synergy with the universe as an organic being? It’s like being taken apart only to be put back together again, but this time with the memory of the slight exposure of our insides to the outside. Or perhaps it’s only a matter of having dopamine on the brain, but I’m going to go out on a universe-synergy limb and say that there is more to it than just “science.” I take drugs to science my brain into accessing different consciousness, but love is the elusive drug of the universe which breathes oneness into us if we are blessed enough to even experience a moment like that in our lives.

And perhaps that is why love can feel as devastating as death can to the soul. In those pebble moments that render me incapable when I grieve I am in the most unison I ever am in with the universe, and in the corresponding pebble moments when I am lovestruck I am also in unison at my highest level.. so maybe love and death are not so different from one another, or at least they exist in dialectical suspense: no light without dark, no love without death. If we do indeed live our lives within ourselves right before we die, then it isn’t a far suggestion to expect that in the moments when we are on the highest frequency of living – when the hit of lovedruguniverse rushes into our veins in fleeting specks of time – that we are experiencing the side effects of death. We die in our love as we live in our death.

Today I felt love and oneness with the universe, and I felt like I was dying.

L.

 

and after the numbness comes…..

…what?

I heard fear in my younger brother’s voice for the first time today, heard his tears on the other side of the line and could do nothing in my miles and miles away

and even if I could have what would I say? Don’t be scared? No. Don’t worry, I am here? No. The feeling of powerlessness and helplessness perhaps is the most frustrating of all, because after all: what can you do?

I read the news today and I felt something I haven’t felt before: nothing. My friend told me about it, and it doesn’t really matter what news it is I read does it, because it’s all the same every day, ain’t nothing changed. 2015, 1955; tell me the words have gotten different, ok, but the content has not. So I read the news, and it was almost as if I didn’t read it. A year ago I would have been overwhelmed with anger and ready to take out any motherfucker who said shit to me, six months ago I would have brooded. Three months ago I would have cried – no, wept – with such grief that it would have felt like I would never stop crying. Today the news just is. I read it, then I read more, then I heard the truth in my brothers voice, to which I lent some tears, but couldn’t completely give in because if I can’t do anything else for him at least I can pretend I am strong, right?

And I am strong, because I am surviving, and I am still here somehow, yet to have gone insane with the absurdity of it all, but who cares? Strength hasn’t saved us. Nothing has. All the strengths and the hopes and the “positive thinking” bullshit manifestations we can delude ourselves into having do nothing for us when our skull is pressed against the trigger, or maybe when we’re lying on the ground ten feet away from the trigger – it don’t matter. Nothing really matters, right? I can’t even care about feeling hurt anymore. I can’t even care about caring. My brain and my body are simply responding in a natural way to the trauma that is continued helplessness in the face of violence that reaches such a point of absurdity that I keep having to stop myself from laughing because it feels like a joke… a joke which – if I don’t laugh at, I cry, and if I don’t cry, am I angry? And if I’m not angry, then have I just realized that the sanctity of life is a bullshit conception? I feel violence in my blood; maybe numbness is the ability to do violence to others, and if so then they better be glad we’re still animated enough to protest, because after the numbness, comes…

…what?

In memory of Rekia Boyd and Laquan McDonald.

why i’m breaking up with my anger

I’ve suffered through a few breakups in my life, but this one has got to be the hardest. Today I’m deciding to let go of my anger. My anger and I haven’t actually been together all that long, but the seeds for our passionate partnership were sown way back, back before I even knew what anger was, back before I trained my eye to be sharp in its observation and sure in its judgments. It has always been there somewhere; I have felt it in different ways, as I think we all do – in those moments when we feel uncomfortable but can’t quite put a finger on why, or react in ways that are disproportionate to any given situation. I have only come to know anger for what it truly is recently because I made space for it in my heart and my mind. By the time anger and I became acquainted, I was ready, waiting with open arms and hungry for its presence.

See anger offered me something to grab onto: a torch in a world that is constantly throwing darkness my way, a lifeline in a sea of unrelenting helplessness. Anger was there in moments when I felt that there was nothing. Anger was there in those times when I didn’t start crying because I felt that I would never stop. Anger helped me to become who I am at this very moment, a person who gives less and less of a fuck every single day watching all this tragedy happening all around me. Anger allowed me to feel unafraid, because when you’re giving a big fuck you to the world then it doesn’t matter what people think of you. My anger is what has pushed me to put myself in challenging positions that I knew only had growth on the other side, since I was not about to let ANY motherfucker tell me what I can and can’t do, no sir, not I said the angry black girl. My anger has protected me from falling susceptible to all the temptations of who Kendrick calls Lucy – – well not all of them, but certainly the ones that I can see and not have one fucking ounce of time for, like these most brilliant/bullshit temptations that have us women acting partially out of Stockholm Syndrome… (and if only it were that easy.)

I loved my anger fiercely. It gave me power where power is taken away from me; self-cultivated power, not the kind that takes away the agency of others. Where I would be without my anger today is not something I want to even think about. But the time has come for me to say goodbye, as painfully as it wrenches my heart to do so. Our relationship isn’t going anywhere, and the only future we have together is one full of bitterness and, well, hate. I ask myself what more anger can do for me and the answer is… nothing. It doesn’t serve me anymore, nor any purpose higher than myself, as good as it feels to have it in my life and as much as it always seems to be an option. It is so hard to let go of my anger, because what comes in its place must be acceptance. My anger doesn’t want me to make room for acceptance, because that would feel like surrender to all of the things that allowed us to come together in the first place. If I’m not angry anymore, then how can I sit here and claim to care about all of the things in this world that we should justifiably be fucking PISSED about? How can I feel all the suffering of my brothers and sisters and not be fucking angry? If my whole worldview is informed by the bleeding of my heart for all of the unnecessary suffering that oppression and dehumanization cause, then letting go of my anger can almost feel as though my world is crashing down around me. It can feel like I am regressing, back to the stage of myself that couldn’t yet recognize my anger for what it was because I was too conditioned not to do so, to be complacent and indifferent. Ignorance may be bliss, but it is certainly a fucked-up version of bliss where one can’t actually identify the things that are making them suffer (and so instead we do our best to convince ourselves that “everything is okay” when everything is not okay. It is super fucking not okay.)

But the truth is, letting go of my anger isn’t regression. I needed to be together with anger for a bit, for all of the wonderful things that it did give me, and all of the clarity of vision that I now have. But I can only just feel for so long before my feelings become redundant and I am sitting at a state of stagnation, giving no positive energies to myself or to those around me. And the hardest part to admit is that while it feels oh, so, so good to be with my anger sometimes, anger takes up space where love and compassion could exist. Anger gets along better with the very things that create it in the first place, and while it is easy to think that love is blinding us to the things that we should be angry about, it works the other way around too, where anger blinds us to the possibilities and potentials for love within ourselves, for ourselves, for others and for all living things. I can choose to sit here with all of my anger while the cogs of the giant oppression machine that is our world continue to turn, or I can decide it is time to let go and make room in my heart for an energy that distorts that turning; to make room for love, which I believe is the only thing that can truly, truly resist oppression.

I asked myself today: what kind of person do I want to be? I am still that person whose whole way of moving throughout this world carries within it sorrow and grief for all of the ways in which we are hindered from being fully human, but I can no longer let anger take up space where love ought to be. Cherrie Moraga says that anger is just a mask for grief, and this is true. Now it is time for me to see my grief for what it is, and to allow my grieving, my sadness, my love, and my hopes to reside together in a new unity… it is time to say my tearful goodbyes to my anger, and move on to greater things.

On Forgiveness, and Rage

Forgiveness is a recurring theme among the wisdom of our most revered leaders whom we look up to culturally, and there must be a reason for this. Forgiveness is love, both for ourselves and for those who are being forgiven, but it is a very difficult thing to practice and a difficult concept for me to wrap my head around. I recently learned a lesson in forgiveness when I chose to forgive a person in my life with whom I had experienced significant amounts of pain, not only due to their actions and behavior, but also due to my own expectations of them and my own insecurities and fears. It did not come easily for me to forgive because the stubborn and selfish parts of myself wanted to be sure that they understood my pain before I could let it go – I wasn’t very loving in my process of making sure of this, and it wasn’t until I actually chose forgiveness in my heart that I realized how much of a loving action it was.

Then there was the added factor of the pretentiousness that I felt in saying the words “I forgive you” to another individual; if I truly regard another as equal to me then how could I say something that puts me at a level of pardoning someone for sins that I could have easily committed myself as well? Perhaps Jesus has the ability to forgive, but I am a mere mortal, and saying such words to another makes me feel as if I am assuming that I am above said transgressions, and I know better than to believe that. So I said it for myself, and I was aware of this – it was less an act of pardoning than a call for accountability on my part not to draw us back to the sources of pain and to stop tormenting the both of us. Forgiveness for me in this context was an act of letting go, of saving myself and another from being stuck in a perpetual state of pain and sorrow.

When I think about forgiveness on a larger scale, it is not as simple. My individual experience of choosing forgiveness allowed me to act through love and no longer through anger, but I cannot say I am ready to do so in all aspects of my life. I know that love is what will deliver us from oppression, and I want to move throughout the world and my life through an “operative mode of love,” but I am struggling to figure out how to do so. I say this because for me there are still things that are unforgivable, namely oppression. The amount of unnecessary suffering that is experienced at the hands of oppression is something that has caused me extreme pain and sadness, and I actually believe that this is what has helped me to forgive individuals in my own life. Nothing an individual can do to me can hurt me more than oppression hurts me, and in this way it makes it easier for me to see past my own experiences and to let them go. But I am not ready to do this on a larger scale. If forgiveness is letting go, then forgiving oppression would mean to let go of the pain that I feel that is attached to it, and I cannot even begin to think about how to do so.

Oppression and the suffering that it causes has built inside of me a deep reservoir of rage, a reservoir that at times acts as a source of strength, and at others a source of immobility. I am informed by my rage, and this is reflected through my actions. My ability to “not give a fuck” is informed by my rage, and my motivation to do better for myself is informed by it. I know that my rage is also a barrier to my living fully in an “operative mode of love;” and I realize that it will require my letting go to move into the next space, to exist in the realm of peace that we regard our great leaders to exist in. This is ultimately what I want for myself, but I am reluctant to admit that there is a comfort in staying attached to my rage, because I do not want to forgive the unforgivable without it knowing how badly it has hurt me!

Oppression of course is not one person or even a group of people; it is an invisible force that creates barriers to life and brings us closer to death, so what exactly am I waiting for? I have thought to myself that my heart will bleed for all of eternity for the suffering of people that is caused by oppression, but just as forgiveness is an act of love for ourselves as much as it is for others, can I really be okay with this if I am striving to move closer to liberation? I know that having forgiveness in my heart will not mean that I no longer care, in fact, it will mean that I would have been able to transcend oppression in the sense that I will have only love in my heart… but I am too hurt to let go of my pain and to make room for love to enter. I know this because I have thought deeply about this, and when I think of the possibility of oppression touching me too intimately, I cannot feel love. If anything drastic were to happen to the people that I love due to oppression, I would let go of all my virtues and I would allow rage to rule me. If the police killed my brothers, for example, which could very possibly happen should they be in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong clothes and the wrong skin complexion, then I would kill them. I wouldn’t care about anything anymore, I would just flat-out kill them. It is scary for me to admit this to myself, and it took me a while to bring myself to write about this… but if any bullshit were to happen to my people, the people in my circle of love, then the hell with love. I would want to be ruled by my rage, and this scares the shit out of me.

It is frightening because what it really is, is hate. Rage creates hate. I don’t want any feelings of hate within myself, but I have already realized that I do posses them. I hate the police, for example. This is not just me saying this in a lyrical type of way, I literally have hate in my heart for the American police force for all the suffering that they have caused my people (on a more general level). I have thought many times to myself what I would do if I personally encountered a police officer in my life now, where my hatred for them has reached an all-time apex. I feel that my feelings of hate are so strong now that they would overpower rational thought and practical behavior. Is it really worth it? Is hate really worth that? It is not. Hate in itself is irrational; this is why oppression is irrational, because it is based on hate and death, and not love and life. I feel such a depth of rage within myself that I am okay, comfortable in fact, with the irrationality of my hate. How can I say that I am about liberation and resistance to oppression when I hold within me the same energies that are embodied within oppression? I suppose this is why our leaders are great, because they seemingly have been able to transcend hate, even in the face of having so much to feel irrationally about.

Perhaps one day I will discover the key to this – to peace, and love, and forgiveness. I am not ready to yet, and I stubbornly do not want to be ready, because I am pissed. It feels good to be pissed, to have rage, because sometimes it feels that it is all we have. It can be a source of energy, and it can also be so draining. At the moment the best I can do I suppose is to use my rage creatively, and be conscious that it is not love. If the day ever comes where I am able to heed our leaders’ advice, then on that day I will have to forgive myself for my inability to let go.