Saturday, January 28, 2017

How far backward to "greatness"?

It's been 8 days since NMPOTUS (Not MY President of the US) took office and he's already banned refugees and LEGAL resident aliens from 7 countries who are predominantly Muslim.  He's written executive orders to push the DAPL and Keystone XL pipelines into construction, and there is evidence that he has shares and will directly profit from these orders.  Betsy DeVos's hearing about her nomination for Secretary of Education is on Tuesday the 31st, after she's decimated Detroit Public Schools with her voucher "school of choice" approach to charter, private and parochial schools.   We all know that school of choice equals legalized segregation of schools.   He's pulled out of TPP, put gag orders on National Parks, the EPA and FDA, tried to defund NGOs who even mention abortion abroad and Planned Parenthood at home, as well as announced his plans to begin construction on "the wall" between the US and Mexico.

I have to ask, have we teleported back to the 1930s?  How far back do we have to reach to remind ourselves that America was never great?  We have almost always been on the wrong side of history, unless we ourselves are writing the historic account.  We are victors because we are tyrants, like every imperialistic empire.  We learn too late and decimate human beings and ways of life different from our white, Christian, capitalist, patriarchial societal norms.  Many of my friends are protesting the most recent stripping of human rights at JFK airport right now, as Border Patrol illegally detains refugees who have gone through the vetting and proper channels to be here in the U.S. today.

Today, it may be refugees and nationals from 7 countries in the middle East and Eastern Africa, but next month it could be Western Africa.  We could go visit our family in Senegal and my husband, despite having his green card, could be told that he cannot enter the U.S. again.  This can't happen to "anyone", because there is a specific, racialized "immigrant" who is brown, who is Muslim, who is female or not gender conforming, who is queer, who is educated.  This is what fascism feels like.  Being all of those identities at once magnifies one's experience of why America isn't great at all, but a place of perceived freedom.

My greatest fear is being paralyzed in the face of danger, of making a wrong choice that puts people I love in danger.  I was so upset about not getting to go to the Womens' March last week, but I struggle with bringing my kids into protest situations, which may not always be safe, depending on police response.  So, while people are headed to JFK to protest, I am doing the everyday things with greater intention.  Self-care is revolutionary, too.  I cook food for my family, give Sali a steam bath to help clear her sinuses.  I also realize that in raising these defiant, fierce spirits, we are also teaching the next generation of fighters against injustice.

I have to raise my children to fight.  They must lead themselves to safety, possibly in a literal sense.  We may need to go off the grid sooner than we thought, because we're on track to end human civilization in my lifetime.

Greed over human life will be what ends us.  From cures to cancer to organized extermination through the drug war, fast food and factory farming, mass incarceration, guns in the hoods, gang violence.  If we kill each other, they win.  We buy their products, worship them for being rich.  We stay poor, they build their wealth off of us and live in fear of our power if we were ever to unite.

Our speak UP last week was wonderful and inspiring, but one week later, I am already weary.  I have withdrawn on weekends to heal, and to rest for the long fight we have ahead of us.  See you in the streets, and on the playgrounds.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Meditating On Our Movement

I have been re-posting, writing about and including this quote everywhere lately: “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. King is someone whose writing I return to over and over again, because it is lyrically powerful in addition to its uplifting message of strength and unity. He was targeted because his message was ultimately too powerful, and was begin to assist in the integration of minds, hearts and spirits of white and black people in America. While Malcolm X's message was one feared by many white Americans because it emphasized the strength and unity of black people, King's audience was broadened with his calculated approach of non-violence. His message was sanitized after his death, and every year when we pause to celebrate his glorious impact, I also want to remember "Letter from A Birmingham Jail" and his later writing, which sought to understand the very root of violence as a response to being treated inhumanely, for hundreds of years.

As we work in United Playaz, we often talk about how some of the problems we see in our society, police brutality, sexism, racism, domestic violence, rape -- that these are too large for us to tackle in a small Bronx classroom. I sense your cynicism and you call me cheesy because I still believe in the change we can each activate within our own lives. I am not naive enough to believe that personal change is enough, though. Systemic racism must end. Mass incarceration and criminalization of young, black and brown people must end. Materialism and greed for more than we need. Dropping bombs on people who look different from us, because we fear their way of life. All of these things must be left behind when WE take over.

So, after the election, I asked you to write about where you were. You complained, told me that this was the worst part of this class. I asked you to vision, to think about the kind of future you'd like to see. I asked you to write what you wanted for our future. You told me that no one was listening anyway, that things wouldn't change in the hood, no matter who was president. But we have to speak anyway, have to act anyway. Your community is listening, and wants to hear what you have to say. We might not close Rikers Island (yet), but we can make moves toward building a world in which we are valued, our ideas are heard, and we can impact how our community looks and feels.

So I ask you, as we celebrate the progress that Dr. King helped to make in this country, but as we look around and see that racism is still alive, well and gaining more steam than it's had since the 1950's, how do we move? Let's speak UP on Friday, and take the words we share as a first step in our movement.

In solidarity,


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

ny state of (new jersey) mind

inside the parentheses is where home lives.  squeezed between a larger purpose, being a parent was not what i thought was my destiny, and i am still learning how to do it.  i have uncovered a well of anger, and the tantrums that come with toddlers also occur in parents.  i don't want to adult, some days.  i don't want to take care of others.  i want to sulk, brood, read buffy the vampire slayer comic books and drink coffee, watch criminal minds, write things, read more things, listen to wu tang, relax.

but new york is my heart, specifically. <3 a="" again.="" all="" always="" am="" and="" are="" arms="" balancing="" be="" between="" bronx.="" buy="" capitalize="" children="" community="" commute="" for="" have="" here.="" here="" hold.="" home="" hope="" i="" imagine="" in="" interstate="" is="" life="" love="" my="" nbsp="" of="" p="" raise="" scale="" someday="" that="" the="" this="" to="" traveling="" two="" within="">how do i balance hectic, frenetic and deeply emotional work with two-tantruming toddlers?  plus my own need to exorcise bad energy?  i'm not even doing any of them well.  so, i've had to withdraw, in many ways.  moving so far from my community has meant an implosion of my ability to always be there, but becoming a mom hasn't impeded me, it's transportation.

new jersey has a hold on me.  more space to roam with rambunctious curls, the possibility of yards and parks where we can wear these spirits out.  i do need to exercise more this year, but i am so, so tired.  i am exhausted with the sadness lifted from someone else's shoulders, sagging under its own weight.  i am spiritually exhausted, and done with this commute.  though i am a lover of public transit, i am meditating on the need for a car.  nam myoho renge kyo.

i enter this year in a positive, hopeful place (despite the impending doom of the world), but i recognize the need to withdraw and meditate. be quiet, listen, rest and recharge.  isn't this what winter is for?  you'll find me balancing between the waves, neither yin nor yang, but building a plan and a path for spring.  i withdraw now to reconnect soon.   love u.