Off Coffee and No more Emotional Eating

I have been off coffee for a week. The withdrawal consequences are over, except I can’t read as much academic material as I used to. Still I can manage to read lighter articles such as those most circulated on the Internet. I have had a back and forth relationship with coffee. I usually do one cup per day, or two cups at most. Nonetheless, I considered myself an addict because without that morning cup of coffee, I could never function throughout the day. I am hoping this time, there will be no return. I’m excited to see how my body will take time to heal from the years of coffee’s addictive violence.

People suggest green tea as a replacement. A ton of research supports the benefits of green tea as it does coffee. Still, I am not so sure green tea is for me. Perhaps it does miracles for others, yes. But my goal is to get rid of caffeine from my system. Green tea has caffeine, though in less amounts than coffee. It was useful as a substitute in getting me off coffee. I will drink a cup occasional, but not every day. This morning I began my day with a cup of hot water. I squeezed a whole lemon in it. I’m feeling fine.

Aside from the victory over coffee, today begins a new chapter in my life. No more emotional eating. Last night, through an article, I discovered that I have been an emotional eater all my life. It shocked me, because I thought I had my emotional life in order: usually stress free; constantly courting inner peace; not shot down my challenges; great at motivating myself; desiring intimate love but not thirsty for it; often desiring sex but will not stoop to the whorish or desperate level; and I constantly make jokes with myself and laugh with myself.

Yet last night I began to recall that when I am studying, I constantly go to the refrigerator and eat. Or if in a coffee house, I eat every hour. Yes, I usually snack on things like bananas, papayas, nuts, mangoes, chicken sandwiches, etc. Healthy stuff, but isn’t eating unnecessarily unhealthy? My goal is to now eat whenever I am hungry, but to still have at least three meals per day. I believe I can accomplish this. This will make my body more energetic, lighter, calmer, and more attractive. Isn’t that a goal worth striving for?

Posted in Life Talk

Talking Race in Panama, Bocas Del Toro

I was just on the street chatting with a few Panamanians about race and identity in Panama. I’ve been chatting with locals ever since I arrived here. Initially, I wanted to know why every black person I encountered sounded exactly like a Jamaican. Surprisingly, they weren’t Jamaican. And their linguistic register has to do with more than the story of the many Caribbean persons who visited Panama during the Panama Canal’s building process.

Growing more intrigued about race in Panama, on a daily basis, I entered restaurants, bought food, smiled, and started conversations about race and sexuality with sellers. I didn’t always have to go to people. Sometimes, hustlers came up to me on the street, telling me they have “the powder” and “the weed.“

When I told them I don’t do drugs, they seemed disappointed.

“Anything you want, I can get it for you,” is their favorite comeback.

“Ok,” I usually replied. You can help me out if you tell me about race in Panama.

Regarding race, I wanted to know why some Panamanians in Bocas Del Toro found it difficult (not uncomfortable) to identify with a specific race; and some even laughed when I asked what was their race. One woman told me that I am very bold with my questions. Indeed, the conversations were uncomfortable at points. But I never failed to assure the people I was talking with that I only wanted to match faces with history and geography because I found the differences in the physical features fascinating. That explanation always made everyone relax; and they usually smiled.

Btw folks, I am not here doing research. And I am not here on any scholarship that has anything to do with school. I am just fascinated by how people identify themselves, why, and how I can map history by looking at people’s faces, how they walk, dress, pose, and sigh.

Visiting Brazil recently, and now coming to Panama, has been really eye opening for me. Yes, I had always known about the Afro-diaspora in Latina America, but to witness it puts me in a position where I can no longer talk about “black people” and just imagine mostly peoples from the Caribbean, America, and Africa.

I also worry about the label “Black” because many of these dark-skinned people of African descent cannot understand why “Black” as a term applies to them. They see it as a very domineering American label. Henry Louis Gates did a documentary series about blackness in Latin America years ago. It remains a very useful documentary, but I think Gates misses the point that these people do not want American intellectuals to name them.

Years ago, I would have thought Afro-Latin Americans were trying to erase their blackness; but I now know that many of them aren’t trying to erase anything other than a set of assumptions embedded in the word “black.” They see it as America and Europe forcing them to place white knowledges at the center of their identities.

I seriously value their point—and I am wondering why do we identify them as even Afro-Latinos instead of Latinos/as-Afro. Why should “blackness” and its genealogy be imagined as their genesis, (prefix), of their identities?

Posted in Politics Education, Race Matters, Uncategorized

Shift to Gun Rights Over Racism. Charleston Terrorism

To address the Charleston terrorism, Obama and Clinton shifted the talk to gun rights instead of concentrating on terrorism and racism. At least Clinton performed the politics expected and mentioned racism. Yet Obama, though in the later part of his presidency, remains too timid to address race. Rather than mention racism, Obama’s passion lies in addressing gun rights. Blame it on the guns! Forget about racism!

That Clinton spoke about racism, I wonder–who will be a better president when it comes to fighting for racial equality? He who accepts that he cannot speak, or She who knows she must speak? Yet though Clinton mentioned race, she joined Obama and shifted the talk to gun rights. The media and politicians feel comfortable discussing gun rights because that chitchat will go nowhere. No one will have any mental or physical work to do. Additionally, supporters and opposers of gun rights can still assert having access to moral integrity. Thus, Obama and Clinton’s strategy of shifting the talk to gun rights fails to engage an analysis of white male terrorism and racism in the U.S.

Of course, I know they would never acknowledge white male terrorism, but I expected them to seize the moment and emphasize white male racism. Instead of fulfilling a morally reasonable expectation, Obama and Clinton performed the sadness that was politically expected in front of the cameras. But when we strip away their performance clothing and examine their words, we notice that these performers show no vision.

And they make no promise, which black and brown peoples need if they are to secure their bodies from increasing white male terrorism, white misogyny, white-male hypermasculinity, white privilege, and the nurtured white Southern conservative traditions of violence, and the activist media and corporate sponsored movements determined to haunt people of color.

American is an unsafe place for people of color! we are educated every day. White male terrorist crusades against people or color have become more daring. In their wake, so many bleeding bodies! So many snatched breaths by the claws of white terrorists! Who will be the victims tomorrow? remains the concern of victim populations. What more freedoms do they want from us? is the question of the victimizer population, a question that has been emerging boldly from the shadows under Obama’s leadership.

Posted in Politics Education, Race Matters, Uncategorized

What is Blackness? Freedom From Patrolled Blackness!

I have an issue with any group that thinks it owns me. A large part of what I notice has been passing for black identity is merely a coalition of black-and-brown skin people asserting roots to Africa, ones who think that by virtue of my pigmentation, they ultimately speak for me, and that my body, voice, and silence automatically represent them. I want to own my freedom to escape this sort of patrolled blackness.

I do not want to be the property of any group. I’d like to recognize my skin color and identify with diverse histories that made me, battled for me, gave me possibilities, and permitted the longer stay of my breath. Up to months ago, I had long loved the idea of calling myself black because it felt like community. I saw it as fulfilling a needed political gathering that gave my body and my productions visibility. Home—it was—a space that alleviated my fears, nurtured my confidence, fed the bones of my power, and took me from the status of childhood.

Now that home has made me an adult, I wonder if the law of diminishing returns has set in when considering the role of black identity. Is home more dangerous to me now than beneficial—as my own physical home of childhood raised me but couldn’t cope with my queer body? Increasingly, I have grown uncomfortable sharing my thoughts with family members of the black diaspora. It’s less labor to keep my thoughts private in my head or on my computer. To not do too much talking, seems tempting a course of action, because speech will certainly come back to haunt as it did Tiger Woods with his Cablinaisian talk.

Many of us recognized Tiger’s struggle to situate his identity as diverse—his attempt to reject the strict boundaries of identity placement zones. But many blacks considered Tiger’s body as their property. His announcement violated the ownership rules of racial categorizations. Where I am concerned, knowledge not only offers the pleasures of awareness, knowledge administers a heavy burden when not shared. Or, if one should say there is no knowledge-burden, it’s just that I am weak and unable to keep my thoughts to myself, I will believe they are correct.

The black spaces that are positioned as marginal in the global sphere seem too eager to marginalize voices of their members. We see evidence of this on the issue of sexuality. Increasingly, popular viewpoints circulate that blacks in America are not more transphobic and homophobic than other groups. I agree with that statement and the need for its presentation. Black bodies must be recovered from deceitful white frameworks that situate them as being in perpetual antagonism with other groups seeking freedoms. But I cannot support the view that black transphobic and homophobic articulations equally mirror those of other groups in America.

Look around! It explains why queer peoples, for instance, dress and speak a certain way when in Manhattan, New York. But on the way back to Brooklyn—after passing certain stops, they put away their diverse vocal registers in the same way they rub away their make-up and change their clothing, right there in the train. The ramifications of the unequal articulations of transphobia and homophobia in black communities destroy the confidence, growth, and expressions of queer members of the black community. That fact should not be dressed up.

Another example of the marginalization of members’ voices can be noted in popular black responses to Republican leaderships and the shifts in theoretical approaches of certain black figures. Many of these famous persons are automatically not considered black enough. Remember that Obama was “not black enough” until after Oprah Winfrey endorsed him. The view is that these black leaders are a sellout or that they do not seriously grasp the history of race. Clarence Thomas, therefore, is not evaluated in terms of his adherence to a conservative judicial philosophy. He is personally attacked because many black people think they have a right to decide in what political body (conservative or democratic?) Clarence’s views should permanently reside.

Another figure, Henry Louis Gates, opened much territory for black studies. But we notice that as his research approaches changed over the years, blacks have demonized him rather than his research methods. Raven Simone, too, has graced our television as a child star in an era when black child stars were rare. Blacks vilified her because she expressed a desire to be identified as “human” rather than “black” or “gay.” People forgot the gay part. They went after her for failing to follow the ownership rules of the black part. And recently when Raven dared to share her views that Harriet Tubman should not be permitted on the $20 bill, the black community ate her alive with nasty creative metaphors.

Condoleezza Rice, as well, was heavily demonized as a disgrace to the black community while serving in the Bush administration. Many questioned her integrity and pointed out that her blackness served in a counterproductive capacity. It shared violence responsibility as it endorsed the murders Bush waged upon non-white geographies. Thus, Condoleezza’s blackness symbolically refuted contentions that Bush waged a racist war.

Whether I agree with the approaches of any of these figures is irrelevant. I am merely troubled by how blacks vilified them for sharing their views or adopting unconventional approaches. Even Al Sharpton who has clearly shown a different activist approach in the last five years is now portrayed as an ineffective figure tangled up in corporate coffers. Increasingly, many are ignoring his years as a consistent activist figure as they question his integrity. Of course, the black community should criticize black figures. Yet what irks me is the popular failure to distinguish criticism from demonization.

This failure brings to attention the workings of the black plantation paradigm that issues its vengeance when discourse, strategies, and convictions counter black conventions. In these moments, it becomes difficult to distinguish deployments of blackness from dangerous evangelical cultism. Voices that stray from the cultivated, politicized, rehearsed, blackness are ignored. Family members seem interested only in the body that echoed the voice. They show a determination to demonize the body, ridicule it as “ignorant” and filled with “self-hate.” Once upon a time, there seemed to be a need to coalesce diverse forms of black representations to cultivate counteracting power structures to white intellectual and economic violence. That need remains, but equally necessary is the importance of eradicating plantation blackness, where black Massas of the intelligentsia, activism, media, and diaspora of black politics treat black bodies and voices like chattle.

Marginal voices and bodies need liberated spaces, safe from the gathered, powerful, violence of dissenting black social media consensus. Yet I wonder—will there ever be a space for blackness that is not easily definable, because its identification embraces the notion of black boundarylessness. That is, blackness that has no geographical, conceptual, and genealogical boundaries. Blackness that is apolitical yet politically (un)predictable because it expresses no allegiance to dominant ideologies. Blackness that is theoretically (in)consistent and flip-flops rather than pridefully asserts ontological permanence and irrefutable epistemology, given that knowledges are in flux—and so it is willing to permit its fragmentation, mutation, and even deny its existence sometimes.

How can I escape the globalizing responsibility to “blackness”? At the same time, how can I embrace (a)-(my)-(no) blackness, and at times reject it/them, and at other times return to them/it? How—really yes—can I allow my identity to work for me without worrying about the Massas and the cultisms of black plantations? How can I release myself from trans-geographical biddings and auctions for my pigmentation, my silent body articulations, and my voices?

Posted in Gay Voices, Politics Education, Race Matters, Uncategorized

Rachel Dolezal is a Black Woman

Like the NAACP, I support Rachel Dolezal. If she says she is a black woman, Rachel is a black woman. She didn’t use her identity to destroy black lives. She constructed her identity and labelled herself in defiance of marginalizing sociological constructs. Yes, her cultivation is another sociological construct, but it is affirming than marginalizing. With this affirmative construct, Rachel identified with, affirmed, and advocated for black lives. So, I am not going to throw a good human being under the bus, because her biological parents want the world to hop on their self-serving bandwagon.

A recent interview reveals that Rachel didn’t get the parental love every child deserves. She thus had to redefine the notion of family (parents and sibling), just so she could create her own space of nurturing—a needed space if she were to maintain her strength and passion to save black lives. What is so wrong about unmarking yourself and painting yourself anew to preserve your mental health and save the physical bodies of others? Why should I join the chorus to mock a woman with a legacy of good deeds that saved black lives?

Now Rachel is weeping upon being force to clarify her actions to a chastising world, sobbing as media cameras dig tunnels into her life, weeping as our condemnations criminalize her. Weeping indeed; because only few of us have risen to her defense and say—but wait a minute! Didn’t she use her life and identity to highlight the concern that black lives matter? Where is our compassion in the moment Rachel needs us most to save her own mental life? Could we be physically killing her with our humiliations and giggles?

A liar, many call Rachel; but is Rachel Dolezal a hero—one forcing us to examine our own comfortableness with disabling, racial identity markers? Her own exposure forces us to realize that we cling desperately to the racialization of skin-coloration politics. And those who disrupt the traditions of that political architecture face our wrath.

Of course, Rachel is facing our wrath through our twittering and facebooking mockeries and belly laughs that do not deeply engage a productive discourse on race. Because, why are so few of us asking whether it is at all possible that her family tree might in fact fail to bear witness to the purity of a genealogical whiteness—that very white purity we think she possess and dare deny? In the absence of a proof of that white purity, (or even if such proof exists), why should she not have the option to inscribe her own identity, not to destroy black lives, but to save black lives and her own life.

Our failure to raise these questions exposes our disability–a need to critically question the colonialist, colorist, paradigms that entangle our freedoms to name, erase namings, rename, and even to later blot out the very names we gave ourselves on various parts of our life’s journey. Our disability robs the motivation required if we are to rise with energy and seek the essential knowledges to decode our racialized world, the modes of race identities, racial fluidity and diversities, and ethnic hybridities.

Indeed–who are we, if not a composition of many bodies? We ignore this reality through the power of our legislations that cement the notion of racial purity. Even legislations that are designed to combat racism themelves cement the notion of pure racial separateness. That there is a need to combat something, itself suggests that the something exists. Thus, we believe, whiteness exists in its purest form; blackness exists in its purest form.

Further solidifying the notion of racial purity are the history books we engage in childhood–those ones that were awarded canonical importance due to the privilege extended to certain groups in diverse eras and their militarist and economic victories. Reading, for instance, the history of Shakespeare forces many of us to see him as fully white without raising any question about the racial purity of his own genealogy. We also cannot ignore how our racial identities are politically and culturally marked and remarked (not biologically) based upon geographical districtings of First, Second, and Third World theories, and ethnic and colorist segregations across the world. All these markers ignore the genetics and biology that define human beings as they consolidate the notion of race.

Is there a pure race? Why is Rachel Dolezal white? What is whiteness? Why is Rachel Dolezal black? Why is she neither black nor white? When we laugh at or condemn Rachel, what is our specific contribution to the body of knowledge needed to eradicate racism? In what ways are our contributions of condemnation highlighting our disability, ignorance, and arrogance?

No doubt, I support movements that destabilize the comfort spaces that identities use to declare their utility, power, and marginality. And certainly, I believe identities and groupings do matter for political purposes such the NAACP advocacy Rachel dedicated her life to. I, however, align with voices and actions that understand the need for human beings to fluidly occupy identity spaces based upon mental, emotional, and physical needs, and to redefine those spaces after obtaining the healing needed. Identity markers should not be shackles group members use to reign over other people’s lives.

So comfortable many of us are with just saying, “I am black because I have black skin!” And isn’t it just so easy to say, “I am white because my parents are white!”? We fail to realize that those unquestioned declarations continue to serve as identity colonies that provide plantation space for narrow-minded concepts that deny freedom to the varied imaginaries of our multiple racial selves.

Could Rachel be challenging us to redefine blackness and whiteness and other colonies of racial identifications? Sadly, though, most of us won’t take on this essential task. It requires too much knowledge seeking and research–and oh–we are so busy, because we need to get on to the next sweet news story of the day! And whites love the privilege packaged in their whiteness. And blacks survive as powerful beings by affirming and rejecting communities based upon blackness-tests. With passions, mouths, giggles, and finger bones in labor, both whites, blacks, and other people of color are vigorously defending a racialized heritage of colonialism; and they will not allow black woman Rachel Dolezal to get in the racialized pathway.



Posted in Politics Education, Race Matters

Cornel West — Public Intellectual Labor versus Academic Labor

I laugh to myself when I hear some academics agree with Michael Eric Dyson’s assertion that Cornel West has not produced any significant scholarship in years and that somehow makes Cornel academically unproductive. What have many of these critics produced? Perhaps a dissertation followed by a book at most. Who really reads their book? Perhaps an auntie, two friends, and fifty persons on the publisher’s subscription list.

These academics understand well that it is difficult or impossible to balance academic scholarship production, mentor young academics, mentor fans, serve on college committees, regularly accept local and international speaking engagements from which the college benefits, take care of family, take care of physical body, attend to mental health, and consistently serve the community as a grassroots activist. Cornel West balanced all these things and excelled. Yet these academics continue to point out that he has abandoned academic principles.

What do they mean? I don’t know. For what is the purpose of academic utility if it devalues the relationship of scholarship productions and accessibility to everyday people. If regular people do not understand how to enact fancy theories in academic productions in order to mobilize change, what does that say about the goals of academic labor?

Parts of the culture of higher education so annoys me—the snobbery, the laziness when it comes to engaging everyday people, the cowardice as it concerns the need to boldly articulate political positions without dodging behind other people’s quotations, and the tunnel-vision mindset that only values the production of consistent scholarship.

Some of these academics will tell you that it is not their passion to engage with everyday people. They argue that scholarship production by itself is intellectual activism. By expanding the notion of activism to include themselves, these scholars benefit by adding it to their CVs, resumes, and interview revelations. All in all, it makes their academic portfolio looks diverse: they have been eating bread and butter with the common folk, thus remedying their elitist-privilege guilt.

Observing this widespread 21st Century intellectual hustle, I can’t be mad, because academia, like many other corporatized spaces, is a hustling ground, purporting to be a venue of moralizing knowledge access, and a philanthropic service space. But that won’t stop me from wondering—how can they truly investigate the people they attempt to theorize without a commitment to engage those people frequently?

I, for instance, notice some academics claim they are studying people of color. Hearing their conversations, you realize they have an interest in issues of color that are written in books but not necessarily people of color. Indeed they can tell you everything about Rigoberta Menchú, Indira Gandhi, Junot Diaz, and James Baldwin. Yet they have no friends or close associate who are people of color. They have never visited or slept over in a community of color. And they make no commitment to understand the everyday, unwritten, sociologies of people of color. They suffer no guilt; because, in their heads, they are occupying spaces of color in archives and books. What more do you want them to do?!, they are perhaps saying now.

Nevertheless, the system of tenureship and professorial awards, in many cases, rewards academics who skillfully deploy all these annoying characteristics I highlighted. Many college professors are the finest when it comes to digging through archives and synthesizing theories to formulate published research-paper sociologies that affect lives. But many of these same ones are horrible at teaching, they have no intention to address their pedagogical disabilities, they consistently score low on teachers evaluations, and they do not have the skills and just don’t care about mingling with everyday people with grassroots access.

The problem is that as early as my community-college-education years, I realized such professors often are the department bulldogs, the gatekeepers of tenureship for other scholars who are not only doing research but are also bringing their message to the public in the way Cornel does. This is one of the many reasons I decided to do doctoral studies. I wanted to learn about what these professors know and be able to translate new knowledge to people with grassroots access. Do I regret my decision to do doctoral studies? Absolutely not. I am having the fun of my life, but things need to be said.

Cornel’s methods might not be always polite to or respectful of those who value political strategies different from his, but shouldn’t public-intellectual labor be respected as academic labor? Yes, Cornel has said some nasty things about Michael Eric Dyson, who has the right to return the literary nastiness. Dyson’s The Ghost of Cornel West and his supporters’ views, however, have made us aware of their lack of appreciation for academic labor whenever it shares a physical space with peoples who have grassroots access.

Posted in Politics Education, Race Matters, Uncategorized

Hypocrisy Around the Floyd Mayweather Conversations

I find it interesting–the coalition, consensus, aggressive activism, and flooding of responses through twittering and facebooking that condemn Floyd Mayweather’s criminality. Should he be condemned? Indeed, yes. But what concerns me is the unintentional, inadvertent, publicity of the public’s shortsightedness and perhaps its immorality as it declares its own allegiance to a moralizing position against gender violence. I mean to suggest that we identify the vacancy that urgently needs occupants whose residential mortgages will pool to address the violence similar to Mayweather’s.

(1) The violence of Obama’s unquestioned drone attacks and murders on peoples outside America. Which also means, the violence of silent Americans and Caribbean persons who need to understand that violence shouldn’t denote a different moral logic because of its status as nationalized, transnationalized, or globalized.

(2) The violence perpetrated by top politicians, such as Hilary Clinton, who continue to accept donations from political regimes such as Saudi Arabia, which sponsors inequality and violence against women.

(3) The violence of corporations and their wealthy executives who earn profit and privilege by guaranteeing low production costs and high returns on stock investments. These costs and investments benefits are possible because production is shipped overseas to Asian territories where political structures are sexist and often perpetrate violence, rapes, and assassinations against women and child workers.

(4) The violence of public institutions of higher education such as the one I attend, CUNY, that invest funds into organizations that manage their investment portfolios. These organizations maximize returns by placing higher education investments into prison industries. To be noted is that the public’s money ensures that prisons fail to act as corrective institutions. Rather, prisons’ fundamental missions become aligned to framing their image as attractive investment instruments.

The logic and evidence of this shows that politicians aggressively patronize the lobbyist wishes of prison unions and corporate elites that maintain a vested interest in preserving prison laws that maximize prison terms and deny justice to jailed convicts. Overcrowded prisons, therefore, are disastrous for women of color, but excellent for politicians and executives of higher education.

I wish to emphasize my point that we should continue to condemn Floyd Mayweather. But while doing so, we would benefit from questioning what motivates our agitation, and whether we have widened the critical lenses needed to locate similar and larger violence that continue to disable far greater numbers of women. Failure to do so leaves us like moral missionaries that invaded, colonized, and enslaved peoples of the “New World” yet justify the crimes as godly. And we might argue the missionaries weren’t aware they were committing crimes. And I would say, why didn’t they treat the people of their own world in the way they treated the peoples they conquered in the New World.

Posted in Politics Education, Uncategorized

Solidarity With Baltimore Protestors. Resist White Wisdom

The same narrative told to blacks to behave themselves and allow justice to run its course is the same meat of white wisdom given to plantation slaves for centuries. In the 21st century, police and prosecutors lynch the lives and opportunities of people of color daily. We see the video proofs that make us scream. Yet for each scream, people of color never get justice. In fact, white wisdom tells us that our screams are racist or too focused on race.

White wisdom in the 21st is not only telling people of color to allow the justice system to operate, it is also humiliating people of color who dare to demand too much justice from the justice system. The humiliation brands critics as unreasonable, too close to aggressive blackness (for instance), too affirming of unstablished blackness, not corporately driven, not ambitious one bit.

To be upwardly mobile in society, therefore, many people of color have employed white wisdom and stayed far from what they consider to be controversial discourse. Topics surrounding race and freedoms are thrown beneath the bus of politics though these people continue to benefit immensely from controversial discourses others deploy. Many whites seem more comfortable these days talking about the theory of race (not the facts of what happens in racialized communities) than many people of color.

Race politics has long been branded as a dirty word when marginalized classes engage it. But when the rich and white engage race politics, they are rewarded with power and fame. They are considered as pioneers enacting diversity reform. (Don’t get me started on this DIVERSITY word because I don’t know what the fuck it means these days because I could say I am diverse if I can prove I have a fetish for wearing my socks until they are really nasty stink.) The rich and white—which means the mainstream media as well—want to be the only ones shaping the talk about racism in America.

So I’m not shocked that large numbers of people of color have not fully grasped that rich and white agenda. These people of color have bought into the media narrative that the majority of the Baltimore protestors are violent. I deeply worry that many people of color are not learning. Why can’t they decode the ole rules of the ole white media playbook? Why can’t they remember—that’s all: just at least try to remember—the consistent rich and white efforts designed to paralyze and rebrand activisms by people of color.

To enact these rich and white efforts, the media has always ensured that the biggest discoursed subject of the activism is not about the violence committed by the police and prosecutorial state. The biggest subject usually concerns the questions—are the protestors peaceful? Are the protestors destroying their own community? Are the protestors ignoring police orders designed to protect them?

Protestors’ activisms demand that power structures gaze upon the system of justice. But white media efforts shift the gaze to the protestors and question whether protestors are deserving of justice. The media bias also focuses only on a handful of protestors in order to brand communities of color as violent. Violence captured on videos are constantly replayed and refashioned into different presentation mediums in order that the effectiveness of harvested violence imageries can further racialize the American and global psyche.

Cartoonists get to work. Lighting designers get busy. Photoshoppers are overwhelmed. Sound artists have a role too, because the role of music and particular sounds shape imperialisms–in the same way the frequency of ambulance sirens remind us that we are living in big cities rather than rural communities, in the same way that constant police guns in communities of color teach peoples that certain lives need to be birthed and nurtured beneath militarisms.

In a nutshell, the media bias films violence, customizes and technologizes its appeal to frighten cultural sensibilities, and then brands the violence as a representation of the character of people of color. This violence branding further validates police and prosecutorial lynchings, further affirms popular white wisdom that black lives did not matter on the plantation system and should not matter in 21st century.

Thus I refuse to engage conversation for long about the subject of violent protestors in Baltimore. Not that such isn’t worthy of conversation because we can only agree that violence has often been an option that counteracts violence. We see no clearer evidence of this philosophy than glancing at America’s perpetual drone warfare upon and assassinations of Third World peoples and governments. It is that, rather than talking about the protestors violence, I would be more interested in talking about what the protestors intended to occupy the vacancy in popular rich and white discourses—that is, the subject of police and prosecutorial lynchings in Baltimore.

Posted in Politics Education, Race Matters, Uncategorized

Separating From My Dog Is Painful

One of the hardest decisions of my life, but I will have to find a home for my four-year old Cairn terrier dog. My life is moving into a different direction, one that I delayed for two years to care for my dog; but my dog is in a healthier place than when we began living together, so I decided that I can begin living the other life I always wanted, a life of traveling a lot, a spontaneous life where my locations will depend on my mood at any given moment.

I need to live this life to cater to my emotional and physical well-being, and to suit my desires as a writer, reader, and producer of knowledge. Since this decision is a tough one, I know I will continue to flip flop about what I really want, and I welcome that experience. I do not view mood and decision flip-flopping as modes of weakness but as experiences fused and riddled with compassion and conscience in negotiation with desires for self advancement. At the end of the day, however, I have to find a home for my dog if I intend to thrive and survive.

I don’t intend to sell her at all. That act would seem filthy to me. I don’t judge others who sell the thing they love, but I just couldn’t do it. And I don’t intend to give her to a total stranger. I’d have to know how the person lives, the condition of their home, and closely discern their personality. I would also like to be able to see her at least thrice a year, and would like to be the first option to dog-sit her if need be.

Yes, I have preferences for the ideal person though exceptions will apply. I like the idea of finding her a home with an economically and emotionally stable person, not someone too young who moves from house to house, and job to job. And I don’t like the idea of her being around kids. Love them and their sweet excitement, but they tend to be rough with small animals when parents aren’t looking. She is very delicate, though she can be tough and rough, and sensitive. She is like my personality in many ways: tough, soft, likeable, loving, and independent.

A woman would be ideal or a matured gay man. Why? From what I have observed, women tend to be more sensitive when it comes to caring for life; and gay men in the city areas show great appreciation for small size animals. I am not excluding straight men but I don’t know enough about straight men’s behavioral patterns with small dogs to consider them ideal.

I hate to have to insert the following explanation, but I suspect some persons will wonder why gender and sexuality matters in influencing my ideal. My own understanding of what is love, how to love, and who showed me (and the things and bodies) I loved the most compassion are shaped by gender-and-sexuality’s forcefulness in my histories. I’m not hoping to open a debate about what populations are best with animals, but it would have been dishonest to not note my preferences.

If I had someone to watch my dog while I was away, I wouldn’t be writing this. Friends have indeed offered to watch her, but I have to feel their promises in my heart. Additionally, most of my close friends do not show the excitement for animals that would make me comfortable leaving them with my dog. As well, I don’t like the idea of asking people to do me repeated favors. And obviously, dog sitters are too expensive for a doctoral student’s budget.

I feel horrible writing this post, and I am wondering why—especially since my dog is lying next to my feet. I guess I feel like I am deciding her fate without her knowledge and permission. Yesterday, I looked at her curved body lying next to my feet and I read it as her being a dog, her being comfortable. Today I look at it as I write this note and I read it as her being depressed, her sensing an impending separation, her anxious about the future. What I dread most is that my dog could end up with a family that shows her less love than I had.

This is what many women go through when they must leave their children to survive, I now understand a bit. A bit, because there is indeed a difference when the life speaks back to you and say, “Mom, where are you going?” “Mom, are you coming back?” “Mom, why do I have to live with Grandma?”

But what is even more saddening is when Mom does the ultimately–gives the child up for adoption, and consequently lives with guilt rather than with the satisfaction of knowing that her accessing adoption was her best act of love.  Thus Mom’s guilt cultivates imaginary voices of the child in her head: “Why did my real Mom give me away?” “What does Mom look like?” “Did Mom love me?”

My inability to live the life I dream has increasingly been stifling me. I like the idea of getting up, heading to Manhattan; and while in Manhattan, if I suddenly feel to board a train to Atlanta because I feel a sudden spell to write something for hours while on a train, I want to be able to do it. The winter, too, is sucking my energy away, disrupting my ability to read, write, think, and exercise. The days when the sun is not shining bright and the cold wraps my body and brain are the days when I have to force myself to rise and remain energized about life and my dreams. These days have been many for a long time. But somehow I have remained energized all these years. Now, I feel this fuel that kept me energized is running out. To refill, I need to access new ways of living. I have no doubt about that. Yet somehow I feel like my head is not clear, for already, I feel like I can’t go through with my decision. But have I made a decision? I think I need advice on this. No doubt, I need a lot of advice.


Posted in Life Talk

Controversy Empire TV Series

Regarding the old controversy about the TV series Empire, it’s my position that some people place too many demands on filmmakers that address black lives. This very reason explains why some filmmakers do not want to take on issues that deal with the black community. People want to produce art; nobody wants to produce art that pits them into war.

I won’t even argue with people about this, because it takes skill to be able to decode the multiple readings of this show. Some of Empire’s critics are too stuck on reading only the drugs part of it without realizing that the film balances its weaknesses as it allows the black community to see black bodies navigating the political and economic structures as power brokers, victimizers, and victims.

We also cannot ignore the opportunity it gives viewers to acknowledge erotic queerness such as the sadomasochistic relationship between Naomi Campbell and the singer (I forget his name) where he calls her Mama in the bedroom. This particular scene raises an opportunity for viewers to ask–how do artists deviate from the norms, not only with their art but with their bodies and desires? Is there a relationship between erotic deviation and the production of art and the stability of culture?

The movie also forces us to wrestle with the question: how is wealth formed? how do entrepreneurs keep their wealth? What is the role of manipulation? What is the effect of using eroticness and sex in order to seal deals and survival?

Posted in Race Matters, Reviews

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