This the third segment of a four part series, between myself and Hari Ziyad of RaceBaitr. After witnessing weeks of violence birthed from white supremacies, coupled with bursts of queer victories, we decided to create a healing space together where could process the intersections of our Black & Queer existences. We invite you to join us. To catch up on the dialogue, read the original post here and his response–which this is referring to–here.
I hold you in my heart, from here. With each line of your prose, I find myself, holding myself, because I too feel safe(r) and you’re too far to feel the strength of my grasp. I find peace here, with you. With you knowing me..and us knowing each other..privately..publicly. There is something to the public displaying of black love, black brotherhood. It doesn’t happen often. It’s often messy, confusing and bubbly over with things we’d rather not discuss–usually things that must be discussed for home and healing. Perhaps through this, we’ll put one foot forward in the practice of loving blackness, BlaQueerness and creating holistic relationships and practices of relating.
Feeling is something isn’t? Those internal stirrings seem to always govern our external doings, despite our constant professions of “not being in our feelings.” The truth seems to be closer to the fact that we are our feelings, beneath and through the masks, our true selves are quite ungovernable. Perhaps this is the violence of the collective. In our yearnings to create, identify and heal and “our” we often sacrifice many of those perfect imperfections of “i” and “you.” We fear, or more accurately, I often feel myself practicing that horrid tradition of internal, cultural and political circumcision to create a space of “home” in/through/with the collective…all while failing to realize that the scalpel, is of course, the most sophisticated of the master’s tools..and those tools have but one purpose..to maintain the power of the plantation and the immobility of those daring enough to be sharecroppers, seeking a modicum of independence.
That feeling of loneliness. He is such a daddyfucker. He used to come to me in the evenings, uninvited, sullying my once joyful dreams. It came to the point where I had so dreaded evenings, darkness, that I’d read and write and run myself into exhaustion as to prevent my mind being able to conjure up anymore thoughts or dreams attached to loneliness. That worked for a time, but a short time. Through the writings of Essex, Joseph, Audre and bell, I came to fear and understand that loneliness is truly a side-effect of home. No, not the home we’ve been speaking of consisting of loved and dreaded ones, but home within. All too often I believe, we especially, confuse houses with homes. We concern ourselves with the happenings of folks, the thoughts of folks, the fears and fuckery of folks that we are only temporally, contractually and tentatively bound to. I’ve never been a fan of being bound. But home, for me, is a place within. A place where I reside with all of me. It is a warm, cozy and safe place. It where my fears meet my truths and my truths converse with my hopes and they with my insecurities all together with the promise and fact of who I am, who i’m being called to be and the annoyingly, small, high pitched chants of those trying to walk away with all my stuff. In my home, I’ve been allowed to create, remodel and own a space where I am forever a lone, but never longing. Intimate knowledge and love of oneself creates a prescient sense of awareness that other cannot understand. This sort of self love, and it’s attending practices, creates a sort of insulation and distancing from what much of our loved ones and society see as normal..the chase to fit in, smile at all costs and be pleasant and desired. When you at home, you don’t have to cover yourself with clothes, you can choose to be naked, and smile.
I tried to speak of love here, when thinking about the black connection to a free Palestine. A sort of thinking through the notion of a “critical love ethic.”
You spoke of understanding. Perhaps understanding isn’t what we should be fighting or longing for? As you noted, we often don’t understand ourselves. Centering love, and by extension humanization, on understanding positions the othered sister/brother in the realm of the sleepless educator..who must know the world, know the student and know thyself. Our bodies can no longer be chalkboards, emblazoned and engraved with bloody tales of trauma, overcoming and lessons on how not to be an emotional terrorists. Like you said brother, perhaps it’s just about living. So many of us are stuck in survival, we have forgotten, or never had the chance, to experience the freedom of simply living. We are often so caught up with white supremacist, capitalistic, heteropatriachal, trans*phobic society that we forget the centrality of the beating heart, the thinking mind and spirits that know truths deeper than Euphrates and longer than the Nile.
The Black Savior Complex is so unique. It posits the dual question and mandate If I don’t save me, and us, who will? If I fail, then I have reified white supremacies and midwifed black deaths. As brave as it may sound, there are far too many casualties in these ideologies of heroism, mainly the heroine.
I rambling now, as a protective exercise. Really, I wanted to speak with you about yesterday. We texted briefly about this. Shockingly, or unsurprisingly perhaps, I’m finding it hard to express what I intimated or at least hinted at over text, through this public space. So I’ll try. The Slave Lodge almost killed me. The Slave Lodge almost killed me. The Slave Lodge almost killed me.
Breathe. As I was texting you, I had simply needed a breathe. I needed to remember that the slave deck I had just laid myself on was not a threat, no longer. I needed to know that the chains and ropes I had laid over my body, to re-member ourstories, were not knotted. I had to reach out to you, just to know that I could Hari. A heaviness had overcome me as I read and chanted the over two hundred names scrawled on that wheel of remembrance. I had taken the chains and ropes off my body, but they had never really left. Our mothers bore the physical weight deprivation of these tools of genocide, yet we continued to be choked and slowly euthanized by them today. The ropes have become guns, the ships white supremacist nations where physical escape is tantamount to jumping into an ocean and praying for a miracle…only to realize that you can only be found by another Savior, and to her, you’re still just another, other. I couldn’t breathe. I still can’t breathe. We are no longer slaves. We are not enslaved people. In some ways, it feels like we are worse…partly because we dwell, celebrate and elope in the mess you spoke of earlier…adorning ourselves with it’s stink…perhaps because within we know there is no escaping–not in this life–and better to survive with the pretense of autonomy, than to die, throat-chopped by reality and rejection, chasing liberation.
To think of these things here has been quite difficult. I’ll write more about this later. I just had to share this last bit with you. They feed off of my African-Americaness. All of them. Even within Africa, South Africa, MY blackness is a property I have no title over. If I am to be owned, again, I had hoped to be all mine. The black and colored South Africans position themselves as friendly and close only after they here of my American accent. Otherwise I’m invisible, or a pest, to be watched. They are white supremacists too. However, it isn’t my passport they seem to crave. No, it is the erotic of the African American mystique…the Nigga in me..they can’t get enough of that word. When it is spoken to me, here, by them..”neeee-guhh” it sends a strange sense of strangulation, anger and envy through my body. Strangled, because I have no words they care to understand or receive. Angry because even in the Motherland, my body and reality is positioned as cultural or economic capital…everyone wants to be a nigga until the struggle is real. Envious..because to be black, to be a real nigga, without a white state, mass white violence/anxieties, the fear of the police’s gun…incongruent echoes of Malcolm, Assata, Martin, Angela..Cultural voyeurism, the raping of African-American struggle and brilliance is violent..and surviving is fucking up my blaqueerflow. I can breathe again, but I have only so many smiles left.
Looking forward to your words. They take me back to the moment we met. The sun was warm and shining, the shisha was strong and brotherhood was brewing.
In Liberatory Love,