Thursday, June 21, 2007

Home is a Trip: Out of this World

The Keys: The Official Organ of the League of Colored People (edited by Una Marson), 1933
Spare Rib, 1979-1984
For Ourselves: From Women's Point of View: Our Bodies and Sexuality, Anja Muelenbelt, 1981.
Conditions ("Feminist Literary Journal with an Emphasis on Writing by Lesbians") 1982-1988
Girls are Powerful: Young Women's Writings from Spare Rib, 1982
FAN (Feminist Art News) 1983-1985
Gen: An Anti-Racist, Anti-Sexist Education Journal, 1983-1988
I Is a Long Memoried Woman, Grace Nichols, 1983
A Dangerous Knowing: Four Black Women Poets Barbara Buford, Gabriela Pearse, Grace Nichols, Jackie Kay, 1984.
Echo: Works by Women Artists 1850-1940, Maud Sulter, 1991.
Syrcas, Maud Sulter, 1994.
Jeanne Duval, A Melodrama, Maud Sulter, 2003.
The Known World, Edward P. Jones, 2003.
Sing, Whisper, Shout, Pray: Feminist Visions for A Just World, M. Jacqui Alexander, Lisa Albrecht, Sharon Day and Mab Segrest (eds), 2003.
Soul Power: Culture, Radicalism and the Making of A U.S. Third World Left, Cynthia A. Young, 2006.
The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World, Vijay Prashad, 2007.
The Allied Media Conference in Detroit Michigan
and the United States Social Forum in Atlanta Georgia (as supplemental and inassimilable texts)

What I really learned this week was never to return from a powerful, overwhelming and sleep depriving event in Detroit with only a few hours before you need to drive to a powerful, overwhelming and sleep depriving event in Atlanta. Especially if (thanks to a rare mistake by your loving and usually perfect partner) you are actually accidentally homeless...during those not even 20 hours at "home". (My girlfriend locked all of our keys in the house...our landlord was out of town...the locksmith was closed...where was Una Marson when I needed her so!)

Luckily, (in addition to the surplus inspiration I received from the badass women of color bloggers and young hip hop activists I met in the big D) I had a good reason to stay awake during the drive to Atlanta (lengthened by rain, rubbernecking and rush hour): Mama Nayo. I had the honor of driving from present home to former home with native ATLien, black arts south heroine, and loving elder friend Nayo Watkins. Our conversation which ranged from the meaning of "community research" to the difference between growing up in Atlanta during periods of racial and class-based segregation framed my entire trip home (oh that word again).

For updates on the poems and polemics I shared at the Allied Media Conference and the United States Social Forum click the appropriate links on the BrokenBeautiful Press mainpage, and let me know what you think. This is the place where I start (again) figuring out my relationship to the texts above in terms of my life here (below).

My question, subliminally pre-invoked by these readings and reiterated by my overdose on conference attendance is this: How many world are there? Especially in regards to the work that Young and Prashad do (often in contradiction...and certainly with different scopes) to define the 3rd World, I wonder how many worlds exist at once.

Many worlds are small ones. This past week I have travelled through one small world that is the US based people of color led movement for radical social change. We all know each other. I hope that makes us a movement. I hope that makes us accountable. I hope that helps us succeed. And I have visited another small world where black lesbians in their fifties talk about how they used to go dancing with Marlon Riggs, and how Pat Parker helped them move, and how Audre Lorde noticed they were the only ones nodding in agreement at her public speeches and how I should know their daughters since we all went to school together and never ever spoke. And there is the smaller and marginalized world of our healing, holding it's space as its relevance moves towards need. And there is the small network of radical women of color bloggers who directed more people to my website than I even imagined. And there is the small world of my community of survivors in healing, making smaller worlds still as we embrace each other. And then there is the you that might be reading this blog. Small, small, world in which to dance.

And if these are just some of the small worlds where my soul has stretched by, then how many worlds must there be. And what do these worlds have to do with mapping (after the official launchings of activist networks MyBloc ( and Future 5000 ( and that other map launched by sistersong and of course google maps making it easy for someone to be looking at my roof right now. What do all of the small worlds that matter to me have to do with the earth or the planet and with knowing and with fear. At the Building a Queer Left meeting that Southerners on New Ground and Queers for Economic Justice put on someone suggested that it would be great to make an accessible map of all the progressive or radical queer organizations or people (or cells?) in the United States. And everyone agreed it would be wonderful to have that kind of GPS and no one said that was scary. No one reminded the group that lots of people still want to kill us, and that many of us, especially immigrants right now need to remain unfound. No one mentioned the TV series heroes and the tragedies caused when the map of the supernaturally gifted got into the wrong kindred hands. No one said that. And that no one was supposed to have been me.

The contradiction is: I want to know. I benefit from knowing people working on radical projects all over the world, and I don't begrudge anyone the luxury of what I have learned through accident and lust, but when the world becomes a globe, infinitely knowable and programmed it's the small one, it is us who can be hurt first, fastest and in the quietest ways. Our small worlds are not by any means safe, if only because they are none of them only, none of them self-contained, none of them disconnected, none of them whole or home completely. So while I find myself making a map through time and space of black feminist publishing, of people who purposely left treasure maps, of people who wanted to be found (by me) even after they suffered deportation, and exile, imprisonment, and death sentences, I think I am also making a small paperlined world, lining it with words and hoping that maybe I can hide here and sleep. Just for now.

1 comment:

lex said...

and anthologies are also small worlds. don't forget.