Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Afro-Futurity: Going On by Gnarls Barkeley

I'd love to know what this new music video for Going On by Gnarls Barkley makes you think of...


Kameelah Rasheed put me on to this video. I am first of all grateful for it. I love watching it. On the first 4 watches it seems to have a message yet to be revealed and unconcealed. I love the beauty of the people in the video, both in the choreographed movements and the way they are dressed which for me bring up today, the 1970's, tomorrow and beaded yesterdays still to be imagined. I love how the futurism of the video is not technological. I love the details of the door. I want to know that the circular dance that the people do in the first part of the video reminds me of. It reminds me of something I believe in and don't have a precise reference for. I wonder how skeptically Saidiya Hartman would look at me for relating to that music video africanized moment through the eye in my forehead for memory.

I love that the people are carrying the portal to the future in their hands. I relate to the way their exuberance transforms into fatigue. I am inspired by the way their fatigue becomes reverence. I love the words of the song, I love the way the words are highlighted strategically all along.

I wonder about what levels of love are meant and residing there in words that seem to be spoken by I man (but they say what I want to say). I wonder who the singer is speaking for. The video put the words into the mouth of the lead man, and projects them onto the sometimes smiling, sometimes pained, sometimes pensive face of the lead woman. I wonder if the words about there "being a place for you too" are for a lover, a gendered lover? a whole gender of us to be left behind while male explorers forge forward again? I wonder what it means for the words of the song to vascillate between telling the imagined person being sung to "I'll see you there" and "I'll miss you." The main questions of the video for me live with the woman distinguished half way in as the "lead woman." What divides her from the "lead man" what connects her to him? Their movements are similar, the framing of the video makes it seem that a love relationship connects them, but the words to the song, which seem to be about leaving someone behind while also projecting that person into the future seem to divide the two characters. Most explicitly the command "don't follow me" made in words that seem to come out of the portal doorway after the man jumps could be meant for the woman who follows and jumps through the doorway, just as athletically anyway. If the words come to the viewing audience from both of the jumpers...why are they timed between the two jumps? Is the woman actor or audience in this video.
And to what extent is she or is she not me? Imma be thinking about this for a while. I'd love to know what you think.

p.s. In related news...the reason my reading of this film is mediated by Saidiya Hartman is because (in addition to her brilliance and perpetual relevance to all my thoughts) even as I write this I am supposed to be revising my review of Hartman's Lose Your Mother for the special issue of Obsidian on Ghana...so any thoughts about Hartman's book would be much appreciated too!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dear MaComere: Dream Come True

Yesterday, J, my number one comadre, insisted that I stall my strawberry picking adventure in order to cradle her for a 10 minute nap. Powerful woman that she is, spirit healer that she is, listener for another world that she is, I trusted that there was something divine in her whine. I waited. After the nap, our mailman knocked on our door with the first package that I've ever had to sign for since we've lived here. And inside were copies of the book you see above, the literary journal of the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars. MaComere. The word MaComere has no real translation into English...its translation into Spanish would be mi comadre. It is the way women in the French influenced Caribbean name the women who they grew up with, the woman who they tell everything. It means best friend, comrade, sister in everything. To say it literally we have to invent a much needed phrase "my co-mother". Since Audre Lorde said "we can learn to mother ourselves," I believe that MaComere means the way we learn to mother ourselves together.
It is no coincidence that this journal came yesterday in the midst of a period (surrounding Mother's Day) where J and I are struggling with how our relationships to our mothers and their challenges and our difficult memories of their frequent desperation impact each of us and our relationships to each other. It is not a coincidence that this came on a day that I was blessed to sit and talk about how/if we can remember what our grandmothers know with sisters who have been partners with me in the creation of UBUNTU arts--- a comothering process of nuturing, healing, and making space that has forever transformed me. It is no coincidence that J needed a little mothering in the minutes before the package arrived.
And indeed it is divine that the piece I wrote, a blue airmail letter between myself and my mother and grandmother, between myself and the Caribbean women writers and scholars who have made me possible, between myself and the mother daughter granddaughter characters of Dionne Brand's novel At the Full and Change of the Moon, with footnotes full of overdue shout-outs to my fellow travelers in a graduate seminar on Negritude arrived when it did . Two full years after the scheduled publication...but you know...Caribbean time stretches to dream for those of us living dispersed.
I'm honored that my piece appears after (or anywhere near!) a poem called "Hook"
by Olive Senior (THE Olive Senior) about mother's and daughters trying to catch each other through letters and clothing and loss. It is a miracle that my work appears alongside work by Olive Senior and Pamela Mordecai and Ramabai Espinet women whose books sit on my shelf, who I studied for my prelim exams who make me cry and think about everything differently when I hear them read outloud. Women who have been helping me mother myself even if they don't know it.
And it is no coincidence that you are reading this on a blog that is made worthwhile for me by the reading eyes and open hearts of everyone, but especially radical womyn of color comothers with me in a transformed world.

Thank the Lorde for comothering and the possibility of being reborn together. (And thank you!)

Check out the journal here: http://www.macomerejournal.com/issues/008.html


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Freedom Dreams: Blog About Palestine Day

This week thanks to some precious advice from Fallon Wilson I have started remembering and recording my dreams.

This is a scene from a dream I remembered on Monday morning:

"and then i met a dark man with a beard. committed to defending the olive trees to the death. but he told me, unashamed, that he would never harm the woman i named, even if she ate every olive."

This affirms what I already know. A free Palestine is an imperative in my life time. The occupation that outlived June Jordan will not survive us. Period.

I think this dream was probably also influenced by what a learned at a progressive and belated passover sader that I was able to attend a couple of weeks ago...which was some insight into the profound impact of the Isreali uprooting of olive trees in Palestine. A friend explained to me that there is no equivalent that explains how important the olive trees and the olives themselves are to the survival, culture, heritage and well being and sustainability of the Palestinian people. I now understand that the uprooting of these olive trees is a violence against the earth and a deep harm to humanity. I remember that I learned to read in Spanish against the backdrop of Lorca's screams about arboles de aceituna. I remember that olive trees are one of the major metaphors in the bible, a teaching tool about what heritage is, about how our actions impact generations. Maybe I should go back and read those parts.

Maybe I was the dark bearded man in the dream. He was ready to die. I think he was ready to kill too. But I asked him about a particular woman (i don't know or remember who) and he said even she ate every olive he would do no violence.

There is something for me to learn here about the relationship between the fruit and the roots. I am being reminded that there is a difference between the cause and the manifestation of violence. I am being reminded to be radical. I am being reminded to go for the root. I am being reminded that there is a place for forgiveness in militancy. I am being reminded that our sustainability is worth more than our individual lives.

I am being reminded to grow.

I am free when Palestine is


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

There is Such a Thing as Growth

or because this made me cry.

Vita's Garden
by K Shalini


Shalini also has another film about the importance of water:
A Drop of Life

And check out OUR garden! www.ubuntugrows.blogspot.com

Monday, May 05, 2008

Lest We Forget: Radical Black Feminism Defined

radical black feminist: "always disrupting in transgressive ways racist, classist, and homophobic structures with courage, resilience and risk taking."
-Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall