Archive | April, 2010

my thoughts on kiely williams, and “spectacular”

28 Apr


most days
the only thing
i stand for
is pro-girl.
and her

that means
(i’m fighting

as i mentioned to my friends in a facebook conversation about kiely’s newest video, “spectacular” our problems (which are not new) are much bigger than kiely. yet, somehow after browsing the internet and catching up on the (disapproving) responses to the video – and after submitting my own jaded response, i became sort of defensive of kiely. it seemed like we were yelling at her, and talking past her. and this made me sad. because our first responses seemed to take for granted that we knew kiely (and who/what kiely represents). more than that, our responses presumed we had the answers, presumed our right was the right. we had an idea of what is best for us, and kiely’s video (and kiely, then) did not reflect that. but instead of engaging her, we chastised her first. and this, i believe, might serve to silence rather than encourage the dialogue we truly want.

i’m beginning to notice that a number of “social justice” oriented projects are driven by a pursuit of a particular truth (excuse my loose use of the term). such that the tools that are fostered, are nurtured in faith that participants will arrive at the right values, instead of joining the journey of consciousness building (in general). in other words, for this sort of initiative, the point is to expose problems (and individuals’ participation in them) toward accomplishing the task of fixing. listening to, and understanding, each other are peripheral – almost as if by way of our own assumptions, observations, and experiences, we know enough already. more than anything, this projects onto people what their problems are.  whether we are ever provided the space to first be ourselves (and see ourselves) in ways that allow us to scrutinize anything is never really a priority.

it is this distinction that (i think) separates ruth nicole brown’s Saving Our Lives Hear Our Truths (SOLHOT) from other programs (i should note that brown goes so far as to suggest her engagements do not constitute a program, but a lifestyle – and i am diggin that so far). i have been reading brown’s black girlhood celebration: toward a hip-hop feminist pedagogy (check it out here:, and it is truly impacting the way i think about my own work in the fields of education and women’s studies (and now, girls studies).

as a solhot participant, brown does not set out to “fix” people, or to illuminate each of the ways her students are participatory in self-deprecating behaviors. certainly it is important to her that she remain part of a process that helps to make “things” better, and people healthier. but for brown, while she is not without opinion or critique, healthier seems less like “anti-this and that” and appears more like visible, celebrated, conscious, and self-observant. in the process of dialogue and meeting students where they are, brown seems to create a constructive space for reflection.

her primary goal, as it seems to me, is to help build a space wherein young people can be. what she seems to have learned is that in the process of developing this space with students, and engaging in it, students organically arrive at (and/or recognize) their own truths. they develop their own set of values about which they become intentional. and even if a student does arrive at a shared (read: dominant) truth claim, it is not because a hierarchy of values, ideas, or lifestyles were promoted over others, but because students were provided the opportunity to be, and think, and question from where they were.

we don’t want to walk on eggshells to help make people comfortable. yet, we do need them to be open. if we are truly serious about impacting social consciousness and building a community – supporting one another, growing and evolving, educators must step down from pedestals. somehow we have to learn how to prevent our critiques from shadowing over those things we can celebrate (and put that in reverse). more than that, we have to learn how to talk to one another in ways that make both critique and celebration possible.

i don’t want to romanticize the parts of us that could ultimately destroy us. i only want us to cultivate spaces and communities where we can be ourselves and build together. because we all have our stuff.

say something.

25 Apr

my sober tears, bleeding
onto pages in scribble – true to form.

my words
have paused on my fingers.
breathing, but waiting
to make sense.

they must be somewhere
discovering themselves
i am feeling nothing,
or everything incoherent.

my relief is in making all of this beautiful,
only i have run out of color.

five-year old freedom.

22 Apr

early summer morning. a distant sun teases the cool air, promising its heat. i wake eager, and comforted by the sound of life. the birds, cars on the street, my mother – somewhere in the house cleaning or cooking, or both (probably).

giddy and greedy, my breath grabs at the wind rushing through my room. the scent of flowers and freshly cut grass dance on the air, chilled by the night’s wet summer dreams. if this season had an eau de toilette, it would be called “morning dew.”

i am excited about life. and the new chapter book i haven’t finished yet – i cannot wait to travel where i may never go.

(i was so free when i was five.)

writer’s block, again.

21 Apr

today i got stuck,
my thoughts choking stubborn words.
hiding, or missing.

selah (a haiku)

21 Apr

your hands drive voices
from the bellies of my drums.
keep singing to me…

keep lifting me, and
saving me, and reminding
me. i can sing, too.


(artwork by mequitta ahuja)

the sweetest thing (v.2)

2 Apr

i think the sweetest
thing/i ever heard/was,
“i’m right here/with you.”

(artwork by chidi okoye)

does life really just happen?

1 Apr

i am convinced more than ever that if i want to realize the fullness of this life, i have to refuse to accept the idea that “life happens,” and therefore (passively) let life happen to me. i have been thinking that “life happens” is a cliché phrase that sounds wise, but holds no real truth – at least not as we typically deploy it. to suggest that life happens is to say that life happens apart from us.  but life does not happen without us, or better – life happens with us.  (stay with me.)  as we grow and mature, our worlds expand.  as we experience, our eyes widen (or narrow).  as we fall and struggle, survive and win, the process keeps changing.  and we can respond by developing walls, or by dismantling them.  by believing in people more, or less.  and not one of these are inevitable products of our experiences.  they are choices. life cannot “happen” without them, or without us.

life only happens to those of us who are convinced we have no control. and that itself (the submission) is a choice.  and it is a dangerous one.  if i submit to the idea that i have no control over my life, the worst in me will eventually thrive because this is ultimately an acceptance of the idea that i have limitations.  and if i were really being real, which i’m bout to be, i’d have to say that if i am as spiritually aligned as i claim (or try) to be, i am one with God such that what the Universe wills, i also will – therefore eliminating my own limitations. the acknowledgement of possibility, or impossibility, alters my striving.  if nothing is possible, i will try at nothing.  if i believe that the best is possible, i will try to achieve or gain that which i desire most.  and if i “fail,” this proves nothing except that it was not for me.  or that the striving itself was the point (or a number of countless other things). one of the “advantages” of being one with God is not perfection, and does not mean that my life – thus anointed – would ever be without challenges or strife.  but this frees me to have faith in the idea that everything is as it should be, and will always be – through good and bad.   everything happens for a reason.  this is peace.   i am grateful for this revelation.

i am about to be unstoppable.

i am somewhere i have not been in a long time – a place where i am meeting my future.  it is not a crossroads per se, but it is a noticeably distinct moment.  and the message is this:  i can either move forward, and walk into my future.  or, i can stay here. i can either carry the increasingly heavy bags of old, gone and passed, or i can sit them down – right here.  and walk into my next season.  but regardless, the season will pass, with or without me.  and that is a choice.

i suppose, i also have to admit, that these are new ideas for me.  and i have not considered them next to my disbelief in coincidence, and my belief in the idea that some things are beyond our control – though i have noted possible tension.  this is for another conversation – maybe one of you will start it…

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