Elegy for George Floyd

Elegy for George Floyd

Take a deep breath and sally forth
When taking three steps beyond your front door
If the breath flows predominantly through one nostril
Then take your first step with the corresponding foot
Your luck might be better 
If you believe in the old teachings

Because a human Life can be taken because of a pack of menthols 
And a counterfeit $20 bill
In god we trust still printed on its ersatz face

Is big face paper and poisonous tobacco more valuable 
Than a Human Life?
A Black Life?

Inhale, exhale 
Breath in, breath out
The whole world is watching 
Waiting 
Breathlessly
For a verdict.
How many camera angles does it take to get justice?

Breath entering our dust and we become living souls
Hong Sau, Hong Sau, Hong Sau, Hong Sau, So ‘ham
21,600 times a day 
Everyday
For 100 years
Or, until the day we die
And for every breath the heart Lub Dubs four times
How long can you effortlessly hold your breath?

8 minutes 46 seconds?
9 minutes 29 seconds?
Or until we are Genesis 7:22’ed?

Taking away what they could not give
George, You came  in like a Lion 
And went out like a lamb
To the slaughter 
Blue clad knee on a brown skinned neck
A perverse imitation of a vengeful god
Who was tired of all the rowdiness

A scapegoat baring all of our cultural sins
Lamb of god show us the sins of our world
Show us the of our world
Show us the sins of our world 
(I say beating my heart with my fist)

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH take a deep breath
Ujjāyī — the breath of victory 
A baby’s first inhalation 
Before its first scream 
Before it can even know its  mother’s face 
Breath, stamp my story onto my spine 
And let me live it until it’s end!

Mother: first Guru and first lived embodied archetypical experience
Madonna and child
Being born 
Collecting the winds of the four cardinal directions 
Into the center of my being
My navel
Let crying out to you be my last earthly act, too, 
Mother
Whether I die with steel in my hand 
Or even under the knee of cowards 

Juxtapose the children baring the weight 
Of testifying on behalf of their Elder
Too young to appear in court 
But old enough to have witnessed atrocity
Sobs
Breaths of sadness
Breaths of tears

And 46 other types of breathing that typify our human existence 
All snuffed out as 
Your breath left your dust, George.

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE 
The last exhalation and the breath of leaving
George, Let your breath merge with all breaths
All breaths that have ever been sighed into the atmosphere 

Merge with hurricanes wrecking trailer parks
And Santa Anna winds feeding California fires, 
Merge with the tornado so that the world will notice your passing

Let Ọya‘s arms embrace you so that your face can be seen in the storm clouds
Your voice be heard in the thundering
And your eyes be seen in lightning flashing.

Blend with the sirocco
Zephyr
Pneuma
prāṇa with its five divisions
And the air that feeds household and sacrificial fires

Merge with Shekhinah

Blend with caressive springtime winds inciting 
The Johnny Jump Ups
Tulips
Hyacinths 
Crocus and cherry blossoms

Be the life of another 
And another
And another
A portion of you part of the first breath 
Of those newly born as you died

What is immortality if not this?

Be ¡presente! in the revolutionary voices of people crying out for justice
Who and what do they think they were trying to kill?
You would be seen see everywhere if people had hearts
Thousands of eyes
Thousands of heads arms and legs
And a spark from the light of one thousand suns.
Not other than that spark

But a blue clad knee controlled by cultural impurities saw you  as Other
Other than themselves 
Other than America
Other than one man one vote
Other than fully human
Beloved on sports fields 
And reviled on American city streets
Made menacing by your strength and size
A product of late 17th century plantation genetic engineering 
Frankenstein wasn’t the monster
He was the man who created the monster

But your promethean flame was not initially stolen
You were not a perverse imitation of life
And you weren’t a monster either
Your Flame stolen after the fact 
I take a spark of you and blow on it 
To bring a little light into this darkened world.

(By Heidi Lindemann and Michael Perry)

(Image Credit: Saatchi Art / Miguel Amortegui)

We cannot wait to win over hearts and minds, we have been trying to do that for centuries

I have been struggling to find words and honestly still can’t. The week has been draining both physically and emotionally on top of trying to figure out how to live in a pandemic. What I haven’t been able to shake from my head is what I‘ve heard over and over again from friends and complete strangers: “It just broke me.” 

What we’re seeing nationwide is just that, a breaking point. In communities across the country this is the culmination (again) of having one’s humanity repeatedly denied for simply existing and no accountability for those responsible for repeated violations of our dignity and rights as a human being. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others whose names we know and those we don’t, should be alive today. It is our collective responsibility to ensure they receive justice. 

Numerous reports and images of individuals infiltrating these peaceful protests with the sole purpose of causing destruction and mayhem is sadly nothing new. The same restraint showed to those who stormed state capitols with military grade weapons should be given to those protesting unjust violence and systemic racism that has been embedded into our policies, institutions and society. 

We cannot wait to win over hearts and minds, we have been trying to do that for centuries. Our policies must change NOW if we are to move forward. We have to create a new normal.

(Photo Credit: MSP Magazine)

On the assassination of George Floyd, anger and hope bring justice #BlackLivesMatter

Another murder by police officers, this time in Minnesota. The video of the assassination of George Floyd, a Black man, by white police officers has shocked, as if it was new and surprising. North or South, the location has no importance. The justification for murders, lies, and other means of destruction of the Other, the otherness grows unscathed from any sufficient doubts. Modern society talks about training, well-trained police officers, well-trained doctors, and well-trained nurses, but what is training if life is annihilated quickly and with “legitimate power”.

The headlines are descriptive: Four Minneapolis officers are fired after video shows one kneeling on neck of black man who later died. Although the article raises questions, it fails to tell the evidence of constructed racism, which is gendered as we observe the incommensurable level of violence imposed on women’s, intersex’s, transgender’s bodies. 

This time, it was a Black man. 

Numerous books, studies are available from which those who would like to learn more about the reasons for this blatant injustice can educate themselves. Still, there is always someone to create a rationale of destruction, of wars of all against all. 

Women are also part of the making of these destructive rationales, as now white women tend to assimilate with their men. The story is different for women of color; they have survived invasion, slavery, and all these “beauties” that were totally justified and still are.

I affirm that being a feminist is not only about having the right to vote (finally), to control our own body, it is about injustice, it is about crude, violent domination by patriarchal thought. This very domination that has created these ice men that can take all their time to assassinate someone because he is a dark-skinned man. There is no separation of good and bad, what makes the difference is the justification, the construction of violence and discrimination as legitimate means.

I have written on many issues that are clear examples of this justified violence. I have written about the cold-blooded decision to send drones to kill women, men, and children far away in Yemen, using a perfect justification of war against terrorism. In reality, they killed people who were in the wrong location, wrong class, wrong belief system.  

I have written on the massive incarceration of gendered bodies of color in Baltimore, a majority Black and Brown city which the man in power in the United States “discredited”. That mass incarceration was justified despite all the work and studies that demonstrated that these policies were non-sense. 

I have written on the shackling of pregnant women while they are in prisons or jails in the United States. The cruelty of shackling women’s bodies for no other reason than asserting power over women’s bodies is apparent and yet invisible, another evidence of madness justified.

I have written about economic cruelty that has deprived women, men, and children of their dignity and sometimes killed them. That’s how the so-called “crisis” in Greece that was actually driven by speculation was justified. 

I have written about new ways of exterminating the undesirables, using the Mediterranean sea as a means of extermination. The justification was easy to find: defend the borders in a time of obscene globalization. That justified Frontex, a legitimate army, to “defend” borders against precarious lives. 

In all these examples, and many more, justifications serve a market driven killing of this Black man, George Floyd. Look at the armaments, observe the development of digital blindness, and the overwhelming growth of inequalities with our worldly wealth being held in very few hands. 

At the end of her life, Hannah Arendt anticipated this danger as she saw the new justification for madness coming: it was called neoliberalism. She declared that if it takes over the world, life would become superfluous. Life has become superfluous for many and for a long time. 

Excuse my anger, although Audre Lorde taught me that anger is sometimes necessary. I want to end acknowledging all the sisters and brothers that have fought these justifications to crude injustice with a passion. All the writing, poetry, and art have been made in the name of justice to inspire us. 

Thank you to all of you, and let’s again remember Audre Lorde, who wrote Sister Outsider to convey hope, encourage solidarity, and instill power to fight sexism and racism that make these things possible. Emmanuel Levinas enounced that at the decisive hours when the lapse of values is revealed, human dignity consists in believing in their return. More than their return, let’s imagine these values and organize everywhere to defend them in solidarity.

Justice for George Floyd is justice for all, #BlackLivesMatter

(Photo credit !: CityBeat) (Photo Credit 2: Jurien Huggins)

Episode XIV: Tonight You Have Your Answer/The Specter of Barak Obama

Episode XIV: Tonight You Have Your Answer/The Specter of Barak Obama

It is a time of purges and pandemic

There is record unemployment and long lines form at food banks 
Farmers dump milk, food grains and slaughter animals 
Unable to find markets for their produce.

The quarantine has brought the consumer market to a standstill.

Elements of the previous administration are being swept away in 
Friday Night Firings,

While untested medicines are being used to treat COVID-19
America pulls funding from the World Health Organization
And muzzles the Center for Disease Control.

All 50 states have reopened 
Without meeting the minimum requirements for enng the quarantine safely.
Florida and Georgia falsify their data for political expediency
Sending frontline workers into the line of fire
In the American Hot Zone.

A telephone conference is held by a former two term President with 3000 of his loyal staffers still in a position to fight. 

As his successor Dolt 45 does everything in his power to erase the legacy of his triumphs

Including a failure to unveil 44’s official Nubian Presidential portrait.

Oh, why can’t you quit him, Orange Man.

The broken hearted burn Cities in America’s Heartland
Another Black Man strangled by a Thin Blue Line,
Sparking empathetic riots in other major American Cities

And I will give my Nephews “The Talk”.

It is almost the same talk that was given to me 

But served with extra side dishes of 
Plague, tear gas, and flash bangs

Tales of “Officer Not So Friendly”
And the American Injustice system 
They will face if they are ever stopped or arrested.

Boys I say, we are definitely not living in a post racial America.
And the masks you are wearing may protect you from the plague
But not the tear gas.

At first they don’t believe me
My words clashing with the Specter of Barak Obama
Their most vivid memories of a president 
Who looked like them.

Eight Years of Barak Obama and his beautiful sleeveless Queen.
As they came to consciousness 
And came of age.

Then they watch a Black CNN reporter arrested and taken into custody
As his White counterpart remains unmolested.

And they think that perhaps
Their crazy Uncle may have a point or two.

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things once possible can be erased,

Who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive;
but, unwell in our time,
Sickened by all of our contradictions.

Who still questions the power of old hatreds to subvert our 
New Democratic experiment

Tonight you have your answer.

(Image Credit: Dolly Li / Oxford American)

There are no karens, it’s just the police.

It’s 4am and I can’t sleep.
Apart of me feels like I must be your Black feminist killjoy today. 
I know humor sustains us. 
I know how we feel about joy. 
But, I must be your Black feminist killjoy today if its gets us closer to naming the truth as it is. 

I know I am alive because of the level of rage I feel right now. Principled raged I must say. The type of rage I can locate to the most insidious aspects of society. Rage inherited by my foremothers. Rage given to me by June Jordan. I am in a state of rage because I am witnessing a global pandemic aided and abetted by white supremacist- capitalist- imperialist- patriarchy.  

I am in a state of rage because I have to add more names to my memory this week.

Nina Pop
Breonna Taylor
Ahmaud Arbery
George Floyd
Christian Cooper
And so many more unknown and unnamed Black people.

Nina Pop
Breonna Taylor 
Ahmaud Arbery
George Floyd
Christian Cooper
And so many more unknown and unnamed Black people. 

Nina Pop
Breonna Taylor 
Ahmaud Arbery
George Floyd
Christian Cooper
And so many more unknown and unnamed Black people. 

 

I say these names again and again and again. When I have to utter the names of Black people murdered by the police, or any other act of violence, I do not have space for “karen.” 

Yale Phd student, Yasmina Price asked us “how do we manage mourning and mockery so close together?” 

Mockery doesn’t relieve my grief anymore. 

Because karen is just useless mockery. 
Because karen provides white women with an other.
Because karen obscures the way white womanhood was constructed and how it functions.
Because karen is just white supremacist patriarchy. 

Many of us have been where Christian Cooper was as some white woman pretended to be in danger. amy cooper did not just weaponize whiteness, she always weaponized her womanhood. She is another white woman who was taught to cry to get her way, taught that her very being would elicit the world to protect her. Taught how to perform fear and mockery simultaneously. Even in her attempt to harm Christian Cooper the world still wants to protect amy because the world wants to protect white women. When you trace the grace, tenderness, and protection she is where is always goes.

Some of you are meeting these white women with mockery by calling them karens. June Jordan teaches us to remain “hostile to hostility” and for that I am a Black feminist killjoy today.

Beyond that, as someone who practices abolition as faith and as a love politic, I feel it imperative to tell you that amy cooper did not just call the police, but rather, she is the police. She is a death practitioner. Her job is to keep Black people close to death by making the world believe her very life depends on it.

white people will always feel empowered to punishment and surveillance. They will always feel empowered to be judge and jury in and beyond the court room. white supremacy grants them these powers. Always. 

white women will always understand and use their power to police Black people and if that doesn’t work, they always have their tears. The tears that move the police. 

Frank Wilderson teaches us that “white people in their very corporeality are the police.” And what we are naming as karen behavior is just another reason why we must abolish the police.

We don’t have to rename this practice. We already know what it is. 

So what is the point of this mockery? What work does the naming of karen do? What is the price we pay for mockery? 

Its 6am now. I have mourned enough today. I wonder who I’ll mourn tomorrow. 

Nina Pop
Breonna Taylor 
Ahmaud Arbery
George Floyd
Christian Cooper
And so many more unknown and unnamed Black people. 

Nina Pop
Breonna Taylor 
Ahmaud Arbery
George Floyd
Christian Cooper
And so many more unknown and unnamed Black people. 

Nina Pop
Breonna Taylor 
Ahmaud Arbery
George Floyd
Christian Cooper
And so many more unknown and unnamed Black people. 

(Photo Credit: Tim Gruber / The Washington Post)