Sunday, December 28, 2008

Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind!!!


Due to the huge and affirming response to BrokenBeautiful Press's Summer of Our Lorde we are THRILLED to present the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind, a portable progressive series based in Durham North Carolina in partnership with SpiritHouse, Southerners on New Ground, UBUNTU, the Land and Sustainability Working Group, Kindred Healing Justice Collective and more.

In 1977 the Combahee River Collective wrote a key black feminist manifesta groundbreaking in it’s assertion that the “major systems of oppression are interlocking. You are invited to the first session on the groundbreaking black feminist document The Combahee River Collective Statement. Download it at
and check out some radical exercises at

In Durham we'll be discussing it on January 7th. Email for details and feel free to read along wherever you are and comment here!

See you (t)here!!!!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Defining, and Re-Defining, a Woman

I've just posted my thoughts on the issue of women as individuals being erased from our culture at my Illume magazine blog, but wanted to throw out some more fleshed out thoughts on this issue. The Illume blog is geared towards Muslims, and I wrote about how Islam does not limit the definition of women to their relation to men (contrary to what you may see in many so-called Islamic cultures).

What started this whole line of thinking, as I mention in that post, is that my son asked me if I'd ever noticed how Mrs. Claus is only known as "Mrs. Claus". We don't know who she was prior to marrying Santa, how they met, or what she does besides make cookies, serve Santa, and act as a surrogate mother to the elves. Granted, we are talking about a fictional character, but my initial reaction to my son's questions was that this points to a larger cultural issue.

I suppose I should be clear that I am not advocating that a woman's role as wife and mother is meaningless, shallow, or not a valid expression of herself. In fact, I think they are extremely important roles, and I respect women who take those roles seriously.

What I do want to further explore, however, is what I view as the erasure of women outside of our connection to our fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons. Certainly I do not think this is a new or Western-only issue. Patriarchy crosses cultural boundaries and has seeped into all cultures to some degree, even those that were once known to be women-centered.

In modern society, it seems that we are forced to choose one or the other reality. We can either be wives and mothers, or we can be professional women. As activists, I think women are demanding that we not be forced to choose between these roles. I know many single mamis who are activists, writers, artists, and also "working mums", and their children are actively engaged in their art and activism as well! Some of those women don't even view themselves as activists and yet I recognize them as such. These are the women I look up to.

I don't want to be known as "the Nica's ex-wife" or "X's mom" ONLY. I am tired of being introduced as "A.R.'s sister" as if I do not exist as an individual separate from those roles defined by the men I love.

I don't, however, have the answers to what all this means or how exactly to counteract it.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Taking Control for Myself

I recently read a theory that women make drastic physical changes when their life is in turmoil. The theory posits that we do this as a means of taking control over the one thing we feel we can control: our own bodies. The theory specifically cited hair cuts as an example; when happy and stable, women prefer their hair long, but when in times of crisis, stress, or difficulty women cut their hair off.

There is some demonstrable truth to the theory. Think of Frida Kahlo’s statement upon learning of yet another of Diego’s affairs… she cut off her waist-length tresses, at home, on her own, into a rather “manly” short cropped cut. Certainly we can all think of instances in our own lives or the lives of women we love who have suddenly cut it all off after a divorce, prolonged illness, death of a family member or other “trauma”. In the same way, we know of women who after having been conservative or simply “stuck” in one style or color for a long time suddenly begin changing color frequently or trying completely new cuts and styles, and we wonder at the seeming schizophrenia of their hair.

There is another truth also that isn’t accounted for in these theories. The theory assumes chaos, trauma, depression, angst – negativity. But what of the positive side of such changes? What is so wrong with a woman taking control of her body and her style and expressing herself as she desires?

Where the theory falls short is that it a) neglects to take into account differing cultural norms, b) fails to recognize that the changes in ones life may be good changes and that the physical changes are marking the transformation, and c) some women have been “forced” into a set way of looking and finally feel free to express themselves through their physical choices.

I have recently made some changes. You could say it is trauma, but I would beg to differ with you. I was divorced more than a year-and-a-half ago and am still wrestling with that emotionally. It has taken me this long to come to terms with the fact that my husband probably really isn’t coming back. Though we remain friends, I can see that he doesn’t want to be a husband, doesn’t want to be the kind of husband I need. I also recently made the decision to start looking for a new husband and very quickly found that I was mistaken that it is what I really want. Perhaps it is that I am still not ready, or perhaps it is that I have become comfortable with my independence and don’t find much that a husband can really offer me that I don’t have on my own. This is a drastic and frightening step for a Muslim woman to take, though I am convinced that I am not the only Muslim woman to feel this way.

As I said, I’ve just recently made a few changes. Initially, I shaved off all my hair for medical reasons. I was having surgery in early July and the prospect of six weeks of semi-bed rest, all alone, in the summer, made me think I wouldn’t have the energy to properly care for my hair. After the surgery, when I healed quite quickly and found that I was able to care for my needs much easier than anticipated, I decided I had better start growing it back out right away. My concern for growing it out, however, was because “that is what a husband is going to expect”. I was planning to begin marriage discussions, and I was embarrassed to think I might get married and be seen for the first time by my husband after the contract was already signed, and he would be shocked by my lack of hair.

It is only after those talks have fallen through, and upon further discussion with my ex-husband and my acceptance that he is not going to change, that I came to the conclusion that I don’t want to do something (or not do something) because of what a potential spouse might think of it. I want to be accepted as I am. I had worn my hair short for years before my son was born, and on various occasions since. It is easier for me to manage and more comfortable for me. My hair is quite heavy when long and difficult to keep inside my hijab scarf. The weight of it contributes to my frequent headaches, and the mess of it makes me crazy. So I’ve decided to keep it very short. And to dye it a color I like. My mother asked me “why dye it if no one ever sees it anyway?” and I said “for me.”

Another change I made, just for me, was to get some new earrings. In high school, I wore five earrings in one ear and two in the other. For years now I haven’t worn an “odd set” of earrings because I wanted to be “pretty” for whichever husband I was with at the time.
Despite not wearing earrings in any of the upper holes in years, they are still open. The first holes, I have worn earrings in but they itch and bother me quickly so though I have a huge and fun earring collection I rarely wear them. Yesterday I purchased two sets of small gold hoops. I now have three earrings in one ear, and one in the other. I considered putting studs into the higher holes, but they would be pressed against by my underscarf and uncomfortable.

Rather than worrying what any potential spouse expects of me, I have decided to just be me. Any potential spouse, if there ever is another potential spouse, isn’t the right one if he can’t accept that. I feel beautiful and comfortable as I am and don’t want to conform to someone else’s ideal. So whereas the theory claims that it is a sign of distress when a woman takes control of her body, and indeed there is some truth to that, I would argue that just as often it is a sign of self-acceptance and freedom for a woman to do so. And I recommend it!

Besides, hair grows back.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Rosa Clemente talks to Adele Nieves on ZNet

Rosa Clemente is one of the most prominent activists of our generation. She is a nationally renowned speaker, writer, and journalist - one of the most important independent journalists covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - and in 2001 was a youth representative at the United Nations World Conference against Xenophobia, Racism, and Related Intolerance. She continues to organize conferences focused on the empowerment of young people of color, working in colleges, community centers, and prisons. In 2008, she accepted the Green Party nomination for vice-president on the Cynthia McKinney presidential ticket. This is an interview conducted by Adele Nieves in mid-October.

p.s. YAAAAAAAAY Adele!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Thus Saith the Lorde

I am writing these words as a route map
an artifact for survival...

History is not kind to us
we restitch it with living
past memory forward
into desire
into the panic articulation
of want without having
or even the promise of getting.

And I dream of our coming together
encircled driven
not only by love
but by lust for a working tomorrow
the flights of this journey
mapless uncertain
and necessary as water.

-Audre Lorde
"On My Way Out I Passed Over You
and the Verrazano Bridge"

Monday, October 6, 2008

this is not a poem (about trust)

to me
is the middle school support group
for kids with divorced parents
we met weekly

speaking in all the ways we can to each other
and to our own selves too - remembering that once we put our shit on the paper we don't have to show anyone/everyone the paper.

trusting myself first

trusting my friends after _____________________
trusting my family _________________ or not _________________ because ___________
trusting myself __________________
trusting myself __________________
trusting myself __________________

getting comfortable with __________________________ because the past is not changing!
getting comfortable with __________________________ because it is life

the electricity of our love
powering cellphones texting digital love letters flooding the radio waves with our songs every tv show glorifies our bodies and intellect we share wisdom with each other in every newspaper article we

never stop writing
for all those girls you know
who can't say it
for yourself--all the times you didn't say it

trust yourself

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Combahee Survival Reborn

Check out the new Combahee Survival Project from BrokenBeautiful Press!

We were never meant to survive. None of us. We were never meant to find each other, love each other, remember the warriors that came before. We were never meant to know these histories. We were never meant to turn our trauma into a map for transformation. We were never meant to survive. But we do it anyway.

Break it down. Sur viv al. Life underneath waiting to embrace all of us. Survival is a poem written in a corner, found waiting in a basement, forgotten. Survival is when the timeliness of your word is more important than the longevity of one body. Survival is spirit connected through and past physical containers. Survival is running for your life and then running for Albany city council without consenting to the State. Survival is shaping change while change shapes you. Survival means refusing to believe the obvious. Survival means remembering the illegal insights censored in the mouths of our mothers. Survival is quilt patterns, garden beds. Survival means growing, learning, working it out. Survival is a formerly enslaved black woman planning and leading a battle that freed 750 slaves from inside an institution called the United States Military. Survival is out black lesbians creating a publishing movement despite an interlocking system of silences. Survival is a group of black women recording their own voices, remembering a river, a battle, a warrior and creating a statement to unlock the world. Survival is like that.

We were never meant to survive. And we can do even more. This booklet moves survival to revival, like grounded growth, where seeds seek sun remembering how the people could fly. We are invoking the Combahee River Collective Statement and asking how it lives in our movement now. And the our and the we are key to this as individual gains mean nothing if others suffer.

We were never meant to survive but we will thrive. We want roundness and wholeness, where everyone eats and has time to be creative has time to just be, What tools does it give that are necessary to our survival? What gaps does it leave us to lean into? Black feminism lives, but the last of the originally organized black feminist organizations in the United States were defunct by 1981.

Here we offer and practice a model of survival that is spiritual and impossible and miraculous and everywhere, sometimes pronounced revival. Like it says on the yellow button that came included in the Kitchen Table Press pamphlet version of The Combahee River Collective Statement in 1986 "Black Feminism LIVES!" And therefore all those who were never meant to survive blaze open into a badass future anyway. Meaning something unpredictable and whole.

We were. Never meant. To Survive. And here we are.

And beyond survival, what of that? In 1977 the Combahee River Collective wrote "As Black women we see Black Feminism as the logical political movement to combat the manifold and simultaneuos oppressions that all women of color face." They also said "The inclusiveness of our politics makes us concerned with any situation that impinges on the lives of women, Third World and working people." And they concluded: "If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression."

Today we, a sisterhood of young black feminists, mentored in words and deeds by ancestors, elders, peers and babies, assert that by meditating on the survival and transformation of black feminism we can produce insight, strategy and vision for a holistic movement that includes ALL of us. So while this is a project instigated by self-proclaimed (and reclaimed) black feminists, our intention is that it can be shared and changed by everyone who is interested in freedom.

Check out the exercises, form a study group, and contribute to the Combahee Survival Zine at!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

where the magic happens

margaret mead said something about this

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


Monday, April 21, 2008

Detroiters Reclaim Foreclosed Home

Detroit Campaign Against Foreclosures and Evictions Escalates

Community volunteers move foreclosure victim back into home

by Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor
Pan-African News Wire

Activist speaking at eviction reversal on April 17, 2008
http://www. flickr. com/photos/53911892@N00/2431643976/

Photo of people moving eviction victim back into home
http://www. flickr. com/photos/53911892@N00/2431630924/

DETROIT, April 21, 2008--A delegation of Detroit activists traveled to
Washington, DC on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 to participate in the
national demonstration called by the Ad Hoc Network to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions.

The action took place outside the Mortgage Bankers
Association Annual Policy Summit held in a hotel just two blocks away from
Capital Hill.

Many of the people who were outside the Washington Court Hotel on April
16 provided firsthand accounts of how their households and communities
have been devastated by the mortgage banking crisis that has rendered
at least 2 million dwellings vacant throughout the country.

Sandra Hines of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War &
Injustice (MECAWI) told the security personnel and bankers standing outside the
hotel where the summit was being held, that "you may think this is
funny but this crisis impacts people everyday in the city of Detroit.


Hines, who is a former Detroit Public School Social Worker, ran a
grassroots campaign for a district seat on the local school board and was
subsequently evicted from her childhood home as a result of predatory

As soon as the MECAWI delegation returned to Detroit on Thursday, April
17, a call went out about a young woman being evicted in the heavily
depressed Linwood Corridor area on the city's west side.

The homeowner
has three children and a 84-year-old mother, whose wheelchair was thrown
out of the home by thugs acting on behalf of the Wayne County baliffs
who enforce the mortgage banker's evictions against hundreds of
families through the region everyday.

It is estimated that approximately
72,000 homes are in foreclosure in southeastern Michigan alone.

Around 50 activists went to the young woman's home and took the
furniture, appliances, clothes, family photos and documents and moved them back into the house. These household items had been drug out of the home and thrown violently into a dumpster parked outside the property.

Furniture and appliances were broken in the eviction process.

bought for the children living at the home was thrown out.

Telephone lines
were ripped out and a bathroom sink was knocked from the wall and
thrown outside in the yard by the agents hired to carry out the bidding of
the mortgage bankers, who incidently are represented by a Wall
Street-based security's firm.

Community meeting to build broad coalition

As a result of the national demonstration in Washington, DC and the
announcement by Michigan State Senator Hasen Clarke that he would
introduce legislation that would impose a two-year moratorium on foreclosures in the state, MECAWI called for a meeting to press for the formation of a broader coalition to push for the passage of the bill.

The meeting was attended by State Senator Hasen Clarke and members of
his staff along with other community activists in the areas of housing,
religion, education and labor. Rev.

Edward Rowe, Pastor of the Central
United Methodist Church, where the meeting was held in downtown
Detroit, pledged office space to house the new coalition which constituted
itself as the Moratorium Now Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions.

Coalition committees were established in the areas of eviction
reversals, legal strategies, publicity, outreach and office staffing.

Data is
being accumulated on city councils, county commissions, community
organizations and other institutions throughout the Detroit metropolitan area
and the state.

This data will be utilized in a massive mobilization
campaign to win the moratorium.


Jerome Goldberg, who along with another lawyer Vanessa Fluker,
discussed the persistent efforts on the part of the mortgage bankers to
drive thousands from their homes in the region.

"This moratorium will not be won through traditional lobbying but will
be achieved through putting people in the streets throughout the state
and at the capital in Lansing," said David Sole, President of UAW Local

Sole, who commited himself to work on the outreach committee for
the new coalition, said that seven homes were vacant as a result of
foreclosure on his block alone on the east side of the city.

A follow-up meeting of the Moratorium Now Coalition to Stop
Foreclosures and Evictions will be held on Saturday, May 3 at 3:00pm at Central United Methodist Church. By this time the activist are aiming to have set up the office at the Church with a phone and donated equipment.

office will be staffed by a team of volunteers.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Nana in the Garden: Taking Care of Ourselves

Joyce McKenzie, my Nana, can make anything grow. Look at me. First grandchild with the flowering hair, the undisciplinable body, granddaughter of a once undocumented immigrant (my Nana) with a migrant spirit, nomad hands and a disdain for passports. Some people know how to make anything grow. Even the most difficult, unpredictable shoots of hope we have.

This is for Nana. Nana who snuck into my room to end my cough by rubbing white rum on my chest. Nana who made me drink all kinds of things I was afraid of. "Drink it down! While it's hot!" Nana of the lemon and honey. Nana of the best soup EVER. Nana of the cornmeal porridge. Nana of the the cod-liver oil. Nana of the seven seas. Nana who reminds me every month to get a British Passport. Nana who knows why one citizenship is not enough. Nana of the golden seal. Nana who finds sweaters and wool pants in South Florida to mail North "for my little professor". Nana of the box of oranges mailed from Florida to the New York City dorm room twice a winter. Nana of the Valentine's Day cards, the Easter Cards, the it's Wednesday and I love my granddaughter cards. Nana who sent me the microwave and the rice cooker, anything to get that skinny child to eat. Some people know how to nurture even the most threatened and least cooperative green young things.

Nana is from Jamaica. Which means we are from Jamaica. None of us will never get used to frost. And since Nana lives in central Florida she rarely has to. Just last month she called incredulous about a freeze that cut short the life of her hibiscus flowers. Today she told me that she will be planting roses again. I love my hibiscus, but roses are hardy, she said. They know how to survive the winter. Everything Nana says is advice, whether she knows it or not. I need to embroider that somewhere. "They know how to survive the winter." But even though I have a sewing machine in my old school living room, near the mantle that features a picture of me as a little kid between my two grandmothers. Even though my Grandma Lydia Gumbs went to Pratt, sewed the prize winning graduation dress, and made me the most elaborate halloween costumes, my own black raggedy-ann dolls, I haven't learned how to sew yet.

And even though Nana has grown mangoes, oranges, bananas, hibiscus, roses and more in backyards from Miami to Lakeland, I haven't learned to garden yet either. If it wasn't for my partner even my bamboo would probably have withered long ago. But now...along with the womyn in the SPEAK collective and the remnants of UBUNTU the unruly, ungrounded shake in my hands is meeting the earth. It is time to take care of ourselves. My backyard (or our yard behind the house I rent) is about to become our community garden. Basil, tomatoes, lettuce, goldfish, marigolds, rainbarrels, compost, corn, cucumbers. I know nothing about any of this, but some people know how to make anything grow. Even me.

This morning Nana had surgery. A lumpectomy and for five days she will be having radiation. Yesterday Nana made her famous soup..with the dumplings in it...I'm hungry even thinking about it. My mother is in Florida with Nana doing a raw fruit and vegetable fast (which means she couldn't eat the soup either!). She is confident telling me that she will be okay. And I believe and intend that she will recover quickly. She has already promised to come boss us around here in the garden in Durham. And next month my mother is fulfilling her lifelong goal to become a doula by participating in a doula training specifically for women of color co-sponsored by SisterSong. And Mama Nayo said she'd come back to us as babies or corn. And we are alive and growing. We are taking care of ourselves.

Blessed are the gardeners. We know how to make each other grow. Hold my Nana in your thoughts.


p.s. this is also for Sanesha Stewart's grandmother who I was blessed to hear speak at the beautiful vigil in her honor at the Bronx Community Pride Center this weekend. Outliving our grandmothers is hard. We cannot afford to outlive our granddaughters. Hold in your thoughts a beautiful loving woman who is outliving her granddaughter now because of transphobic violence.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Brainstorming For Speak

It was wonderful meeting so many of the WOC I have come to know and love at WAM! I was glad we had the time to just sit and decompress on Saturday. I wished we had more time to discuss the Speak project. Don't take that as a criticism, we really didn't have more time and probably need a whole week together!

I know that some of this we already discussed about what our vision is for the site, is it just another blog? Is it a zine? etc and what are our goals? But we probably should start over again in case our ideas have evolved since we first started kicking the idea around.

The one thing I want to discuss is the name of the site, "Speak", I'm not so sure that's a good idea. Maybe "Speak Out" or "We Are Speaking" or "Listen Up You Goddammed White Woman"...ok maybe not that one. The reason why is because Speak makes me think of the dog command.

I like the idea of doing interviews or even full blogs for women without access to computers, like the women in prison project. For me I was thinking of interviewing women from my reservation, especially the older ones like my mother who are afraid of technology! My sister gave her a computer but she refuses to hook it up to the internet, she says she is too busy with other things and isn't interested, but I'm not so sure of that, or if it is more she is afraid that learning to use a computer is too hard. I probably shouldn't second guess her because she is a busy person, but having a computer online would be great if only for email once or twice a day.

I think that goes with the "We Are Speaking" but you can't hear us idea. We can give women who aren't online a voice if the idea is geared towards those without internet access for whatever reason. I also like us as an aggregator for WOC online because many of us have a voice that isn't being heard because our readership is small or we are just starting out. Maybe I shouldn't say "we" in that one because if I'm not being heard it's because I don't update enough, but that's beside the point! Our project could be like advertising for new and little known WOC blogs and websites, with a feature that gives a taste of what is to be found at the site and then link to it and encourage our readers to read more and blogroll these sites.

The last thing I was thinking about is that we should have a section for children and young women where they can feel safe to blog. I was thinking of Bint's daughter here, I think she would enjoy a large readership and she writes some amazing stuff especially when she is on a political tear, but I think that when we host stuff by children and teens it is very important to protect them from the assholes and so their blogs should have mentors who must moderate comments to keep our young writers from being attacked. It's horrible enough the things that full grown adult WOC have had to put up with, children don't need to be exposed to that.

Oh wait, the real last thing. If it wouldn't be too much to ask, I'm hoping that Lex will do the graphics for the site. Broken Beautiful is a gorgeous site and I'd like our website/blog/zine to look alot like that.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I'll Catch Up!

I am looking looking looking for this book. I will get my hands on it and join in!

These are amazing to read!


Friday, March 21, 2008

colonization and the struggle for women's rights

Bint Al Shamsa writes:
I have yet to see an American school textbook that mentioned women's rights without including the names and accomplishments of at least Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. However, how many of them mention the fact that until Europeans colonized this country, women were already enjoying the rights that Stanton and Anthony fought for plus many more? Can you understand why that's problematic, at the very least?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

boarding school abuses and the case for reperations

i read chapter two last night: Boarding School Abuses and the Case for Reperations. inspired by sudy's latest femwatch, i wanted to give you all a recap via youtube video with my webcam (thanks mom!) but i keep messing up, getting embarrassed and having to start over! it's all right though, because i will get the hang of it and what better way to learn a skill than through advocating for women of color's feminism?

in the mean time, check out these links:

Stop Mainstream Feminist Racism! Respect Radical Women of Color NOW!
Campus Lockdown
Sign the petition!
Boarding School Healing Project

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

i'm only in the first chapter of conquest

but i appreciate dr. smith's style of writing so much.

i'm a little scared of group blogs because that's when the self-conscious part in me comes out to play. am i going to know what the others are talking about? will my writing sound stupid?

the reason i feel really connected to smith's writings is not only because of the subject matter of colonialism and struggle but because she writes in a way that's accessible to people. everyday people you see and know. people you eat with, drink with. people who live at the intersections of many -isms.

so many times with oppressed communities, at least from what i've experienced in the disability community, you have to prove yourself so much to the other people in the classroom, workplace, or organization that the mindset gets to be a competition for who can sound the most intelligent. an organization i work with made intellectual [words, thinking] accessibility a priority last year and it amazed me how controversial this actually was. a lot of members were offended with us revising documents to be on an eight grade level and taking the time to explain what words and acronyms meant. at that moment, i felt like i really understood what internalized oppression meant as people were more worried that they wouldn't be taken seriously as an organization or individuals instead of making their organization more accessible to their own people (and this is a disability organization so it was all people who wanted wheelchair accessible hotel rooms, alternative materials, ASL, but then didn't want to make it intellectually accessible so other people could participate).

i understand that people write for themselves, in fact i do, too. i understand that people love words and language and putting sentences together. me too. i defintely definitely get that. still there is a boundary between the love of writing and using big words to overcome a part of you (i.e. i might have a disability BUT i can talk so eloquently! or so and so might be latino BUT he's soooo damn articulate!). writing (especially and obviously in the academy) inaccessibly can be used just to appropriate a message and use it for individualist capitalist gain. so what is the purpose of writing if it is used this way? i mean how many people do you know, or at least in the academic world, that just love to hear the sound of their writing--- not writing from their heart, a message they believe in, or the ability they believe they have to reach people, but just the sound of big intellectual words?

it infuriates me and scares me that because smith wrote for people and not necessarily for the academy or the "ivory tower" she was denied tenure. what is the purpose of knowledge if it is to stay inside and only be used to discuss the "others"? finally, someone who gets us and is one of us and even writes in a way that includes us and she is disrespected and denied what is hers.

i think i finally understand the importance of tenure and it's breaking my heart to realize that we live in a society that dismisses people who write for people and celebrates the beauty of what often is just intellectual arrogance.

reading conquest

I finished school over a year ago and I can safely say that I haven't made it through more than five books since then. I have made it through about a million blog posts though. When Mimi Ngyuen described riot girl culture as a feminist "teaching machine," I immedietly thought that this is what women of color blogging are doing; they're working together to run a teaching machine for other women of color. Because even though I've been trying for almost two years to read 'Conquest' and I never made it past the foreward until yesterday, I found that I was familiar with a lot of the concepts and analysis because of reading other women of color blogs.

I thought that now was as good a time as any to read the book because it comes at the intersection of Andrea Smith's fight for tenure, an internal struggle between myself and academia/art (i.e. I'm through with school and don't want to go back but in what other world but grad school can I pursue my passions like research, travel, arab american's digital self-portraiture, comparing riot girl and women of color feminist media making/artistic production, and making self-memorializing art? ), and the coming 60th anniversary of the creation of the state of israel and the massacre & forced displacement of indigenous palestinians (which pushes me to reflect on, among other things, my status as a citizen of the u.s. and the massacre & forced displacement of indigenous people here).

More later...

Read-a-thon for Andrea Smith's Tenure

To show our support for Dr. Andrea Smith we are reading her book 'Conquest.' Please join us in reading, writing and discussing.

Conquest on google books.
Purchase the book from South End Press.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Delicious and Nutritious?

If you had to describe everything you want and need in a collaborative blogspace for women of color by talking about food....what would we be eating here?
Looking forward to a feast of fabulousness!

Monday, February 11, 2008


The possibilities are endless here...