Monday, December 29, 2014


Oct. 23, 2014



Nov. 24

I have one thing to say about the Cosby thing: I think we should quit posting the creepiest pics of Cosby. This is a way of suggesting that sexual offenders "look" a certain way. The tragedy is sexual predators and men who use their patriarchal privileges to assault women in a variety of ways walk plainly among us. They are often handsome, cheerful, and friendly. They are "normal" people. When we insistent that all sex offenders are monsters, we wind up assuming that "normal" folks could not be the monsters capable of committing such acts. But tragically they are and do. The way we characterize "criminals" as others, part of our racialized system of societal control, causes us to leave our family members in danger. We begin by taking victims seriously. But we must also see the victimizers as humans or else we become the monsters, the obscuring fog.



Who threw the first punch?

Nov. 24, 2014 7:30ish p.m., an hour or so before a Ferguson, Mo., grand jury announced its decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson fro the murder of Michael Brown.

The government of Ferguson will soon ask protestors to remain "calm" regardless of the grand jury decision because of the "unrest" in the wake of the killing of Michael Brown. But it was NOT the protestors who showed a lack of restraint then. It was the soldiers dispatched to suppress a peaceful protest. Jay Nixon should be forcing the police to remain calm. The government continues urge Black people to be peaceful despite the fact the United States has been waging war on Black people since before it was an independent country. The murders of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner and Renisha McBride are genocide. I dont use that word lightly. But it is impossible to separate the middle passage, Dred scott, lynchings, Emmet Till, the disproportionate numbers of African Americans on the front lines of America's imperialist wars, the new Jim Crow of mass incarcerations and drug legislation, the water shutoffs in America's Blackest city, and the above murders from one another. This genocide has continued unabated for 500 years. And yet we ask the people we are killing to remain peaceful. I believe in peace. Truly. But I will not ask or advocate peace from Black people while my community continues to wage war. Wake up white people. We are the ones with guns and tanks. We are the ones who manage the jails. It is our fingers on the triggers. With our hands on the taps. Whose genetic imprint on the Black community tells the story of institutionalized rape. We are the ones who should be waging peace. Who should have remained calm. Who should stop the violence. Who need to rebuild our communities. Who need to protest for justice. Because regardless of what happens when the grand jury announces its decision, it is all of us who are guilty of the first-degree murder of Michael Brown. Premeditated. For all the chances we have had to rectify our continued assault on African peoples here, on the continent and across the Diaspora.

Funny Guy

Aug. 12, 2014

I've been thinking hard about this Robin Williams thing, about living two lives - always being the "funny guy," the entertainer, but holding onto an abyss of sorrow and fear and unresolved pain you don't let anyone see. As some of you know, I started getting counseling two years ago. At the time, I didn't have health insurance and I paid for those sessions in cash, because I was days away from where Robin Williams is now. I didn't think I could afford it, especially for more than a couple of quick sessions. Turns out what is spent on booze, food, cocaine, weed, sex, shopping  whatever it takes to suppress the emotions that are natural for all of us - costs a lot more than the therapy did. Don't get me wrong, I have not yet reached a state of perpetual bliss, but life is substantially more savory for me. I fear less and I feel more. WE ALL DESERVE TO FEEL BETTER. Life is not hopeless. This tragedy really can be a message to us all that all humans struggle, no matter how talented, smart and funny they are., and success is not measured by the $ or the awards but how you feel. And if you are hurting, remember the hurt is not you, it is something you can get rid of. And what remains beyond the hurting, the real you, is more gloriously than you can yet imagine. I promise.

Back to School

Sept. 2, 2014

I saw the most beautiful sunrise of my life today.

The top of the sky was deep purple inlaid with grey clouds tipped in fiberglass insulation pink. The purple stepped down into electric lavender, neon rose, a throbbing saffron and then pure shining gold. The lower sky gilded the clouds there- the bumpy ones, the wispy ones, the long bars of pent up rain, and the fading stains of yesterday's downpour.

I reached for my phone.


What was rich in my eyes, was poor on the screen. A thousand different brilliant colors faded into a simple dichotomy: blue and yellow. The textures of horizon, as complex and sensual as reading Neruda in Braille, were flattened, absent.

Another pic. Another. Nothing.

Maybe a filter? X-Pro II, Earlybird. No.

You can't capture what is freely given. Every day the sun comes again to each of us, freshly dressed in colors we will never see again. The sun has no wardrobe, it leaves its gown stretched over the dresser of dusk before it vanishes between raven-winged sheets.

Live your memory, the sun says. Come back tomorrow and I will give you something new. The phone maybe bright, but it illuminates nothing - the night is always brighter. Nothing lasts, so why spend all your energy holding what turns to dust in your palms? What you have held, try to feel. What you have looked at, try to see. Your being is your memory. The truth of your past lives (verb) in how you experience the present. Your ancestors stir in the way you dance. Stop grasping for what your wear in your veins.

In honor of everyone starting school today, this will be my lesson. I may not learn well, but I will try. And God willing, I will be back in class tomorrow, to enjoy all that is given, all that will come again without ever returning.

#ish: Hope for the Future

Nov. 15, 2014

Sometimes I despair that technology is ruining the world. That in the architecture of these new cryptic systems, we've retained all of our fears, our inclinations to oppress and exploit, and yet failed to build into the virtual world our capacity to grow, to change, to evolve, to love.

But today something gave me hope.

Let me start by saying that my spellcheck is racist as hell. It doesn't correct it when I type "the" instead of 'the"  one of the most common words in the English language. It almost always allow me to use any French word without admonition. But if I type in any African/Islamic phrases it has a million suggestions: type Kemet  "Did you mean Emmet?" the pad asks me. When Amiri Baraka passed, apparently the white guy that runs the algorithm thinks all Black names are spelled alike, so it would occasionally ask me- Did you mean "Barack Obama?" when it wasn't trying to transmute the Arabic into a Jewish name. I think one time, I actually typed the words Kunte Kinte and the name "Toby" magically appeared on the screen...


My keypad is starting to learn. It has learned the words "masjid," "kujichagulia," "wakan," "haShem," "Eid," "wopila," "womyn," and "ashe." It understands that Zenobia was once queen in Palmyra and is now in Detroit.

And today when I typed the word "hashtag," my phone asked me if i meant... "hashish."
It's like the phone finally understands my mind. Like it has grown and changed. Shout out to the plant teachers finding their way into the screens and protocols.

So, now, I not only have hope for the algorithm, I have hope for my own ability to change. To be less racist. To learn. To grow.

To love.

I mean, I'm at least as smart as my phone, right? The new age is coming, buds


Oct. 26, 2014

The sky was black when the bus arrived at the station in Cincinnati. By the time I made it to the sidewalk, it was a deep navy behind the red neon of the horseshoe casino sign. I didn't have time enough to test my luck.
Inside the terminal, there was a white lady on the news who said she didn't have Ebola, but was angry that she had to LIVE in a tent for a few weeks. For me, live, as in alive, was the operative word, she who had seen so much death, who had faced the scourge, had saved lives and returned with a cool forehead. It was hard for me to understand why she wasn't consumed in ecstasy, why her plastic tent wasn't fluttering with Tibetan prayer flags polychrome, jubilant. Why she hadn't welcomed the stone people to dispose of the final tattered vestments woven of her fears and doubts. Why she wasn't glowing, ascendant.
When the intercom beckoned us back, the sky was much paler. The delicate blue bordering on white reserved for sea ice and some women's legs caught bare in the cold atmosphere. between a robe and the sheets, the moon and the night. The nipple-pink apex of the sun swelling pierced the limitless soft blue horizon. All around were the ellipses of the Appalachians, geological punctuation suggesting what the mountains behind us had yet to say.
When I left Atlanta at 7:30 p.m. last night, the Earth had already shunned the demanding attentions of her lover, the sun, for the distant admiration of the stars. The night was warm, and there were at least 20 men camping outside the Presbyterian church. Lenton was on his way to Chattanooga for an orientation. He wasn't yet guaranteed the job. He had spent years trucking over-the-road working seven days a week, not seeing his wife or daughter sometimes for six weeks at a time. Every now and then, when he's sleeping, someone starts knocking on his fiberglass shell.  That's not a good thing.  He never knows who it is or what they want, a lot lizard, a junkie, or someone with a novel thirst.
He knows well enough to wake up and pull his 45,000 lb. load 30 or so miles to disconnection.
The new job, if he gets it, will be in-town.
Lauren, my shrink, said G-d will make a space for me to see my girls, because it’s in all of our best interests. Lenton so far has been able to support his family only by being away. I decided I didn't have to wait to pray for him. Like breathing in so hard, yanks the breath out of you eventually again, so were my silent prayers as we chatted.
He and I were the only ones talking, until Chattanooga. Then bus dipped into a shallow puddle of halogen light and Lenton dug himself into the evening. The bus and I moved on silently.
I saw the Alps for the first time in 2001. Well not actually. I perceived them. Then too, it was dark. The sky was black and the mountains were black against it. But they felt different through the train window.  The mountains throbbed against my skin. The mountains devoured the yellow lights in the towns and on the tracks.  The sky doesn't do that.  It encourages each light to reach as far as it can to stretch its skinny fingers to the extremities of every pasture.
But the mountains accepted each light, absorbed each tickling yellow as they do the silver stars. And all that light made the black mountains pulse in the darkness, quiver against the window, warm in my empty hands.
Maybe it was because I was no longer hovering above or standing on the Earth but embraced by it, I could hear my bones whispering to me.
Between Atlanta, where the Earth begins raising its voice in song, and its wavering coda in Cincinnati, I could see nothing, yet had intense visions. The Earth was singing to me on every side, rocking me in her arms.
Lenton probably already out of his hotel room bed. Probably sitting in a trailer-classroom somewhere.  Probably drinking thin coffee with a sharp edge.
Kaci Hickox maybe raging against her hermitage. Hot-headed but fever free, panicked but breathing.
And I am coming home from home the long way.
The Earth gives as our mothers have given.  Whether they wanted to or not, whether they were good or bad, empathetic or not, our flesh was ripped from theirs, our bones the pebbles of their crumbling peaks. There is nothing we are that they are not. Even weaned, we are nothing more and nothing less than G-d and suck.
And even as the sun now hovers over flat Ohio, my eyes cannot see what lies ahead, but my bones are murmuring we will see each other soon.

And the bus rolls on in the direction of the pines.

Too Big to Flush

Oct. 19, 2014

When huge banks fucked everyone over and sent the entire globe into a recession and vaporized what was left of the myth of the American dream, and people said they had to be saved regardless because the banks were "too big to fail," I thought "what does that mean -- too big to fail? It doesn't make sense."
I just had a bowel movement that was literally too big to flush.
And facing the mountain of shit in my toilet, I thought about the banks. I have two options: Get in there and make it flush, unpleasant but necessary; or I could defer to the fece pile as too big to flush and just leave it in the toilet and hope that it will regulate itself and eventually the water will kind of break it down and maybe one day soon it will recede of its own volition.
Even if that happens, if by some miracle it washes away, my house will smell super gross and I'll probably get pink eye in the interim.
What I'm saying here people, is that the banks are a big pile of shit, and we should have gotten rid of capitalism while we had the chance, but we fucked it up and now we're crying golden tears, mistaking pus for precious, looking at the world through rose-colored corneas, scratching the itch in our neighbor's eye while ignoring the infection in our own. And non-profits have positioned themselves where our spines used to be.
Capitalism is not sustainable: financially, ecologically, or spiritually. It is a spiritually undisciplined practice that regards material as superior to experience, which inherently engenders exploitation. It encourages people to get off the proverbial toilet and sneak out of the bathroom if they can, without dealing with what the byproducts of their consumption, without regulating how much they consume or having to invest in improving the plumbing.

And that's just not cool.

Kick your Thanksgiving dinner up a notch: Address your family's racism!

Nov. 27, 2014 Thanksgiving Day

Alright white people! Let today be the Superbowl of social justice in white communities. Do you want justice for Michael Brown? Do you want an end to the water shutoffs? Do you want to end structural racism in America?


You are not going to "ruin" Thanksgiving. Your family loves you. And by loving you, they will listen to you. Maybe not at first. Granted your Dad watches a lot of Fox News. And your Uncle Ron even calls in to Rush Limbaugh. But remember these are the guys who voted for Gov. Rick Snyder, the man who singlehandedly disenfranchised more African Americans than any single person since the end of Reconstruction. And guess what? Rachel Maddow isn't going to drop by for a plate. But you are right there. And your Dad doesn't love Rachel Maddow. But he loves you.

So say what you have to say. Make notes if you have to. Text yourself a list of statistics. White people love statistics. Pull up tabs on your phone with 20 different articles. Go over there ready. You don't have to yell. This doesn't have to be like your first vegan Thanksgiving when you got high on Morrissey and called your family murderers and your Mom cried. Tell it straight. Respect that they can change.

If you can't convince the people who love you the most that we MUST end the war on Black America, what do you ever expect to change in this world?

And you have the right to believe that they can change. Because you LOVE them too. Because they are more than Fox News, and Ann Coulter and their Sarah Palin bumper stickers. Because you are you, and you care, and you are you and you care because of them, even if that's a mystery to all of you sometimes. And you love each other. And there is no greater power than LOVE. So tell them. 

Tell them with love.

Show them that giving up white privilege isn't scary. It's the opposite, it's the way for our families to get closer. To end the white-on-white violence of pharmaceutical (adrenal, prozac) brain assault on our children, end the white-on-white violence where we move as far away from our families as possible and in doing so colonize other communities, end the white-on-white violence that manifests as rape/molestation culture that doesn't begin on the campus but in suburban bedrooms, the white-on-white violence of giving our economic power to banks, and our political power to politicians who work for those banks, all of which have destroyed our ability to sustain ourselves, the white-on-white violence that took any semblance of the Creator or Love out of our religious institutions. You have the power.

And remember, this doesn't mean higher taxes. We all know. Your Grandpa thinks taxes are the root of all evil. But our discriminatory ways have COST all of us money. A 2013 W. K. Kellogg Foundation report, titled, “The Business Case for Racial Equity,” found “if the average incomes of minorities were raised to the average incomes of whites, total U.S. earnings would increase by 12 percent, representing nearly $1 trillion today. By closing the earnings gap through higher productivity, gross domestic product (GDP) would increase by a comparable percentage, for an increase of $1.9 trillion today. The earnings gain would translate into $180 billion in additional corporate profits, $290 billion in additional federal tax revenues, and a potential reduction in the federal deficit of $350 billion, or 2.3 percent of GDP.

The report goes on to show additional monies lost to the American economy — totaling hundreds of billions — each year due to disparities in health costs and loss of productivity.

So give it a try. And if you don't get through today keep trying tomorrow and at Christmas and at Easter and on Memorial Day barbecues (when it gets heavy, sure talk about the game or Aunt Sheila's health, take a break from the heavy stuff and come back to it when they bring it up, because they will). Tell them BECAUSE you love them. Because you want them to live in happy world. Because you believe in LOVE. Because you feel LOVE. Love doesn't teargas people. Love doesn't shoot rubber bullets or live rounds. Love doesn't shut off taps to families. Love doesn't say our tax dollars don't have to provide a "quality education" for our children. Love doesn't poison our rivers and our skies and the land that sustains us.

That's not rocket science. Your family CAN understand that. Because they LOVE you. Because we are made by love, literally, by our parents, and of Love by our Creator.

And if you need some facts in your corner, the, will back you up all day and night.

And if you need some good vibes in your corner, remember the Creator's love is ubiquitous.

And I am thankful for that.