Posts Tagged ‘viva la black girl’

Surrender, sometimes

May 15, 2017

Yesterday evening was the first time I ever did a cycle of very gentle yoga with the express intention of being just that: gentle with myself. It was the sweetest, tenderest unexpected gift. I moved where I felt called to, refrained from judging myself, doing only what felt good to myself; I thanked my body for her existence, for its healing one day at a time, my stomach lining for dutifully absorbing antibiotics. Of course it’s being sick that takes me here: restful and watchful with myself, listening to every bone whirr and creak and settle. After being fever-racked and falling into the body ache and sweat of it — it’s good to be climbing out on the other side. Existence is the frailest of things. I thought about some of my ancestors who didn’t have the luxury of taking time off from work to recover, of resting through their healing and being able to be gentle with themselves in all the ways they would have liked to.

I also found myself momentarily captivated by a photo of me I picked up sometime when I was home. It fell out of a book that slid off a stack. It’s me in Kiddies Carnival on one of the parade routes: St. James or maybe downtown. Not a little kid but not full-fledged young adult, that in-between stage. I look strangely self-possessed, one arm akimbo, a standard clenched strongly, shimmering. I confront the camera, my plaited bang, a long arc of glitter curved up the side of my cheek like warpaint: Who is this girl?

Evenings of cradling yourself are necessary, of listening to new Ishawna: a small wine to open hips (more on that in an upcoming post), of medicine and melancholy and knowing you are trying. That you are a thriving, slowly crumbling being.

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Love in the Time of Fear

May 8, 2014

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“You called?” I inquired. I was responding to a missed call on my cell. It was the waning hours of Valentine’s Day and the late night was winding down; I was ensconced in a short hallway by the bathroom, inside a hipster bar in central Florida. The young man on the other end was visibly uncomfortable. I could hear his discomfort through the phone, and I could see his face in my mind—sapodilla brown, and probably scrunched up with that squirmy look of his.

“Uh, happy over commercialized holiday.”

“Aw, are you telling me happy Valentine’s day? Did you think of me?” An emotionally inaccessible man is ever tortured by me and my endless turns of the screw. I am incessantly excavating—or attempting to.

He might have sighed inwardly then, if he was the kind of guy who sighed—he wasn’t. He dodged my emotional curve ball and tried to deflect away from the matter at hand: the fact that it was Valentine’s and he called me, because he cares.

“Well it’s almost over.” He noted. “And I was also calling about something else.” It was, arguably, 11: 56 pm when I hit the call button.

Of course, I quibbled, “Well it’s not quite over yet though.” I almost cooed it. Almost. Everything is strategy when you love a guy who cannot love you back the way that you want. When you love someone whose emotional maturity level may not always match up with yours. So many things are elusive, too. Sometimes even impervious. It is hard. But yet, I am still here after all these months, with the phone in my hand and the thrum of my full heart in my chest.

When I make him an offer to come by later if he wants to, he doesn’t want to drive over the bridge to my neighboring county, yet he is irked that I am, in fact, out on Valentine’s. I can hear it in the snap of his reply. He worked an eight hour shift until 11 pm and never tried to make plans with me. He buries disappointment so fast sometimes you could almost miss it, but I catch it because I am always on the look-out. I don’t tell him where I am exactly (strategy, remember) and it feels silly because, it is, and I spend my Valentine’s late-night alone in bed with a dull ache in me. I miss him terribly for a while, then I sleep.

This all began when I met him in a mutual friend’s party about a year ago. We’re from the same island nation, Trinidad and Tobago. He was funny and he could dance. He was younger than me, tall, and a lover of carnival and music. We wound ourselves around each other slowly, at first—texts and short phone calls and exceedingly random and sporadic Facebook messages—now my spool is a hot, frayed out mess. We grew to know and like each other more, letting each other in. As communicative air signs, we reveled in conversations, long succulent ones; after his shift as a CNA and my stints at teaching, we talked overnight into several mornings. Conversations like those I had as a teenager, trying to get to know every nook and cranny of each other’s minds. He grew to be one of my dearest friends. I was loving him beyond friendship and one day (night really), we finally talked about it, albeit under the heady influence of Caribbean rum and we acknowledged that we loved each other (me first, naturally).

And because “I love you” is a spell caster, I clung to the magic and reverence of the words in my head and fed myself from it often: the idea and the words. And what about the practice? Actively loving and expressing love fearlessly takes courage and it takes more than simply admitting that you love someone. I have never been in love before, not in this way, so I don’t know what to compare it to. There is so much I don’t know about love and I have considered that it’s also possible that the language has simply failed me. What if I just really like him a lot? And want him to be the best person that he can be? What is it? And if it is love, why would someone try to run from it?

I had two choices when he told me he was afraid of trying to love me the way that I wanted: either that it was crap and he was playing me for a fool or it was true. And even if it was true, then what? He loved me but had never lived on his own before, far less away from home with freer rein than ever before to flex his mettle at being a man. While his mother raised him in the West Indies, his father resides in the US and they have a decidedly terse, though working relationship. His dad is what we call a “sweet man” in Trinidad—a Caribbean ladies’ man who is good looking with light colored eyes. He tells me he is trying not to be his father but he also admits that he knows he is.

But he could just love me, right? Commit to me? Be brave. What good are these musings on cosmic connections and synchronicities that leave both of us occasionally flummoxed and transfixed otherwise? He is there for me even when he is mad at me and I have been hurtful or petty; and I am there for him likewise. He emotionally shows up when I least expect it sometimes, but he doesn’t show up in the other ways I want him to. It feels Sisyphean, between the love and the fear. Between what I don’t know and what I think I know. We exhaust each other sometimes. Breaking up and coming back together, then again. But he is also lovely in the way that he tries to crack himself open to make a call on one of the most stereotypically romantic days of the year. It’s a small bone I gnaw at hungrily.

Last summer, we were on the same flight to Toronto; he went for Caribana and I to visit my sister and wander a city removed from the south east mugginess. We weren’t talking before that flight and I threatened to change seats but couldn’t because I checked in too late. When the turbulence started, I was glad that he was next to me: to talk to, laugh with, his presence was a calming energy and his forearm was where I wrapped my fingers. Our touch often feels familiar, like in a parallel universe somewhere, we love each completely and our souls remember echoes of this. February was also his birth month. I got him two shirts and a pair of socks. He really digs funky socks. I love him but what I fear most is that maybe, he cannot ever love me the way that I want. Or worse yet, he just doesn’t want to. Maybe the fear resides in me.

Image via: Strawberryposh on Tumblr

Late emotional writing

November 27, 2013

Posted this on my Tumblr a while ago and I figured I’d share it here — just ’cause.

I told him, “I just need someone to remove you from me” sweeping my fingers from the swell of pussy, over the navel, up along the length of my torso, to my throat. He looked tortured like the words cut welts into his skin. Me, splendidly triumphant for a moment or two. He recovered his composure as only a young man, smug and sure and deft in the ways of emotional disconnect can. The warmth in his eyes dim; embers flickering, fading, blinds closing in the dark. Me, scrambling with nubs of matches. The muggy Florida rain clanging on your car. Inside smelling like him and Jack Daniel’s from my cup. He take sips too as I rest my foot on the dashboard. He talks about how all he wants to do right now is kiss me, but he knows he shouldn’t. So he doesn’t. And we sit there and we talk. He has no filter. The asshole gene only minutely deactivated if it means he won’t have to see me cry which breaks his heart after he breaks my heart. And so on and so forth. Cyclical. Sisyphean.

Black girls like me are made of words and water.

All I want to do is talk sometimes. Conversational intimacy for air signs like us is magical. Our words enter each other, sit in the moist crevices of skin and joints of bones. You said you are afraid of being vulnerable, of succumbing to the unknown. You and I, we scare each other profoundly at times. I hear your voice in my head when I least expect it: that Trinidadian baritone pouring out of my subconscious, startling me away from what I am doing. You said I remind you of the best parts of home. Like a lot of guys, you want to be nurtured but can’t nurture anyone because you barely know how. Who am I to demand reciprocity? You gathered me in bunches once and laid me down to rest against you, wrapping your legs around and through mine like they were the most precious things right then. Your feet, large, sand papery and in need of some lotion (always). And the ways that we know each other: from breath to breath, the shape of our fears, laughter and anguish. I wanted to scream at the sky some days (and maybe I did).

You texted and I texted. I called and you called and we fell upon each other: sad and angry and hungry and disappointed, cowering under all these burdensome emotional energies. You said you came to help me move that Sunday because you gave me your word once and you couldn’t not come. And you made sure to leave me with a whisper, so cruel and unkind. You wanted to break me which tells me a lot about your fears. And still, I couldn’t hate you then.

And what is it we are meant to learn after all? I suppose it can come down to this: how do I tell someone that sometimes at night, when it’s all quiet in my head—all I want to do is crawl into the base of your throat and sit there, listening to you breathe. And how do you say to someone who is afraid of love and loving that that is exactly what you want to do with them? And what do you say when they tell you no? That they have no courage to love you. Now. Maybe ever.

Emotions aren’t rational. And there is a fissure in my heart caused by you. (Insert the saddest sigh ever.)

More to the point, “What kind of fuckery is this?” (Universe, yes, I am looking at you.)

And what can I say about the end? The bitter taste—betrayal, or was it something else? A lesson forgotten, soft skein slipping away because you had no grip? “Sorry”—but not really sorry, touching but not really touching. We have let the cosmos down or they have let us down. And between us grew spaces we could not fill, fruit fell before it was ripe and our spirits made promises we could not keep to each other.

Epiphany: He has no salve to rub into my raw, tender spots; I will have to do it myself. And I will.

March 6, 2013

Check out our new prezi on lipstick resistance and The Two Lips Collective!

Two Lips

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You might have questions and we’re trying to formulate answers! The new Two Lips Prezi answers why Two Lips? Why Lipstick resistance? See link below:

The Two Lips Project

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Updates: On life, living etc.

November 18, 2012

So, while I have missing from my corner of the blogosphere (if anyone noticed), I have been staying relatively busy on the Facebook page, linking and posting all manner of poetry, articles, images that inspire and incite and more, from various web sojourns. I suppose, overall, lots of stuff has been taking place — let’s see, I got a manuscript accepted. My forthcoming (and first!) poetry chapbook will come out in late 2013, published by the ethereal and immensely talented dancing girl press. It will be suffused with hibiscus, creaking spines, dark rum, blackness and blackgirl love.

Also, in the meantime, my heart has been aching for Palestine, I have kept peeping my favorite blogs (yeah, I see you all), I’ve been bonding more with Mama Oshun, snuggling regularly with a certain deliciously warm and wonderful brown body, I got involved with the Two Lips collective project where I’ll be trying to work all kinds of black-West Indian-femme-feminist-fierceness in partnership with Kayla from Sage (among others); I watched Sesame Street (random post coming on that soon); I got more in tune with my cosmic ish (take heed: Jupiter is in retrograde allyuh!); plus, I got thoroughly annoyed with the ever tiring myth of Indian exceptionalism being spewed by one of our country’s ambassadors (post might be coming on that soon) Grrrr.

All that taking place, then I saw this:

OK, to start with, I understand that “jokey soca” is supposed to be a genre onto itself (see some chunes by Crazy for example) which is separate from picong, though the traditions inform one another in some ways. This is also separate from the tradition of double entendre in soca and kaiso which, may or may not, be funny. Alright — now with that said, we can connect cultural notions of Trinbagonian picong too to similar diasporic manifestations like “playing the dozens” where insults and barbs are “New World” incarnations of African sociolinguistic expressions and the oral tradition carried within descendants of the earliest Africans.

We also cannot categorically consider this song anything close to picong because there is only one voice in the song and that is of Myron B’s. Picong involves an exchange of wits at least. The woman has no voice here. I’ve noted before how even inside supposedly “jokey” soca — there are always problematic elements of truthtelling about who we are as a people and who we decide to make fun of and in what ways.  In Anthurium, Andrea Shaw has observed how the fat black female body became this site for hypersexualisation in soca and dancehall, as well as humor.

Note the kind of big woman in this music video, note her shade, note her nod to Mammy — her simultaneous pseudo-sexualisation (from the first attraction) then the chronic, progressive desexualization throughout the song and video; this is key here: the fact that the “attraction” and whatever sexual attributes once there, (oh wait, it’s happening only because he never dated someone 300 lbs before) positively shrink throughout the song and the fat black woman is in fact, the central punchline by the end. The joke is on her actually, never him, even though they end up in a bed together and he ends up in bandages and he would like us to think the joke is on him (she dreams of ice-cream while next to him, remember?). And that’s a problem. The whole thing is a problem.

Image via: Buttah Love

The very premise of fat women and fat black women as voyeuristic challenges for a man to prove his manly mettle because of their size, is problematic all on its own and not just because real fatphobia exists and women who don’t fit in the dominant paradigm’s mandate of what an appropriate size should be end up having to deal with these same attitudes from too many people every damn day. It’s not okay because fat people are human beings and their feelings are valid just like anyone else’s. Their right to exist free from body shame, bullying and damaging parodies is valid, again, just like anyone else’s.

The Beauty Myth & An Open Letter to Some Trinbagonians

July 19, 2012

In case you missed the awfulness surrounding the 2012 Miss Trinidad and Tobago World 2012 representative: Athaliah Samuel; the awful missology thread headline proclaiming how ugly she is; the Jay Blessed weigh in; the Miss Trinidad and Tobago Fans page’s awkward, painful, cringe-inducing retraction and the numerous Trinbagonians online bemoaning her as choice — the fact that she is a “non traditional beauty”, from Laventille, dark skinned or “not your cup of tea” are all bullshit explications for the classism, colourism, elitisim, racism and just all around, meanness of spirit that has been shown to this girl in too many places.

Many of the people who would allege that their assessment of her features have absolutely nothing to do with colour are talking crap. Everyone is carrying around internalized beauty ideals and deeply entrenched racial ideals (especially simultaneously) — especially us. Contextualize your notions of symmetry or whatever stupid yard stick you are using for cover over internalized, cultural mind fucks. The diaspora has been officially and thoroughly fucked over in that regard. (I have come to that sad conclusion). Some of us resist (and are resisting), and some of us are unlearning and have done so. Some of us still don’t know that we need to. Harriet Tubman knew what the hell she was talking about. Athaliah’s beauty (the perceptions surrounding it), her colour and class status are all blessedly intertwined, make no mistake around that. People didn’t think Wendy Fitzwilliam was beautiful once upon a time, either. Remember that? Then lo, and behold…

I am a Trini, but the self absorption and levels of superficiality of some of you are disgusting, almost on the verge of nauseating. This whole fantastical narrative of ‘some of the most beautiful women in the world’ has gotten to your heads and I want you to check yourselves on that, please and thank you. If you think a globally commodified “beauty” competition is the best platform to exemplify some cultural estimation of “beauty” — and you are personally offended when said choice/s don’t meet your own personal standards, you need to open your mind some more and get over your fucking self. A beautiful people don’t move that way. And your clearly unexamined biases and perceptions of East Port of Spain communities, its people and your narrow constructs of beauty are showing. Even if you don’t agree, the audacity of being affronted by her looks — her physicality and phenotype, style choices and saying so in terrible terms is still disgusting. You and your words disgust me. All this to a daughter of the soil who is young and undoubtedly a work in progress at 24 (aren’t we all in some ways?), trying to achieve her goals.

Athaliah, sistren, my hope for you is that you know that you are beauty, whether you win or lose, that crown doesn’t define you. Pretty is conventional, often stereotypical, fleeting, falls slack off the bones and finite. Beauty is inside and out. It scares and enthralls. And is sometimes elusive to pin down in exact words. It’s still there when your back bends and skin is weighed down by the extent of life’s journeys. Third-eyes often espy it. And spirits know it is there when your spirit takes to somebody and vice versa. Beauty, like love — is deliberate. The people that see it, mean to see it and it is for them (and you) to savor in those realizations. Everyone knows a pretty girl when they see her but everyone isn’t going to see beauty in you.  Not everyone can. Fuck the naysayers. May your journey be splendid and filled with growth and new experiences.

The echoes and reverberations of some folks’ voices about all of this, will say more about how we view our collective cultural selves than any of the other people and things we rush to rally around the red, white and black for.  And right now, those colours eh looking too nice. Not at all.

For the Love

July 2, 2012

Spreading some luscious link love. First off, my darling friend Marissa (activist, feminist, critical thinker and all around fantabulous person) is interviewed about trafficking in the Caribbean on Womenspeak. Kim is one of Go magazine’s “100 Women We Love” (yay!) and yours truly is a featured Femmeoir on Sage–and don’t stick on the other womym either.

Thankful for, humbled and inspired by and enamoured with the community of women I am in.

‘Femme is on Purpose’: Truthtelling for us all

May 27, 2012

My Trini sista Kim, speaking fierce truths at Slutwalk Toronto 2012.

For Women Who Are Difficult To Love

March 21, 2012

“You are a horse running alone
and he tries to tame you . . .

you are terrifying
and strange and beautiful
something not everyone knows how to love.”

This feels like I’ve been looking for these words & knowing them almost all my life! Such beauty. Such achingly astute truth-telling.

Why you talk so white?

February 28, 2012

This right here.

via: Maya Wegerif