Song starts around 1:30
Song starts around 1:30
Song starts around 1:30
(this video is part 2 of a 3 part series; watch part 1 here).
At the end of the video embedded above, Ayishat talks about not wearing heels (a truly radical act for very short women) and not introjecting ideas of gender when it comes to her personal style. It feels liberating just to watch her, considering how I’ve navigated gender and size in my own style.
When I was about 14, I bought a pack of boxer shorts. I don’t remember what my mother said when she discovered them in the bag with my other purchases, but I do remember my dad coming to my room after he came home for work. My father usually held his temper with me, but not that night. I returned my purchase soon after.
At 21, I lived alone in South Florida. I spent a lot of time shopping to fill the time. I wore whatever I liked (but not in the most creative ways). I had a coworker, who was also sub 5′ and “into fashion”. One day, she lamented about not being able to wear ballet flats. I wore them regularly so I looked at her with confusion and asked why. She was too short, they were made for tall (and preferably thin) women. I had never considered my body type in this regard before.
Alas, 7 years later and I’m discovering Ayishat Akanbi. So geeked!
“you old black-eyed squint!” | nina with the wicked wit and the black-eyed squint | wicked wit, black-eyed squint
I’m reading Our Sister Killjoy by Ama Ata Aidoo. This book is pretty amazing. The protagonist, Sissie is a young Ghanaian woman who has travelled extensively. She is described as having a black-eyed squint. Her way of seeing the world is racialized in a way that is particular to black people. I’m wondering who else has written stories about young African women solo travelling in the 1960s/1970s.
the obvious question: is the squint too narrow and thus limiting or is it well-focused?
1. There really is no correlation between one’s confidence and the quality of work one produces. And for that reason alone it’s really amazing to meet (in person) folks who have a strong online presence and personal brand.
For the shy, for the falsely humble, for those who have yet to learn how to push that ego out of the way and say “this is my work,” know that:
“The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensities.” – William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming.
So yeah quit that false humility shit but don’t be a hype man for some bs.
2. I’m really doing this writing thing. Like, it’s not a game.
3. Some poll says only 25% of black women want to be in committed relationships. This is weird when you compare it to the percentage for black men: 43%. And when you consider what the media has been saying about single, lonely ass black women. I’m too lazy to go look for the originally published data and survey. I actually don’t care about the numbers. I’m curious about black women who want something other than traditional ways of monogamous commitment.
Really I’m just curious about me.
I used to reject marriage. I used to say that I had issues with commitment. (There was that one time that I had to remind myself to breathe at the very moment the boy I was having fun with expressed his interest in something serious and long-term and ceremonious.)
Then a friend told me that there was not a finite amount relationship types. That just because I hadn’t found comfort in the options I was presented didn’t mean that I would be forced into something (like forever-lonely-singleness) by default. She told me that it was up to me to decide what I wanted. To create what I wanted.
Go figure, I could create the life I wanted.
4. Sometimes I hear other folks’ stories and I introject their narratives. This week it was Dambudzo Marechera:
“It was also at Oxford that Marechera’s lasting affair with alcohol really began, an affair that was to reach a colorful apogee at the Guardian fiction prize ceremony where he shattered the face of the genteel British publishing establishment by hurling plates and wine bottles at the chandeliers. He carried too much baggage, was too sensitive, too uncompromising to really fit into British society—or to lie low like other African students did, focusing on their studies, counting the days until they returned to their countries. He was also temperamentally unsuited for the student life; his approach to literature and to learning was too personal, too subjective for the university curriculum that encouraged a more uniform and regimented approach.”
He died at age 35, homeless. It seems he really grappled with issues of the world and his place in it. Some people really can’t just numb that shit and keep it moving.
5. I really have a limited vocabulary so I’m proud of myself for using the word “introject” in that last thought. Though I’m not sure if I’ve used it correctly.
6. I haven’t finished reading this opinion on The Essayification of Essays but I like the ideas of essays as “attempts”, as something that asks you to get comfortable with ambivalence.
7. I’ve been wanting to hold a baby a lot lately.
They tell the story of an old woman who–despite wrinkles, the sufferings of age, the stings of ingratitude, and even loneliness–was still all heart. Some people are like that: they are made of goodness, their every look spreads tenderness, and from their hands caresses fall all the year round.
- Patrick Chamoiseau, “A Pumpkin Seed” (Creole Folktales)
I’ve been called a “cultural lesbian”; told that I’m queer because of my gender politics. I’ve resisted these labels because NYC taught me something about heterosexual appropriation of queer identities.
At a recent academic conference, I chatted with a doctoral student who was presenting his work on queer politics in “postcolonial” Africa (or something like that). I asked him about this thing of appropriation, of heterosexual people identifying as queer because of there politics. In some way I asked if sexuality needs to be removed from the politics of sexuality. He responded with a question: does the appropriation feel different if we factor in the appropriator’s race, class, or other identities? Consider a black, working-class, heterosexual man identifying as queer…
It gave me pause. But now I’m thinking why does this matter? Why is it important (?) to see, for example, black heterosexual folks id’ing as ‘queer’. Is it because of ideas we’ve internalized about race and homophobia? Or is it because it’s marginalized folks, in effect, pushing themselves further from center?
My mind is going in a circle. Help me out?
When you point the lens in my direction, I make sure not to look at you. I am thinking of the image that will be produced.
You are merely seated near K, holding your camera when he angles his body to look directly at you and smiles. I comment later that he likes to see pictures of himself. He must keep each photo as a reminder of how beautiful he is.
When I first see the images, I ask myself, “where are your earrings?” Almost immediately I realize that I’ve just spoke in my mother’s voice; at first, I find this humorous.
I see the bags developing under my eyes and consider again if I should learn to apply makeup. Just a bit, to cover the scars from all of the picking and prodding I’ve done in an attempt to again have the smooth skin folks would fawn over.
I see my hair not properly patted into place. My widow’s peak is too prominent — something else my mother has never been fond of. I’ve been needing a haircut, I should do that soon.
I reply, without even thanking you for the photos, “I should have smiled.”
You’d sent them with a simple message, “beautiful madam.” This is your way of operating in the world: seeing people for their beauty, applying beliefs of unconditional love. I admire this. I appreciate this. I wish I could navigate in a similar way but staring at an unflattering photo of myself (a self-prescribed challenge for acceptance) is disconcerting and I know that I see others with this same animosity.
So as to not write too specifically about him or him, I’ll make allusions (some a bit more direct than others) with the help of music.
My first instinct was to ignore this video. I’m too distracted by random hyperlinks these days. I have some writing that needs to be worked on… Something pulls me back (to him. It was a check of my ego, a reminder that this city is cold, that I want to receive goodness; I tell myself that I will go with my naiveté, thinking my self-awareness will cushion any blows). I go there and press play and it has been on repeat ever since. Its simplicity has some degree of appeal (in the same way that his humility around his own creativity and goodness does). They are both seductive in their not-gaudy ways.
Now I know what it means to not need be convinced into loving.
But I wonder how sustainable that kind of love is. The one that starts off (after an initial hesitation) with sparks at every touch no matter its brevity. I’m trying to remember details of the last time I was here, to apply some type of scientific method, but it’s been too long.
Then I wonder: is sustainability the goal? Or should I be focusing on the moment? I’m supposed to have a mature response to this (my Saturn’s Return says so). I’m supposed to know right from wrong now by now.
This song from Andre 3000 does little to embody the vulnerability it advocates for; but Andre’s style (which gained greater visibility with this album) is a conversation that is constantly engaging “cool” (see here, here, and here). Specifically black American (male) cool. I don’t think I need to explain the appeal of this nor do I think I can do so adequately.
I think that too much of my desire for intimacy is linked to this type of cool. I’m discovering the ways in which this kind of cool is self-limiting and harmful in ways we cannot directly address. You just have to sit there and accept that it forgets simple details: your sister’s name; a story previously told with some level of import. Even if you want to offer him more and to tell him not to be unnerved by it, It forces you to be cool too, to forget how to put those words together in his presence.
I’m trying not to position these two as opposites, to not go to one expecting to receive what the other offers naturally; I’m trying to be sincere and not foolish; I’m trying to not rouse my own disappointment; I’m trying to not let these boys play magician with my heart…
I woke up from a nap on this cloudy ass day. Still groggy, I felt the urge to freewrite. This was copied this straight from TextEdit and I’m a bit too lazy to re-format or edit for proper grammar and spelling. ****
I swear the sun walked out with my happiness. It was literally here yesterday and gone today.
When they tell you about Chicago winters they not telling you the whole truth
this city a cold place and its not just them buckets of snow God dump on us from October through April.
I’m out here searching for a sunday at home with the family type vibe
instead i get the I’m single can you hook me up with a friend or
how much money can we make together or
just nothin at all; like dead ass silence
and that might be the worst of all
invisibility supposed to be some kind of superhero power
well then i should be stealin on all y’all hoes and I’m not
I’m getting’ stoled on
ha! like that scene in Love Jones
say what you want but that movie still does something for me, especially on days like this when the sun has walked out with my happiness
I suppose this should be considered an Artist’s Date.
I got to check out Aja Monet along with some other local poets and performance artists at a variety show last week. She currently lives in Paris though she previously lived in Chicago while enrolled in an MFA program. She had returned on visit to do some readings around the city. (Here is video of her at the Cook County Board of Commissioners meeting ). In her reading at the variety show, she took breaks from her own work to share jokes, recent experiences, and other commentary. There were two things in particular that she said that were important for me to receive that night:
1. That when she lived in Chicago, she didn’t have many friends.
It’s something we joke about – how friendships change (in quantity or accessibility) once we reach a certain age; but this social loneliness can be tough. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how easy it is to remain in or go back to unhealthy relationships (with people or organizations) because with them we feel needed. The world is a really cold ass place, man. But we move forward. We’ll learn to navigate this loneliness even as ugly temptations from the past abound.
2. That writing when you have nothing to say is useless and may be harmful (or something to that effect).
She was actually reading a passage from Julius Lester’s Revolutionary Notes. Based on the audience’s response a lot of folks needed to receive this message. She said it was this very passage that encouraged her to move to Paris. I ordered a copy of the book when I got home (so I’ll post the passage here once I receive it).
Check out this interview where she discusses her move to Paris and her creativity
“If everyone engaged in this world as artists, this world would be fresh.” – Aja Monet