Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Blood on The Leaves Remix

Kai's SONG OF THE WEEK:




Thank you, Jasiri X, for continuing to make that Abolitionist Music! Let's Get Free!

Kai's Thoughts: 


Original work by Taijhet Nyobi


I remember the night Troy Davis was lynched. I remember the anxiety I felt -- the sadness and the worry. And then I remember thinking that I had no right to feel so much. I imagined what Davis and his family must have felt and I wanted to respect and honor that.
Just before the lynching, I went for a jog around my neighborhood in South Los Angeles. I remember running, sprinting, trying to rid myself of all that “so much” that I felt.
I was running towards a freedom of my mind, spirit and body. But my stride was halted when a police car crept up beside me.
I had to remember that I was a Black man now. And a Black man running on concrete could easily be the death of me in the United States. So I stopped and walked slowly instead.
I made eye contact with the officers. I didn’t smile. I didn’t frown. I stared. There was nothing in my eyes that would make them see me as anything other than a Black man running on a night when we were all being reminded nationally that Blackness makes you guilty, criminal, not worthy of life, and all the evidence needed -- your Black skin and feet crossing the road.
It didn’t matter that I had grown up a Black woman. I didn’t matter that I was a PhD candidate at USC. It didn’t matter that I had a family and friends who loved me. My bright smile didn’t matter because they would never be able to see it. None of those things that would need to be pulled out in some courtroom after my death to prove me a “good” person mattered in that moment. 
The officers glanced me over and I feared if I had kept running they might shoot. I knew then that Troy Davis would certainly be put to death. And he was.
***
I remember riding the BART the night Oscar Grant was murdered.
I remember watching the film, Fruitvale Station, last week with friends in New York. I remember my tears. I remember the deafening silence that lingered in the theater as the credits rolled.  
I remember the last scene. Daughter looking up to mother in shower and asking, “Where is Daddy?” They were alone now and what was missing, the silence between them would never be able to fill.
What this film did so brilliantly was to show the spectacular violence that Black people are subject to from everyday living. Yes, Oscar Grant was an everyday brother from Oakland. He was struggling to make ends meet, struggling to stay out of prison, and struggling to be a support to his family.
His mother, like many parents in the Bay on New Years Eve, told him to take the BART because that would be safer than driving with so many after party people on the road. But public amenities are not always safer for us Black people, People of color, queer people, transgender people, women, and poor people.
What is designated public is not always safe or adequate for the people who use those services. The recent gutting of The Voting Rights Act and the dismantling of public school education all across the country are but two examples of the ways in which peoples’ indelible rights are constantly being revoked or revised to obsolescence.      
If one can’t afford private school or a car service on New Years Eve there should be no risk, but it is apparent that there are for Black people, people of color, and poor people.
We must continue to demand that our public systems benefit the people who need the education, health care, transportation, and job services the most. We must not allow our public expenses to be spent on building more prisons and policing regimes that do not benefit us.
We must begin to ask ourselves hard questions like — What does safety look like if it does not come in the form of more police and incarceration? 

 To Read the full piece click here: 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I Remember You

Kai's SONG OF THE WEEK:

 
Kai's Thoughts: 

I came home to cry. I came home to celebrate. I came home to heal. I came home to (re)member. I am grateful.

One year ago today, I had top-surgery. One year ago today, I was in a hospital bed waiting. I believe I was #8 in a line of transguys all waiting to be changed. We smiled at each other from our beds. I wasn’t afraid because you were there with me physically, spiritually and emotionally—I was held and I am grateful.

I remember you today, Analena. The support you gave and the sacrifice you made to support me. I remember today, your suitcase heavy with books because you had to take qualifying exams as soon as we got back to LA. You held my hand. You made me laugh. You prayed with me and for me. You cared for my body when I couldn’t and I am grateful for you, your love and friendship. Thank you. 

I remember you today, Jolie and Treva who came and cleaned my house and changed my bandages. I was afraid of my scars. I was afraid to look. I was afraid to touch. You held me. All I had to do was stand there and you all loved me and helped me to heal. Thank you.

I remember you today, Prentis. You have been an amazing big brother and I wouldn’t be the man I am today without you. Your love, support, and mentorship have shaped me and helped me to grow in ways that I didn’t even know existed. You have helped me to become more aware and conscious. I love you.

I remember you today, Tree, Rey and M.A., I am thankful for your love and the way you teach me community. Thank you.

I remember you today, Julia and Alexis, for the poetry you wrote, for the candles you lit, for the prayers that held me when I couldn’t hold myself. I am thankful for you.
I remember you today, Erica. My real life superhero, I love you. You remind me always of how powerful I am. You help me to see my own strength when I forget. Your brilliance, your love, your friendship has helped me to heal. I thank you.

I remember you today, Ms. Vargo, my seventh grade English teacher who donated to my top surgery fund and still checks in on me regularly. You taught me the meaning of emotional intelligence. You encouraged me to write. I am thankful for you. 

I remember you today, Qween. You conducted ceremony for my community and me. You blessed me and sent me off with divine protection from the ancestors. I thank you.


I remember you today, Jewel, my Black queer elder, healer. You gave me acupuncture and tinctures to help me heal in ways that Western medicine could never do. You gave me the love of a grandmother and I appreciate you.

I remember you. I remember you and the poems you wrote, the letters you sent, the candles you burned, the songs you sang, the prayers you sent up, the donations you made, the phone calls and texts messages sent. You held me. You continue to hold me and I grow stronger so that I can return that same love. 
From Top Surgery Ceremony W/ Qween

There are too many names to list, but know that I remember you. You showed up for me and I am grateful. Those of you who lit candles, burned sage, and whispered words of love to the universe on my behalf THANK YOU!

I believe I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

I also believe that all of us hold the divine/God/love within us.

If both of those statements are true then, I can do all things because of my community who gives me strength.

I send you love today and everyday. I pray for you today and everyday.

On this 1-year anniversary, I look at my body amazed at its capacity to heal and grow stronger. I know that this is only possible because I have a community of folks standing with me—peers, young people, mentors, elders, and ancestors.

About a year ago
Yesterday!

We are dandelions rising, always rising. We are poems dancing, always dancing. We are lovers, always loving. Love. We are healers, always healing. We are freedom’s dreams, always coming true. We are survivors, surviving even though no one told us we could do it this way. We are. We are. And we forever will be…

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Butterfly

KAI's SONG(s) OF THE WEEK: 

 

I encourage you all to check out Bilal's new Album, A Love Surreal (2013). I've listened to the whole album multiple times, which is something that I rarely do. The album feels like a non-linear journey through love/life. 

 

Bilal definitely drops some poetic knowledge and it's important to be able to feel that today when it's so easy to become desensitized to what's going on around us, outside us, but also inside us. 

 

How can we create a new world if we don't have visions of what we want? Our imaginations become stifled when we are disconnected from ourselves and each other.

 

The fact that Bilal's Album is called A Love Surreal cannot be taken lightly. It is the kind of love we need to day, a courageous kind. 

 

In my favorite book, Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination, Robin D.G. Kelley writes: "Surrealism, I contend, offers a vision of freedom far deeper and more expansive than any of the movements discussed thus far. It is a movement that invites dreaming, urges us to improvise and invent, and recognizes the imagination as our most powerful weapon."(159).

 

Imagine...a caterpillar becoming a butterfly...one thing becoming another...how do we get there? 

 

I encourage you to listen to the album, but I will feature the track Butterfly. 

 

"The struggle makes you beautiful."

 

 

Kai's Thoughts:   

When I die, do not bury me
Let me roam free
I will go to places that in this life I will never get to see
In this body and with these eyes
Restricted by these pockets
Empty, though big in debt size.

But my soul is full
Filled with contradiction
A mere reflection of the current state of things at large
Land of the free home of the greatest population
Behind bloody prison bars

But my soul knows free
And escapes like Harriet in the night 
And Mumia's voice, freedom only needs one a mic
And Marlon, traversing between
What is and what ain't
Untying tounges
He has come to be one of my
Black queer patron saints

And my heart believes in free
because it is a dream that was handed down to me
When I die, you cannot bury me
I will leave something behind
It will grow outside of me and inspite of me
The dandelion arises again and again
A soul cannot be enslaved 
A radical tradition indeed
From nothing and everything
We continue to witness the resillancy of
Some Black radical dreamer's seed.

It is in us.
Be thankful for our inheritance. 
<3always
     

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Life is Real

KAI's SONG(s) OF THE WEEK: 

This week's jam is "Life is Real" from Ayo's "debut album Joyful, which was first released in 2006, reached Double-Platinum status in France, Platinum in Germany and Poland, Gold status in Switzerland and Italy and Greece. The album was released in the United States on 20 November 2007 by Interscope Records. Ayo (born as Joy Olasunmibo Ogunmakin on 14 September 1980 in Frechen near Cologne, Germany) is a Nigerian-German singer-songwriter. She uses the Yoruba translation Ayọ or Ayo. of her first name Joy." (Wiki) (Lyric)

 

Kai's Thoughts:   

I heard this song this morning and I just had to share it!

The lyric says it all-->

"Some people say that/ I'm too open/ they say/ it's not good to let them know everything about me/ and they say one day/ they will use every little thing against me/ But i don't mind maybe they're right/ that's just how it is and i got nothing to hide./ i live my life the way i want/ i got nothing to hide/ nothing at all/ life is not a fairy tale/ they should know that Life is real."

Whatever energies you release into the universe that is what you will get back. When you give love, when you give gratitude, when you give forgiveness, when you give you will surely receive. 

Of course there will be haters. Those who don't like you simply because your ability to be vulnerable may be triggering. A lot of us want to be free, but we aren't and when we witness someone who is approaching freedom or basking in it, instead of being able to value that light we take it as a reminder of what we are not.

We all have a story. We are all valuable. Do you see the value in your own life, your own gifts?

Once you start to make that journey towards self love, it becomes easier to walk authentically, without fear or doubt. You came here for a reason and there is no one else who can do what you do. The message that you have is unique and divine, you must take the time to discover what that is because this world needs you.    

I am learning now how to truly love and LIKE myself and it is a long journey but one that has completely changed my interaction with life. When you start to value yourself, you begin to feel more solidly anchored. You become honest, honest about what hurts, about what feels really good, about the things that are difficult, and the things that bring you the most joy and when you gain that kind of clarity you are walking in your truth. 

The thing about walking in your truth is that it isn't always easy because there will be those who try to stop you, there will even be those who you thought were friends who walk away, but there will also be those who love you more, those who embrace you more fiercely--that's your team.  

Let your light shine. Respect and honor your life, your words, your struggles, your total being-->it all deserves love. 

Don't forget to nourish the freedom dreaming poem that you are.


   

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Kinfolk--(Re)Membering Uncle Junior


Kai's SONG OF THE WEEK:

"Kin Folk" is a track from Anthony David's 2006 record, Red Clay Chronicles. Take a second and give gratitude for the family you have been given and/or chosen. 


Kai's Thoughts: 

My Uncle, James Carraway Jr. passed away early Monday morning (yesterday). We knew he was sick, but we didn't know how sick. I am happy to have had the opportunity to visit him while I was home in the East Bay over the winter holiday. I visited him with three of my aunts and as soon as we walked in the room we started singing, trying to find our parts, the right key... We were all happy and together.  If you don't know anything else about you, you have to know how much I love my family and how important family is to me. I am blessed to have such a close family that is held together by God's greatest gift, love. 

My grandparents had 8 children together. They moved to Oakland California from Paris, Texas way back in the day and raised an AMAZING tribe, "The Carraways." The stories I have heard over the years about their upbringing always make me smile. These stories have come to feel like stories of Superheroes--Black Superheroes and that's where I come from. 

I am so saddened by the loss of one of my Superheros today, but I know Uncle Junior will live on in our hearts and in our stories. I offer this short piece from some of the stories I have heard over the years and I reprint it today in honor of my uncle, Junior. 
 
**** 
 
As a child I remember sitting around dining room tables, sometimes on couches and floors, cuddle up with cousins, siblings, aunts, and my mom. We’d all drink strong coffee with creamer, but my mom and Uncle Steve always liked it black. Sometimes we’d play spades, dominos, taboo, or another game someone had picked up along the way and brought back home to share. There would always come a point late in the night, eyes heavy, red and tired, but not yet ready to say good night. Someone would recall that one time when…
 
That one time when cousin J found and brought the man who robbed G (his mother, my aunt) back to the house all tied up in the back of a car…J was proud of what he had done, but G was afraid and told her son to untie that man and let him go. We all laughed.

That one time my mom recalls taking care of her little sister, L and giving her a spanking.  L put some kind of curse (she had gotten into witchcraft) on my mom and her chair broke. My mom was afraid and L got another spanking.  L was thought to be strange and a little bit crazy for her interest in witchcraft in such a Christian and God fearing home.

I listen to these stories and I try to remember them all. I like how I can hear the story about my mom getting into a fight in kindergarten. She was trying to help her older brother JR. fight “these white boys”. The boys were all in middle school. JR gave my mom his belt and she was holding her own until someone knocked off her glasses or maybe she just got pushed down. She was kicked repeatedly in her eyes and when JR. saw that, my mom said he just went off. And at some point the fight ended. When they got ready to walk back home my mom couldn’t see a thing. She was blind. I can’t remember how long she says it lasted, but it was more than a day. I remember her saying that she had to stay and fight with and for her brother because granddaddy would really give you a spanking if ever you left any of your family to fight alone.

No matter what, family comes first and we fight for and sometimes with one another. And sometimes we end up being blind. And those pains and scars translated years down become stories retold that inspire me to fight. And when I fight I know I have the strength of the little girl that was my mom. Taking comfort in the fact that even though she went blind for a moment she still had her brother with her to carry her home.

Every time I hear one of these stories I feel like I’m being carried home—home to a place that I have never actually touched nor smelled nor heard. But I can still feel it and I know it—someplace that always escapes me yet remains centrally grounded within me.

Some things are just in my blood--some pains and some joys they travel in and through me. Some memories of sadness and hope I feel but I can’t always really touch them. You know the feeling when you just can’t quite put your finger on a thing. Some memories so deep have been transported from generations and people and places I have never seen with my own eyes— though I sometimes get glimpses in my dreams.

I wonder if one day I’ll meet those folk whose bloodlines flow and grow in me biologically and spiritually. I wonder if I’ll recognize them and if they’ll recognize me. Is that what flying home yields? I imagine a return to the future whereby I become whole because we all recognize and see each other here and now—beautifully (be)coming together.

#Givemorelove

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Give Love on Christmas Day

Kai's SONG OF THE WEEK:


"'Give Love on Christmas Day' is a Christmas song first recorded by Motown Records' family quintet The Jackson 5." The version I share with you today is cover by one of the greatest soul singers of our day, Ledisi. This version can be found on her 2008 Christmas album,"It's Christmas." (lyrics)

 

Kai's Thoughts: 

I am grateful for love today and everyday.

I am grateful for smiles from strangers.

I’m grateful for the sun, the moon, and the stars.

I’m grateful for the rain.

I’m grateful for the quiet that comes when the rain ceases.

I am grateful for old ladies who smell like sweet potato pie and peppermint sticks.

I am grateful for the brother who was out on Lakeshore yesterday with his amp, blessing the world with his soulful baritone.

I am grateful for my friend, my elder, Terry De Grace who invited me and my mother to her Christmas Eve church services yesterday at the Plymouth UCC Chruch of Jazz and Justice.

I am grateful for the message of hope and faith. 

I am grateful that even in the face of a reality that tells us we shouldn’t be here,  some of us still believe and struggle for life and joy and FREEDOM.

I am grateful for those of us who believe that what is, does not determine what will/can be.

I am grateful for the solstice ritual that Fly and Jay invited me to.

I am grateful for the end of this time according to the Mayan calendar.

I am pre-grateful for the end of Capitalist time.

I am grateful for the Time of Revolutionary Love that continually disrupts Capitalist time.

I am grateful for YOU.

What are you grateful for today?

A Love Poem for Love

       It is the end of time as we have known it
         But we are still alive            And love still persist
     With a brush from the lips             Of my lover, she slips
                                                                                                              Forward, out of space             And I don’t catch her             ‘Cause she fly
             And the sun burns for her
                 Like my soul, it yearns for her     
           Transformative elsewheres
        And I think I hear myself there
                  No there… there…
                                                                                              And beyond…
  It is always the words unspoken
That make you feel
                                                                                                        As though flying is a possibility        
Alive and Alive
                                                     Jumping into darkeness'                                           light
         It is as sweet as smoke and soft lips touching
            Calloused hands and ashy legs meet to make beautiful
                          This and these                  
                                                                                                 Words don’t make much sense here
In the silences of full hearts
 Sparked stares reveal something...
Laughter and smiles make music
The kind I like to listen to when I’m all by myself or
Dancing with you 
                                      Embracing the moment
                                                                                                                   It won’t last                        
                                                                                             But  for now
It is enough
I’ve never been full like this
And still these words won’t make much sense                            here
They belong, nowhere                                                  here
 Yet exist.
 
 
 
Hold on to whatever it is that keeps the sky from falling
For it also keeps you and I from drowning.

SENDING MUCH LOVE TO YOU AND YOURS<3<3<3 #givemorelove



Monday, December 10, 2012

I Just Called to Say I Love You

Kai's SONG OF THE WEEK:
‘“I Just Called to Say I Love You’ is a song written, produced and performed by Stevie Wonder. It was one of Wonder's most commercially successful singles. The song was first featured in the 1984 comedy The Woman in Red, along with two other songs by Wonder, and scored number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks from October 13, 1984, and also became Wonder's only solo UK number-one success, staying at the top for six weeks. It also became his tenth number-one on the R&B chart, and his fourth number-one on the adult contemporary chart. In addition, the song won both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Original Song. The song also received three nominations at the 27th Grammy Awards for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Song of the Year and Best Pop Instrumental Performance.” (Wiki) (lyrics)

Kai's Thoughts:  


A phone call can make all the difference. A phone call from a friend, lover, parent, or even a stranger can change the energy of both parties.  A phone call can bring about healing.

My Dad calls me every Sunday morning and usually he just wants to let me know that he's around, he's present, he loves me and hasn't forgotten about our date. He never misses a Sunday call and I think this is his way of making up for lost time, time when I would wait and he wouldn't show up. He's here now and I'm grateful for forgiveness which allows me to be open to this relationship. 

Last week  I had a beautiful conversation with a person that I've never met in real life--only facebook exchanges. This person reached out to me and wanted to talk on the phone. If you know me well, then you know that one of this things I love to do most is talk. When people reach out to me, especially Black queer folk, I do my best to respond because I know how lonely it can feel when you think you're the only one. I also know how affirming it is when you realize you are not the only one. I spoke to this person about the possibility of taking hormones. I asked them if they had enough support. I asked them a lot of questions and I listened. 

Love is a listening.

I've been talking to a lot more people on the phone since I've been living alone. I am learning how to reach out on those mornings when sadness seems to get the best of me. I hesitate to talk about it or tell people about it because I fear they might get annoyed or not want to talk to me anymore, but I've been challenging myself to be more vulnerable. It feels scary, but it also feels good because I have some AMAZING people in my life who love, value and care about me and my well-being. Without these people loving me, healing me, giving me the space to not feel just right, I wouldn't be able to have the strength to do the work that I do. We have to care for each other because we all have such important work to do. 

Everything is connected. 

As I heal myself, I make more space for healing to occur outside/around me.

Reach out to someone today. Remind them how loved they are. Remind them how valuable their life is. These kinds of reminders can never be given too often. 

Call someone and just say, "I LOVE YOU!"

I'm grateful for all of the people who reached out to me this past week and in some way or another tranifested love.

<3<3<3

*Weekly Jam has been modified to (Bi)Weekly so that I have more time for #OperationDissertationStation ;-)