I love music! I love soul music! I love old skool music! Because music makes me happy and I am really taking the time to make this dissertation writing process one that I survive in a healthy and holistic way, I have decided to make a point to discover and sometimes rediscover the music that moves me. I'll add a song every week with some of my musings. Hope you enjoy and respond.
Save Tonight by Eagle-Eye Cherry has been one of my favorite songs since 7th grade. It's the perfect farewell tune, I only wish that Martine, Treva and I had had enough time to record our cover (I believe this still can happen;-).
This is my last jam. My last post for this blog which has carried me through these last couple of years of graduate school. :::::BIIIGGGGGG EXHALE::::: WE MADE IT!!!!!!!!!
I told Megan (LA native), "You know, LA is a city of survivors." It's one of the most difficult cities, but if you can make it in LA---> well I think you can make it just about anywhere.
WE MADE IT!!!
So I am grateful. Grateful for the struggles, the traffic, the heat, the mountains, the ocean, the backyard bbqs, the late night, afternoon, early morning porch conversations about all the possible Black queer futures we might be able to create, or the tools we might use to survive a dystopic future/present.
1. Everything I need, I have.
2. Self-love is a prerequisite for all other love.
3. I don't have to internalize other people's ish.
I arrived at your doorstep 7 years ago. I was 22. It's crazy to think that I spent most of my twenties in your house. I always knew this thing we had wouldn't last, but I appreciate you for teaching me what I need to know for this next phase. Because of you, LA, I'm stronger. Because of you, LA, I now know how to recognize the sound of my own voice, the conviction of my own intuition and I trust it (now), like I trust God. Because of you, LA, I know that God is love, God is me, and nothing/nobody can tell me any different. LA, you're a bad ass city and I respect you. Thank you for helping to mold me into this man. This letter is short, because that's just how our relationship be(s). I'll visit real soon. <3<3<3 Dr. Kai M. Green
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
I believe I can do all things through Christ who gives me
I also believe that all of us hold the divine/God/love
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
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
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…
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."
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
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.
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)
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"'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)
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
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
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
Like my soul, it yearns for her
think I hear myself there
No there… there…
It is always the
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 revealsomething...
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
It is enough
I’ve never been full like this
And still these words won’t make much sense here
They belong, nowherehere
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