Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Give Love on Christmas Day


"'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.


Monday, December 10, 2012

I Just Called to Say I Love You

‘“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.


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

Monday, November 26, 2012

Black Gold/We are Dandelions


 "Black Gold" (lyircs) was released in 2012, a collaboration between Esperanza Spalding and Algebra.

There is a video, but I suggest that you just listen to the song first here, and then watch the video:

Kai's Thoughts:

"You are Black Gold/We are Dandelions"

I remember the first book I learned to read, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See?” I remember this book and learning how to read because it was such a difficult and frustrating process. My mom tried to assist me, but my frustration got the best of me and at one moment I picked the book up and threw it across the room and yelled “I’ll never learn how to read!” From that moment on my mom took a step back and let me figure out certain things on my own. Even if I had to struggle she knew that I would eventually get it because I always did well in school.

I never felt comfortable talking to my mother or anyone else about was how difficult reading was for me. I couldn’t quite understand it because I knew that I was smart. So why was it so difficult to pay attention to the words? Why did some sentences get transposed in my head? I only ever felt shame about this. I did my best to hide my challenge because I didn’t want anyone to think I was weak or even worse stupid. How could someone who loved language so much hate the act of reading? It was/is painful.

I have a hard time talking about my learning disability because I, like a lot folks with challenges, have been taught to feel shame and embarrassment about my difference. Writing this is my first step in challenging my own internalized ableism which has prevented me from asking for help when I needed it. Why? Because I have been afraid that people will tell me I don’t belong here—funny thing is that I have already been told that many times, but I’m still here. Why? Because I’m a PhD candidate and someday soon I’ll be a professor and those things have always been in conflict with learning disability even though I know that isn’t the truth (Remember Theo from the Cosby Show?).
I am doing a lot these days to rebuild and heal—part of that work means embracing and loving all parts of myself, parts that I have kept hidden for fear that they would make me seem weak. I write this knowing that vulnerability does not equal weakness—it just seems that we don’t always have a lot of safe space to be vulnerable without judgment. I am working to create safer spaces for my people—Black, Queer, poor, disabled—and in order to really do that work I must be honest about the person I am.

I opened this piece with two quotations that have been shared with me over the past couple of weeks.
You are Black Gold: My brother played this song for me over the weekend (We communicate via music) and I am so grateful to have really heard this song. The lyric, “There'll be folks hell-bent on putting you down/ Don't get burned/ Not necessarily everyone will know your worth/ Think of all the strength you have in you/ From the blood you carry within you.”

Some people won’t know your worth and your job is not to prove yourself to those people. Your job is to instead gain strength and courage from the folks who do know how valuable you are—those people will help you grow. Spend your time on people who value you, people who love you unconditionally, because you deserve that and you need that so that you can focus on the work of changing the world that we live in.

We are Dandelions: My dear friend, Patrisse, has been reminding me of this all week. When I asked her what she meant she said, “ Dandelions are weeds, but have so much nutrient value. It’s the flower of the hood. We are all Dandelions. We are seen as weeds, and folks are determined to pluck us and discard us, but WE are medicine. We are medicine!”

We have been sent here to change the world—to heal it. I believe that. But some people don’t want things to change and they will fight us. They will tell us that we are wrong. They will tell us that we are not supposed to be here and there is no room for us. We must continue to survive to prove these folks wrong. But more importantly, we must continue to check in with ourselves and remind ourselves/each other that we are here and we are lovely just as we are (don’t internalize someone else’s hate). We should not be ashamed or embarrassed because of our differences. Outside forces will tell us that we need to change, that we need to medicate ourselves so that we can be happy, but we are medicine! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Let the Wind Blow


"Let the Wind Blow" is a track from Fertile Ground's 1999 "Spiritual War" album. (Lyrics)

Take the time out to listen to this track--it's really great:-)


Kai's Thoughts:  

Truth: This past month has been one of the most difficult for me emotionally, spiritually, and physically. My relationship with my partner for the past three years officially ended. I moved to a new place by myself—I have never lived alone. I got the flu and strep throat which I haven’t had since I was 10. All of these happenings occurred during one of my busiest traveling schedules--In the past month I’ve been in WI, MA, NY, and numerous trips to the Bay Area. The traveling along with the major life changes were exhausting, which is one of the reasons why I decided to take a break from the Weekly Jam Post for almost a month—But I’m Back! 
Truth: The movement, all of the traveling, the engaging with people in different spaces has been essential for my healing in this moment. I am a person who values stability, and while I know that change is inevitable and necessary I have a tendency to choose stability over change in my personal relations because of fear—fear that I will fall and not be able to get back up again.

Truth: Though this has been one of the most destabilizing moments in my life, it has taught me some important lessons 1) I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was 2) My community goes so deep that there is no reason for me to ever feel afraid. I am always held—we are always held.

Truth: Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end, but only if you are willing to let go (end.), take risks, and fly.

Truth: Flying can feel like falling until you recognize that you haven’t hit the ground yet, and you won’t. You are okay.

Truth: In the past month I have experienced so much love—all kinds of love from all kinds of people and in all different spaces. I appreciate you. I give more love in return to my elders, more love to California, more love to my people in LA and in Oakland, more love to my East Coast family, more love to my Brown Boi family, more love to my Black feminist family—more love... You have all held me and helped me to recognize this moment not simply as a breaking-down, but instead it is an opportunity to rebuild—there is so much possibility in the remake/remix. Magic. Black.

Truth: I find myself smiling more than ever—genuine big cheesy smiles.

Truth: We are Dandelions (Thank you, Trisse<3).

Truth: The wind blows, but you remain—strong, more beautiful. Black—resiliency.

Truth: It’s time for revival.

A Litany for Revival[1]

Litany: a prayer consisting of a series of invocations and supplications

Revival: an act or instance of reviving: the state of being revived: renewed attention to or interest in something: a new presentation or publication of something old: restoration of force, validity, or effect. 

“Poetry is Not a Luxury.” Audre Lorde Reminds us. “There are no new ideas. Only New ways of making them felt.”

I find you, Black queer histories, Black queer geographies, mapping the terrain of the unnamed and the unknown, but we know you, we feel you. I find you in folders and boxes stored away. In cold dark rooms, on shelves, you, like boiling water somehow keep your fire while overflowing, and I receive the overflow. I am ready now.

Were you waiting for me? Because I have been dreaming of you and your stories. Were you dreaming about me and my friends back then? Were you thinking of us when you asked for Black and Gay, race, class, gender and sexuality? Intersectionality—Intergenerationally. see your souls reached out to me and I have been touched. Anointed because you were unafraid to tell it like it is. Your visions have shaped future generations of Black queer freedom dreamers, Black weirdos, Black nerds who just want to be—we must get free.

Were you thinking of yourselves and just how badd you really were and still are? They told me you didn’t exist like this. But I have seen you now. And I come to you with questions. How did we get here? I know I can’t go back, but perhaps you can give me some ideas as to how to move forward. I come to you humbly and with gratitude. I thank you for the doing and the writing. I thank you for documenting your lives as you lived and loved so fiercely. And I know the record is incomplete. I know there are things I will never truly come to understand. But please teach me what I need to know now—for this moment and for these people, my people, you have certainly help to make possible our radical imaginations—yes a new world is not only possible, it is desirable. We want it. We are hungry for revival and restoration. I talk to you in the past and bring you to the future and back again—see there is no death for us Black queers only resurrection, reincarnation Because I will never quit you and I know that you will never leave me. Past, present, and future all collide to make a beautiful Black feminist elsewhere. And we don’t have time, only love, revolutionary in its call—it comes to heal us as it came to heal you. Your arms, poetry, music, embrace us and we love back, touch back. And they said we didn’t, they say we couldn’t exist—and maybe they can’t see, but I know they feel us now, Audre  Lorde, Toni Cade Bambara, Sojurner Truth, Gloria Hull, Anne Allen Shockley, Cheryl Clarke, June Jordan, Pat Parker, Frances Beal, Jewel Gomez, Angela Davis, Patricia Hill Collins, bell hooks, Ida B. Wells, Flo Kennedy, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Julia Wallace, Treva Ellison, Patrisse Marie Cullors-Brignac, Prentis Hemphill, Jewel Thais-Williams, and YOU, you reading this and helping to make manifest this freedom dream.

There are no new ideas. Only new ways of making them felt. Reach out to your ancestors and to the people around you and just watch how they reach back. We were never meant to survive, but we are here and we will never die because our lives are not bound by earth’s time, this landscape. No, we know spaceships that go beyond space. We carry our maps on our backs, in our blood, with our dreams of freedom we continue to make the world anew.

Welcome to the revival.  

[1] These are the comments I offered at the Black Queer Geographies Roundtable @ the SF State Queer Yo’ Mind Conference 2012. (Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Julia Roxanne Wallace, and Treva Ellison were also part of this roundtable).

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Thank You


There are two jams this week

"Thank You" is a track from Stay Human, the third studio release by Michael Franti & Spearhead in 2001(wiki) (lyrics).

"Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" is a 1969 hit single recorded by Sly and the Family Stone, recognized as one of the greatest and most influential funk songs of all time. (Wiki) (Lyrics)

Kai's Thoughts:   

When I was in elementary school, my mother would sometimes drop me off to school early so that she could get to work on time. If my teachers were around they would let me sit in the classroom and work on the computer. I remember when we got a computer in our one room library that had access to the world wide web, I’d spend early mornings there studying the WNBA and ABL (American Basketball League) websites just dreaming of the day I’d be able to play with the pros. 
I absolutely adored Ms. Felgenhauer, my fourth grade teacher. I remember being really creative in her class and because I enjoyed it so much it didn’t really feel like school at all. One morning I was helping her get ready for the week. We were talking--now I have to tell you that I sometimes didn’t realize my own age because I often times liked to sit and listen to adults talk and if they engaged me even better—and she asked me how I thought her class was going. I responded, “Well, I love your class, but we don’t really learn anything.” She was so angry and hurt, her response, “You are learning, you just don’t know it.” I do believe our 4th grade class lacked in rigor (but really what does/should that mean for a fourth grader). Shouldn’t we be singing and imagining new hybrid animals like the lizardcat? Shouldn’t we be taking the time to dream and play? Isn’t that where the revolution is conceived? 
I remember being obsessed with corn snakes and worms. I’d collect worms in shoeboxes with mud and grass. I collected worms from gutter streams and bring them to class. I was never told that that wasn’t okay. I wasn’t told that I was weird or odd. I was curious (okay, maybe a little weird;-). I think back on that moment now and I see how I was beginning to decipher what education was supposed to look and feel like formally, while experiencing something different—something more pleasurable, a place where I could draw things that I had never seen in real life. Dreaming is work even though many of us dreamers don’t get acknowledged for the kind work we do. I want to thank Ms. Felgenhauer because I think you were right—I didn’t know then just how much you were teaching me about teaching myself and allowing myself to dream and be creative. I want to thank some of the folks who have been master teachers to me. Of course this list is not comprehensive, but I want to acknowledge some of those master teachers.

Mom: My first teacher. Because you never doubted me, I never doubted me. You always have my back and push me to keep going even if I’m challenging you. You have made me stronger. You have made me compassionate. You have made me gentle because you taught me how to care for you when you needed it. I appreciate you and you will always forever ever be my number one teacher. (You also made me a Scrabble master;-)

Dad: You taught me blues and basslines. You sang to me in harmony, all three parts sometimes. You taught me how to walk without needing to know where I’m going. You helped me to learn the importance of the journey. You modeled for me openness, a kindness with strangers that I aspire to. You taught me how to go with the flow. But most you taught me that people can and should change. You continue to teach me about true forgiveness and deep healing. You’ve taught me the sacred medicine of laughter and I thank you.

Gwen (My aunt/preschool teacher): You have taught me love for community. You have taught me how to be prepared for a fight.  You have taught me about loyalty and the importance of family. I Thank you for all of the work you have done and all the work you continue to do—you do it with/for love (because we know it’s not for the money) and I appreciate you.
Ms. Ella (pre-school teacher): I thank you for those moments when you would come get me during nap time and ask me if I wanted to do something else. I wasn’t always sleepy and you allowed me to be awake. Thanks for letting me help you make snacks with you. I remember those moments as some of the most tender I have experienced. I thank you for modeling for me kindness and a nurturing calm.

Mr. Flemming (Elementary School teacher): Thank you for showing me that there are many ways to be a teacher. For you teaching was not about how well one did on the test, even though I was obsessed with this. You taught me that honesty is important but sometimes rules are not always to be followed. I thank you for teaching us about Hatshepsut—you made sure we knew that it was indeed possible for Black women to rule the world. I thank you.

Mrs. Stoermer (Elementary school teacher): I thank you for always pushing us. I thank you for taking us camping and allowing us to experience the wilderness.  I thank you for taking an interest in my educational journey and moving me to the spaces where I got access to the best. I admire your passion for teaching. I thank you.

Mr. Ajamu (Middle school teacher/coach): I thank you for teaching me how to play basketball. I thank you for always pushing me to take the game seriously. You have taught me to recognize the poetry in dance (even though I could never catch the beat myself). You taught me how to be proud and value myself and what I bring to the table always because you were always so proud and confident.

Ms. Vargo (Middle School teacher): I thank you for taking me and my writing seriously. You were the first person to teach me how to read a text closely. You taught me about emotional intelligence and empathy. You created a holistic classroom space where we couldn’t think about the texts we read without encountering ourselves—our deepest loves, our goals, our fears, and our pain. Thanks putting Ender’s Game on our reading list. I appreciate your friendship and mentorship over the years.

Macedo (Boarding school advisor): I thank you for your self-awareness. I admire your will to always do better. I thank you for helping me navigate Dana Hall. I thank you for coming to visit me at camp that one summer when I didn’t think I would return. Your encouragement was/is felt and I appreciate you.

Professor Hicks: Thank you for pushing me like no other professor or teacher before. You called me out and asked me to step my game up—no one had ever done that before. I thank you for teaching me to take myself and my work seriously. I thank you for teaching me about blackness, space, place, and history. I thank you for introducing me to Robin D.G. Kelley’s work. You are a master teacher and I am so grateful to have studied under you.

Professor Edwards: You taught me Black Marxism, Stuart Hall, and the meaning of Africana studies. You taught me how to read a text. I thank you for sharing your brilliance with the world and with me—we need it. I appreciate you.

Professor Keeling: I appreciate the way you travel with music and poetry always in tow. You have taught me about Black queer futures and women of color feminist genealogies. You remind us of the histories of the Black radical imagination, proving that we are never alone. I thank you.

Professor Clyde Woods: You taught me how to speak up even if afraid. You taught me friendship. You gave me mentorship. You were concerned with Black life—that’s what you loved and that is what you endorsed. I appreciate the hard questions, the times you would put me on the spot. You showed me how to do this work with love. I am grateful for all the wisdom you shared while you were here and for the road maps you left behind so that we might not get lost.

Professor Robin D.G. Kelley: Thank you for teaching me about poetry, surrealism, and Monk. I thank you for your generosity as a scholar and a mentor. You teach me that freedom dreaming is essential to life. I appreciate you.

Professor Alexis Pauline Gumbs: You gave me something to carry in my wallet. You bring poetry from the future back and forth and all around. You make it clear and there’s no doubt that when you speak we all listen. You boldly bring us messages back from our ancestors. I am grateful for your kindness, your brilliance, your ability to create alternative spaces of knowledge production where we might pursue our dreams in health and with joy. I thank you. 

Treva Ellison: You are both my friend and my intellectual/creative partner. I appreciate your encouragement and the time you have taken to create with me. You show me that there are multiple ways to tell a story and sometimes the best way isn’t with words and writing—sometimes it is in the chords you play on the guitar or a hum or perhaps a stencil. I appreciate your wisdom and the poetry with which you walk. I thank you and I am thankful for you. 

Patrisse Cullors-Brignac: You have taught me community. You have taught me about friendship enduring. You have taught me how to make art out of disaster. You have taught me how to turn insanity to power. You teach me the importance of organizing. You teach me forgiveness and compassion. I appreciate you.

This list goes on and I am so thankful for all of those master teachers I list above. Of course there is also: Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Fred Moten, Jordan Camp, Christina Heatherton, Julia Wallace, Analena Hope, Prentis Hemphill, Cole B. Cole, Lanita Jacobs, Laura Pulido, Sharon Holland, Rod Ferguson, C. Riley Snorton, D’Lo, Shana Redmond, Sarah Haley, La Marr Jurelle, Qween Hollins, C. Jerome Woods, Jewel Thais-Williams, Katie Kent, Maria Elena Cepeda, D.L. Smith,  Kortney Ryan Ziegler, Jefferey King, Maylei Blackwell, Adaku Utah, Kelly Lewis, Patricia Torres, Jeremie Preston, and the list goes on (and on and on and on and)…

I am more than grateful for all of the master teachers who I have encountered in life so far. I share the songs above and this poem below—THANK YOU.


Coming together/ it is easier to work/ after our bodies/ meet/ paper and pen/ neither care nor profit/ whether we write or not/ but as your body moves/ under my hands/ charged and waiting/ we cut the leash/ you create me against your thighs/ hilly with images/ moving through our word countries/ my body/ writes into your flesh/ the poem/ you make of me./ Touching you I catch midnight/ as moon fires set in my throat / I love you flesh into blossom/ I made you/ and take you made/ into me.
-Audre Lorde

Monday, October 15, 2012

Place to Belong


 "Place to Belong" is a track from Little Dragon's  2007 self titled album "Little Dragon."(Lyrics)


Kai's Thoughts:   

I run (in)to the dark before the sun rises  
                                                I run into the moon’s mo(u)rning
        I Want to hang on                                                I long to be held in the space where darkness meets light
                               I convene with God
                                                                       I ask for clarity
I need to get my soul-spirit-body right                                              So I am unafraid of this night light
                                                                 This mo(u)rning                                                                            Let it come
      I watch you go                              I need to grow and I need to know        How to mother myself
                How to brother myself                      So I run for my health                  I run (in)to myself fully                               
The only place where I can shed the tears                                                                            They fall easy as I push through
                                        With sweat they fall, bathing the concrete underneath my feet
                                                                                                  And I keep running (in)to the mo(u)rning
I meet myself in all the places I reside in this body
                                                               Fully present to all that is here now
                                                                                                                             My body is filled with knowledge
               I am ready to discover
 Home                                          in these arms of mine                               for they are indeed yearning

                                I remind myself that everything I need 
I have                                                                                        I (re)member  me
               in pieces and whole                                                                                       I (re)member me                                                                                                                      

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

This Woman's Work


"In 1997, American R&B musician Maxwell covered 'This Woman's Work' for the release of his album MTV Unplugged. The artist later re-recorded the song in studio for his album Now (2001). This version of the song was released as the album's second single in 2001 and peaked in the US Billboard charts at #58 (Billboard Hot 100)[6] and #16 (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs). This version also appeared in the movie Love & Basketball. 'This Woman's Work' was performed on season 9 of American Idol by Michael Lynche. Kate Bush's ‘This Woman’s Work’ Got Deandre Brackensick into the TOP 24: on American Idol Final Judgement 2012." (Wiki) (Lyrics)

Kai's Thoughts: 

So I'm trying something a little different this week. Let me know what you think...


He walked into his home office and slumped down in his large brown lazy boy. He could no longer stand the weight of his own body or perhaps it was the weight of his own mind--it was always in/on his mind. He fought against the feeling daily, not knowing who to turn to. Who could really help him carry such weight? God was great—his mother had introduced him to God long ago, but he longed for the arms of a woman, his mother, a lover, a friend, someone who might help carry the weight, but for now all he had was this chair. It was sturdy and soft. He had imagined fading into it completely. He did want to disappear.

He wanted a break, but time would never stop for him—he was always trying to catch up. He never felt good enough and knew that was always his motivator—he wanted to prove he could win despite the voices in his heart that told him he was destined to fail. These inner voices were his own of course matched by those voices of everyday haters who liked to remind him of his imperfection. But this man was loved by most—there were so many who supported him, who told him of his brilliance and beauty, but he never said it to himself. He never felt it for himself—love. He could only feel the ugly he had experienced in his short life thus far, he was only 23-years-old. Everything that he did, he did to survive against the odds.  

He remembers being in his mother’s womb. She didn’t know what was happening in her womb exactly—she became ill. According to medical specialist his mother had borne her last child 15 years prior and she was to bear no more. But he wanted to be born and he wanted her to be his mother and she wanted him to be her baby. It was a struggle for them both. Once the mother realized she was pregnant and not dying of some rare dis-ease, she felt joy. God had given her a miracle child, but holding this child made her so sick. Yes, he was too long for her, so by the sixth month she could no longer walk with ease, without pain, but she carried him still. Inside her womb a war was occurring. What his mother never knew was that there were two babies in her womb, two babies that wanted to be born. He remembers this. He remembers sharing the space, but not wanting to share. He remembers kicking and punching his sibling. He remembers hating this other child. He didn’t know that all of his rage was not only felt by his sibling, but also his mother who had to carry them both. He regrets that now.

He wishes that his sibling had fought back harder. He wishes his sibling had lived. Now he finds himself alone in a room and he wishes he could cry out to his sibling. He wishes his sibling would cry out to him.

He’s the only one who remembers the other child though his mother also carries the scars from his rage in the womb. He was born fighting even when fighting wasn’t necessary, it was the only way he knew how move. He collected guilt like debt, heavy—but for him victory had always mattered most. Lately victory was starting to feel oppositional to life. In the eyes of many he was a winner, but he despised himself. He hated to be alone with himself because he could no longer charm himself. He removed the mask and in the mirror he saw himself a monster.

In that chair, he traveled back to his mother’s womb, back to when there were two inside her. He took note of the space inside, it was much larger than he remembered and he felt afraid. The sibling he thought he’d murdered was there with him, facing him. He reached out to touch the other body, but his sibling was afraid, remembering what had happened before. He realized that he had no right to reach out and touch with out asking permission first. He became aware of his sense of entitlement over this other body and to his mother’s womb. He stared and motioned to his sibling. He moved his body as best he could in the form of what he imagined peace and apology might look like. The sibling lifted his head and slowly moved closer. The sibling put his hand on his brother’s face and held it there. The force, the power that emanated between them, shocked and soothed the brother. He closed his eyes and felt deeply. He could no longer hold all he had been holding and his sibling knew it too. When he opened his eyes, he was alone in the womb again. He searched for the sibling—he didn’t want to lose them again. Afraid that he had once again hurt his sibling, he began to weep. He cried and cried and cried some more.

He reached out to the edges of the womb space and saw something he hadn’t seen before. In his mothers womb there was a mirror and his reflection became apparent. He saw himself and he saw his sibling—they had been merged. He had been looking for himself but he thought he was looking for another. He couldn’t understand how he managed long ago to destroy a sibling and how he was that sibling. Jarred by the notion, he wept more. He could no longer carry the weight, so he cried in the womb of his mother. He cried until his feelings calmed. He looked around the womb and said a prayer. He gave thanks to his mother for holding him despite the pain he inflicted upon her body. He was grateful for her love. She had to bear all of his rage, all of his confusion, all of his pain, all of his dreams and nightmares while also carrying her own. She held all of that inside for him.

As he came back to himself in his office, in that chair, he prayed a prayer for his mother, for himself and for the universe. He had been born again and was grateful for the rebirth.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Love is You


"Chrisette Michele Payne (born December 8, 1982), known professionally as Chrisette Michele, is an American R&B and soul singer-songwriter. She is signed to the Island Def Jam Music Group[2] and won a Grammy Award for Best Urban/Alternative Performance in 2009 for her song 'Be OK'.  

I Am (2007)
Michele's debut album, I Am, was released on June 18, 2007. The song 'Your Joy' was released on iTunes as a free single of the week. The album spawned four singles: 'If I Have My Way', 'Best of Me', 'Be OK', and 'Love Is You'. The album's lead single 'If I Have My Way' charted at number four on US Billboard's Hot Adult R&B Airplay and number twenty-four on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. 'Best of Me' charted on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks at number twenty-one. In December 2007, 'Be OK' was released as the third single, charting at number sixty-four on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and number twenty-one on the Hot Adult R&B Airplay. In 2008, 'Love Is You' was released as the album's fourth and final single; it reached number ninety on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and number twenty on the Hot Adult R&B Airplay."(Wiki) (Lyrics)

Kai's Thoughts:

Making love takes time.
Touch me. Touch yourself(soul)search.
Meet me in the stars.
Time. I don’t have enough of it, and I’m trying to find the right tools to make it. Time is something that we actually have control of to a certain extent. Though we are all living under a capitalist system which uses time to punish and control how and when our bodies can move, yet some of us manage to escape time. Some of us have managed to find a freedom groove, and as our feet tip and toe in and out of time, we become the sustaining reminders that something else is possible. Love. Love is a radical act especially when you’ve been hurt. To love is to allow your heart to be moved. What kind of lover are you? 
I have always been a romantic. I believe that long walks under the stars with a loved one can save your life and theirs. I believe that a mixtape has the potential to send messages deeply from my heart space; it can create a sacred space of sonic bonds. Can you feel the beat? These freedom chords mark the distance and closeness between you, the universe and me. Can you hear that? Does the hearing make you feel? What makes you believe (again)? I believe in magic and poetry. I believe that dancing and laughter are freedom portals. 
And what of heartbreak and loss? It comes and it goes, but at the end of the day love will remain intact, if you allow it. Can you forgive the ones who have hurt you? Can you forgive yourself for the ones you’ve hurt? Forgiveness is essential to creating a healthy heart space. How do you forgive?
Here are some of the types of love according to me;-) What others can you think of?
Self-Love: This is something I am cultivating daily because I don’t believe you can really love another until you enter the process of (re)loving yourself. Your love is amazing, so why not share it with you? By loving myself consciously, I teach myself(worth). As a queer people of color, this can be an especially hard task because for many of us we have always been castigated. Often times we are placed in the weirdo section. We become the easily disposable bodies of the state. We are the damned with the hard lessons to teach. Listen. We are the geniuses unafraid to step out of line and ask for something new. How do you practice loving yourself? How do you take the time to love and heal yourself?
Sisterly/Brotherly/Queerly Love: I love looking into his eyes and watching him smile, because he is gorgeous. Because he is so sweet. Because he is brilliant and dreams in the daylight. Because he is small and strong. Because he listens. Because he makes time to sip coffee and eat stir-fry with me in the afternoon. Because he is unafraid to risk vulnerability. He is unafraid to reveal himself. And I see a reflection. I love this boi, he is a friend of mine. You ever met a kindred spirit? Did it feel like going home?  
Hot-sexy love: I can’t really look into your eyes for too long for fear of falling too hard and too soon. But I always like meeting you because you remind me that my heart still works and my capacity for loving is still in tact. But for this love, move slow. Move slow because what’s the rush? Take your time and let the beat build.
You can feel all these loves at once in/for yourself and with others;-)

I dedicate this Jam to Oakland, September 2012<3

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Me and the Devil

Kai's SONG OF THE WEEK: "Gil Scott-Heron released his new album I'm New Here on independent label XL Recordings on February 9, 2010. Produced by XL label owner Richard Russell, I'm New Here is Scott-Heron's first studio album in sixteen years. The pair started recording the album in 2007, with the majority of the record being recorded over the last twelve months with engineer Lawson White at Clinton Studios in New York. Some have called the record “reverent” and “intimate” due to Scott-Heron’s half-sung, half-talked delivery of his poetry. “I’m New Here” is 28 minutes long with 15 tracks. However, casual asides and observations collected during recording sessions are also included as interludes.[10] The album attracted substantial critical acclaim with The Guardian newspaper's Jude Rogers declaring it one of the next decade's best records.[33]

The first single from the album was "Me And The Devil", which was released on February 22, 2010. It was debuted by BBC Radio 1's Zane Lowe as his "Hottest Record In The World", along with other specialist DJs such as Gilles Peterson and Benji B. The album's remix, We're New Here, was released in 2011, featuring reworking by English music producer Jamie xx of material from the original album.[34] It was also very well received by music critics."(Wiki) (Lyrics)

Kai's Thoughts:

Drive slow, Homie, those are the words I whisper to myself while driving these days, especially if it’s late at night because I hate getting pulled over. I have completely modified my driving in the last six months. I used to speed. I used to drive in the carpool lane alone and I was quick to blow my horn at those cars that irked me with their timidness, but now I drive slow, Homie. Still I seem to get pulled over more and more. I was given a ticket a couple of weeks ago for making a right turn on a green light while the walk sign was up (but there weren’t any people crossing). The cop asked me, “What if someone had run out into the street?” What if… I asked him for a warning and he said “Sorry, I didn’t pull you over to give you a warning, but you should just take it to court and contest it.” Thanks.
I headed up to the Bay Area to reconnect with my hometown, a place I haven’t lived since I was 15. Things have really changed and stayed the same. I see the new uptown is booming while East Oakland, where I come from and where my mother still lives… well, I see struggle and sorrow in the eyes of my people there. I see crack and other substances still taking their toll. I see babies walking the stroll and police watching (like me, but not…). What is their job here? To keep us in our place...And if you forget…they will help you find your way home
Sirens flash and I’m heading back to Alameda (I’m staying with my cousin in Alameda while I’m here). I pull over. Confused because I know that I wasn’t going 1 mile over the 25mph speed limit because the last time I was in Alameda I got a speeding ticket for going 37mph (I feel that if I’m going to be cited for speeding then damn let me really be speeding…) I pull over. A bright light flashes. Then the same bright remains, lighting up my car from behind. I feel the light behind my head, cold and as dark as it is bright. Blinding my eyes and I am afraid. For ten minutes I sit with this light on me, wondering what next. I dare not open the door and ask. Should I pull out my registration from the glove box? No, no sudden movements. They might think you’re pulling out a weapon. My heart is racing because I know that I have followed all the traffic laws yet and still here I am again under the gaze of some white male officer who shines his unwanted light on me. He finally comes over and I realize why I got pulled over and the person tailgating behind me didn’t… “Where are you going? Where are you coming from? What are you doing here in Alameda? What’s the address of your cousin’s place?” I didn’t know the exact address so I gave some cross streets and then he asked me more about the area. Eventually he told me that I had a headlight out and that’s why he pulled me over, but really it is clear that I was simply out of place. My Black body in my black Acura with a spoiler was out of place and he needed to remind me (One of my besties tells me I should get a bike rack to make my car less Black. I was thinking to get an I <3 Police sticker;-).
“So if you see the vulture coming/ flying circles in your mind/ remember their is no escaping/ for he will follow close behind./ only promise me a battle/ a battle/ for your soul and mind/ and mine/ and mine”
What is freedom? The ability to move if and when you want to.
What is home? A space that holds all of who you are without question. I’m discovering home in Oakland. Spending time and sharing space with family and friends. Folks that I only knew via Facebook have shown up in real life. And I am grateful because I needed to be reminded that I am always held and always loved wherever I go. I find home when I find my people. It’s simple—like a hug gentle and firm all at once. It’s a smile. It’s a song shared that moves in the space between you and me, filling in the gaps. It’s recognition of the impossible existing right in front of your eyes—the person who got free and still struggles to get free everyday. I’m thankful for you and your courage and your will to live and create a beautiful life. My friends, my people, my loved ones from LA to the Bay and all over—I appreciate you.

Home is what you make
Love, make peace love, make me free
We together, here[1]

And if you can, don’t forget to get out and support Elvira TODAY(RIGHT NOW!) For more info click here.:   

[1] Hear?