Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Kai's SONG OF THE WEEK: '"1+1' is a song recorded by American recording artist Beyoncé Knowles for her fourth studio album, 4 (2011). It was released by Columbia Records in the United States on May 25, 2011, as a promotional single. Serving as the opening track on 4, it was written and produced by Knowles, The-Dream and Tricky Stewart. "1+1" was originally titled "Nothing but Love" and The-Dream had initially planned to include it on his second studio album, Love vs. Money (2009). A down-tempo contemporary R&B and soul music power ballad, "1+1" Knowles expressing her endless love to her soul mate; the lyrics make strong statements about the power of the relationship."(Wiki)
Kai's Thoughts:
Yes it’s time for Kai’s weekly jam. And yes I have to go with Beyonce’s “1+1” (Treva, I look forward to hearing your rendition when I get home;-). I love this song! I woke up this morning after having dreams about eating lots of mints in the middle of the night. The doctor told me yesterday to make sure not use toothpaste this morning, nothing with mint and I suppose that followed me into dreamland. All night, I found myself accidently popping mints into my mouth then realizing, “oh you’re not supposed to eat those!” Then, in my dreams, I sat with the dilemma of whether or not to tell my doc if I had eaten the mints. I always spit them out, so I didn’t completely ingest them. I wanted to hold on to the sweet taste though.

You all have been my sweet reminder that I am loved and I am love because we are love. How do I express my gratitude to my friends from boarding school, my sister who called me to talk about Baldwin and wish me luck, my sister who was my first roommate who was also the first person to donate to my chip-in site? How do I express gratitude to my middle school advisor, my English teacher who taught me how to read closely and not to be afraid of writing what I feel? She took the time to teach us about emotional intelligence. My high school advisor reached out to me to let know they are in support of me all the way in Wellesley. How do I express gratitude for kindred spirits who send me poems and prayers—lavender by my bedside and candles aflame on my behalf? How do I tell you thank you, a deep thank you? Thank you, to people I didn’t even know so well in elementary school who reached out to me to say, “I’m proud of you!” How do I express that kind of gratitude?

I have had some really dark days. There were times when I was sure I didn’t want take another breath—but a prayer, but faith. But love has kept me here and blessed me with you. How do I say thank you to my mother and to my aunts who fast and pray for me today even though they do not want me to do this? How do I say thank you to my grandmother who passed away? How do I say thank you for teaching me how to pray to God? Thank you for teaching me about a loving God. In your bedroom we’d kneel by the bed and we’d all have to say our prayers aloud to God—you showed me how to access God for myself. You knew you wouldn’t always be here and I wasn’t ready for you to go when you did, but I hold you and your lessons with me.

How do I say thank you to my brothers/studs/trans guys who stand with me on this journey? My people, my people, I didn’t even know I had a people. Thank God for the Brown Boi Project for helping us to find ourselves and each other. We are stronger now. We are braver now. We can be lovers of the feminine and the masculine within ourselves and in others—we have been healed and the healing continues.

How do I express my gratitude to the almost 50 people who donated to my chip-in site? You sent me off with almost 1800 dollars (That covers all of my surgical fees + rental car for the 10 days). Insurance does not cover these kinds of procedures, but my community stepped up. You are my insurance—what a powerful thing to witness and to have witnessed. I am only one person, but we—we are love. We are so big. We are so strong and you prove that.

How do I say thank you?

I haven’t been able to cry for some months now. I have played the saddest Donny Hathaway songs I know, the most moving Kirk Franklin songs—the ones that always used to make me cry, but no tears. I drove around last week really looking for those tears and for that sadness that I used to be able to tap in to. I couldn’t find it. I realized that deep down; deep deep down inside my soul, inside my heart, where there used to be sadness, there is joy. A healing has taken place. This is a joy, I haven’t felt before, it’s in my core. And I thank you all for going on this journey with me. The thing about transition is that as much as you might like to, you can’t do it alone. As you change it is inevitable that those around you will have to change. Sometimes you may have to part ways with people who refuse the challenge. Sometimes you will have to fight with those you love, but mostly you will need to be patient and kind.

You all have made love to me, have made love of me, and with me. And all I have to give you in return is, thank you. When I go under today I will be holding the sweetness of you in my mind and in my heart. I go without fear, nervousness, or worry, because I am being held. Thank you for seeing me. You have helped me to find freedom. You have shown me a radical we, a radical elsewhere. Thank you.
***(An intellectual pondering)
While androgyny is mostly understood as an individual’s identity or gender presentation, Toni Cade Bambara offers us another possibility when she writes “Perhaps we need to let go of all notions of manhood and femininity and concentrate on Blackhood. We have much alas to work against. The job of purging is staggering. It perhaps takes less heart to pick up the gun than to face the task of creating a new identity, a self, perhaps an androgynous self, via commitment to the struggle” (Bambara 103). She asks to think about a possible geographical shift of the self, a process that requires an undoing of some of what we have come to know as essential to identity formation of race and gender. Now, it is one thing to imagine a non-bifurcated self that perhaps undoes the work of the splitting up of a consciousness, but it is another thing to call for a collective androgynous self as it implies a restructuring of the self that no doubt requires a restructuring of a collective. An androgynous self requires a reorientation to subjectivity that is less about an individual as I and more about the work of the individual as They or Them, or even a radical We.
It is helpful now to move to a dictionary definition of androgyny in order to better understand what I have proposed above as a politic of androgyny:
1: having the characteristics or nature of both male and female
2: a: neither specifically feminine nor masculine <the androgynous pronoun them> 
        b : suitable to or for either sex <androgynous clothing>
3: having traditional male and female roles obscured or reversed <an androgynous marriage> (Merriam-Webster.com)
I want to focus on the example given in 2a because it illuminates androgyny’s relationship to liminality that is less about the disorientation of in-betweeness and more about an orientation to collectivity, hence the emphasis of the pronoun them. This I as them can only be understood as a collection or collective of some sort, which perhaps could be separated but is not. The Black feminist call for an androgynous self is a call to recognize the them/we always present in the I which seemed to be forgotten when all the “women” were thought to be white and all the Blacks were thought to be men in social and political thought and praxis[1]. Black women’s very existence crushed and destroyed the logic of organizations that believed they were able to combat oppression from the stance of race, class, or gender without understanding how all of those categories work in and through one another.  Black feminists interrupted, asking Black men and white women to recognize the problem as bigger than a singular group’s call—they asked for a recognition of the them/we essential to the I.
An androgynous self is not easily recognizable within the confines of our knowledge, which insist that the human be predicated first on the recognition of either woman or man, and anything other than that becomes deviant and dehumanized. We can also only see these subjects if they are in motion towards becoming either man or woman. To occupy this liminal space without the desire to become or to be something legible to the world as either male or female is a radical stance, proving that there are other ways of being. This is at the heart of an androgynous politic, which, like The Black Woman, is situated in the margins of the margins, not asking to be let in to frameworks of either/or, but instead insisting upon an interrogation of how this binary thinking has a way of policing and oppressing rather than building strong collectives and coalitions. A Black feminist stance is an androgynous stance that refuses to choose one thing over another as it already knows that game to be a farce, which does more to distort problems than to illuminate them in their full complexity. An Androgynous politic or modality is one that is able to occupy the marginal spaces, not in hopes of someday penetrating the normal, but instead always working through and toward possibilities outside of those that have been deemed permissible by the state. There is indeed something else to be, and there is much difficulty in the practice of deciphering that something else to be on its own terms—what are the tools necessary for seeing differently something different?


Thank You. <3

[1]Gloria T. Hull, Patricia Bell Scott, and Barbara Smith. All the Women are White, All the Blacks are Men, but Some of Us Are Brave: Black women's studies. (Old Westbury, N.Y: Feminist Press, 1982.)
[2] In an attempt to create my method of critical ethnography, I asked one of my interviewees to interview me. This interview method was an attempt to explore the way that we as Native ethnographers engage with power, and how we might disrupt the hierarchical relationship between subject and researcher by actively putting oneself in the position of subject. It was also a way to use skill sharing as a way of reciprocity. My method here opens a fruitful discussion regarding ethnographic film and native ethnography. See John L. Jackson’s  "An Ethnographic Filmflam: Giving Gifts, Doing Research, and Videotaping the Native Subject/Object," to further enhance this discussion.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post Kai! We ARE love and we ARE so big...thanks for putting these words to print as a testament to the power of community.