Thursday, June 21, 2012

Love Never Changes

Kai's SONG OF THE WEEK: "Love Never Changes" is from Ledisi's 2009 Album, "Turn Me Loose." If you don't know about need to know. Ledisi WikiLedisi Official Website , Lyrics .

Kai's Thoughts:  

Love, it will never go/ Love, even when you go/ It never leaves, no, no/ Love never changes, love

Love just is. It exists above, below, and all around us, but what's most important is the love we all carry within. We must cultivate this love within, especially as queer people of color. We must practice loving ourselves and one another fiercely.  As my body goes through stages of healing I have had some difficulty looking at myself, my chest, right now as it is. I know that my scars will fade and in reality I'm healing really fast (Thanks to all of you who have supported and continue to support me). But it is still difficult for me to sit with the scars as they are now without wandering into some future moment where my body is fully healed and my nipple pigmentation has returned. There is nothing wrong with thinking about the future or even planning it, but when that future or even some past has the power to take us away from the blessing of this present, then we miss the opportunity for presence. It is sometimes difficult to look at oneself right where you are, right now. In this very moment can you affirm the beauty of you? The love that is you? I affirm the love I have for myself and my body right now in this moment (Take a second to do the same for yourself, because you deserve it). This is my struggle these days and it can feel stifling. I am practicing tapping into my(self) love, the unconditional love that I have for myself, it is where I want to find my will to survive. I often find that the love I have for others comes easy--I forgive easily. I love hard. I love long. For you...But what happens when it's just me alone in a room? When I search for some of those things to give to myself, sometimes I can't find them. I'm working on it.

Marlon Riggs
I'm inspired by so many, but the artists Lyle Ashton Harris and Marlon Riggs stand out to me today. These artists throw themselves into their work, into their art, and it feels like life. Their art is life that refuses death even in the face of death, they choose love. Through their art they give love boldly. I am always so moved when I watch Riggs,' Black is...Black Ain't  because his film is a gift of love to all that watch it, but you can also see how Riggs' loved himself enough to share this vision with us. He was dying and he allowed us to witness his transition from this world to the next. He did not go easily. He left us road-maps, tools, art and every time I revisit his art I revisit him in all his beauty and brilliance. I am thankful that he took the time to make art with love and persistence. Riggs and Harris like so many other queer people of color,  refused to be silent. They were and we are the people who survive even though they/we were never supposed to. Or better said by Audre Lorde, "For to survive in this dragon we call America, we have had to learn this first and most vital lesson – that we were never meant to survive. Not as human beings." We are miracles.  

Lyle Ashton Harris gives us “Redemptive Narcissism” as '“...self-love... a form of resistance to the tyranny of mediocrity. I see the mirror not only as a site of trauma and death – Narcissus falling in to drown – but as a space for rigorous meditation, cleansing and recuperation.”' How might we use redemptive narcissism as a tool? What will you do today to show your(self) love?
Lyle Ashton Harris, "Brotherhood"

Today I give love back to me
Told I was just too Black to be
Too queer to see
that there simply wasn't anymore room
For we
We who dare to love bodies like our own
Black, queer, scarred, hard and soft
Brown, shy, fierce, and brave,
We could never just behave
Could never completely be cadged
Perhaps our bodies, never our souls
But I want it all, 
Back to me
I give love to me courageously.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Kai's SONG OF THE WEEK: '"Easy' is a 1977 hit single by Commodores for the Motown label, from their fifth studio album, Commodores. Written by Commodores lead singer Lionel Richie, the song, a slow ballad with country and western roots, expresses a man's feelings as he ends a relationship. Rather than being depressed about the break-up, he states that he is instead 'easy like Sunday morning.' Richie wrote 'Easy' with the intention of it becoming another crossover hit for the group, given the success of a previous single, 'Just to Be Close to You', which spent 2 weeks at #1 on the Billboard R&B chart and peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop charts in 1976.[2] Released in March 1977, 'Easy' reached #1 on the Billboard R&B chart, and #4 on the Billboard Hot 100.[2] The success of 'Easy' paved the way for similar Richie-composed hit ballads such as 'Three Times a Lady' and 'Still' and also for Richie's later solo hits. The song is noted for a feedback noise, with an echo, that is heard in the Bridge of the song. Also, an electric guitar solo dominates the instrumental portion of the song. In addition, the other Commodores are heard singing wordless harmonies during the Chorus of the song. The edited version receives the most airplay. The longer version from the album features the chorus being repeated more times, a half step up, from A Flat Major to A Major, a few times before it fades out."

Kai's Thoughts:  
Sunday mornings with mom. Music blasting from the stereo. Even 106 KMEL had a gospel playlist to help usher in the morning. In the morning. In the morning when I rise. Sunday mornings were not always easy, but every time I hear this song I think of my Sunday mornings growing up and I smile. Everything before church always seemed rushed, bath time in a hurry, dress clothes needed to be ready and ironed. No wrinkles. No wrinkles. I hate wrinkles, but I could never get the wrinkles out. Mom could get them out even when she hurt her right arm and was in pain, she'd use her left. Even her left hand ironing was better than my right. My Dad could iron too, and when he was around he'd iron all of our clothing, he'd give use creases always. I still haven't mastered the art of ironing.
There was room for a quick breakfast: toast, cereal, or sometimes we'd just wait for the church snacks. Church snacks included mints, gum, menthol halls, those round red sweet and sour balls that had gum in the middle, those were my favorite after Now and Laters. Before leaving the house, we'd take turns checking ourselves out in the mirror. When my dad was around he'd always take the longest pointing out the waves in his hair and over all smoothness. We all had fun in the mirror.
My mom was always dressed to impress, hats titled to the side never falling off though. But what always stood out to me was the way my mother smelled. I loved the way my mother's sweet aroma would linger. It was either  White Diamonds or Giorgio  perfume. I knew my mothers scent the same way I knew the jingle of her keys. If ever we got separated, I'd just wait for the sound of those keys. I can still pick that sound out in crowd today.

Getting to church might not have been the easiest thing, but once you were there you could breathe a little. I always enjoyed the music. Everyone loves the music. It moved people to cry,  jump, shout, or sometimes to even sprint around the church. I loved it when the choir would march in swaying to a beat, robes dancing all on their own. Yes, I loved the A and B Selections, but what I loved even more than that was what would come after. After the tithes & offerings, and after the announcements, there would be a moment of prayer just before the preaching would begin. This moment of reflection cleared space in our minds and in our hearts so that we would be able to receive whatever it was God wanted us to. This opening prayer could sometimes be just as powerful as the word itself. I have recently been thinking about my relationship to prayer. Prayer, for me, is meditative and feels easier to do when someone is leading you in a group prayer - I like that feeling of connectedness and community when trying to access God. 

I remember the weekday mornings, my mother would drop me off at my grandmother's house and one of the first things she'd have us (my cousin Teenie who was my age and her husband Jimmy, who we called Big Daddy) all kneel around her bed and each of us would go around and say our prayers out loud. Back then I wasn't afraid but now I feel anxiety when asked to pray aloud, because back then I was able to have a conversation with God and not fear what those around me would think. Now I sometimes fear that my prayers might not be good enough, not good enough for the people around me. I wonder if I also feel perhaps that my prayers aren't good enough for God. And then I wonder how did I get this way. When did I start believing that my prayers needed to be polished and revised to be heard? I'm working on freeing myself of that. 

 <Just got lost in a prayer>

The highlight of a Sunday service for me was the sermon, the story that we'd look to in scripture and the story the preacher would tell to bridge the gap between that biblical story and the story of our everyday lives and material conditions. We/I needed those links, those stories, those metaphors because they gave and still give us/me faith, faith that the impossible is possible. The impossible is possible, like walking on water or water that can be turned to wine. I paid close attention to the words of the preacher, but not just the words. The silences, the spaces between the words, the breaks were sometimes just as telling...a moan, a wave of the hand... I noted moments when I didn't quite understand or agree, but I was always listening for the message God had for me. All my years of church, Sunday school, vacation bible school, choir rehearsals, and what I remember most is faith that the impossible is possible. What I remember is the will to persevere. I hold on to the belief that God is love and love is the greatest gift we have to offer one another. I learned this through Christianity, but I also had to unlearn a lot of what had been taught to me because it wasn't love and it wasn't God. I know that Christianity has been a colonialist project, but I know that is not all it has been for me. It is but one mode of accessing something else, God, love, the divine. If I hadn't been raised in the church, I don't think I'd feel so passionately about injustice and freedom.
Mom, Oldest Brother, Me, Aunt

So this was a long road to get to my easy like Sunday Morning, which didn't occur back then until the late afternoon. The after church moments. The moments when we'd meet up with family at a restaurant or at my aunt's house for Sunday dinner and games. We'd change into our play clothes. We'd laugh. We'd eat and it was it is easy. I remember those moments as warm, tender, and fun, so much fun. Those were the moments I never wanted to end and those are the moments I remember on easy Sunday mornings.