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TABLE OF CONTENTS Salutations…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………...3 Identity………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………...5 Black Woman? Black Man? Neither or Both? Living on the Outside…….…….……………………….7 Ain't I a Man? I mean, I AM a man: My take on 2 Glenn Ligon: America pieces…………….…11 Thoughts on Being Radical, Queer, and Of Color and other musings………………………………...17 Trans Rights of Passage…………………………………………………..…………………………………………………......18 The New Masculinity- Redefining ourselves, emerging from our cocoons………………………….…20 Our POC Reclamation and Retrieval in the Arts (but don't call it a Renaissance)……………..25 Genderqueer Job Applicants or Cross Dressing for a Career………………………………………….28 (UN)Queer for the Holidays……………………………………………………………………………………….…...31 Love………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….....33 Poem: New Eyes…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. ...34 The Challenges of Genderqueer Love………………………………………………………………………………….. .38 Comets and Cobwebs ....................................................................................................................................40 Queer relationships...how bout 'em?....................................................................................................….42 Organizing……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….......43 Poem: What is Radical?…………………………………………………………………………………………………….……44 Radicalism- is it sustainable?…………………………………………………………………………………………….…....46 Oppression and Organizing Against Obliviousness................................................................................50 LGBT community vs. the larger Queer community. Irreconcilable differences?........................55 (in)justice and the death penalty or Kaput with Capital Punishment…………………………57 Privilege and protest…………………………………………………………………………………………....60 Occupy Oakland……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..61 Only tell me of the possibilities, please........................................................................................................63 The Master’s Tools……………………………………………………………………………………………………….…………66 Diversifying the Stacks (book shelves that is)……………………………………………………………………......68 On mentoring and passing the torch……………………………………………………………………………………...69 On Being Bilingual………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..…71 Education.........................................................................................................................................................................73 Poem: Soothsayer Soil……………………………………………………………………………………………………….…...74 Throwing Stones at the windows of the Ivory Tower (and bringing knowledge to the People for $Free.99…………………………………………………………………………………………….…….76 Healing Ourselves........................................................................................................................................................78 Poem: Blanketed: A poem about my Heritage……………………………………………………………………….79 Discovering our ability to Heal Ourselves after Invisibility, Voicelessness or Confrontation with the Medical Establishment (and in our Lives, in general)………………………………………………85 Poem: Superhero………………………………………………………………………………………..………………..89 Poem: Untitled/Unfinished………………………………………………………………………………………….92 Silencing and Voicelessness- a QPOC, limited ability/chronically ill perspective……………..94


Identity

Black Woman? Black Man? Neither or Both? Living on the Outside 10 April 2011 I have been grappling with the intersection of gender identity and race lately. I feel as if the concept of gender is entrenched in the black community–if not the pillar of it. Roles have been defined for black women and black men and the socialization of black women vs. black men is intriguing. As I’ve come out as genderqueer I have found it difficult to imagine disassociating myself from black womanhood. So much is tied to a black woman’s identity. The struggle of a black woman–the burden on her back–the solidarity in calling each other “my sister” is something I have come to own and appreciate, slowly but surely.

I feel that in taking on the trans identity and calling myself genderqueer that I am betraying my sisters in some way. I also feel that I am rejecting the women’s spaces which I felt so comfortable in for years and years. I am becoming an outsider to the community of women of color that I fought so hard in the past to understand and be a part of and protect through my academic writing. As I was accepting the fact that I am genderqueer … that I am masculine of center, that I may not have been socialized as your typical female and had always seen myself as androgynous or leaning more toward the masculine spectrum–I began to panic. Well…that means I’m a black man! Ohhh great! Not only do I face oppression on so many other levels, but now I’ve got this new added burden of being perceived as a black man, should I choose to transition or present myself as male? I’ve been presenting myself as male for years now without really calling it that. Now I would have to routinely see white women clutch their purses and turn up their noses, and white men feel threatened/disgusted by my very existence. I did not, do not…want to be a black man. But, unfortunately, I don’t have much choice in the matter. And I’ll explain what I mean.


I am not a woman. I have the body of the woman but anyone who knows me or gets to know me will quickly find out that…well, I’m not. I was not exactly socialized as a girl as a kid. My mother was this strong alpha-female who never said anything about people wanting to hold me back for being a black woman. She climbed the rungs of the police department slowly, steadily. In short, my mother was a warrior who did not let her femaleness identify her. She didn’t revel in femininity; she didn’t talk about feminist politics. In fact, she wasn’t especially feminine except when she went undercover some nights. I always saw myself as a boy. By the time I was around six or seven and it was socially unacceptable to do “boy things” I started keeping this to myself. I let people call me “she” and “her”–but it never really fit. Everyone assumed I was a tomboy. My stepfather and mother tried their hardest to make me dress like a little girl. I was actually punished by my stepfather for whistling among other things (which he thought was what boys do), and I wasn’t allowed to wear certain “boyish” outfits. They tried really hard…but, all that happened was that I repressed this and felt really disconnected from girls. I never really felt like a girl. I mean, they told me I was a girl and I tried to accept it. I tried to do the things that girls do, but I always felt like I was in drag when I wore dresses and out of place when I tried to be more “feminine”. I just did the “girly” thing to fit in, but in my senior year I chucked all that to the side and started wearing my flannel and plaid and corduroy and boy shoes. I have always felt more comfortable–read: more ‘me’–in men’s clothing. It took me a while to realize that this was not just me trying to “genderf*ck” (once I learned this terminology) but that I, in fact, was genderqueer. I let people tell me that I was a lesbian. I never really owned that label though; it just didn’t fit though I found solidarity with female-bodied people whose preference in partners were women. It took me a decade to realize that something was up with the fact that I thought women were ridiculous for not dating me because I’m “not a man” (chuckling to myself.) Let me try to explain that further: In my head I was a man. Men accepted me as this mixture of male/female in the banking/financial industry that I worked in for six years. I grew into not wanting to wear the women’s dress code relatively quickly, since I felt like I was in drag and they accepted this and thought of me as one of the “boys.” In my head I was male. So when these straight women would flirt with me and then say “But I don’t date girls,” in my head this didn’t compute. I mean, did they see what I was wearing? I wasn’t a girl! I was a strapping, handsome, young boi. And if they’d only date me, they’d figure this out. Well, they weren’t buying it. I had no penis and as far as they were concerned I was no man. Sigh.


In my lesbian relationships I didn’t take on a butch role. Read: I am not a butch or a stud or an AG. I really don’t embody any of that particular type of masculinity. I am just a boi. I am devoid of femininity, except for my facial features, long eyelashes and tiny hands. And probably the vestiges of socialization. (Voice pitch changes around older men or when trying to be “polite”, eyes downcast at times, and other subconscious ways that inform how I interact with certain men.) Which one could argue has nothing to do with being feminine, but in my eyes it’s part of an expected role. Or should I say, an expectation thrust upon us, the female-bodied and those who choose to identify as women/womyn. I guess, by the way I dress, people don’t expect me to be a high femme. I’m not exactly oozing with femininity while wearing ties, vests, men’s dress shirts, men’s hats, and men’s shoes. And when s t r a i g h t men hit on me I honestly wonder what their deal is. Anyways, sometimes people make assumptions about me being female. This is understandable. I mean, my face is feminine. Thinking way back, I started to wear more masculine clothes because a) I didn’t like male attention b) it felt more like me and c) it balanced out my feminine face–thereby making me feel more like “me.” So back to assumptions. As I was coming out as genderqueer I wondered, well, should I take hormones? Should I get chest surgery? I didn’t want to, but it seemed the only way that people would accept me for how I felt. Even though I don’t feel like an FTM (female-to-male). Let me explain: I don’t really trust this whole gender binary thing, and I feel that if I own the label FTM that I am somehow owning this whole twisted social construct that is the gender binary. In doing that I would be saying well I am that M and not that F. I wholeheartedly accept what inkling of femininity I have coursing through this body. While I’m indifferent to my female parts I do not reject or resent them, though I do sometimes feel guilty for binding them and stuffing objects in men’s boxer briefs to mask them, add to or enhance them (i.e. packing). But I only feel guilty for a second. Then I feel empowered because I am being authentic. I am being ‘me’. Power. This was an issue for me because, well, I’m an anti-oppression workshop facilitator, and this is at the core of all of my activism. Not to mention that I’m a feminist and womanist. Was I really buying into this whole power from masculinity and being male thing? This really tortured me for a long time. Was I subconsciously considering men to be worth more than women? Deep down did I hate being female because of society’s view on females and the oppression faced by females? Well…this takes me back to talking about the solidarity present between women of color. This also takes me back to all my friends that are women healers, curanderas, homeopaths, naturopaths, herbalists, shamans etc., who have tapped into their feminine power and use it daily to heal.

I don’t hate that. I love that! And this is what has really, really made me sad. I don’t want to leave those women’s healing circles, drumming circles, and so on. I don’t want to be an outsider. I was watching the film Still Black (a film about black transmen), and I cried when one of the men said he visited women’s spaces for a year–kind of as a goodbye. Yes, unexpected tears came down my face. I am so tied to these


women’s spaces. I never wanted (or want) to give up the power inherent in being a woman. And–sigh–I don’t want to be a black man. Either way I will struggle. Either way in this American society, there is only lip service to power for a black man or a black woman. And skating the ice between the two genders seems like it will get me in trouble in some spaces as well. The trans men want to know why I still have breasts, why I don’t take hormones, why am I so *gulp* feminine looking. Why do I still identify with women of color, healing women? The feminists want to know why I pack, why I bind, why I consider myself (or is it, let myself be considered) masculine of center. The men want to know why I even hang out with the women when I am so obviously one of them (male). Why I don’t buy into (some) of their hypermasculinity. Why I don’t like talking nonsense about women and flaunting privilege. I am an outsider to them, too, because I can identify with women’s plight intuitively and in a way that they can’t. I know why their girlfriends, wives, sisters are feeling what they are feeling. But this goes both ways because I have always understood men’s thinking patterns (no matter how irrational it may seem to women at times) and while women have appreciated that I can do this it has really put me on the outskirts when I myself do not possess the same ways of communicating and thought patterns and “socializing tendencies” of a woman. I just can’t go there. I don’t get it, if you will. And it’s not about me trying to be a man. It’s just how I am and how I think, act. I am not completely any of them. I am not LGBT, I am not a woman, and I am not a man. I flirted with the idea of being bi-gendered but then there goes that whole gender binary again. Agendered? Meh. Andro? But I’m masculine of center. I see myself on the interior as a boi. Basically there is no label for who I am… except Toi. And maybe I feel guilty for being this unlabeled entity that moves through these circles with my fluidity. Now, let me explain: I feel guilty because they all want me to take up allegiance to them; I am their ally, but I am not exactly completely “them.” In short, I belong to all and none at the same time.

So I will continue to support women’s spaces, hang out with men/trans men, and the queers and genderqueers who understand me the most, even knowing that I might be mistaken as one of “them.” I will purge this guilt in my heart.

I will try my best to explain to every single person that asks and is confused. I will try to keep an open heart and be full of compassion when clearly people think that I am an anomaly, a freak, a weirdo, not one of “them” any longer. This is all I can offer: Dialogue. Compassion. Authenticity.


Career

Genderqueer Job Applicants or Cross Dressing for a Career 27 November 2011

Folks, today I am 2 steps closer to a respectable career doing something that will pay some bills, somewhere. I, Toi, after months of looking for jobs across the nation- ok, in three or four states... have now advanced my job applicant status and possibly furthered myself to a third interview by... get this... purchasing a suit. And not just any suit my friends. This suit was purchased... in the women's department of JCPenney by a beneficent benefactor who told me in not so many words that it would lead to actual success during my interviews. And I don't doubt it. Recruiters (in the South, especially) want to see you match your clothes to your proposed gender. Psshh...I'm not into "matchy matchy." My mother and two aunts have asked me in the last month...what do you wear to your interviews? Well, a nice pair of (men's) pants, a (men's) dress shirt...(and sometimes a tie). Oh! And my natural hair, suitably tamed for their viewing pleasure. (Wouldn't want to be too "ethnic"). No...no...no...apparently this is all wrong if I want to actually support myself this lifetime. I've got to fool them my mother implied. She said...just wear this to the interview and who cares what I wear after I get hired. Hmm...Granted, this has definitely worked for me before- though I didn't exactly plan it that way. In corporate America I just got so tired of wearing these femme clothes because that's what was designated in the "girl's dress code". I started to feel really weird wearing these feminine clothes for 8-10 hours and then coming home only to rip them off and throw on basketball shorts and a muscle tee. (flexes, grin) Yea. That's what I said. So ...there I was in the ladies section of JC Penney...not "doing it right". (Is that even still there slogan? anyway...) . I felt mad weird. My mother says..."What size are you?" I give her a "No you didn't" look...and she assumed somewhere between a 6 and 8. Actually she said my butt was probably an 8...(blank stare). Soooo I grab the first andro-looking 6 that I saw after wading through some truly horrifying women-ly outfits designed for some stuffed-shirt dinner party and made a dash for the dressing room praying that this thing would a)not make me look too feminine and b) fit, so we could get the heck out of dodge. So, there I am standing in the dressing room with my corn rows and nicely flattened chest under my undershirt and some men's boxer briefs...slinking into this women's business suit and delicately zipping with this ridiculously small zipper on the side of the pants. And my mind drifts off to that Office episode where the manager is wearing a lady's business suit. Yes, that's one of my favorite episodes. And then


there I am...it fit. I was elated. My flat chest was accentuated by the ridiculous women's cut they put on the chest of these suits to ...lift the breasts? Show 'em off? I have no idea. It did a bad job. So I saunter out to my mother who is waiting to assess...and she says it looks good...and says it's not too "girly". I look straight at my flattened chest and say "yea...well I don't like that women's suits have this cut right here to accentuate the boobs I don't have." My mom shrugs...I go back in the dressing room to strip out of this clown suit that is going to be my ticket to some career somewhere...and juuuuuuuuuust as I'm snapping a picture in this outfit to send to my boo thang...*trying to look as masculine as possible *ahem*... my mother comes with another friggin women's suit that I have to try on for some person I'll be sitting down with at some point who can't accept my gender expression. Great. So, I try it on...pants are too baggy...blahblah we buy the other pin striped andro-ish suit which makes me look like a negative AAA cup. Yea. That's not going to draw attention at all... So, fellow andro and genderqueer folks...I'm going to say that it's imperative for us to start making some andro suits with neither a male or female cut. I got close today but I'm afraid the chest area is a fail. Sigh. In my head I'm picturing the perfect vest and slacks and I'm looking so dapper accepting my next job. Don't get me wrong though, I'm super appreciative of my mother's support. She's only telling me like it is. Basically, that these southerners don't want anyone who looks odd or queer gracing their halls if they can help it. Yeah, I know that it's not just the south... And now I'm sitting here thinking that even if some of the LGB constituents of the employment discrimination policy (ENDA) hadn't thrown us gender non-conformists under the bus not too long ago, that recruiters would have still been able to discriminate by not letting us through to the next interview. Who can prove that you weren't hired because of what you're wearing (and even if you could, would they agree that it should be legal to discriminate based on an outfit?) Who can prove that it was your gender expression that kept you from being hired or promoted? It's all "conjecture". But even my mom knows that it's a factor in me not finding employment and a facilitator to me going to some job some place and being hired by someone. Sigh. I know that some of you are thinking... well of course you've got to dress differently to get a job, we all do. But, I want to stress that I am having to cross dress. It's not that I want to wear sweats or booty shorts (see *Awkward Black Girl). I want to express my gender in the way that I feel comfortable and I'm not able to. Me wearing a woman's suit is certainly going to make me feel a tad uncomfortable during my interview. Shake it off, you say. But you men out there...how would you feel doing an interview in panty hose and lipstick and maybe a nice little skirt suit? Yea, awkward. I know that there are so many trans and gender non-conforming folks out there at their jobs feeling really,really awkward because they are not able to express their true gender. It can really make someone feel helpless and defeated. A lot of us accept jobs where we can feel comfortable but don't get paid nearly what we're worth and others of us can't get a job at all because they can't "pass" as their true gender or fall somewhere in between. I just want people to realize that this happens frequently and urge people not to be so harsh in their


judgment against trans folks who want to get surgery and "pass". We just want to be who we are...this policing of our gender has to stop in all arena.

NO!!

Yezzzir


What is Radical? Radical is acceptance, not tolerance. Radical is not some inaccessible knowledge or terminology that is only available to White, upper middle class liberal arts students or dropouts. Radical is when you tell that transboi razor in hand, poised at wrist That he CAN make it through another day Radical is when you smile warmly at that schizophrenic on the sidewalk that is talking To himself and hasn’t eaten in days but spent twenty years in ridiculous wars fighting for the honor of a country that left him battered, bruised and living in alleyways, Radical is when you set aside your politics and pride and bridge the gap between the right and the left, the conservative and the liberal , queer and LGBT, the black and the white, the Pakistani and Indian, South Asian and East Asian, Puerto Rican and Mexican, Jewish and Palestinian, male, female, and genderqueer, young and old, able and disabled so that we can build a better future in which no one is discriminated against because they are “Other”

Radical is stepping outside of yourself, your politics, your circle, your lifestyle to be an ally to the person or group that you least expected.

Radical is realizing your privilege whether it’s due to race, class or education and using this privilege to empower the marginalized.

Radical is when white allies go to doctors appointments with people of color so that they can get the service and treatment they deserve.

Radical is adopting and foster parenting children who are stuck in a system that is not equipped for kindness, compassion, or equity.

Radical is not only picketing and speaking out but making the connections you need to make in the community to pass policy, change laws, and create movements that will rock this nation to its core and rip open the social fabric built on racism, xenophobia, homophobia and sexism.

Radical is knowing the blood, sweat, and tears that go into the produce and products that you’re eating, the clothes that you’re wearing.


Radical is knowing and owning your part in the displacement of communities of color i.e. gentrification- whether you are white or a person of color.

Radical is being intuitive. Looking around your circle and noticing which voices aren’t present and working to get those voices heard.

Radical is when you no longer seek bridges…burn bridges…but build bridges because you realize that bridges are all we have. Gloria Anzaldúa dijó “Caminante, no hay puentes, se hace puentes al andar” Translation:

Traveler there are no bridges, one builds them as one walks.

Are you radical?


POC Anti-Racist Organizing and Burnout Can POC organizers keep a sound mind and longevity in a career committed to anti-racism and antioppression? I’ve seen a lot of POC burn out and it leads to this reflection… Co-signing for White folks What this means is that you as a POC organizer are giving the go ahead for other POC organizers or organizations to work with white “anti-racist” organizers. Sometimes this is fine. Other times this may come back to haunt you because the “work” that the white anti-racist organizers/organization have said they have done around privilege and anti-oppression is not complete thereby leading to additional oppression. Many POC are wary of working with white anti-racists because, to put this bluntly, there is a sense of mastery that just doesn’t exist. There’s a lot of empty rhetoric, good intentions, and horrible actions under the guise of being educated as an anti-racist. Whose Anti-Racism is it anyway? And just what does it mean to be anti-racist anyway? Does it mean you are against racism from other folks but don’t check your own racism? Does it mean you are an ally who checks your own privilege and supports POC? What does support mean to you? Does it simply mean saying your best friend or colleague is black/brown and you don’t say racist things outside the comfort of your own home? Does it mean you are actually trying to create more space for POC and build with POC? Does it mean you are trying to tackle the institution of racism in a substantial way- other than attending one or two anti-racist trainings and thinking you know it all? From what I’ve witnessed, groups and organizations that claim to be committed to anti-racist organizing are predominantly white and miss the mark completely. They commit grave errors in taking up too much space, saying that racism doesn’t exist within their space, or denying anything can be done about POC members feeling unsafe in the space. I’ve seen POC blamed for being uncomfortable. I’ve seen POC called reverse racists when they try to point to racism that exists in these “anti-racist” spaces. I have seen white privilege rear it’s head time and time again in POC being silenced during committees and councils, not getting to form their own committees to promote POC involvement, POC not being taken seriously, POC issues not being confronted, and POC being blamed for the lack of POC presence. When POC try to speak out about all this suddenly they are a voice of dissonance. They are said to be divisive. When they leave the group/committee/council it is because they “weren’t cut out for the committee” or because they were “reverse racists”, were “too angry” or “couldn’t handle it”. Every explanation points to how deficient they were or how they were too hostile for the organization or committee. This is racist. It goes back to historical views on POC’s “place” in this society. It’s not our “place” to speak up and when we do it’s just because we’re angry and there can’t possibly be any credibility to what we say. What we say is always to be questioned and disregarded. Tokenism and being the “educator” On top of feeling silenced or unheard in these organizations or groups, POC are tokenized or expected to educate on all that I’ve mentioned and it is seen negatively when they don’t want to do the work for the white


folks. No one in the group notices how much of a burden this is on POC…or how racist these expectations are. Yes, expecting brown people to tell you how to be better and then getting angry when they won’t is racist and tied to a history of white folks building empires off the backs of brown folks. Think about it. Let it marinate. It’s racist to think that a POC should be there to hold your hand through the processing of all this and expect them not to say a word as you lash out, say it doesn’t exist, blame POC, and expect sympathy as if it is owed to you. I have seen this time and time again in anti-racist workshops. POC will flock to the white participants and try to comfort and console them as they realize the harm caused by white privilege. Yea, I know that there’s a such thing as compassion…my problem is with the expectation of some white folks to be coddled and walked through it….supported. This leads me to talking about the lack of trust and disrespect POC have to deal with among their own community for being committed to anti-racism and co-signing for people who have not done the work on themselves and for the harm they continue to do to POC. It’s really unfortunate but I get it. And when POC organizations are wary and apprehensive to work with you …you should get it to. It’s not because THEY’RE racist…it’s because YOU ARE. Please dont… Please don’t reach out to POC organizations to do the work of unpacking your privilege and understanding racism. Please don’t ask POC to be part of your committees, organizations, and coalitions until you’ve done this work. (I would say until you’ve “made a commitment to do this work” but…isn’t that the point of having the “anti-racist” label that so many tout?) Making a commitment isn’t enough. It just isn’t. The work is hard…the work is continuous and never, ever done. It hurts to hear that though you’ve done the work, that you’re still taking up too much space or asserting your white privilege…but…you should be open to this constructive criticism if you are as committed to anti-racist work as you say you are. You’ve got to do the work on your own and get back to us (POC) once you’ve begun healing yourselves and are ready to actually support our communities. No more lip service, please. No more tokenism. No more blaming us for your superiority complexes, and such. White supremacy is endemic to this society and thankfully it is crumbling. Will you continue to feed into it while cloaked behind the “anti-racist” banner? It is important that both white and POC anti-racist organizers turn a critical eye toward themselves, address internalized racism, superiority and inferiority complexes, and once healed join to dismantle this institution of racism. Who I am and Who I am not I’ll tell you first who I’m not. I’m not “just another angry POC”. I’m not irate but I AM firm in my convictions and it is upsetting to be at square 1 half a century after the civil rights movement. The truth is that the movement is still happening. We are living and breathing it. I am a person committed to diversity and inclusion, anti-oppression, cultural competence and civil rights and I’m not going to give up. No matter how arduous. There are so many civil rights leaders who had to endure so much more. Our foremothers and forefathers have had to endure so much more. I will carry the torch but I will not be taken advantage of. I have my eyes wide open and I’m not afraid to call what I see. No change will come if we don’t.


The Master's Tools... 13 April 2012

"The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house." Audre Lorde- Sister Outsider I got into a discussion about race and class and a question was posed- in this society, are we enslaved mentally according to race and/or class? I took this to mean- does race and class dictate our "social mobility". Does it confine us in the social (and private!) spheres? Do we buy into these arbitrary confines and are we therefore mentally enslaved by them? Hmph. Race. Race...so arbitrary and ascientific. Designed as just another way for the white man to show their superiority. Just another way to subjugate and divide. The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond has an incredible analysis on this. Whiteness....white supremacy. Power. Privilege. The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. It means different things to different people. For me, in this context, it means- all of ya'll who are struggling to "get that paper", to have "upward mobility", to "assimilate" into a system built for us not to survive- there is no liberation in that. There is no liberation in striving to be "upper middle class". There is no liberation in trying to get 3 Ph.D's. There is no liberation in acculturation, forgetting our roots to "play the game". The more we buy into the limitations of race and class and the supposed freedom inherent in "upward mobility" (read: assimilating into whiteness and perpetuating white supremacy, since they are seen as the top of the totem pole), the more we are bound. The master's tools will NEVER dismantle the master's house. We think we can play the system. We think we can code switch, get these degrees, forsake our roots, and that we will be rewarded the good life. We buy into all the white man tells us in school. We let white folks hand us our history and tell us "Shhhh forget, forget...your ancestors are long gone. Here...take this spiritual path, our spiritual path. Here...here's some history about us and what we think of you." And we take it. Some don't bother to question it. Their ideas on education- we buy them. Their ideas on family, we buy them. Their notions of patriarchy and the way women should be subjugated, and relegated to only certain spheres...yes, yes...subconsciously we buy that, too. The way we form relationships, the way we value college degrees over elders and wisdom, the way we turn our nose up at our African roots, the way we judge body types, intelligence, the way we buy into colorism. You think we thought this way before the master built his house on our lands? Brought us into his mess. Set up shop ...appropriated all of us brown folks' culture- music, art, even parts of our history. And then they sell it back to us. They take our homes and sell it back to us. They take our music and sell it back to us. Blackness has been co-opted in this country. They take blackness, brownness and sell it back to us. They go to India, come back and teach us some kind of diluted, variation of their interpretation of the spirituality they seeyoga, ayurveda and such. They go to Africa and do the same. White Yoruba priestess'? Come on now! Reggae, Ska, Punk, Rock, Country, R&B, co-opted....Shamanism, Yoruba, Rastafarianism, co-opted.


And yet...we should be like them? We should use their tools of higher education, their religion: Christianity, their ideas on how a society should be built: capitalism, patriarchy to "get ahead", to "progress". Nobody else sees something wrong with this? We are not whole. We as brown people cannot be whole while buying into this mentality. This is why we are spiritually, mentally and emotionally sick. We can't heal ourselves through acculturation or looking for the answers in someone else's heritage and history. Though white folks could stand to learn some things from the other umteen hundred countries on this planet (that their ancestors have tried to dominate and subjugate). And I do mean LEARN from, not co-opt. Not think you can make them "better". Not subjugate them. Not "master" them. LEARN FROM. It is time, brown people, that we see how beautiful we are. How rich our culture is. It is time that we look at these tools that were put into our hands at birth, the master's tools, and decide that they aren't going to dismantle this house, this system. We have to go back to our roots. Re-discover our values. OUR values. Not the white man's values. And if we can't find answers...we need to create new ones. We need to create new solutions for this nation's problems. Not rely on a constitution written by white men 200 something years ago. Not try to write policies and adhere to laws when that whole system needs to be toppled and recreated. Not try to fix a system that was doomed to fail due to the principles it was built upon. We need to create something new. We aren't going to salvage this one- not with all the racism, classism, ableism, sexism...etc. We need not be afraid to study African and Indigenous religions. Do you not see an issue with putting stock into and worshiping a "white" savior- a stranger- who died 2000 years ago but not wanting to give thanks and worship your own flesh and blood ancestors and the manifestation of the Creator in beautiful gods and goddesses that only represent aspects of your own self, your Divinity? Folks, we have got to stop valuing white heritage, values and characteristics over our own. We have got to stop this cycle of assimilation and acculturation or we will surely perish. Vanish. We have got to help each other remember who we are. Even white folks. What is "white" anyway? Someone I really respect once told me that whiteness is a set of privileges, not a race. Where do "white" folks come from? What is their real history? I encourage folks to check out the People's Institute and to read articles like: The Point is not to interpret whiteness but to Abolish

it. We have a LOT of unlearning and reconstructing to do.


Stay tuned‌more to come in the Afro-Genderqueer chronicles!!! Contact: gqstreetpoet@gmail.com Websites: philosophactivist.blogspot.com and www.afrogenderqueer.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/afrogq



Selected Notes from an Afro-Genderqueer