Pages

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thoughts of a Black Transgender Woman Living in Perilous Times, the Call of Activism and A Thoughtful Solidarity


We are living in perilous times, times of change, transformation and fear.  We are living in the midst of an empire of white supremacy and privilege built on the backs of Black people, people of color, poor people and those on the margins over a period of three hundred years in a state of gradual decay.  I believe that some of the symptoms of this gradual decay are increasing poverty, increasing class inequality, the emergence of a police state, and a school to prison pipeline, governmental surveillance, homophobia, transphobia, rampant racism and patriarchy.  While these concerns have shaped life in the U.S. since its founding a shifting demographics, globalization, an economic system which works for fewer and fewer people, voter suppression and a President who is Black has shaken an empire meant for white privilege to its core causing it to double and even triple down on its strategies of oppression.

In the midst of these perilous times I believe that the activist has a great opportunity to do the needed work to liberate real bodies from oppressive visions.  Activism in a real sense becomes a means to a love supreme and as such reflects a great love for all.   Reflecting on the life of Ella Baker, one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), I am reminded that love is the imperative and life its witness.  Life continues because love is the imperative must be the ground of a revolutionary movement.    

My goal with this work is to contribute to the imperative to love, to humbly add my voice to the conversation, to assist in the manifestation of a different vision for humanity.  Mindful of the work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Ella Baker, and the coalitions which represented the dreams of Black people I seek a way forward from this present situation, within A Thoughtful Solidarity framework with Latino people, people of color, those in poverty and people on the margins, and, if the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice then I am compelled to experience myself and those similar as that critical presence within that arc.  My thoughts on A Thoughtful Solidarity emerge out a meeting with other Black Activist Scholars who live Black Life in America.

My objective with this work is to develop a space of activist scholarship regarding the present situation of Black life in America and its implications to a larger conversation on injustice.  Through analysis of personal, i.e. Prayers in the midst of Helicopters, and societal narratives, i.e. the Eric Garner case, I will lift up some, not all of the underlying issues which signify an empire in gradual decay and those opportunities to build movements of A Thoughtful Solidarity for the freedom and liberation of all people. 

Writing, similar to planting seeds gives great productive outlet to a righteous anger.

Sitting in Church on a Sunday evening in prayer I began to hear helicopters overhead.  Hearing the helicopters, my heart began to race, adrenaline began to flow ever so briskly and memories of my South Central Los Angeles neighborhood began to crowd my mind.   These memories swirling in my mind, I was mindful of the people protesting in Berkeley because of the injustice perpetrated on Black men and boys with implications far beyond Black life in America.   Later after a conversation with a friend and colleague that evening I reflected upon the protests in New York, Ferguson, Oakland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, and now Berkeley, historical hotbeds of dissent.  In those centers of protest I saw people holding hands and protesting injustice across color lines. The perpetration of injustice upon Black life has galvanized people across the nation into movements of A Thoughtful Solidarity. 

A Thoughtful Solidarity, as an organizational structure, is framed in an ethics which has as its core value love and respect for all people and their desires as incarnations of the divine.  Within this ethics hope becomes a profound transformative move which allows a divine presence to move in the midst of our greatest concerns.  I believe that A Thoughtful Solidarity can be a provocative means to encounter, in fullness, the injustice which seeks, more and more to shape and contour daily life.   This becomes evident as people of different races, nationalities and ethnicities, who, marching in A Thoughtful Solidarity, encounter police and their helicopters and even drones, paid for with tax dollars, as tools of the establishment for the protection of that establishment.  A Thoughtful Solidarity is a powerful response to unjust laws which disproportionately target Black, Latino people, people of color, and people on the margins.

The death of Eric Garner, a Black man, husband and father of six at the hands of New York City police, after telling the police eleven times, “I can’t breathe”   for selling loose cigarettes, a law put in place by politicians in Albany, New York, from my perspective, reflects the agenda of the establishment grounded in the agenda of white supremacy and privilege becomes a significant means to oppress and sequester voices it deems as dangerous to its agenda.   In an interview with Ron Paul (R-KY), in Newsweek magazine of December 6, 2014 entitled, “Garner Killing:  Cops shouldn’t be policing cigarettes[1], Paul points out
“New York City's total cigarette tax is $5.85 per pack (the $4.35 state excise tax plus the $1.50 local tax). State and local officials enacted the tax to discourage smoking, but the hardest hit by high cigarette taxes are the poor, who are more likely to smoke and, unlike middle- and upper-class tobacco users, can't afford healthier alternatives.”

On the surface we have a Black man breaking the law yet when we look deeper and systemically what we have is law that reflects an agenda which is disproportionate in its enforcement and oppressive as those in poverty, now considered criminal, cannot afford to escape a narrative developed and designed by politicians, i.e., agents of the establishment.  As I look more in-depth I find that the Eric Garner case presents significant implications towards the dismantling of civil rights by a police state deputized by a white supremacy that is increasingly fearful and as such blatant in its abuse of people like Eric Garner and their civil rights. 

Gathering with Black activists, ministers, theologians, professors and scholars in Sacred Black Space to process what it means to be Black in America today, to pray and to vision a way forward, I sat in righteous anger thinking of how to respond to white supremacy and privilege.   I sat in righteous anger because of the pervasive and profound oppression inflicted upon Black people throughout U.S History.   That said I am compelled to consider the concept of idolatry in this matter simply because white supremacy and privilege have been constructed to be that all pervading communal presence of economic necessity.  This idolatry sequesters humanity for the sake of its own consuming evil, seeking to devour blackness, its soul and its spirit again, and again. 

Cartoon by Kirk Anderson for Public Research Associates
I suppose that this is the root which frustrates idolatry, that it cannot consume my blackness, my soul or my spirit.  The longing of idolatry to consume my blackness is a conversation as old as the U.S. itself and to a very large extent, through the tools and strategies of Slavery, Black Codes Willie Lynch, Jim Crow, Lynchings, Segregation and now through the New Jim Crow, Voter Suppression and the Prison Industrial Complex it once again seeks to consume my Blackness.  In the midst of these “tools and strategies of idolatry”  Blackness becomes that critical center of identity which cannot be consumed.  I am mindful though, “That which cannot be consumed strikes great fear in the hearts and minds of the one meant to consume and as such blackness must experience the joy, sadness and the danger of the inconsumable." 

The implications of the inconsumable are a particular fear, loathing and hatred embodied in the idolatry of white supremacy and privilege, witnessed in the death of Black life at the hands of that idolatry, becomes a compelling call for A Thoughtful Solidarity.  Ideas and concepts on A Thoughtful Solidarity emerge out of an engagement of activists and scholars such as bell hooks, Sojourner Truth, Cornel West, Michael Eric Dyson, Tim Wise, Audre Lorde, Mayra Rivera, Simone Weil, Michele Foucault and others.  A Thoughtful Solidarity develops as historical-critical cognizance, borne out of honest conversations of the heart take root displacing thoughts emerging from the idolatry of white supremacy and privilege.  From a postcolonial perspective A Thoughtful Solidarity becomes a means towards encountering one’s humanity, an authentic sacred space of being and in this sense it is a calling to a new and different horizon, where authenticity and imagination come face to face with oppression.  In comparison to Solidarity which only engages the external concerns and issues, A Thoughtful Solidarity embodies postcolonial desires, which in the midst of those external concerns, to somehow escape a humanity shaped and contoured by the desires of economic necessity first formed on the plantation of Southern Slaveocracy.  Its intent is transformational.   

A Thoughtful Solidarity is composed of progressive coalitions, alliances, organizations, groups, and voices of the unaffiliated with like minds, on the margins, “its leadership is group-centered rather than leadership-centered”[2] and as such a serious challenge to the narrative idolatry.  This challenge embodied in a thoughtful A Thoughtful Solidarity is magnified as those elements of A Thoughtful Solidarity in concert and collaboration develop strategies which have as their goal a constant, steady strain of transformative intent.  I do believe that long term transformative intent requires significant reflection as the establishment daily bombards those living in A Thoughtful Solidarity. 

A Thoughtful Solidarity rests on a dynamic spiritual foundation.  A strong dynamic spiritual foundation rooted and grounded in prayer maintains the path for a project of A Thoughtful Solidarity as well as for the one who longs for real systemic even revolutionary change.   Prayer must be the starting point of any endeavor which engages empire and those notions of idolatry.  A Thoughtful Solidarity is also bound together by a core spiritual belief in the inherent value of all people as incarnations of the divine with intent, purpose and the gifts to manifest that intent.  That said, life continually seeks liberation and as such the discourse that undergirds A Thoughtful Solidarity is liberative.  Beyond prayer this is the most significant component within A Thoughtful Solidarity framework. 

Most importantly there are times when issues of sectarianism deny the very liberation sought.  As such A Thoughtful Solidarity must transcend Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Jewish or Pagan or any other form of religious sectarianism and politics  It must have a holistic spiritual ground which reflects a divine cosmic spirit.  A Thoughtful Solidarity can only contribute to the gradual decay of the empire through love for all people as incarnations of the divine.  As such identity and what it means to be human in the context of A Thoughtful Solidarity framework is a matter of intimate togetherness in the midst of difference as espoused by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount and the thoughts of 13th century mystic and poet Jalaluddin Rumi.  This runs counter to empirical notions of identity and existence immersed in popular fears.

The great strength and determination of the movement rests in the heart of the person longing for liberation from their oppression and in this sense a love sustainable for all must be the core vision of A Thoughtful Solidarity. 



[1] Newsweek Magazine December 6, 2014 entitled, “Garner Killing:  Cops shouldn’t be policing cigarettes by Jason Pye.  http://www.newsweek.com/garner-killing-cops-shouldnt-be-policing-cigarette-market-289711 accessed December 8, 2014.
[2] M. Bahati Kuumba.  Background and History:  The Case Studies in Comparative Gender Perspective in Gender and Social Movements (Lanham, MD, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2001) 35.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ain’t I human (thoughts emerging from a reading of “Ain’t I a Woman?” by Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)



Ain’t I human (thoughts emerging from a reading of “Ain’t I a Woman?” by Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)

Ain't I a Woman?
Sojourner Truth
May 28-29, 1851

"Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women of the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about? That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I could have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man- when I could get it- and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen them most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman? Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [Intellect, somebody whispers] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negro's rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure-full?
Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him. If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them. Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.

As I read Sojourner Truth’s words, and, through various social media, see the police abuse and brutality of today in the 21st century, particularly in the context of Ferguson, MO, New York City, NY, and Black life in America, I am mindful that the question of humanity regarding Black Life has been a constant underlying mindset within the structure and systemic policies of law enforcement in the United States.  This mindset has defined law enforcement’s relationship with Black life, Black Humanity since the time of Sojourner Truth and before.    The politics of Black life i.e. whether fully or partly human addressed in 1865 by the 13th amendment did not/could not address the social or cultural concerns and issues of the humanity of Black life within a white racist society.  I suspect, if all things were laid bare, I would encounter the question, “Is Monica, a Black Transgender Woman who is queer, fully human.  The question of the humanity of Black life, sparks great fear in a significant number of law enforcement officials who shoot first out of fear, predicated on notions of the superhuman and knowing within that nothing would happen to them simply because the question of humanity, defined by white supremacy and privilege, this based on the words of Darren Wilson, the policeman who killed Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teen, describing him as a demon, is one that circulates throughout law enforcement agencies.   

Sojourner Truth’s words ring true for me even today as Black life, Black Humanity engages the same issues of racism and patriarchy, and a law enforcement structure and its policies which question the reality of Black life and Black Humanity again and again.

Writing, similar to planting seeds gives great productive outlet to a righteous anger.

Similiar to Sojourner Truth, I seek to plant seeds of hope in the midst of weeds of oppression.  To inject anger, whether righteous or not, religious or not with a fruitful intent.   Reading further, I find that Sojourner Truth presents anger as a strutural element within a hopeful discourse.   In this sense she maintains a curious sense of anger as a matter of hope even in the sense, that all is not well.   This anger, borne out of frustration, I sense, more than anything else is a hopeful recognition of her womanhood and in essence her humanity in the face of a people, who, although well intentioned and I suspect open to her words, are nonetheless captive to the normative of the time.  I must consider anger not only a response to the normative but a hopeful response to the middle passage, nourishment to life on a plantation bound to be liberated from imaginations of profit.   Ain’t I human denotes a longing to position this anger in a way that causes white supremacy and privilege of which law enforcement is a tool, to pause and consider its wretched ways regarding Black Life, Black Humanity.   More so, I consider anger to be a sacred call which, though put away for a time, eventually has its day, it shall not be shut up or denied.  All of the appeals to appease white privilege and its advocates shall fall on deaf ears as the question of Black life and Black Humanity become a critical narrative within a new inclusive racial discourse of solidarity.

At some point desires, formed in the womb of oppression, must be liberated by anger so that life and her humanity would fully appear.  Beloved reader anger must begin to awaken and liberate our humanity from the clutches of whiteness and its imagination.  We must take hold of our humanity.  Yes, even more so we must grap hold of the anger which strengthened our ancestors and in this to know even more so our sacred humanity.  

And Ain't I human!

Monica


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Authenticity and Sustainability, a Workshop


Transgender/Queer Workshop

A workshop on transgender/queer and sustainability is about living a life that is authentic and sustainable.  It is about living life openly and honestly with all its bumps and bruises.  As a person who identifies and Black, Female and Transgender my life's question is, "how do I live life authentically and openly and as such sustainable and still live a productive life within the limitations imposed?"  I frame my question in a context of limitations which lead to various modes of oppression.  How do live an authentic life in the midst of racism, sexism, patriarchy, people who are more ambitious about status than their calling of God, etc.  This is challenging indeed even as I look for employment.  That said, this workshop/discussion emerges out of my reflections and conversations on my experience of making a way out of at times no way.  It is during these times that I question, “What is sustainability?”  This is another important question for the one beginning to transition gender in particular but also other constructs that seek to define life.  Sustainability is a word that can mean a lot to different things to people such economics, emotional, physical, mental, etc.  It is sustainability of self, your community and in a large but interconnected sense the world.  I want to suggest here that a voice in the conversation on sustainability should be the transgender/queer voice.  Why do I say this, well,  at least for me, transition or the violation of established gender norms is predicated on personal sustainability.  But then I found that my need to sustainability was also connected to the earth herself and her processes.  

The two primary questions, "how do I live life authentically and openly and as such sustainable and still live a productive life within the limitations imposed?" and “What is sustainability?”are addressed in Chapter 5 of Imagination in the Face of Oppression which has been included in this post. 

So that is why we have a workshop/discussion on this topic.  The resources which will initially inform a discussion on sustainability will be your ideas of sustainability, Joanna Macy’s book, back to life, Eaarth written by Bill Mckibben.
“Coming Back to Life, Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World.[1]
 I call heaven and earth to record this day to your account, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, there choose life, that both you and your seed shall live.              (Deut.3:19) [2]

Statement: 
Without critical reflection, if we desire the things and values of our oppression we soon become the oppressor.  Those of us who are gradually experiencing a new sense of authenticity and with this a new sense of power and presence must adapt a more reflective tone of who we are.  If we fail to adopt this reflective tone we will soon do what we have been taught by our oppression.  I suggest here then that transformation, i.e., a gradual sustainable shift of desire grounded in a new consciousness becomes a necessary and compelling call of a love supreme.

Developing a transgender/queer voice that can speak to sustainability

There are three tiers of questions that can frame a workshop/discussion.

First tier questions that frame the discussion
1.       What tools/resources do you use to sustain you?
2.       What tools/resources do you use to sustain your family, community, etc. those people in your life.  Should sustainment of family, community, etc. people our responsibility?
3.       What tools/resources do you use or recommend regarding sustainment of mother earth?

Second tier questions which frame the discussion
1.       How can we, as a trans/queer group reimagine our life?
2.       How can we, as a trans/queer group reimagine our community?
3.       How can we, as a trans/queer group reimagine life here on mother earth?

Third Tier questions which frame the discussion
1.       How do we take hold of a paradigm shift?
2.       What are the implications?
3.       Hope?



Locating the Divine Transgender Feminine and the Sacred Black Masculine
Within A Queer Postcolonial Architecture

There was always something wrong with how I was invented and meant to fit in the world.  Whether this was because I constantly misread my part or because of some deep flaw in my being I could not tell for most of my early life.  Sometimes I was intransigent, and proud of it.  At other times I seemed to myself nearly devoid of any character at all, timid, uncertain, without will.  Yet the overriding sensation I had was of always being out of place.[3] (Edward Said)

At one point in Wole Soyinka’s novel The Interpreters the African American Homosexual Joe Golder, who incidentally also happens to be an historian on Africa, attempts to discuss indigenous homosexuality with Nigerian journalist Sagoe:  “Do you think I know nothing of your Emirs and their little boys?   You forget history is my subject.  And what about the exclusive coteries in Lagos?  Sagoe gesture(s) in defeat.  “You seem better informed than I am.  But f you don’t mind let me persist in my delusion.  (Soyinka, 199)

The construction of the colonial subject in discourse, and the exercise of colonial power through discourse, demands an articulation of forms of difference – racial and sexual.  Such an articulation becomes crucial if it is held that the body is always simultaneously (if conflictually) inscribed in both the economy of pleasure and desire and the economy of discourse, domination and power.[4]  Homi Bhaba

Who we are gender-variant are, like all human beings, complex and unique.  We are straight, gay, and bisexual, cross-dressers, preoperative and non-operative and intersexuals of many types, drag queens and kings; female and male illusionists; androgynous persons and other gender outlaws of various kinds.  Society considers us to be nonconformists, cultural rebels who somehow manage to transcend, transgress, alter, blur, or confuse the usual categories of gender.
To the exasperation of gender traditionalist, we remain human beings who are created in the image of God, which make us intrinsically valuable and eternally loved by our creator. We are indeed as the psalmist wrote, “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Ps. 239:14)[5]

Virginia Ramey Mollenkott and Vanessa Sheridan, Transgender Journey’s
Queer Postcolonial Architecture is described as an interface of theological, social, cultural, societal, economic and historical considerations.  It is intersectional, a fluid space of profound liberation grounded in the very real space of infinity.  Queer Postcolonial Architecture presents a frame or apparatus to reclaim the images, longings and visions of an incarnated humanity from the vestiges of white supremacy and the various modes of colonization.  Arising from a hermeneutic of the oppressed, it engages a different knowledge complex.  As such it seeks to locate the Divine Transgender Feminine and the Sacred Black Masculine as a fluid, ambiguous, non-exploitive spectrum of the infinite.   Queer Postcolonial Architecture is invitational in its identity complex and infinite in its capacity to hold the sacred holiness embodied in the divine incarnation. 
My thoughts on Queer Postcolonial Architecture are inspired by Virginia Ramey Mollenkott and Vanessa Sheridan’s book entitled “Transgender Journeys and the chapter entitled Reclaimiing Our Territory, Mapping Our Pathway”.[6]  
As the title suggests, the work is about reclaiming and remapping our territory.  It is about “resignifying gender”[7]  from modes and notions of displacement, reconstruction,  and delusion referenced in Said, Bhaba and, Gaurav Desai within an architecture of capitalization and profit to an inclusive fluid architecture reflective of an imagination motivated by love and the art of queer hospitality.   It is a matter of spirit and soul, the mystical transformation of God and humanity and their intent.  
Sitting on a San Francisco BART train in the midst of hundreds of people of various identities, i.e. genders, sexualities, nationalities, ethnicities etc. I am mindful of the delicate balance of identity, and the significant weight experienced by some people, considered in this thesis as social constructions, to maintain the fallacy of some type of gender stabilization for the sake of a cohesive society codified by some as a sacred biblical imperative.   
As a matter of cultural and historical concern, I ask “how long can this weight be maintained before it becomes unbearable?”   Encountering this question I have become mindful of a shifting, and merging, and moving of civilizations, like tectonic plates, creating new and different terrains of ontological presence.  Cracks, fissures and fault lines become queer fluid spaces of a steadfast hope as the “other” presents the cusp of an unfolding, fluid narrative of mother earth.   The “other” then, through their critical difference possesses agency to bring awareness to the unconscious, and this even to the soul of the human condition. 
As such, I suggest here that gender fluidity, as a representation of the other, is aligned with mother earth, her fluidity, and her fluid expressions and as such is in a state of solidarity and oneness.  Not being at odds or in competition with mother earth the one who is gender fluid can be an agent of holistic presence, an appeal of mother earth, this is in contrast to living as an appeal of economic systems constructed to be at odds and exploitive of the earth imagined in binary economic thoughts and concepts, echoes of an oppressive interpretation of Genesis 1:27-31 by certain sects of Christianity.
As a process, Queer Postcolonial Architecture is a turning to a discourse on sustainability and away from exploitation based systems, of which gender and sexuality are an integral part, with their interlocking oppressions to an environment that is earth centric and liberative.  This thought arises from the writings of Joanna Macy and her book “Coming Back to Life, Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World.[8]
 I call heaven and earth to record this day to your account, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, there choose life, that both you and your seed shall live.              (Deut.3:19) [9]

From a queer postcolonial liberation perspective Macy’s book is an active witness of what she terms a “Great Turning.”[10]  It is considered a choice for life.   For Macy, “To choose life means to build a life-sustaining society.[11]  Simply put it is a choice for a sustainable world versus an unsustainable world, a turning away from the industrial growth society to one that is in sync with the earth, a returning to the roots of human existence.   It is recognition that the soul has needs beyond the consumerist oriented notions of satisfaction.  
Reflecting on Macy’s Great Turning I am mindful of Simone Weil’s book entitled “Needs of the Soul.”  Up out of the mire the question emerges, “what does the soul need in the midst of a great turning?   I think this question critical as a new paradigm comes to maturity.  Needs of the soul present an unconditional reality bringing forth obligations which emerge with particular ethical dimensions.   With Weil’s Needs of the Soul in mind the intent of the Great Turning focuses on a calling to a different ontological cognizance that embraces the human and mother earth as a miracle[12], a creation emerging from the infinite.  
What I mean is that there is a new consciousness on the horizon which reconnects the people with mother earth.  Calling people to experience themselves and mother earth as a miracle not out of some conjured self centered delusional capitalist profit construct but as the present intimacy of the infinite, and this beyond notions of sectarian sacredness.  There is an emerging voice grounded in a different cognizance representative of a queer postcolonial spiritual and intellectual quest, this quest engendering a different imagination of ontological presence.   
The experience then of the divine black transgender feminine and the sacred black masculine, interpreted here as a non conformist entity, become an intimate expression of that Great Turning as it deconstructs the binary gender regime and as a consequence a particular believe system that abuses mother earth and her offspring.  The Great Turning then presents a question of sustainability.  “Is our present state of human affairs sustainable?”  The whole of this project is grounded in this one important quest, to find and do what is sustainable.  This question is posed seemingly on a daily basis as each day there are reports of more and more people coming out of the binary regime challenging traditional gender religious and political discourse. 
Transitions don’t occur because of some senseless selfish notion of privilege but of survival, even of sustainability.  This quest becomes the passion, even the Christ of life, that life is defined as a discourse on sustainability.    There is a realization that sustainability should negotiate practical concerns as it is the practical and in some sense the logical that must be revered yet I suggest that notions of the practical should be, no, they must be recalibrated so as to be in concert with life affirming and life giving structures, and in this sense sustainable. 
This is a challenging call for communities whose notions of sustainability are narrowly defined as structures of privilege and power.   Sustainability is communal; it is about the whole of humanity and not one particular privileged population of people. Sustainability must be the new ground of politics, religion and the corporate community.   Beloved each day is a call for sustainability as society copes with a broken education system, rising suicide rates, drug abuse, ethical concerns and challenges, and issues of life and death.  All of these discussions revolve around the issues and concerns of sustainability.   Discussions of gender, sexuality, marriage equality are mere distractions from a very real discussion of sustainability. 
Sustainability is the foundational discourse of Queer Postcolonial architecture and as such it becomes a discourse in authenticity.  Authenticity and its various dynamics including healing ultimately culminate in notions of sustainability.  


[1] Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown.  Coming Back to Life, Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World (Gabriola, BC:  New Society Publishers, 1998)
[2] Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown.  Coming Back to Life, Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World (Gabriola, BC:  New Society Publishers, 1998)
[3] Edward Said.  Out of Place:  A Memoir (New York:  Random, 2000) 3.
[4] Homi Bhabha.  The Locations of Culture (New York, NY:  Routledge, 1994), p. 96.
[5] Virginia Ramey Mollenkott and Vanessa Sheridan.  Transgender Journeys (Cleveland, OH:  Pilgrim Press, 2003) 89
[6] Virginia Ramey Mollenkott and Vanessa Sheridan.  Transgender Journeys (Cleveland, OH:  Pilgrim Press, 2003) 89.
[7] Kwok Pui-lan.  Postcolonial Imagination & Feminist Theology (Louisville, KY:  Westminster John Knox Press, 2005) 128.
[8] Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown.  Coming Back to Life, Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World (Gabriola, BC:  New Society Publishers, 1998)
[9] Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown.  Coming Back to Life, Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World (Gabriola, BC:  New Society Publishers, 1998)
[10] Ibid., p. 16.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown.  Coming Back to Life, Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World (Gabriola, BC:  New Society Publishers, 1998) p.57.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Enslaved to Economic Necessity a Short Essay on Abuse in the United States By Monica Joy Cross



“The experience of the African, enslaved on the plantation becomes an avenue to enslave all at the feet of economic necessity, embodied in corporate structures, which reflect a particular capacity of state power to control, regulate and protect such interests which maintain positions of an inverted totalitarianism. “

I write the above statement from a primary point of observation.  This statement attained as I live on a vast plantation that exists as a matter of economic necessity and daily seek to gradually let go of those structures and systems of colonization and now globalization which support the plantation through thoughtful reflection and prayer considered modes of activism.  I no longer seek to represent the consumption necessary for a continued integrity of a grotesque structure which dehumanizes vast populations of people each day for some notion of material survival and profit for the few.  I find that I must, at all cost, transcend this normative state of affairs with its facilitation of abuse.  Facilitation, regarding material matters of empire, daily lead to states of abuse as the empire and the few who develop its agenda engage in activities of destabilization for the sake of profit, this profit constructed without regard to moral or ethical concerns or doctrines.  This disregard for moral and ethical concerns or doctrine is experienced as corporations continue to transform the earth and her offspring, in the midst of global warming, an ever increasing poverty, hunger and disease into manifestations of profit margins.
 
Wall Street and its corporations considered as agents of the state for the construction of culture, i.e. diverse forms of style, language and media, which queer the traditional stereotypes through various modes of consumption, cause a type of sleep, an orientation towards unconsciousness and grounded in a desire for capital.  The implications of this type of construction are a perverted humanity that exists in a state of illusion unable to break free of an inverted totalitarian regime.[1]  In light of the aforementioned inverted totalitarian regime “freedom of speech” has become a means for the media to facilitate these illusions no matter the identity, theology or politics.  So then, control of the population is maintained through a daily consumption of illusions most notably during the holiday season, endorsed by the Church, beginning with the Thanksgiving Day Macy’s parade.  That said illusion facilitates an evolved state of abuse which necessarily shapes personal as well as communal desires which are constructed for economic necessity.

This brand of empirical strategy, first adopted in the context of the enslaved African, and Willie Lynch, and now enslaving all people regardless of identification continues to evolve as the illusions sequester any vision of freedom beyond economic necessity.  Don’t get it twisted; the enslaved African was just the beginning.

My West African ancestors would have a lot to say about this enslavement.  I suggest that they might say, “Awaken from your consumption induced sleep.  Awaken from the illusion and know freedom and in essence your humanity once again.  Of course, who shall awaken you?”  Most importantly of all, “Do you want to be awakened?”
 
Bibliography



Friday, November 28, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thoughts on Ferguson: Systemic Racism and the Forgotten Lessons of the Plantation, a Call from our African Ancestors

The choice of a grand jury in Ferguson, MO, not to indict Darren Wilson, a White policeman for the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed young Black teen, who, at the time was a suspect in a store robbery, and the resulting protests, once again shows me that race, race relations and racism, now systemic and structural concerns, continue to be a significant problem of injustice.  Now, I will not deny or negate that there is enough blame to go around regarding the death of Michael Brown.  I cannot ignore or negate the underlying social and cultural issues which influence racial life in America and the need for the Black person, no matter how old or young, to know who they are, and more importantly to know those "white ways", similar to our Black ancestors, to put it bluntly.  This is a lesson learned on the plantation which has been lost in the rush to diversity and solidarity.  The Black person must regain this lesson lost at the feet of the Civil Rights movement, and other initiatives endorsed by President Johnson's great society.  While I very much appreciate the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. and others such as Bayard Rustin and Rosa Parks I suggest that this lesson was lost. The Black community, because of racism, must never forget the narrative of the runaway slave.

The Black person must learn once again that racism is a cancer which began at the founding of the country which more and more festers, daily becoming a putrid, stale, smelly concern, which, if not dealt with fully, and this requires a prophetic courage, will continue to consume whatever good there is in the narrative of the United States.  Particularly between Black people and White people, historically, race and race relations have been a means for certain White people and their institutions to inflict injustice upon Black people.  Black people, as a whole, have endured a period of over 300 plus years of injustice encountering the middle passage, slavery, Jim Crow, i.e., lynchings, segregation, and the New Jim Crow.  As such, there is a quiet anger which undergirds just about every action of the black person, erupting at times such as Ferguson, MO.  This anger is a reality which must be negotiated and renegotiated daily.  This reality exists because of a lack of racial resolution.  I suggest here that the aformentioned unsettled ills are avenues for a type of self-hatred which pervades various strands in the Black community.  This is challenging particularly for those Black people, such as myself, who don't identify as normative within in the confines of gender and sexuality as established by the plantation owner.[Understanding Slavery Initiative accessed November, 26, 2014],

My impression is that systemically as well as structurally White people and their institutions, because of historical tribalism [The Con, White Tribalism or White Solidarity,by Themba Moses Msimang, June 3, 2014 accessed November 25, 2014], experience race and race relations through the lens of the tribe and I would add their own sense of diaspora, which informs their biases and therefore perceptions of difference, necessarily influencing their actions towards Black people. That said, tribalism, defined as loyalty to a tribe or other social group especially when combined with strong negatve feelings for people outside the group becomes an impressive container for White privilege, racism and other oppressive endeavors for the sake of the tribe.  I get this image particuarly when I hear of programs, plans and policies of more conservative political groups who advocate for corporate interest, i.e. Systemic White male privilege over and against anything that might reflect a more inclusive, humane ideal.  In contrast solidarity, a feeling of unity between people who have same or similar interests, goals, etc. is presented by more liberal political groups which imply more inclusive organizations.  That said, I am reminded of the saying, "bringing Democrats together is like trying to herd cats while Republicans always stick together, like, lock step"  So then, what have here is two very different motivations.  

Within these systemic and sturctural motivations White people, due to a loss of personal and systemic and structural superiority over black people, a civil war, desegregation, a president who is black, and even immigration, in which Black people,  considered by some as the "default threat" [Neely Fuller, Constructive Black people are a Threat, Youtube September 1, 2014] are in a constant state of fear, this fear being a basis of police brutality, juries which exhibit social and cultural incompetence, i.e. the Trayvon Martin case of 2013,  more and more deaths of Black men and boys, the devastation of the voting rights act, and congressional inaction on immigration.  Additionally their perception of slavery, as an historical act, is experienced as notions of tribalism and diaspora within an economic discourse, i.e. as a goods and services matter, without any moral consequence.  Put simply, slavery, with implications towards race, racism and race relations was and is a transaction of economic import,requiring no addressal, apology or reflection.  Darren Wilson, the White policeman in question, the one who killed Michael Brown, in an interview with ABC stated, "My conscience is clear"  This seems to be the mindset of certain White people and their injustice.

In the midst of this the law is made to be something which is not, that is a space of address and healing.  The law cannot address the heart or the matter of healing.  The law is powerless in this endeavor.  Sure you can have grand jury's, trials and law suits and even throw people in jail but ultimately it doesn't solve the problem.  The law becomes a cop out, a cowardly response to the real underlying issues.  It becomes a tool of injustice for the meating out of systemic White and/or Black rage.  I suggest that dialog, even intense dialog open and honest must be engaged and this with notions of care, concern and a longed for hope.  As a people we must address fully the meaning of race and its negative impact on the human soul.  Additionally, education of the next and succeeding generations must engage race with the goal of building a more whole and inclusive society.  This project is not a matter of negating race but of gaining an appreciation for how God has made each of us; a diverse dynamic humanity gifted and loved by God.

This is a challening discourse without easy answers yet this we must do for the sake of the soul of America.



*A note on my use of systemic racism.  Systemic racism engages the reality that racism is forever present in American Society.  It evolves, transforms and changes as norms become more enlightened.  It is quite simply the central thread of American identity.  My thought regarding this matter is that it is the one thread, that, if unraveled, like your favorite winter sweater, would cause the dissolution of American identity and in this sense the country itself.