Saturday, December 31, 2005

Friday, December 30, 2005

Just arrived in Managua last night and already feeling better about coming. My mother was giving me a bit of a hard time for traveling during the holidays but the ticket had been purchased and it was too late to turn back. Still, it is difficult to leave home knowing that your family is a bit put out with you and your globe-trotting antics. It is my third time coming to Nicaragua and somehow, each time I return it feels a bit like a homecoming – finding the familiar faces I left behind and seeing how much (for the better or worse) they have changed. Children that have somehow outdone me and turned into preadolescents while I was gone. Small additions or transformations to the homes I have slept in. Babies that have made their journey into the world and stare back at me wide-eyed and inquisitive. So much changes and each time I return Nicaragua becomes at once more familiar and more strange than the last time I found myself here.
Coming here yesterday, I was surprised to recognize how familiar this trip has become to me. Even before I had left the U.S. I knew that I was returning back to my Nicaragua.
Boarding my flight, I am walking down the aisle looking for my seat and hear a man mutter to his flight companion “Ay, que morenita preciosa,” and some other appreciative comments about “la morenita” (that would be me) walking past him. For a moment, I am defensive, turning around and preparing to utter a few choice comments of my own – but I relax and smile to myself. Even before takeoff, I am already back in Nicaragua.
Coming out of the plane, I wish the pilot a happy holiday and before I turn the corner I can smell it. The humidity and pungent odor that I have come to associate only with Nicaragua. I pause, breathe deeply, close my eyes. I am back in Nicaragua.
Boarding the plane in Houston, I was surprised to look up and see Daisy Gordon and her daughter Ishan preparing to sit down two rows in front of me. Smiling, I called out, “Hi Daisy” and she smiled back, pleasantly surprised to see me. Daisy is the wife of my advisor and mentor, Edmund T. Gordon, who was waiting patiently in line, five people behind her. I learned later in baggage claim that they had come to Nicaragua to bury Daisy’s grandmother, who had raised her as a child. Ted tells me they will be in Bluefields until Jan. 3. It’s saddening to hear of such a deep loss for their family. I express my sympathies and whisper a prayer in my heart for them. Hopefully, I can see them before they return to the U.S.
In any case, I was enthusiastically greeted at the airport by my friend Geoff, his sister, his girlfriend, Yamila, her father, and her daughter, Ditzi. We make quite a party -- a mixed group of black, mestiza, and biracial (Mexican/White) folks with varying fluency in English and Spanish. I whisper to Ditzi, who has planted herself firmly on my lap that I have brought “dos regalitos para ti,” and she squeals happily. She claims to have missed me but with the confident narcissism that only a child can have she states that she knew I would bring gifts. I suspect this knowledge comprises at least a small part of her happiness to see me.
I am back in Nicaragua.

Friday, December 30, 2005

What up kids!
So a sista has finally made it make to the land of lakes and volcanoes. I am sweaty and happy in Nicaragua. Right now I'm spending my time paseando through Granada, the oldest colonial city in Latin America.
You believe I am down here living it up and taking plenty of pics to share this experience with ya'll. So be on the lookout for new posts, I'll do them as often as time and money permit (I'm very familiar with Internet cafes down here).
I hope all of you have a wonderful and safe New Year and I'll be in touch.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Keep independent thought and action alive! Be sure to check UOR's website and support the necessary work that these fine folks are doing Posted by Picasa
So I'm heading off to Nicaragua for 3 weeks but before I bounce I wanted to spotlight a place that is very special to me.
For more than 10 years an amazing couple have worked to bring African American culture, history and political struggle to folks in Killeen, Texas. For those of you who don't know Killeen is truly located in the belly of the beast. A military town if there ever was one, Killeen is home to thousands of soldiers stationed at Fort Hood, one of the largest permanent military installations in the entire world (I do not exaggerate). I know this because after my parents left the army (evidently they decided they had been all that they intended to be) we settled back down in Killeen and I spent the remainder of my childhood there.
Now being staunchly anti-war (although I deeply empathize with the losses and sacrifices of our service women and men) it is always a bit surreal to return home and witness the unquestioned patriotism and loyalty of my hometown.
And then I go to Under One Roof where Babatunde (who shed his slave name years ago) and his wife, the incredible and incomparable Miss Johnnie Mae (also lovingly known as Yetunde). I consider this couple to be my political godparents of sorts and their bookstore has been a space of political growth and development for me since 1999. I love going here because it reminds me that even in the midst of what seems to be overwhelming insanity there are always spaces of resistance where we can go to nurture our rebellious spirits. I thank Under One Roof for being one of many such spaces for me.
As for all you readers, it is critical that in this age of corporate mergers and megabusiness that we all actively support local businesses that strengthen our communities. For more information about Under One Roof check out SUPPORT BLACK/BROWN/ASIAN/REBEL BUSINESS! Capitalism might suck but until the revolution comes and we have something better let's not get pushed out of the game we're in.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

December 29, 1953 - December 13, 2005  Posted by Picasa

Stanley 'Tookie' Williams Posted by Picasa
One more thing...
The 1st annual Stanley Tookie Williams Worldwide Redemption Day will be held tomorrow, Thursday, Dec. 29 to honor Williams, who would have turned 52.
Check out for details and how you can participate wherever you are. I'll be sending my prayers as I travel to Nicaragua.
Sorry kids, but I have a lot to get off of my chest and just working is making me feel better already.
I was deeply grieved by the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams earlier this month and in attempting to sort through my own emotions I have been encouraged by the refusal to let Tookie's voice die. Numerous groups are working to disseminate his work and message to a larger audience and continue to advocate for the complete abolition of the death penalty, a fundamentally racist and flawed punitive practice. We have suffered a major setback with the assassination of this incredible activist but there is a new struggle to begin.
I encourage everyone to not give up the fight on this great loss and work to keep his legacy and political thought alive. Keep up on the latest actions and events at
The Terminator may have taken Tookie from us, but nothing can silence his truly revolutionary spirit which continues to live in the hearts of those who believe in freedom.
Late Black Feminist Reflections on the Millions More Movement, Oct. 15, 2005, Washington D.C.

Austin, TX -- I am one absolutely of that generation of activists who believe that any time Black people gather together it is a positive thing. What I haven’t worked out is whether or not that gathering is always productive. We certainly have our examples of mass gatherings of Black (and other progressively minded) groups that have yielded amazing, and occasionally, substantial results. Many scholars of Black political history in the United States cite the 1963 March on Washington as an influential factor in the passage of the 1965 and subsequent 1968 Civil Rights bills. However, it’s been a while since we’ve seen mass gatherings that have significantly influenced public policy – the massive protests that we’ve seen against the war in Iraq, transnational free trade agreements, and the chaos of the Bush administration attest to this sobering fact. Still, there’s nothing like a demonstration to get an activist going.
So I went.
It is now common (Black) knowledge that the original Million Man March in October 1995 inspired the wrath of many a Black feminist by arguing that the salvation of the race lay in Black men’s ability to atone for their weakness and assert strength in their communities. Now I am a firm believer in the necessity of strong Black men in our communities. I was fortunate as a young woman to grow up in a community of such men including my father, my grandfather, local mentors, and, I am proud to say, an amazing little brother who continues to astonish me with his sensitivity and passion. However, the call for strength was not the problem. The problem lay in the assumption that Black men can or should attempt to save the race singlehandedly or that their inability to do so was the fault of overbearing Strong Black Women who do not know their place. It is not and never was unruly Black women who are holding Black men back. Racism, Capitalism, and Sexism (yes, sexism) are the real culprits to blame in our struggle for liberation. As any reading of black social movements in the United States will quickly reveal, Black women have always been involved in fighting for racial and economic justice. This is hardly the time to begin writing us out.
Still, many Black women gave the brothers the space to do what they felt they needed to do and, whether they agreed or disagreed with the politics of the event, held their tongues and waited to see what would happen. Ten years later, Minister Louis Farrakhan agreed to invite women to the Millions More Movement, a gesture that on the surface appeared to be a progressive move on the part of the Nation of Islam. At least, until we realized that we were being invited because the NOI still believes that Black women are just a little too out of hand, and it is Black men’s job to get us back in line.
Three steps forward, two steps back.
So it is clear that I had a number of political, personal, and intellectual reasons for why I should not have been in D.C.
But I went.
I let myself be convinced by a dear homegirl in California to buy my ticket and meet her in D.C. For a self-proclaimed Black feminist this was no small decision. When I announced to friends that I would be attending the march I was immediately questioned by comrades and colleagues alike. Why, they asked, would I attend a march that had not only requested, but instructed women to stay home 10 years earlier while the black man went to Washington to atone? I went, because I had reasons of my own to be there.
The first and most obvious reason is that I simply could not resist the idea of being able to gather together with Black folks from around the country who were coming to this march as hungry and desperate as I was. It never occurred to me that Minister Farrakhan had the answers, but I suspected that I might begin to find what I was looking for in the hundreds of thousands of sisters and brothers who flocked to the Capitol in search of something real. I wasn’t (and am not) the only young Black person in this country in search of a movement.
So I went. And yet, I have to admit that didn’t find everything that I was looking for. In The Final Call, the NOI’s newspaper, the event was declared a success that reflected the “full spectrum of Black thought.” I’m inclined to disagree. I know that a number of Black LGBT (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender) organizations would disagree, as would many women’s organizations, anti-capitalist groups, etc. Despite the move to an obstensibly more progressive political agenda, the NOI continues to embrace an ethos of capitalist development, patriarchy and rigid intolerance that undermines any attempt to truly bring ALL Black people together.
In truth I was a bit disappointed. Despite the development of a progressive agenda which included fighting against the prison industrial complex, demanding universal (quality) healthcare, and calls for economic justice the Nation of Islam still has precious little to say about the reality of sexism within the Black community. Now I am not talking about being someone’s Black queen – although that is nice – that doesn’t necessarily make one anti-sexist. And when I say sexism I am referring to a form of oppression in which women are denied access to social resources, political power, economic power, sexual freedom, etc. There are many who would argue that sexism in the Black community does not exist but it does.
It exists when the Centers for Disease Control announce that young Black women constitute the highest number of new HIV/AIDS cases annually.
It exists when studies show that Black women’s earnings are substantially lower than white men, white women, and Black men despite the growing numbers of Black women obtaining advanced and professional degrees.
It exists when statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice state the Black women in abusive relationships are most likely to die at the hands of their (often Black) male partners, most likely to experience rape and/or sexual assault in their lifetimes, and most often to be the victims of violent crimes than any other group of women in the United States, excluding indigenous women living on reservations.
Sexism is real.
And so are Black feminists. However, according to Louis Farrakhan we don’t exist and neither do the specific forms of oppresion that affect Black women. Although there were a number of truly inspiring speakers, such as the representatives of Black labor organizers, youth activists, and the women of Mothers In Charge, a group of mothers who have lost children to street violence, I was disappointed to see that there were no representatives of black women activists organizing around issues of gender inequality. And even the women with Mothers In Charge were quickly hurried off stage to welcome popular hip-hop performer Wyclef Jean. Why, was there not more attention given to the issues that affect half of our community? This is not about pitting Black women and men against each other but rather an attempt to begin a discussion on one aspect of the Black community that we are often hesitant to talk about.
I was ambivalent about going to the march. And now some two weeks after the fact, I find that in some ways, I am still ambivalent. I was literally moved to tears that crisp autumn morning in D.C. witnessing the sheer numbers of passionate, committed people who came to the National Mall looking to build a movement. And yet, I left feeling slightly empty – mostly because, I was not and am still not sure what concrete actions or future strategies will emerge from this event. Was it truly about building a movement or merely an opportunity for Minister Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam to posture themselves as the primary Black organization in this country.
After all of this what did I find by going to D.C.? After sitting and listening to the Minister speak for nearly two hours and offer little in the way of truly inspirational and revolutionary political strategies, I realized that I had traveled to D.C. to affirm what I had suspected all along. The day of the one-man show is over and it has become increasingly clear to me that we no longer need a Sharpton, a Jackson, or a Farrakhan to “lead” us. It is time that we begin to look to each other, as Malcolm X said, with new eyes, and begin to view one another as leaders. We need to reach out to each other in our communities, our schools, our workplaces, in the prisons, in our churches. We can lead together, as a community, and fight to build a world that is worth living in. A world that is big enough for all of us – feminists, ministers, gays, children, immigrants, the poor, lesbians, the incarcerated, and all of us who struggle each day to decolonize our minds and liberate ourselves. By leading together and taking our eyes off of heroes we can begin to take the steps necessary to build a movement that has room for us all. This Black feminist certainly hopes there’s room for one more.

Traveling alone you discover how difficult it is to photograph yourself. Here I am attempting to capture a moment on a small stretch of beach on Corn Island, a small island located off the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua. Posted by Picasa
Hello All!
Welcome to Wanderlust! Alas, I swore I wouldn't do it but after being given an iPod for Christmas, I realized that sometimes, following a trend isn't always a bad thing.
In any case, I hope you'll enjoy my blog. As a child I moved around A LOT, thanks to my parents' decision to be all they, poor, colored folks could be. As a result, I developed an acute case of Wanderlust that makes it absoultely impossible for me to be in any one place for too long.
This Wanderlust isn't merely restricted to my need to frequently change my physical environment. It refers to my intellectual and political interests which are varied and carry me in any direction the wind may blow.
Upcoming blogs will include my trips to Nicaragua where I do research on the Atlantic Coast of that country, a possible trip to Guatemala, and my musings on all manner of topics from R. Kelly (who I despise...grrr....) to the war in Iraq to the racial/gender politics of pop culture. If it's out there, I'm thinking about it.
So read on, thanks for stopping by and enjoy!