Saturday, August 11, 2007

On Love & Terror in Scotland


My father has always traveled for a living. It is a small irony that my work now requires me to do the same. It is the only family tradition that we have – taking occupations that require us to be away from those we love more often and for longer than we’d like – and we are three generations deep into it. It was, I suppose, the arrogance of my own youth that made me believe that becoming an anthropologist was so different or worse, an improvement, from my father’s work as an aviation mechanic or my grandfather’s truck driving. Traveling these days, however, is precarious whether one does it for business or leisure.

When my father had to go out of town it was a huge affair for our family. My mother cooked everything he liked in the days leading to his departure, my brother and I attempted to behave like model children, and on d-day we, of course, accompanied him to the airport. It was the early 90s, very few people outside of Texas knew or cared about a young man named George W. Bush, the Department of Homeland Security did not exist and as long as you passed a security clearance (which did not consider water or contact solution as weapons of terrorism) you could accompany a traveler to his or her departure gate. And we did, more times than I can remember. We stood silent, plastered to the floor to ceiling windows, tears rolling down our faces. He was gone again; doing what he knew best which required him to leave again to provide for us from somewhere else.

Years from now, I know my children will not believe me when I tell them this story. Being able to accompany or even meet a loved one at the gate. There was a time when Al-Qaeda, security, or the realities of global terrorism had no real meaning for most Americans. Those days of insulation, naivete, “it couldn’t happen here,” are gone, irrevocably behind us. As I drink and celebrate with friends in Fortingall, Scotland, a tiny village hidden in the Scottish countryside, I know this to be true.


Two men attempt to attack the Glasgow International Airport by driving a jeep into the departures terminal before setting it and the driver on fire. No one is injured, the perpetrators are caught, and the United Kingdom breathes a sigh of relief. In the past 36 hours security officials have foiled three attempted terrorist attacks. Scotland gets a visit because the new prime minister, Gordon Brown, is Scottish.

There is a moment of silence. When the country slows down bracing itself for more violence, when spaces for contemplation open and people wonder if there are better solutions to ending terrorism. But before we can collectively engage these questions, the spin doctors take over:






The space closes, and we are back to business as usual. The papers report at least 15 racially motivated crimes against Scottish Muslims in the week following the attacks. Brits respond with equal violence, dropping the mask of liberal multicultural tolerance:

Should have let the miserable radical bastard burn a bit longer, then pour salt in his burning flesh! I am fed up with Muslims excusing themselves as peaceful when they are obviously not! Islam is a dangerous religion and should be banned from all Western nations, in and out of EU period!

I had an appointment with my G.P. today to lance a boil on my backside. I think I will phone Dr.Hassan and cancel until I have converted to Islam. Be Safe ….Be Scared…..Be Muslim….or else. Sleep Tight

I breathe heavy, turn the page, search the paper for subjects and people (Islamic fundamentalist terrorists and psuedoliberal white Europeans) who do not frighten me.


The world has changed for me. It is an ugly place where I do not feel safe. As a Black woman of deep political conviction, I am opposed to the policies and actions of my government. And, yes, it is mine even when it ignores me, disrespects me, and enacts terror and domination around the globe in my name and without my consent. I struggle for justice and peace recognizing the grievances and wrongs done to peoples in the Middle East while rejecting the senseless bloodlust of sectarian, fundamentalist terrorist organizations. And I know we have our own fundamentalists to battle at home.

But when I grab my passport, check my bags, pass through security checkpoints, and board an airplane, I take my life into my own hands. I am not protected. Not my politics, not my blackness, my identity as the daughter of an immigrant and the children of enslaved Africans, my genuine desire for peace, or my conviction that the U.S. needs to get the fuck out of the Middle East and spend our money on research into biofuels and gasoline alternatives. None of this protects me. I am coming to terms with my own small human vulnerability. This body will not live forever, and forces outside of myself can take it from me before I am ready to let it go.

When they tell us what has happened in Glasgow, my thoughts fly home. In this moment I want to bury my face in my father’s shoulders; wrap my arms around my mother’s waist and curl myself around her like I did as a child; place my hands, palms flat on my beloved’s face and create our own sanctuary where I can pledge my life and love to him for as long as we both live on this Earth. In that moment, thousands of miles from those who matter most to me, the only thing that can quell my fear is love.

I used to believe that suicide bombers were freedom fighters protesting the injustices done them by placing their lives and bodies on the line. 20th century versions of Nat Turner or Touissant L'Overture -- individuals driven to revolutionary violence by oppressive, genocidal colonial states. I thought, given similar circumstances someone like me, could someday feel compelled to do the same thing.

I no longer believe that.

I now know that life is too precious for man to carelessly give or take away.


We are all standing on shifting sand; the world is changing and I have no idea where it is going or what the future might bring.

I hope for clarity, compassion, and forgiveness.

I pray for peace and reconciliation.

But, like a proper realist, I steel myself for the worst.

Passengers can no longer be dropped off at the departure terminal at the Glasgow International Airport. The news shows long lines of people hauling their luggage for miles towards the airport, like first world refugees.

Our children will never know what it was to live the way we did, a semblance of freedom that came in the form of ignorance of fear. Naïve of the terror that has afflicted the rest of the world for the last sixty years. It is almost impossible for those of us who lived it to recall those days and believe it.

I have to get home to my family and I must get on a plane to do it and trust that today is not my day, right now is not my time. I can outrun the fear and the violence just one more time and let love help me to find my way home.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

DL Hughley ATTACKS Rutgers Women

Not sure what to say. Comedian DL Hughley goes on national television and affirms that Don Imus did in fact, get it mostly right. According to him, the Rutgers University women's basketball team are indeed a bunch of nappy-headed women and ugly to boot. The sheer intensity of his internalized racism and overt sexism is just too much. Regardless of whether some people think he's just being funny or not, the fact is that the women of the Rutger's University women's basketball team have done nothing, nothing, NOTHING to deserve this level of disrespect. We should all take it upon ourselves to take a stand and say "Enough." Because this stuff is truly degrading and unacceptable.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Caribbean Coast Reflections

I remember going to an underground hip hop show in San Antonio some years ago. I stood mashed in a crowd of other sweaty, colored bodies, nodding my head as a young Latino MC ripped it onstage. And I remember standing mesmerized, as he repeated over and over again, "The world is a sad and beautiful place. The world is a sad and beautiful place..."
The truth of his words have stayed with me over the years as my travels have led me to different parts of the world. To a holiday house in Scotland and dancing traditional Irish dances with new friends to hauling a gringo pack under the burning heat of a Honduran sun to slipping 10 dollars to a homeless man in front of Vulcan Video in Austin. In Bluefields, Nicaragua I wonder what to think when I am walking back to my hotel room and see a Black man, half-kneeling on the ground, half-slumped against a building, passed out and oblivious to the world around. Leave some change under his hand, and slip into my hotel. I don't want to embarass him.
I've spent the last week here on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua. It is the first time I have spent a substantial amount of time outside of Bluefields. I traveled to the Pearl Lagoon Basin, located north of Bluefields.
The beauty of this place is sometimes overwhelming. Like standing on a bar made of large boulders that separates the Bluefields Bay from the Caribbean Sea/Atlantic Ocean. You feel the smallness and the wonder of your own existence. I stood there, wrapped in a bright pink sarong, savoring the heat of the sun on my shoulders, wondering how many others had experienced this, felt this before me. What a miracle to live here and be this close to the water everyday. And then I thought of my own life, back home, how rarely I make it a point to get close to the water in Austin, how beautiful the state parks, rivers, lakes, and forests are. The privilege I rarely exercise, of being able to drive to these places whenever I wish.
It is a miracle to live in this place, but also a struggle. There are too few who are able to enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean Coast. Too many people struggling to survive, making money stretch, exchanging their dreams for rum and crack cocaine.
The world is a sad and beautiful place.
Random ruminations ya'll...trying to make sense of how life can simultaneously be horrible and beautiful.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Iranian Activists Arrested Ahead of International Women’s Day

More than 30 Iranian women have been arrested in Tehran for
protesting against government pressure being put on women's rights

The women had gathered outside a court in Tehran on March 4 to show
their support for four women's rights activists who went on trial
that day for organizing a protest last summer against discriminatory
laws. Reports say many of the protesters and the activists are now in

The arrests are the culmination of a year of increasing pressure on
women's rights activists, who have been arrested, summoned to court,
threatened, and harassed. Their protests have also been disrupted --
in some cases violently -- and their websites have been blocked.

Trying To Silence Activists

Some observers believe the arrests are aimed at intimidating
activists who were planning to hold a gathering on March 8 to mark
International Women's Day and to protest injustice against women.

The move is also seen as an attempt to silence activists who have
been fighting for equal rights.

Many of those who had called for holding a protest in front of the
parliament on March 8 are now in jail.

Iranian rights groups report that between 30 and 34 women who were
arrested are being held in Tehran's Evin Prison. Among them are four
top women's movement leaders: Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani, Parvin
Ardalan, Sussan Tahmassebi, and Shahla Entesari.

Right To Freely Assemble

They went on trial on March 4 in connection with a June gathering
against laws that they consider discriminatory against women. Charges
against them include acting against Iran's national interests and
participating in an illegal gathering.

The four leaders were arrested after they left the court and joined
other women who had gathered outside Tehran's revolutionary court.
They were reportedly holding banners that said: "Holding peaceful
gatherings is our absolute right."

Activists say the Iranian Constitution ensures the right to holding a
peaceful gathering. Yet police forces disrupted the activists on
March 4 and drove the women away in minibuses.

Peyman Aref, a student activist in Tehran, told Radio Farda that
police used force against demonstrators.

"They were threatened and they were also beaten up," Aref said. "The
crowd -- [which] included more than 50 people -- tried to resist by
sitting on the ground and not reacting to the beatings. Finally,
around 10:00, female police came and the activists were arrested."

Reaction To Activists' Campaigns?

During the June demonstration, which was also violently dispersed by
police, some 70 people were arrested. All of them have since been

An Iranian rights group, the Student Committee of the Human Rights
Reporters, said today that the families of some of those arrested on
March 4 gathered in front of Evin Prison and called for their
release. Authorities have said they are investigating the case.

Azadeh Kian, a lecturer in political science and an Iran researcher
at France's National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), believes
women's rights advocates are being targeted in connection with two
campaigns they have launched in recent months.

One campaign aims to end the practice of stoning to death convicted
adulterers. Authorities, however, deny that stoning sentences are
being carried out.

Another campaign aims to gather the signatures of one million
Iranians who are in favor of changing discriminatory laws and to
present these signatures to the parliament. Islamic laws as applied
in Iran deny women equal rights in divorce, child custody,
inheritance, and other areas.

Kian tells RFE/RL that the campaigns have been well received, leading
to concern among Iranian leaders.

'Intolerance For Human Rights'

"The goal of women's rights activists is to gain the support of women
from different classes who are in favor of changing the laws but have
so far not joined the women's movement," Kian said. "This leads to
concern among some of those in power in Iran about the implications
of these actions. I see the arrests of activists [on March 4] in this
relation; it shows that more and more women want changes in laws and
also that women's issues are in fact becoming more and more political."

Human rights groups have expressed concern over the pressure and
persecution of women's rights advocates, including those who are
calling for reform legislation.

Kian says that by arresting peaceful activists, Iranian leaders are
demonstrating their intolerance and lack of respect for human rights.

"It shows once more that under the Islamic establishment, especially
under the current government, there is no respect for human rights
principles," Kian said. "These women were arrested even though they
had not committed any violent or armed action against the
establishment. None of the demands of these women are against Islam.
This shows that the current government is not ready to accept even
the slightest opposition."

The Center of Human Rights Defenders, cofounded by Nobel Peace Prize
laureate Shirin Ebadi, today described the March 4 arrests as
"illegal" and called on authorities to release all of those arrested.

Copyright (c) 2006. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W.
Washington DC 20036.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Freedom University Book Club in March!

This month we will be reading Erzulie's Skirt by Ana-Maurine Lara.
The book was published by Red Bone Press, an independent press dedicated to publishing the work of queer Black writers. Set in the age of urbanization in the Dominican Republic over the course of several lifetimes, Erzulie’s Skirt is a tale of how women and their families struggle with love, tragedy and destiny. Told from the perspectives of three women, Erzulie’s Skirt takes us from rural villages and sugar cane plantations to the poor neighborhoods of Santo Domingo, and through the journey by yola across the sea between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. It is a compelling love story that unearths our deep ancestral connections to land, ritual and memory.
Erzulie's Skirt has recently been nominated for two Lambda Literary awards for in the categories of Best Lesbian Fiction and Lesbian Debut Fiction. A local artist doing amazing things and producing beautiful art. Ana is a wonderful writer and dear friend and we are blessed to have her right here in Austin.
So do these four things:
1) Buy Ana's book. It can be found at Book Woman, Resistencia Books, or online.
2)Read the book.
3) Come to the Freedom University Book Club at the Carver Library on Thursday, Mar. 8 at 6pm. We meet every 2nd Thursday of each month. The Carver is located at 1161 Angelina Street.
4)Buy Assata: An Autobiography cos' that's what we're reading next month and I think you'll dig it. You can probably find a nice copy at any Half-Priced Books, Resistencia, Book Woman or Book People.
Peace to all...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Sun is Shining...

Hello WanderLust lovelies...
The Capitol City was lovely today. Nothing but pure sunshine and life-giving warmth. I wore a skirt for the first time in months and I'm feeling incredibly refreshed by the weather.
This may not mean much to many of ya'll but since the middle of November we have been experiencing some uncharacteristically cold weather here in Austin. Hippies all over town have been forced to put on socks and closed-toed shoes. Fraternity girls and pint-sized hoochies from West Campus to Rosewood have been compelled to put on pants and leggings instead of their preferred uniforms of mini-pleated skirts and pierced-navel baring baby-tees.
It has been a truly dark time.

In other developments I have learned that ugly weather and weeks of solar deprivation make me and my partner real bitchy. If the sun hadn't come back last week, I might have killed him, but then I would have felt bad.

Even still, it was hard to feel motivated to get up, get dressed and go to work when the weather was so forbidding. It is in moments like this that I realize, no matter how divorced many of us may be from the earth, she has a way of making you pay attention. We are people of this planet, and we need to feel its beauty in our lives, or else we become distant, disgruntled and unhappy.

As a proper graduate student I went to class when what I really wanted to do was mosey on over to Barton Springs and kick back. But I took every chance I could to get outside and enjoy the sunshine...they say the weather is going to hold up. Let's all take some time to spend our lives in the sunshine.

Sun is shining...the weather is sweet, yeah...make me wanna dancing feet....

Take care family... c

Monday, February 19, 2007

On Becoming a Pundit

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have officially become a pundit. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a pundit is described as "1) a learned person; 2) a teacher; 3) or an authority, critic." As many of you know, I have been giving out my opinion for years without recognition or compensation. In fact, I think more people would have paid me to shut the hell up. Still, for better or worse, I am a talker and have no problem telling people what I think about the world in general.
As it turns out, other people have decided that this is a good thing.
I recently participated in a panel of activists, cultural producers, and scholars discussing the impact of sexism in hip hop for Houston PBS. Specifically, we were discussing Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, a documentary by filmmaker Byron Hurt that engages issues of machismo, masculinity, gender, misogyny and homphobia in hip hop. Hands down this was one of the best documentaries I have seen in a very long time. The film follows Hurt, a former college quarterback who became a gender violence prevention educator. After beginning this work as an educator, Hurt began to critically evaluate his own relationship to hip-hop and the music and images that reinforce ideals of heteropatriachal masculinity and straight up hatred of women. Far beyond offering his own commentary, Hurt goes to the very heart of the matter interviewing everyone from cultural critics to record executives about their thoughts on sexism in hip-hop.
My partner and I went to watch an early screening of the film in Austin, TX in January. It was truly a community event with youth and elders, a multiracial, multigenerational audience, and artists, activists and intellectuals in attendance. It was remarkable to see how people in the crowd responded to the things that artists and industry people such as Busta Rhymes, Clipse, Jadakiss, Russell Simmons, and others had to say on issues ranging from homophobia in hip hop to the implications of Nelly sliding a credit card down a black woman's ass in his music video "Tipdrill." I, along with many audience members, was apalled when Hurt asked Simmons what he thought of the video, and Simmons responded that "I heard about that. I tried his Pimp Juice, I thought it was very good."
We're talking about sexist, misogynist representations of women in hip hop and all you can say is that the Pimp Juice was good?
So back to the original point about how I became a pundit. In February I was asked to give a presentation on women in hip hop for a friend/mentor's class that she is teaching at UT-Austin. I was honored to be asked and set out to make the best presentation that I could put together. Shortly after that, I received an email from a friend of mine in Houston who works with the Houston Hip Hop Group (Check out his work at He asked me if I would be interested in coming to Houston to share my thoughts on the film and talk about the work that I do with Cimarron: Youth Building Community, a community organization that I co-founded here in Austin. After a few weeks of phone tage, emailing, and phone interviews, I was officially invited to participate. So I dragged my squeeze into driving me to Houston and we headed to the PBS studios for the taping.
I had a great time doing it. Following the taping we kicked it around Houston and had a lovely time hanging out with my friend Akil and talking politics over coffee. On the ride back home I received a phone call from a friend KC who works for the ACLU's Hip Hop Against Police Brutality project. He invited me to participate in a discussion on gender and hip hop on his radio show Concrete Skoolyard which airs on KOOP radio. I had a fantastic time doing it and was pleased to be invited.
It's a little strange to reach a point in your life where all of sudden things you say are being taken very seriously. On one hand it's a vindication of sorts, and on another, you begin to realize and understand that your life will never quite be the same -- you've made the leap from people who talk about ideas to those people whose ideas carry weight.

Now, I realize that in the grand scheme of things, what I say still may not carry as much weight in the real world as say Nancy Pelosi or Gore Vidal (a true man of letters, to be sure). However, things are a little different when people look to you to be an authority, a teacher, or a learned person who can speak knowledgably on a particular set of issues. It's gratifying and terrifying at the same time to be that person.
The other strange thing that I have been thinking about is what I like to call the "punditry ghetto," that is, the place that is reserved for pundits who are only qualified to talk about certain things. I am concerned that should I continue to do this work, I will become billed as the hip hop, gender girl, not that I mind, but the world generally tends to think that Black intellectuals can only ever speak authoritatively on race, or maybe gender if you're a woman or queer, but not on anything else.
For example, I wonder when I'll get that phone call to participate in a panel on the contradictions of Iran's nuclear enrichment programs as it relates to criticizing U.S. foreign policies of imperialism and military aggression.
You wouldn't think it to look at me, but I have lots to say about the Middle East.
Or what my thoughts are on existentialism, the work of the late Octavia Butler, Dorothy Parker's poetry, or the politics of interracial dating and revolutionary love.
I'd like to think that I am a multi-dimensional person and I don't have any desire to live (intellectually speaking) in a ghetto of any kind. I love to talk race and gender, but I see those issues as informing the larger world in which we live in significant and important ways. Maybe the gods that choose emerging pundits will figure that out.

In any case be sure to check out Beyond Beats and Rhymes which will be airing Tuesday, Feb. 20 on PBS. You can check your local listings for specifics. And if you want to check me out on PBS blowing up a spot visit to see me talking trash about Nelly and misogyny in mainstream hip hop.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Routes & Exile

By the rivers of Babylon

Where we sat down

And there we wept

When we remember Zion

For the wicked carry us away to captivity

Require from us a song

But how can we sing King Alpha’s song in a strange land

My life is now a series of comings and goings, packing and unpacking my world, transporting myself to strange places and calling them home.

All my life I have been fascinated with the idea of exile. Perhaps because my family moved around so much when I was a kid. Or perhaps I knew early on that my family’s roots were fragile. Both of my grandfathers were men whose work compelled them to travel. One, my maternal grandfather, Rev. Gene Freeman (known from here on as Pappau), worked as truck driver for over 30 years, crossing the continental U.S. more times than he can remember. Before my paternal grandfather, Rennick Carlton Morris, Sr., decided to transplant his family to the U.S. permanently he moved back and forth between Jamaica and the States on a regular basis.

This is my legacy.

We have never fled our homes for fear of political upheaval. No major revolutions have displaced us.

And yet we are in exile.


Sulphur, Louisiana.

The last time I was in this town, devastated by an economy gasping its last breaths and the cancer-causing toxins that have consumed many of its resident, the last time I was here, I felt my heart break.

Weeds covered the foundation of what was my grandparents’ home. An unexplained fire, a victimless-crime robbed me of one of the few places on earth that I truly believed might last forever.

I sit in the car and let the tears stream down my face until my chest is so tight I can barely breathe.

We can never go back.

This house, its memories, its secrets, are lost to me.

Listened to grown-up conversations that I was too young to enter – fast, smart-mouth little girls need to stay out of grown-folks business.

Watched time, neglect, and sweltering Louisiana summers decay my grandparents’ home.

Watched teenaged cousins get pregnant, one after the other – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…grandchildren bearing great-grandchildren.

Everything changes without my consent and in the midst of weeds and what appears to be the last vestiges of the porch where I danced for my grandfather, I know that we can never go back.

We are exiles in the land where our roots go deepest.

But the soil does not support our survival.

Mammau and Pappau live in Beaumont now.


They do not speak of the stories that they know.

They do not speak of the secrets they carry beneath their tongues

Or the shame that burns hot in their chests, smoldering coals that remind them of where they come from

As a child I hid in the citrus trees of my grandmother’s front yard. We were uprooted island people, replicating the old ways we knew in a place at once distant and familiar. South Bay, Florida was the closest we could come to home. And we convinced ourselves that we had forgotten what home was like so we could continue to do without it. My grandparents would travel to Jamaica each year. When Pop crossed over to the other side in 1987, Kat stopped going. She will not tell us anything about Jamaica anymore. She brings us there only with the smell of beef patties, pudding, mint tea heavy with condensed milk, and curry.

She has a stroke. Body betrays her. Tongue refuses to respond. Her confident voice is replaced with a defiant stutter that reduces her accent, her mothertongue to jibberish. My Kat…she does not tell us stories anymore.

So I am forced to make my own.


I let the porridge burn the insides of my cheeks, tracing its heat as it descends down my throat and into my belly. I do not question Kat when she tells me to eat plenty because ‘porridge will keep you warm.’ How, I want to know, how will porridge keep me warm from the inside out? But I keep my disbelief to myself, as it is my grandmother has all she can do to keep this cheeky, womanish child in hand. So I swallow my porridge piping hot and when Kat hugs me on my way out the door, I wrap my arms around her bony hips and sigh into her belly. I savor her smell, a blend of kitchen, yams, Avon’s Skin-So-Soft, and mothballs. I carry her scent with me into the world, her old island woman smell, all I know.


When I am 9, I have a recurring dream. There is a large hill in our town, and each night I fly high above it, crossing bright blue waters that carry me home – home to the island of my father’s birth. I skit across the water, toes caressing waves, half-flying, half-dancing my way back to where I belong.

For most of my life Jamaica was song and symbol to me. Found in the funky smelling dishes my father fed us – when we were the only kids we knew who ate goat and thought it strange that our none of our neighbors enjoyed ox-tail cooked in lima beans.

Jamaica was Marcus Garvey hanging from my father’s rearview mirror. Barrington Levy and dancehall reggae. 90 percent proof white rum and rastas named Smitty, whose occasional visits to our working-class suburban home would turn my father from an Americanized, blue-collar mechanic chasing the good life into a patois-speaking yard boy. I would practice my patois rolling the accent around my tongue wanting desperately to sound just like my father. Jamaica lay somewhere on the tip of my tongue – I only had to find it.

As an adult, people have a hard time figuring out where I am from.

I have a hard time telling them.

It’s simple enough really.

I was born in California.

Lived in Germany, twice.

Spent most of my childhood in Texas.

Regularly shuffled back and forth between Texas and Louisiana visiting cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.

Occasionally in Florida so as not to forget my father’s half of the family.

Lived in South Bay, Florida with my paternal grandmother for slightly less than a year.

Have spent a total of nearly 5 months living in Nicaragua.

Flirt quite a bit with the U.S. Mexico border.

Still, the question “Where are you from?” makes me uncomfortable.

I am one part yard girl to one part Southern girl with a dash of Latin Americanidad thrown in for good measure. I slide in and out of accents some of which I grew up with and others that I have borrowed. But they all feel good to me.

I’m not so sure where home is or where I belong and wonder if there is more joy to be found in the searching than the knowing.


It is hard to explain how estranged I feel from Jamaica. Those moments when I am asked where I am from and I see people’s eyes light up with the response. My family is from the Caribbean. Sometimes I try to pretend I don’t notice the transformation that I make before their eyes from a mundane, run-of-the-mill, touchy-about-race African American into an exotic, interesting West Indian island woman. It makes me angry, can feel the rage seething through my skin, when wealthy white people ask me, Have you ever been to Jamaica?

I tell them, No.

What I don’t say is Well, it was hard to plan that trip to the island when my father was selling Kirby vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I don’t say that when we were young we were too break as a family to go together. I do not tell them that my father left the island when he was 11 and didn’t go back until he was 42 years old.

Nor do I speak of the stranglehold the U.S. places the entire world under, squeezing the life out of gasping banana republics until they are compelled to choose between home and survival. I do not speak of how the U.S. forces us out of our homes and once we have left keeps us from returning.

There are some things we do not want to speak of.

For the wicked

Carry us away to capitivity

Require from us a song

But how can we sing King Alpha’s Song

In a strange land?

It is 2007! And I have to say that it is a blessing to be here. After attending two funerals in less than two weeks I have had several opportunities to reflect on the value of life, relationships, and the fragility of our lives. Time is short on this earth and it is so important that each of us do the work to discover what our path is in life and commit to walking it day by day. This year, I have committed to doing just that in my own life and would appreciate all of you, as people who I consider to be my community, to help me in that work.
Towards that end I have made a commitment to blogging at least once a week. I grew up believing that I would be a writer. It never has occured to me that I wouldn't write. However, with the stress and pressure of juggling responsibilities and becoming a grown-up, I have often neglected what I feel to be my calling: writing. So this blog is going to be a crucial part of my work to develop my craft as a writer.
Now don't worry, not all my entries will be this intense and reflective. There will still be plenty of posts with me ranting, raving, or just being silly (I know you all enjoyed the post about dildos in Texas). But I think the practice of writing on a regular basis is important. So that's what you all will be getting. And the writing is getting pretty serious ya'll. In December I was asked to participate in a gathering of Caribbean writers at the Rhizome Collective. I shared my perspectives on what it means to be a Black woman of U.S. and Jamaican descent along with authors and poets from Haiti, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. It was an amazing and beautiful experience in which we shared words and food with each other and the audience. I was deeply humbled to see that a number of people in the audience were moved by my work and realized that I have to get my shit together and get serious about the work. I will publish that piece on the blog so you can all have a chance to see what I've been doing...and please feel free to offer is always important to have critical readings of your ideas.
Additionally, a piece that I produced during my time with The Austin Project is being published in a collection about this project. I have been editing and re-editing and am just beginning to understand what it means to take the work of writing seriously. I'm learning and growing a lot and looking forward to what this year will bring. It's going to be a truly exciting time.
Happy New Year to all of you. I wish you love, peace of mind, and happiness everyday.