poems about particles and/or waves

GLORY

to the dumped me

someone quoted that a good love

is one with someone who thinks the sun shines

out of your ass.

 

well i think everyone is made of starstuff

(gay enough to want to be liked by every pretty girl)

but i have once or twice seen a body where light burst unbound

from every orifice

rays freed shone enough to bask in,

irradiation that made me high

 

& the sources so?

or thanks my wife saw it first, or sees it brighter

or i don't believe you and ran

 

hey me too,

i don't yet believe i (woodhued clayborne gangly thing)

speak anything but dioxide poison

prove me wrong i tell the wait

& listen for someone's awefilled gasp

at what cosmic timeless light i hold

(of a bird) to wave or open and shut (its wings or tail) with a quick flicking motion

i am a little bit dense

of a girl, teasing out love's phonemes or quanta

to destroy implication.

i like must never mean i will sleep with

nor should a yes to dinner.

i wonder how to make words mean only meaning,

would sentiments expire?

how often should we renew?

 

can it work if a kiss does not mean union

does not means future

does not mean only

just why not? or that you are deft or pretty,

have trust or flavor.

must a held hand contain a therefore

& because & if i'm beautiful, yes thanks but so?

that doesn't tie me to you

(sometimes you are beautiful & i never want to touch you)

 

there is no space in love to fit forever,

we can announce each tomorrow

instead, each whens calms me

more than touch yes each

plan is a palm stroke

promise makes the back arch

 

is coffee coffee?

or simply your place--no

but i want to hear it:

my home my body my ownership 

(which is still no certainty

what is in your bookshelf?

or game or film or meal instead)

 

the last boy's language was a reclining

& a firm claiming; a want that grew

when passed from body and back

to body and back to body

in blameless animal language

 

say, what muscle, of eye or lip

led you on as you claim?

what red what flash what fever

sorry. i am a little bit foreign of a girl, to all customs

the only mating dance i know i have written for myself

poems i wrote in my head while biking through the black side of town

WHAT WOULD BROKEN WINDOW THEORY SAY

about the time we tied a jump rope to a glass door.

(it was fun for a while) to play single-dutch,

young limbs too unsynced to share.

would it say something other than to beaver's stray baseball?

 

or to the frisbees collected on the white gravel

of the roof of our lopsided yard, 

on our hillsided street;

tossed back to californian blond(e)s,

on a scale from oops to neglect, just what

 

or while biking through the black side of town

( an immigrant home also wanted by gentry) 

i spy ahead, the tremor of the filament in a broken taillight,

wondering what depth or death is rattling there

 

here i see dandelions,

a sidewalk that threatens a spine,

parallel parking just a little too ascrew

& if i get lost drop or spill or mistake out here

alone (i hear censure whispering feel eyes)

how would Broken Window Theory judge it?

alternative lineages for black folks who prefer democratic representation

Welcome, melanated ones. We live in a democrative republic, yes?But the Democrats and Republicans do not want us; what now? Should we return to Monarchy? No, let's keep the equality of all but instead of kings and queens, try reaching into your blood, your past, to discover who you are. Your great grandfather and great great grandmother and their greats were Great, no doubt. And you, descendent must be....

Defenders & Warriors: You who hewed the path, warscarred, fireblooded, loyal. You body was toned, reflective black tendon beautifully tensed and trained. Your Greats and Greats stood shoulder to shoulder, vowed and expired. Your bones remember some betrayal. But also, pure strength: an arrow twang, a spear's thud, the many of a home kept safe, yes, even now.

Healers & Doctors: You know the body, as those before you knew theirs and their lovers. Blood is in your blood, inured against pain. There is magic on your tongue, wise saliva. The Black grey matter from your Greats and Greats, you have been handed, to save.

Givers and Lovers: You are the reason you are here, so great is your empathy. You cannot harm because you hurt when you hurt. You must give care. Your tears grow forest. Your Greats and Greats grew shells and so must you, callouses to save you. Love flows from you, an unbroken chain from the past to whom? You must choose wisely where to give.

Artisans & Crafters: Your Greats and Greats had nimble fingers, birthing hands, whose children Oppressors and Others might erase. But look! That column, that cake, that carriage! That melody, that road, that garden. That mansion is your mansion. Even unsigned uncredited, it all is yours. Your fingers know as they whittle or carve. Whether they clench clay or marble, it is home.

Thinkers & Teachers: You knew another name for Anamnesis. Some other tongue will unlock the memory of your Greats and Greats, who may have failed to record. They stored their findings in the minds of the young, abstract seedlings passed down and down to you. Whatever is not known to you, you have been made to learn or relearn, but most of all, regive.

Explorers & Heroes: Much of the new doesn't feel so, to your blood. Your Greats and Greats found the whole world, the first world, before. Strangers just repeat. You must go farther, longer, deeper, more; to the moon, the wandering planets, the sun. You will live forever if it saves the day.

Storytellers & Seers: You can see the past if you wish, a closed-eye-view to your Greats & Greats but moreover, you must see beyond. Can't you feel it? In dreams or in songs? Whatever is not given, you envision to make. You must tell others to turn the vision real.

Rebels & Tricksters: You are alive for the same reason as ever: outsmarting someone. Maybe the taxman, maybe death. Maybe Oppressors or Others, you've dodged. They are bigger but you have money in your shoe and butter on your tongue. Your Greats and Greats played cards with the devil to win you skills; be careful! Don't singe yourself when you burn things down, take someone with you against the Way-Things-Are. You are a cool fire, quicksilver or lava.

Muses & Mystics: Everyone watches you. They are hungry, for how you set their lives aflame, ineefable. Inspiration in your lungs, they want to kiss or lap it up, to suck and gain. Your Greats and Greats knew the unknowable. Even god was jealous, let alone man. You will be chased, as they were, but you are forever just beyond and will never be caught.

Guides & Seekers: You carry a torch, never lost. Your brothers and sisters huddle to you, whispering in the darkness, which you do not fear. Your Greats and Greats made peace with darkness, with unknowing and wayfinding. True North is deep in you, stars look like family's faces. Your love of the sun becomes language, it tells you where to go. Or it doesn't, and you blaze the path.

Dancers & Artists: Being is most being to you than anyone. The uncreative life is no life at all. You have the most of it, more and more of it, until it makes your body move. It bleeds out of your fingers, words or colors. Or streams out of your mouth, lyric and rhythm. Your Greats and Great were thought mad, so full of newness and More and Making. You are beauty itself; you are all the above.

You melanted one, are one of many, equal to all and master of a niche that the Greats and Greats carved out for you. And yet, you can choose to change. Give and break and carve something new, for those who come from you someday. Farewell.

a community story

Fun facts about my apartment complex:

  • It's a nonprofit. A lot of their actions, I know from the other side of the table. Their community-building exercises are transparently an attempt to decrease crime within the building. [community volunteers chosen by staff and they get special keys and stuff]
  • It's a tough job, and I can tell because there's a lot of turnover. I really like the current staff, though (actually, I liked all the staff, but they had variable levels of competency ). One of the staff members had a hardass bootstrappy approach to the lower-income tenants in the building, and it almost seemed justifying given her experience and success.
  • It may be gentifying. I started seeing more and more cute young people in the building. A black dude moved in across the hall from me. I met a cute black girl on the stairs that I'd never seen before. I gave a Puerto Rican boy advice on moving into the area. One day I saw a student-looking white boy in the building, and I thought it won't be long now.
  • I got them a card recognizing their hard work because I could. Unfortunately (and unbeknownst to me), this was shortly after a body was found in the building. Oops.
  • I was being sexually harassed by one of the top community members, although I didn't realize at first, because I was good at deflecting it and putting my foot down. But when he came to my door with a rumor of me being male... Shoot, these facts aren't fun anymore, aren they? Oopsy!

The harassment is fascinating to me because it was basically my worst fear. It happened for the reasons I expected it to happen, reasons that could happen to anyone.

  1. TIME IS CAPITAL: I was too stressed/overbooked busy to be part of "the community" whereas he was retired with the time to clean the stairwells in the middle of the workday. So he was trusted and I was not.
  2.  AGE IS CAPITAL: I had only been in "the community" for a year or so, whereas he'd been there for who-knows-how-long.

Recently, I've been coming to terms that this is one of my greatest fears: people with greater social capital using it to dominate me. I feel like this colors my experience with community, especially my hatred of call-out culture. 

I see a lot of advocates talk about centering those most in need, but I wonder what it looks like to center the homeless and not the community organizing celebrities. Some organizers I have met (My gratitude will never wane towards a certain CEO who took time out of her day to speak with me at Sammy's Eatery.) treat everyone as equally valuable, but sometimes I see people positioned as The Voice for something and it scares me. Landing on their wrong side due to my ignorance or missteps scares me. The replication of hero worship scares me.

in thirteen years (part 1/2)

In thirteen years, there will be a new fad: love languages expressed through colored collars: red orange yellow green blue / gift touch time praise deed. On February 10th, the fad will begin--quietly, on blacktwitter or fairykeitumblr or youngartistinstagram or somewhere else that will never receive credit. Some raver kids of color who are into wholesome memes and celebrating each other will craft them out of kandi. A post will go viral, and the community that follows the bright young lives these kids express through photograph will adopt their trend in their own cities.

On February 19th, a bullied eighth grader reads a silly manga online and decides to test the world in a leap of faith in humanity. She dresses in all orange, collar included, arms himself with a 'Free Hugs' sign, and skips school for a bus ride downtown. The bus driver is a twenty-something with an orange collar, and she is just the first. No one asks why she's not in school. They just hug her. Someone buys her a meal (blue, though). At some point, she works up the courage to raise, and use, her sign on a busy street. At some point, she start crying and doesn't care because it's a good kind of cry, carthartic and joy-tinged. Kids get out of school and even her own neglectful classmates run to hug her. It becomes a minor news story, but only the young understand the significance of her coloring.

On February 23, a group of five high schoolers will go to a barlike restaurant (it must kick them out at 10pm) to exchange compliments. They all wear green collars, of course, and they all agree it would be fun. They talk like many youth do in that tone of sincerity that is played up to the point of laughing at itself. But they're still sincere, wearing their favorite outfits, having pre-gamed before if with access to alcohol, pretending to grow drunk on sodas, improvising talents, and praising and praising and praising each other. It feels good every time. Some of their dates are present, some of their dates are more masculine, less emotional, and without collar. They complain: it's a circlejerk taco party. One of their dates is masculine but emotional and says what's working with circlejerk? An ego feast? A lot of what they say is true as long as they believe it. He asks some the dates if they know their colors, because obviously they aren't being fed by this.

By March 3rd, everyone at a small southwestern grocery chain store will have a color. The clerks will have a system of tapping in or out based on customer reputations: here is the customer that loves to take his sweet time and you're the most patient, aren't you? or here is that customer who always needs help and you love to help, don't you? or here is that customer who loves to flirt, so let me handle her! On breaks, the ones who can, smoke as they all chat. There is an ongoing debate on whether listening to someone vent counts giving quality time, providing words of affirmation, or performing emotional labor. This blue green or yellow? one says. Why not all of them? So the topic switches to multicolor collars. 

On March 7th: An instafamous celebrity displays a red collar with the tag #diamondsareagirlsbestfriend. An indie artist with a semi-popular Etsy specializing in 8bit kandi sprites immediately starts tagging her color collars with the celebrity's name. Of course it takes off. An aspiring journalist and part-time political astroturfer drafts up pitches the very hour, hoping to be the first to explain the trend to adults.

By March 26th, even preschoolers are wearing them. There is a whole class whose eager clamours convinced a teacher to begin the day with color collar activities. They learn colors and matching actions: sharing on red day, hugging on orange, helping on blue, and complimenting on green. Every day together is a yellow day, their teachers says. They are too young to know their favorite love language, and so most tend towards the rainbow collars popularized by Target.

On April 11th, two private school buddies hatch a plot to wear all yellow until their parents notice. Their parents do not wear colors, but the friends concluded that they are all red due to rough upbringings. But who wants to be a lawyer or banker, just to make money? Who wants another dumb car? They loiter together, dressed down and skating on the hills by the beach, drinking slurpees with the same straw, lying in the park grass and conjugating new cuss words. They notice the green on the poet at an open mic, and cheer extra loud, bang the table. They notice the blue of the young mom pulling a personal shopping cart uphill and convince her to give some weight away to their healthy young bodies. They notice the red of a sticky toddler wandering too far from her cousin's birthday party, and they stick a roll of twenties in her back romper pocket with hushed giggles. The toddler dives for the first drops of candy when the cousin's pinata receives its first rupturing crack, and the two private school buddies laugh at the cuteness of greed in such a tiny little body.

[tbc...]

how i overcame my fear of the women's bathroom

With that title, this sounds like a gender dysphoria story. To some extent, it is: there was a period in my life where I rejected feminity. I styled myself a tomboy and wore only pants, but I also wore a hijab, and if you can imagine for a second, a blue-jeans-wearing hijabi playing Pokemon Yellow on the bus... But still, I was the kind of being-person who would read about Susan Pevensie and think, serves you right! Piss off with your nylons and lipstick and invitations! Something like that.

I still got pissed off when I was referred to as "he" by the boys I played Yu-Gi-Oh against in the comic book store. I wanted the admiration due a girl, as well as the respect/usefulness/competency/confidence/freedom that belonged to men, I guess.

I suppose. This experience made me aware that I talked from the wrong part of my body however.  Chest voice? Head voice? I'm not sure what it's called, but I later trained myself to speak in a higher tone--although I still laspe into my tomboy voice when too comfortable.

In any case, I was a homebody whose my parents raised them not to use public restrooms if I could help (they were filthy! You couldn't do istinja in them unless you felt like running out to wet the tissue.) They, like many things not in my house, inspired a sort of foreign fear in me. Just as the cardplaying boy mistook my gender, I would be misgendered by the women in the restroom, chased out and attacked. Or worse, I would enter the men's room in confusion and...something bad would happen. I didn't know what.

Public restrooms made me anxious, for years and years, until I joined the Conservation Corps and learned to pee outdoors and wipe myself with leaves. Digging my own poopholes (proper term: latrines) made me feel like an very accomplished cat, and squatting myself small down among ferns and bushes was often very relaxing. I considered buying a shewee. I kind of still want one.

In many, many ways; the great outdoors was gender-neutral.

I finished my half-month Americorps term with confidence in so many other areas, but the restroom anxiety stuck with me. I was no longer afraid of bars or liquor or distance from my home or so much else.

I think I was at an airport when I decided to innoculate myself against the "something bad" of public restrooms. An airport, maybe a mall where the women's room had a line or was full, and the men's room was empty and hidden in a corner where no one could stop me entering with a funny look. I'd read about women who used the men's room when the women's was full. I'd decided to become one. Maybe my failure to perform femininity would serve as camouflage to help me avoid wetting myself.

The men's room was exactly the same as the women's but with a urinal. Of course. But what was so forbidden about seeing a urinal? The single-occupancy ones were so similar, I really didn't understand the seperation.

In any case, after learning firsthand the banality of baños, my anxiety towards them was gone. 

One of my recent jobs had two genderqueer restrooms. On one of its last days, I remember exploring the men's room on a celebratory drunken buzz. I think I shouted in joy, "I'm in the men's restroom!"

My coworkers probably thought I was joking. But ah, they have no idea what it took for me to get there.

 

more on sad black girls: nervous black girls

I know it's lame to explain a piece, but still I will: There aren't many avenues for black people to express negative emotions other than anger.

Black sadness is fairly easy to find: we had blues, we have afropessimism, and even Cornell West talks a bit about black sadness. But when Chester Bennington, I saw many tributes that positioned him and Linkin Park as a necessary outlet for kids of color who didn't have similar outlets in their cultures.

This is why Kid Cudi, who helped my brothers cope with depression, had to go to rock. This is why Kanye, who helped usher a confessional form of backpack rap into the mainstream, had to come from elsewhere than the streets. #niceguy #sadboy canuck Drake is half-Jewish, so of course he's got a lot of non-black influences to draw upon when he's not borrowing slang from Toronto's Somali community or borrowing beats from the islands.

Odd Future is full of sadness, and it's been affirming for me. From Earl Sweatshirt on Burgundy to Frank Ocean's existential despair over California's consumerism. Now Tyler is on some #selfhatinggayshit and I've been listening to it on repeat.

I'm the loneliest man alive But I keep on dancing to throw 'em off

He might be gay or bi or pan or queer, who knows? I'm not super into speculating about people's labels. He'll either identify as something, or he won't, or he's just clowning, or he can do what he wants so long as it hurts nobody. Who knows?

I TRIED TO COME OUT THE DAMN CLOSET LIKE FOUR DAYS AGO AND NO ONE CARED HAHAHHAHAHA

I could go on and on about queerness and loneliness in the OFWGKTA family (I haven't mentioned Syd yet) or other sad rappers who have sustained me (like Bino. Or even Jaden's pop-philosopher androgynous-ass, who's been featured by Bino, Cudi, Tyler, and remixed Alessia Cara's introvert anthem. And then Logic goes and makes a suicide hotline song with Alessia Cara & Khalid...)

I do love that hiphop, and therefore blackness, is having this open and public conversation about LGBT identity and mental health struggles. I was watching as Cudi went to rehab and low-key hoping it would have an effect on my dad's view of psychiatry. I've been praying for Cudi since Just What I Am, and those prayers are mixed up in my prayers for my own fam because God can multitask like that.

But.

I don't have depression. I've struggled with it before, yes, but I would say that the underlying issue is trauma, which black culture still doesn't even know how to address in the mainstream.

My main symptom, main illness is social anxiety, which still seems to cast as a White People Thing. Quick, think of an anxious black girl? Came up with nothing, right? Because we're supposed to be Strong or whatever. Black girls, I feel, are not allowed the delicacy to be afraid of people, so I have to turn to other cultures for understanding and comfort. I'll never be able to knock my love for manga as long as they make so many stories about having bad social skills that I can't find in American media.

I wish there were a place to connect all the anxious black girls so we'd know we weren't alone. Do we even exist in great enough numbers? Do we need to build that place?

On that note, I just remembered that I intended to subscribe to Doll Hospital.

[songs for normals] & guerilla poetry

On Monday, I sent out 19 of 24 poems I challenged myself to write as part of a GoFundMe reward. It's a super rewarding experience, and I may have just doubled the number of poems I've written in my whole life. 🙌🏾

The [songs for normals] project is an idea I had maybe 10? 7? years ago. I kinda hate love songs because they have nothing to do with me, so I wanted to write a couple dozen songs (not poems) on feelings that were not romantic love. My dream was to go all Sufjan/chamber pop with them, using glockenspiels and thumb pianos and timapanis and marimbas and violas and tablas and anything but the normal boring rock set-up. But I can't play music in the first place lol so it might never happen.

The theme was overlooked emotions and situations, everyday life instead of Hollywood hyperreality. So instead of ooh baby i love you i want you i miss you you hurt me we're over we're done i'm sorry i want you back i know you want me you were made for me etc etc etc; what about following the train tracks and finding an abandoned side of your city you'd never noticed before?

What about the second thoughts you have about changing jobs on the day after you've put in your two weeks'?

What about the feeling of waiting in line at the grocery store? (Especially if the "the checkout line is incredibly long, which is stupid and infuriating.")

Maybe this project is actually about mindful. idk I just know that God comes up a lot no matter what I'm talking about b/c pantheistic belief system or whatever.

I have also been working on a similar project called All Flowers for Other Lovers, where I'm challenging myself to write a 100 love poems, in which the breadth of the definition is so that I can include things like storge and caritas/charity. Those are the kinds of love I know.

I'm supposed to give out non-roses with the non-romantic poems, and that's not quite how the pilot went... I may make the poems into 100 business cards, although I'm not sure when I'd give them out. Still thinking about it.

The kicker is that I don't consider myself a poet and probably never will. Why?

  1. I didn't study poetry other than writing "songs" for anime I wished I could make and idolizing Emily Dickinson (#foreveralonegirlcrew) and e. e. cummings
  2. Fiction will always be my main love and submitting fiction is enough work. My submitting poetry almost never happens.
  3. I'm not interested in publishing chapbooks because I generally don't like the insular side of the lit world. I don't want to make anything that I wouldn't be able to find were I not in this world.

For those reasons, most of my poetry will be given freely.

My relationship to poetry is kind of like a Poetry Popularizer, I guess. I want to bring it to unexpected places. It can be on my blog, it can be in my pocket, it can be at an arts festival, it can be in your email or snailmail, and it will sometimes be onstage. But a collection won't ever happen, I'm sorry, and I think that precludes me from ever being a real poet.

oh well. 🤷🏾

the giver of life / the giver of death

a catholic once told me

that as a child

he knew the shape of god:

a frail man, wounded

the method of his Horture

appropriation of His death

 

ah, then i think my god has always

been calligraphy,

golden names or virtues

whispered in circles

a perfect number just beyond

another tongue's abstraction

everything so close to nothing

as spied in jabir's gyre

poems about having a booty

JELLY

it takes a french curve --see?

the flare of the tennis skirt

in front versus back

hiked as if beckoning

(& this is why mom called me fast: for having a body)

 

i spend a lot of time asking

why are leggings flat?

who has straight legs

(besides Sally the Witch)?

this slit ia not enough, why?

how do I become a pencil?

should i, must i be hobbled?

 

maybe lessness is freedom (more like a boy)

because there is not enough

my lucky fighting panties gingerly

meet the bus seat

& my brown bottom contemplates

being made wanted by an unbrown vulture

(though we were before

& will be after

(before knives and without)

 

the waistband too takes the longer route

along the french curve

dips like a body aggrieved,

like a grunt, surprised:

i didn't expect to carry this much

erotic poems about my bike

DIOTIMA

we bough-limbed things

she knows my fathers' fears

i know wind & hunger,

tangle friction heat

where our cores meet

oil with sweat & sunshine

 

she is high yellow,

i'm high on her

hearts jitter in separation

like each other's children

while each other's mothers

 

we gazelle

this ripe body

bruises delicious mementos.

to carry & carry

legs pump & straighten

arch or low, test & tense

potential fall

from rest into love

from an angel to sin

 

a stranger calls out

a pant like this a want from the street

she or me or both? we pound on.

The Principle of Charity, in Interpersonal Relationships

So yeah, I guess I studied philosophy or something. And I guess I was good at it? (3.9 GPA, departmental honors, Phi Beta Kappa Society, summa cum laude, etc etc).

But now that I am out of the academic world, I don’t think that’s anything that could be guessed by looking at me, a slight and quiet black girl fond of miniskirts and cat-eared hats. Girls normally study feminism if they study thought, and black people take cultural studies, isn’t that the stereotype?

And black intellectuals are rare enough that no one expects intellect of me. Although I relate to the absent-minded professor archetype and consider academia if only to complete the expectation, I feel that few people see me as intelligent. They see absentmindedness + blackness and think = stupid or they see absentmindedness + female and think = ditz. I know because they they start to overexplain, talking slowly, and I need to resist the need to roll my eyes until they break free of their optic nerves.

Such is the power of stereotypes.

Within philosophy, there’s a rule created to prevent this kind of lazy thinking. It’s called the Principle of Charity.

To quote Wikipedia:

In philosophy and rhetoric, the principle of charity requires interpreting a speaker's statements to be rational and, in the case of any argument, considering its best, strongest possible interpretation. In its narrowest sense, the goal of this methodological principle is to avoid attributing irrationality, logical fallacies or falsehoods to the others' statements, when a coherent, rational interpretation of the statements is available.

In order to be charitable towards someone’s views, you assume that they are logical and truthful--and intelligent, I would add. In order to address a person charitably, you address the strongest form of their argument even when arguing against it. So no straw man arguments, no twisting people’s words, no playing dirty.

The people I like, the people who get me, the people I actually spend time with were first charitable with me. And eventually, they move from charitability to normal understanding, because taking my thought in its strongest form is the likeliest way to understand what I mean to say.

But for most people, I could say anything at all and I would be taken as an idiot’s utterance. Even if I stumbled across some of the greatest insights in the history of thought, I imagine it would play out like this:

Me: “One cannot step twice in the same river twice.”

Lazy Thinker: “Yes, you can, honey. Want me to show you?”

versus:

Heraclitus: “One cannot step twice in the same river twice.”

Lazy Thinker: “That sounds very zen. What does it mean?”

 

Or...

Me: “The only thing I know is that I know nothing.”

Lazy Thinker: “Don’t say that about yourself. Nobody knows nothing. Believe in yourself!”

versus

Socrates: “The only thing I know is that I know nothing.”

Lazy Thinker: “So humble! Such an inspiration.”

 

Or...

Me: “God is dead! And we have killed him.”

Lazy Thinker: “What are you talking about? God can’t be killed. If you read the Bible, it says that...”

versus

Nietzsche: “God is dead! And we have killed him.”

Lazy Thinker: “Wow, that’s super deep and edgy! Do explain.”

 

 

Or...

Me: “Man is condemned to be free.”

Lazy Thinker: “Uh, no. That’s a contradiction. What’s wrong with you?”

versus

Sartre: “Man is condemned to be free.”

Lazy Thinker: “What, really? How?”

 

 

Or...

Me: “The medium is the message.”

Lazy Thinker: “No, it isn’t. Allow me to explain to you the ways in which you are wrong...”

versus

McLuhan: “The medium is the message.”

Lazy Thinker: “It sounds like you know what you are talking about, so let me assume your competency and give you space to elucidate.”

I should more accurately title the “Lazy Thinker” as the Racist/Sexist thinker, because in case I haven’t hammered the point home, the laziness is stronger when the thoughts come from the mouth of someone in a place of power who perceives me unworthy of respect. Charitable interpretations require a certain level of faith in humans that even most philosophers don’t have towards women or people of color (see Nietzsche, Hegel, or Schopenhauer on sex or race).

So yeah, I guess I studied philosophy or something.

I was always the only black girl in class, often the only black or woman. I’m still thinking over what I got out of it, but I feel like I know enough about rationality and the history of thought that know that the history of thought is full of irrationality.

I feel a bit like an outsider to many conversations on intersectional feminism, because my entry point is capital-P Philosophy. But my identity requires me to investigate those issues, using tools not always designed for me. (In my heart of hearts, I believe that no true Utilitarian was ever racist, and they are my favorites school of thought, so.)

I would say something about how the master’s tools cannot dismantle the master’s house, but I don’t know enough context for that quote to use it correctly.

sad black girls

Everyone knows about Angry Black Woman. Everyone sees them everywhere. Anger and sadness are two sides of the same coin called dissatisfaction. One is external, one is internal. Woman internalize, men externalize.

(Women should be sad, huh? So does anger make black women masculine?)

I am not angry, and I’m not a woman. Blackness is perceived regardless of my will, but what I’m really into is crying. I’m a Sad Black Girl. Sad Black Girls listen to King Krule and Radiohead. We read Kafka and shouldn’t read Schopenhauer. We smoke loud and we’re lonely clouds. We own hi-fis. We ruminate. We close our eyes.

Sad Black Girls are tomboys and robots. We don’t wear pantsuits. We know that anger is a secondary emotion that hides fear or hurt or sadness. Our emotions are purer, primary? We hurt and we fear and we cry. We don’t have formal diagnosis. The doctor says we’re not in pain.

Sad Black Girls are probably too passive. Some of us are maladaptive daydreamers, still talking to imaginary friends at the age of 21. Between the lot of us, we have millions of paracosms. If you’d like to enter one, listen up for a bit.

Sad Black Girls existed all over everywhere, until the 60s. And then there were afros. “By the 1970s, a majority of empirical studies found that Blacks had high self-esteem,” but we weren’t born then. Some of us have natural hair and some of us have been teased for it.

Happy black girls compare themselves to other black girls, but Sad Black Girls go to lily-white schools. We blame ourselves, but maybe it’s not our fault. Is it? Isn’t it? "The person of color is caught in a Catch-22: If she confronts the perpetrator, the perpetrator will deny it." Sad Black Girls tend to overthink and do nothing.

Sad Black Girls have learned culture-bound syndromes from white girls. Some of us vomit, slit our wrists, become hikikomori. We use self-deprecating humor, sarcasm. We get all As. Our moms are not tigers but our peers’ moms are, and we care about our peers.

Sad Black Girls cannot be seen by God. We aren’t blessed. We should smoke less often, be less fatalistic. Someone tells a Sad Black Girl to pray, and she doesn’t, and she stays sad. We are too rational to believe in #BlackGirlMagic.

Sad Black Girls maybe kinda know the difference between self-esteem and racial-esteem. Kinda? Collective self-esteem, right? Sad Black Girls are loners, of course, we don’t have reflected glory to bask in. We have cut off the reflected failure with a boxcutter, but we cut too much, oops.

Some of us secretly love To Be Young, Gifted, and Black even if we can’t get past the corniness.

Angry Black Women are out there fighting for something today. They are empowered, entrepreneurial, independent. They are role-modeling. They have overcome adversity.

Meanwhile, the Sad Black Girls are crying until their defense mechanisms rust. We are giving up, learning helplessness. We are being abused right now, physically or emotionally or without realizing it. We are doing what we're told. We’re being silent. We bear with it, thinking of other places, maybe England, anywhere but here.

(A roach skitters. A siren screams. A couple argues in the street. What are we doing here?)

Someone mistakes a Sad Black Girl for an Angry Black Women and calls her strong, places a burden in her arms and sends her along. There are no Evergreens for us, no all-girl schools or sanatoriums. There is no place for weakness in blackness. Sad Black Girls are crushed by life quite quickly, maybe there are none already.