Thursday, November 30, 2017

re: the nicki minaj paper cover & foto shoot

all fotos: Ellen Von Unwerth for Paper Magazine

Tardy to the party with writing about this Paper Magazine cover. What I am more interested in is how the conversations are evolving (and not being facilitated) and what others have to say about what another Black woman does with her body. The judgment, the shaming, the name-calling, the ways that we continue to police body autonomy. The same folks would argue that they are on the side of reproductive justice, however they have a very under-developed understanding of body autonomy.

In short, I really love this cover image. Not because it's a Black performer doing Black performer things. I love it not because it's a Black woman controlling the "gaze" and deciding how she wants to be viewed and consumed in a particular way because that's power. I love it not because it demonstrates a power that we all know exists for femmes, for femininity, and wish to erase or ignore or blame for things. I love it not because it demonstrates how Dancehall Queen aesthetics are alive and well among Caribbean rappers living in the US (Caribbean influence on hip hop in the US is so strong and very well archived and documented go read up on that legacy).

I love it because I too have a fetish for myself. I too fantasize about how dope it must be for others to see me loving myself, pleasing myself, feeling myself, and noticing them seeing me and being able to consume their desire for wanting more of me while I'm taking all of me for myself! Choosing yourself is never the wrong decision! Ever in this life on this planet.

Body autonomy is about every person having the human right to make decisions about their body. Their decisions may not be for you, and that doesn't mean you have to be sharing your opinion about someone else's decision-especially to that person, especially unsolicited. You definitely don't need to talk about how you wouldn't do the same thing especially if nobody cares and didn't ask you. Yes, have your opinion, know when it's time to share and when it's time to keep it moving.

And for the (white) feminists (because the white is always silent with ya'll) who want to argue objectification, exotification, etc. Recognize she is in control of the gaze. She is in control of her image. She is in a powerful position where she is in service to herself, honoring herself, topping herself, caring and tending to herself. That's got nothing to do about you unless it's a reminder you not doing a good job doing either of those things for yourself. We live in a capitalist society where Black women's labor, even as performers and entertainers, is not well paid. Are you mad that Nicki is getting paid or are you mad that she's figured out a way to get paid and care for herself and show her power at the same time and you haven't yet? Join the club! You not the only one, you also don't have to be so salty about it all the time, that's a choice. Ya'll for choice right?

Oh but I get it, ya'll are mad because you got to now talk to youth and children and girls about bodies, objectification, power, and you don't feel prepared. Again, you are not alone and there are plenty of Black women who can help you, who are trained and have dedicated their career to such forms of education and support. You're reading the work of one of them right now! So, if you are anxious about that and not able to be ready to talk to the young women in your life, and the young men you are excluding, well, maybe you got to realize they will def not come to talk to you if you cant talk to them. Reciprocity impacts youth too. So does body autonomy. Youth have body autonomy as well. I know some of ya'll may not enjoy hearing that because you have latched onto an idea of power and control over the bodies of brown and Black girls. You're wrong. How about refocusing that power onto what you are doing with your body. How does it feel when you try to control another young woman's body? How does your body feel? Is it tense? Is it rigid? Is it wide open? Check in with yourself because we all got to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves.

Don't you too want to know what you may look like at some of your most powerful moments? That's what orgasm may be for many of us: our most powerful selves. So join that tired legacy of policing Black women's bodies, choices, lives, movement. You're in company with white supremacy, misogynists, abusers, rapists. Unlearn those lies you tell yourself really quickly. Because there's a whole archive of slave narratives and of sexual assaults, and testimonios that remind us everyday what happens when we go down the route of blaming, erasing, destroying, judging, Black women and what they do with their bodies. Which side of justice and liberation are you going to be on?

Friday, November 24, 2017

Coco the film

no punctuation or editing, just a riff of ideas bc i should document whats going on in a way that leaves an archive even wider. lots of folks dont want to talk about death or dying with me. or with anyone, let alone themselves.

these are just some thoughts on the film coco. more later as i think more on the film.

i saw coco the film the other day w a homegirl. we are both part of the tribe of motherless fly fat queer broads. we walked to the theater on a cold night in new orleans. both of us not up for too much action during the day and had stayed home among close friends. both of us had the holiday feelings coming up about our mommas.

now, i had seen a trailer a while ago and just remember it has a mexicanx child smiling. a month later when someone mentions the film to me i remember only this brown child, that it's a mexicanx film, the name coco i think is it the childs name or is it about food is it like the animated child version of magical realism a la like water for chocolate? i say yes lets go see the film!

i was so wrong. as they make you sit through a too long mini film about belle and her sister and cultural appropriate during the holidays and how the ancestors will burn that shit if you go knocking on doors asking folks their traditions then taking whatever you want for your own house so find your own traditions white people, they exist go dig them out of that box...

the film begins and its really beautiful. and its about dia de los muertos, death, dying, and homage.

it fucked us up!

i wasnt ready and it wasnt what i expected or thought and yo it was dos mucho. there is a theme of suicide as a possible understood outcome and that was a lot. yet how can you tell the collective story of a community and its belief and connects to death and the dead without including a representation of suicide? i dont think you can. also, you cant tell that story without including the children and babies that are dead too? they did! there was at least one child with a woman in the film who was dead.

i can see how those early anthropology writings of the 1970s that focused on the 'cultural values' of Latinx people (but really they were only talking about 'Mexicans' and not yet those living in what had become the US. That literature came later in other fields that flooded the 80s. Anyways, fatalism was def present. of course so was familialism.

rememory as toni morrison talks about it in beloved was also def present. i will have more to say on this.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Curriculum Lab in Chicago with ABSC

The Women of Color Sexual Health Network (WOCSHN) has partnered with the Association of Black Sexologists & Clinicians (ABSC) for their 2018 annual conference in Chicago, IL January 31 - February 2, 2018 to offer our Curriculum Lab for educators and facilitators. Join us as we build lesson plans and a collaboration curriculum!

Register here.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 30

I've written so much about the process of losing myself in the shapeshifting grief, the experiences, the coping, the loss of so much. This post is a reminder that when you come back to yourself you are not like you were before this all happened.

I've lost more of myself and have been shook in a way I didn't expect. I've been so confused and having limited clarity and wild experiences and long times in the bed just thinking about death, dying, cannibalism, fear, mourning, survival.

I came back to yourself eventually. I may not be the same,  I may not know who I was and need to ask myself "who do I want to be today?," something I wish more of ya'll would ask yourselves, it really gives you a period of time to just take a breath.

I came back and I'm not the same, and I'm still here.

I'm still here.

I'm still here. Today. I'm still here. For now. I'm still here.

Read post 29 here.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 29

Making choices is a challenge in the middle of all the grief. When you come out of it and get clarity from time to time you spend lots of time processing and figuring out whats the best choice. Maybe that was all the virgo in me, but I still can't make decisions at times.

Most of my concerns were about how other people would receive or experience the decisions I made. Decisions were things like what to get at the grocery store for guests, where to go for dinner, what to order to eat; really basic and regular decisions.

Then there are the other decisions to move, make/end friendships, quit jobs, reexamine fertility, and the like. I worried so much what other people would think that I packed up my apartment and moved to another coast in less than 2 weeks and didn't tell many folks about the move. I worried about what people would think of my work if I quit my job to take care of myself and my grief.

Then it got to a point where I HAD to make the final decisions about something and each time I did I chose myself. I asked for the exact help I needed and the advice that was required and I made decisions that benefited me and only me. Many of those folks who I was worried about for a moment don't even contact me unless they want something from me. Most of those folks have no idea how to be friends for a variety of reasons. That's their problem and not mine.

I learned that choosing myself was easier than I thought. Choosing myself meant instant gratification.

Read post 28 here.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 28

This post is about cannibalism. It's a longer read.

There came a time when I craved the act of sinking my teeth into someone's flesh, feeling their blood and fluid (spit? sweat?) drip down my chin and neck and me wiping it off with the back of my hand to have a smear over my face. I wanted to sink my teeth into: masculinity, freedom, and into myself.

I'm still in that time and place.


I don't know when exactly that time came. It was after the skin hunger consumed me. After the numerous failed attempts to find lovers. After the consistent and frequent "No" I heard from friends who couldn't imagine a "homieloverfriendship." All the "no's" that nobody teaches you to value or appreciate when they talk about "consent." All the "you're so beautiful and amazing and it's intimidating to date/fuck/play with you." The "we can play/fuck/date in 8 months!" All the ways people are scared of touch even by people who they claim to love and want to experience love from. All of those broke me all over again. And again. And again.

And I pieced myself together through a curiosity and fascination with cannibalism. I watched my favorite TV show Hannibal, about the life and times of Hannibal Lecter; a show so decadent! I had homegirls who welcomed this curiousness and welcomed viewing of other cannibalistic films like Raw and who shared blogs and images with me. Homegirls recommended books to me too, like Delectable Negro: Human Consumption and Homoertocism in US Slave Culture by Vincent Woodard.

When I finally went to the doctor during my grieving and they checked my blood sugar that had elevated so much because I had been constantly grieving, consuming soda pop to feel the "burn," and just not having anyone show up to help feed me something other than a bodega sammich and gummie bears and reeses peanut butter cups, I had to start testing my own blood sugar levels on my own. This requires needles and a stab to your finger to get the blood drops on the thing to measure levels. It all made my palms sweat and still does. And the first thing I do after I get that bit of blood on the thing is suck the hell out of my bleeding finger. I suck hard too. I like tasting the blood a bit. Just a taste on the tip of my tongue. It reminded me I AM ALIVE. It's not the same as the blood that flows from my core once a month, that blood has a different consuming desire.

Things always get rough when I'm bleeding from my core. I crave touch so much more. I've spent the last few cycles isolating myself because there is no one to touch. There are no outlets for this type of grief. This type of touch and experience for me isn't present in too many places. And I'm fucking exhausted hearing "no" and having to ask and advocate for myself and all the things. I'm tired of being my own top and topping others if I do get some tail (which isn't often because lots of people don't find grief and mourning erotic). T.I.R.E.D.

I'm supposed to check my blood sugar at least 3x a day. I only do it in the morning. Sucking my finger three times a day would be SO MUCH.

I'm already consuming parts of myself. While I remain without lovers or any touch beyond a hug, those who have never experienced this life in this way (grieving your mother, grieving alone, grieving with limited community, grieving and isolation, grieving and no touch, grieving and no sex, grieving constantly) have a lot to judge me on. Folks happily have judged me during this grief. Those folks still have their mothers alive. IDGAF. I laid in bed plucking my rubber bands, listening to my erotic death and dying playlist, daydreaming about being touched. I started to bite and suck on my own arms. I gave myself bruises with my mouth that nobody ever noticed and if they did they never said anything. I watched how long my teeth imprints would stay and how long they took to fade. I took inventory on the bruising of my body and the blood raising to the top of the layers of skin. I debated taking fotos of what I had done and share it under the #FemmeInMourning hashtag. I didn't do any of those.

I did this routine often. I still do this when it gets real rough. Rough is my usual these days.

Folks who know me well know that I talk about how big my mouth is all.the.time. My mouth is huge and a blessing (and no gag reflex!). Yet, it's a challenge to find folks who have as big a mouth as me. Folks with smaller mouths who are into your girl mean that I get a lot of their nose or chin in my mouth. I'd have to shrink some of my best features to accommodate them. I've been shrinking myself for years for others and this grief didn't allow for any of that! Ive felt like Ive been eating people's faces the entire time I was making out in this life! When I find someone with a mouth to scale that's closer to mine it's MAGIC! It's MYSTICAL. It's exactly what I need to experience. My last lover with a big mouth like mine was in 2006. I last saw this lover January 2016 and I spent the majority of our time together just feeling the glory and vibration we created as our mouths and tongues and bodies remembered each other. Kissing and making out for me is a full body contact experience. This I'm reminded of when I have someone with a comparable mouth to mine. I don't remember or feel that way with someone with smaller mouths. They don't get full body contact.

Rememory in kissing. In consumption.

Today I'm not chewing on anybody other than myself which is more like a sucking of a finger. But I'm hyper aware when a part of my body brushes against someone else by accident or forced shared space. It's often my forearm or hip brushing someone else's body part that probably doesn't get touched too often in public. A side of the hip, front of the belly, side of the breast,

What I'm realizing now is this desire, craving, it's about consumption without a doubt, and it's about consumption to be fueled and energized. Consumption to stay alive. Consumption to remember I'm alive and fighting to stay here.

Read post 27 here.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 27

This post is one I'm writing not only for this practice or to share, but especially as a reminder to myself! This is the lesson I have taken so long to learn. Each time I need to learn this lesson I've pushed it away. The more I did it growing up the less and less the lesson showed up for me. Now, as an adult I need to really learn this lesson.

The lesson is patience.

I'm not super impatient, but I am very much realizing how my resistance is rooted in having limited patience. I think a lot about how fast I move to make things happen. People know that when I'm on their team and side, shit happens and gets done! I'm a mover and a maker and a creator. I rarely ever agree to something I cannot follow through with. I take pride in knowing my word and reputation is rooted in my verbals and non-verbals matching.

Yet the patience I'm talking about is the patience with yourself. With this grieving and mourning process. Today is my first day out of my home since Sunday night at 8pm. It's Thursday. I got to be patient with myself even when it means isolating myself and hibernating for an undisclosed amount of time.

All I wrote for this entry in my journal was "be patient, clarity will come."

For me the clarity of the world is what I was completely disconnected from. When I do start to reconnect and pull my head up there's more death, more violence, more fires, more landslides, more flooding, so much more. And that's the life threatening ish, not to mention the petty ish people expect you to respond to for them. The people who expected me to show up and verbally box them were quickly knocked out because I have limited capacity.

This is probably why I've isolated myself at times during this process; I know I can do deep hurt with the truth of my verbal communication. I know how to be so clear and accessible and honest that folks are not ready or that. I'm also not ready to coddle people and it's too much care taking when I got to care for myself!

Sometime the clarity that comes are reminders: you were right to try to keep that memory or reality blurry; you were right to protect yourself in those ways; yet the only way to heal is to go through them not around those painful truths and realities. There's pain here, and hurt, and deep deep loneliness and there is also clarity. It feels like your whole body takes a breath and a sigh and is still here. 

Read post 26 here.