In an effort to find new music I am listing the first three songs that came up on my facebook news feed. This exercise has highlighted that not very many of my facebook friends post music. So you thank you to those of you who do.
I maintain that the sound of rain on a zinc/ galvanize roof is one of the sweetest things ever provided your roof’s not leaky. So, let it rain.
I had almost forgotten that people played instruments, worse yet women. The music on this piece is near entrancing.
When an instrumental catches you… I would love to hear this in the background as I went through a yoga practice.
Growing up I read a lot of Sweet Valley and Goosebumps. not a child of colour in site. I managed to come out all right, but I certainly wouldn’t want generations to be further inundated with whiteness and token racialised persons. So for the children in your life- biological and non-biological, 25 books featuring strong black girls.
Last month marked 30 years of the killing of Maurice Bishop, leader of the NJM in Grenada. Groundation Grenada shares two reflections from two generations on the revolution now and then. Watching an documentary on the revolution I was moved by how excited and hopeful people were. I’ve found maintaing hopefulness for meaningful political change pretty difficult in my adult life time…
I’m likely not to understand the full dynamics of this story surrounding young black men buying extravagantly priced items at a high end store NY and getting profiled. But one of my favourite commentators of higher education and its complications especially for poc in the US has a wonderfully personal reflection on the how and why of spending money when working clas. She highlights how people make judgements on our appearance all the time, and those judgements can close and open doors of opportunity.
A few weeks ago I highlighted the establishment of a committee working for reparations for enslaved people of African descent in the Caribbean. Professor Beckles raised as part of the discussion:
“a tribute to the Rastafari movement whose voice of representation and protest, has been consistently and unapologetically loud and clear, in relation to issues related to oppression and injustice”*
I fully agree. The Caribbean community, especially those of African descent are very much indebted to the the Rastafarian community. They have truly kept many conversations going throughout the decades. Our governments and our people do owe The Rastafarian Community an apology for the discrimination, the disrespect and the belittling of a movement that has done so much for our region.
I have certainly been dismissive in passing. I often accuse people to engaging in “Rasta logic” where people repeat the same thing over and over again. As pieces2peace pointed out to me, just because something is repetitive doesn’t mean it’s redundant, it may be for emphasis. That’s one thing I can say for my experience of Rastafarians, their message over the years has been persistent. And for many of their messages I am thankful.
- “The white man is evil.” This message may seem simplistic, and growing up middle classed and brown skinned in the Caribbean I don’t think I was fully able to appreciate the intracieis and attrocities of our colonial history and/ or racism towards people of African descent worldwide. The message was actually about systems of whiteness, white privilege and white supremacy. White supremacy reigns and is truly evil.
- “Down with Babylon!” Now I had no idea what Babylon was growing up but I knew it was supposed to bad. Sometimes it seemed to refer to police, other times to people… it was all very confusing. Babylon, now feels a lot like capitalism and a state that tries to stifle the livelihood of a large percentage of people to the profit of a small few. Death to capitalism.
- “Natural hair is good hair.” I have locs, and have always had natural hair. There was a time when someone with my complexion and my hair would have been restricted from going to school, getting a job. Rastafarian men and women who maintained their right to be natural and wore their locks whether they were allowed to go to school or not made it possible for people like my to maintain my natural hair. Don’t mind people still ask me, why don’t you make it a little neater? The fact remains there were many more who walked this road before me. Who created language around loving that which is natural, privileging that which is natural. Natural hair is good hair.
- “Me nah nyam dead.” I’ve certainly veered from this one since I’ve re-welcomed seafood into my life. But long before people were talking about vegetarian, vegan, gluten free diets Rastafarians were processing the ills of eating the dead. They have preached and preached about the importance of growing your own food and being healthy. Vegetarian living is healthy living.
There are many other areas in which tribute can paid, music, reparations, community organising, the valuing of Africa. There are a few not so great areas, but this piece isn’t about throwing shade. My tribute to the Rastafarian movment.
I like to start my workout like I’m now going out to get paint and mud all over my body on j’ouvert morning. Undoubtedly one the biggest songs for the year, that I still don’t know the words to.
When it’s time to increase the speed I like to remind myself of FANTASTIC FRIDAY. On actual fantastic Friday I was shoveling snow in Toronto wishing I was in the stadium. Boy am I glad those days are over.
Keeping the run in high gear. It hurts me to post this, but that “we not staying down, we getting off the ground” makes me pick up the pace every single time. I’m seeing this video for the first time… I may be in love. That little boy holding he head at 3:27! Ah love it!
A great cool down! pieces2peace reintroduced me this Kes song. I must say I wasn’t on the Kes train in the early days. Lines like, “tonight the red man feeling to party” will never get you in my good books but he does give a great live show and I’ve never heard him repeat those words.
This came out a little while ago but how cool was it? Re-imagining cartoon characters of past. It’s nice to know that all cartoon girls will be sucked in by mainstream gender norms. It’s even nicer to know there are fabulous people out there re-imagining and ageing them for us.
- least surprising radical: Daria of Daria. She may have been my model for sarcasm.
- most surprising radical: Jazmine Dubois of Boondocks. She may be less upsetting now, appeasing my vexation re: Aaron McGrudder’s lack of positive black women in his comic/cartoon.
These 5 reasons for why honest sex is awesome is a little different. I’d add that a big part of honest sex with a partner is honesty with yourself and that takes openness, experimentation and humour. Most interesting tip- Be honest about porn:
“But you should talk about what types they like. Don’t go
into “why” – you’ll get nowhere like that. Here’s a suggestion: find porn that satisfies both of your attractions and then dirty talk about it while you foreplay…. And if you don’t like porn, be honest. You might have to surrender to letting your spouse have some alone-porn-time then, but that’s okay – remember, it’s not about you.”
I’m on the fence about porn myself. It definitely serves a purpose but I must say I’ve never had an all out discussion about in with a partner. Always something new to try/ discuss/ consider, even if it’s only a conversation. And as I must always, safer sex is sexier sex, don’t let your porn industry fool you.
Also please check out this SUPER honest piece about being celibate for a year. I think it’s a wonderful example about how not talking with our partners, or even wanting to be with who we’re having sex with can lead to boring, complacent, uncomfortable, frustrating sex. Sometimes it really is better to go it alone. Funniest thing ever: what her, “if i live-tweeted during sex my hootsuite would look something like this:”
The men of Dead Prez are pretty cool. I really think they make an effort to be genuinely helpful and community oriented. It didn’t hurt that I came across Stic Man being featured as a black yogi. You know I love my yoga. This piece though is about being healthy on a “hood budget”. A friend posted this on facebook and, “apparently I’m on a hood budget”, going through the list this is the way I grew up and no one would ever call my family or the budget we were working with “hood”. So hood budget are not, these are great tips for making the most out of what you buy in the grocery. What I most practice:
#2: Cook big and save later.
- I may take it to the extreme. I’ve been known to have a pot last me a week. I don’t mind eating the same thing every day.
#3: Soup up your options
- My aunt is the queen of soups and showed me their glory. Using Campbells as a base can lead to glory… some coconut milk, ground provisions and dumplings, you can never forget dumplings.
- I would add freezing the water from steamed or boiled vegetables over the week or weeks, add that to your soup for nutritious flavour.
Also on eating… check out this article Sporty Afros shared on what families groceries for a week looked like around the world. I’m tempted to do a picture with my family after this weekend’s shopping. Granted our family will look very different seeing that I’m a grown ass woman living with her parents, but still. I must say I’m shocked by all the packages but chances are our pictures will look very similar.
In Lucy, Jamaica Kincaid’s protagonist is in the early days of adolescence and experiencing a lot of angst. One of the many sources of which was having a period. Those who have or currently menstruate will be familiar with the discomfort, inconvenience, the pain. One woman I worked with said she welcomed and celebrated her period. It was for her a reminder of her fertility. I’m not trying to have children, so for me that excitement isn’t there. In Lucy, the mother of the protagonist warns/ predicts…
“finding blood in [your] underpants might be something one day [you] would get down on [your] knees and pray for” (69)
… and let me tell you truer words were never written.
Chris Rock has a hilarious joke (@3:25). He says, “you’re young and you date what do you do? You go to the movies, you go get pizza, you have sex, what else? You wait for periods.” He’s very right. If you’re young, single, fertile, having straight sex, and not planning on having children any time soon I’m willing to bet you’ve had a pregnancy scare.
Owing to my hypochondriac ways I’ve had a couple pregnancy scares myself. Oftentimes not justified: I’m a stickler about safer-sex. I always use condoms and am often on the birth control pill. But let me tell you, nothing puts fright in me more than, the thought, “shouldn’t I have had my period by now…”
And then rings true the words of Jamaica Kincaid, everyday you wait for finding blood in your underpants… oh what a blessing. What activities do you engage in? This is my usual modus operandi
- calendar checking
- when was my last period? I’ve never been good about tracking my cycle. So I end up having to try to remember what was going on in my life- events and activities when I last had my period and work back from there. I actually once convinced myself I was pregnant because I’d gained some weight even though it had been 9+ months since I’d had sex. #hypochondriaisreal
- decision making
- should I buy a pregnancy test?
- Surprisingly I never have. My period has always come before I get that scared. That said, I know many a friend who has a pregnancy test hidden somewhere in her house just in case.
- when should I tell him?
- When you’re one day late? When you’re 10 days late? When you get two lines on the pregnancy test? Now I’m definitely torn on this one. I’ve never discussed my anxiety with anyone I’ve had sex with with because nothing makes me worry more than other people worrying with me. But I remember watching a sitcom where a character had a pregnancy scare and she said she was telling him because there was no reason she should be the only one stressed about something they were both responsible for. To each his or her own.
- what would I do?
- Because I’m a dilly-dallier it would definitely be too late for the morning-after-pill which leaves abortion on the table. I’m as pro-choice as they come but in these parts of the world (English-speaking Caribbean) save a few territories it is actually illegal. So that leaves finding a doctor who will (there are many) and considering his or her reputation. Talk about stress. #awkwardconversation
- and thankfully all my stories have ended with great relief.
Hopefully we’ll all have/do an appreciation for the irony when there’s a shift in our desire to have children and we then start cursing the blood lining our underpants.
I’m still in love with Janelle Monae. It’s an old quote but…
“When I started my musical career I was a maid, I used to clean houses. My parents—my mother was a proud janitor, my step-father who raised me like his very own worked at the post office and my father was a trash man. They all wore uniforms. And that’s why I stand here today in my black and white and I wear my uniform to honor them,” Monáe said, fighting back tears.
how can I not be madly in love with this woman’s energy?
Solange. I know I need to be on her team but I’ve never quite joined it. This video however.. someone please help me I have NO idea what is going on. I like the solo dancing, those who know me know I *love* a self-choreographed outburst. But, yeah, I can’t figure out the video that seems to have a strong 80s vibe to it. Maybe I’ll grow to like the song…
Hip hop’s not really my thing, I rarely process all they lyrics. I managed with this one h/t Colorlines. So there’s a lot going on in the video. The song, I’m not 100% matches the video concept. Re: the song I like the acknowledging and valuing of our crooked smiles. Re: the video, it’s definitely engaging, the war on drugs is clearly foolish and continues to hurts, kill and imprison people far more than it supports and/or changes things for the positive.
Now that I’m driving I’m hearing a lot more music that I wouldn’t normally come across… video has yet to kill the radio star. How did I miss this song? I’m not a super Kelly Rowland fan. I like her more than I like Beyonce which doesn’t say a whole lot, I don’t like Beyonce. There’s a goofy-ness to her that I relate to. As I’ve mentioned kisses down low aren’t a deal breaker for me but a little guidance never hurts…
Speed it up, heat it up, let it go, let it go, let it go
‘Til I get, get enough, you never know, never know, never know
I like that there, yeah that there,
A little more to the left (yeah right there)
Regionally there are a couple big discussions go on that have somewhat piqued my interest.
- An increasing push towards decriminalising marijuana. The Prime Minister in St. Vincent has spoken in favour and so as the Chief Justice in Trinidad. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I’m less interested I think the CJ’s endorsement is particularly relevant when one thinks of the people* are put in jail for possession with intent to sell for what are typically quite small amounts. I fully support the decriminalisation of marijuana, jails do not need to be full of recreational users and those with addiction issues should be supported outside of a jail setting. I’m much less concerned about the marketing opportunities. But it took talking dollars and cents for the enslavement of Caribbean people to end, maybe if they can prove the region will make a lot of money from export governments will look more favourably upon the matter. So sad that quality of life, unnecessary imprisonment and mental health aren’t seen as great priorities.
- We now have a Caribbean Reparations Committee, “to seek compensation from Europe for native genocide and enslavement of Africans during colonisation”. I’m very curious to see how the process progresses. Hopefully as it moves forward ways to get involved and give input will be made available to the general public. If/ when that information becomes available I’ll definitely be posting it. The question for me as always, is what do we think reparations should look like? It’ll be interesting to see if there will be any women on the committee, any young people, any… I hope the committee will not be all be straight middle aged men of high academic standing from middle and upper middle class back grounds.
Have you seen this interacive genderbread person? This person is wonderful. It’s certainly not a cut and try formula on how to understand gender and sex but it’s eye-opening when you consider how many manifestations of being there are for our various gendered performances. I highly recommend playing around with it!
Fatimah Best-Jackson breaks down the difficulty of saying no. And she’s not talking about sex or drugs.
I have always had a tendency to say yes. No matter how many responsibilities there were at work or how tired I felt, I would agree to that one extra thing someone asked me to do. Sometimes it resulted in staying up all night proofreading a friend’s essay or being at an event when I really would have rather been in bed. At the time, I thought it was worth it because I did something for someone else that made them happy, but I rarely stopped to think about how I felt.
Saying no is a real challenge for me but I try to make and effort to recognise the limits of my own boundaries. It is very easy to fall into the people-pleasing effort/ superwoman trap. But I will say, that I’ve been most inspired to say no when a friend tells me s/he can’t. It’s a reminder from someone who loves me, someone who cares that they can’t be there all the time. So be a friend… tell someone you can’t today. 🙂
*read: young, poor and working class men
What is one of the things I will miss most about Toronto?
So as I got ready to leave Toronto my mission was to read as many books as possible.
Noviolet Bulawayo does something a little different with this novel. Each chapter could almost stand alone as a short shorty as we catch our protagonist at different, though chronological life stages. We meet her in Zimbabwe, and follow her in her migration to the US as a teenager. In Zimbabwe for me the most memorable “scene” is her describing her mother counting her money every night. She is still holding on to the paper that has been devalued so greatly that most other people’s money has turned to ash- literally, using it to keep fires going. In the US I remember being scared with each page turn that our protagonist was going to be sexually assaulted by her aunt’s husband or his son whose home she’d migrated to. Fortunately it was not so, but it reminded me of the constant threat of sexual assault that many young women, especially newcomers are under when they arrive. 4/5.
I *really* want to love Nalo Hopkinson. I’ve seen her in person and loved her. She has a real nice vibe, her politics seem on point, relaxed, fun, mischievous an personable. Her writing however makes me cringe. As a full disclaimer I will state that science fiction/ speculative fiction/ magic realism is not really my genre. Her Caribbean infused science/speculative/magic genre does nothing to help. I enjoy the Caribbean-ness and Toronto-ness of it all but it never seems to fit for me. I enjoyed the sister dynamic explored in the book, and even the boundary pushing around sexuality, monogamy, time but I still can’t get behind it. Each page I turned I thought, why isn’t this the last page. That said, if Nalo had a reading tomorrow I’d go to it. 1/5
As I scoured the shelves I looked specifically for women of colour authors. Let me tell you if you’re not looking for advice on marriage or romance women authors are hard to come by, far less women of colour. How I found Ru Freeman I don’t but I’m glad I did. This book was excellent, tragic and heart wrenching all in one. Set in Sri Lanka during the on-going civil war we see how neighbours so easily get pitted against each other. How family trauma carries. It’s class. It’s race. It’s ethnicity. It’s pain. I came close to tears a number of times. It may just be my middle class upbringing that made me identify so much with the protagonist family, but in that privilege comes great responsibility. Not to pity or condescend, but to share be generous, to be aware and be patient. There are always moments for us to show generousity, and we often lose that as we age, especially the teen years when our contemporaries need us most. 4/5
What did you read this summer?
A long overdue summer soca round up.
I watched Antigua’s Soca Monarch competition after a semi-satisfying day masquerading in Toronto. Let me tell you that competition was SWEET. Wadadli doing big big things. I disagreed with the judges as I disagree with most judges in queen, calypso and soca shows. The man who brought real vibes to the competition- Hard Knaxx, and not just b/c he said, S”t. Kitts gyal like to party hard, party hard.” (@2:53)
Spice Mas… I really had every intention of going this year. But intentions are not plans, and even so, plans are not realities. I cannot miss what is supposed to be the region’s most glorious j’ouvert many more years. Mr. Killa, showing some love for the plus sized women. Interesting how showing love and objectifying often look familiar on stage…
After two Cropovers in a row this year I bid the festival adieu. I did not however turn my back on the music. This song had me CRACKING up. No one would ever ask me this question as my bottom is not big, broad or firm. But I love it, “girl, how you bumpa get so big and so broad and round and so firm?” But Alison answer priceless… “Caribbean girls was born with it”.