Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

makes the ppl come together- calming music

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.

now that i’m alone.

Speaking UpFirstly, I apologize for being a day late. Secondly, this is not a breakup post. (Although it could have been. Maybe one day I’ll have the energy to sum up my thoughts on the breakup.) This is an I’m-without-my-chosen-and-birth-family post. An I’m-learning-how-to-work-with-partial-allies post. An I’m-weary-with-this-school-thing post. Thirdly, the title comes from one of my favourite songs from ian kamau’s one day soon. Not at all related in content but felt fitting anyway.

Race doesn’t get talked about in my program. Maybe that’s not right. It’s probably more accurate to say that racism doesn’t get talked about. Or racism is talked about but nobody’s enacting it or benefiting from it. What this means is that in classes, I often feel anxiety anytime race is/could be mentioned because I know 1) it’s going to be avoided, 2)someone will say something problematic in such an indirect way that it’ll be hard to call it out in the moment or even talk to classmates after about it and call it what it was and/or 3)someone’s going to say some outright fucked up shit and I’ll have to deal with calling it out and/or the awkwardness of my classmates as they try to have conversations with me about what was said.

All 3 of these options happened in one class around one comment. First the extremely problematic thing was said by a lecturer. Then, in an attempt to show ‘solidarity’ with me (the black girl who so ‘bravely’ spoke about race in class *insert roll eyes*), I got cornered by a classmate who thanked me for my comment and launched into a heavily coded racist/classist tirade. Then there was the silence. The avoiding of the topic. The lecturer looking at me cautiously as they stuttered through any reference that they thought could potentially set me off.

The most surprising feeling that came up for me in this 3 week long process of awkward conversations, being taken aside in private to discuss things with the professors, having semi-cathartic conversations with three of the other non-white people in my class and venting to my core people elsewhere was loneliness. I was ready for the anger (I’m comfortable with getting heated when shit comes up). I was ready for the relief (it often feels like I’m just waiting for some shit to come up because it’s quite often barely seething below the surface; that ‘fight or flight’ stress mode is real). I was ready for the exhaustion (see the two previous feelings). I was not ready for the level of loneliness.

I was the one who spoke up. My old boss used to speak about the burden that a certain kind of political people of colour often are assigned/take on. Hearing these comments that support/come out of/are part of oppressive systems that have material, emotional, mental, spiritual, physical consequences for you and communities that you belong to. Being the only one who is willing to speak up about it because it’s real for you and other people either don’t notice or do not think it’s a big deal or do not speak up because they benefit from the system or are not in a place to/willing to work through the guilt/privilege/discomfort to verbalize it. Being the one who then has to teach people how not to be (as) racist/say (as) racist things.

I do not always have the energy to speak up. This is where allies would be useful. But I do not have many of those here. There are lots of reasons people don’t speak up individually, I’m not saying people who do not speak up are bad. (I think this is one of our fears when confronted with our privilege. That people are accusing us of being intentional assholes or inherently bad. Or at least that’s one of my fears when my middle-class, light-skinned, English-speaking, cisgender, straight privilege is made glaringly obvious.) I’m saying the sum of all those individual reasons is a collective excuse that reinforces silence instead of (professors) using a valuable opportunity (I hate calling painful/problematic stuff an opportunity but I think in what is clearly supposed to be a learning environment, it can be exactly that) to talk about things that I know people think but rarely feel that they can discuss.

So after all of this, I feel a lot of things. Tension in my shoulders. The desire to cry every few hours. Sad. Disappointed. Frustrated. Lonely. But it’s a reminder that while I’m in this physical space (and probably all others), my self care cannot be neglected. In this process, my self care looks like:

  1. reminding myself that it is not my job to explain shit to people
  2. reminding myself that people often suck (and not in the good way) and that has little to do with me
  3. unpacking with people i trust via phone/Skype/gchat
  4. being ok with the fact that every single friendship will not be able to provide everything. there will be friends who will not feel equipped to back you up on some stuff or will not feel it necessary. some friendships are limited but very real within those boundaries and that is ok

Any thoughts? Advice? Questions?

Wutliss Wednesdays

funny-how-i-dance-alone-in-public-club-cartoonFyah stirrers. It’s been one of those weeks. Or one of those months. Where the only solution is to come home. Turn off all the lights. Turn on some ridiculously wutliss dancehall. Turn it up at full volume. And wuk up by yourself. Maybe try a new headstands. Maybe test your splitting abilities. Maybe hurt yourself a little on one or two of the aforementioned activities. If it’s one of those weeks for you, maybe this is your playlist?

1. Kranium – Nobody has to know

I’m all about healthy, honest relationships. Despite this, there’s something bout a hornin/bitin/matey track that always gets me.

2. Busy Signal – Stamma

This is of the era when Busy Signal and Aidonia used to sing one pure amazing wutliss track after the other and hence held a special place in my heart.

3. Lady Saw & Beenie Man – Healing

Classic. That is all

 

Happy hump day, Fyah stirreres! Think of me as you wuk up alone!

fyah fridays- old school cartoons, good sex and eating well

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.

boondocks- Jazmine

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 orgasm
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 corn souppiece 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.

Music Wednesdays!

music

This week’s selection is from the new albums on my listening rotation.

1. John Legend – Who Do We Think We Are

One of my favourite songs on the album. Despite the perspective the video (and my subsequent re-listening to the lyrics) presents, I will continue to maintain that this song is about the pseudo-arrogance of falling/growing/staying in love in the face of everything that’s wrong with this world and the number of times other people (and even you) have gotten it wrong.

2. Drake – Too Much ft Sampha

Probably my absolute favourite on the album. Maybe the one song I’m not ashamed to like. I enjoy Sampha a lot on this track; also I really think Drake is at his best when he’s in his vulnerable, reflective, personal storyteller persona.

3. Janelle Monae – Primetime ft Miguel

A pretty mainstream-sounding track from the album but I still love it (she reminds me a bit of Yahzarah on this song). I’m kinda looking forward to the video which is being released tomorrow.

Happy Hump Day!

Fyah spots – the music review edition

cartoon-kids-musicIt’s been a really long time since I’ve listened to new music. The idea of committing myself to listening to an album that I’m likely only to instantly like one track on, and maybe grow to like/love four or five more on repeated listens (if I’m lucky) has been really unappealing. What can I say? My downtime has been limited, I like to guarantee I’ll enjoy it – hence me re-watching Pride & Prejudice and The Wire rather than delving into Breaking Bad and seeing what all the fuss is about. This last two weeks, however, I’ve put three new albums on rotation for various reasons. And because I like forming an opinion of an album on my own then hearing other opinions on it so I can understand the music a little bit better or differently, I read reviews. I will use this opportunity to share my favourites.

  1. John Legend – Love in the Future. As usual, I did not like the first single. But because I am a huge John Legend fan (his first few albums he seemed to be doing a pretty great job of chronicling my relationships), I gave it a try anyway. And I LOVE it. I’ve agreed with a lot of the reviews I’ve read – some of the songs aren’t as strong as he has been lyrically, some of the tracks are particularly strong (Who Do We Think We Are, The Beginning…), the album very much reflects that he’s at a different place relationship-wise (and perhaps maturity-wise) – but the review that speaks most to me is Vibe’s review. The review does a wonderful job of reflecting on his career’s trajectory, acknowledging this as a great moment in that path, and still being honest about the fact that it probably wasn’t the best.
  2. Drake – Nothing was the Same. I have a complex relationship with Drake. I think he’s part wack, part talented, part straight guilty entertaining. This album is perhaps my favorite of his since the Heartbreak Drake mixtape. I feel guilty about enjoying him as much as I do and none of the reviews quite sum up how I feel about him and myself for liking him. But I do appreciate the Rolling Stone review that points out that one of the most appealing things about him is his flaws are his whole point (to a certain extent) and the Guardian review whose author was obviously poking fun at/challenging me directly when he says, “there’s nothing overly complex or profound here, but try to resist the charm.”
  3. Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady. So this review says everything I felt listening to this album. I probably wouldn’t have committed to listening to it all were it not for the fact that I have tickets to see her next month and want to be able to get excited about/sing along to more than just Q.U.E.E.N.. I enjoy her but have never felt the need to do an in depth exploration of her work. I’m really glad I did, at least for this album. It was all over the place in a way that if anyone had described it I would have assumed it would have been a hot mess. But it’s a wonderful album. AND it features my loves Solange, Erykah Badu AND Esperanza Spalding? Yes please.

Fyah stirrers. I think you already know the albums I’ll be picking from for my music post on Wednesday.

Happy weekend!

makes the ppl come together- moving away from soca

Janelle Monae

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)

fyah links- weed, reparations, genderbending & saying no

Regionally there are a couple big discussions go on that have somewhat piqued my interest.

  1. 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 particularlydecriminalise marijuana 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.
  2. We now have a Caribbean Reparations Committee, “to seek compensation from Europe for native genocide reparationsand 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 genderbreadgender 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 keep calm and say nothe 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

loving old(er) people (part II) – repost

It’s just past the 2 year anniversary of my granny’s passing. In honour of that, I’m reposting a piece I shared last year to mark the anniversary.

granny helen is the grandparent i miss the most – she’s the one who i had the longest time with as an adult, and probably the one i’m most like (kind of prophetic of my parents to give me the middle name helen).  in honour of my granny, i’m sharing something i wrote the night she passed.

It’s 4am and I still can’t sleep. I’m sure if I told one of my more spiritual friends they’d tell me it’s because I’ve sensed her spirit leave or something.. I’m not quite as sensitive to other worldliness – even though now that I think about it, Granny kind of was (I always remember Mommy telling us about her smelling where someone had died in a room). It got even more acute when she was older, the last few years she’d been complaining about 


Granny was 92 and I’d never heard her talk about death. Despite health that hadn’t been great for the past 10 years and hadn’t been good for at least the past 4, I don’t think I’d heard my Granny talk about the possibility of dying. My sister and I joked that her childhood dream was to turn 100 and she was determined to fulfill it come hell or high water. I don’t know what was holding her with us, but I’m glad it held her this long.

all the people in the room even when it’s just me there. I always figured that washer 6th sense gaining another dimension. Maybe I’ll get that gift in old age.

Now I’m up and I know that people say you should celebrate a passing like this, better places and all that but I’m torn. Because I’m not sure that as unhappy as my Granny may have been, that she was the type to want us to celebrate her being gone. My Granny, like me in family spaces, loved the attention. So I’ll straddle a fairly thin line – I won’t celebrate her being “free”, I’ll celebrate her life. And I’ll miss her – I think Granny would love to be missed.

Celebrating my Granny means remembering how much she loved to laugh. I remember being young and showing her ridiculous gyrating dance moves and trying to get them to do them too just so I could make her laugh till she was unable to catch her breath for a few moments.

It means remembering her style. My Granny loved her red-haired updos, her red lipstick, brightly coloured clothes and her big necklaces. I will always remember whenever “company” came over she would demand that she be changed into a proper outfit, or dressing gown, put on her lipstick and a necklace so nobody could say she wasn’t stunning .

It means remembering that life doesn’t always go as we plan. Sometimes our bodies don’t work the way we want. Sometimes our mouths can’t say what our strong minds want them to. And so we have to take joy in things like random new food items we find at the supermarket, the scent of the perfume that someone gave us years ago, and the memories of an 80 year old granny trying to wuk up like her granddaughter when she can barely breathe through laughter.

in the words of derevolushunwidin “she was my granny and she was fierce”.

makes the ppl come together- summer soca round up

A long overdue summer soca round up.

keep calm and love small island soca

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”.

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