sunday nite i draw a blue bath with valerian and hops.
i have a gift I want to make, I write SH last night:
"i was thinking about how even though the academy is so thoroughly fucked and a fucker-of-the living and unliving-- there is work that some of us need to or choose to do through and on the academy. (the Joy James essay on being "relevant radical subjects" is key here. thank u for always sharing sharing with me.)
so my question is: how do we nurture each other so we can do the work that needs to be done/ and that we want to do? (with full recognition that the work is neither limited to, nor "ends" here in the the academy? how do we love each other as we work?
and--that lead me to: how do we makes spaces, help each other make spaces for our current and future daughters, aunties, nieces, childrens should they want to do work while at/through the university. our babies will take up our work and continue with it/ here or elsewhere. i want to make a space for that doing and envisioning. i want to make a gift for them within each other."
this is not about reforming the university; it's nonredeemable. this is/would be about holding space for those who are trying to do important work while in a fucked up space. it would have to be done secretly so it wouldn't be absorbed by the very space we need protection from.
today, viewing the interview with Arthur Jafa and bell hooks, someone says that generosity is about taking our ideas, those we present to the world, seriously. this lands for me. generosity is to take seriously the ideas we share with each other by asking questions, say hmmmm, saying what about this? sometimes I will refuse to be generous. sometimes my generosity will be misinterpreted.
last quarter, when my white prof said the n-word in class to explain 'excitable speech' and i said stop, was this a type of generosity? it didn't feel that way.
then bell hooks says that, "all the images are corrupt."
i think about what it means to identify myself as latinx in a U.S. context. how I deploy it. how it works. what it means that I am white in Colombia, even tho I am called "negrita" by some of my family. and how this dynamic possibly distracts me. disorients me. how do I operate as "junior partner" to whiteness by continuing to try to recuperate it in subtle ways.
Jafa, in the interview, makes a comment about how the gaze of the camera is always white because it is tied to surveillance. for example, in my first day of video class, we are presented a video of a well established white artist. then, we are presented a video of a well established white artist. then, we are presented a video of a well-established non-black POC artist who features images of naked black bodies in a context of whiteness. who features an indigenous musician singing while inter-spliced/interrupted with an english-language t.v. commercial. this is where the training begins.
Christina Sharpe asks "what's on your retina?" in this interview, specifically asking if the slave ship is on your retina.
how does latinidad un-disturb my retina. how does queerness un-disturb my retina.
the well-know video artist asks something like: 'what happens when we free these texts from history'. or, how do we keep the retina clean?
lately, no poems. the first line appears and then melts. my heart doesn't beat to it. i know it's there because i breath but i can't hear it.
yesterday, SZ asked us "what does it mean to think critically?" we go slowly, i say. we linger. we ask questions of those much older than us and much younger than us. SZ rephrases this to "we seek guidance."
call for guidance: there's this thing I want to re-train myself in: when a white person in the (class)room does something "good," i find myself saying thank you to them later in ways that I don't intend. it just comes out of me, the gratitude. what am I contributing to in this interaction that always makes me feel shitty inside. is it fear that makes me say thank you. what is really on my retina, here.
i wrote this last year:
- INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO DEFACE A BOOK
- Start at the beginning
- of your hate
- Remember the first time
- you asked something
- and the look back at you was NO
- you are 8 maybe 9
- the neighborboy spanks your behind while you are climbing a tree
- he thinks it's funny
- you laugh, your hands hugging the trunk,
- but you tell him to stop
- he does it again and you threaten to tell on him
- he does it again
- you feel sick
- you run and tell his father who is on the other side of the apartment complex
- "No, my son wouldn't do that," he says to you.
- this is how you learn a shame. you learned a lesson.
- Start at the beginning
- & make room for the heartbreak
- that is not your own, the one you can't see