2. No one came to our group panel on decolonizing fatness for the racialized and fat body. The emotions regarding this ran the gambit from disappointment, to embarrassment, to annoyance, to shade, to anger, to snarky remarks, to sadness and questioning my life goals. So lessons: 2a This happens to everyone (most) at some point. Next time, scope out your "host"-in this case the event/conference, and look into the demographic of the area. Matter of fact, enlist support with this. Someday I will be able to hire someone to do these things, until then-I need to use facebook and other forms of social media to reach out to folks in the demographic I am interested in and to find out more about my host. 2b I am not the measure of who is or isn’t showing up. Yes my work should reach people. In this instance my work was about connecting and building alliances with two individuals across identities and regions and experiences of colonization. We gathered around ideas, unpacked some issues facing us individually and as a collective of POC, and walked away with a deeper sense of what my/our work is, what solidarity looks and feels like, and ways to balance collective work across POC communities and my work for and with Black folks. This is not a silver lining. THIS, is clearly what the ancestors called forth in all of this. Received, humbly. 2c Academia is a complicated "thing" filled with a complexity of brilliance and tom foolery. It is not a measure of dopeness. I am sitting in this and calling myself in to not ever, ever forget that. And if/when I do, I’ll come back to this lesson.
3. I did an individual presentation/round-table discussion (that I will be doing again locally as soon as I can figure out where/how) called "How the Hood Saved a Wretch Like Me: Hood Alchemy as a form of Black Resistance". 3 people came. For Lessons-see 2, and 2a-2c. Also, there was a 21 year old Black woman from Chicago that attended this session . She was the only Black and Hood identified person in the space (shout out to Carrie Fuentes for coming to support me and be in solidarity-more on her later). I am so grateful that I was able to provide and discuss a subject like that in that setting for her. Reaching one, means I did what I came to do. I am humbled by this and inspired by the notion that I would have felt valued and affirmed to have a presentation like this at an academic institution when I was in college; a discussion where we are talking about and unpacking the brilliance and genius that is in the hood. The fact that we been smart, we been brilliant, and it is not the academy that makes it so, rather we bring our intellect already in tact. We have technologies that are not recognized as so, that are commodified and often redistributed to us through white and non Black artist, so called activist, and or scolded out of us from so called Black elders. I was able to say to her what I wish someone would have said to me-you been a star ship. We have our own genius that we come to these institutions with. Let's recognize it as such-together. She was receptive and expressed feelings of affirmation. I am grateful for this sister more than she will ever know.
4. Carrie Fuentes is a beautiful human being and I feel I have sincerely gained a comrade in her. We talked and shared about the ways we have talked to our dads about their participation in white supremacy and how we must watch and be careful in our interactions with/thoughts of brown folks (my dad) and black folks (her dad) as the “theying” we do is a tool of white supremacy. I mean talk about vulnerable, messy work. We looked out for each other over the course of the weekend and when the time came, we would part ways and go do our thing, then come back together and hold space for each other’s experience. We got to talk with and spend time with Asam Ahmad, whom I didn’t know well before, and felt so much camaraderie and solidarity with as we spent more time together (FAT POC WITCH COVEN!). We sat out under the stars and moon one night in a park and just laughed and shared ourselves. It felt like the part of the work that we have to do that we don’t call work-the rapport building. Or just building-yes the work. I think too often, we engage in superficial and shallow interactions and “relationships” with one another in POC community/space and interact with assumed solidarity. I mean, I get that there is some shared experience among POC in this country and even on this continent. AND I have solid relationships with non-black POC. What I am admitting is that I met these two people (Asam and Carrie) almost two years ago at a conference. We had varied interactions that fostered solidarity, cordialness, love, and care for each other as people-but with some significant distance. After time spent getting “naked” emotionally and even spiritually, I feel like I know them better and can say sincerely where I might ride with/for them or not. I think this is important in movement work-to be real when we disagree, experience things different from one another, and be willing to own that we don’t know what it’s like to experience the world in our individual identities, let alone larger communities of color and then across POC community. I think it’s important to spend time with each other and be willing to be the people inside the work, together; and see where our lived experiences are similar and when they are not and make room for all of that. There is no way to do that completely in 4 days. But we sure did start. I’m grateful for that and it has shifted the way I will move forward in POC space from here on out. Also-the use of the term BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) is new to me and one that I like.
5. I met a group of young black people from Chicago that are members of the “black youth project 100”. This brilliant group of people did an activist report back for the work they are doing to deal with and charge the Chicago Police department with genocide against Black and Brown people. I do not have an accurate account by account report on what happened and the work that this group of amazing human beings are doing. If you want numbers, and stats, and accurate language, please Google them and visit their website at wechargegenocide.org. All I have is my experience hanging out with them after the conference, which quite honestly made the trip for me. This is an account of my interactions with them as people and NOT the ins and outs of the work they are doing. I just want to be accountable and not give any miss information and be transparent that I am speaking anecdotally and not as a “reporter”.
They are brilliant and bad ass. I mean I don’t have any other words. Yes I do: genius, magic, ancestral prayer, warrior spirit, Black excellence, and ignition! First I attended their activist report back session where they talked about the process of going to the U.N. and the requirements and feeling of “lobbying” it takes to present something to the U.N. Yes honey, THE United Nations. They spoke of the experience of preparing their reports and the nervousness and courage it took to say the things they said about the Chicago police department and the pain in having to report on people they loved and were/are in community with that died/were critically and emotionally injured at the hands of the Chicago Police department and how those people were not perfect and yet deserved to live/go unharmed. I watched them show up in their fullness in a room full of strangers and tell us about the process and what they learned and what has come of this. How lawyers that have made this their life’s work, that have been working on this since before I was born, working with them and they were able to get HOLISTIC REPARATIONS granted to 118 victims of police violence. “Holistic reparations” is a term I had never heard of before meeting them. As they explained what they had done, gone to the U.N., gotten these reparations that include mental health care for the victims (survived) and their families, a public apology, and this account, in some form that I don’t quite have the accurate wording for, added to the public school system's history books-I was floored. I kept thinking, look at Blackness. Look at what we do with empowerment, encouragement, support, and passion. Look at what we been doing, surviving, creating worlds inside our neighborhoods, and alternatives to mainstream education. Look at how we been healing ourselves and going to bat for each other.
As I spent the day Sunday following this group of people around the city of Toronto, hanging out in Kensington Market (shout out to Jay Kay-a brilliant local activist in Toronto doing all matters of work to lift up Black Lives!!!), listening to them politic about femininity/masculinity, gender/gender expression, looksism, decolonization as a metaphor, relationships between Black and Indigenous peoples, music, trips out of the country they have been on, the term Black among the Diaspora, and so much more---all while breaking out in dance from time to time, and playing with a skate board, and collectively sharing food, and libation, and engaging deeply in the life of the mind, each other, and the world around them, I often wanted to cry. I fell in love with these people. And in that I fell more in love with me. I saw me and my brother and some of the folks I've known and worked with over the past 10 or so years. I was reminded of the when I was deep in the thrones of activism in NC. But also, how I exist now as a 30 something woman, I realized I’m already letting the jaded feelings reside here. Already letting it be more about “me and mine” and less about us and ours. I was intentional not to “wise-big-sister” them instead, really sit back and listen and offer my opinions sparingly. They were gracious toward me and very loving and sweet. In fact, I made a connection to two of them that felt so kindred and loving that again, I might cry. I miss them. I miss seeing them around and I want to talk to them everyday. It has made me realize how much I miss being in community and regular contact with people younger than me. I hope they know not only do I have mad respect for them, but I learned so much from them. Mostly-to show up just like this to the work. Full on with all heart and passion and Black excellence. More than that, show up alongside others. It’s the “us” that gets it done. All walks of life- the Black us, get’s it done.