Posts tagged sonya renee
Posts tagged sonya renee
the wood of our bones is not different.
You built this house, do not shame it.
If it leaks, your curses do not keep out the rain.
Lay the buckets, let it pour into itself.
Let its steel drum song, sing you soft again.
If the floors creak, worn with the running
of dogs, children, lovers, who left
or never came at all call them wind chimes,
call them ushers who have always led you to a good seat.
Call them a room in your house. A sacred place
to weep, rock, come undone in laughter.
When the door knob rusts, praise its opening still,
exalt the ten thousand journeys over threshold.
That which you buried on one side. That which you coaxed
back to breath on the other, all lived here.
In this wilting wood. In this shack made mansion
by the grace of seconds piled upon the other
like smart kindling. The kind that knows how to start the fire
burn through the night. The kind that wakes us up warm
but has kept enough of its own thin bones to flame again.
What should we call this but shelter?
How we kept the wolves out
or didn’t .
How we always lived through the attack.
We are alive in this plaster and spit. We are adobe
kibutz, we are teepee and tarp
pulled up over the storm. When the hurricane flung the city
in tantrum we were the house still standing. Our own sweet timber
that has not betrayed us. How dare we damn these buckled beams?
How dare we not honor the snap that never came?
What are we if not, a testimony of carpentry?
A hammer and nail altar, a temple in which to worship
ourselves if we say so. So SAY SO. If we call this thing
broken then it is. If we call it fortress
so shall it be. So be fortress.
Be a stronghold against the hail.
Be the gift you gave yourself for making it through
in the house you built. Even if it is only lit by candle.
Even as it aches, groans like a disgruntled forest
Even in its cracks, it is a still castle
so be the beneficent ruler of what is yours.
Be the keeper that let’s the light in. Be the gardener still fond
of the soil of her own rich palms.
There is so much you have saved you from
in the good thing you built. There is no disgrace here.
Tonight, before the crust of sleep takes you,
in the twilight of your own forgiveness
stand before this weathered tower
as architect, gaze at what you made as furiously
as a mother made you and in that lighthouse quiet
perhaps for the first time say,
In an unprecedented surge of interest, rich White men have begun talking at length about the lives of poor Black children. Thank you rich white men. We have been waiting desperately for you to weigh in on the situation and now that we have your thoughts we can finally stamp out poor black childhood once and for all! In recent weeks, we have received counsel from republican presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich and most recently Forbes tech writer, turned Freedom Writer, Gene Mark. According to Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Mark, there are some very clear ways to end the scourge of poverty, blackness and adolescents in America today and most them involve either a toilet plunger or some awesome web-surfing talents. Let me not sound unappreciative, in a day and age where the unemployment rate for the black community is a double digit source of depression and the situation for Americans of all hues is growing more dire by the day, having people even pretend to be aware is useful to some extent. But I can’t help but feel that a critical voice is missing from Newt and Gene’s perspective… poor black kids.
It takes an intellectual and moral authority rich white men often have a corner on to present opinions on subjects they have no first hand, second hand or even tertiary knowledge about. How do Newt and Gene know so much about poor black kids? Have they gone BRANJOLINA on us and adopted a secret Tamika or Tykwan under the cloak of night? Or are they simply unaware that telling people what they need without asking people what they need is not only patronizing but phenomenally disempowering. No one knows what poor young black kids need better than they do. They are the experts of their experiences. Have you talked to them lately?
There is NO SOLUTION for the circumstance of disproportionate systemic poverty and racism that bears the responsibility of fixing by our children. If our answer to the barriers of success for young people today is figure it out, that is an obscene shirking of our responsibility as adults. RICH WHITE MEN hold a substantial burden of accountability for the social circumstances of inequity and injustice in America. Doing their part to remedy it will not happen via campaign rhetoric or sensationalized blogs! Is it not, the work of a society’s adults to honor, protect, and provide for each of its children? If so, to Newt I say: How dare you sit on millions of dollars while telling kids with the least control and resource in this world, what work they need to be doing, all the while proposing legislation that decimates their communities? How dare you have numerous adulterous affairs and then speak to black children about ethics? Gene, how dare you work in a sector that holds the keys to technology and offer only some websites to poor young people of color? Why isn’t your company in elementary schools providing mentorship and software rather web addresses? How dare you both sit from your chariot of privilege and offer nothing but a lecture to young black kids, while your children go to the finest schools with the finest technologies and have likely never scrubbed a toilet for pay.
Let me share with you the lived experience of a poor black kid. She was born to teenage parents who were born to struggling poor parents. By the time she was 5 her mother had a full on crack addiction. Her father was an enlisted military man often gone on long deployments. This young girl did many of the things both Newt and Gene suggested. She got good grades. She read voraciously. She sang, danced, spoke articulately. Most of this she learned as a tool to keep adults from peering into her life and placing her and her disabled brother into foster care. She spent time at the school library and looked at new technology on the days she was able to go to school but when her mother was on a crack binge she had no way to send her brother to school and still make the school bus so she missed some days. She was 10. She washed her underclothing out in the bathroom sink. She convinced adults to buy she and her brother pizza so they didn’t starve without ever letting on that she hadn’t seen her mother in over 5 days. She was 10. Getting consistently good grades is pretty difficult when you are literally starving. Even though her grades slipped somehow she still got into that magnet school Mr. Mark. She was tenacious, hard working and regularly out scored her classmates in standardized tests. She desperately wanted to be placed in honors and AP classes because she knew these gifted classes would direct her toward scholarships and academic opportunities, a way out. Unfortunately our testing does not recognize ambition and because she was 5 points below acceptable math score she was kept out of those classes. When she moved into a homeless shelter in high school due to family instability she still managed to hold down a full time job and various volunteer positions. By graduation she had managed to finish school with a 3.0. Given the trauma and volatility of her home life, and her mother’s 10th grade education, she had done pretty good but not good enough for these illustrious scholarships Mr. Mark speaks of. To add insult to injury, although she had been residing in a homeless shelter for her final year of school, federal student assistance determines aid based off the student’s parents income. As a result of that stipulation, our poor Black kid was ineligible for grants for school. Even with this, she returned to the homeless shelter, worked 3 jobs and figured out how to return to college the following year. When she finished college cum laude the world rewarded her HERCULEAN effort to beat the odds at all costs with $100,000 in student loans. YES ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS WORTH OF DEBT at age 24. I would like to respectfully ask Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Mark where in this economy a new college graduate might even begin to pay back that sort of debt? Oh, yes, scrubbing toilets.
My story is not the only in the world. It is a snapshot of the superhuman efforts of poor black children who struggle to make it out of inhumane circumstances Mark and Newt cannot begin to fathom. Knowingly allowing young people to go through what I went through is CHILD ABUSE! We owe our children better than desperate, life sapping struggle. We are failing them, in policy, in practice and in word. Rich White Men, I swear we do not need any more of your advice. But if you would like to pick up a broom Newt and help clean up this place, we’d be much obliged.
The ever elusive “they” says that death comes in three’s. With this, I was certain that the ninety –three people reported dead in the devastating Norway terrorist attack on Thursday (link) would cover the clichéd standard. The news was beyond tragic but I found myself breathing a selfish sigh of relief, no one I know. When emotionally tormented songstress, Amy Winehouse was found dead in her bed the next day, I was not surprised; sad, but not surprised. Again, I was clear the collective “we” had been visited with enough loss and devastation to be safe for a while. Surely, the universe would offer a respite. I mean, didn’t “we” deserve one? The text I received early Sunday afternoon from someone I love very much stated starkly:
David Blair, sweet friend, fellow artistic peer, and phenomenal writer and human was found dead at a motel and there was little information beyond that. And all I could say was, “WHAT THE F*CK?” “How could he be gone so randomly?” I lamented naively, as if I was unfamiliar with the magician’s hand of death: how we can be here one minute, vanished the next. “But what about the rule of three?”
When I am honest with myself it is pretty awful but selfishly, I suppose I desired the blood of innocent youth and chaperons thousands of miles away to provide shield for those I know and love personally. Of course I was sad about Oslo and Amy, but what a luxury it is to grieve remotely, on the other side of a plasma screen. That half a globe away sadness does not dry to cement, leaving you stationary on your knees, just as I was Sunday evening, weeping at my bedroom altar in pain, wrenched at the thought of watching my friend’s make plans for Blair’s funeral. Having death be as close as me and Blair’s last email exchange, made Amy’s death close, made the deaths of scores of teenagers simply playing in the summer Norwegian waters no longer a remote sadness on the other side of a plasma screen. The grief of tragic seemingly senseless loss is palpable, a heaving bloodied thing we must all hold at some point. This weekend was so many of our turns, again.
I cannot help but frame all of this tragedy in a RUHCUS lens. Distilled to its simplest truth, RUHCUS is about RADICAL FREEDOM. It is about how we live our FULLEST, MOST COURAGEOUS LIFE so that we might receive and give the most from humanity. I know Blair. I know he lived a big brilliant unapologetic life and left so many filled with joy and better for having known him and his art. I have no doubts Blair lived in a constant state of RUHCUS, peeling the layers, shaking the rust and peeling again, creating stunning art all the while. He was RUHCUS personified.
I wish I would have known Amy personally. I wish I could have helped her see how her commitment to her pain was a vacant marriage, how it could only level her again and again. I suppose it is arrogant of me to think I could help her see something her parents could not, her lovers, managers, ardent fans could not. Silly to think I could help her heal something I cannot help some of those I love the most heal. There is a poem by Marge Piercy entitled, Maggid about the exodus of the Jewsthat I believe best symbolizes what the RUHCUS Project is truly about. It says:
The courage to let go of the door, the handle.
The courage to shed the familiar walls whose very
stains and leaks are comfortable as the little moles
of the upper arm; stains that recall a feast,
a child’s naughtiness, a loud blattering storm
that slapped the roof hard, pouring through.
The courage to abandon the graves dug into the hill,
the small bones of children and the brittle bones
of the old whose marrow hunger had stolen;
the courage to desert the tree planted and only
begun to bear; the riverside where promises were
shaped; the street where their empty pots were broken.
The courage to leave the place whose language you learned
as early as your own, whose customs however
dangerous or demeaning, bind you like a halter
you have learned to pull inside, to move your load;
the land fertile with the blood spilled on it;
the roads mapped and annotated for survival.
The courage to walk out of the pain that is known
into the pain that cannot be imagined,
mapless, walking into the wilderness, going
barefoot with a canteen into the desert;
stuffed in the stinking hold of a rotting ship
sailing off the map into dragons’ mouths.
Cathay, India, Serbia, goldeneh medina,
leaving bodies by the way like abandoned treasure.
So they walked out of Egypt. So they bribed their way
out of Russia under loaves of straw; so they steamed
out of the bloody smoking charnelhouse of Europe
on overloaded freighters forbidden all ports—
out of pain into death or freedom or a different
painful dignity, into squalor and politics.
We Jews are all born of wanderers, with shoes
under our pillows and a memory of blood that is ours
raining down. We honor only those Jews who changed
tonight, those who chose the desert over bondage,
who walked into the strange and became strangers
and gave birth to children who could look down
on them standing on their shoulders for having
been slaves. We honor those who let go of everything
but freedom, who ran, who revolted, who fought,
who became other by saving themselves.
Amy was Jewish, a descendant of Maggid. I wish she could have walked out of the pain that was known believing that something verdant and growing was just beyond the desert. I wish she would have believed enough to let go of everything but freedom. I wish she would have radically unapologetically sought her healing. She did not and ultimately, I believe that is what killed her. If you are waiting until you are not scared to start your journey, I submit to you, your journey will never start. Courage is not the absence of fear but the willingness to move in the face of it. Do not wait to get your healing. You are promised nothing but this moment, not the next. There is a RUHCUS waiting for you. Grab it while you can; for those humans in Norway who will never be able, for those in your life still bolted to the floor by fear, for my friend Blair, for you. Today I speak courage over your life, over your fear, over your bondage believing that a Radical FREEDOM from pain, shame, trauma and fear is within your reach. I know this. All who love you hold this for you until you can hold it for yourself. Do not let it die in our hands. Come and take that which is yours. The Body Is Not an Apology honors you, … who let go of everything but freedom, who ran, who revolted, who fought, who became other by saving themselves.
This video walks you through how to begin your own RUHCUS!
The second video explains why i picked my particular RUHCUS activity
The first Day of my official RUHCUS! The night before my Shaving Ceremony.
Welcome to The Body Is Not An Apology RUHCUS Project tumblr page! Since I started my RUHCUS project 16 days ago, I have been overwhelmed by the folks who have affirmed, assisted, followed, and created their own RUHCUS projects! This space will be used to highlight various folks RUHCUS journeys around the country and abroad.
WHAT IS A RUHCUS!
The RUHCUS Project (Radically Unapologetic Healing Challenge 4 Us) is a 3 step, 30 day multi-dimensional, personal and community engagement project designed to launch the journey of radical healing over areas of shame, trauma, fear and pain in our emotional, spiritual, and physical bodies. The RUHCUS project is designed to help us identify and begin to untangle the narratives of victim, powerlessness and bondage that manifest in our lives via our myriad bodies. It seeks to engage humans on a global scale in introspection, community building and collective healing. A RUHCUS may address issues such as distress, shame, or negative beliefs about a specific portion of one’s body or the physical self as a whole. A RUHCUS may seek to dismantle emotional bondage regarding sexuality, abuse, neglect, historical fear, or other emotional pains. A RUHCUS may also be used to address spiritual trauma, pain and fear. Whatever issue one may seek to explore through a RUHCUS project, the endeavor is created to open the possibility of healing by taking audacious, courageous sets in that desired direction. A RUCHUS is not a cure. It will not heal trauma, pain, shame or fear unto itself. It does however; seek to engage individuals in process of exploration, willingness, and freedom seeking while creating expanded awareness of our interconnectedness and the necessity of existing in community to achieve true transformative healing.
HOW TO CREATE A RUHCUS IN YOUR LIFE
Element 1. Identify the wound
Create a list of 4 things you have PAIN, SHAME, FEAR, or TRAUMA about in your life that you TRULY wish to heal from.
Element II. Radical Action and Ritual in a Loving Community
The second element of a RUHCUS project is to engage community as you commit to taking a Radical Unapologetic Step toward your healing. This portion involves a ceremony or ritual where you request the help of your community as you work on this issue.
· Invite 5 to 10 loved ones to be present at this intentionally created event
· Engage in a ceremonial activity that accepts, honors and releases you from your shame, pain, hurt, fear, trauma.
Element III. Exist in Action in Community
· You will create a list of 3 activities that you will engage in or not in engage in over those 30 days to pursue radical healing.
· As a point of personal reflection and as an element of community building through shared experience, you will write or video log the process as OFTEN as possible.
WHAT WILL BE ON THIS PAGE
Some days you will follow the details of my RUHCUS journey, some days I will highlight the journeys of other RUHCUS starters. This will also be the one stop shop for how to begin your very own RUHCUS project and begin the process of RADICAL UNAPOLOGETIC Healing in your life. I am gonna start this tumblr page with where the RUHCUS journey started.
I hope you will spread this page far and wide if you think it can help anyone struggling to heal historical shames! Tomorrow I will introduce you to some other RUHCUS projects happening around the country. Thank you for being a part of all the RADICALLY Unapologetic Healing in the world. Visit us on facebook and on Twitter!