Tag Archives: healing

Requiem for Change

Rape-Culture-e1392242243997

The words don’t always
seem adequate enough
of my tongue

I’m still choking back tears
after all this time
I guess it’s learning
you can never be good guy oblivious
for too long
You can’t be enough royalty
to not need to keep challenging
yourself
Ain’t no ribbons for books read
and chivalry
This here is a long road traveled

The first shared tears came in high school
She was trying to reconcile what happened
I was trying to use balled fists in revenge
She was telling me she didn’t want that
I never realized I was making her
manage him and me
It took too long to recognize her strength
Good guy said you should have stayed with me
Good guy said let me fix it
Good guy still made it about good guy
I guess I felt
I couldn’t make it about her because
I wasn’t good at tears falling

Daddy liked liquor and women
Liked to swing heavy hands
I never asked to know about
anything else
But I know the dangers of that recipe
Good guy wanted to redeem
him by being the first
good decision he ever made
Wasn’t I the one who had to go
pick up his pride
from houses he was no longer
wanted in?
Good guys learn to fix things early

Good guys ask stranger if he
can walk her to her car
Never wonders why she might refuse
Might get mad at the answer
He be good guy
Good guy ask questions for understanding
Never bother to ask if it is ok
to ask questions first
Might take too much time trying to grasp
the reason for the answer
Good guy wears badges like boy scout
earned by completing deeds and tasks
Good guy don’t ask why the shirt
makes some run
Never realized that he didn’t get
the only badges made
That boy scouts also learned to hunt

The best goodbye
I’ve ever been a part of
was packing good guy’s baggage
and sending him on his way
The search for a new tenant
in this man’s understanding of self
was intensive
Thank God for the caretakers
who saw fit to share
with this fractured dreamer
The only lesson that never
settled home
is the freedom in letting
cheeks wet
I’ve never been good
at tears falling

What I did learn is priceless
I was inspired by the number of
times I was betrayed
by good guy instincts
Confided in by partners who
survived
Didn’t need to be saved
Found comfort in the midst of my eyes
I was challenged by fighters who
gave me books and lessons on
accountability
Pushed by men who were willing
to sit with each other in examination
of our own masculinity
Checked by soothsayers who had
seen where ignorance would lead me
Supported by a defiant band of clumsy
who were finding out how to stumble
but not fall
We had been learning to walk a certain
way for so long
The steps were unfamiliar but liberating

Each experience makes my heart full
Sobbing seems like thank you sometimes
I guess I know the reason I feel I’ve never
shown enough gratitude
I’ve just never been good at tears falling

Good guy sends me postcards
and texts saying he wants to come home
I tell him no
I’ve seen too much
I ain’t the same man no more

I remember leaving a workshop
after talking to a group of young men
feeling heavy
I remember telling the community
organizers that brought us
that there was so much work to do
What a crippling feeling it is
to do all that you know how to do
but still worrying
To fear that an angel’s fall at night
could lead to a devilish dawn
I remember stopping on the side
of the road on the way home
because what wasn’t being said
was deafening
I couldn’t get out the car
fast enough
I remember
the comrade
who held me up
The brother who loved me
band-aid enough to make it home
I remember the tears

The years doing workshops with men
The programs developed
The organizations worked with
The activists I have been trained by
The survivors I have stood by
The conversations
The broken
The determined
The death threats
The resilience
The everyday reflection
The camaraderie
The betrayals
The challenges
The dismissals
The reiterations
The struggle

The beauty of healing
The burden of sustainability
The necessity of the work

The realization that silence
means that nobody ever
considers that you can
hear them
see them

I promise
The tears are never too far away

I read a comment online today
I wanted to go numb
I couldn’t
I wanted to break things
but demolition is too familiar of a fancy
I wanted to cry
But I’ve never been good at falling tears

The water has welled in my chest
One day I will see monsoon
Or one day
I will vomit tidal waves

The Art of Mis-Interaction

an-old-design-02_grande

“Rhythm is the basis of life, not steady forward progress. The forces of creation, destruction, and preservation have a whirling, dynamic interaction.” – Kabbalah

I don’t interact the easiest. Whew! There, I said it. Ahhhhh. That really is a weight off my shoulders. Not like Atlas weight, but still larger than a whiffle ball.

Look, I really don’t. I do help, support, foster, nurture, mentor, teach, listen to, pep up, stand behind, but I don’t interact the easiest (now this is the point where I have repeated myself, realized it is a refrain and that there will be a poem from this also). It’s like my heart, mind, and spirit are mob bosses arguing over turf as they rally their “families.” I will save you from the extended metaphor of detailing the families based on the boss and the various things associated. Just know I could do it if I wanna. I don’t. Point is that they tend to not make things smooth. I don’t do things smooth. Except how I pulled you in with that cool quote. That was smooth. Admit it. The picture was just icing on the cake. No there is not cake.

I hate making mistakes. My greatest fear is coming up short (anybody even thinking of tall person jokes I will telepathically kick you in the shins. Felt it twinge? That was a warning). I’ve always despised that feeling. Fail has a way of making you ok with trying again. Screwing up makes you want to run arms flailing into the shadows, go home and pack your underwear, then try jump through your moms full length mirror hoping to get to Narnia. It never works by the way. It takes a lot of regrouping to recover from mistakes. But nobody is perfect right? And avoiding mistakes is more tiring than recovering from making one.

See, the thing is, I believe in people. I just don’t always trust everyone. Yes, that means I am watching many of you very very closely. It also means that a conversation with me is like a tennis match. You keep volleying hopping to gain an advantage but that return is mean. So is the serve.

Another important aspect is that if you give me an impression, I operate off that impression. You might not recognize it because I still operate with respect, compassion and appreciation. I just don’t see you the same. There are stringent limitations that come with that. The energy I expend changes dramatically. Doesn’t matter if you don’t see what you did. Your the one blind to the fact, not me. Your vision is blurry not Flava’s. If you don’t understand the significance of the last two sentences, then I might need to rethink our relationship anyway.

I don’t buy wolf tickets. Talk all you want. I’ve been the “good listener” since 6th grade. Doesn’t mean I’m convinced. Probe all you want. It’s G14 classified over here. You aint got clearance then there is a nice brochure we have prepared that will give you all the pertinent information. Throw out a hook and a line…*I’m laughing* (nice fisherman hat and vest). Unless you lowering yourself in these waters in a cage like them hunting for the biggest shark people, then I ain’t got much for you. Take a risk babee!

If you have G14 classification and If I trust you, then I believe it’s ok to make mistakes around you. Because I trust you’ll talk to me about (or slap me in the back of the head, cuss me out, slap my hand). I hold you close enough to be off, to do too much, to say too much, to be way off, to be dumb. Only thing is…it also hurts way way more when you walk away, back away, don’t respond, won’t communicate, attack, or dismiss. It all looks like falling short to me.

I am a hapless romantic southern gentleman. Maaaan, I aint got time to unpack all the things that brings me. But the book is coming. I promise! No, seriously…I PROMISE!

I’m also very flirtatious. Probably way too flirtatious to not follow up on the flirtation or recognize when the interaction has shifted. Ha! But I’m good at it tho. At least I think so. I did have someone who kept going, “That was what you were doing?” That was traumatizing. I had to spend weeks at flirt camp regaining my mojo. Thank goodness for smores.

I don’t have time to entertain foolishness (I got it from my momma).

I retreat. Sometimes I disappear. It goes with the very private nature. If you don’t have security clearance, then I probably won’t be able to break down why I feel the need to retreat or disappear. So I apologize for not warning you or explaining it. It’s a sucky quandary. I’m complicated.

This post is long as hell. You’ve been subjected to my need to get this out of my head. The poem will be better I promise.

I don’t interact the easiest. For lots of reasons. But I love the interactions I have had. I try to learn from my mistakes. I’m grateful for the people who put up with me. I am sorry for the ones I have shut out. I will change and trust more. Then I won’t. Then I will again. Then I will write more posts and blogs. At least until I become ridiculously stupendously happy. Then I’ll draw daffodils and sing folks songs.

One other thing…

To those that don’t know if they have abused their privileges. I bet I got you thinking now don’t I? Is it me? He did sorta look at me funny 3 weeks ago. His last text message was missing a comma, was it a sign. Hmmm, I wonder. Well, here is some advice. Don’t inbox me, email me or text me. Cuz, you know…limited clearance. I’ll cleverly distract you. Look a new reality show staring Monique and Boris Kudjo. See?

Orangoutang. Cool word… Orangoutang.

Ok, I think that is all. I have made a new post for my blog. Next I’ll publish it. It will go out to my social media pages. Most of friends won’t read it. They all kick babies and pluck the wings off of butterflies in their spare time.

Orangoutang

Say it with me…

Orangoutang

I Am Inspired By Warriors (valuable lessons pt 2)

The logo for Men Against Rape Culture (MARC) founded at NCSU.
The logo for Men Against Rape Culture (MARC) founded at NCSU.

40to40: 40 posts for 40 days until turning 40

Men Against Rape Culture (MARC) was one of the most transformative things I have ever been a part of. Bryan Profitt is the person who got me involved. He was a young activist that I kept running into throughout the community. I was being mentored by elder organizers who were also mentoring him. We had been involved in organizing at NCSU in Raleigh and in organizing young folks to participate in other actions happening in the city. We had worked to start Hip Hop Against Racist War (HHARW) and joined with other young activists to lend our hand to the organizing around a number of issues.

After returning to NCSU for graduate school, Bryan got a job taking over a program at the Health Center that worked in conjunction with the Health Center and the Women’s Center. He came up with an idea of how to restructure the program. He looked at Men Can Stop Rape out of DC and other initiatives across the country. He asked me to help. I started working part time at the center and soon we recruited students on campus to help us build what would become MARC. Not too long after he finished grad school we started working with the statewide coalitions against sexual assault and domestic violence. We got to work with institutions across the state. We got to work with organizations in various communities. We got to work with men around this issue. We also learned how to support survivors and how to communicate and heal as secondary survivors. I learned feminist politics. I grew as a person. I was shaped forever.

There are truths that I hold to because of the experiences I had with MARC. I tell the women that helped me grow so much that I think of them as I do work in the community. I say the same to the men who helped mentor me. The warriors who have struggled, fought, taught, and advocated for change. I can call them friends and allies. I can call on the lessons they gave me when I need them.

Because of them…

I will believe the survivor. I will not defend a perpetrator.

I will not blindly accuse. I will not demonize. My commitment is to the safety, preservation, nurturing, and growth of my community and not the destruction of a person.

I will challenge patriarchy and heterosexism. I will listen to learn.

I will follow. I will work.

I can not enter or remain in a space that is reckless. Reckless is destroying to vindicate. Reckless is ignoring that the numbers say that we rarely know who is a survivor around us. How we hold a space includes having a plan for those who haven’t spoken up. We do not take them along for the ride. Reckless is saying “Oh well” about those caught in the crossfire. Reckless is not having the proper resources in a space.

I can not be part of a process that doesn’t recognize the influence of privilege, class, and race in decision making. Even within feminism there are debates about ideology and focus. Many voices that have expanded the understanding of feminism have been voices of color (especially queer women of color). They have expressed that there are complexities that exist.

I can not be a part of a space that doesn’t establish a way for men to work with men. Or understand the value of proper facilitation of certain conversations. How we hold a space is very important. Allied men don’t always know how to be effective allies. Problematic men don’t always know how not to be problematic. We don’t wait for them to be checked because then responsibility is placed on the wrong person. The men in the community should actively work to grow the capacity of those men.

I can not be a part of a space that does not include love and healing. For sustainability. For preservation. For growth. For so many damn good reasons.

I can not and will not stop working.

I Was Taught By Warriors (valuable lessons pt. 1)

20120807-082528

40to40: 40 posts for 40 days until turning 40

I want to take a moment and thank the amazing advocates, activists, and survivors that have educated me, allowed me to be an ally, challenged me, inspired me, and modeled the strength, vision, and compassion it takes to do anti-violence work.

Durham has been a special place for me because of these freedom fighters, these women. I carry them with me when I move and I try to hold their lessons dearly. I owe a lot to the NCSU Women’s Center and the Duke Women’s Center for their leadership and support in the work I got to do. I thank Bryan Proffitt for being the brother and spark that changed my politics, understanding, and sense of purpose. Thank you to the men who joined Bryan and I in pushing to be better and worked to help other men be better.

Men Against Rape Culture (MARC) was one of the most transformative things I was ever a part of. We talked with lots of men about ending violence, particularly domestic violence and sexual assault. Helping to start it at NCSU and moving it from that campus into the community with Bryan was work that wasn’t just needed, it was what I needed. The 6 years working with the state coalitions against domestic violence and sexual assault taught me so much. The work with various organizations and institutions was eye opening. I cried, shook, panicked, grew, learned, shared, and fought.

As I became more rooted in the arts community, my activism became part of my artistry and my role as an arts educator and mentor. I wasn’t able to continue my work with MARC as actively as before. I have not forgotten what it stood for or why it was necessary. I have not forgotten the fighters we aligned with and supported and how they shaped us.

I am so thankful because all of the work I was apart of and supported was done with thought and care. There were missteps, disagreements, and challenges. Still, there was a vision. A vision that included a multi-pronged approach to fighting, healing, and sustainability. A vision that made room for various voices and experiences and fought identity politics. We saw the way women leaders worked and followed suit.

I was able to be involved in helping secondary survivors like myself. I was able to create resources for survivor support. I was on campus at Duke last year and noticed they were still using resources created by Ubuntu and MARC. I got teary eyed.

I know my work is not done including my work with myself. Everyday brings new challenges and new insights. I am honored to have stood beside the folks I have stood beside and everything they have imparted on me. You have no idea how much I owe you.

In Love. In Solidarity. In Peace.