daughter of a single mom: tough as shit

December 29, 2008 § 5 Comments

i have been following hermana, resist since i was preggers.  she has one of those blogs that i always want her to update more often.  like, every couple of weeks is just too long to wait. and i am not much of a commenter (i am getting better at it).

my younger brother and i were raised by a single working class/middle class mom.  she was and is amazing.  not only are we, her children, still alive, but she raised us to think for ourselves, to be politically conscious, to be artistic, creative and to speak up for ourselves.  the whole time we were growing up she always had her 40 plus hour a week job, plus the commute, plus a series of side projects/businesses.  my favorite was the afrocentric jewelry and accessories.  we spent our weekends looking at patterns, visiting african fabric shops, scouring magazines, sewing on a 1970-something blue singer machine, and learning about what it meant to be proud african-americans.

to this day my mom cheers for my creativity.   as long as i am writing, drawing, or creating something she is determined to support it.  she is the first one to remind me that i should be selling what i create.  that it is good.  hell, to quote jean grae, she is cataloguing my shit like she is afeni shakur.  she will read and edit anything i write.  and we still bond over walking through open-air markets, appraising the goods, and figuring out how *we* could do that.

and dont get me wrong, we bump heads often enough.  we are too much alike.  and i am the eldest daughter of a single mother, i grew up  a little too fast. know a little too much. i wont go into the details.  lets just say the details count.

single motherhood is tough as shit.  i am not a single mother.  i was just raised by one.  and if it wasnt for her i wouldnt have the visions that i have of what i want my daughter to learn from me.  what i admire most about my mother is that she insisted on putting energy behind that enormous amount of intelligence and creativity she has.  that she believed and still believes that her creativity is valuable and ought to be invested in.  but then she learned that from her mother, my grandmother, another incredibly intelligent and creative soul.

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some notes on neanderthals and witches

December 28, 2008 § 2 Comments

–homo neanderthalensis

–1.7 millions years ago migration out of africa

–went extinct 28,000 years ago

–they lived side by side with homo sapiens in france (31,00–34,000years ago) and in israel (60,000-100,000 years ago)

–neander children were found buried with goat skulls

–neander were found buried with flowers

–neander cared for the sick, old, and injured

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baptism and funerals

December 28, 2008 § 1 Comment

lets jump in…

i guess i could feign surprise.  but i am not surprised.  this is what israel does.

i guess i could pretend to see both sides of the issue, and weigh them, but i dont see both sides.  i dont give a fuck about israeli justification for this shit. and fuck the arab governments as well.  you use palestine as an exclamation point in useless speeches and then sign off on palestinian genocide.

i am betting that the death toll will end up between 400-500 gazans.  they are still pulling bodies out of rubble.  and the hospitals are turning folks away because they are over run by the dead and the dying.

i dont want to look at it from the perspective of a mother today.  if you have a child you can understand why.  its easier to be a political scientist, a socio-economic analyst, a brain and not a soul.

the day after christmas we went to a sweet baptism of my nephew in a vintage americana barn.  the phrase that keeps reverberating in my head: we arent saved by what we do, we are saved because of what we do.  in other words: we are not saved by works alone, but we ask for gods salvation because of all of the things we have done in the past.

but i dont believe that one is saved by works or faith.  i dont believe that jesus has anything to do with thisor this. or this.  if there is anything worth believing in it is the fact that gazans that palestinians that all those who have suffered still reach for life.

today anyone who believes in god has to admit that god is not as compassionate as many human beings.  if there is a god today we have to admit that he has become powerless and she has become barren.

what the fuck does it matter if when you die you will go to heaven or hell, when today is hell?  what the fuck will works or faith save you from?

one day i was watching a baptism, the next day funerals.

i am not a superhero.  it is difficult to be packing up my apartment to leave for palestine as i listen in the background to the news of israeli massacre of palestinians in gaza.  i have never been to gaza.  in the west bank, what happens in gaza i watch on al jazeera and the bbc just like everyone else.  it feels like another part of the world, even though it is less than a 100 miles away.

today i pray for the mothers in gaza.  and their children.

virgin mary, satyagraha, and evolution

December 28, 2008 § Leave a comment


so we celebrated the birth of jesus.  and i kept thinking about mary, unwed pregnant poor and traveling.  giving birth wherever was still available without birth professional.

on christmas i was thinking about soul force.  which is a really corny translation of ‘satyagraha’.  ‘soul force’ sounds like it is a 1970s superhero group cartoon with a funk-inspired soundtrack. but i have been thinking about it as the power of the oppressed.  that it is the power, the force that one gains from surviving, thriving, evolving inside a body that is seen as less valuable.  this girl i once knew asked me if all the shittiness i have survived had made me stronger.  and if in some ways that was a gift or a blessing because it meant that i didnt need as much external stuff (like validation or material things or social approval).  if this strength had given me the freedom, the internal freedom, aka confidence, to act and speak in the world.

and while i still retain alot of respect for gandhi, the idea that his form of political resistance can be universalized is ridiculous. his methods require the attention of major media.  and in a lot of places (like here in the states) an easy way to make political resistance impotent is for the media simply not to cover the resistance.

we never hear from mary what she thinks of this birth.  hindsight is always 20/20 and at this point in history people refer to it as a blessed event.  but did she think so?

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December 23, 2008 § 3 Comments

1. the house is a mess.  but it is the kind of mess that says that we are much closer to leaving.  the mess right before you look around and say, actually, we’ve done most of the hard work.

2. aza has been hanging out with her grandmother a couple of hours away this weekend.  i miss her alot.  it has been lovely to sleep in and hang out just el compa and i.  and be on no one’s schedule but our own.  i remember this feeling.  light and sweet.

3. about midwifery education.  and the path of self-study.  and what will the outlaw midwives project be…

4. to be traveling overseas again.  i couldnt get excited until we got our passports.  now my heart feels closer to my ribcage and my hair looks cooler.

5. started an art journal last night.  committed to working in it every day.  going to let it suck for a while.  interested in discovering authentic vision.  normally i start a journal, realize it sucks, get mad at it, decide to go back to doing ‘real art’ (whatever that is) and then feel jealous whenever i see someone else’s art journal, start a new art journal, let the cycle roll over and crush me once again.

6. to travel cross the country and see friends for the next couple of weeks.

7. had a dream about jealousy.  woke up realizing that of all the negative emotions that i believe are necessary to express (anger, grief, fear, etc.), jealousy is the difficult one for me.  i ignore others jealousy of me.  resent their jealousy of me.  and refuse to acknowledge when i am jealous.  so i dont know how to handle that emotion very well.  i am now opening my arms and allowing jealousy to pour into my life.  ok.  that is a little extreme.  how about i just meditate and reflect on jealousy first?

8.  to be a photojournalist.  to have a voice and vision to share with the world.  working hard to have a clear and soulful voice and vision.  i want to give the best of myself.

9. cyberquilting.  i am becoming a cyberquilter! wondering if i should get lil business cards that list my occupation as cyberquilter?  ways to confuse the fam even more…plus, how does one translate cyberquilter into arabic?

10.  and breakfast.  wonder what el compa will make for breakfast?

a dream of two births

December 23, 2008 § Leave a comment

this afternoon i took a nap.  and i dreamt of being in a multi-tiered tree house with dark wet steps, ramshackled wooden rooms like in a fixer-upper house that is always being fixed up.  i was downstairs in the living room with a woman about to give birth.  she had asked me to be there.  this was her second or third child.  she knelt  on the couch with her head against the wall behind the couch and moaned and squealed and her baby came slithering out.  i didnt do anything but be there.  she pushed when she wanted.  she moved as she wanted.  i remember her rolling on the floor.  i remember her on her back.  at one point she grabbed my hand and squeezed.

while she was nursing her baby, a woman upstairs sent a child to ask me to come to her birth.  we walked up the slippery stairs.  it was raining.  her room had two maybe three walls the rest of it was tree branches shielding her from the rain.  patches of green and blue sky peeked between the overhead branches.  her child too came out of her body in the midst of groans and shakes and shrieks.  we were all wet from the drizzle.

i woke up happy and warm thinking about outlaw midwives.  why did these two dream women request that i be at their births.  they caught their babies in their own hands.  i barely did anything but hum under my breath, hold a hand, and witness.  they did not need me there at all.  but they wanted me there.

when i work as a doula, i work hard to make sure that the mother knows that she didnt need me there.  that she did it all herself.  i liked it best when everyone in the room is just enamored of the mother and child and i could slip out of the room with a soft goodbye and with barely anyone noticing my departure.  i like it best when they wanted me to be at the birth, but they know and i know, they didnt need me to be there.

one doula said to me that the best thing that she could hear from a mother is: i couldnt have done it without you.  and i cant help but think: it could be an indication of the disempowerement of the primacy of the mother during birth when a mother says that to a birth worker.

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forced sterilizations

December 21, 2008 § 5 Comments

i give much love to anyone who has had to make the difficult decision to have major surgery that has resulted in not being able to conceive a child.  that is an incredible decision.  for those of you who felt informed, and weighed the pros and cons and made your choices accordingly, you have my respect (as much as that may mean).

but since i first read about forced sterilizations of women of color by racist doctors in angela davis’s book: women, race and class, whenever i think about it i want to cry.  that choice to conceive and bring life into this world stolen from women—all i can say is that the universe’s blessings are manifold.

el compa sent me a link: reparations for eugenic sterilization in north carolina.

North Carolina lawmakers pushed Thursday to offer reparations to thousands of victims of a forced sterilization program now recognized as a shameful part of U.S. history….“Yes, it is ugly. It’s not something that we’re proud,” said state Rep. Larry Womble, D-Forsyth, who has been working on the issue for several years. “But I’m glad that North Carolina has done more than any other state to step forward and not run away from it.”…Rep. Ronnie Sutton, the Democratic chairman of the study committee, said because of the nation’s lagging economy, it may not be possible to fully fund the compensation program with an estimated $18 million that would be needed to cover all surviving victims. “Anything with money is going to have a hard road to hoe,” Sutton said. He suggested lawmakers may consider funding some of the program in the upcoming session to get it started and finish allocating money at a later date.

that is not enough money.  sorry, but it is true.  for all those who wanted children and had that potential for giving life cut from their very bodies, there is not enough money left in this world, to compensate you for what doctors, lawyers, state regulations have ripped away.

and even of the 18 million, that money is largely symbolic, you will not see most of it…and that makes me sadder.  they will use the current economic down spiral as an excuse to not materially compensate you (even a little) for what you had stolen from you in order to appease the powers of good, well-meaning, evil folks in this world.

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the best news

December 20, 2008 § 3 Comments

1. oh i have the best news.  i got my passport! i am spinning holding it.  and my passport photo looks hot.  really?  am i this pretty?  usually i assume that i am average to a lil below average in the looks department.  dont spend alot of time with fashion or style or make up, put on whatever clothes are clean, hair is either down or in pigtails…whateva.  dont bother with the contacts, my glasses are good enough.  but then i look at this photo taken when i had just arrived at the passport photo office.  she, the photographer, is really efficient.  i manage to take off my hat and my glasses and then snap. the photo is taken.  my hair looks disheveled in the pigtails.  but my skin is glowing. maybe it is all from the excitement of knowing that the long ordeal of ‘travel preparations’ is coming to an end.

2. my arabic classes have ended.  and i am a lil sad.  i really liked my teacher.  he was like all the best qualities of palestine rolled up into a slim package with cool hair.  before i met him el compa and i were wondering if aza would be mistaken for palestinian the way that she was mistaken for mexican.  el compa said probably not because her hair was too curly.  next day we met my teacher who had hair curlier than aza’s.  ja ja.  now it is just me and my notebooks.  i resisted the urge to tell him: you know youre african too right?  i mean i know that you come from gaza, right next to egypt, but your skin is nearly as dark as mine (and i am pretty dark) and your hair is nearly as curly as mine (and mine is downright nappy), and you have that third world sense of humor,  but i resisted because i am not someone to define another person’s ethnicity.  but hanging out with him for a couple of months reminded me of just what a permeable border our sense of nationality and ethnicity really is.  and that wherever i go in the world i find blackness.

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cause i love a party

December 19, 2008 § 3 Comments

these are not reasons i am going to palestine in a month:

1. i believe in non-violence, peace, dialogue, etc.

–sorry, but i dont believe in non-violence as anything more than a tactic.  peace is a vague word that means anything it is twisted into. nowadays it means ‘calm’, ceasefire, bowed heads, acquiescence to the masters, and smouldering resentment.  ‘dialogue’ (between israel and palestine) is a practice that every ngo in the region is required to do in order to get funding, but israelis and palestinians understand each other pretty well…there is a tiny piece of land (like the size of vermont) and both sides want it…its not a mis-communication problem it is an allocation of resources problem.

2. i really want to make a difference and feel useful

–oh god.  i make a difference and feel useful everyday.  i write, i talk to folks. i dont feel more useful in palestine than in the states.  it is both hubristic and a diminishment of my humanity to imagine myself as a means to an abstracted end.  in other words to objectify myself.

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10 reasons to fall in love

December 18, 2008 § 3 Comments

1. el compa and i have been arguing like crazy the past few months.  for a while it felt like when we werent arguing was more like a cease-fire, a temporary lull before it started again.  like we were just too exhausted to speak anymore and we might as well retreat in silence, lick our wounds, bury our dead, and prepare for the next battle.  i kept trying to figure out what we were arguing about.  on the surface it seemed so ridiculous.  the smallest things would just escalate into evil words being hurled at one another.  this isnt us, i kept thinking.  a few times i seriously thought this relationship is over.  how could we keep doing this to ourselves?

2. i finally realized that we had reached that age when a bunch of people around us expects us to settle down, get the striving for middle class respectability job, a house mortgage, a 9-5, a 401k, health benefits (and dental!), day care for aza, etc.  and instead we foolishly insisted upon living our lives.  in some people’s minds it is one thing for us to travel ‘to exotic places’ and have ‘adventures’ and co-create radical communities (uhhh…’whatever that means’) when we were childless and young, but now it was time for us to really give that up and focus on ‘raising a family’.  and we would have great stories to our child(ren) about our adventures when we were young…and so the emotional support that we had built around us was eroding because we werent following the plan.  and we still insisted on ‘going on vacation’.

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