(re)thinking walking: cairo

May 8, 2009 § 9 Comments

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i went for a walk.  through the streets of cairo and i thought about work.  and money.  and expectations.  and love.

cairo is a strange city to me still.  there are so many twists and turns.  and i am horrible with directions.

one of the things i love about cairo is the incredible diversity in this city.  i love the dark skin.  the tank tops girls and the hijabis.  i love the crafts workers and the professional suit wearers.  i love the artists, the intellectuals, the women who sell small packets of tissue while breastfeeding their babies.  the way this city breaks through and reinvents everyones identity.

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i walked at night.  and took pictures at night.  and the whole time i was thinking about the men who watched this strange girl weaving the streets.  i thought of them because men kept calling out to me.  asking me if i wanted something. to go into their shop. no.  to fuck them. no.  and when i walk at night whether it cairo or chicago i hate the fact that my defenses are up.   that i have to keep looking over my shoulder.  that violence is always a possibility.  because i am a woman.  a black woman. and no matter where i travel.  black woman means hypersexualized.  it means whore.  it means poor.  it means desperate.  it means lack of political/social power.  my us nationality is not visible.  but my african great great great great grandmother is.  and it is obvious to those whom i pass that she had little value and neither do i.

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but i spent most of my conscious mind thinking about work.  i just quit my job.  because i refuse to be a pawn in someone else’s game.

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when i came home habibi told me that there was a vacancy announcement for the position i left a day ago.  the requirement in the announcement? a ba in sociology or international relations or special ed.  had my ex-boss talked to me about why i had left? no.  but now the job that i had done is now listed as a job that i could never apply to.  because i dont have a b.a.

oh yes.  it is a very strong insult.  very effective.  and yet only illuminates why i left.  some folks buy into the status quo.  and yet want to be hailed as radical.

also it was announced as a part-time job.  because ex-boss lady wants to work in the eye of the sun.  and wanted to work there so badly that she undermined nearly every thing i did.  in order to hold onto her popularity and power among her ‘target’ population.  if the communities are our target…then what kind of weapon are we holding?

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as i walked…i wondered what was i expecting in work?  respect? yes.  not ideal respect.  but the basic kind.

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there is beauty in the eye of the sun.  a community on the edge of so many worlds.  i walked and said goodbye to that beauty.  i walked to find my center inside the labyrinth of power taken by not earned.  and i walked to remind myself of what i deserve.  am i your equal?  or am i pawn in your popularity game?  am i pawn?  am i pawn?  no.  we may have money.  we may have privilege.  but whatever good that we do in this world is in spite of our privilege not because of it.  so we must remember that power over corrupts.  and absolute power over corrupts absolutely.

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have you seen power corrupt absolutely? i have.  a man died.  over money.

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yes. and what does it say that we mourn and continue to do the same thing we did before?  we dont need a b.a. to do community organizing.  we need love.

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i thought about my brother.  who rhymes like god has blessed his tongue.  it is from him that i learned the value of hip hop.  hip hop is powerful.  tupacs legacy is powerful.  the shakur name is powerful.  we are powerful when we create with.  have power with. not power over.  when we understand what the word ‘mama’ means.  it means to love by any means necessary.

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so give me love. give me heart.  give me the goddess.  give me prayers.  give me hip hop.  give me a chant for the ages.  give. me. love.


i am a poet.  i am a an artist. i am the light reflecting through the cage.  and so is my daughter.  and so is the eye of the sun… full moon tonight.  we will create through the fucked up ness into freedom.  my heart is a lamp illuminating the world.  there is nothing left.  but love.  and so i walk through the streets of cairo.  with a camera.  reflecting the light of the world.


§ 9 Responses to (re)thinking walking: cairo

  • jess says:

    this is so wonderful. thank you for writing — and walking and living — with so much vision and so much heart.



  • mama says:

    thank you jess…you are such an inspiration…

  • fabiola says:

    beautiful. amazing thanks for sharing.

  • Aaminah Hernandez says:

    i am enjoying how bfp’s & jess’ walks are spinning off into a true revolution, into so many women in different places (geographically & emotionally/spiritually/physically, etc) walking & writing & photographing & sharing it with us. this is really very meaningful work.

  • Derek says:

    This is a beautiful entry.

    You’re completely right. You don’t need a BA to be a community organizer. In fact, anyone with a BA would probably make for a lousy community organizer. I wonder if Jimmy Hoffa had a BA in anything. Or any of the Wobbles. Or the Panthers. Or Mother Jones. Michael Albert wrote about his days in SDS and said everything happened by people getting together in dorm rooms, living rooms, or public spaces, and just talking into the wee hours of the night. You don’t need a BA for that. As Jim Hightower says, even a dog knows the difference between being tripped over and being kicked. If everyone knew that they weren’t alone in being kicked, then there would be an effort to stop it. But to stop it, it requires organization. organization. organization.

    I agree with the old adage that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But the anarcho-syndicalist in me would just like to post a foot note that the degree of power is equally proportional to the degree of corruption.

  • […] Mai’a wrote this wonderful walk the other day. Did you read it? […]

  • […] Mai’a is linked in the above post, but having just read her post and loved it, I wanted to link it again on its own as well.  My body as a white woman doesn’t read the same as hers, get read the same, I mean, harassed in the same ways for the same reasons.  I still relate to hating that I have to have my defenses up when I leave the house, in some way, to the extent that most of the time it’s not even conscious. […]

  • sisonalidio says:

    Yes, I’m really beginning to see in all of these (re)thinking walking posts how if we let the body, mind and spirit wander, they go where they need to go: they return to a place of healing. This is an amazing gift of a post. Thank you.

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