buildings collapse on themselves like a broken heart

January 15, 2010 § 1 Comment

tomorrow will be the one year anniversary of entering israeli prison.  what a strange anniversary.

this week:

  • earthquake in haiti that kills app. 50,000 ppl
  • birthday of  martin luther king jr. assassinated while he was organizing a poor people’s campaign
  • obama’s one year anniversary of his presidential inauguration

and i start thinking god. what am i supposed to do with all this.

the day after i got out of israeli prison, obama was inaugurated.  i watched parts of the ceremonies on television from a tiny corner hotel room in amsterdam.  drinking heineken.  i felt like a stranger from another planet.  dutch folks congratulated me, once they found out i was from the us, on obama’s presidency.

i keep thinking of suheir hamad’s poem first writing since when i watching the palais tombe in port au prince:

i cried when i saw those
buildings collapse on themselves like a broken heart.

yes, i was celebrating freedom and hope at the bar in amsterdam a year ago.  but i couldnt tell you, and still cannot, if obama’s presidencey was a complement or a contrast to that  celebration.

spent so much time in the past twelve months thinking through what did borders, nationalism, walls, bodies, violence, inter/trans national, radical love, community, and survival mean.


it seems off to argue that one’s local work stops one from being able to work in solidarity with folks outside of one’s community.  while asking that people outside of one’s community/from around the country to support one’s local work.  to expect others to work in solidarity with you and help you support your community and yet state that reciprocity in that relationship is an unreasonable expectation.

and frankly i have heard this argument time and time again in radical organizations.  in national radical organizations. that encompass representatives/workers from a variety of local communities from around the country.   who do alot of the organizing on the internet, aka the world wide web.

it seems… me to use as primary texts for one’s work, audre lorde, june jordan, and other radical women of color, and then to argue that one can only focus on one’s own local community.

esp when these women writers/activists/teachers were not necessarily from one’s own local community.


each person has the right to define their own community.  the limits of that community.  who is and who is not in the community.

each person has the right to decide who and to what extent they want to practice compassion toward another.

empires and individuals build walls because they are afraid of foreigners.

so the us builds a wall to keep out immigrants south of the border.

and israel builds a wall to keep out palestinians.

and egypt builds a wall to keep food and medicine out of gaza.

and we all build social groups and circles to keep ourselves safe from strangers.

and the foreigners?  the strangers?  what is going to happen to them?

well, we have the right to decide who we care about and who we dont.

and we are building these walls for own security and survival. we are building these walls because we have the right to protect ourselves.

and we are building these walls because we have the rights to set our own limits.  and we are building these walls because we have limited resources.


someone once asked a question like: how do you know what you can afford?

i can afford to trust audre and june whose internationalism was imbued in their work and their writing.  they who have taught me so much about survival also taught me that creating dichotomies like the local vs. transnational was a farce.  that my survival is connected to people half way around the globe.  people whose names and faces i will probably never know.

“And where the words of women are crying to be heard, we must each of us recognize our responsibility to seek those words out, to read them and share them and examine them in their pertinence to our lives.  That we not hide behind the mockeries of separations that have been imposed upon us and which so often we accept as our own.  For instance, ‘I can’t possibly teach Black women’s writing—their experience is so different from mine.’  Yet how many years have you spent teaching Plato and Shakespeare and Proust?  Or another, ‘She’s a white women, and what could she possibly have to say to me?’  Or, ‘She’s a lesbian, what would my husband say, or my chairman?’  Or again, ‘This woman writes of her sons and I have no children.’  And all the other endless ways in which we rob ourselves of ourselves and each other.” (“The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action”)


if wrong is not my name. then wrong is not their name either.  and if wrong is not their name, maybe i should learn their names.

and if i cant learn their names, then maybe i should at least acknowledge that they have a name. and a life. and loves. and fears.

Yes, I did know it was the money I earned as a poet that
for the bombs and the planes and the tanks
that they used to massacre your family
But I am not an evil person
The people of my country aren’t so bad
You can expect but so much
from those of us who have to pay taxes and watch
American TV
You see my point;

some things that seem so ‘obvious’ to me are so foreign to others that i have so much in surface level common with.

and vice versa.

i still feel like an alien from a strange planet.

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