I painted a picture of a black woman sitting alongside the edge of her bed overlooking the moonlight at dusk. The moon is out clearly and the Orion constellation lights the night sky. She sits by her window seal which holds her shea butter, scrunchies, and bobby pins alongside candles-whos flames dance in unison-twin flames. This her altar-so evidently beside the flames is her Florida water as well. She is a spiritual woman and it (her spirituality) grows as more revelations arise which often take the forms of dreams. Dreams are the space between the unconscious and subconscious-the connecting medium between two realms of life that of before and after. Dreams are revered across indigenous cultures and is appreciated in the Book of Martha as her solution to mankind. They are her answer to resolving humanity’s greedy, murderous, wasteful adolescence”-something that we have yet to mature from in the present day.Today we still struggle from parting with our ways of destruction and unsustainability and this pandemic ignites these habits of humanity as we see how industries fold under its pressures. We are shown how useless greed and capital has been for humanity because it is of no value when we all have to succumb to this new age of Corona.This solution of granting everyone with lucid dreams interestingly enough find its relevance in this quarantine too as lucid dream has become a noted phenomenon for those of us in isolation. “The dreams should be much more realistic and intense than most dreams are now.” Butler states. This time of stillness and how it connects to Butler’s afrofuturism is why I painted this in particular.
For my final project proposal, I would like to make a painting. I want to create a piece that I am proud of as this was one of my goals for this time in quarantine to be more creative and not judge my place in painting skills. I often look at art on Instagram and the pages I follow and find much inspiration from them but I haven’t picked up the paintbrush or pencil to draw or paint in awhile whether because of how I feel and rate of productivity during this time or because I judge the outcome of my art and hold it under too many comparisons. However, I am going to try nonetheless.
I plan on exploring the theme of love in my painting specifically focusing on elements explored in Song of Solomon and James Baldwin The Fire Next Time because I find black love and self-love both imperative and beautiful to see, bear witness to, and personally experience. This often is my muse anyways so alongside textual support for inspiration, I also want to incorporate my favorite songs, musical artists, and my past journal entries as muses for this final project painting
When Bob Marley sings of the angel with the seven sealed angel, it sparked my interest and made me want to research more. In doing so it brought me to the Book of Revelations which too always garnered my attention as something I wanted to study. This final book of the Bible interested me because it served as the last and unveiling truths of this thing called life and the greater mystery of God, his greater judgment, and the afterlife. I have never studied the Bible but in seeing the conversation of this book and its relevance now it is something I wish to do-read it absent of anyone else’s implications/interpretations and formalities of church.
The book of revelations describes the occurrences during the state of apocalypse and the ways God shows himself to the public for an unveiling of a new age and/or world order. This phenomenon is allocated by seven trumpets and all that each trumpet brings holds true to today’s time. For instance, the first trumpet reveals that a third of the trees of the planet and all green grass will be burnt and the second trumpet speaks of great mountains being ablazed as well. This reminded me of the great wildfires throughout California and most notably the great wildfires that happened in both Australia-known as Black Summer-and the Amazon rain forest that led to roughly one billion wildlife casualties.The third trumpet speaks of water poisoning of freshwater sources and celestial phenomena. The most notable event of water poisoning that is still in occurrence today is the Flint Michigan water crisis that has disrupted the water source for Flint residents for roughly five years. While astronomical discoveries have been more frequent throughout this quarantine-most recently the Pentagon’s release of video showcasing UFO aircraft. The fourth seal is about pestilence-which some can associate with this global pandemic; the fifth seal is of tribulations; the sixth if of heavenly signs; while the seventh Marley speaks of concludes the wrath of the previous seals to allow God/Jah reclaim his power to reward the righteous and judge the wicked.
It is not implausible for some to pose the interesting argument that we are currently living in the prophesied age of Revelations. And it will be interesting to see the new age and/or world either whether indebted to the foreseen book of Revelations or simply the era of Corona virus.
Bob Marley and the Wailers song Rastaman Chant embodies the thematic spirit of the flying Africans much like Morrisons piece. It speaks of a flight home in a victorious escape from the oppressive state and/or white patriarchy, better recognized as the state of Babylon. Bob Marley sings of a revolution organized around the ideals of the rastaman-the Rastafarian movement, it’s revere for the prophetic King Haile Selassie, and ultimately submission to the most high, Jah (in other words God). If revolution is founded upon these principles-Marley declares it will be a successful revolution.Furthermore, this revolution and dismantling of Babylonian power will serve as a fulfilling homecoming because “when man’s work is over” Marley declares that he too will “fly home”.
In reference to the Song of Solomon and the New Yorker article’s revisiting of the term, the legend of flying and/or flight is synonymous to the mobilization of black people towards a state of liberation indebted to the people’s revolt. This uprising is a return to self and nativity and most notably a return to Zion for Rastafarians alike. Zion is the Utopian promise land where union, peace, and freedom from all forms of Babylon solely reigns. Geographically, this flight back home refers to their repatriation back to Ethiopia-the proclaimed cradle of all of humanity.
A Litany for Srvival by Audre Lorde most specifically the ending stanzas remind me of the current state of America amidst this pandemic. In this age of the Corona virus many have been so riddled with fear and anxiety over the future that they reached the brinks of irrationality. Where egos and the quest for self-preservation left us fighting for things that would not at the least sustain us. We move away from cautious preparation and operate in panic. Where we fight for toilet paper and excess leaving the hungry, the poor, or the elderly without. When we live and move in fear we lose sight of the present and the guaranteed because we so anticipate and manifest its disappearance. Audre Lorde puts in perspective what is important in survival aside from the tangible and that is rational thought and the power of voice.
The power of voice and rational thought finds itself in Lorde’s speech in regard to the legacy of Malcolm X. One quote that stuck out to me was where Lorde makes mention of how decisions are considered and put into practice by men who have no true understanding of the lives their very decisions would affect. In conversations surrounding health care and the well being of the people; “decisions to cut aid for the terminally ill, for the elderly, for dependent children, for food stamps, even school lunches, are being made by men with full stomachs who live in comfortable houses with two cars and umpteen tax shelters. None of them go hungry to bed at night.”
This continues to reign true when we see how the government officials take action with no clear understanding of how the people, their constituents live. It is only at this moment faced with the implications of Corona that some have opened their eyes to the lives that many Americans have and had no choice to bear. So much so that CUNY had to take a period of re-calibration as if they couldn’t fathom the idea that there are many students without access to stable internet, technology, or even housing. In more ways than one, I hope this serves as a humbling experience for our government to see how the other half lives so we can move towards a new age of government “for the people”.
I think here Audre Lorde explores the complexities of her identity as both a black person and a woman drained by the fight for the liberation of both social identities. She doesn’t ignore the apparent which is what she appears to the world as. She cant help but to carry her sense of duality in all that she come across-she sees both color and sex. However, these women that speak of feminism do not have an alliance among all women because they make fun of the girls that organize their very movement. Their desires for equality among their male counterparts fail them because they fail to acknowledge the racism between the white counterman and black customer/counterman. Their failure to acknowledge this intersectionality leaves Lorde alone and frustrated with the hypocrisies of those that occupy these spaces and the wait towards liberation. These feelings and conversations surrounding intersectionality is still had to this day.
Poetry kills yourself instead of your children. Poetry takes full accountability of self and the words we share while rhetoric does not. Rhetoric doesn’t belong to just self it isn’t speaking from a singular experience or a singular interpretation. It is open for all to interpret and use as their own. It is speech meant to convince and sometimes coerce. It carries an objective while poetry is just laying out one’s raw truths with no other hidden agenda but that. Lorde describes: “my mouth splits into dry lips without loyalty or reason thirsting for the wetness of his blood as it sinks into the whiteness”. The mouth split reminds me of the opening of the mouth to speak-she continues to say that when she talks her words/her rhetoric holds no sound reasoning no loyalty to anyone, concept, idea, or belief it moves/splits for self-indulgence-to quench her thirst. The difference between rhetoric and poetry to me is indicative of this repeating statement:“I didn’t notice the size nor anything else, only the color. And there are tapes that prove that, too”. Poetry are the tapes and/or the truths that contrast against the police man and jury members rhetoric-their testimonies that lack integrity or validity.Convincing rhetoric is a danger because it swindled the black woman into supporting the exoneration of the murderous cop who folded to what so clearly is white supremacy. Her own rhetoric even with her having power did nothing for the life of the slain boy nor the generations of children that’ll allow. She “killed” her own children because as a black woman her compliance allowed a boy’s death to go in vain. Therefore, her rhetoric leaves a graveyard at her womb. This is the cost of not knowing the difference between poetry and rhetoric.
I believe that James Baldwin next to Alice Walker writes and discusses religion in the very way that I have thought about it and it is always great to have your thoughts about something so taboo reassured. The idea of religion has always been something that I questioned and/or had my reservations about. Though I’ve always believed in God, I cannot say that I have never questioned the idea of Him or had questions for Him. Like my mother, I never really connected to Church. I didn’t understand why we always had to dress for the nines or get up so early to show God that we were dedicated to him or that God and his most devout followers only congregated in that one building. Why couldn’t we have church at home and showed him how devout we were there? Why did going to church make one better than the next because if God is all knowing then I’m sure he knew my heart. (and why Jesus never looked like me-white as ever in the blackest homes.) Church never kept me engaged nor helped me understand the text that was supposed to all abide to. I questioned the legitimacy of the Bible-how were these men capable of remembering verbatim what Jesus told them? How do we know for certain that these psalms are in all good intention and free from their own opinion/reservations, especially considering how many versions of the text there is for one man’s words? Baldwin states; “People I felt ought to love the Lord because they loved Him, and not because they were afraid to go to Hell. I was forced reluctantly, to realize that the Bible itself had been written by men, and translated by men…These men had all been operating under divine inspiration. Had they? All of them?” (35) I couldn’t agree more with his words.
My grandmother has tapped her feet in the waters of almost every religion from Buddhism, Christianity, to even converting to the Nation of Islam for my grandfather- a Muslim quick to convert the next. After her first marriage, she returned to Christianity and got married to a preacher. Though now single and in her middle to late sixties, I guess she’s found a footing more in spirituality than organized religion. In my years of life so far, in seeing how she’s moved through religion but was lost in self, and just in how ill-willed people of the Church could be; I realized that Church can’t “save” the ones that don’t move in good intent and integrity-those that do not have heart or good morality. It is in death and in griefing that I have explored my own spirituality and gotten closer to God, what he means to me, and what it means to be of Him (godly)I think it’s because early on I realized this quote from Baldwin: “It is not too much to say that whoever wishes to become a truly moral human being…must first divorce himself from all prohibitions, crimes, and hypocrisies of the Christian church”. (Pg. 47)
I really enjoyed the conversation we had in class in regards to Zora Neale Hurtson because I really connected to the ways Zora Neale Hurtson saw and affirmed her place in the world and what she was both worthy and capable of. The conversation and/or the points Professor Eversley explored was really stimulating and allowed me to explore my own thoughts on multiple things. I was left with particular thoughts in regards to privilege and the overcoming of adversity specifically the profound quote Zora delivered: “the game of getting is more thrilling than the game of keeping”. This quote perfectly described the fear and/or insecurity felt for those that move in privilege because when faced with conversations of true equality and progression this threatens the uneven playing field that works so much in their favor. Privilege is so innate for some that they cannot possibly fathom a life without the cushion that is privilege so by all means necessary they wish to preserve it. The act of preserving privilege because of its value in life works very similarly to capital for the rich. Those that are privileged or rich instinctively want to maintain their footing in the world even if it came at the expense of the collective in my opinion. So rather than truly leveling the playing field and establishing equality and/or equity, they entertain the masses with the thought that progress has been made or the thought that true wealth is accessible/resources can be evenly allocated. When in reality they understand that truly doing so would depreciate the personal value they have whether as an agent of privilege or the upper class. This makes me wonder if racism would ever not be a system of prevalence/permanence or whether capitalism could ever be positioned to be in the best interest and the non-suffering of the collective or the majority which makes me question if capitalism especially is even ethical/moral for that matter. It also makes me question further the morality or more generally, the politics of certain token and/or model black figures of success or immense wealth-like Jay-Z or even Oprah Winfrey. Why do the white upper echelon not fear the potential influence of these minority wealthy figures? Do they not threaten their privilege or positioning in their world or do they not fear these wealthy black figures would mobilize the collective (most specifically the black community) to affirm their boundless potential and the thrill that is “getting” and potentially disrupt their world of privilege/system of advantages/their capita?l Or do these black model figures only serve as figments of the imagination or poster childs of black excellence that is not necessarily attainable for us all much like the uniform concept of the American Dream.?Why isn’t a Jay-Z or even Diddy as billionaires and owners not as feared as the late Nipsey Hussle or Sam Cooke who in comparison had far less wealth? And if the answer is as simple as Jay-Z and Diddy’s politics aligning with the 1 percenters and/or the privileged politics shouldn’t this too be questioned if they claim that they are for and dedicated to the betterment of the black race?