After Glenn Ligon after Zora Neale Hurston
Or, I feel sharp White. Or,
Colored Against. Or, I am
thrown. Or, I am
Opposed. Or, When White.
Or, I Sharp. Or, I Color.
Make it quiet. Wash
me away. Forgetting.
I feel most colored when
I swear to god. I feel most
colored when it is too late.
My tongue is elegy.
When I am captive. I am
the color green because
green is the color of power.
I am a tree growing two fruits.
I feel most colored when I am
thrown against the sidewalk.
It is the last time I feel colored.
Stone is the name of the fruit.
I am a man I am a man I am
a woman I am a man I am a woman
I am protected and served.
I pay taxes and I am a child and
I grow into a bright fleshy fruit.
White bites: I stain the uniform.
I am thrown black type-
face in a headline with no name.
Or, no one hears me. Or, I am thrown
a language bone: unarmed.
I feel most colored when my weapon
is I feel most colored. When I get
what I deserve. When I can’t breathe.
When on television I shuffle
and widen my eyes. I feel most colored
when I am thrown against a mattress,
my tits my waist my ankles buried
in veiny White. Everyone claps.
I feel most colored when I am
the punch line. When I am the trigger.
In the dawn yellow, I know
what I am being told. I feel most
colored when I am collecting dust.
When I am impatient and sick.
When they use us to distract us.
My ears leak violet petals.
I sharpen them. I sharpen them again.
MOST POPULAR NEW FORM OF “RESISTING ARREST”:
GENTLY BEGGING FOR YOUR LIFE
This made me cry a lot
Chris Lilley’s “Jonah from Tonga” character is an extension of Australian ignorance and laziness towards Polynesian cultures, our neighbours. We ignore the Pacific and South East Asia (the same way we ignore Indigenous Australian culture and peoples), and we have no interest in the richness of their cultures or regional co-operation. Hell, most of Queensland doesn’t even know the Torres Strait Islands and her people exist. Chris Lilley isn’t introducing Tongan culture to Australian audiences, he is erasing it through his white lens and stereotypes. If this character was Māori I’d be personally offended, and Tongan people have every right to be offended at this act of “brown face”. Lilley’s “comedy” is insensitive and juvenile. Minorities struggle for representation on our screens, yet Lilley is given money from our National broadcaster to develop this show. There is so much great content we could import — Māori Television is AMAZING (and a lot of it you can watch for free online from Australia), yet the ABC never buys or screens that content. I go to dance performances that bring together Indigenous peoples from across the Pacific and am in awe, I go to funny and tender Samoan theatre. Maybe I search it out because I feel so starved for culture here, never sure of exactly where I stand. Yet Chris Lilley merrily mocks Tongan people and is rewarded for it. If you grew up watching his characters and were uncritical, your nostalgia is understandable but that’s not an excuse now. You know what black face and brown face is. You’ve engaged with Indigenous issues within Australia. Start showing respect to our other Indigenous neighbours and condemn Lilley…and if you can’t do that, please don’t add to the ratings of this show.
P.S. Apparently NITV does show Māori, Inuit and American Indian / First Nations content as well as local Indigenous content, let’s all watch more National Indigenous Television.
The 8 White Identities, by Barnor Hesse. Breaking down the white gaze.
Even tonight and I need to take a walk and clear
my head about this poem about why I can’t
go out without changing my clothes my shoes
my body posture my gender identity my age
my status as a woman alone in the evening/
alone on the streets/alone not being the point/
the point being that I can’t do what I want
to do with my own body because I am the wrong
sex the wrong age the wrong skin and
suppose it was not here in the city but down on the beach/
or far into the woods and I wanted to go
there by myself thinking about God/or thinking
about children or thinking about the world/all of it
disclosed by the stars and the silence:
I could not go and I could not think and I could not
as I need to be
alone because I can’t do what I want to do with my own
who in the hell set things up
and in France they say if the guy penetrates
but does not ejaculate then he did not rape me
and if after stabbing him if after screams if
after begging the bastard and if even after smashing
a hammer to his head if even after that if he
and his buddies fuck me after that
then I consented and there was
no rape because finally you understand finally
they fucked me over because I was wrong I was
wrong again to be me being me where I was/wrong
to be who I am
which is exactly like South Africa
penetrating into Namibia penetrating into
Angola and does that mean I mean how do you know if
Pretoria ejaculates what will the evidence look like the
proof of the monster jackboot ejaculation on Blackland
after Namibia and if after Angola and if after Zimbabwe
and if after all of my kinsmen and women resist even to
self-immolation of the villages and if after that
we lose nevertheless what will the big boys say will they
claim my consent:
Do You Follow Me: We are the wrong people of
the wrong skin on the wrong continent and what
in the hell is everybody being reasonable about
and according to the Times this week
back in 1966 the C.I.A. decided that they had this problem
and the problem was a man named Nkrumah so they
killed him and before that it was Patrice Lumumba
and before that it was my father on the campus
of my Ivy League school and my father afraid
to walk into the cafeteria because he said he
was wrong the wrong age the wrong skin the wrong
gender identity and he was paying my tuition and
it was my father saying I was wrong saying that
I should have been a boy because he wanted one/a
boy and that I should have been lighter skinned and
that I should have had straighter hair and that
I should not be so boy crazy but instead I should
just be one/a boy and before that
it was my mother pleading plastic surgery for
my nose and braces for my teeth and telling me
to let the books loose to let them loose in other
I am very familiar with the problems of the C.I.A.
and the problems of South Africa and the problems
of Exxon Corporation and the problems of white
America in general and the problems of the teachers
and the preachers and the F.B.I. and the social
workers and my particular Mom and Dad/I am very
familiar with the problems because the problems
turn out to be
I am the history of rape
I am the history of the rejection of who I am
I am the history of the terrorized incarceration of
I am the history of battery assault and limitless
armies against whatever I want to do with my mind
and my body and my soul and
whether it’s about walking out at night
or whether it’s about the love that I feel or
whether it’s about the sanctity of my vagina or
the sanctity of my national boundaries
or the sanctity of my leaders or the sanctity
of each and every desire
that I know from my personal and idiosyncratic
and indisputably single and singular heart
I have been raped
cause I have been wrong the wrong sex the wrong age
the wrong skin the wrong nose the wrong hair the
wrong need the wrong dream the wrong geographic
the wrong sartorial I
I have been the meaning of rape
I have been the problem everyone seeks to
eliminate by forced
penetration with or without the evidence of slime and/
but let this be unmistakable this poem
is not consent I do not consent
to my mother to my father to the teachers to
the F.B.I. to South Africa to Bedford-Stuy
to Park Avenue to American Airlines to the hardon
idlers on the corners to the sneaky creeps in
I am not wrong: Wrong is not my name
My name is my own my own my own
and I can’t tell you who the hell set things up like this
but I can tell you that from now on my resistance
my simple and daily and nightly self-determination
may very well cost you your life
Some of the celebrities who attended the March on Washington, speaking to the press. From left to right: James Baldwin, Burt Lancaster, Charlton Heston, Marlon Brando, Sammy Davis Jr.,Photo: Tom Caffrey/Globe Photos Inc.
Cry For Change (by Drea d’Nur)
"Oh Lord, Oh Lord, another brother shot..everybody standing around like they didn’t see a thing."
Her voice, my GOD.
Defiance, Ohio- The White Shore
I will not condemn what anyone did to survive.
But I will not defend a culture that makes us decide. To assimilate or die.
The decision by the Australian Prime Minister to no longer accept refugees who arrive by boat is not a demonstration of power, but of impotence.
What it is not is a sign of a politicised racism among the Australian people. This specific policy is an artefact of political strategy, no more and no less. There is no mass political or social movement calling for the sequestration of refugees in another country. The idea that this is a response to democratic pressures, or a “populist” gesture, is a blasphemy that seeks to absolve the decision-makers by blaming the people. Accepting that would mean renouncing our faith in those around us, and placing it in the those who, in our own names, offer to hold democracy at bay. In the French context, Jacques Rancière writes that this use of populism is no more than the invocation of a “phantom”, where
The essential thing… is to amalgamate the very idea of a democratic people with the image of the dangerous crowd. And to draw the conclusion that we must all place our trust in those who govern us.
There is not any evidence that the Australian people at large are particularly exercised about refugees. There are no public protests against them; the most visible activism is in support of their rights. The mistaken idea that politics is reducible to a series of consumer preferences is partly what got us here, but recent polling on the issue shows that this is the pet issue of a tiny minority. Most voters are far more concerned about a range of issues that governments cannot or will not address. Health care, education, and the protection of local industries are prominent.
We can ignore the faux-pragmatism about swing seats and key demographics and Western Sydney. Refugees are an issue because governments are seeking to resist our most widely-held desires, and oppositions would like to win us over with the prospect of cruelty to a convenient Other. Governments - Labor governments - largely avoid these problems because they no longer have the will or the ability to reallocate resources to our common needs. They will not fight an election on these issues because they would rather not be held responsible for them, and because they live in fear of the prominent voices who would prefer us to focus on anything but a fairer allocation of the riches of a wealthy country. Asylum seekers are a counter in an intra-elite game. They are a simple narrative in a complex society that our media is structurally unable to adequately represent. They’re deployed, more or less, as a troll.
Australia’s professional media, and often enough its “fifth estate” of bloggers and social media users are chronically myopic. This is not only in the preoccupation with day-to-day strategy, but in tracing the cause of every event to some endogenous aspect of Australian politics. This is an analytical limitation that many hitherto-independent voices have come to accept as what it is to be street-wise. But in fact these developments are of a piece with what is happening across western liberal democracies. We are a part of a broader unravelling of any semblance of popular sovereignty. Discussing the UK’s transition to “post-democracy” in an era of globalisation, Jeremy Gilbert writes:
where governments no longer have the degree of control that they once did over flows of capital, labour, ideas, or people, then the capacity of individual national legislatures to determine what happens within their own borders is severely curtailed. Everything from wage levels and rates of inward investment to media content and the cultural makeup of local populations could once be regulated by the state, and now cannot.
As the capacity of governments to manage such broad factors shrinks, they are increasingly likely to emphasise the importance of their capacity to do the only things still in their power: for example, isolating individual scapegoats for social problems and subjecting them to highly visible forms of punishment. In the long-term, however, the ineffectuality of such measures can only generate an increasing sense - amongst both public and politicians - of the impotence of politics in the face of global capitalism. Such impotence breeds frustration, and frustration will manifest itself in various ways: for example, in an increasingly self-serving attitude amongst professional politicians, and a growing resentment of them amongst the people whom they are less and less able to serve effectively.
Social democracy put its faith in the state to solve our common problems. At this point, that faith appears to have been misplaced. The spectacle of leftist and liberal indignation at the raising of Australia’s drawbridge is no doubt a part of Rudd’s plan. (And “self-serving” would be a generous description for that.) But the slowly-building frustration with government will not be so easily dispelled. Like the global movement of peoples, it probably can’t be resolved any more at the level of the nation-state. This realisation makes all that now passes under the name of political debate seem like trivia.
You can stand your ground if you’re white, and you can use a gun to do it. But if you stand your ground with your fists and you’re black, you’re dead.
In the state of Florida, the season on African-Americans now runs year round. Come one, come all. And bring a handgun. The legislators are fine with this blood on their hands. The governor, too. One man accosted another and when it became a fist fight, one man — and one man only — had a firearm. The rest is racial rationalization and dishonorable commentary.
If I were a person of color in Florida, I would pick up a brick and start walking toward that courthouse in Sanford. Those that do not, those that hold the pain and betrayal inside and somehow manage to resist violence — these citizens are testament to a stoic tolerance that is more than the rest of us deserve. I confess, their patience and patriotism is well beyond my own.
Behold, the lewd, pornographic embrace of two great American pathologies: Race and guns, both of which have conspired not only to take the life of a teenager, but to make that killing entirely permissible. I can’t look an African-American parent in the eye for thinking about what they must tell their sons about what can happen to them on the streets of their country. Tonight, anyone who truly understands what justice is and what it requires of a society is ashamed to call himself an American.
Jazz club, 7th Ward.
“Do all dudes have one big testicle and one little tiny one?”
Hieronymus asked, hiking up his poodle skirt as we staggered
Down Main Street in our getup of wigs and pink bonnets
The night we sprayed NEGROPHOBIA all over the statue of Robert
E. Lee guarding the county courthouse, a symbol of the bondage
We had spent all of our All-the-Way Lives trying to subvert.
Hieronymus’s thighs shimmered like the wings of a teenage
Cockroach beneath his skirt as a bullhorn of sheriff verbs
Like Stop! Freeze! and Fire! outlined us. The town was outraged:
The red-blooded farm boys, the red-eyed bookworms of Harvard,
The housewives and secretaries, even a few liberals hoorayed
When they put us on trial. We were still wearing our lady ward-
Robes, Hieronymus and me, with our rope burns bandaged
And our wigs tilted at the angle of trouble. Everyone was at war
With what it meant to be alive. That’s why we refused to be banished,
And why when they set us on fire, there was light at our core.