#86, resist how we are framed
April 12, 2017
I feel like this is what Adrienne Rich was talking about when she said “The oppressor’s language,” or when David Wojnarowicz talked about the “pre-invented world.” Similar to what Audre Lorde was saying too with “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
I think there’s a long queer tradition of resisting how we are framed, and it is one that is useful in a world where things are majorly being reframed for a white-supremacist audience.”
- “Learning from the Sixties,” Audre Lorde
We lose our history so easily, what is not predigested for us by the New York Times, or the Amsterdam News, or Time magazine. Maybe because we do not listen to our poets or to our fools, maybe because we do not listen to our mamas in ourselves. When I hear the deepest truths I speak coming out of my mouth sounding like my mother’s, even remembering how I fought against her, I have to reassess both our relationship as well as the sources of my knowing. Which is not to say that I have to romanticize my mother in order to appreciate what she gave me – Woman, Black. We do not have to romanticize our past in order to be aware of how it seeds our present. We do not have to suffer the waste of an amnesia that robs us of the lessons of the past rather than permit us to read them with pride as well as deep understanding.
We know what it is to be lied to, and we know how important it is not to lie to ourselves.
We are powerful because we have survived, and that is what it is all about – survival and growth.
Within each one of us there is some piece of humanness that knows we are not being served by the machine which orchestrates crisis after crisis and is grinding all our futures into dust.
- “The Burning of Paper Instead of Children,” Adrienne Rich (excerpt)
2. To imagine a time of silence
or few words
a time of chemistry and music
the hollows above your buttocks
traced by my hand
or, hair is like flesh, you said
an age of long silence
from this tongue this slab of limestone
or reinforced concrete
fanatics and traders
dumped on this coast wildgreen clayred
that breathed once
in signals of smoke
sweep of the wind
knowledge of the oppressor
this is the oppressor’s language
One specific idea is that the world is a place we’re born into with a preinvented existence, where everything’s been laid out. Perhaps the most radical thing you can do, then, is use your imagination. With all these different indicators seeming to press on you wherever you go—stopping for a traffic light, walking on the sidewalk instead of the middle of the street, the imagination, too, is shaped somehow. But I still think there are keys that can unlock it, you can break through a lot of things … like socialization.