the philosophactivist

Monday, October 28, 2013

Words from the Pacific Northwest


"So...I woke up this morning and made an agreement with myself to no longer engage with white supremacy in any of its forms. No more benefits of the doubt, no more ally training, no more internalizing racist bullsh or second guessing microaggressions. No more just dealing with it because 'that's the way things are'.

This illness that I carry in my body is a direct affect of all the silencing, all the repression, the smoldering of embers lit when Mami Wata begrudgingly saw her children abducted and carried to foreign shores.

I now pray for the wrecklessness of Olokun...the unharnessed strength of Oya....the unapologetic destruction of the warriors...I pray for the might of Chango. I pray to climb the bark of this ancestral tree up to the branches of the spirit world. Orun. And stare down, vision unobstructed, with the eyes of Olodumare to see the Ase connecting, surging through us all.

And then to climb back down to this realm never to again be affected by illusion/delusion again. All I'd see is Osun's golden honey-harmony. Wrap myself in Yemaya's sweet, sweet 7 skirts of liquid, cerulean peace. And walk in whites with Obatala seeking crystalline clarity. Unbridled understanding. Observing with Orunmila the constellations of coco and cowrie from beyond telling me is time. We are strong. They are listening. Are we? The shells whisper: Now. now. now."


Dear Portland, I.just.can't. The microaggressions and "black presence" and "south asian presence" at stores were egregious. From the mascotization* of blacks to the vintage book cover about a nazi cult adjacent to the book cover of a book about a brothel in Tokyo to the snake skin shirt (surrounded by other asian artifacts)with the explanation that 2013 is the year of the snake...I am truly speechless. You hipsters have truly lost your everloving mind. I was agitated after 2 hours and I almost ran out of the co-op screaming. Almost every interaction was a microaggression. So thanks for that. We are making a zine of the microaggressions we've experienced throughout the tour and probably half of them so far have come from Portland.

Here are just a few gems:

  • Hip Hop music playing (Snoop- Drop it like it's hot) in (white) artist collective house/crafty arty nic nac store
  • Strip of profile shots of black men with different haircuts on two walls in a very white bar/cafe
*and random pictures of black or indigenous people (just because they miss us so much after gentrifying)

  • white woman in "vintage" store talks to us about how in Portland it is "easier" than New Orleans because their's less racial tension and you can get to everything by foot.
      -bonus gems: the nazi cult novel book cover and the book cover of the     novel about a brothel in Tokyo side by side (but that's not's campy!)
  • A painting of a native american chief standing by someone from his tribe pointing out to a steamboat of colonizers like..'oh yay! we're saved' but I would have liked to spray paint a thought bubble saying 'there goes the neighborhood!'
  • Racist store names, menu items, party/show fliers<<which we found throughout the tour
  • Bill Cosby as some kind of a mascot for this hipster store...??
So yea, folks. The whiteness is so stifling in some of the areas we spent time in. I joked that it's probably what the Virginia settlements were like...the perfect white male paradise. (Except when those damn savages would want their land back!) 

Seattle tomorrow and it honestly can't come any faster. No really it can't. You have no idea!

(ps- we may or may not have had the show at this very store...but the event was actually pretty chill)

Hilarious photo montage entitled 'brown people not amused with uberwhitehipster town'

Want to know more about Portland and Racism? Here are some links a friend forwarded me:

Yet Another Racist Derailment at Portland Q Center
More Racist Derailment at Portland Q Center
Racist White Supremacist Terrorism in Portland
Brown in PDX

And here's info about a rad zine by women of color in Portland:


"Seattle was a true surprise. The coffee shop (Black Coffee Co-op) was paaaacked (standing room only) and folks gave so much in donations and really supported by buying our zines and books. I read my piece 'Frankly Not about Food Forests' since everyone in the nation is taking their cues from the Beacon Food Forest there and I read what I wrote about my past job's current ideas on food sovereignty and my divestment from engaging with white supremacy and my prayer to the orishas. 
People really appreciated my candidness and (white folks) didn't ask me to educate them on any of the points. They didn't try to convince me about food forests and were happy to sit with being uncomfortable with my directness and Truth. They even told me they were fine with not getting half my references to Ifá 
 and the orishas because it WASN'T FOR/ABOUT THEM. So take heed white do-gooder/liberal/progressive/radical Austinites!!
So many folks came up to us to thank us for being there and reading. This was a great end to the tour for me. POC Zine Project will push on through the midwest, east and back down south but I will be back home this weekend to process all that I've seen and incorporate it into all that I'm becoming."

 Above Photo: Daniela Capistrano, Nyky Gomez, Anna Vo, Toi Scott, Nia King, Cristy Road

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Words from the West

Saturday 10/19/13

In San Francisco I was called to read my pieces- 'The Master's Tools' and 'Visionaries don't need to dream'. I also read my poem Survivin' and my piece 'My Healing Story'. A friend recommended the last two and it was just what needed to happen, even though she wasn't there.

I needed to read about how we can't use the master's tools to dismantle the master's house, I needed to read about our internalized oppression and why we are not "progressing" as a people though the dominant culture wants us to believe that we are. I needed to read about what visionary organizing looks like and how our internalized oppression makes us turn on each other and not trust the radicals and visionaries that are here to co-heal with us and return us to our rightful place as the descendants of kings and queens, spiritual royalty.

I needed to talk about how we needed to heal. I also needed to read my story about being diagnosed with lupus and my battle to be heard and to find holistic care. I needed to get it out even though it was a little difficult baring my emotional and spiritual scars and being raw in front of folks I didn't know.

But...that's why I started reading my poetry out loud so many years ago, in the first place. It's kind of like that term "speak truth to power". I felt myself healing and regaining power over my story as I told it. In talking about my illness, I opened the storybook for all those who share it and I invited people to take a look at their chapters.




Los Angeles was a challenge. Emotionally. I'll explain more after I've processed. USC's QPOC group was so amazing. We were so tired after driving from AZ and their spirit breathed new life into us. We were recharged upon meeting them. As two tour members and I picked beautiful flowers around campus for the altar, I was truly happy to be there. I knew that we were appreciated and I wanted to honor this. I recruited the two tour members to read some monologues from Genderqueer Files and the audience liked it and thoroughly enjoyed everyone's pieces.


UCLA stood in stark contrast. We performed in a meeting space in the library and it was just more "official" feeling. There were less POC in the space. The vibe was different. I was happy to run into a good friend that I'd met years ago in NYC at an Audre Lorde Project community organizer training (Daring to Be Powerful- check it out if you're in the area). The organizers of the show booked it the same time as another POC event and to be in solidarity, some of the tour members walked over to the event with a few folks from our event. I'm not sure how effective that was least something was done, I guess. 

To be honest, my memories of LA are foggy because of breakdowns in communication, hostility, and just an overall feeling of discomfort as interpersonal conflict escalated on this particular part of the tour. I was fortunate to get a break from all this and to ground myself and drive up the coast on the 1 with someone I trust and respect. 

When we got to Oakland we went to queer qumbia and in the morning we had brunch with some of my fav people from when I lived briefly in the Bay. It really restored my faith in brown community. Sometimes the microcosm of the macrocosm- femmephobia, transphobia, internalized racism, colorism, anti-blackness, xenophobia,etc. can be even worst in our little brown bubbles where we seek asylum. Sometimes solidarity isn't so solid or solidifying. There are still tokens and problematic dynamics as we try very hard to "decolonize" and de-assimilate. As soon as I have time to process...I'll write more.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Notes from the South/West

Indigenous People's Day (October 14th)- Tucson, AZ
This morning, I sat in the golden rays of the Arizona sun praying for healing of ancestral wounds and for continued guidance on this path I'm on. Though today is a day for mourning of the violence and genocide against my indigenous ancestors' whose names I'll probably never know, it is also a day of reflection on our innate power and connection to that energy that is the essence of all that has made sure that we as a People survive. We are not less than. We are not weak...we are not broken. We are beautiful spirits that need only realize the rich soil and strong roots from which we come from. And as black and brown people who share many of the same roots, it's important for us to learn about our suppressed histories together. That's the message I got in deep prayer and meditation today. No one can be liberated while anyone is subjugated or exploited. No one can live with ease while others suffer. And we cannot know our own complete histories without acknowledging those of our brothers and sisters We cannot be whole without realizing we are only a part of the whole. A drop in the sea.

October 15th- Tucson, AZ

What an amazing day. Spent some quality time taking a stroll through downtown Tucson with OG zinester (we're talkin 90s punk predecessor) Mimi Nguyen- creator of Slander, the Race Riot series, The Gift of Freedom, and other writings. We saw this ironic, gem of a billboard that said "You belong here." With some light-skinned Latino man. Ummmmm?

We moseyed to Antigone, a feminist radical bookstore, with huge lesbian and gay fiction sections and an indigenous spirituality section with white shaman authors. Womp womp. We ate delicious Ethiopian food at a place called Cafe Desta with some of the dope collective members of MalintZine. Performed with Anna Vo (Author of Fix My Head) and Nykky Gomez (Founder of Brown Recluse Zine Distro and author of Skinned Heart zine) at Skrappy's Youth Collective. (How awesome is that? A space for youth!) There were sooo many rad black and brown folks that attended. I read a piece on Black and Brown Solidarity and organizing for immigrant rights , some poems on my heritage and "For the Descendants of the Freedom Fighters and Riders" and a piece entitled "The Master's Tools". Tucson has really felt like a home away from home.

October 17th- Los Angeles, CA

Watching the sun rise over LA from a cliff in Echo Park I am realizing that I needed this tour more than I could ever know. Already I am inspired to do and be so much more. And this is more than an IS the Path. Sometimes we spend so much time looking for it or trying to walk on it and it's already here. We're walking it- no- we actually ARE the path. I not only embody the tears, pain, and joy of my ancestors but I also embody all that they ever wanted for themselves and their descendants. I am the inner peace that I've sought since childhood. I already have the freedom I've been searching for.   
As the sun comes up over the mountains, our ancestors, I see in the amber dawn my own inner transformation - all that I am experiencing on this trip. My own dawning. I know that I can never return as the person who walked onto this trailer/tour bus- overpacked, slightly burnt out with organizing and white folks tokenizing, and transitioning through the next steps of this so-called adult life. I'm nearing the end of this transition with a new take on purpose and new inspiration from the others on this trip/that we encounter on this trip who share many of my ideals. People I never dreamed could exist, let alone all be on the same bus together co-creating radical safe spaces for brown folks and dialogue, city to city.
In one week it's even clearer to me now that there are certain things I'm here to do (in Life). I can't be distracted by society's expectations for me or people's projections or insecurities. I know who I am and that I'm capable of more than I ever could have imagined. I will no longer subject myself to limitations from myself or others.  I have to live my life in alignment with my ancestors' deepest aspirations- and I guarantee it wasn't to assimilate into white supremacist, homo/transphobic, sexist, ableist ideals. It wasn't to perpetuate the "othering" of whole communities or to turn my back on those who are suffering while others live in excess. 
In all honesty I don't care about the "1%". I'm tired of talking about white privilege and whiteness but unfortunately, in this world we have to care because until we come together in solidarity and actually decide we will no longer abide by racist/homophobic/sexist/ableist laws, policies, and societal standards- until we decide to create brand new systems and paradigms- we must continue to mind our p's and q's and "shuck and jive" for our own survival.   
You know what the sunrise taught me? It taught me that there is a such thing as a beautiful, silent (but not as in voiceless), burning resistance. It is patient and persistent. Assertive. Omnipresent. Though we think the sun has set or disappeared, it's still there, burning with the same intensity...ready for the next upRise. Like clockwork. We, as a people, should take notes from the Sun.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Race Riot! POC Zine Project Tour

Well folks-

I'm having an amazing time on the Race Riot! Tour. I don't have instagram and I barely use tumblr or twitter so I'm going to try and document a little bit here with other peeps' photos. So, photo credit to all the coordinators with awesome cameras and social media prowess.

I hopped onto the tour in Austin after the kickoff in New Orleans and a few events in Houston and College Station.

Puro Chingon Collective hosts us in Austin, TX

Our Altar 

Me reading a piece about "Food Forests" historical racism and the displacement of POC in Austin

More Photos HERE.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

 Above: Me, Jodi, Anna Vo, and Chula Doula/Pati Garcia
Tabling at the Tannex

 Me reading "The Thing about Poverty" and "Post-Racial Who?" from Notes from an Afro-Genderqueer 2

On the way to Tucson...

    Anna Vo and I play Afro-Speed with Afro-centric playing cards. 

Driving through Texas took forever and a day and we experienced much racism during the few stops we took. I can't say I felt much pride in my state. But then, there are very few moments when I do anyway.

The first morning in New Mexico a white man in a huge red truck saw me from the highway access road and turned in as he saw me walking through the motel parking lot to our trailer. He knocked on the door and another tour member answered since I was in the back and he said..

"I know this might seem crazy but the Lord gave me a message for you..."

And they slammed the door on the man. I can't help but think about how many times this is how people get assaulted, kidnapped, etc. We beefed up on security a bit (asking our driver to defend us with some of her top secret weaponry) and headed out to Albuquerque.
I can't believe how cold it gets at night.

The Tannex hosted us and it's a really rad space with a zine library. The local performers were amazing. Waylaid was a percussion-y-zapateando-y-singing/poetry trio experience. Then this badass chicana feminist from the border took the stage and just lit it on fire with her poems. Her name's Jessica Helen Lopez and she is the founder of La Palabra- The Word is a Woman, a female writer's collective that celebrates and empowers femininity through creative endeavors. She's also author of the book of poetry "Always Messing with them Boys" (on West End Press) which we had the pleasure of hearing her read from.

Anna Vo read from her Fix My Head zines and Chula Doula let us in on the literature (Hot Pants, Radical Doula and Freeing Ourselves) she's selling for different groups/organizations. Last up was the founder of the Tannex and the Albuquerque Zine Fest, Marya Errin Jones, who read from her zine about the first black female pilot-Bessie Coleman.

What an honor to be a witness to the performers in Albuquerque. We just got into Tucson late last night with no qualms at checkpoints. We avoided I-10 like the plague and here we are after a frosty night, basking in the sun and catching up on our blogging/writing/rest. We have 2-3 events here in Tucson and then we're off to L.A. next week!

Stay tuned for more...

and find out more about our tour dates here.