Prophetic Embodiment

Image

In the instance, in the moment, of the prophetic vision, found when one has gone to the edge; in the borderlands of society, cast between the dark dreams of slaves and the wretched. Found in the last whispers to loved ones, found in the dreams of burdened souls, of warrior poets, hustling heroes, homegirl goddesses, and homeboy gods. There laying in these fonteras (borders), fields and empty lots; there we find the solace of our oppression. It is the shattered mirror in which we confront ourselves, it is the perpetual moment where we rebel or submit, to affirm or deny the poison world of colonization, slavery, and impoverishment (of soul or body). The perpetual meeting, the everyday events where we meet the distorted refraction that makes us doomed to defeat. Defeated- only if we believe the refraction that is presented to us, presented to us in our appropriated music, in the pervasive and continually glowing television, the propaganda (T.V, radio, billboard, institutional lies), continually we are bombarded with lies about ourselves. There is the instance that I wish to grapple with, the moment of the prophetic; this is abstract territory that becomes concrete in our lives of Men and Women of color in America, which I wish to brake down with you.

 

            As we encounter the lies, told by our selves, by society, by authority, by friends and family, we become conflicted. The soul of color is in constant negation against the dominant oppression not just out of us but also within in us. We are met with expectations, in which we may act upon and meet, or may refuse and move through. It takes an awareness to develop a counter narrative, a resistant consciousness, an outlet of ‘self’, a unification of ‘other’. To be autonomous; both self creating and self perfecting we souls of color must maintain a consciousness that balances who we are as the other against the oppression that constructs us as such. This balance is achieved “in manual” as “in automatically” yet as I experience this, it must be done meticulously, the “self” and the “other”; of who we are (can be, have been, will be) and the oppression that we exist in as well as other in the sense of out side of the “just I”, seeing our community as “We”. The mentioned creation of a counter narrative (the ability to create truth against oppression and freedom against domination) comes in abstract ways, which are subversive as they are creative. We know this; it is in our music, our art, in the pursuits of passionate expression. The question for me is this; how do we break with the old, cut away the actual and reach for the unactualized potential, combining the “political” and the artistic, removing ourselves from oppressive institutions/systems/arrangements and creating “effective” or “ineffective” (as in ineffective for the status-quo) wasy of being on community wide scales? How can we reconcile hate? How can we maneuver through violence? These are questions that I believe can be answered from the standpoint of the consciousness of color; I will explain what I mean by this bellow.

 

            It would be outlandish to assume I alone could develop a discourse that can paint the intricacies and complexities of the multiple consciousness’ that arrive in the diverse variance of subjectivities of the broad spectrum of souls of color. Yet I think I can with precision and clarity create a narrative of my own consciousness, as well as the observations of my comrades, brother, and sisters. Which I will do, yet first I think it best to restate, or pre-state my notion and conception of souls of color for those who have not read or hear it already.

 

            The soul of color is the birthing consciousness of resistance and liberation. She is born from the oppression and colonization of the regimes of truth and power that currently hold throne over the increasingly compacted globe. She is born from the hate and pain of history; she is born of the slave trade, she is born from the sharecropping fields, from the haciendas, the reservation, the Chinatowns, the barrios, the ghetto, the barren soulless suburban wastelands. He is the voice of the refusal to comply and submit to dominant truths, or lies. She is the embodiment of freedom, of decolonization, of joy in the face of mechanical depression and impoverished sprits. The soul of color stands not as an iron pole in the ground, fortified and unmoving, but as the heavy rains of summer, the soul is fluid, its consciousness transcendent. In essence it is the human, it is anti-capital, it is the freedom we speak of in “god-given-rights”, yet as elusive as sound of the timbas or congas and concrete as the project steps.

           

            This description is poetic, it is ideal, it is far from the regime of truth, it is subversive, but as sure as you are reading this, it is real. The soul of color, the consciousness Of Color is the spiritual antithesis to the dominant power structure. It is the resistance embodied in the soul of those who resist the chains and cages of modern technical, total administered, and advanced industrial capitalism. This is more then a lot to chew, we need to dissect this. We also need to discuss how this is embodied and this supposed consciousness, this supposed soul of color arises. First, I say it is subversive, I say it is the antithesis to, whatever the hell I just said, let’s break it down further so we have a good picture of what we’re talking about.

 

            The notion of the soul of color assumes a second truth, one of the consumer and it’s society. This consumer society is the dominated by the power structure of capitalism and race structures; it is dominated by the institutions and individuals that have been a hegemonic force over the globe and in this country. Although discussed elsewhere in my own writing, so too are the effects of the advanced industrial society written on by other greater writers. But briefly, the form of our society, which is dominated by capitalism and its following logics and structures, creates an alienation that goes deep into the root of the human soul. This society conditions a veil; I have written on this veil of consumerhood before, for our purposes and in the context of the soul of color, it is marked by the attack upon the soul of color. This society has through out its existence sought to destroy the soul of color. It has enslaved it, broken it down, cut off its hair, taken its language, and systematically miseducated, indoctrinated us to hate the soul of color, to distance us from the spiritual world, to strive to be within this society, to aim for “luxury” of “being rich”, “making it”, and to buy our way there- at the cost of selling ourselves. And why wouldn’t we? Chained to impoverishment and tolling, degrading labor, our forefathers and mothers sacrificed their blood, their sweat, and their tears just to carve out a space for us (or themselves). And I writing this have reaped the benefits of these sacrifices, sacrifices of the body, and sacrifices of the soul- but I am here to reclaim both, to reclaim the blood, the sweat, the tears, the dreams and the memories.

 

            For this system of oppression and capitalist exploitation[1] is not a solid rock impenetrable, it is not a fortress on the hill invincible, it is the illusion that is so powerful- but illusions are nothing to the eyes of light, nothing to the awoken, they vanish like morning mist, revealing the morning sun. And it is this enlightenment that arises forth the soul of color. The soul is not entitled to anyone- it is not a given in the equation of having come from the oppressed people- it is taken, as in it must be self formulated. Nor is it necessarily restricted to people of the black, brown, red, or yellow phenotype, I am not talking about “allies” of “white” decent, I mean to say that those who reject the white racial identity thrust upon them. A brother by the name of Thandeka in his book Learning to be White: Money, Race, and God in America ends his work by saying this, “With this new beginning, loyalties need no longer be skin-deep. Here God’s broken humanity can be healed. Difference will be affirmed as the grace of human engagement. The term person of color will now refer to every human being. Dare we dream of such a day? Yes. Let the church say Amen.”

 

 

That is who has been to the edge, the borderlands of existence, the borderlands of the psyche, of society- in which the possibility of the “prophetic” is encountered. I do not think there is any easy way to come here, it cannot simply be meditated upon, or agreed with; it must be felt, it must be lived, we chicanos say, it takes ganas, real blood; it is stepping into the potential and out of the existing.

 

[1] I encourage the reader who is not familiar with the concepts of capitalist exploitation, and the ideas surrounding One Dimensional society, to familiarize yourself with such concepts. I may, and should write summaries and explanations that are more accessible then the texts currently available on such subjects. On the face it may seem “overly” “complicated”, I would argue, to discuss such things it takes a sort of language.

Advertisements

Blues Man by Blood

 

He came up via Texas, no mama, no papa, just his back to break and something to make. Went through the lettuce fields, cotton fields, rice swaps, and ended up sometime, somehow in the hills of Pennsylvania. The coal mines, dark as hell, where the soul gets coated in ash.

 

            And its from those hands, and arms, and back, that I find myself. The creases of my palms, my brothers palms, my mother, my aunties, my uncles, are of those calloused hands. We’re of the eyes that sought vision in the city streets playing the guitar, telling stories, mining coal, picking the earth, combing the factory line of GM,

 

            If there’s one thing we can’t hide from it’s the blood in our bodies. The genetic and spiritual trace of our past from before we were. You can’t lie that down, you can run, but you can’t hide from that. The blood memories, the linage of family, of ancestors whose names have been lost, burned out, whipped out, chained out, of memory…those names are eternal flames in the blood, in the dreams of your soul. I don’t believe that such blood ties you to a fate, but is the seminal bone in our spine, our compass. A compass that too often gets left in dusty chests.

 

            In this nation, one of immigrants, slaves, conquers and conquered, who are our individual sojourners?  This is knowledge, memory that gifts us beyond documents. The names they bore can only be enunciated in the past. It is their ghosts that we bear now.

 

            Names mean only as much as they can give, the true power of blood memory is of the imagining. Something to be meditated on. Something the blues brings. Something native tongues sing.

 

            I happen to know my families names and events from their entry into this country about a century ago, I know the sojourner who came first, he was a man named Trinidad, his folks died to a cause, to which is a mystery. He died a poet and a pool hall owner, a spokesman of his neighborhood in Pontiac Michigan. But my blood tells me more…

 

            I can imagine/remember the frigid cold of Pennsylvania, the mountain hills and the dark that the mine was, the songs he carried in, the songs he carried out. I hear them still, the boleros y norteños, the blues he sung in NY, the soot allies shining in the reflection of the city giants. 

Beyond Racial Inequality, Deeper than Income Disparities: Part One- Critical Examinations

tumblr_mqr78dr69i1s42uk2o1_1280

Recently on the University of Michigan’s campus there has been a decent amount of attention focused in on the lack of racial equity. The sheer lack of students of color, primarily black, native, and Latino students as well as others fosters an environment of isolation, segregation, and general racial tension. There is the lack of commitment by the University to move forward with action around the DREAM Act, or to repel the states proposition 2 act (making affirmative action unconstitutional) that was passed in 2006 and has just recently had a supreme court case centered around it in 2013, these issues are only a few that I could of that have been raised by the student body concerned with ‘racial justice’.

 

I sat in on the Regents meeting two days ago, Feb.20th and at a campus event 1000 Speak Out For Racial Justice, momentum is building, yet a focus on simply race will not do. It will not change this university, and it will not change in any significant way the state of affairs that this nation is wading through. This past winter small and somewhat disconnected protests have happened, not to knock their power in of in themselves, but separate, we can accomplish nothing. I have only recently committed to a more full and engaged role in student activism, so I am not passing judgment, I can only acknowledge what I see. A unitary front is necessary, in this university and for this nation, unlikely as it is, we must reach for the highest bar and it is dire for us to focus not simply a “race” thing or a “wage” thing, or a “gender” thing, or “language” etc., what we need it to focus in on the machinery of oppression, that structure and mechanism that allows for the perpetual oppression of Women, People of color, the poor, the homeless, our brothers and sisters across the globe who struggle under our weight…

 

Hence the title of this post; it is more then racial injustice, it is beyond income inequality, these injustices are but shades in a larger picture. Race and our exploration of it can act as a door to enter into practices aimed at ending oppression and inequality, understanding how race works is a necessary dimension of any liberatory project. I think here on my campus we have an opportunity to open that door, and I think it is being opened. We must do so in a manner that is critical, nothing about this is necessarily simple, we cannot simply call out our white brothers and sisters as, “Racist”- not that this has been done, but I know it is the simple way of handling this. For one, in my experience, in discussions we often over emphasize race as being a “problem” for people of color, glossing over the complexity, if not the center focus of racial construction- White Racial Identity- We exist as Black or Brown, or Yellow only because there is a White to compare ourselves to. We exist as “oppressed” because white is “privileged.” A discussion on how this racial identity is constricted and reconstructed, produced and reproduced, by way of interaction needs to take place. It needs to take place because of where it leads us, and it leads us into history.

 

The notion of a “White Race” is nothing natural, it’s social construction can be traced- although contested by academics in the field- to the slave trade. Yet, despite what may be rational logic, it did not precede the slave trade, it was birthed by it. Yet this is generalizing and a bit of historical amnesia, this construction is taking place about 1600-1700, so this is after the conquest of Nueva Española, where “white” Spaniards (Black Africans, Moors, and not so pale Europeans included) took hold of empires formerly under Indigenous rule. This is also about the same time where European empires are taking shape and rivalry is growing, as in over seas conquest. Political changes are underway; the enlightenment is being forged, industrialization is only around the corner. Capitalism and the end of monarchy as it was in the Middle Ages is in the womb. I argue all these factors were, and continue to be, core bases of racial identity, and as racial identity becomes more toned and specific or abstract others factors are at play. But for the core founding of race, it was the construction of “Whiteness” in tandem and in the wake of the transatlantic-slave-trade, imperial conquests-changing political structures, and modernization.

 

We can no longer afford to talk about race as a simple ahistorical occurrence of inequality or injustice, like a brother I know breaks it down as this, that injustice, the apparent oppression in our society are only the symptoms of a larger sickness. We caught that sickness along time ago, and have only been taking Advil at masters advice, its time we do some self medicating on a real deep level, its time we get over the damn sickness because whether we all recognize it or not, its killing us.

 

Continued in post to come….Race in the American Project.

Raw Sketches of Joaquin

Image

 

Raw Sketches of Joaquin,

 

Across the highways of California the legend of Joaquin Murrieta may seep in blood. Yet for me as a Chicano, Joaquin is immortalized as not simply a bandit who revenged his love and family as a bandido, the raw sketch of Joaquin is the immortal embodiment of Corky Gonzalez’s epic poem, Yo Soy Joaquin.

 

The raw sketch is where I come from, where from which, I am.

 

The cotton fields of South Texas, the mines of northern Mexico, the dry pains of North Dakota, the migrant family who slept under badland sky in paper tents. The lone traveler who traverse the bottom of America, into the coal lines of Pennsylvania, and then across and back to San Antonio, gathering his family they set out across the heartland to the factories of South East Michigan. By the 1960s working the General Motors of Pontiac, the foot step to the American Dream.

 

And now, here I am, a university student, a raw sketch of Joaquin.

 

I have endured in the rugged mountains 
Of our country

I have survived the toils and slavery of the fields. 


I have existed 
In the barrios of the city

In the suburbs of bigotry

In the mines of social snobbery

In the prisons of dejection 
In the muck of exploitation

And

In the fierce heat of racial hatred. 


 

Barbra Ransby spoke at a recent event at my University that was meant to give a platform to speaking out against racial injustice and inequality, more on that later, her talk was very moving to me, for this reason. She spoke of a debt that people of color in particular have, aside from tuition, there is another debt, an owing to our predecessors, to our ancestors, to the ones who came before us.

 

It is by their sweat and blood, by the enduring spirit that brought me here, and to that, I owe, I owe my activism, my work, and my time. If my Great Grandmother was a sharecropper working off her debt, then I too am a sharecropper, but my debt to pay is not in bushels of cotton to the oppressor, it is time spent and energy directed at liberation.

 

And now the trumpet sounds,

The music of the people stirs the 
Revolution.

Like a sleeping giant it slowly 
Rears its head 


To the sound of 
Tramping feet 


Clamoring voices 


Mariachi strains 


Fiery tequila explosions 


The smell of chile verde

and 
Soft brown eyes of expectation for a

Better life.

 

And a better life is today, tomorrow, to be grasped, to be held in the hands of all people; it is to that I am indebted.

 

I look the same 


I feel the same 


I cry 
And 
Sing the same. 


I am the masses of my people and 
I refuse to be absorbed. 


I am Joaquín. 


The odds are great 


But my spirit is strong, 


My faith unbreakable, 
My blood is pure. 


I am Aztec prince and Christian Christ. 


I SHALL ENDURE! 
I WILL ENDURE!

                                                            Rodolfo “Corkey” Gonzalez

 

And so that is a raw sketch of Joaquin,

 

Next week I’ll contextualize the Shadows of Mama Wu.

Consciousness

tumblr_mnv96vbW6Q1qg08uio1_1280

To Better Understand This Introduction Post, I Recommend Watching the Video Linked in the Previous Post.

My political consciousness, and in fact, my consciousness, I can not pin-point to single genesis, but I do know the constituting compass, what I mean by this is that I know the ideas, the embodied and abstracted source of my direction. This compass is eloquently and simply put in the words of the Zapatistas of Chiapas méxico. Our World is Our Weapon is the inspiration for the title of this blog, One Voice, From One World- I hope to capture the essence of what subcommadante Marcos delivered at the first intercontinental encuentro against Neoliberalism and for Humanity in 1996. When I say, “I hope to capture the essence,” I do not simply mean capturing in this blog, I mean that I will have captured this essence in the largest scope of my existence, in the everyday life that I lead, to the legacy I will leave when I exit. More powerful then any complex political manuscript, more capturing then any demand, I think the call to Humanity that is given by the Zapatistas reaches into the depths of who we all are, it echoes in me as it echoes in you, and as it will echo through out history, and cultivate into the future.

Behind this black mask, who you see is you. That utterance sends emotion running down my spine, it moves me, it compels me, and every time I have listened to this piece I grow from it. In these times I recognize a deeply troubled world, and in the heart of american affluence I see a broken consciousness. The troubles and offences list long; they stretch into the depths of history and manifest themselves in cold uncaring hatred and indifference. Yet I think a change has been brewing for a long time, and long time coming it has been. The american 2008 election speaks to the desire of change- and yet the outcome of the last six years has shown the failure of american politics(and to conscious this failure of politicos is no surprise). We must look to the mask and behind what it covers, the face we see in the mirror, the face we recognize as we pass the homeless on the street, the face of those who we will never see, the faces that remain shut out, we must look because those faces our ours.

So then, how do we reach this elusive change? How to we look at the face that remains hidden behind a mask? I think the way is many, it is one that must respect all our gifts, it must be an open way, a liberation of the mind, a liberation of our bodies, and a liberation of the soul. Where I see my role is though knowledge, through an autonomous and self proclaimed and owned education. I believe I can contribute in many ways, but this blog will focus on the learning of the mind and hopefully proliferate as much as one could into any area of life. I think of Fredrick Douglass and what he said about education, as it makes man unfit to be a slave. I would say it makes men and women unfit to be slaves. I see the limitation set on academic and intellectual pursuits as a limitation and barring of freedom, as a muting of further growth. This limitation this “ivory” tower, I wish to deconstruct, and to construct anew, or to at least put my hand in the process of deconstruction and construction of the intellect.

I see this blog as an extension of a larger mission, path, and project of my life. I see it functioning as a way for my self to engage in commentary, analysis, theorizing, in a hopefully accessible way and hopefully with as much engagement with the wider community, about how we as a collective- in whatever form that collective may take shape- can forge into this birthing century to create a future of a greater possibility for human unity, freedom, and dignity.