Diaspora Soul

Diaspora Soul

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School-to-Vision? A Thought-Song (not to be sung)

(Intro) “When children attend schools that place a greater value on discipline and security rather than on knowledge and intellectual development, they are attending prep schools for prison.” - pg. 38, Are Prisons Obsolete by Angela Davis  

(Verse) This also frames the context of children growing up under occupation, war, or in any other confined or threatened areas. What society is fed, society births.

(Interlude) So…

(Chorus) Question: How can we feed our children soul food in the contexts of extreme violence, threat or hatred? What are ways we can protect them from the social conditioning that seeks to produce them as “criminals”, less-intelligent, etc, and encourage them to claim their right to be “bigger-than”, bright and resilient today?

(Improvising)From school-to-prison TO school-to-Vision.

Creating communities that combat structural violence and recreate the imagination for growing beyond the current system.

(Outro) what are the small ways we can do this today….

Filed under prisonabolition resiliency children thoughtSongs

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teargas blues

I wish our people could share
or recipes,
or dances,
or pickup lines.

But right now
we have to share
how to protect
ourselves from teargas
so that it doesn’t sting
so bad.

We have to share
how far a stone can travel
in the air to battle
the bullets flying
toward our youth.

Our mothers have to
remind each other
to mourn,
so that the grief doesn’t
bury them alive.
(But then again
when you lose your child
a part of you can never
live again.)

I wish our people could share
or recipes,
or dances,
or pickup lines,
and compare how bright
the colors are
at sunset
in our different
parts of the world.

But right now,
our grief and anger
tie us together,
like it always has.

Filed under ferguson gaza

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every 28 hours

'every 28 hours'
grief waters into revolution.
collect your tears—
your son’s and daughter’s un-lived dreams—
and water them into ground.
what grows could be new life
with the wildest flowers
and sharpest of thorns to ward away
oppressors’ deadly claws.

when we mourn in the streets,
the concrete breaks through to the heart of the earth,
which holds the secret to freedom:
every time we love,
every time we imagine
beyond the wretchedness of prison,
we re-member our worthiness of life.

you find that your tears
summoned a choir of black angels,
the mightiest, brightest and most wise
celestial beings.
you find they possess more power
and grace than current logic could contain.

and all along,
the history books told us
to be scared of black,
to see brown as dirty,
when all they did
was bare witness to the truth
that would destroy

so cry,
and shed an ocean of them.
history is losing its way.
slowly we return to the earth’s core
serenaded by black melodies,
brown harmonies,
and their-stories.
grief waters into revolution.
the angel orchestra awaits your tears,
for they are the drums
that keep our memories alive.

Filed under revolution grief ferguson gaza

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on the logic of the current order

You say you send troops so that you can save lives,
while you fund the massacre of those that only resist to survive.

You say that the world calls you to protect and secure,
but your so-called world is the elite that sponsors the death of the poor.

You applaud the bravery of Mandela’s raised fist,
but if he was still alive he’d be on your terrorist watch list.

You hold the hand of the murderer and hand him more weapons,
while children die before you as they shout their last wishes.

You claim that this land is the leader of the free,
but Black is still segregated by the veil of ‘criminality’.

Your words have no meaning when ‘defense’ is genocide’s guise,
but the day is coming near when this mask will be your demise.

From underneath the rubble a child still survives,
and so is the truth that slowly starts to rise.


Filed under poetic resistance

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Stay Awake

We need to stay mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically alert, open and vigilant. Liberalism is at its all time high in its use of words like “defense” and “security” as a means to justify horrific violence. Keep your minds clean. Ask yourself what is happening underneath the words, the language. Let the silence speak.

The US government is funding the killing fields. People around the world (home and abroad) who once had solidarities are now seeking to annihilate each other with their own bloody hands. At the same time love continues to rise in the brave hearts of those who know it’s the only way to stay alive and awake. The resiliency of humans is unbelievable. It takes warriors to stay awake, to not turn away, but to face the impossibility of this moment, to face the horror, the insanity, the grief and do something with it. And to face one’s own complicity in the horror is the hardest part of it all.

Here’s a thought I am sitting with today: What does collective and organized resistance, outrage, grief and resiliency look like in Oakland? Your neighborhood? What are we dreaming our world into?

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What kind of world do we live in…

What kind of world do we live in when being critical of the occupier is somehow inhumane?

What kind of world do we live in when a two State solution is presented even though one of the States was created in demolition of the other?

What kind of world do we live in where those trapped for their lives are seen as murderers and terrorists when they are screaming for their lives by resisting to be choked?

This is not the time to be watered down by fear of being too truthful or too radical or too brown or too black or too woman or too alive.

These are moments in history where we can choose to stay safe in the status quo to keep up our recognition from the liberal mainstream and continue to be complicit in violent patterns, or choose to speak what is unpopular and true and participate in changing the tides with words and spirit that cut through the thickest lies.

Revolution is not pretty. Revolution is not romantic. Revolution may tear you apart, but it will burn away the things that keep you from evolving into justice, into love, into light into wholeness.

Life is too short to swallow dreams of freedom.

"I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t." - Audre Lorde

Filed under revolution audrelorde silence occupation colonization

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My Letter to President Obama

Nina Simone said that to be an artist is to be relevant to the times. Here’s my letter to President Obama and a message from my heart for anyone who’d like to hear it. <3

I am so disappointed in you President Obama…

I burn with sadness, anger and heartbreak all at once. How could you dismiss the incalculable inequity Gaza is facing and say Israel has a right to defend itself?

Gaza’s population is 50% under the age of 16 trapped in the world’s largest open air prison and these children are suffocating and dying behind its walls. How can you compare Israel’s attacks as defense or even talk about this as they are two equal sides fighting each other?

Gaza is bombarded Mr. President, and your government is funding this terrible apartheid by continuously sending military aid to Israel that continues to map the destruction of my Palestinian brothers and sisters. How could you applaud the work of the great Nelson Mandela in his work for South Africa when you are supporting an apartheid far worse? We have enough problems with our prison system here in the US while schools are closing and Black and Brown children are being funneled and pushed into jail.

I am a singer but am finding it hard to sing with so much burning everywhere, and I am still trying to create art but sometimes all there is is ashes and ashes and heartbreak and tears and it is not just about you way out there in the White House making policy, but it is also the culture in our country of a deep social conditioning trickling down to everyday personal encounters that makes us harden our hearts even with each other when another’s difference starts to illuminate a difficult truth that differs from our ego beliefs keeping us alive.

There is so much trauma in this country carrying the voices of ghosts of slavery and annihilation and rape and torture and yet somehow we are supposed to be the land of the free yet we are paying for the death of others right now and I mean right now as the smoke rises from destroyed homes in Gaza all in the name of defense?

I don’t know where to go from here Mr. President. I know the heart of this country is hardened by fear and hatred, it was built on the backs of others. It is reflected in our institutions and trickles down to the mundane parts of our lives. These systems teach that freedom is power over others and that freedom is hierarchy and that freedom is something that is sold, bought and taken. We the people, can’t blame anyone for our own hardened hearts and we remember that by organizing and refusing to go along with these systems that you are now the ambassador of. There are many of us healing and staying open enough to feel all this pain and see this sorrow and healing the best we can and we won’t give our power away, but we can’t feel it and change it all on our own, we need more numbers of open-hearted warriors to actually save lives and face this unlogical logic and melt this whole crazy upside down kingdom where wrong is seen as right.

Mr. President, don’t be another one who ignores the horror of what’s happening and disguises it with flowery words like “conflict” and “peace resolution” and “truces.” Those words are dead. The meanings are gone, along with every sweet soul who is on the other side of life asking us to be their voices while we are still alive.

an artist trying her best,

Naima Shalhoub

Filed under freepalestine gaza warrior heart prison industrial complex

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we are each other’s backyard

Half the population of Gaza is under the age of 16…If there is any solidarity to be had please think of the brown and black youth shuffled into the juvenile system in your backyard (if you’re in the u.s.) and then think about all the youth in Gaza forced to live in an apartheid state and a war zone imparted on them…

Leaders such as Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, Angela Davis, and others have been pointing out these structures for decades. We are not the same and drawing parallels isn’t quite right, but we are tied by this structure that imprisons.

We are each others’ backyard.