Diaspora Soul

Diaspora Soul

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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.

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for Gaza…

Your four walls
where only smoke is allowed to rise,
haunted by your daughter’s screams,
choked by confinement,
lost in translation
by the those that fear your truth.
By the time your calls for help reach the airwaves,
four young boys playing soccer
have already become angels.

Your walls have always spoken
loud and clear, year after year.
Yet why does it have to be
the lifelessness of children
that cracks the code for the powers that be
to throw crumbs of attention your way?

The birds circle around you
begging the trees and the land
and the sea to protect you.
Your belly holds the discarded memories
that would destroy ignorance,
yet you are kept in solitary
so that the problem you pose
to the order of things
would never be exposed,
and things would keep on churning the way they have,
keeping the settlers comfortable
so that they ignore your ghosts
living in homes that were once yours.

Apartheid is not some word
to be said by so-called scholars or so-called radicals
to make themselves feel revolutionary.

It is not some word to remind us of
what has been done before to South Africa
(as if it’s over)
and think, “oh yes remember what happened to them in that distant time”?

It is a word to be uttered with a sacred thunder
because it is the separation and death of humanity,
seeing people as cattle to be locked behind bars
and locked behind checkpoints
because who they are and the air they breathe
does not fit into the lives built by institutions
that sell the lie that
'power is an object to hold, to be passed around like a water pitcher only filling certain glasses while the rest wilt with dehydration'.

No, power is not that, and even though it kills and starves and tortures
there is still that place where Gaza knows it has breath left to fight
and breath left to love
and breath left to write
and the power to stand
and look the world
in the eye and ask:

"do you see me yet?"

Filed under gaza gazaunderattack

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a song for dreams

hold on to goodness, even in a flood of sorrow.

the fact we feel suffering, anger or pain only means we know what it is to have joy and peace, however distant that memory may be.

it may take tens of generations, but things grow when we keep dreaming into the good of ourselves and all that is.

i do not mean the dankness of prison walls or the systems that put those there. i mean there is a blueprint behind the hopelessness that is still good, and there are those who have forgotten how to see it.

memory can be the crane that destroys Babylon.

live your truth of this goodness. sometimes it is as a fighter, sometimes it is as a quiet sage. whatever it is, just be sure to channel the waters of love to course through your roots so that it reaches your soul.

and don’t be discouraged when its fruits don’t bear this season.

something was planted in the ground and will bloom when the soil is watered with strength, resiliency and compassion.

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Songs are cries for freedom in translation. They are the messengers from one side to another. They hold our grief, our longing, & our peace.


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"Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.   
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.   
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,   
The bend of my hair,   
the palm of my hand,   
The need for my care.   
’Cause I’m a woman
That’s me.&#8221; #mayaangelou #legacy #trueRebel (photo source unknown)

"Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
That’s me.” #mayaangelou #legacy #trueRebel (photo source unknown)

Filed under truerebel legacy mayaangelou

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My heart breaks for each and every child taken over two weeks ago, for every child forced to carry that impossible burden of being sexually exploited. It is an epidemic, a social, cultural global disease of corruptive power and one of the most taboo subjects there is. The precious 276 girls who were taken in Chibok are victims of system of economy, patriarchy, racism, colonialism that make their voices invisible. They are made to carry the burden of deep oppression, hidden over years because of shame, only passing faint stories of victory and justice through the wind…

There is such thing as the Sexual-Exploitation-Industrial Complex that enslaves women (though not limited to) in order to maintain patriarchal, economic and racist power structures around the world. It connects to the prison-industrial complex, which connects to the root, those ‘ghosts of slavery’ (Angela Davis). Can we please bust open this unspoken treaty of silence? Can we think about these horrific “invisible” structures together and make a safe world for our girls? For our boys? For everyone? Your voices are not invisible, we hear you and it is time we all listen.

Filed under bringbackourgirls prison industrial complex sexualexploitationindustrialcomplex

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"Poem About My Rights" ~ June Jordan

"Poem About My Rights"

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   
stay there   
as I need to be   
alone because I can’t do what I want to do with my own   
body and   
who in the hell set things up   
like this   
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
and if
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
before that
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

~June Jordan, Directed By Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan

Filed under bringbackourgirls junejordan