Album Art: The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd
Editor’s Note: I was thinking last night and this morning about what I wanted to share with the world. My personal fear is that my writing is getting more fearless, which can be somewhat uncomfortable. My work has evolved. My essays may not be as subtle or brief as they used to be. I am delving into depths where I have not gone before because this form of depth was previously not within me. Publik / Private is here to give voice to corners of consciousness that others struggle to express.
Even so, as the founder, I struggle to allow P / P’s breadth of writing and literature to morph and grow, but I believe it is inevitable that the writing is going to get braver, the reading lists will touch on topics that we hope heal and touch those who need and desire resources and book about vulnerable facets of human life. This has always been the goal – to hold space for those who balance, are honest and unabashedly think out of the box.
THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON (exploring danger)
Location is interesting. When I begin to feel stagnant, immobile and constrained, I have to become more introspective and look at my surroundings, my routine, and allow myself to be guided by destiny. It took awhile for me to surrender to change. The Wheel of Life is very different than running rapidly in a hamster wheel of limitation.
I asked myself last night and this morning what did I need to share? What is it that the world needs? I replied to myself “The world needs love,” but I felt like there is enough love. That’s not what is lacking. Is it vulnerability? What could I contribute?
Recently, I buried myself. After a season of isolation, conflict and self doubt, I had been whittled down into submission. I found myself asking for permission to speak, I found myself utterly afraid of everything. And everyone who know me knows that isn’t me. So, the things that I’ve been saying and doing have been contradictory. I know it, I see it, but I can’t help it because I have been abused. It’s well documented that I am a survivor. This has been a part of my identity for a long time, so it was never a question of if I was going to die, but how was I going to turn my reality around to live?
dan·ger | \ ˈdān-jər \
*merriam webster online
a archaic : JURISDICTION
You stand within his danger, do you not?
… out of the shot and danger of desire.
… a sting in him that at his will he may do danger with.
: exposure or liability to injury, pain, harm, or loss
a place where children could play without danger
was assured her job was not in danger
: a case or cause of danger
the dangers of mining
I had a couple of thoughts come to my mind in regards to the word danger: but the question, I need to explore is:
Are some people more vulnerable to danger than others?
I know that because I am small in stature and a female-identified being, it puts me in vulnerable positions that others may never experience.
People talk about “penis envy,” but being in a woman’s body is a beautiful thing – and many times I would think, particularly in terms of the intersection of race and sex, “If others could only be in a Black woman’s body, live as a Black woman, they would see how beautiful it is. There wouldn’t be racism, there wouldn’t sexism because our cells, the waves of our hormonal vibrations, the general makeup of our biological woven strands of DNA that make us what we are feels so good.”
The body of a Black woman is not to be ashamed of. I wish everyone had the opportunity to live as one, even for just one day…and maybe I would enjoy to live in a different human body, which only truly exists to protect from being exposed to Earth’s atmosphere. Some believe we are souls encased in bodies. I see my body as a space suit, as a happenstance, as a gift given to me and I use my body for purpose.
TEACHING SURVIVAL SKILLS AFTER A SURVIVOR IS LOST
A Resource: When We Criticize Survivors, We Ignore Those Who Didn’t Survive
I went back to my hometown during a time of turmoil in my community. In 2015, the first Uprising occurred since the loss of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The young catalyst for the Uprising was not seen as a saint to all, but a young Black man, some who some said was a beautiful person, others saw him as scoundrel, an asshole, a jerk…but the thing I admire about my hometown is that the community could see the bigger picture. A man’s spine was destroyed unjustly. The respect for a human life, the injustice of a man’s body not being in tact, in my opinion, brought out the best out of the city because they all came together in unity to speak out.
I was watching the entire thing on television in San Francisco. I knew the Uprising was not an act of random debauchery. I knew the people in the streets were not thugs, miscreants and primal monsters as they were being displayed on televisions across the world.
While in California, I called my father during the height of the event 3,000 miles away while he was driving. I was desperate to know how my family was doing and all I got was fear in his voice as he tried to hold a conversation and then I heard him say, “Oh, my God, there are guns being pointed at me…” then the phone disconnected.
I packed my bags and luckily had a gig coming up to pay for my plane ticket. I had a large loft to stay in with friends, so I was supplied – I was afraid, but I was supplied. I did my best to stand up on social media before I left the Bay Area, but my transition was a difficult one.
There must be a side note: there were so many conflicting views of what was going on, it wasn’t simple. There was a rapper who I saw curse out Don Lemon on CNN, and before I left the Bay Area, I had to talk to him about my apprehension of going to do the work of observing and doing my best to heal and correct the fractures that had been made. I was not equipped at the time. After Trayvon Martin, the media began to look to me for answers on social justice. Before then I lived and worked for many years of just being an artist who was very politically correct and safe with my words, my music and behaviors. So, I had to immediately was asked to and chose to share my opinion on what meant to be Black why certain things were happening around us as a culture.
I had many diverse friends and worried about alienating them, but they were supportive, even before the Uprising, so once that time came, all I needed was to know was did I have to leave my comfort and get hands on. And I had to learn about the experience of being anonymous as a public figure, lying on the ground with guns pointed in one’s face, being treated like everyone else in Ferguson. No privilege, just equality, which was a vulnerable place to be.
I had already been working with insightful people, but this person’s courageousness, his ability to be brazen, to stand up on tv, give a speech, be uncouth, angry and correct another Black man who was covering a story in a way that did not seem favorable to the truth and to the experience of the working class in Ferguson, made me want to reach out to prepare for what I would possibly face.
I was frustrated as I sat watching the news in Calvin Klein jeans and nice clothing because at that time, it aligned with a time of progress that had not been seen before in music (I am a music journalist for those who do not know). I had been working to document a breakthrough of Black artists who were being embraced by indie labels that were predominately white. I was learning about the blossoming of an integration that was new and exciting.
And the shift of my observation went from watching Black artists finally get the recognition they deserved to having to take the time to march in the streets, which is not new, but it was different this because at the same time, doors were flying open. I was saddened that the Uprisings across the country took artists away from their crafts to go out and help young people who were being lost.
I don’t forget, I won’t forget.
I was basically advised to do what I had to do, and give up all that I had attained. I knew what I had to do, but could I go and lay on my back with guns pointed at me as a public figure, could I defy and be brave in public? Could I even show up? Could I even get on that plane just to be there to show my support?
My fear melted away once I heard my father’s voice on the phone, once I saw my close friends on social media locking down their windows, fending off people from breaking into their firescapes, watching Black women saging the city in all white and seeing powerful people locked in arms in prayer in the face of tanks. I knew I had to go.
I also had to play a gig, which I played barefoot, solo in front of 100 people, not being perfect, but pouring my heart out, opening for white bluegrass bands, who were wonderful, but I gave my heart and soul. I could see everyone watching with slight smiles on their faces, as my energy, my raspy voice, my heaviness washed over the room as we were all together.
The work began.
I stayed in a loft/venue space downtown after the show. I was surrounded by every instrument one could think of, I had a beautiful view of downtown…and despite the slight guilt of my privilege, I knew I needed to teach. I knew I needed to start from the beginning. So, I got a job as a model at an arts high school making $18 an hour and when I was home, I stayed in and wrote Don’t Lose Track and began demo a new album.
Then I moved on and got a got a job as a teacher teaching 3-6 year olds. They were brilliant. They were able to interpret A Midnight’s Summer Dream, they could read Sylvia Plath. I got to see what they could do, how children learned, what they could soak in if it was broken down properly.
A six year old can read Shakespeare.
Children are calm and less unruly if you talk to them like equals.
I would sit down on the floor with them every day and ask them about how their days and weekends were going.
They were calmer, they expressed themselves, my classes made the parents and other teachers perplexed.
It was a different teaching style, the parent’s children came home and could engage conversations, could read and focus.
I quietly received the thanks from the parents as I sat in the corner reading, signing out the children at the end of the day.
That was my goal when I went home.
I got a job to do a summer program in the inner city while working at a wealthy international charter school. But what I learned was that the children were all the same – and this is deeply hard to express and I want to respect to the parents who all do and did the very best they could/can:
All the children were somewhat neglected.
The wealthy children’s parent’s traveled all the time. The parents of the underprivileged children were addicted to drugs. One of my students lived without lights, gas and electric for two years. I could see that there was common denominator in all of the children, no matter their class or race. Their home lives were lonely and they needed schools and programs to stimulate them.
SHINING IN THE MOON
Even as a teacher, I consider a student. I am a student of life, I am an observer and researcher of the plights of the human experience. I have to learn. Without learning, you cannot teach. Without children who are pure, who unscathed by social conditioning give the best advice. I like to learn from experts in their fields, thinkers who do nothing at all, friends who come over for teach, bookstores, libraries, museum, shows, parties and every aspect of life that I can.
But children are the true sages. They are the true visionaries and they’ve taught so much. They truly shine.
They are the lights on the dark side of the moon.