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To whom does black lives matter

When this slogan, affirmation, demand, chant first came out in the wake of the Michael Brown murder i was averse to it. I thought but to whom are we saying this? Why do we need to tell them black lives matter…i felt as though by stating this we were asking for them to see us as human and in many ways i believe it does not matter what they believe…it does not matter to me what you think about me…what matters to  me is how we feel about ourselves. I still feel this way but as i see more brutality in the past and present amongst ourselves against our selves i have found myself pondering that perhaps less to them and more to ourselves we indeed do need to be reminded that Black Lives Matter. I spent part of my year in Southern Africa and while a remarkably reinvigorating trip…i found black lives being taken by fellow Africans in everything from xenophobic attacks on so called African ‘foreigners’ by those who were black like them, to revisiting stories of  the killing of miners demanding a fair wage by police officers with skins of the same shade. In America the history of brutality is prime and present with daily scenes of brutality against black bodies and in some places black lives killing other black lives. It is depressing and heartbreaking. I recently watched the Black  Panther film which prompted this writing.  Though powerful in parts, the film left me wounded and exhausted. Tired of scenes that refuse to stop being perpetuated. Black folks protesting, black folks being stripped naked, black folks speaking of struggle. It left me wondering what is this all for…why are we all here and to whom really does black lives matter. How far and how deep can this current movement really go. Will it fall victim to government interference and co-intelpro  like the Panther movement? Or be laid bare by the typical infighting that ends up destroying such movements in our community? Will any and all strong voices continue to be silenced like those of Lumumba and Chairman Hampton, Garvey, King and Malcolm for fear of the rise of a ‘black messiah’? Why are we not given the peace to become all that we are able to be? Why is it so important to keep us in a space and place of poverty and oppression?. …will we, through our own inability to fight our demons never be able to rise above the legacies of brutality now embedded in our DNA? This weighs heavy on my spirit because it feels like there is no time to contemplate for us. So busy are we trying to survive this constant attack….our minds are splitting our souls are barren and more and more of us are struggling to keep the threads of our spirit together. We are in desperate need for a place and space in time where our peace of mind and hearts are priority. Where our bodies simply by virtue of their hue are not constantly under attack. Where we can exist in a way that allows us to simply be…where we can re-engage, rediscover or discover our own humanity without being glared upon and scrutinised by others. I long for a kind of peace for African humanity away from the maddening crowd away from the insanity of this matrix. I long for an emptying of African lands of those who seek to exploit her and her people. I long for a riddance of poverty and the concept of struggle. Surrounded, immersed, overwhelmed even, by black bodies, minds and spirits who are free!!!!

As Always …yours in Love
A traveling black chick
LH

This was another rambling of thoughts written a while ago after i saw a screening of the powerful Black Panther documentary “Black Panther: Vanguard of the Revolution” . It truly left me shredded. I took a moment to post this cause I wrote it to free my spirit and thought it was not so good at the time. However having re-read it by accident and in light of Laquan McDonald’s murder and the ensuing cover up…..just tired.

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Love made me smile today…

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It can be as simple as a light peck on the lips…or as solid as the kiss on her forehead as he says goodbye. Love or affection or loving affection is so very heartwarming to see. Had me smiling out loud on the 116 TTC bus today. They were in the first blushes of love…you could tell,  just discovering the delightful sensations of a light touch here, a small peck there…. timid, gentle, uncertain. Ahhhh, what is it about young love? So untainted, unguarded, hopeful. The beginnings of a journey full of promise. A drunken embrace…a promise to ‘call you when i get home’….a beautiful, simple love shown with loving affection. I couldn’t help but smile out loud!

May your day be filled with moments that remind you of the beauty of love and may you also smile out loud!

Yours with Love
A Traveling Black Chick
LH

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On Love…an internal investigation as i fall…

I am always curious about love…you know the kind between two people that makes body parts go pitt-erpatt-er. I am curious because well I see many do it so well and others like me fail miserably at it…it seems.
Curious because on the one hand love can be so so beautiful and strengthening, and on the other it can release the deep deep ugly in us. Now i don’t know for sure whether it’s love perse that reveals the ugly, but it sure allows us the safety to reveal our ugly.
In the name of love we can be so kind yet by the same token so very very unkind to those we claim to love…
In the name of love we can be so fearless but at the same time so very fearful.
In the name of love we can be so…and yet by the same token be so…the opposite.
Is there a difference between when the mind is in love and when the heart is?…
Can your mind be in love while your heart is not convinced?…i ask these questions as my heart – i mean my mind (but my fingers typed heart). Anyways my mind’s been ‘being in love i mean in something’ with him…crushing hard on him recently. I don’t see him often but when we do its like an intellectual love fest… spilling all over each other knowledge and insight and ideas about people and places we mutually love. i love his…..i mean to say…my mind loves his mind. Loves the way i learn so much from him about all the things that we love, and in my mind he is a true renaissance man of brilliant proportions. And when we meet – the  once in a rare blue times in years that we meet- it’s like we never didn’t see each other for years or months or whatever!
My mind thinks about him often. Thanks to technology i can keep up with what he is doing and it tugs on internal spaces I don’t want it to tug on…Cause you know we are so not like that…but…
So anyways can your mind and heart stand in different positions about someone…about love…

I’ve taken to calling the fact that i’ve been thinking about you way too much lately, an intellectual or rather professional crush. I am just so impressed by his work I say, and then the tiny memory of feeling so in-connect with you on the rare moments that we meet always has be second guessing…thinking, wondering, do I like, LIKE this guy????

Ewwwwwww uh NO! We are so not each other’s type…true say i have no clue what his ‘type’ is,  but i know for damn sure that I ain’t it. I think….and well, he is ….noooot…my type…either…. Right? RIGHT!! Definitely NOT!

I am smiling as I am having this raging debate…wondering can the mind tell the heart to be in love? As in, ‘heart, this is someone sensible to be in love with so CHOOSE him. Or does the heart go solo and decide, yep i like that one! bump you brain i am choosing him! How does one choose love? does one choose love?

Cause well i don’t know when exactly i started thinking about you…like that i mean. I don’t even know what ‘like that’ means. How exactly have I been thinking about you? You know, in that way that now has me writing about it-you-love…kind of way (cause i don’t write about things unless they are affecting me on a cellular level). And like when did that -you having a cellular effect on me- happen? Then again it might just be an absence makes the heart i mean mind, grow fonder type thing or maybe honestly its just a professional crush…

I don’t know and to be honest i don’t know that I want to know…cause he is so so so not my type and I am definitely not his! I …. Think.

Plus I believe both my heart and mind are in agreement, at least for the moment, that we shall remain mute on the subject…Cause neither of them feel ready for the burden that we believe to be of love! Phew! Thankful for small mercies. Ase!…yet the heart whispers, ‘but what if…you know…maybe?’ ‘No! No! NO!’ says the mind don’t even go there!…Or was it the mind who said and the heart opposed? Arrrgh Lol who knows…

i am truly amused by all of this and thankful to be able to stand apart from it all and write about it.

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Love.Who decides…the heart, the mind or both?

With love always
A Traveling Black Chick
LH

My dearest readers, this is a real conversation with myself; it is a rambling of words and thoughts…hence the seeming rambling on of this post. Plus this is also me trying to capture every thought that passes through the cortex on this particular topic. Cause I feel very much like a scientist at this moment. Observing myself…as i am possibly falling in love with someone who has no damn clue about it…and most likely never will! lolol! I love me so much!

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I checked a bully…male micro-aggressions

A 17 year old boy tried to bully me on the bus yesterday….he called me ugly, said I had a big forehead. Why? because I checked him on his aggression and pretty much what could have been considered assault of his girl (friend) on the bus. After we exchanged words, a tiny part of me thought maybe it was not my business and I should have kept my mouth shut. But the bigger part of me wishes I could have checked him better. Call him what he was a bully, and advise the young woman that he is no good for her. Advise her that to receive such violence at such a young age (at any age really) is destructive and sets her on a steady downward spiral. I wish i had found the words to say to her that love is kind…love does not publicly or privately disrespect…love does not publicly or privately humiliate and even more so love is not expressed through physical agression no matter how small.

But alas the right words always fail me when in a confrontation…my brain doesn’t like confrontation and so it just fights, threatens, attacks right back…if you continue to be aggressive with her I will call the police i said… Go ahead he said…its none of your business…do you see her saying anything? If she didn’t like what I was doing she would say something he said. The fact is I actually did SEE her saying something. She did not say it verbally but I saw her, head bowed, trying and failing to push him off her as he squeezed her into the corner by the back door of the bus…all while cussing her out loud enough that i and the other passengers could hear…. No one else said anything….I couldn’t not say anything...yes it is my business…i will not sit here and have you treat her this way in front of us on the bus i said….

After our exchange of words he noticeably stepped away from the young lady; his behaviour reduced now to aggressive whispers while barely touching her…. I may not have found the right words at the time but a bigger part of me is happy for the courage to have spoken up and at least curb the situation in that moment . I only hope that his wrath, – now probably meant for me- was not unleashed on her after they got home.

In the past weekend alone I have witnessed and have been a ‘victim’ of male aggression and micro-aggession. In my situation it was actually a professional argument gone south.  The contractor whom i hired to do a job felt comfortable enough to charge at me because i chose not to stand down from my position in our exchange. The other incident i observed from a far again on a ttc bus. I mostly watched and occasionally heard as the man proceeded to scold and shame his girlfriend on the bus. It was another young couple this time with a newborn baby. He was possibly no older than 23 and she even younger. In a short bus ride i saw this man humiliate the young woman, albeit silently. This though was followed by caresses and a passionate goodbye as they parted ways. It was almost psychopathic the movement from scolding to caressing (two sides of the same sword) She also did not say anything, but her body language spoke volumes – upper body bowed over, tears slowly creeping down her cheeks, pouting and sulking while he berates her to look at him….she barely raises her head to say goodbye, then  shamefully but longingly looking at him as the bus drives of and he asks her to blow him a kiss.

These incidents are worrying. Mostly because in all of the above situations including mine the men felt comfortable enough to perpetuate their aggressions in public. Is it because we are so very oblivious as a society to male aggression…so uncaring that aggressors are not afraid to act because they know we all think ‘it’s none of my business or that’s just the way things are?

It is worrying because in both the ttc situations these young women were no older than 17-18 at most. For them to already be in abusive relationships means somewhere along the way we are failing them. They are getting the messages that violence and abuse equals love.

Concerning because even in my situation i ended up giving the aggressor a forgiving tap on the wrist.  I was poised to continue working with him , until my best friend and business partner said in no uncertain terms, that based on his behaviour we will NOT do business with him. His was not a micro-aggression he full on charged at me stopped only by a mutually respected colleague who stood in between him and me in the nick of time. She then proceeded to talk him down. There was no provocation on my part just a refusal to stand down from my position.

For a while, after i closed the conversation by no longer responding to him, he just stood and watched me. Seemingly baffled, I guess by my unwillingness to ‘defer’.

I have noticed that as I increasingly become more present as an unapologetic female i have developed very low tolerance for male bad behaviour. As i get older i see more and more how many men navigate this life with an expectation of deference from women, and by the same token women and as a wider society we simply allow and indoctrinate them into it. In my case even as I become more aware and have the intentions to check their aggressions, the sanctioned right to this deference is so ingrained in me that i still fall into accepting or easily forgiving bad behaviour.

I had my bestie to thank for the reminding me to not reward my aggressor’s terrible actions.

We do not have to accept male aggression and micro-aggressions. Women are equally capable with or without them. We are equally invaluable as they are and it is for us to police ourselves and them to ensure that they come correct.

It is for us to train our boys to know that girls are not less, but rather they are equal partners, bringing different but just as essential and important skills, tools and abilities to the table of humanity.   I am happy that i remembered and chose to speak up last night on that TTC bus. I may not always catch it or act as I should when i do, but i am committed to act up more. We all must do so in order to create a better world.

#genderequalitynow #teachboysbetter
#teachgirlsthattheyareenough #nomeansstop #standupforwomen
#violencecomesinsmalldosesto #checktheirbehaviour

P.s. Readers if you’re indeed still out there. I know i owe you many tales, after all i did journey to the continent (Africa to be exact) and stayed a while. I wrote quite a bit while there to, but for reasons I may share later i did not post them here. Maybe I will…soon.

These recent happenings though affected me to the core and I felt compelled to release it on this space.

Always with Love
A Traveling Black Chick
LH

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The ROM attempts to dive back Into the Heart OF AFRICA… 25 years later

25 years ago neither Canada or the Royal Ontario Museum (the ROM) were thoughts on my mind. I was still in high school on a beautiful hot island in the Caribbean, weaving my way through teenage angst and crashing head first into first loves and hormonal changes. 25 years ago however, in the largest city in the Great White North (soon to be my home), and on the sidewalks of the Royal Ontario Museum trouble was afoot.

You see the ROM opened an exhibit called Into the Heart of Africa, nothing too exceptional about that really except that this particular exhibit would turn out to be a landmark exhibit for all the wrong reasons. One that speared its way into the heart of museum cultural curation and as I understand it, probably forever changed the perception of the Black [African] presence in  Canada or at the very least Toronto.

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The Into the Heart of Africa exhibit opened in November 1989 and by March 1990 protesters led by a group called the Coalition For the Truth about Africa (CFTA) were calling for its closure. Mostly due in part to what the group called the exhibit’s racist view and representation of Africa. To hear it told many from all walks of life and backgrounds brought friends and family to march in peaceful protests on the steps of the ROM asking for certain demands to be met. Most notably that the exhibit be shut down given its denigrating content, images, text and tone about the people and continent of Africa.

For their part the ROM contends (till today) that the Exhibit was not racists and the intent of Jeanne Cannizzo, the curator, was to denounce colonialism and criticize white Canada’s attitudes to Africa. To that end The ROM refused to shut down the exhibit. The police were eventually called in to deal with the ‘radical black’ protesters. Chaos ensued,  13 were arrested, 11 were charged (later to be referred to as The ROM 11) faced trial and some were jailed for various charges including disturbance of the peace. The exhibit eventually closed in August 1990 and subsequent showings at museums in Vancouver, Los Angeles, Ottawa and Albuquerque were all cancelled.

Some very deep wounds formed some 25 years ago and the trust between the ROM and some in the African Canadian community in Toronto, certainly for many who were a part of the CFTA and especially those who led protests had been broken. 25 years later, in a moment seemingly designed by fate herself the twain(s) were forced to meet, as the ROM’s centenary celebrations happens to fall in the same year as the 25th anniversary of  Into the Heart of Africa  and its resulting protests.

A project called Of AFRICA: Histories, Collections, Reflections was conceptualised by independent curators Dr. Julie Crooks and Dominique Fontaine who worked in tandem with ROM curator Dr. Sylvia Forni to bring it to fruition . The project seems an attempt to redress and /or address the concerns brought to the fore by the CFTA protests. A sorta kinda apology, sorta…kinda.

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In its  brochureOF AFRICA: Histories, Collections, Reflections is described as ‘a 3 year multi-disciplinary program. [It] is a commitment to provide a space for continued presence of African and diasporic themes, histories and artists within the ROM’s programming for the benefit of all Ontario audiences…OF AFRICA interrogates monolithic representations of Africa, collections and colonial histories by broadening the discussion of what constitutes Africa and African art….It encompasses Lectures, Live Performances, exhibits, workshops, film screenings, residences , educational programs and selected partnerships with other cultural institutions.’

OF Africa opened on Wednesday Oct 23rd, with a private reception that brought together former members of the CFTA, head honchos from the ROM administration and other invited guests. I was not there, however I am told it was a very powerful and impassioned gathering. A great read on the night with even better historical context and interviews can be found here.

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Binyavanga Wainaina Photo Credit: Jerry Riley

Thursday evening saw a keynote and Q & A  with the erudite Kenyan author, publisher and cultural worker Binyavanga Wainaina . His presentation titled ‘I am an Imaginer Riding Africa’s Glorious Terrible Hurricane‘ sought to elucidate the contradictions that define the Africa now rising. Wainaina read from some of his works including his introduction to Kujo Laing’s 1989  book Such Sweet Country, and from his own most recently published work One Day I’ll Write about this Place.

The Q & A led by Dan Yaw  was rather interesting and depending on who you spoke to, was either brilliant or frustrating. For me it was a bit of both as I felt that the interviewer may have been missing the mark of the intended focus of the interview, and as a result might have frustrated his interviewee into a sort of cat and mouse, talk around the topic but not about the topic type of discourse. One could argue however that for all intents and purposes the interview style was typical of what is expected at these ‘conversations with…’ events. Such that excerpts from Wainaina’s book were used as reference and focus points meant to lead into a deeper conversation about the current state of affairs in contemporary Africa. In part this style worked, for there were some sparkling moments where Binyavanga regaled the audience with vivid stories about the everyday goings-on on the streets of African cities. Examples included one about the complexities of the lives of those who fill the numerous ‘Churches’ that line the streets, and another about the maddening  intersections of African lives on Wattsapp. That being said,  I felt a more direct approach, with specific questions about the definition of, and what could emerge from ‘Africa’s Glorious Terrible Hurricane’ may have probably been a preferred and more suitable approach.

For certain I believe those of us in the audience caught a glimpse of the genius that is Binyavanga – named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world – he is more than passionate about the Continent and hasn’t the patience to mince words about Africa’s very real and present contradictions. I like that he is not one to be led. He is a consummate storyteller and so one would never get a straight answer to a specific question. Instead I felt that he challenged the audience (whether intentionally or not, I’m not sure)  to glean their own answers out of the brightly colored images painted for us by his multilayered stories about his own existence and that of the 1 billion living in today’s Africa.

Thursday’s keynote also formed part of the ROM 100 Speaks lecture series and was capped by a wine and cheese reception at the end. Turns out my night had only just begun, for when asked, I happily tagged along for drinks and dinner with the author and friends. Sure enough conversations about contemporary Africa continued in earnest and overflowed well into the early hours of Friday morning. Overall it was a beautiful evening out and very very eye opening evening of Africa!

A two day symposium on Friday and Saturday completed the Of Africa:Histories, Collections, Reflections event. I attended day 1 and a bit of day 2. My impressions of the ‘Learning from into the Heart Africa‘ panel discussion from day 1 will follow in a subsequent post.

P.s Check out the ROM on Friday nights for #FNLROM it’s a damn good party! Only happening till November 28th though so pick a Friday and check it out!

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Caught me looking at Africa Alive! #FNLROM

 

Till next time I am yours as always

A Traveling Black Chick!

LH

 

 

 

 

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LIVE!

This past weekend I attended a beautiful ‘send off’ for a young man who passed away in his prime. The party was beautifully bittersweet, in some moments I found myself tearing up as I admired the love and strength of his family. They were stunningly lovely and above all gracious to all of us, his guests, emboldening us to enjoy ourselves, to dance, to live out loud because that is the way he wanted it, how he requested it….

I learn over and over again that life is fleeting…never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that this tall, strong man would have passed so young. So by all means LIVE Authentically! LIVE Boldly! LIVE Freely! LIVE every moment! Whatever you do just LIVE!

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This short post was inspired by the above quote  which a beautiful soul posted on Facebook…she got it from author Paulo Coelho’s FB wall…don’t you just love the power of Social Media…

Till another bit of inspiration I am yours as always

A Traveling Black Chick

LH

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Thankful to be 38 and Feeling Great!

ContentmentThankful and feeling doubly blessed. 38 today and thrilled to be healthy, active and peacefully placed. Thankful in this moment for all that I am blessed with. Thankful for hands that are connected to heart that allows expression deep and true. Thankful for constant self discovery and love and growth. Thankful for strong, enduring, loving friendships that even after years we can stay up all night talking into the wee hours and early morning; sharing honestly, excitedly, hopefully. It is the best blessing EVER! Thank you so so much for this love.

Thankful for new friendships and fruitful connections that allow me to grow and expand. Non-contrived, non-agenda just organic growth and beauty. Thank You. Thankful for breath and finding peace and silence safely within the chaos. Thankful for life renewing hope and clear direction. Thank you for the possibility of new spaces and beginnings. It makes sense that the last pages of this journal are written in hope and thanksgiving for another year of life, of blessings and abundance. of joy and fulfillment, of looking forward in fantastic anticipation and knowing. I am so truly and amazingly blessed to be anchored in love.

In this moment I am thankful. Sometimes these moments are scary because I wonder if they are too much; if they are an extreme high leading to an extreme low and I am happy to report that No in reality it is a constant place of love and gratitude that sustains even through the low moments, the unknowing moments. Thankful for that place deep within that knows all is well in my world. That the answers are within and it is ok to shut out the noise in order to receive them. Thank you for strong limbs and strong muscle memory. Thank you for  courage and determination, trust and knowing that I will get there. That daily I am on the path and living my dreams. That I will do what it takes to make them happen. That they are mine and I can and will make them happen. That the road will be windy and odd and scary and challenging but in my heart I know thy will, my will be done.

Ase.

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