may I never forget
the warning of my woman's flesh
weeping at the new moon
may I never lose that terror
that keeps me brave
May I owe nothing
that I cannot repay.
-from "Solstice" by Audre Lorde
As I write this I am terrified. Early morning clarity has me too present to reality to breathe easily, despite the ocean next to me, despite an hour and a half of attempting deep breaths.
I am terrified because we live in a world where police burst in on little girls and kill them, where juries believe that fearing unarmed Black men is always justified if you are a cop, where cops think tasers and guns can protect them from the karmic weight of their impact on our doom (look what fear does), where the demolition of the Duke Lacrosse Team's house in Durham provides an excuse for racist privileged people must want the right to rape and get away with it to attack survivors of sexual assault for speaking out. I am terrified because a month ago my partner jumped from our moving RV to escape someone desperate enough to threaten her. I am terrified because a week ago friends of ours were attacked by a group of homophobic (look what fear does to us) boys for being "two men laying on a picnic blanket," and held at gunpoint. I am terrified because we don't yet have ways of addressing any of this that don't produce more fear, more desperation and ultimately more violence.
But I am also grateful to each of you who keep me brave. I am grateful to have you as catalysts to turn my panic attacks into poetry. I am grateful to my sisters in UBUNTU for gathering to speak up, speak out and support each other at a moments notice yesterday in Durham. I am grateful for Moya B. and the twitter brigade for bringing the energy of healing and dialogue to the Oscar Grant verdict responses, and for Bea, Allette, Maceo and crew for showing up to realign the energy in person. I am grateful to Ron Scott and the Heal Detroit Coalition for standing for holistic responses to police violence against oppressed communities. I am grateful to Josh, who even after being held at gunpoint maintained an institutional critique and spoke eloquently about the impact of spiritual violence and churchgrown homophobia on all of our lives. I am grateful to Julia for continuing to unstoppably wake up everyday ready to transform the world with me.
How does terror keep us brave? Terror keeps me brave in the priceless form of you, who survive, in my chance to participate in the shape of your survival, in the unabated possibility for loving in these of all circumstances. I would not want to be numb to the horror of violence as it appears in our lives. It is clear to me that all of this violence is unnatural, direct results of systems of oppression. It is clear to me that those who export terror, and try to pretend it comes from outside of the US are using fear to blind themselves and others. Those who war against terror deny its source. Terror is the reverb life of violence in our bodies, hearts and minds, the shouting of our spirits against that which does NOT honor life. I do not want to lose this terror until the oppression that causes it is over and done with and out of our lives. And even then, I will remember how much I love you and keep creating rituals that affirm our worth and our love and our pricelessness beyond fear.
These past three weeks I have been preparing for the Lucille Clifton ShapeShifter Survival School with Rebirth broadcasts (thanks for the shout out Safire!)
that highlight how Clifton's poetry reminds of key skills for times of terror especially for those of us who are survivors of the many forms of violence that an oppressive society produces (click the links to see the videos)
1. Celebrate Our Survival
2. Bless Ourselves and Each Other
3. Assemble Our Ancestral Amazons
I invite you to explore the bravery of your terror and the transformation it requires. What are the warnings of your flesh? What is the terror that keeps you brave? Join the discussion here: http://quirkyblackgirls.ning.
Visit Quirky Black Girls at: http://quirkyblackgirls.ning.