I have been trapped between worlds my whole life. Born at the the cusp of the 80s, but not an 80s child enough to remember the real cartoon, the height of Hip-Hop, Michael Jackson before the molestation charges. I was born between two countries, with two languages and two passports. Growing up with enough money to not struggle, never enough to move to the suburbs. And maybe I need to let all that early shit go, because we are in a new world now.
I always had too much to say, a know-it-all with the book learning to back it up. A feminine body with a mouth that can bite back. and I used to be able to make enough sense of it all, put things in their place – the capitalist pigs, the globalization gurus, the indigenous struggles, the revolutionaries upon their alters. But all that logic fails me now. I have tried to apply my book learning, my street knowledge, my cultural appreciation and appropriation to what today presents.
People challenged me with the public school ancestry in the factory model and I could retort with the older history of emancipation public schools for instruction in literacy. People would question how as a non-Black person I had any leg to stand on, and I could call on the legacies of John Brown, Myles Horton and Dottie Zellner. I never claimed that it all made sense, but I had enough evidence to support that someday it could all make sense. I wish that was enough sense making for today.
Marx was utilized to justify the mass starvation of nations. Bernie Sanders has to real racial justice platform. Beyonce sold her song Freedom for an Apple watch commercial. Kendrick Lamar wears his DAMN sweatshirt in NBA championship ads. I had made a feast from the scraps, now we might as well all be digging from the trash. Oh we had in fact done that too – dumpster diving – to resist the corporate abuse of the simple need for food. It all seems like scraps now; scraps I can’t sell anymore.
As a teacher I had ways to justify, to critically examine, to infuse it with enough hope that I believed with enough study, with enough on our side we could tip the scales. Now I sit and make my art. I can’t justify it, and hell I don’t even try. I’m afraid to try because I can’t see a way for that try to go farther, to take me somewhere new. I’m not closed to it, I’m taking a respite. I miss the days when I knew enough, when I felt like my actions were part of a collective good, when the valuation equated more than scraps.