Tree Medicine

Quarantining

On the other side of the wall is the road and the traffic and the noise. But on this side, at this moment in time, is this morning light, through these curtains. I sit and sway in the hammock, and try not to think, try not to listen, try to ignore the cobwebs, try to just breathe.

Still, the thoughts come.

Is this enough? How can this be enough?

I breathe. I am breathing. It’s just Omicron. I have no shortness of breath, no difficulty breathing. I am grateful. I can’t do some things though, which I want to and had planned to do. Do, do do. More, more more! The mental castigation never stops. I both love and loathe this trait in myself. As much as I welcome and am motivated by the fire in the belly urgency, I long for satisfaction and fulfillment.

When I was little, before I had any aspirations of what I wanted to do, to be, I would sit for hours at a time, watching the ants in the yard scurry around busily. Sitting motionless, observing them- that’s all I wanted to do; I was happy. Now, I watch the cats and dogs sleeping for hours each day, blissfully unconscious. They don’t feel guilty about pissing their life away. They don’t have any mandates to fulfil, any objectives to achieve, any goals. I envy them. I wish to be like that, like when I was a child. Not this adult, plagued by self-doubt and self-loathing at times, beating myself up over unfulfilled potential, undone tasks.

I need to breathe some more. I go out in the yard. Tie the hammock to two of the mango trees, sit and sway. Breathe again. Just breathe.

Then the trees start talking to me.

Look at our pretty new leaves, says the cocoa and avocado. I don’t know if you’ll be aound to see us fruit, but you can admire our beautiful new leaves in the meantime. Stop asking when I’m going to bear, says the lime that’s just getting bigger and bigger but not bearing yet; patience! No mystery here, says the banana suckers; just the cycle of life. It’s not all about fruit-bearing though; the dry leaves also have purpose and use- a good reminder for the middle-aged human. Persistence and co-existence are the lessons of the mangoes and genip, lush and laden with fruit but also sporting rotten branches and entire half trunks eaten away by termites (who still nest within). Re-growth and rejuvenation is possible, says madame jamoon- whittled to a stump years ago but left alone since and now rivaling the coconut tree in height. There is a whole cherry grove behind the old pit latrine and so many cherry seedlings, just sprouting and growing, heedless and undaunted.

The yard is wanton and wild, full of life, little thanks to me. The trees are just being themselves, doing their tree thing, nothing less, nothing more. They are the epitome of enoughness. There is no tree ego demanding more more more! Sometimes not doing anything much is exactly what’s needed. Watch and learn, human. Breathe.

Mothers Day Greetings, 2022

Happy day to all those mothering themselves, to those with turbulent relationships with their mothers, to those working and struggling to heal and forge better bonds with themselves and others before/while/instead of becoming a mother. You are not alone, not selfish, nor a bad person, and healing is possible. I see you, I respect you, and I send you love.

Happy day to all those mothers who love and accept their child(ren) for who they are, no matter how different from the norm/your experience/what you wanted for them the child(ren) turned out. It’s not your fault, you rock, and nevermind what other people might think/say. I see you, I respect you, and I send you love.

Happy day to all those who, like me, decided to not become mothers; who, like me, chose abortion(s), instead of childbearing. Happy day to all those who, like me, experienced miscarriage and the loss of wanted (potential) child(ren). Biology is not destiny, choice is freedom and power, and loss is part and parcel of life. I see you, I respect you, and I send you love.

Happy day to all those who are mothering child(ren) they didn’t bear or birth themselves, and to those who are mothering other living, non-human creatures- the plant and animal moms. It takes a village, we are all connected/need each other, and Pachamama care is vital work. I see you, I respect you, and I send you love.

Happy day to all the queer mothers who are living their truth and demonstrating bravery and creativity in the face of hate. Labels and new vocabulary nonwithstanding, you are the past, the present, and the future. I see you, I respect you, and I send you love.

Happy day to all the mothers who survived violence and abuse and who chose to seek and accept help and embrace change and self love, setting examples of resilience and strength for their child(ren). Happy day to all the mothers still struggling to escape violence and abuse. Change is possible, help is available, and you can do it. I see you, I respect you, and I send you love.

Happy day to all the mothers working day and night to mind their child(ren), and to those who realize that minding children means more than just providing for their material needs, and who also spend quality time and invest in their child(ren)’s (and their own) emotional development. You are brilliant, and amazing, and inspirational. I see you, I respect you, and I send you love.

Happy day to all the mothers who don’t beat their child(ren), who take deep breaths and use their words instead, modeling self-control, healthy communication and non-violent conflict resolution. You are badass and revolutionary. I see you, I respect you, and I send you love.

Me *not learning* how to make roti with my mom; circa 1990

Rules of Engagement for dealing with the oil/extractive industry and politrickians in Guyana and beyond

Preamble:

First and foremost, remember that they’re lying skunts.

  • There are no honest politicians. None. Zero. Zilch. Especially not in Guyana and especially not when there’s billions of dollars at stake.
  • They- Exxon specifically- lied to the entire world for decades about the truth of climate change and only acknowledged their behavior when they were forced to.

Second, remember they always have *their* best interests at heart, NOT ours.

  • Greed and lust for profit and power have always come first in business and politricks, not people or planetary wellbeing, and often at the expense of that. The truth of this has been revealed time and time again (even if we don’t want/like/choose to acknowledge it). Whenever they can get away with cutting corners, they will. Whenever they can get away with stealing and enriching themselves, they will. We the people always come second- this is the inherent essence of capitalism and modern politricks. Never forget that.

Third and most importantly, remember this: THEY HAVE NOTHING UNLESS WE GIVE IT TO THEM.

  • Their power derives from us- when we hand over ours to them, allow them to set the rules of the game, then quietly play along. They have been doing this for a long time, so they have become expert at bamboozlement, skilled at covering up their shit with shiny speech and sparkling ribbons so some might be fooled into missing the foul stench underneath. But we have centuries of ancestral exploitation to learn from and the pattern is abundantly clear- the trinkets for treasure scam, the diseased “gifts” being offered- we’ve seen all this before. And now, we who have survived, we the descendants of the enslaved and the exploited- we owe it to our foreparents who sweated and bled and suffered and resisted to stand up and fight, and not just roll over passively. Yes, there are some of those same descendants who have now chosen to side with the oppressors- there have and will always be Judases. But there’s still more of us than them and collectively we are greater.

THE RULES:

There’s really only one main rule- FIGHT!

All the other rules are: KEEP FIGHTING!

There are many ways to fight; this battle is long and hard.

Learning when and how to fight is the biggest part of the battle.

Many fights will be with yourself, especially at first, then with those close to you, who do not understand, who are afraid, compromised, and weak.

Remembering the three points of the Preamble is paramount.

  • There must be no friendly dialogue. Remember, they’re greedy, lying, self-serving skunts and the enemy of our individual, collective, and planetary wellbeing. We must never forget this and must always treat them as such. It doesn’t matter which familiar or fresh faces they place in front of their evil, what seductive promises they whisper in our ears, how much money they put in our hands- that’s all so they can accomplish their goals to enrich themselves. Whatever they give us, they gain a million times over. Our job is not to be full of gratitude but to fight them every step of the way.
  • Curse them loudly and often. They must be made to feel uncomfortable, to not sleep easily at night, to be haunted by their deeds- they are part and parcel of the most destructive force on Earth, they are the feeders and carers of the extractive, capitalist monster that’s devouring Pachamama, destroying our environments, and murdering our children’s futures.
  • Do not beg for information, access, or anything else- demand it! Put steel in your voice when talking with them, not supplication. No please and thank you to them! Remember that every word out their mouth is a lie and believe nothing they say, ever. Keep them far from your lives and loves; do not show them your secret/best selves. Remember- they have nothing unless we give it to them.

Arm and strengthen yourself with whatever you can- knowledge, skills, alliances. There are lessons and teachers all around- esp in the non-human world; pay attention.

Think outside the box, learn from others (human and non), as well as your mistakes, and teach your loved ones to do the same.

Train yourself to be strong and independent- mentally, materially, and physically- the more dependent on the system/status quo you are, the more vulnerable you are.

Thinking and talking are also ways of fighting, as is writing. Connecting and communicating with your self, your dreams, your ancestors, etc is crucial, as well as with others in similar struggles.

Sharing and learning with and from each other is a crucial way for us to build our power.

Growing your own food- even a small portion of it- is key. The benefits you will reap are massive and immeasurable.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The more wounded Pachamama gets, the more pain we will all feel.

Try to find joy wherever and whenever you can and do not despair when you realize this is not possible most of the time.

Take their money ONLY when you don’t really want or need it, and ONLY if/when you’re going to use it against them. There must be NO deviation from this rule!

Except for the Judases (who, like the politrickians deserve no sympathy from us), let us endeavor to treat the rest of our brothers and sisters who have tied bundle with them as hostages who need rescuing- even if they don’t see themselves that way. We must hone our capacity to pull them back from the all-consuming dragon’s mouth and rebuild their souls and confidence in their own and our collective strength to nourish and safeguard them.

This is our work.

A Valentine’s Day story, Guyana style

I

He said she consented, by the end, omitting to mention that he had been holding a cutlass to her neck the whole time.

She was pulled into the bushes, while on her way to meet her mother.

On Valentine’s Day, one week before her 16th birthday.

He had just come out of jail.

Before attacking her, he tried raping his sister and niece but they woke up.

The father had succeeded previously where he had failed.

That whole family is crazy.

II

He was terrified.

Granny, I have something to tell you.

But he said not to tell or he would hurt me again.

He has been raping little sister.

Are you sure you know what you’re saying, little boy? You sure you know what rape is?

Yes, granny. He raped me too.

The doctor cried when she did the examination. I have a daughter her age.

She has years-old scars; this has been going on since she was a toddler.

He bought a nice dolly for her.

Mommy was sleeping; she didn’t know.

Another mother said you aint feel licks yet, just wait!

Because..

Another mother allowed it.

Because..

Another mother didn’t believe.

Because..

Another mother didn’t want to believe.

Because..

Another mother didn’t know what to do.

Because..

Another mother had no money, no job, and nowhere else to go.

Because..

Another mother chose the man over her child.

Because..

Another mother left after many years of abuse. But her son still turned out just like his father.

Because..

Another mother keeps making child after child, trying to fill the clawing emptiness that inhabits her.

Because..

Another mother woke up and caught him.  

(What then?)

The mothers are not to blame.

The mothers are not to blame.

The mothers are not to blame.

And the boys grow into men.

Everybody desperate for love, whatever that means.

And the boy-men keep beating, and abusing, and raping, and killing. Even when they don’t shed any blood. Even when the deaths they cause are their own. Even as they live. Even when they’re drinking and sporting and “having fun”.

And the girl children grow into women bodies.

Everybody desperate for love, whatever that means.

Stunted growth is still growth, survival.

The survivors are not to be blamed for surviving.

The survivors are not to be blamed for not healing.

The survivors are not to be blamed.

III

She’s ok, as ok as can be.

I’m trying.

You have to listen carefully to hear the quiver.

You have to listen carefully to hear..

Listen carefully!

Who has time to listen carefully always?

She’s not the first girl/woman/child she knows to have been raped.

She will not be the last.

This is the norm.

Norm

Norm

Norm?

Rape culture

Rape as culture

Are they getting any counseling?

I don’t know.

Who is to blame?

He. You. Me. Them. Us. We.

And after we assign blame, then what?

What then?

What to do?

Do what?

Rage

Beat

Hurt

Kill

But the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house..

And eliminating one will not stop the rest.

Woman hold your head and cry.

IV

there is no love without Justice

there is no peace without Justice

there is no healing without Justice

there is no justice without individual and societal transformation

oil will not save us, Guyana.

February 15, 2021, Guyana

Black Lives Matter and the Future of Humanity

The Free

A look at how the Black Lives Matter movement, through ideas and action, gives rebels tools in which to engage in social struggle.

by Paul Messersmith-Glavin from Its Going Downshared with thanks.. illustrations added

photo via: @MaranieRae

Using an intersectional, anarchist analysis we can see how racism, patriarchy, and class society are intertwined producing a society that actively is changing the climate. We can begin to untangle these relationships, digging into the history of white supremacy to see how it reinforces capitalist social relations producing the ecological crisis we confront. The Black Lives Matter movement offers us the chance, both through its critique and methods, to move closer to a society that no longer changes the climate.

Anonymous Contributor

If we view various forms of domination as forming a ball of twine, we can see how pulling on one string can start to unravel the whole thing. Approaching racism, patriarchy, and…

View original post 2,004 more words

Free online course: “History of Slavery in the British Caribbean”

Repeating Islands

Explore the history and legacy of British colonial slavery and oppression in the Caribbean through historical slave accounts in a free online course offered by the University of Glasgow and The University of the West Indies. The course begins on October 12, 2020, lasts four weeks, and involves four hours of weekly study. See overview below and access more information at Futurelearn.com.[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.]

Learn about Britain’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade

On this course, you’ll be introduced to the history of slavery and the lived experiences of enslaved people in the British Caribbean.

Explore the link between global racial civil unrest and colonial and post-colonial processes

Against a backdrop of global protests and civil unrest due to racial inequities in our contemporary society, this course offers the opportunity to explore how these inequalities are related to historical…

View original post 201 more words

Gabrielle Jamela Hosein

PREE

At Night

Nighttime. When she should be falling asleep, she asks the most questions. They come out of the quiet of our breathing next to each other. They come intermittently, in between the rise and fall of her chest, like the soft breeze slipping through the windows from the Northern Range. 

What we joke about as her “deep philosophical questions”, always at nighttime, may be a tactic for staying up late, but they also seem to come from far away, from thoughts she took to their logical conclusion, from questions she collected along the way there, from difficulties that generations have pondered and which it is now her turn to work through.

In the middle of the Black Lives Matter marches, on one such night, she asked me, “Mummy, do you wish you could be White?” She wanted to know if only White people were allowed to go to America…

View original post 1,563 more words

One People, One Nation, One Destiny

“Coolie girl! Coolie girl!”

It’s not me he’s calling; it’s his mother.

“Dat is your mother?” I’m disbelieving. First of all- she doesn’t look remotely ‘coolie’. Secondly- she doesn’t look old enough to be this grown rastaman’s mother. But she comes over and confirms that yes, he’s her son. Ohk! She’s wearing a t-shirt with the Guyanese coat of arms on it, with that One People, One Nation, One Destiny slogan that slays me every single time. Primarily because we are so fucking far from realizing it.. the Guyanese tragedy..

“My grandmother- her mother- was named Doreen. She had hair like yours..”

Whenever I hear the name Doreen, I always think of my aunt. Not a blood aunt, not like that matters. She was there throughout my childhood, making our birthday cakes and special occasion outfits, dispensing hugs, kisses, and sweet treats every time we visited. When the cancer struck, I was glad that I was back in Guyana to be with her through those final days. Hearing her tossing and turning at night, begging the Almighty to take her, I brought her some ganja, hoping it would help her sleep. But decades as a policeman’s wife had instilled in her a block too firm to be removed and the herb stayed in the dresser drawer until her death; then I used it to ease my sorrow. All this comes back to me at the mention of his grandmother, another Doreen.

I’ve been reducing my social media interaction for months, primarily because I’m unable to deal with the vitriol there. Covid-19 and the stay home/social distancing guidelines have also been manna to my soul. Nevermind that I live in Lusignan- home of the big PPP posey, numerous cocaine lords, drag racing coolie youth, and refuge of the Guyanese Critic. To protect and preserve my sanity and wellbeing, I’ve created a cozy little bubble of love, plants, animals, and books. But there’s no escaping; shit seeps in, burning eyes like teargas. Because I hadn’t gotten on Facebook earlier, it was after 1130am when I saw the post about the protest. I hadn’t planned on leaving the safe haven of my yard but.. there I was, three buses later, making a beeline for Cuffy, scanning the crowd for others like me. Knowing full well that even though people might look like you physically doesn’t mean they’ll think, talk, or act like you, or like what you think/say/do..

I heard the chants before I reached- “What do we want? Justice!” Standing silently with my Black Lives Matter sign, I shake my head at the reporter who asks if I want to speak with her. No. I’m afraid of what might come out my mouth if I start talking. The sign really says what I think is important anyway. Plus I’m more interested right now in counting how many other Indian people are present. I look to my right, then left, then in front, then behind. There are well spaced lines of people, most wearing masks. Surprisingly, there’s virtually no foolice presence- a huge contrast to all the other protests I’ve been part of which usually garner multiple foolice staring us down, copying what’s written on our placards into their notebooks, asking for the organizer, etc. But today, amazingly, aside from two lone ranks, there’s absolutely no sign of any official foolice presence!

Also missing in action, as far as I can tell, are my Indo-Guyanese brethren. Oh, I see some straight hair- long, purple hued- clearly paid for by the owners. But very few natural ones. Finally, I spy a girl in the back. She might be Indigenous though; the mask makes it a bit difficult to know for sure. Then I see an older woman, then a guy. Ok, so that’s 4, including me. I keep scanning and counting. And sighing. I didn’t run out of fingers. Maybe they didn’t know about it. Maybe, like me, they only found out at the last minute and couldn’t drop everything and rush to town. Maybe they’re waiting for more information. Maybe they’re scared of Coronavirus and crowds. Maybe they feel safer commenting from afar, behind a screen. Many maybes swirl in my head..

I’m happy to see the sizeable turnout. I remember a Red Thread picket from a decade ago, after a 14yr old teenage boy was tortured by the police in Leonora (Irfraud’s hometown, incidentally). You didn’t have to be a parent to be horrified by the image of the burnt genitals of this young boy, imo- you just had to be a decent human being. But appallingly, although this was front page, national news, most people averted their eyes and passed us straight, instead of joining our stand against this heinous crime. The PPP was in power then, as now, and people were scared. https://www.inewsguyana.com/govt-satisfied-with-promotion-of-leonora-torture-cops/ I wish I could believe that there has been real progress a decade later and today’s action is not just motivated by politricks and the copy-cat mentality that we Guyanese are notorious for cultivating. But I have been in Guyana long enough now to know that hope is worthless currency.

Rage- now that is clean burning fuel! Though, to be honest, it’s fear that I feel most these days.. Fear of ‘them’, the “Other”, emboldened to act with impunity, and of a system so easily manipulated and thwarted. Fear of those who now say: “Let’s go after their children.” Fear of the person shouting about battymen at the back of the protest. Fear of losing my precious zen, of being consumed with anger and bitterness, of becoming like those I despise. Fear of drowning under the weight of depression, again, and of exile.. Fear. It’s what Isaiah and Joel Henry and all the others before them whose names and faces we’ve long since forgotten would have felt in their final moments of life, as they faced those filled with hate, bent on destroying them. To live and die with fear- is this what it means to be Guyanese?

There’s no denying that Guyana has a race problem. That Guyana has a violence problem. That the foolice and politrickians are part and parcel of the problem. That two young boys were brutally murdered, most likely as a result of race hate. That I had fingers left over after counting the number of Indo-Guyanese seen at the protest today. That this rastaman’s grandmother had hair like mine..

I don’t know where this leaves us. After the chanting and knees taken and photo ops, I sit on the grass and press the earth with my bare toes. I feel the rays of sunshine on my brown skin and the cool wetness in my mouth. There is love by my side and this helps; sometimes I think that’s all that matters. But sometimes it doesn’t feel like nearly enough. Black and coolie people have long loved and lived with each other in Guyana. And killed each Other. Because we still remain ‘Other’ to each other. This rastaman’s grandmother Doreen had hair like mine. But Joel and Isaiah Henry and now Haresh Singh are still dead and calls for justice regularly go unanswered in this scuntry. This beloved below-sea-level scuntry of less than a million souls, where the white man keeps “discovering” oil..

One People, One Nation, One Destiny. uh huh

https://newworldjournal.org/volumes/volume-1-1963/you-are-involved-3/

https://www.facebook.com/blmgy/photos/pcb.171728701242798/171727637909571