thank you massa

heard a minister of government say today that “we have to be ready for the development that’s going to come.” everybody clapped.

also heard today- a young friend’s story of when she was a ward of the state. one day she was sent to a foster home. this was a few years ago, in the beginning of the foster care program; they hadn’t sorted out the stipend part yet. a few mornings later, she got her period. she asked her foster mother for a sanitary pad so she could go to school; she had exams to write. after she finished her exam but before she could go back home, she received a message from her social worker. she was not to go back to the foster home, but to the state-run children’s home instead. “For years afterwards,” she said, “I thought something was wrong with me, that’s why she didn’t want me.. Is only when I got big that I realized she was the one with the problem..

i recognize, in the recent pic of guyana govt misleaders and their minions skinning their teeth at evil exxon’s huston hq pre-hurricane harvey flood- someone who i last saw working at the child care and protection agency. now she jet setting w the unbribe-able politrickians of gt.

aah yes, Guyana, clap and be grateful that the white man has come to save us from the nowhere train that we were on.. cuz we sure as heck were doing a piss poor job of taking care of ourselves, weren’t we? best we go back under all-knowing, all-powerful whitey. i mean, yuh already bleaching, right? just now we’re all going to get a check from exxon every month! think of how much more bleaching cream you cud buy wid dat.

thank you massa!

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a tale of two mothers

a tale of two mothers. the first is trying to slow down time. she gets a year with her newborn before the child is taken away. these simpletons think its better to sever the maternal-offspring bond than bring the child up in prison. but children are born and raised in brothels, sweatshops, and shantytowns the world over. #hypocrisymuch The second mother is trying to speed up time. She’s got a release date, see? she has 3 children- a girl and 2 boys who are both in the GDF (Army). She was busted at the airport with cocaine. She plead guilty right away and has already served 2/3 of her time. She lived 10 minutes away from the prison, she said. She used to exercise around it when she was young; she’d run past early in the morning, tantalizing the big women inside. Now, funnily enough, many years later, she’s a captive, staring out at life going by. #ataleof2mothers #Guyana2017

jubilee +1- Guyana 2017

Sometimes I decide to go to things. Sometimes I get to thinking I should engage/participate more in the larger society out there. So I leave my hammock and my yard of growing things, and- risking my life in the minibuses- I go. Sometimes I’m glad, pleasantly surprised, meet cool people, feel stimulated. This being Independence eve and all, I made the effort. The event description mentioned young people and an environmental organization- that’s why I went; Earth and the future is in peril- I wanted to hear what young people thought and were doing about that. But it turns out that was just the first 15 minutes; the rest of the time was devoted to the Constitution and blah blah blah. There weren’t that many people there- there were competing events- the flag raising, something about oil and gas- undoubtedly more people were at those events. So i forced myself to stay. It was hard for me to sit there though. I twitched my fingers and toes, slumped then pulled myself back up, closed my eyes, rested my head in my hands, just fidgeted. All I kept thinking while man after man droned on about the Constitution and politricks was the little girl I had spent the previous hours of the afternoon with. She was 7 going on 8, in Grade 2, and she couldn’t write a proper sentence. In fact, she was at the ‘cat, bat, rat, hat’ stage of reading/writing. At 7 going on 8. She has never not been in school. It’s public school tho, not private; she’s not from a wealthy family. They have had their share of troubles actually, but she hasn’t been the one directly affected. Physically- as far as the eye can see- she’s fine, healthy. But the learning deficits are unmistakable. 20170525_165731

She’s never been assessed though- where does one even go to get that done in Guyana, another colleague/friend and I pondered the other day? I thought of one person who might know; after the holiday we’ll reach out and see (Karen H- is you I thinking of). 51 years of independence. 7 yr olds who can’t read. She’s not alone- when I was volunteering at the Drop In Center- before it burned down killing Joshua and Antonio George- I found many children who were going to school every day, who had notebooks full of notes, but who struggled to read and write basic sentences in English <Charlene, you have to give me tips on how to assess Creolese fluency in writing>. I stopped volunteering after the fire- there wasn’t any suitable place for that at the new location where the surviving children were re-located to, I was told when I visited there. Besides, they reported, most of the children had been sent back to their families. I see them around regularly actually- usually it’s they who “Miss” me. I saw one of the boys last Friday, unloading thrushes of water coconuts from the back of a pickup truck at my weekly neighborhood market. It was around 11am, time when he should have been in school. But instead, he was child laboring. When I asked if he was going to school, he dropped his eyes and lied. “Yes Miss. I just didn’t go today.” I stood there for a few minutes, just watching him silently. When the backs of the adult men directing the operation were turned, I asked him softly if they were paying him. He nodded. These children are everywhere- you don’t have to know or look hard to see them; they are everywhere; clearly visible every day. They’re at the intersections and road corners selling water, soda, and beer. They’re pushing bales of stuff in the market and climbing into storage bonds. They’re running errands for big people and engaging in all kinds of hustles. The girls are a bit more invisible- unless you’re in the bush or a bottomhouse bar. 51 years of independence. And these men are talking about the readability of the Constitution and all the beautiful things it promises the Guyanese people. The environmental organization man talks about how happy he is to have found a job he likes and the awesomeness of nature. About the pristineness of Guyana’s environment and the difficulty getting coastlanders to appreciate it. The young woman on the panel- the only one, someone i know, who blew a kiss to me earlier- talks about love. Love of country and the awesomeness of nature. The other young man talks about his love of the law, and youth coupling with wisdom. He is careful, too careful, already lawyerly-careful, to not blame anyone (the government) for anything. 20170525_185101The veteran trade unionist’s 15 minutes feels like an hour and at the end of it I’m completely discombobulated.  I want to scream. I want to cry. I leave when another comrade of sorts asks about the lack of a strong civil society response to the abuses of power. My head feels like it’s going to explode; I bolt outside- if it does, I want to at least get one last glimpse of the stars before oblivion. Instead I’m greeted by the sight of overflowing garbage bins and piles of garbage strewn about the pathway. On the other side, inside the GuyOil compound, nice Jamaican music plays and people dance, enjoying the pre-Independence. 20170525_191846

I walk to the National Library, to check on the banner I put up there day before yesterday. It says LGBT and Guyanese on the same line and it was a minor dream of mine to get a banner like this in this position. LGBT event at Natl Library- signThis being Guyana though, anything could have happened to it. So I’m going to check on it. I have some more wire in my bag to secure it more if necessary. I hear a sound behind me and turn; it’s just a dog. Still, I’m on the alert. I am a woman, walking alone. I have been mugged before and have no desire for a repeat. Another block and another sound, this one human. Turning I see a man in slippers, one of the numerous street dwellers of Georgetown. Shit. I pick up my pace and search the wire out of my bag, wrapping it around my fist. I could poke him with it if necessary, or strangle him maybe? Yes, these are the things women walking alone on darkened streets think.  Under a streetlight I see that he is of indigenous heritage. It’s funny- I had been thinking, in the event earlier, when the environment organization people were talking, about how I would have liked  to see/hear an indigenous person’s perspective. So now the universe had sent me someone. Real funny. I cross the street, looking back still. I know he sees me looking at him, judging him a threat. I feel like shit but this is life. Fucked up shit. As we near the library, he greets me. “Exercising huh?” he says inanely. I just grunt. My head still feels like it’s going to explode.

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FREE Dr Stella Nyanzi- sign & share Support/Solidarity Statement #education4girls #fukrespectabilitypolitricks #downwiththepatriarchy

Sign Support and Solidarity Statement here: https://docs.google.com/…/1FAIpQLSdOqmpYkQi-2ghPiN…/viewform <The arrest of Dr. Stella Nyanzi in light of her campaign to provide sanitary pads to young students is an affront, to the fundamental right of all students to continuous education. The arrest seeks to shift focus from the urgent issue of getting sanitary pads to girls who need them so that their education is not disrupted, to respectability and the hurt egos of powerful political elites and people in power.>

More here: https://qz.com/956379/uganda-has-thrown-an-academic-in-jail-over-a-buttocks-insult-to-president-museveni/

solidarity across gender binaries

to be lesbian, bisexual, or questioning is not the same as being transgender, i know- BUT in societies set up and dedicated to maintaining heteronormativity and the gender binary/status quo, all who do not conform are stigmatized. i share the following quotes from a LBQ survey i conducted last Nov/Dec in observance and solidarity with my trans family. #similarstruggles #bridgebuilding #transgendervisibilitydaycommemoration

TVD

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transrighthumanrights

Watch their faces. Say their names. Remember their stories. DO MORE to end gender-based violence.

This is not a comprehensive list. Many- children and adults- have been maimed, physically and emotionally. Many are still suffering in silence.

#GuyaneseDVkillings2016

bibi-keneiz
Bibi Keneiz, 60 years old. Mother of 3. Raped and stabbed 11 times about her body. Mentally disabled.

indrawattie-somwar

Indrawattie Somwar, known as Sharda. 49 years old, mother of 2. Chopped to death by her husband who was consuming alcohol throughout the day. Upon returning home he requested some food  which he subsequently hit out of her hands. As a result she told him about his behaviour and requested that he leave the house but he became angry and went into the kitchen where he allegedly armed himself with a cutlass and dealt her two chops to her head.

bagwanttie-persaud-kamini
Bagwantie Persaud, called Kamini. 50 years old. Chopped to death by her husband. Despite frequent reports made to the police about the abuse, nothing was done.
bibi-zabida-khan
Bibi Zabeeda Khan, 41 years old, mother of 3. Stabbed to the neck and waist by her husband. She was also beaten in the head and strangled. The woman’s battered body was discovered in a trench.
simone-hackett
Simone Hackett, 23 years old, mother of 1. She was stabbed at least twice to her back and neck by her child’s father. Her body was discovered in a trench with the throat slit.
candacy-pitt
Candacy Pitt, 31 years old. Chopped to death by her husband who didn’t want her to work. “She ran and he chopped her and then kick her over and chopped her more and then chop her across her neck and walk out.”
glenda-mccurdy
Glenda McCurdy, 19 years old. McCurdy who had ended the relationship some time ago was walking home with her mother. They were confronted by Alexander who, after making accusations, whipped out a firearm from his pants’ waist and shot McCurdy in the chest.
hafeeza-rohoman
Hafeeza Rohomon, 28 years old, mother of 4. Killed by her husband. “He used to beat she bad and they always used to have problems.”
vanessa-sookram-and-son
Vanessa Sookram, 34 years old, mother of 2. Sookram was chopped to her neck which was almost severed while her toddler son, Joel, was chopped to his abdomen, which left him virtually gutted. Her husband also chopped his mother’s hand.
leolyn-sullivan
Leolyn Sullivan, 34 years old, mother of 3. Leolyn was reported stabbed 31 times by her partner. The dead woman’s 18 year old daughter is hospitalized with stab wounds to her neck which she sustained when she tried to intervene as the man repeatedly stabbed her mother. Another daughter reportedly ran away after witnessing the incident. She had to be treated for severe trauma.
latchmin-shivpujan-radika
Latchmin Shivpuran, called Radhika. 49 years old, mother of 2. The woman was found lying in a pool of blood; her ex-partner was held.
serojanieramkarran
Serojanie “Golin” Ramkarran, 71 years old, mother of several. She was found leaning against a window in the lower flat where she had locked herself to escape the beatings. The neighbours, as well as relatives, said they went many times to speak to the man about his abusive behaviour but he would not listen. “He would tell us this is his place and he can do what he want.”
yansen-brusche
Yansen Tamika Brusche, 38 years old, mother of 4. Stabbed by her former partner.
rajwantie-baldeo
Rajwantie Baldeo, 49 years old, mother of 2. Baldeo was beaten prior to her death since her entire face was “black and blue.” Due to the blows, she fell unconscious and she was stabbed several times about her body. Her neck was almost severed by her husband.
lonnettprince
Yonette Prince, 23 years old, mother of 1. She was stabbed multiple times by her ex-partner who she had separated from several months ago. Up to the time of her death a restraining order from the court had still been in effect.

Nani’s sappodillas

dscn1221this sappodilla tree was planted by my Nani (mother’s mother) about 40 years ago. that makes it about as old as me. Nani died in 1986, ten days after the photo above was taken, but the sappodilla tree she planted remains, still bearing bountifully. the fruit is small small but sweet sweet. it’s one of my favorite fruits; not least of all because i’m also small, brown skinned, and sweet- when i want to be (heh). in fact, my father nicknamed me sappy when i was a child..

today i climbed nani’s tree and picked over a hundred sappodillas; leaving hundreds more still to be harvested.the branches are slender and swayed underfoot. i reached for the sweetness i desired, hoping not to crash to the ground. rain had fallen earlier and the leaves shook droplets into my eyes. the sap gummed up my hair and hands. but there were no followmes nesting, so happily, i got no stings and didn’t have to abort picking and jump down hastily- as on previous memorable occasions.

some people- men mostly- say that women shouldn’t climb trees; that the trees will stop bearing. this is sheer stupidness and you can go ahead and tell dem people i seh so- even (and maybe especially) if they are your family members/loved ones. a laaang suck teeth in these circumstances is also warranted.

there is an art to picking sappodillas. ideally, you’re supposed to wait until the little spike on the base falls off, then harvest. but the high winds and breeze had been blowing plenty off the tree and the birds, bats, and other critters have been feasting- as the skins and remnants on the ground attest to. so, to ensure that we humans got our share, i decided to climb and pick some to ‘set’ a couple days in a closed, newspaper-lined container.

it’s tricky tho- fruit that, from the ground look large, shrink when viewed up close. i have to make a calculation between taking a chance and leaving them on the tree to get a little more size, but possibly losing them to the birds etc, or playing it safe and picking them smaller. it’s a tough decision- small and sure vs bigger but possibly bird bitten.. the greedy gambler must come to terms with the fact that no matter how much something is loved and wanted, one creature simply cannot consume all. so i pick some and leave some for the birds, bats, and other critters. 🙂 pachamama provides for us all, sharing is caring, and harmonious living is possible.

i wash and parcel and then spend long minutes cleaning my skin of the sap. half dozen of the already ripe ones satisfy my soul. when i was younger and more foolish, i used to use a knife to cut the fruit and a spoon to scoop and eat. now that i’m older and wiser, i use my thumb to split the soft brown skin and just suck. sometimes i even eat the skin.

tomorrow, i will transplant the seedling that’s growing in front of the old pit latrine. i won’t have any descendants but hopefully the trees i plant today will feed some creature(s) some day.

thank you, nani. #sweetmemories

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must read audre lorde every day

“How much of this truth can I bear to see and still live
unblinded?
How much of this pain can I use?”

“And I find I must remember that the pain is not its own reason for being. It is a part of living. And the only kind of pain that is intolerable is pain that is wasteful, pain from which we do not learn. And I think that we must learn to distinguish between the two.”

“One of the hardest things to accept is learning to live within uncertainty and neither deny it nor hide behind it. Most of all, to listen to the messages of uncertainty without allowing them to immobilize me, nor keep me from the certainties of those truths in which I believe. I turn away from any need to justify the future- to live in what has not yet been. Believing, working for what has not yet been while living fully in the present now.”

“I have found that battling despair does not mean closing my eyes to the enormity of the tasks of effecting change, nor ignoring the strength and the barbarity of the forces aligned against us. It means teaching, surviving and fighting with the most important resource I have, myself, and taking joy in that battle. It means, for me, recognizing the enemy outside, and the enemy within, and knowing that my work is part of a continuum of women’s work, of reclaiming this earth and our power, and knowing that this work did not begin with my birth nor will it end with my death. And it means knowing that within this continuum, my life and my love and my work has particular power and meaning relative to others.”