Advice To Young Ladies

by AD Hope

A.U.C. 334: about this date,
For a sexual misdemeanour which she denied,
The vestal virgin Postumia was tried;
Livy records it among affairs of state.

They let her off: it seems she was perfectly pure;
The charge arose because some thought her talk
Too witty for a young girl, her eyes, her walk
Too lively, her clothes too smart to be demure.

The Pontifex Maximus, summing up the case,
Warned her in future to abstain from jokes,
To wear less modish and more pious frocks.
She left the court reprieved, but in disgrace.

What then? With her the annalist is less
Concerned than what the men achieved that year:
Plots, quarrels, crimes, with oratory to spare-
I see Postumia with her dowdy dress,

Stiff mouth and listless step; I see her strive
To give dull answers. She had to knuckle down.
A vestal virgin who scandalized that town
Had fair trial, then they buried her alive;

Alive, bricked up in suffocating dark;
A ration of bread, a pitcher if she was dry,
Preserved the body they did not wish to die
Until her mind was quenched to the last spark.

How many the black maw has swallowed in its time!
Spirited girls who would not know their place,
Talented girls who found that the disgrace
Of being a woman made genius a crime.

How many others, who would not kiss the rod,
Domestic bullying broke or public shame?
Pagan or Christian, it was much the same:
Husbands, St. Paul declared, rank next to God.

Livy and Paul, it may be, never knew
That Rome was doomed; each spoke of her with pride.
Tacitus, writing after both had died,
Showed that whole fabric rotten, through and through.

Historians spend their lives and lavish ink
Explaining how great commonwealths collapse
From great defects of policy – perhaps
The cause is sometimes simpler than they think.

It may not seem so grave an act to break
Postumia’s spirit as Galileo’s, to gag
Hypatia as crush Socrates, or drag
Joan as Giordano Bruno to the stake.

Can we be sure? Have more states perished, then,
For having shackled the enquiring mind,
Than those who, in their folly not less blind,
Trusted the servile womb to breed free men?

A Certain Type

So much of life spent running
As though it were a bad thing?
You recline in your wheelchair as you curse the walking
You think I don’t see the curl at the corners of your lips?
It’s quite perverse, to be honest
Two peas in a pod
I’m selfish because I walk alone
And you’re selfish so you slash my tires
“Welp, guess you’ll have to stay here another night.”
That’s where true evil lies
You clip wings, I only cut ties
But how much of your life was inevitable?
How much of this
Could I actually avoid?

I think of running and the skies open up
You have to be a certain type to know what that feels like
You have to be a certain type
Legs burning, lungs screaming
And through cries, you feel the need
To tear the very fabric of this world apart
Your pretty fingers curled ‘round darkness
Kneeling, it licks your hand
You feel alive
Life isn’t in a room
Life isn’t on a page
Life isn’t in your arms
Life is desire
I will run toward it – break my legs and I will crawl

*sigh*

You could never understand this
You have to be a certain type

There is no escape. Is there?

This is the first real entry I’ve written in a couple of years. I just didn’t feel the need to … display. I rarely do. I do. But rarely.

I have been living in Seoul for 1 month, yesterday. Overall, I like it. I am still … frazzled. I have a lot of energy and curiosity and nerve but I am still tied to my old ways. Ive found that in living in another country, you as a person, don’t change. You are just made to encounter different aspects of who you are. Some are amplified, other parts are rendered useless. What is useless to me in Seoul? Doubt. I could doubt people and situations in NY because I knew what to expect and who to expect it from. I had observed almost 30 years of patterned behaviour. You think that would breed certainty but no, merely an ever increasing doubt. It became nauseating. It was like Groundhog Day the movie. Everyone played their parts and went through the motions. They always mistook me for a participant. But I learned what was behind the smiles. A bit late, yes, but better late than never. And so, I began to doubt them. I disbelieved them and followed my instincts, which were always proven true. But I hated the doubt. I just needed to be unsure of the right thing for once. The doubt others inspired in me was superficial. On the surface, it seemed like something new but underneath …I’m sure it’s the same. I don’t want to presume. I’ll withhold judgement and give you the benefit of the doubt, even though my gut is telling me that I don’t like your eyes. That there is something around you that seems off. That seems alike with all the ones before.

Here, it is useless to doubt. What would I base that on? I have no clue what you’re fucking saying let alone what you are thinking. Everything ACTUALLY IS NEW. I am unsure, yet it is not superficial. I legitimately have no clue what to expect. And it’s because one day I got on a plane. After years of waking up to see that it is once again 4/1, waking up in Seoul was like waking up and seeing that today is 4/2. It’s like oh shit! Now what? WHAT THE FUCK DO I DO?? I am the kind of person who needs that feeling.

It’s funny that I, who always gets shit for being different than everyone else, has found comfort living in a conformist society. Here, you are not supposed to be different or look different or think differently. And there is a great deal of emphasis on the superficial. But…I don’t know. There are always individuals. In any society, we grapple with what we are told to want and value and what we innately value and how that shapes our personal tastes. For most, they alter the latter to fit the former but there are just some that don’t bother. And those are the ones who meet me for the first time and know that they know nothing but what they see. And are not content with that. People like that are scarce everywhere and yes there are people here who think they know who I am without knowing a goddamn thing. But the big difference is, there are a bunch of people who don’t. So you just seek. Keep it moving. Tell the shitty people “Yeah, bye.” and ease on down the road. In NY, especially as a Black person, there is NO WAY to escape people who think they know who you are. No matter what is on the surface, they think they know you and that “you people” are “all the same”. Even other Black people! If you are Black in that country and have a brain and a heart, god help you. I felt both shrinking from disuse/abuse/neglect so I got the FUCK out of there.

I ask my mother all the time why she just doesn’t leave. All the shit that White people have done to her and how difficult they still try and make things for her just because she is an African woman with pride and a heart and a brain and oh yeah a mouth (it’s inherited, lol). But she doesn’t want to. Immigrants are different. They have a different mindset that I will never fully understand. I have immigrated 2x in my life but I was young, single and spoke fluent English with an American accent. I appear Westernized. I have seen the shit that even other Africans who don’t have those traits are subjected to. I do have “Western privilege”. I remember waiting at Immigration in Germany. I was lucky enough to get people who were having a good day or were hungry and needed to go to lunch or something but getting my Visa was so quick and easy. But I saw other Africans who who spoke English with an accent of African origin and some were wearing traditional clothes. The same people who smiled at me treated them like shit. With no respect. Like they were lower than dogs.

It’s like I “pass” but I don’t want to fucking pass. I hate those people who smile at me then put down other people WHO ARE EXACTLY LIKE ME. But I “talk different” or “dress different”. In a way that you view as similar to you. In a way that you falsely and narcissistically assume is solely for your own benefit. They always figured out I was different in the end. Because they always fucking tried shit then I had to bitchsmack a ho to let ’em know that they are mistaken, because I am NOT THAT NEGRO, BYE.

But I was just reading about Mr. Floyd Dent and the piece of shit with a badge that nearly killed him: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/03/26/1373429/-Why-is-William-Bill-Robocop-Melendez-still-a-police-officer and I am sitting here with no Black people around for a few miles and thinking, “What have I escaped?” Martese Johnson … the guy was an Honor student who wears fucking bowties. You know that shit makes White people mad. Everything seems to make White people mad. So they just beat the shit out of everyone and kill everyone else and fly fucking planes into mountains. (Aside: How much you wanna bet White men won’t be closely searched and surveilled at airports as an “anti-terrorist precautionary measure”.)

What have I escaped now that these things don’t happen to me because I don’t live in an anti-Black culture anymore? There is rampant anti-Blackness in contemporary Korean culture but it is not a product of their culture nor do they depend on anti-Blackness for a sense of their cultural identity as a whole. Anti-Blackness in Asia is a European/American import. There are plenty of people who can feel proudly Korean without hating or feeling superior to Black people while “White Pride” and Anti-Blackness are inextricably linked. This doesn’t mean that anti-Black Asian people should not be held responsible for their racism. Fuck them too. Nobody can convince you to hate or demean someone else unless you are the type of person who is shitty and dumb enough to do those things in the first place. There is no “context” or history lesson needed to know that racial slurs and Blackface and things of that nature are wrong. I didn’t grow up with a ton of Asian friends but when I would see that yellowface/asexual-Asian-guy-as-punchline/Asian female fetishism shit growing up in America my knee-jerk reaction was “wtf?…that’s fucked up” because that shit just looks wrong. I didn’t have to walk up and down Canal St. and take a goddamn survey.

I am also not saying that Black people don’t experience racism in Asia either. I am saying, however, that I have been here for 31 days and I have not experienced any overt racism. I’ve experienced that many old Korean people are mad aggressive. But maybe that 아저씨 snapped at me on the subway escalator because he’s just an asshole. Could be. Idunno. But the fact is, who cares? It didn’t affect my life. It didn’t keep me out of a job or stop me from renting an apartment from my super helpful, non-aggressive old Korean landlord/landlady or give my kids’ all-Black school less funding than any other school in the district or punch me 16 times in the face and break my orbital bone or hogtie me and leave me in a hospital driveway as my brain bled me to death or shoot me 20 times for WALKING FORWARD SLOWLY after a car wreck or KNOCKING ON THEIR DOOR after a car wreck or drag me behind a truck at 90mph or lynch me or burn down my economically independent all-Black town out of jealousy/resentment or shoot my unarmed child in a stairway/in a gated community/in a park DO YOU SEE WHERE I’M GOING WITH THIS?

In Seoul, as far as I can tell, racist people are just idiots with an opinion. You don’t like Black people? So? Bye. You wanna talk shit about Black people? Well I can’t understand it. Bye. You won’t hire Black people? Well there is another place who will. I guarantee it. Here, if you happen to experience racism, first off, it’s hard to be sure because people here legit won’t like/hire you/be polite to you for a million other looks/education/class based reasons. But, if you do, there are just other options here. There are other people. There are other situations. So if you don’t like something/someone/somewhere, go someplace else with someone else and do something else *shrugs*. No place is a utopia and unfortunately there is nowhere on earth that you can go to escape anti-Black sentiment (thanks for spreadin’ that White Supremacy worldwide and earnin’ that El Diablo Blanco title White people!!) but I can honestly say there has NEVER been a 31 day stretch of time in the U.S. or Germany where I didn’t face even 1 instance of discrimination/overt racism. Frankly, the only racism/sexism I’ve faced in Seoul since I’ve been here was from a White guy. Stay doin’ the most, Whitey!!

Anyway, I just wanted to ruminate aloud (or ablog) about my experiences so far. I honestly don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve always been a planning and structure based youth and I have a need for that in my nature but I also give no fucks and do what I want YOU DON’T OWN ME yadda yadda so sometimes I just end up doing things that seem thought out to me but other people are like “What? Uzbekistan? Oh ok send me your new number *sigh*.” As I grow older I honestly could not care less. It’s just exhausting to care all the time, isn’t it? You shouldn’t have to fight for what you deserve. As a Black woman, that’s pretty much our day to day way of life. But it shouldn’t be. I’m not going to fight you to get you to treat me like a person. If you don’t want to do that automatically? Bye.

I think on my gravestone, it will just read “Bye, bitch. Lol” That is my new life motto. I intend to live a life so full that even in death, I will give about -3 entire fucks of a damn about anything. To me, that is truly resting in peace.

So in conclusion, I’m going to the gym. You can find super cheap ones here. So now I guess I will get buff. Stay tuned for the “Meant to Be” music video (BET after dark booty shorts edition.) Ahhh record deal, here I come!

This is insane. And I am enraged.

Angry. Angry. That word. Am I supposed to fear it? That word is always thrown at me at opportune moments. I have detected, over the years, a pattern. When I behave in a way that you don’t expect. When I stand up for myself. When you are threatened by the fact that when you look at me, you don’t feel dominant or superior, you call me “angry”. But you don’t say it with fear. Not fear for your safety, at least. It leaves your lips with a “hisssss”. Then you sit back, satisfied. As though you have accomplished something. You are contented. Why?

When you are at the bottom of the sexual, racial and ethnic Western social hierarchy, as I am, you learn very quickly that EVERYONE depends on your staying at the bottom. It’s like a sick cheerleaders pyramid. When the ones kneeling on the bottom, with everyone’s weight on their backs, decide to stand up, what happens to the ones above them? Exactly.

It’s quite depressing to know that 90% of the people in the society in which you live depend on you feeling ashamed, inadequate, ugly, stupid and inept in order for them to feel confident and strong. To know that strangers have a vested interest in your failure … It just makes them feel good to think that at the end of the day, you’ve still amounted to nothing. That is my life. Fielding attacks for not being worthless. Being in a near constant state of defensiveness because I am not stupid or ugly or inept and refuse to pretend to be for others who aim to elevate themselves by standing upon my back.

I am Black. I am a woman. I am an African. AND YOU ARE NOT SUPERIOR TO ME. Why does that make you mad? Why does that make you want to attack? Why are you so fucked up and insane?

I started a new job and there is a young Black guy I work with. Black American men almost invariably react towards me in the same way. They are ALL suspicious of me and about 80% outright hostile on sight, making inane assumptions about my class and personality before I even open my mouth. I’m sure he did all of these things but fortunately was one of the 20% that was not hostile but friendly and conversational. That is until I was speaking to him and used the word “recalcitrant”. He made a joking comment about it being a “big word”, then let it go. Or so I thought, because within literally 45 SECONDS out of NOWHERE he made some flippant comment about something I said being “White people shit”. Now, I am used to this, but I am not in middle school or high school anymore and I have literally not had a Black person accuse me of “acting white” in over 10 years. I am a grown ass woman. I just refuse to deal with that garbage at this point in my life. So I just shut it down by saying “Well I am a Black person so I don’t even know what that means.” and left it at that.

This country is a fucking bitch.  Being talented and intelligent works against you if you are a Black woman. If you don’t have to deal with ignorant, inferiority complex having Black people who are on this “Blackpeepo d’on’ reed! Blackpeepo dondoodis! Lookatchu, uthinkuhighclass!” , etc. – Btw, why do so many Black people in this country believe that to be “authentically Black” means to be illiterate and lack the ability to speak your native language correctly? Because last time I checked, Black people were the only people in history who were threatened with torture and death if they learned how to read and write AND RISKED DEATH AND TAUGHT THEMSELVES HOW TO DO IT ANYWAY AND OPENED UP THEIR OWN SCHOOLS SO THEY COULD BE EDUCATED AND GRADUATED COLLEGE AND BECAME POETS AND DOCTORS AND LAWYERS BEFORE SLAVERY WAS EVEN OFFICIALLY ABOLISHED IN 1865 BUT MAYBE THAT NEVER HAPPENED OH OK MY BAD PLEASE PROCEED IN MISPRONOUNCING YOUR ENTIRE LIFE.

What a sista gotta to to operate with some standards in this country? CAN I EVEN FUCKING HAVE STANDARDS? IS THAT OK, FUCKWADS?

So as if dealing with crazy internalized white supremacist Black people isn’t enough, I have to deal with White supremacist white people as well. My generation has a new kind of White person to contend with, in addition to the old. They won’t openly hate you like their parents and grandparents. They smile at you and voted for Obama. They are the new breed of “OH BLACK PEOPLE I LIKE THOSE THEY HAVE COOL HAIR THEY ARE FINE AS LONG AS THEY ARE CLEAN AND USE FUNNY CATCHPHRASES AND DON’T KNOW THINGS THAT I DON’T KNOW AND CAN’T DO THINGS THAT I CAN’T DO AND BEHAVE AND DRESS EXACTLY THE WAY I SAY THEY SHOULD AND HAVE NO BOUNDARIES AND ALLOW ME TO TREAT THEM HOWEVER I CHOOSE AND OH YEAH I SHOULD ALSO HAVE FREE REIGN TO FUCK THEM AT WILL YEAH THOSE BLACKS ARE FINE WITH ME!”

So I am stuck in this No Woman’s Land between “Real Black people cain’t do shit” Black people who believe the White Supremacist hype and actually think their Blackness is a hindrance  and White people who are so racist yet try to pretend that they are not and have this unspoken “Stay in your place and we’re fine with you” reaction and both options are so gross to me and I decided in 2000 that I would not hang out with self hating indie negroes anymore because even though we have similar artistic tastes, lbr, that shit is just depressing and I refuse to be stuck in a room full of insecure Black people talking about how other Black people suck and White people are so much better while passing around photographs of their disrespectful and unattractive White bfs/gfs as though that’s “a step up” or something- Btw, if you are going to be a self hating poc and say “I only date White guys/gals, I hate [insert your own people here].” , can you please rescue a tenth of a degree of decency and at least date White people that are hot and awesome? PoC like that usually date seemingly just the worst, most bargain basement White people you can find. I would love for once to meet some Black person who is like “I only date White people, oh, btw, here comes my White s.o. now!” and out walks- no floats– this, like Goddess/Adonis with wit, intelligence, class and style and treats you like royalty and has, like, super bitchin’ hair, or something. Then I could be like, “Oh ok, point taken, good luck, enjoy smashing that, etc.” But it’s never like that. It’s always some gross ugly coked-up moronic douche/douchess. I’m like, “Oh ok thanks for that c u.”

I am ANGRY. I am angry that I am capable of so much but in one of the largest cities in the world, I feel like I have no options. No people. I have no people. Most people are cowards and the ones who have the fire and the passion are usually consumed and destroyed by it so they are not even of use to themselves let alone me. What use could I have for someone? Hm. It would be nice to exchange ideas with someone who is as unafraid as I am. Who makes up their own mind. Who doesn’t sit back and watch when they see someone unique and valuable; someone who is the first one there with an outstreched hand. Hello. Who are you? What do you think about all this shit and how quick can we take a couple sticks of dynamite to it?

Hello. What do you think?

What do you hate?

What do you love?

Can you love? More than you can hate? Do you?

Are you a coward or are you brave? Do you know the difference between being brave and being fearless? Which one are you?

Are you the same person at all times? Are you different people? Do you take responsibility for all of them? Do you know that if you don’t, you’re a coward?

What’s the point if you won’t come up with one?

I would love to meet someone as angry and passionate as I am. Someone who knows it’s their place to be so.

I have to get the fuck out of this town. Maybe you are afraid because you know I could rip you apart from the inside. I probably could. I know this. But who’s to say I will? Unless you expect to treat me in such a way that would earn such retribution. If that’s the case, then, yes, it would be in your best interest to stay away.

I’ve got an atom bomb in my head and in my chest. I have power. I am Black. I am a woman. I am an African. And I have power.

Why does that scare you? Oh yeah. The whole “bottom of the pyramid” thing. Gotcha.

The most surefire way to find yourself surrounded by weak people is to deny your own strength. That’s my line. You can have it. I’ve got plenty.

More music coming soon…

The next single and music video release from The White Noise Supremacists will be “Meant to Be”. Check out a live version here:

Also be sure to follow my new twitter and tumblrs: twitter.com/thewns , thewns.net , 1234films.com

Good things are a-brewin’. Stay tuned!

POC in NYC – Protect yourself from Police Violence

Please forward widely

Please note: this series is open to Latin@s and other people of color who are concerned about police violence in their communities.

*Workshop 1, March 24, 2012, 1-3pm*

*at the Domestic Workers United Office: 1201 Broadway, Suite 907 (N/R to 28th St.)*

*Staying Safer During Police Encounters**Will include  *Tools for de-escalating police encounters * Safety planning in case of arrest * Protecting yourself against police brutality (falls and guards) * Know your rights and exercising them effectively * How to get involved in the movement to end police violence*

Workshop 2, April 28, 1-3pm:  Police Violence, Trauma and Healing

Workshop 3, May 19, 1-3pm:  Legal Strategies and Legal Clinic

Workshop 4, June 30, 1-3pm: Taking Power Back – Organizing for Justice

* To rsvp email Justicecommittee (at) gmail (dot) com and indicate which training(s) you’d like to attend.  (It’s not necessary to attend all trainings.)*

The Justice Committee is a Latin@-led grassroots organization dedicated to building a movement against police violence and systemic racism in NYC.
TheJusticeCommittee.org

A Move to Stillness

So I’m back in Berlin and have been back for a bit. It is so dreary and rainy but at least not freezing. My first German winter was horrible. I felt like I was dying. Not having any sun affected me so much. Now it’s calm. But for how long?…

I’ve been staying with my friend Mary. We’ve spent days just talking about being disappointed in men and art and music and being strange. I feel like it kind of sucks for strange girls. Especially when you are nearing 30 and not very much a girl anymore. Even as a girl I lacked that “girlishness” that made a female cute and innocuous. I had it at first but then after awhile it was always “she scares me sometimes…”

I don’t mind being scary. I actually quite like it. But it’s just so disappointing to always have to…it’s like walking around in an unmarked box with the lid on. It’s so easy to find out what’s inside. Just open the lid and see. But that’s too much of a problem for some people. They’d rather just take a glance, make their deductions based on NOTHING of relevance and then move on; clinging to their shallow judgements as if it were actual fact.

I don’t like wearing everything on my sleeve. I think it’s boring. Or it can be. I like reservedness and propriety. I enjoy choosing not to do things and not saying other things. I feel power in silence and being in control of myself is thrilling. And choosing to let go of or give up that control is just as thrilling. I dunno. I’m always much more impressed with people who could but don’t. Not because they can’t, but because they’d simply prefer not to. I used to not be able to. Now I can and more. And sometimes I do. But as a general state of being? I’d just prefer not to. Yes, it’s cleaner. Safer. You only get your hands dirty when necessary, but also, it’s my defiance. I was always surrounded by people that just compulsively do everything all the time. Compulsively say everything all the time. Everyone always sees those people as confident but I always saw them as the most frightened people in the room. I didn’t buy it.

I still don’t. I will walk into the room, neatly and conservatively (yet colorfully and stylishly) dressed. I will sit down in the chair, straight-backed, cross my legs and neatly clasp my hands on my lap. I will say hello, maybe with a smile, maybe with a nod, be polite and say excuse me, please and thank you. I won’t get drunk, I won’t get high. I won’t even raise my voice, if I choose to even say another word. And the seas will crash and the tornadoes will come and I’m not worried. Straight-backed in my chair. Eyes ahead. Maybe a smile, maybe not. With a heart on fire, prose in my pocket and eyes as wide as the first day.

THAT is my defiance. And I will not move.

Lets all be thieves

What is it that makes the past so much more interesting? What has the future brought us? We’re not smarter. Not kinder. Hell we don’t even dress better. Everyone that dresses well nowadays looks like someone that came before. I am of the belief that everything great already happened. But we’re just too egomaniacal to admit it and we think we’re “evolving”…no we’re not. Everything I say, someone’s already probably thought. The music I make, I steal. The styles I love, I steal. The stories I write, are just other’s experiences I’ve adapted. And everything on this planet is so universal. Everyone knows what a smile means. Or cocking your head questioningly to the side…but we’re all to good to be thieves. Right? You were the first. Right? Just a bunch of Columbuses “discovering” America…I think if we all just admitted we were thieves, it would free us up and in turn make us more creative. I’ve sat down with a blatant goal of writing a song like Bob Dylan. Or Sam Cooke. And you know what? It’s never worked. Cuz I’m not them. But what I’ve come up with is something neither of them have ever written. And that’s good enough. If you repeat someone’s words, it’s still going to be in your own voice. That’s why everyone sounds/looks/thinks alike nowadays. Because no one’s using their own voice. Everyone’s afraid to. So they’re all just a bunch of corpse impersonators. It’s just as entertaining as it sounds.

So lets all be thieves. I mean, we could read 5 books a day and listen to 100 records a week. Watch 300 films a year and travel the world looking at every painting/sculpture that’s ever been created. And we’d still die without an original thought in our head. But it’s all about mixing colors. If your favorite artist uses red exclusively and you decide to do the same, well your source is obvious and your execution not very imaginative. But if you have two favorite artists and one uses red while the other uses white, and you copy them both, your art will have hints of each but be in a completely different hue.

I’m too big a fan of art to look down upon stealing it. If you don’t consume, you can’t create. Every teacher was once a student…nothing wrong with it so long as you respect where you came from. And god that ol’ gray and crackle moves me every time.