Erica Caines’ “All In Love Is Fair” :: A Critique Of Sorts

Erica Ryan Caines


Words reside in my spirit, entangle my mind and captivate my imagination…I live for words. I live through words.

 


 

Every now and again a body of work comes across the Desk of Asylum that reminds me of those written works that initially sparked my own word wielding. What I liked most about this particular bit of inspiration is that it dealt with love. And yes, romantic love, eros. And I think the brilliance of Ms. Caines’ work is that she embodies it in such a fashion as it does not feel overly saturated and oozing with awkward sentiment. It does not read like a book of poems about a love I have never felt. The words reflect a love and an infatuation with a person like the ones I have felt. For that reason Erica’s writing stands out.

 

I do not want to cover every piece in her 71 paged book, you should do that for yourself! However, I do wish to highlight three of her poems. The book is divided into three sections of work. The first section is entitled,”Amor Incipit”, and here are the words of one the pieces from that section that stand out to me:

 

Erica Ryan Caines


A hidden interest only shared with the stale pages of a
long kept notebook
Desires I can’t ever seem to be able to overlook
My pen knows my thoughts all too well
Gossipping on yellow tinted pages, anxious to tell.

 

Details about the makings of you.
Your structured suits and silk ties in vast shades of
blue.
Your eyes; the clearest shade of brown

 

How my world seems to stop motion whenever you
come around
My pen and I tell those pages things we wouldn’t dare
share with anyone else
Those surreptitious moments I try to keep to myself.
Like the bit of joy I get from our everyday exchanges
and smile
Followed by a silent prayer for you to stay awhile
I could never let you know any of this, you see
So instead, this is a well kept secret between myself, my
pen and my diary

 


 

I enjoyed the wording here. Mainly the line,”the clearest shade of brown.” As a Black man, it is one of those details you don’t get to read often. Not too many people in my life have described my eyes as having a clear anything!!! I also was moved to draw a line under the words,”Gossiping on yellow tinted pages…”, which for me was just a great usage of framing in a space more prone to sentimental musings. I have never read or heard anyone considering their private writings in books dedicated to private writings as “gossiping”. But the notion is not lost on me either! It is a rich detail that I have grown fond of while reading Erica’s work.

 

Erica Ryan Caines


At the edge of a cliff staring at what’s awaiting not
scared of the results terrified of the journey vowing to
wait for me vowing to stay with me
I trust in your word.
A true feat.
I leap…
I fly against the breeze Arms stretched out, free-falling
Fear escapes me
Thoughts surround me Wondering if at this very
moment
I feel what you feel.
Vowing to wait for me
Vowing to stay with me
I take comfort in your words
A true feat.
Finally
Only you, I agree to fall for No longer suspended in air
Suspended in this moment
No more anxiety
Safe…within love

 


 

Found in the second section of her book, entitled, “FreeFall,” is one of those poems I enjoyed due to the topic it dealt with and the manner in which it was dealt. In much of the poetry I have been exposed to, the issue of love, especially romantic love is such a binary. Here is a piece that deals with the middle ground, that flux, the initial stages of being vulnerable enough to let go. It is aptly titled by the metaphor and imagery of a free-fall. The risks of sacrificing one’s emotional space are depicted as the edge of a cliff, or at least that which one might meet staring down, anyway! And it resonates. I enjoy her logic here. The idea that love, yes, romantic love, can also be a choice. The poem’s clear statement through the vivid images is that the speaker is making a dedicated and conscious choice to trust someone(“I trust in your word”) and to release themselves, so to speak, into that trust. Which as the phrase “fall in love” is typically used to state the opposite. Normally, the idea of “falling in love” is this unconscious and overly emotional sentiment; yet, Erica invites us to view it as a choice, still a leap and “a true feat”, but a choice, nonetheless.

 

Erica Ryan Caines


He tried to be something he wasn’t
I tried to be something he wanted
Entrapped in lust,
Disheveled by love.
Love, such an awkward multifaceted term
A magic fix, something earned
Battered by the effort
Hypnotized by the comfort
Strangers dressed up as lovers
Raw emotion surfaces under covers
Passions streaming towards each other
Drawn to each other
Magnetic forces camouflaged as fate
A straining hardship to keep the faith
Nothing more than a lie…

 


 

In the last and final section of Erica’s “All In Love Is Fair”, “Amor Desinit”,she escorts us through the finality of a relationship, the bitterness, and the more than philosophical ruminations of exactly what “love” in its romantic notions–and possibly the romance itself– should be or might be. One of my favorite pieces in this section(I actually had a hard time picking one from this section–go figure), is entitled,”Fabrication”. In it, Erica’s opening lines work their way like a sharp glass clawing through my mental membranes.

 

“He tried to be something he wasn’t/I tried to be something he wanted”

 

It is a haunting depiction of a romantic entanglement, but like much of her writing in this book, it is aided by the comfort of resonance. The idea that I am attempting to stress about her work is just how blatant the economy of it is. After reading that first line, I wanted to say,”ouch” for the brother! No overly dramatic metaphor was needed there. Just an acute, candid, and well phrased insight. Her vulnerability is extended through this one as she admits to a romance based more on physical compatibility than that “awkward multifaceted term”. The title of the poem is given its double entendre quality by the expression,”Raw emotion surfaces under covers”. Fabric-ation indeed.

 

Erica Caine’s “Love” is not the fantasy romance poetry. It is not quasars and lofty metaphors built on space ships. It is the real thought process coded in the verbal economy of poetry of a Black Woman intentionally inviting a Black Man into her exclusive and protected emotional space. Even as a budding poet, this being her first collection of poetry to meet print, I still was put in the mind of Lucille Clifton while reading her work. Erica Caine is a witty, edgy, honest, and serious poet. I have thoroughly enjoy interacting with her words in this collection.

Are Midwest Black Men Better At Relationships Than Mid-Atlantic Ones?

Not always sure how to articulate my feelings regarding topics that can either tickle an eureka response, or become the reason for yet another sixty-six blocks to the Owl’s Asylum Twitter account. Considering that particular hesitance and the dire need to qualify each statement in this modern age’s art of political correctness, the task of writing about Afkan (Afrikan-Amerikkkan) male and female (can I write ‘female’ there and not be written off before execution?) relationships can be daunting. As a disclaimer, I can only write from my perspective. My perspective should be defined as my experiences, my observations, my analysis, and my opinion. The key word there in case you missed the oh so awkward use of repetition is ‘my’. Carrying on…

 

Relationships of complete organic design can be filled with surplus tensions that cause the bond to become brittle. Western psychology and Freud’s specific thoughts on incest aside, even mother and son relationships can be tumultuous. This is not to compare that naturally configured coupling to the romantic sort, yet it is to say, it takes work at some point to keep people operating together. People meet with one set of concerns and desires, and later on evolve or devolve with new considerations and motivations. Relationships take work.

 

If I might beg your pardon for one important digression.

 

Continue reading “Are Midwest Black Men Better At Relationships Than Mid-Atlantic Ones?”

How to Teach Your Daughter Not to be a damn Sucker to Men

This is a post from our Asylum contributor, Charming Jerk. You can follow him here on Twitter.

 

    It’s easy for a baby girl to turn a grown man into the most nurturing creature ever known, right behind a woman, whenever it lies within its father’s embrace.

 

    A man is supposed to equip their child with the most appropriate tools to carry them from childhood until the depths of adulthood. Normally, when you think of the above statement, one may think about the perspective of a farther vs. a son. However, what if the son is actually a daughter?

Father and Daughter

Daddy’s Little Girl. Everyone knows the saying. With that commonly heard phrase comes so many trials and tribulations, the one triumph that a father could only ask for would be: Raising a daughter who isn’t a sucker to any man.

It starts from the very beginning

A father (well at least a man who upholds his part of the obligations between a father and his daughter) wants his baby girl to understand that he will always be there for her. Although, he cannot either physically or mentally be therefor her, he desperately attempts to at least compensate in every area that he can.

    As time progresses, baby girl will have her share of disappointments. She will have her moments where she’d prefer not to be in the presence of her father or prefer for him not to be in her presence. With that in mind, understand that ANY GIVEN SITUATION can arise. Along that infinite list of possibilities, one possibility lurks in the darkness of the unfathomable: Your daughter doing the unthinkable for men.

Fast Forward to This Very Moment

    Although I am not qualified to speak from the perspective of a man who has a daughter, since

A ) I don’t have a daughter

2 ) I don’t have any children

&

Furthermore, ALL OF THE ABOVE,

I do possess the ingenuity and audacity to tackle that thought, topic, discussion, and reality.

    In my humblest of opinions, I recognize the issue(s) that women juggle, as well as women in training; baby girls. From dealing with an abundant amount of women throughout my 20s, college years, and some of my high school years, I’ve encountered a variety of different personality types. Underneath these accumulated experiences dwelled an inner child that yearned for her father to be what he was designed to be… a father.

    Also, I’ve been a counselor, teacher, male figure, black male figure, big brother figure, as well as a father figure to hundreds of young girls during my days as an adult. Looking into the eyes of those youthful wonders allowed me to participate in the cultivation of intelligent, classy, graceful, fearless, talented, young girls. Although, I’ve worked with the same ratio of young boys, there is a certain distinction that must be acknowledged and practiced with dealing with the separate genders.

Here are my key ingredients on How to Teach Your DaughterNot to be a damn Sucker to Men:

  1. Be honest with your daughter.

Nobody likes a liar, including women. When a father lies to his daughter and she KNOWS that he lied to her, all of her feelings are crushed at that moment. MEANING: Any other male is able to fill that void at the moment.

  1. Discipline your daughter.

Although it may hurt you to hurt your daughter’s feelings, it is better to teach her now than to have her be taught later. MEANING: If you don’t instruct your daughter on the ways of men, she will depend on another man to expose her to these ways.

  1. Love your daughter.

All children need love. However, the love a father provides to a daughter has its own unique function. A mother can only teach a daughter so much. It took a man to help create her; it takes a man to help raise her. MEANING: If there is an inadequate amount of love, she will search for it, inevitably, in the wrong places.

  1. Respect your daughter’s privacy.

Everyone is entitled to some privacy. Although it may depend on how one decides to define the word “privacy”, it is safe to conclude that we all have a degree of right to our own of privacy. MEANING: If she is taught that her privacy can be invaded, she could end up allowing it to continue to be invaded.

  1. Communicate with your daughter.

Women love to tell you how they feel. Even when not saying anything, they are showing you how they feel. If you don’t communicate with your daughter, you could miss vital information that could save your daughter. A lot of men tend to leave the communication to the mother. They tell the mother what they think and expect the daughter to learn that way, in fear of offending their precious baby girl. Or, they could be silent, abusive, absent, or any other negative form of communication, with their daughter, that leads to her reacting in a not so appreciative manner. MEANING: If you don’t talk to your daughter, somebody else will. However, what they may be communicating to her could be the most dreaded thing you could ever imagine for her.

 

Let’s be realistic

There is no possible way that I could ever break it down to “Five Simple Rules” to guarantee that your daughter won’t end up on the list of some immature, too smart for their own good, misguided, sex-crazed man’s list of conquests. There are a multitude of variables that have to be taken into consideration and there are many other parts of the formula that may have been ignorantly left out. However, my point is not to break it down to the minutest of particles, my mission was to raise the conversation. If we, I’m speaking to all the men, aren’t there for our daughters, we allow the percentage of unforgiving acts of deprived women to skyrocket. I am merely attempting to establish some grounds to regain balance.

In conclusion, I leave you with these words: Fathers, be a Man & Men, be a Father. Do what’s right. Take responsibility and do what is commanded of you from the echoes of eternity, help raise our girls into women. Nothing more, Nothing less.

 

    

My Response To Porgy and Bess On Broadway(2012)

Editor’s note: Before we delve into this piece, would like to take the time to thank Nikki for such an eventful weekend in New York City. Asylum will always be indebted and I’m sure I would have never been exposed to much of what I have been if it had not been for your extended loyalty and commitment to our family.

 

 

An understanding must always be undertaken when discussing figures of history: I’m discussing what has happened and was recorded of a person. Often, in Afkan discussion, we mistake what we have heard of a person from source 1082 and not what we may have actually witnessed for our Selves or known of someone from primary accounting methods. I never met Dubose Heyward, I may have liked him. I never knew Malcolm X, may have disliked him. So, in my efforts to write critiques regarding historical figures, I attempt to be objective for the sake of my ignorance, and subjective with regard to my complete knowledge of Self. That is not saying I have complete knowledge of Self, for my Self is a dynamic, subject to change; I am, however, referring to those elements that have remained core components that I can be sure of in as much as I’m sure the Sun will remain in a fixed enough position for the Earth to round about its axis.

 

A part of this Self, I speak of and know of is my need to bond with those of my Afkan heritage. The romantic element of any nation, tribe, religion, any grouping of humans, is exactly that which that unit’s cohesive agent is. We are all bound by emotional strands, physical ecological realities, or we are not at the same time. Logic allows for a cold, or objectifying treatment of life, yet it doesn’t remove the fact that all of life is living and that all of the living are dependent or interconnected in some way. It is the romantic ideology that compels the will to act in a manner suitable for sacrifice and commitments that cold logic cannot always clone. The cowardly can be logical; the cowardly cannot always be faithful to the trust of those that need them to be in the face of ominous circumstance. When the braves of a people are limited and must resort to the employ of cowards to do that which even the brave flounder, it takes an emotional appeal that extends into the imagination, not the analytic recesses. In this regard, it is always necessary to know what every imagination, what every creation, and thus what every artist and creator, has in their mind and what is the response to these creations on the collective mind. It must be remembered that the phrase “Uncle Tom” originated not in the sphere of objective reality, but in the imaginations of a White woman for a white male audience. Yet, how often do we hear White males using the phrase colloquially? How often do we hear or read Afkan peoples using it?

 

Now, in mentioning all of that, what are you preparing us for, eh? I don’t mind White writers writing whatever they choose; I just don’t wish to allow it to pass without a critical eye for symbols and messages that are born of the taints of White privilege born of European global domination that allows Whites to continuously feel comfortable crafting pieces about Afkan of all eras and periods. Media images have defined movements and cultural behaviors since the written word appeared, and it should be the effort of any Black(Afkan) media analyst to regard all works composed by other than Afkan about Afkan to be held as propaganda that could spark mass gas chambers to be filled. If I am to be applauded for critiquing the works of Tyler Perry or even Aaron McGruder, I shall not be of the type of rat’s bastard spawn, filled with insecurity of my own culture and skin, that I can’t critically assess those that helped to forge the stereotypes and shallow witticisms that plague the works of the aforementioned.

 

 

I tend to hold this view especially when applying my sword and monocle to period pieces. Especially period pieces written by Southern Whites born during the late 1800s (any hundreds really, but those really get the McNulty treatment). Such a piece is Dubose Heyward’s Porgy, which is the book that became the play that became the operetta, that became the wonderful and entertaining Broadway production my sister from another sex act entirely treated me and Brie to the past weekend. The production of the Broadway performance was superb in execution. David Alan Grier’s “Sportin’ Life” was vivid and captured the essence of the trickster beyond even the work it Self through his use of obvious stage contraptions that were not actual props(i.e., his constant leaning on stage scaffolding, a device that lesser skilled talents might abuse to the detriment of a convincing performance). The colorful clothing arrangements complemented the rich vocal assortment, which, like that blending of cast costumes, cascaded in a harmonizing that captured you from the opening act to the last. It truly was an event to behold. An experience worthy of all that vibratory magnetism that surrounds much of Broadway, and those works which come to represent it in real time.

 

Porgy and Bess, the Broadway musical, is the story of a crap game gone bad when a local drunken dope fiend, Crown, loses and kills the fader, Robbins. Without telling too much of the plot, although you should expect spoilers, Porgy, a crippled beggar gives the drunken dope fiend’s lady, Bess, a place to hide after she turns down the offers of the local dope dealer, “Sportin’ Life”. And although the production is awfully compelling, I couldn’t resist the urges of my analytic process when watching a musical rendition of a crap game of Afkan gentle folks acted in front of me in a sea of predominantly White ticket buyers. I immediately thought of Ice Cube’s “What They Hittin’ Foe?”(Amerikkka’s Most Wanted(1991)) and other Hip hop mentionables that have often gone under fire by the same class of Afkan that will most likely be defending the White Heyward and Jewish Gershwin. As an Afkan (Black) media analyst, it is has become an almost impossible task for me not to question the motives of why a particular cultural artifact, whether well meaning or not, actual or just practical for storytelling purposes, was used. This is especially the case for productions with cultural Afkan overtones and predominantly Afkan casts. I have a right to question anyone outside of the Afkan experience, I don’t care if your mother sucked fifty Afkan penises in the back of her father’s car while she grew up in an Afkan neighborhood; all Afkan can’t tell the Afkan story, why should it be so easy for those other than Afkan to do it?

 

 

It often needs to be thought about, who trained Afkan film writers, other Afkan film writers, or other than Afkan film writers? Was it not other than Afkan peoples that had their hands on the development of film first? Did the Afkan somehow fund a movie production to teach other than Afkan people how to write for film and film going audiences before other than Afkan people wrote for film and all other than Afkan audiences? Have I somehow confused you here? Do you need to read this all over? Please, I’ll wait right here…

 

Where did the mammy caricature originate? Although the depiction of women of an imaginary small Gullah village named, Catfish Row — symbolized in the Broadway performance by nine (my numerologists readers should have a field day with this play given its use of complete and incomplete notions {the play starts with a child’s birth} used throughout the scripting) planks of wood holding up the wooden set where the thespians performed– these women are very much styled as the mammy. In fact, all of the Afkan women in the play would easily fit into that type with the exception of Bess, played by a very alluring and just damn fine Audra McDonald, whose type is the whore, the loose and easily accessible licentious dark woman, or Jezebel/Sapphire, a caricature often associated with Afkan women. The male characters, although slightly more robust, still capture elements of the slave narratives as sold to European American audiences. We have the Buck exemplified by the drunken Crown. This savage rapist image that allowed for Ku Klux Klan memberships to swell, oh wait, that could have possibly allowed(yes, I’m moving my right hand closed around an open circular space in a jerking up and down motion), after the release of D.W. Griffith’s ‘Birth of a Nation’. Although the trickster image appears heavily in Gullah and Yoruba lore, in the character of Sportin’ Life it takes on the elements of “slickster”, not buffoonish in any manner, but the sophisticated fast talking caricature spoken of in J.A. Rodger’s “From Superman to Man”.

 

 

I do not in any right feel the need to be “fair” to a writer’s work who has direct descendants that not only owned slaves but apparently lived pretty well-off because of them, so I’ll write this out rightly, the women are shown as the unifying force of the story, very much like the mammy caricature is shown as the leader of the Afkan people. Whether objective reality supports this or not, and whether I support this or not, this is the continued message throughout the piece. We see a much respected Porgy being chastised by the women who will not give him his cane as a means of keeping him immobile to convince him towards their thinking. It is also the women that alienate Bess and instruct her not to seek Porgy for a rest haven. It is also the women that embrace her and invite her to the community picnic held on the island where she is left to be raped by Crown (a rape scene on the stage was very impacting given the level of groping by the actor Phillip Boykin). I was happy to see a media production where an Afkan man is seeking to not only commit to an Afkan woman, but also to defend her, sure. I’m also pleased to have seen a performance whereby a group of Afkan women that are married to Afkan men come together to defend an Afkan man. I’m also pleased to point out a production that points to the historical reality of the Gullah. I do believe I’ve been kind enough to this child of Afkan slave torturers.

 

It should noted here that Heyward wrote Porgy based on an actual Afkan that was considered to be a criminal. As an informally trained White writer whose family had fallen from grace after the Emancipation Proclamation and subsequent fall of the South, Heyward had been persuaded to write a piece about Afkans that would allow him to compete with the more sophisticate White writers in the community of writers that he belonged to. As stated before, I probably would have really liked this guy. But, I have to ask, if Heyward were an Afkan understanding how powerful imagery works in writing as well as how imagery transcends cultures, would he have gone with an Afkan story of a criminal and whore? It is a compelling story. Porgy and Bess is much more intricate than its critics have allowed it, and much more complex than Gershwin’s adaptation, replete with inconsistency after inconsistency, frames it. I do agree with Langston Hughes, Heyward was able to do what most of his White counterparts crafting the Afkan experience elegantly and poignantly. However, I still must wonder if he were forced by conscientious responsibility to pick a storyline, would it have been that of a crippled beggar forced to defend an Afkan drug addict from her murderous and rapist lover? Porgy, and its variation, Porgy and Bess, is an ugly tale. It is a very dark piece. Heyward’s ethnicity and his family’s background only makes the piece more dark for me.

 

Certain questions ought to be raised. Why is it when an Afkan portrays Afkan women as needy, drug addicted, and weaker than enamel dentures soaking in lemon juice, they are attacked for being born Tyler Perry? Yet, those descriptions were written with Porgy and Bess in mind. Has it become a part of our culture that only White Jewish males are allowed to go unquestioned with depictions of Afkan (Afrikan Amerikkkan) women in roles stereotypical or demeaning? Had Tyler Perry been the director of “Color Purple” instead of Steven Spielberg, would we have demanded the lynching party we usually rally together behind films that display women in no different manner than the Jewish film maker? We laugh when White women attempt to exhibit our styles, yet we let a White Jewish man tell us how our “Girlfriends” should act?

 

I don’t mind anyone doing whatever with media. I do have a problem when I can’t ask questions in the same country “Birth of a Nation” and “Colors” were filmed. I know what impact images can have on the lives of individuals and thus communities. Afkan pretend to endure for the sake of artistic value, and yet, the Anti-Defamation League would have their balls deep down Tyler Perry’s esophagus if he crossed the same lines we allow his Jewish counterparts to cross since the early 1900s in media. I am appreciative of classic works such as Porgy and Bess. I thought the imagery of an Afkan community coming together against White terrorism in the form of brutal and draconian police detectives was refreshing. But White Jewish liberals have always had a soft spot when it comes to violence in their exploitation; ask an NAACP member. However, I would ask anyone reading this to consider whatever facts and accurate insights or perspectives I provide with this piece.

 

I also don’t have any extra fucks to give with those that might label me filiopietistic here. As known, I am an Afkan loyalist and my works aren’t of the academic type constructed by intellectual cowards hiding behind objectivity for the sake of grants, loans, tenure, or appearances on some news anchor or political pundit’s couch positioned just so precisely for camera purposes. Excuse my existentialism, but every human is at war, and every collective formed due to warlike circumstances either of environment, animal, or other human collectives. Good writers don’t toss words on pages and make classic literature no matter how much Western theories of evolution might suggest such goofy notions. A lot of thought goes into a masterpiece, and a lot of impact occurs with collected thought. My job is to ask the questions that you don’t when thinkers hope you aren’t.

 

As always, thanks for reading this…

Asylum Rising: Aluta Continua…

“A culture can be likened to a quilt of intricate geometrical design in which all the many colored pieces, their shapes and stitches flow into one another, constitute the whole. This analogy is apt for yet a second reason. Often, the design on the upper side of the quilt is different from the undersurface pattern. Still, the undersurface design is essential for the outward surface appearance.” – Dr. Francis Cress Welsing, The Isis Papers(pg. 53)

 

The concern with simulated social environments is that practice over a digital medium is not exactly practice within an organic one. The major point of technology for Blacks shouldn’t be in attempting to be experts in doing that which they can do offline, but doing that which is being done by others that Afkans (Afrikan Amerikkkans) aren’t doing or can’t do in other spaces. I don’t very much need to watch Afkans stepping if I can walk around to the nearest pub or club and get lessons from a live source that will fundamentally be a better teacher. The mastery of technology for the sake of mastery over that technology should be the focus; not the further separation of humanity from humanity by means of technologically assisted socialcide. Even with my extreme affection for the technologically addictive, my world couldn’t function properly without offline interactions…

 

I suppose every now and again a thought crosses my mind…

The taste of a bitter wind passing through a blanket stapled over a window,

… the cringe of nerves as a police car passes mine from the rear;

… a sense of the obscure as thoughts of meals and places to sleep are left unanswered as the day passes.

How fast things can change when you place customs and conformity to the side for considerations of the faith based. No, I’m still Mr. ‘Tell Your God To Cough HIV Infected Organisms’, but a sense of the surreal and spiritual encompasses my life in such a way that I can’t deny the presence of a belief of loftier concerns than those attended by lesser minds. I lost my religion and converted to the faith of Black Man and Woman romantic relationships. I lost my religion and converted to the faith of human interaction beyond a screen. I did something remarkable with my hypocrisy last week: I actually acted on something I wrote about. I put my paranoia away and gave Love another shot at healing my wounds.

 

I didn’t realize how destructive my diet of sub sandwiches and chips had become over the last few months…

Or how much one can miss food when they haven’t been eating properly…

I can feel the chemistry of my body altering…

…the restoration of my Taqwa…

 

I know what the naysaying observers of those that live and embrace living will say. I’m not very much affected by the rumblings of the crowd when they boo my team as we grace the planet with our actions. When I find my Self at a loss for a word, I may scroll my Twitter screen up and down like one might twiddle their thumbs. It is fun to watch how fast empty words can become a blur at the flick of my thumb. As nothing is perfect in the eyes of a perfect being taught to swear by its imperfection, I do applaud my defense, and maintain a certain lock and key on the interactions of Owl and Brie. I’ve learned how to dance to the tempo of envious nights spent watering one’s soul with bitter updates and phone calls that leave ears aflame.

“So these powers realize that they’ve been pushed against the wall during recent years and the only weapon that they have against this force that has been pushing them against the wall is divide and conquer – the tactic that they’ve always used. So that, if I may finish, so that every area where you find people who have been colonized and oppressed today striving toward freedom, you find that whereas in the past they got along, today they’re fighting each other.” – Malcolm X, Bernice Bass interview December 27, 1964

Trauma: A deeply distressing experience. Emotional shock following a stressful event. From Greek, literally ‘wound’.

 

I sought reprieve from various corners and crooks. A fathom of imagination, a mistaken identity, an attempt to hold smoke formed in a bong…the elusive fumbles of a man not quite assured of what it is I sought exactly. The opaque yelling through the esophagus of a man buried in the caverns of his own mind can indeed by answered. I stand by the belief that a vibration is sent from the soul of hopes raped by insensitive liars in superhero attire to the outer realms of objective hopes inspired and actively engaged. Somewhere in a seedy coffee shop on St. Louis’ central west end, a poet saved my life.

 

I’ve thought a lot about the story, Owl’s Asylum. How do we tell it from here? How dark is my dark brown paint these days? How much brighter are my golden yellows? I’m not exactly sure how much darker I want the rest of the pages of Asylum to be. As we nurse Asylum back to health, I can see her smiling more. We’ve got many more authors to showcase, realities to expose, and Afkans to embrace. I’ve still got 99 million problems…but being without a home ain’t one.

 

“Functionally speaking, for the victims of white supremacy, this means to act in a s self/group-respecting and supporting manner in all areas of people activity, despite the specific conditions of racist domination and oppression. Submission to and cooperation with victimization and oppression are signs of individual or group mental illness or self-negation.” — Dr. Francis Cress Welsing, ibid.

 

When have any of our plans ever actually worked? We plan, we get there, all hell breaks loose!” — Harry Potter in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, part 2(2011)

A Black Love Post…

From earlier this morning into the late afternoon, I’ve been in several discussions about relationships and more specifically marriage. I attempted to tackle this subject directly in another post at the behest of the Asylum Board of Directors. After some reflection, discussion and reading, I feel more prepared to further build on my observations.

Those of The Asylum already know the usual disclaimer when I address topics like this…I’m not a relationship guru, I believe you have to have a degree from the Kings of Comedy school of love to get that title….

It is always good to step outside of the discussion and deal with the asili, the root ideology of the cultural practice. We live in a patriarchal country. A capitalist, or corporatist patriarchy at that. This means that materialism will be high, and male dominance even higher. Couple in the factor of white male dominance in this particular era and you have a cultural influence that states that strength is male, white, violent or financially oppressive. No where in this equation have I used the term “love”.

White male dominance doesn’t contribute to the affectionate nature of people. The oppressive force of western imperialism speaks to the violent nature of people and objectifies us to the degree that we identify ourselves by our job titles, the cars we drive, the neighborhoods we live in, or the clothing we wear. The man who kills for a living gets medals of honor, while the woman that creates life is shamed if she isn’t legally attached to a man. In a psycho-social environ such as this, it is expected that marriage will be less about the feelings of affection, nurture, and spiritual bonding in the minds of males being marginalized in this economic warfare. In fact, a simple look at what was considered a love song written for a male singer to sing in the 1970s compared to one in 2010 will reveal much about the growing objectifying force of western thought on the black peoples born in the USA. It has gone from “love song” to a “slow song”.

Poetry and music, which are usually associated with the concept of loving and expressions of affection, have taken a cynical view of black love. The embrace of terms such as “captain-save-hoe”, “trick”, and other terms that conceptualize men that show monetary concern for women objectified as the lower, the “eve” displacement, as being worthy of scorn and derision is a reflection of the warfare of economic patriarchy. This scorn and derision is not limited to locker room banter or the insular world of male bonding. It seeps off the tongues of women who are socialized to view mating as a game of being selected by the male with the most pretty feathers. In the same manner that males are socialized to compartmentalize women based on their sexual promiscuity and the degree of their sexual willingness, females follow the lead of the males and regard males who are loose with their generosity as weak.

Co-modification of the female form, especially in forms of media geared for urban black audiences, has created a market for women like Karin Steffans, Kat Stacks, and Nikki Minaj. Not to disparage the behaviors or actions of the aforementioned, let’s be honest, they have done nothing more than address the economic advantage of women who allow themselves to be objectified by a masculinity trained to “make it rain” for naked and gyrating female forms. The contradictions are so obvious, at times I have to make sure I’m simply just transcribing my observations, and not a victim of illogical thought. You are a “captain save a hoe” if you treat a woman you are interested in building a relationship with to a dinner, but you are the “man” if you toss that same money at a naked woman hypnotizing you with dances and sexual innuendo. It is not surprising to me that in a country where men marry “trophy wives” for the sake of status display, that black women feel the need to dress in the most scantily clad fashions. If you got the figure why not show it off, right, ladies? Yeah, some attention ain’t worth the trouble.

So, we are discussing relationships and marriage in a country where sex is constantly used to sell us our day to day products. A country where men are expected to be the provider for women, yet in some communities viewed as less than a man for…providing for a woman. A country where men are bombarded with the female form in all of its bare assed glory, trained to regard the man who sleeps with the most women that other men wish to sleep with as the ideal, and yet looks upon any woman that does the same as lacking moral fiber. The same country where those same men will spend their whole earnings on a woman that they consider as lacking moral fiber, but deem it less than prudent to date a woman with children because of financial concerns. The country where some women define a “good man” as one that can be a willing provider, wait until they are older to “settle” down, and then complain that all the “good men” are taken. A country where masculinity is often nothing more than the ability to be violent and uncouth, according to most standards, and we wonder why the domestic violence rates are as high as they are.

I don’t know if my logic is going to allow me to deal with relationships in this country. The elements that govern this country’s culture are some of the most unconducive for a relationship to thrive in. What are the divorce rates in the US versus that of the rest of the world? Which means that it is going to be even worse for those that are economically and militarily(I consider the police the local military) oppressed. I’m not at all alarmed by the women I read and hear making statements that love doesn’t exist. Look at who you are loving! Look at who you are passing up love from! I’m not the least bit awestruck by the degree of insecurity and commitment phobias expressed by men. You spend your earlier years spending all your money, time, and energy seeking the women you can have sex with the least degree of serious intent to forge even a casual relationship with, the women that look the most like the ones being force fed down your visual esophagus dressed in the latest form fitting fashions, and then one day decide to “settle” down, and now you are concerned about who your fiancee has done that “one thing” with before she met you! You spend your early years of independence(and thus learning) in the pursuit of the exact opposite of what you deem as ideal, and wonder why the ideal always seems so tarnished when you find yourself with it.

Oppression will make ant shit look like an obese elephant’s dookie.

The most common solution for problems facing the black community to emulate or simply imitate the white community. When the impoverished forms of behaviors that descend from an oppressive patriarchy visit the community, we wonder why. I’ve heard and read that black males must organize themselves for protecting the black community in the same manner as the white male, since we are in a patriarchy. Understandable assertion. However, do you think white militias started off as well developed world wide military forces? What do you think those gangs derived from? A well formed quasi-military(by national standards) group. What do you think a war zone looks like? Haven’t been following the news stories coming out of Chicago, LA, and most urban outlets? What does all this have to do with love, right?

The white model of behavior, as most patriarchies will have to be, is the epitome of hyper masculinity. Every form of this model gets emulated by the black community, from the mannerisms defined as “professional” to the rules that govern our forming relationships, and yet, the major element of love for Black woman doesn’t get modeled. As a person that does a lot of reading of tutorials, I realize that if an element is missing from my tool box that is necessary to mimic a particular model, I have to improvise. It seems as though the improvisation in the instance of blacks modeling the white structure is for Blacks to put white women or white men on the same pedestal that white people are allowed to place themselves on. When we look at the love stories of the white community, even the ones where a Latino woman is playing the part of a white women, there seems to be a major element lacking from our obvious attempts to replicate in the black community that which is in the white one. The high regard of one another.

Beyond the objectification that comes with seeing women as damsels in distress, there is a large degree of misogyny in the black community. It has run rampant through our media for the last four decades. Who could ever produce a movie where a Black woman as a prostitute would be embraced by a Black male millionaire, have the Black millionaire fall in love with the Black prostitute, and live happily ever after…no sequel? And although I enjoy films that display black love, I sense a familiar pattern. I agree with Aaron McGruder’s comical assessment that many of Tyler Perry’s movies, the ones that reach a wider audience than his plays, carry this note where the darker Black man is the brute, or the pimp, and woman is swept off her feet and saved by the lighter brother, or latino, or even a white man. Even to the point of killing off the black man.

I sometimes ask myself would Ice Cube’s “Player’s Club” have worked if a darker sister played the role of Diamond…just one of those things that I consider when I reflect on these sorts of discussions. As a media analyst it is very difficult for me to pass up the observation that the main point of conflict in the movie “Love Jones”, one of two of my favorite black theatrical love stories, is that the two main characters involved in the romantic engagement are pressured by their respective friends to say that they were not in love with the other. Although, “Jason’s Lyric” is one of my all time favorite Action/Romance movies, I can’t help but to compare the relationship between Jason and Lyric to that of Alonzo and Marti, and in some ways an even more darker comparison between that of “Mad Dog” and Gloria. Due to the many backdrops and subplots going on in the movie it can be difficult to focus on those three relationships, but I’ll try my best here.

You have a couple that has the typical gentle romantic involvement. The romance between Jason and Lyric is seeped in escapism, which is for the most part the overarching theme of the movie – escaping from the black community. The climactic boat ride, the warshing(it’s an Asylum post…) of the feets(…again…), the slow and deliberate sexual engagement that tends to mark “love making” in our culture is all wrapped in the imaginary role playing, verbally staged in Paris, France, and Jason(“You see me”, worst southern accent imitation in movie history Allen) is Prince Charming. Jason becomes Lyric’s escape. This is also emphasized in the statement by Gloria when she says,”You found quiet in a world full of thunder.” I would like to emphasize the physical traits of Jason and Lyric, but I do feel my colorism can only go so far in one post. However, since I did address the pattern in Perry’s movies, I will admit I noticed the darker brothers fit the role of the brute, as ascribed by white movie makers. You have “Mad Dog”, once the ideal of fatherhood, mentally scarred by his duty in the Vietnam War, who is so brutally drunk that one son wants to murder him, and the other accidentally kills him. I suppose with an all black cast I can’t get away with the old adage that the black person is always the first to get killed here. Alonzo, the other dark brother in the movie(I know, I know…), played by the porn star turned rapper again Treach, is the leader of a gang of bank robbers. Besides that fact that Alonzo and Gloria’s sex scene, staged outside against wall, is more to my liking(don’t judge, everyone has their own expressions of love), I do realize that a contrast is being made here. Possibly a foreshadowing of Treach’s future “acting career”, the scene works to cast a certain light on the relationship between the “hood” guy and his woman who feels that she has to show cleavage, because, “the bigger the tits, the bigger the tip”(I died a little, too). The Buck meets the Sapphire caricatures if you will. Of course, I would be amiss if I didn’t mention how hard it is for me to not sense the writer of the movie casting Lyric as the tragic mulatto. It helps my analysis that even when Jason and Lyric have less than gentle embraces, it is scripted as out of concern, and not so much “to hose” her down.

My media analysis skills to the side for a second. I don’t believe that black people should model themselves after the people that created the system that has oppressed so many. I address our cinematic portrayals of love and not so much so because life has a very weird tendency to imitate art, and of course the not so art.
A peoples attempting model themselves after a group of people that only sell “love” to their middle class economic engine for the purpose of maintaining a social network that will produce more workers tend to regard “love” as for suckers or squares. What is interesting to me is the depth with which capitalism can reach and taint something so effervescent. The co-modification of love has got to be the coldest trick the devil ever pulled.

We’ve become so materialistic that our goals are more important than our evolution, our continuance of the human. Sex is only one of the qualities that we experience with regard to Life’s ever coursing desire to be. We are trained to frown on the emotional aspects of our nature, as if emotion was the reason our ancestors were sold by their elite brethen on those west Afrikan shores all those years ago. As if money didn’t have any part of the reason Black women were used to breed, and now we seek the best business contract to be brought to the table before we consider a birth prudent. We don’t fall in love, we make investments. And I don’t want to belittle the financial aspect of a relationship, because it is a very real consideration. Yet, for a people that produced the likes of Harriet Tubman, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Ida B. Wells, people who “LOVED” black people…for free…it moves me to remember that even finance has a place below love. We like to use phrases like “passion”, “drive”, and “hunger” when it comes to getting money, and yet those terms are frowned upon when we discuss the natural emotional attraction of two people.

It is well regarded in this society to be emotional about money, but it is ill reflected upon when we discuss love. The one thing we lost during slavery, we don’t consider as the reason why we are still in the same position collectively in the hierarchy. The one thing that made US slavery the worst form of slavery in history, the very one thing that gave it new meaning, is that same thing that we are sacrificing everything for. From hip-hop to our own personal individual lives, love has been squandered for money, and we continue to berate those that say they love something other than money more than they seek money. I’m not saying I don’t want to live better, I am saying that I’d rather die for what I love than to die for money. I know what it feels like to go out for a dollar. I don’t have to live by the standards of a system of sick humans wallowing in their apparent sickness. But, I’m supposed to be building on relationships, right?

Yeah, I know…I just did.