Friday, January 25, 2008

Holding racism, patriarchy and our feelings TOGETHER...

Maxjulian said...:
I don't know what I didn't get to from your previous post. What is the question.

I feel like you're telling me that I just need to accept in whole cloth what women, or you say no matter what. Is that correct? I don't know. I'm confused. I feel like I should consider where and how I agree.

Having someone wag their finger in my face and holler: "YOU'RE AN ALCOHOLIC/YOU'RE A PATRIARCH" doesn't seem a very effective strategy to promote self reflection, particularly when one is opening themselves up, trying to remove the shrapnel at the same time. Removing shrapnel from yourelf is hard enough without someone repeating, "you've got shrapnel in your leg, you've got shrapnel in your leg." No, I need help ID'ing the shrapnel, specifically, not restating the obvious. And some awareness that I have removed some of it and am committed to removing all of it.

It probably feels good to the person doing that, but having been a part of a little personal transformation, it seems doomed to failure. But that's just my opinion.

I also grew up in the United States, not Canada, so I didn't experience it through books, or television or visits. I've been a black man all my life - who grew up in the good ole USA of lynching, castration - physical, emotional, spiritual.

So, I know that I have male privilege, male power. And it cuts both ways here in the larger culture. Nigga men are the greatest threat to the white man, thus they have received the full force of his oppressive machinery.

Certainly, I have power over women. I, as a male represent a group that poses the greatest threat to women. Its kind of like the concept of "all white people being racist suspects" from 'TheCode.Net.' I get that.

But after we've been beaten over the head with theory and studies and books and told we are patriarchs, we who need and must change have to be met on a heart level by somebody, don't we? Otherwise, its going back to doing my work on my own which I ain't got a problem with.

I'm looking at the opportunities that I have to exercise patriarchal power; I'm looking at how I've used it in the past; I'm disowning and backing away from it when I recognize it, when I see it in real time. Its not like I don't know that I can be a patriarch - but I'm not married, I'm not in a committed or uncommitted relationship; I'm not a minister, pastor or officeholder. I work from home. I don't know whether I agree that because I have a dick, that I am an unequivocal, practicing patriarch, particularly because I've been working at this for a little while now.

S2, you say I didn't like what was coming out of DD's mouth because she is a woman. I wouldn't have like it coming out of your mouth either.

I know DD is a brilliant person, aren't we all? We are all brilliantly human, growing, with much to learn and I think its important to keep our individual growth up front.

I am moving through and past this moment with DD, but it is a process and that whole encounter will continue to percolate within me. If you can't hear how I feel about that, please let me know and I won't mention it here again.

A part of the messy of this path is that we never get "there;" we get closer, better, stronger, more flexible, but we are never there. Even those with an analysis are weighed down by life, family upbringing, pain, beauty. It is how we negotiate it that is important. I don't want to be a wooden, patriarchal, archetype and have my humanity deleted or reduced.

We have to allow each other our own individual humanity, our unique story or else we're talking behind masks, poses, positions.

One more thing by way of metaphor: One of my favorite quotes is by Sonny Rollins - "It took me years to learn what notes NOT to play." And another by Lee Morgan: "I think a definite style comes with living and experience and travelling until you play what you are, you play yourself on the horn.”

Theory is great, as is technique. But it is the fusion of them with lived experience, wisdom, patience, a little distance that counts for much. Listen to any great artist; they've discarded the youthful exuberance and know how to play the notes that count. We're all learning this; so we should recognize.

So, I look forward to engaging with you where I talk to you about my shit primarily and you do the same, where you can be yourself and I can do the same. But this stuff just had to be as it was. Again, sorry you had to be on the receiving end.

s2 said...:
FS, I hear you.You want me to speak from an emotional place. Well talking about how I used my privilege in Black community was hard for me. I feel hurt when I think about how I've moved through the world. There were things that got in the way of how I could deal with how I was treating women. I was angry.
I still am, to some degree. That's why I need to blog/ talk to you...
I was shut down. I wanted to lash out because of being consistently disempowered by my brother. I think it made matters worse that no one acknowledged my pain.

I'd be crying. ..
and crying...
and crying..
and my dad was like -
Seminalson, what's wrong? You ok?!

"No I'm not fucking OK...
and you know why I'm not fucking ok!
It's been 10 years of fucking terror!

What is your soul made of fucking STONE!?"

no answer.
still no response...


Are you even in there?

You're family is suppose to care, Freeslave.

You're family is suppose to fucking care! YOU'RE FAMILY IS SUPPOSE TO FUCKING CARE!

Freeslave, I'm in pain.
I was seeing a counselor, but I've stopped for too long...

Okay - back to how I treated women:
Now, true - this doesn't excuse my abuse of patriarchal power. All men are patriarchs. If you are born a male on this planet - you're automatically one. But part of me reaching out to you is (and any other men) is to talk about this, share our feelings, thoughts, and do what men are not suppose to do with each other - CARE.

You wrote: "I'm looking at the opportunities that I have to exercise patriarchal power; I'm looking at how I've used it in the past; I'm disowning and backing away from it when I recognize it, when I see it in real time."

Can you expand on this?
You and I exercise patriarchal power just by walking into a room filled with women, and them giving you attention - simply because you are a man. (And let me be clear: I grew up a Black person - as you can see from my picture (!), with the police following me all the time, me not being able to get a cab home, etc. I'm saying this because I want hold the racist experiences I have had, together with the privilege I can wield. I think doing this will keep me from just seeing myself as victim, victim, victim... I'm not saying that is what you are doing. What I am saying is that I want to be friends, and this is one of the ways I think it would be nice to get to know each other.
I also think this work will improve our relationships with other women, and ourselves.
It's all about looking at ourselves.)

I have an experience of trying to have this discussion with other men over the years - which I am going to post about - and they aren't emotionally ready, and back away.
You should know, I feel extremely cautious when it comes to opening up with a man, because I was abused for a long time by my brother. I know you've talked about AA a little with DD, but I would like to hear what you have to say too, Freeslave.
Talk to me. I'll listen.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

S2 responds to Freeslave

Maxjulian said...
I was enjoying the posts with DD as well until we reached point zero. We all need to grow - not just me, men, patriarchs. All of us do. In order to do this kind of work, I have to be around safe people and also teachable people. I need to be around loving, sensitive people.

When I got sober, if people had been coming at me like DD - with a lot of intellectual assertions, without a sensitivity to where I've been, where I'm coming from and what I need - I wouldn't have lasted a day.
Okay, hold on Max. DD not sensitive? Are you reading the posts over at 1tbm? FS, can you please take some time to think, reflect, and think some more b4 commenting more about 1TBM and your exchanges. I like you. You’re smart. When I re-read the conversations, as I’m sure you have – I can see you’ve had a reaction to what she’s said. I know where you are coming from. Your anger and frustration at DD is exactly her point. Her role isn’t to take care of you. That’s what women do. They take care of men. All the time. Come on FS – you know this.
Maxjulian said...Recovery for me was a supportive environment. Most of the people who appealed to my drunk, weren't pushing people to think any particular way. They shared their experience, strength and hope. They encouraged us to use the tools of recovery. But there were no overlords who knew everything, who taught everyone, but who weren't teachable - who appealed to me. That model doesn't work for me, be it man or woman.
You are a smart man. Surely you don’t believe that DD’s comments are hers and hers alone. Like she made Black feminism up. Have I missed something?
Maxjulian said...We typically don't point the finger at folks and indict them as alcoholics. So this process was doomed from the start. What was most disappointing was to open up about myself and have the tenor change to "you are a patriarch, dangerous, etc." It was like this switch: I went from being me, getting butt naked, to being the a choirboy for patriarchy. Everything was you-patriarchy this, you-patriarchy that and I'm like, "I thought I was talking to DD about myself.
Well, what can I say here Julian is: Seminalson? Meet Seminalson.

I know this is hard Julian, but this is exactly why I believe we need each other. Just because we are wounded, and hurt – you know that I am if you’ve read my blog – it doesn’t mean we get away with patriarchal stuff. But, again, this is precisely what I do to DD Max. This is why I see it so well. This is the dangerous part of the work we are doing. We are still patriarchs. >Whether it is said once, 5 times, or a million times, we are patriarchs. Now it is up to us to talk about our emotions, our automatic role in this society as patriarchs and how we can start supporting ourselves and the women around us. And I have a jump-off point, if you’re willing.
Maxjulian said...Little too overthetop cerebral for my little boy's taste. And also, I have issues with the bravado: "you're not going to like me/some people call me a castrator" and then basically trying to live up to those boasts.
Of course you’ve got issue with it, I’ve got issue with what you have in quotes. And that’s because we don’t like hearing those words come out of woman’s mouth. Max, really, the reality for women is that they are second-class citizens in Black community -in the your city and mine, in your state, and in my province; on this continent and world wide. If I were them, I’d be really fucking pissed off too.

This isn’t some theory DD is making up. A long line of women have been doing this work. My mother, a Black feminist herself loves DD. She is 70, a published university scholar and has conversation with DD all the time about these exact same issues. FS, thank god (I’m not religious) you’ve come into my life cause really I am not just talking to you here, I’m talking to myself. You and I need to move past the DD this, and the DD that and start our dialogue. I’m not saying ignore DD. I’m saying that DD is not really the issue. She’s a brilliant person committed to growing and learning. Everyday. I don’t want to fall into a trap where we are communicating like "she said this, and she meant that.." - that’s not useful. If you want clarification on what she’s meant, go to her place and ask her.

Again, let’s start our dialogue.
Maxjulian said...Now, to say that I guess makes me the ultimate patriarch. I felt reduced, in each disagreement, diagnosed, put in a box. And I felt completely unheard by her and I didn't feel a whole lot of heart/emotional stuff coming at me.
I’m a little confused here Julian. The ultimate patriarch? Seems to me, she’s saying we have a lot to work on. And we do. >It’s hard for me to hear, because I pride myself on being super-smart. On being a leader. I can tell you were raised to be entitled to have access a woman’s energy, to be the spotlight. That’s how I was raised.

I was raised Black middle class patriarchal, heterosexual. This means that I was raised with a sense of entitlement to access as much privilege (even as a Black man) as I could. It meant being sent to affluent schools, affluent summer camps, hanging out with affluent white children, going to affluent health clubs, speaking with an accent that sounds Anglo-Canadian, and making noise and complaining if I was denied any access to any of the "privileges" I thought I was "entitled" too. It also meant knowing that I would have access, safe automatic access, to all the Black events, Black women’s spaces where men who were patriarchal would not be welcome; access to sometimes queer events, spoken word nights, and galas – all knowing that my privilege as a middle class, Black, hetero, arrogant, patriarchal – just generally privileged except for my Blackness, would allow me access to nearly everywhere.

And the icing on the cake were having parents who were professionals academics– all markers of significance in Black Community. My father was/is the totally and completely patriarchal – and very, very respected EVEN by feminist. It’s ALMOST LIKE the fact that he could tolerate living in a house with a feminist gives him big points.

But let’s not forget the relationships. My safety pass was also having a Black woman on my arm. Even more points if she was feminist – because I would have the respect of the men (wow! You got that power house! You managed to bring her in line, you must be a real man!) and from the women (for being with a woman with brains) – most important it would mean that people would think that I had politics, and that I knew things and was progressive. But, really at the time, I treated the women as tools for my advancement.

And you know what? The women (straight women) still lusted after me, and who I was. Regardless of what I understood, which wasn’t much. The straight women never really spoke to how I was treating them. They smiled. They may have been angry, but they smiled.

The 2 Black queer women I was seeing at different points back then did however try and speak to me about my actions. They were the only ones who tried to call me on my stuff. They were the only ones who realized that I was doing something wrong.

With them I was extremely dismissive. I ignored their requests to be accountable. I ignored their feelings. I didn’t think they had significant enough value in my quest to "achieve" and "lead", so at the time, I stopped interacting them. Period.

With the straight women, I didn’t think they wouldn’t cause a fuss because had stuff invested in everything in Black community looking a particular way. They hold the community together. The homes, the gatherings, it’s all done by them, or by their mothers. That’s their respect.

So, they said little about my actions and smiled. I didn’t really care. I was arrogant. Anything they might say wouldn’t touch me anyway cause I’m a man. People would just say: well that’s how men are, he’s doing what men do... I didn’t have any problem kicking any of these women to the curb if they weren’t serving my needs.

Basically, if I couldn’t suck from them, gain knowledge, and get "more" they were of no use to me. My needs were paramount and needed to be taken care of.

Well, you used my blog to communicate with DD without really addressing what I said in my original post. I’d love to be mad at you, but I have a bigger issue to deal with. My sanity, building actual friendships that mean something, and being able to look at my children in the face in the next few years. Gotta go pick up Stinkapee again… I’ll write more later...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Julian, of course I want to talk...


Writing with you means a lot to me. The longest relationship I have with a man was my violent brother who now lives on the other side of the planet. It’s been really painful remembering times with him. He was an awful person.

I was enjoying the posts between you and DD. I was happy because she is brilliant, tender, sharp, and intimidating to for most people, but you seemed to be really engaging, sharing ideas and feelings. I was like: Wow … this is exciting!

I was also jealous because I have gotten used to being the one who she connects with. But in truth, I have been intimidated by her and her thoughts, mostly because I choose to allow my programming as a straight male not to allow me to really understand her. I also let my large ego block a lot of my conversations and interactions with her.

I’ve stopped talking to her for a full day (that’s a lot considering we have 2 kids) just for the feelings that come up in me because of her challenging heterosexuality…

Holy shit! Why would I want to defend heterosexuality or mainstream masculinity? It hasn’t protected me, fought for me… none of it…

Freeslave, I struggle with DD constantly around patriarchy. I find it extremely difficult to break from this. I do. I find it almost impossible. I can relate to you being upset with DD. I read your posts and I’m like (to some degree): “That’s me! That’s me!”

I have said things and thought: “DD you just don’t understand me and you expect things to be a certain way – but I want to do it this way.”

I can’t tell you how many times I have demanded DD (very subtly) “Listen to me, or take in information from my perspective as a straight man.” I don’t quite say it like this: “You are now going to listen to me, because I am a straight man.” I don’t have to. It’s assumed because our society was designed for us. It is not accommodating for those who are women or queer.

But you know what I’m realizing?

Our society is also not accommodating to men like us. The sensitive ones (Yes man! We’re sensitive!) DD is an ally, not someone to discard because something has come up for you in the way you guys have been communicating.

So much more coming including why I understand your… and my behaviours…

Gotta go pick up Stinkapee from school!


Monday, January 21, 2008

WHAT MORE IS THERE TO BE SAID: well lots actually - great conversation going on over at 1TBM, right now!

"The white liberal lefty men have been smiling their way through something they would like to call anti-patriarchal male "feminist" work for quite some time. I don't much trust what they're building because they don't have radical enough race analysis as far as I can see. So, I don't really talk to them much. I'm invested in Black men creating something that questions the crap that happens in Black community that reeks of patriarchal relations."

- darkdaughta, 1TBM

I (Seminalson)know that I am going to build relations across all colour lines because that is what it will take to have any movement. But really (Black) men, we have to start talking to each other ABOUT PATRIARCHY - and that might mean crying, and being uncomfortable, and being messy - but we come from (and I'm reminding myself here) a long line of folks who went through pain and discomfort...
... ultimately - if we aren't at least talking/ sharing stories , we aren't moving anywhere. . .

Friday, January 18, 2008

CRYING MEN: OH GOD! He's crying.. he's crying... oh god he's angry - hope he doesn't rob me...

I was over at "Race has nothing to do with you" and saw a piece on masculinity over there. Thanks Chris for posting it and linking me. I'm afraid we only have ourselves to blame in terms of the state of the "men's community" in the world right now." Oh wait - is there a "Men's Community.." - how does that sound?! .. wouldn't want to be seen as gay!?

Jesus Christ.

When are we going to get out of the immaturity and move into living. I'm talking to myself here to guys. I've struggled and enjoyed touch in the men's group - and I'll tell you: the mind blowing experiences were amazingly moving. And I wasn't raised around people who went to "men's groups".

But it is needed. We need so much healing. My little contribution is this little blog.
Below is a quote from a student (he is 17) Chris B. teaches. Speaking about emotion, the student says to Chris:

"No one has ever heard me. I want so bad to grab someone and cry in their face so they can't ignore my tears. But the tears dont come, and if I grab most people, they think I'm going to rob them. Even if they are my friends, that thought still comes to their mind. I see it in their eyes - they fear me when I let go of emotion. And they dont know when I need instead of when I am tr.uly angry."

Click above to read the entire piece - it's 4 paragraphs, then come back.

Two days have passed sense I've been able to come back to this post. I'm racing to write because today has been such a full one. Lots of good things though.

I was standing in the kitchen, having some coconut bakes DD made - really good - and we were talking - and I got to thinking. Men will always be in this place of pain and confusion as long as we hide behind homosexuality as a reason to not look at our emotions and feelings. This is an institutional practice. We are hanging ourselves. I am sorry for that late-teenager, for the man who is in his early 70s, for the little boy in me, for countless men around the globe who are basically walking around, emotionally transient because they will be perceived as gay.

I think this should be broken down (for me too) cause it is really basic, I'm sure - but things always seem even clearer when you write them. I'll be back. I just have to jump in the showerb4 the baby wakes up!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Took a trip with family to Monrovia. Dad revealed.

So, yesterday I found out that my aunt's daughter died. By the sounds of it - it could have been prevented. Her daughter was only 30. But I'm going to leave those details aside for a second because I want to talk about going to my parents home, and the fears I have about this. Or I guess - the realizations I'm coming to in the aftermath of being there.

This morning, I was talking to darkdaughta, and I agreed with her on a major point that is actually giving me some kind of release from the emotional bondage I feel when I think about my folks - specifically - my dad.

You see, last night, him and I had conversation. Nothing too deep, but it was - conversation. And it was for about an hour. It helped that the Shomalian was there. He is just so damn charming and smiley that your heart can't NOT MELT on sight of his gummy grin. Reminds me of Stinkapee. Lovely.

Anyway, in talking to darkdaughta, she suggested a couple of things that are really crucial. First, she remembered asking my mother about how I take in information, and then immediately wipe it from my mind - blank it in fact. My mother affirmed that this was my father to a T!

My dad also wants to do the least amount of work in conversation. He just wants to listen passively and take in info - letting the other person talk, and asking odd questions at strange points in conversation - oh my god! he trained me to be like this! holy shit! hedidn't say: ok, be like this, i just lived with it my whole life.

So, now i'm seeing him as man that has gone thru trauma, and not just as "this moron whose done wrong by me and that I will hate for all eternity". I wasn't getting anything out of that.

Now, i have been to this place b4, knowing my dad has context, and my mother - it's just that now I'm at a breaking point in my real and current life. I'm acting more and more and more like him and the results are rapidly destroying my current relationship with darkdaughta.

So, as odd as it may seem, I'm going to make a list of behaviours I have observed in father Monrovia, and put a y or n beside each one, to say whether or not I actually do these behaviours -or I should say, have taken up this method to deal with my stuff.

Let the fun begin! (laughter of the damned)

1. Not cleaning up and expecting others to clean up after him y
I can't believe I'm actually writing this down, but yes - I do do that. I was talking to my daughter about how important it is to clean up after herself and to not make a mess. DD just looked at me as if to say: how are you going to teach something to someone - when you don't even believe what you are saying. IN typing this, I remember my folks, and them always harping on about something or the other, but not really following their own advice. Often I'd heard: "those (fill in a name) are so out of order.They think they can treat me like that? I'm going to show them" And they would proceed to carry out whatever take care of the 'problem'.
Only thing is, they never took what was going on in the house between us brothers seriously enough to intervene. Really, I know it was because no one could see it, my terror, and no one would believe it, of course, because on the outside, we had a Cosby house. Two professionals, a mid-town house, and a car made in Sweden.
Ok, another revelation, I have walked with much of this knowledge for a long time, and have continued to make the same choices, over and over. Why? Because I'm scared of change. I'm scared of what's next. But I know I have too.

Right now, my partner is on a bit of a strike: meaning that she has given up a bit of the house maintenance because every time she proposes and implements a system (after waiting in vein for me to contribute my thoughts - which I will not) I start to take it apart. I'm in a hurry so I can't possibly put stuff back where I found it, that would be ludicrous. Well, for more, see below...(#2)
2. His work is important. It consists of doing basically the same routine repeatedly over and over again, but he believes it is important y
Yes, that's right. I kinda of do that. I am actually making a choice to do that. I just got out of the car with darkdaughta. I was talking about my feelings. Long time since I've done that. Really, I've felt like my life has been spinning out of control. (For anyone reading this, don't just read it and move on - leave me a message letting me know you've seen it - the connection is nice.)

Anyway, we were talking and I was saying to her that I need some kind of direction in my life. I know what I need to do, so why don't I just do it. I said that most of my movements are really rooted in comparison, and competition. My understanding of how to move in relationships has come from what I observed in my old family home.

So, on a daily basis, I had to make sure I wasn't like my brothers - either one of them. That was my daily routine: not being like them. And that wasn't questioned, it was celebrated. And I know what that's done for me now: it's completely messed with how I understand relationship building. Period. Take for example, my relationships in the past few years. I already talked about my brothers. Then there's my relationship with DD in our first few years. We had tons of arguments, and, lots of me trying to compete with her and - her fiercely trying to get me to actively take part in healthy relationship building. I refused.

I needed to win something from her. I needed for her to "be dominated", this didn't work, of course - but I tried. You see, the domination script always made sense for me because I always had my brothers, or someone from my home to fight against. And so, I wanted that in my relationship with her. That was normal for me. It made sense.

And DD loving me (in a way that was responsible and healthy - were I was actively asked to challenge myself?) was - well.. like ... huh? *Does not compute*

And so we struggled. I pushed her boundaries... I push her boundaries. That's all I seemed to want to do. No, really, that's what I wanted. No really, that's what I want - now. Make no mistake, I'm writing these words and I am actively trying to hold back crossing her boundaries. What do I mean? How about filling the air with conversations about "the latest ziploc bag techonology" - this is just an example - when she can't get me to have a real discussion about my feelings. I'm writing this now - but I fear the next few hours, and next few days. Will I last and stay present in this? I'm going to send my counselor the link to this posting so they can read it.

I mean, being shut down actually felt (feels) right. It made sense to me. I know, I know, you're thinking: But Seminalson, I thought you were a progressive man, a man with vision, and you read etc. Well, I do. But let's not forget point #1 right?

Anyway, let's go back to what I was saying before. And then, along came a new diversion. A group of people that could take the place of my family home. A group of people I could easily compete with because I saw them as worthy opponents - and definitely *beatable* Of course, this was my little boy talking. My adult self - let my little boy inside take the lead. [I am starting to figure out why - you see he (little boy) was never listened to or appreciated when he was small and talkative , so, he just tries to lead on everything and my adult body won't stop him. Well, I'm stopping him now.
Well, in point #3, I'll talk about the great intentional community, and how I used it to puff up my ego and continue to fuck up my life.
3. He believes in his books. He's only had them to distract him from his true self
He reads the same books and talks about the same things constantly. y
I'd say I believe in my films, but only the same old films. And it's a little more complicated than that. I like to see other films, it's just that I want to be distracted by them instead of having my true feelings. I have this feeling of wanting to be the knower, and so when I watch a program with DD, I point out to her - how it was made. And I insist, and she says: you're such a technician - stick to the story man. And I get angry. I feel like it has more to do with me being a knower and competing with her. "I's smart too ya know!" But now, it's gotten silly. I've stop reading and learning more about my profession. Can you believe that? I've even stopped right there. Why? cause I was reading and learning in relation to a competition. DD didn't want to take part and so who would this leave me to rebel against.
I remember taking DD driving a few times. I felt like was in my power place. I had managed to make myself the only person in my house who new anything about driving. This was a construction. MY partner is quite an amazing driver.
4. He dresses up nice when he's going outside. He's looks dashing to the perfect stranger. y
I used dashing cause i think that is the word people would use if they saw him. Well, maybe not. Maybe that's just me using "old" language cause that's what I grew up around. Really, he just looks neat, and well groomed, and that counts for a lot it seems. And well there's me. I don't actually think I'm attractive, much of the time - but I do know that most people (women and men) find me charming and well portioned. Ok -some have said attractive, but my point is that I do clean up nice. Little would anyone know about all the baggage I'm walking with. Ok everyone walks with baggage.
Really, often times, I dress in rags and it's hard for me to pull myself out of it. I'd like to wear more colours - hey I know.. - I'll have a photo shoot with all my boring clothes, then I'll get some new colourful ones, snap some shots and put them on-line!... Ok but what's the point if I'm not actually going to DO something with them.. like wear 'em?
5. He distracts himself with outside forces like CNN and CBC News to further move him away from being with his thoughts y
I am constantly trying to distract myself. Oh, let me count thee ways. Actually the media is a good one. I'm always seemingly checking the 24 hr local news website, for the latest "news" read: distraction. Today's item: a stabbing murder in the subway on the east side of town. Quite the event - it caused *commuter chaos* - and let me stay ungrounded.
Well, I'm here now, after much hesistating. Ok, I'm going to push out my men's group listing now. I've had enough of this...!
6. He resents his partner for not being the mother he lost (she died, which left him at the hands of an abusive patriarch) He asks out in extremely passive aggressive ways y
I really like being angry with darkdaughta. Yes, I do. I resent her and all that she understands and expects me to understand. I want to be left to do what I want and I don't want to be held accountable! Ever! Oh my god! she ses boundaries - she is like the mother I never had in some ways - in that I always a peron in my life that set boundaries that I HAD to respect. I didn't have that. Now that I'm in relationship - I don't seem to be functioning. Everyday, is a hellish day. Cause I want it to be. More coming...
7. Interesting that this next one is number #7 considering the importance of it: I think I still don't want to deal with this next one: HE actively jettisons information he deems is unnecessary. Only thing is, the jettisoning decision is, as far as I can tell, based on protecting him (and his little boy that lost his mom) from anything that doesn't fit nicely into his world - whether it is pretend or not. y
JUST ADDED: He like people do t things for him, because he believes he's owed it. y

I have now: teaching media literacy, and shooting some scenes from a film I'm directing. When I come back, I'm going to write about what I do, underneath any of the observations that has a <y>, I guess that'd be all of them.

By the way, post a comment if you're thinking about it. I need all the support I can get in this work.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Just had a car ride with my father: SO MUCH PAIN, SO MUCH TO I SEE IN MYSELF... this is a harder post to write than normal...

I just met my dad. We had to drive to the east end to run an errand.
It's always painful to ride with my folks. What can I say about my dad. As soon as I got in his car, I felt this weight, so my body said - keep in talking, keep him talking. So I thought, ok lets start with what he likes to talk about: his students. He tutors many students - but one he has been tutoring for the past five years. That's a safe bit. I'll start him there.

That faded after about 10 minutes, so I quickly had to move to another topic. My dad and my mother helped out in a unfair mark Stinkapee received on her report card. That has been "resolved" for the time being - but how it all transpired - we rehashed it, again.

I was describing the stance I took with one of the school administrators.
After I had described what had happened (I had essentially told them off) - my dad said to me: did you see that administrator see you later on? In effect, he was asking if I was worried about them seeing me?

At that moment, at had another realization - which DD pointed out when I was describing it to her: it was like he was a scared little school boy in the west indies, afraid of being caught.. and beaten."

I told him: "I don't work for that administrator .. my taxes pay his salary - and he's a power hungry asshole"

But when I told DD about the exchange - I started to realize that when I'm ready, I get very nervous and afraid of different power structures. Power structures that aren't particularly powerful, it's just that I haven't really grounded, or even started to consider the kind of energy my father has put on me. And that's when I realized something else. There is a piece of me that is actually afraid of my dad. He's not stable. He's a madman. But not overtly violent. He is covertly violent - very passive aggressive. HE taught that, indirectly to me.

I need a moment.

I also feel scared for him. ..actually I'm afraid I am him. A nervous little boy. I grew up around folks who were very triggered by people - and they understood they could /should be dominated. Their histories, their own histories ruled their present. The abuse, the tortore.. it hasn't gone anywhere. And it's there for many Black folks, all black folks one could argue. Check out 1TBM, and her post about the legacy of abuse and terror in Black community.

Now make no mistake, I know that there are some situations that might seem helpless, but I am talking about when you have a choice - but you're scared, you're nervous, and it paralyzes you.

My dad seems to really like it vapid conversation. I like to think that he deeply wants more - so I test the theory. I start -"Don't you think men really are brought up to be power hungry, to be controlling. We really need to change the way we live - you know?"
"Well, I'm not sure. That's people." he replies.
This is a person who has been dominated/beaten/trapped by the men in his life. He has only known mean men.

I know he doesn't trust them, and has no real male friendships.

I'm talking friends that you can share you're fears with and trust with your life.

I've tired to talk about other stuff, but it only ends up in me wanting to cry when he blocks me. He simply cannot process.

No, he chooses not to process anything. And for you bloggers who think I should cut him some slack: What I need to do, I think, is admit to myself- what has formed me. And keep reminding myself. Anything else is denial.

The conversation was hard. I think we stopped three times. Once for gas, once for coffee, and again for some Donutbits I was picking up for DD. It wasn't a long trip. I just needed the breathier, like the one I'm taking now.

I'll write more later. ZZZ time.

Class one PROBE ...please acknowledge...

It feels very exciting to read Freeslave over at 1TBM. In fact it feels exciting to read 1TBM...

Well how about some background for starters.. I have gone through many shifts in growing up and becoming adult. When I was in elementary school (my parents sent me to schools in affluent (read: white areas) I always felt like some kind of outsider. My folks weren't concerned about the emotional status of my being, more just making sure (my brothers and) I was at a school with good resources in wealthy areas. The fact that I was beaten up on a daily basis at home.. that didn't register so much for them.

Living is complicated isn't it?
My folks are academics. Everyone understands them as being "big ting" in the city's Black community. I didn't pay much attention to their status. In putting me in "white/rich" schools, I think I was away from the fanfare of the "Black" community. I think that if I had gone to school, deep in them community - maybe I would have been a celebrity. But no such "really good" school actually exists in the "community". How ironic that with all of letters after both of their names, and their "intelligence", it simply wasn't enough to ensure I was at school with any Black people - that actually had solid resources. I remember thinking for a time that being around Black people would solve so much, would fix some of the wrongs. I think differently now, but I still have fantasies.

It was only in my grade 7-8 years that I went to a school, in the neighbourhood I actually grew up in - and some of the students thought I wanted "to be white." They told me it was because of the way I talked. And the way I dressed. And it was tough cause I "knew" more about "Black" people, and history - then those few kids had in their finger nails. But that knowledge didn't matter. And who the hell cares really when you think about it. You're not "more" Black if you're up on history. I guess I told my self that as a defense to safe guard my self-esteem.

What I did learn was that Blackness was something that could be taken away at any moment - if I was not like the other popular Black folk at my school. After grade 7 and 8, it was time for me to go to high school. They call them three names in Ontario: technical institutes; secondary schools; and collegiate institutes. The last one offers only advanced level courses, and students attending there are tracked to go to university. My folks "suggested" I go to a well-known high school, not too far far my house. It wasn't in our neighbourhood, it was literally "on the other side of the tracks... literally." Determined to be different to my deadbeat brother, I agreed to go to that school. "When you apply to university, the admissions officers will know that a 80% average at this school,is like a 90% at any other school." And so, off I went to the school. I was basically with kinds of kids I was at from grade 1-6. White, snobby, and well-off.

I spent much of my time at this school in a confused setting amongst tons of affluent white folks. Although, as I write it here, it would have helped if the my folks had taken more time to explain the complexities of race within the white schools I was going to. It would have help a lot to have some grounding. But that was not part of the ingredients for my parents.

So I did the best I could. I know, with Stinkapee - we have, we do, and we will continue to explain how our society works and the school system being an extension of it. And the same with all of our children. I figure, explain now so they don't feel completely betrayed when they encounter racism, or classism, homophobia later.

Anyway, at this school, I didn't mainfiest as that generic Black hoodlum/thug (read: wasn't Black enough -didn't wear hiphop clothes; didn't talk in a fake "African-american" accent - which does not actually exist! I know! I know! But that is what I judged by. You don't sound like Wil Smith, or Martin Lawrence. These students felt entitled to judge me based on me not falling into the category of what they considered "Black", even though they were White... I fucking told off a lot of people fucking arrogant racist assholes.

It was hard.

At home, I was experiencing physical abuse at the hands of my brother. That started at an early age. I wasn't "man" enough, was too emotional, and deserved to be beaten up for it. Remember, early I was talking about blackness that was something that could be given or taken away - well - that is definitely how I understand masculinity. If masculinity was something that was natural, it wouldn't be enforced. It would it just, be.

In relations to what freeslave said over at 1TBM, I (s2) too have thought about isolation. I feel the most popular loner on earth. Men and women seem attracted to my energy - I'm really exciting/ charming to most people I come into contact with. Only thing is... they are interested in the surface me - not the different parts of me. I learned about compartmentalization being the key to survival. Sadly, it's been the key to my isolation.

One of the reasons I started this blog was, to send out a probe and hope that someone would find it. But really, it is 1TBM 's work that has helped me even reach out to you.

I'm looking forward engaging, albeit a bit scary... it's exciting too...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

HANGINGwith the folks... childhood memories...

Ok, first off, it's late and everyone is sleeping.
It's nice. The house is quite.
Think I'll say hi to Loving Pecola, Maxjulian, sweetness, Freeslave, and others for the generative exchanges over at 1TBM. I read, I appreciate everyone putting their feelings out there.
Today, I picked up Stinkapee from school. We went for a walk, ended up in a cafe where told me more about her experiences in the class room. She had a streamed vanilla creme, practiced her spelling words, and read from her dictionary. Then we went for dinner at a neigbourhood diner, went for a swim at the community centre, and walked home. DD had checked in with us to see how we were doing, and after hearing that we were going swimming - offered to make some dinner too - you use a shit load of energy when you swim.

Shomlee, the 19 month old was in great spirits when we got home, as was DD. She was cooking chicken stew on brown rice - smelt amazing. I did some work on the computer, while Stinkapee did work on her computer, and Shomlee sang songs with DD in the kitchen as she created her masterpiece. We hung out with the kids, until Stinkapee got tired, and went off to bed. ( Just so you know - this description of the two of us, as a mother/father pairing is not our ideal by any means. I would really like to have another partner in our family. I think it would lovely to be able to responsibly and ethically love and share experiences with another person. We are working on this, but that is beyond the scope of this entry.)

DD, came back downstairs, and I started to talk about my family. I was recalling how I spent my childhood with my parents - and thinking about the connections they maintained and why. I thought about how deliberate it was, but how I didn't understand it that way. DD suggested that my mother stayed in touch with some family partly because it was important to maintain family ties - in fact, she did this much more than my father. I can't recall him ever organizing a family outing. He simply wasn't invested in that from my view. This is a piece (among many pieces) that I have taken from my childhood and brought into my adulthood. I think everything will just fall into place, cause it did for my father, even though it was my mother who did it.

And going to these family events largely seemed performative. Meaning - it was us saying: here we are - the family - "perfect and happy." What I mean to say is, we would arrive, everyone would say their pleasantries. Some food would be served, and eventually the conversation would go to academia and race. My folks are academics, and they love to talk all there academia speak. The conversation would, as far as I could see, never head in any emotional direction. No one ever talked about what they were feeling, or how they actually felt about anything.
Sometimes it would get lively with jokes (at each others' expense in the room) or sometimes, they would talk about race - but this was tricky, because many in my mother's family, say her siblings were in severe denial about anything racial whatsoever. I can re-call hearing: "if you just work hard everything will be fine." Often she would get into shouting matches over quotes like that one. My father, would fall asleep and I would just want to go home.

But home was really difficult for me too. My brother lived there and he was physically abusive to me all the time. My parents, could not deal with his violence - I believe it triggered them around their parents. My brother would attack me mostly when my folks weren't around, starting when I was about 8 and lasting far into my teens. I think around 16, I started to take martial arts, and so the attacks when down - and instead my family home became a cold war zone - were at any moment, a huge explosive release would unfold.
One time, in the middle of the night the moment arrived.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


I was just visiting 1TBM and read what annakiss
and DD were talking about. No - I think this "movement" isn't working for anyone. Even the affluent white women in a neighbourhood DD and I used to live in would walk with a sense of entitlement - trying to run me off the sidewalk with their BMW strollers, and $9 lattes.

One time, I was with Shomolee - when he was 4 months. We were sitting in a Starbucks. The cafe had about 4 of those mamas - and every staff person at the place was ignoring them and their babies, and coming up to us. You should have seen the look on their faces as the servers asked me what I wanted, AND BROUGHT IT TO ME, said it was on the house, and got me a paper too. I know their actions were rooted in patriarchy. And maybe in a fantasy I called the staff on this, but not for these women. Women who would never ally with me. WOmen who would call the police on my Black ass in a second. White women who are angry with their husbands - for being fucking assholes - and looking to take it out on me. No. NO. I just sat, enjoyed my coffee and the Shomolee.

The 4 baby mamas were ignored all together.

After a while, it became to much for one she had to come over. She tired to passive aggressively state that Shomolee was small for his age. (He was over 10 pounds at birth) I didn't engage. I knew what was going on.

Really, it's clear that this "happy birthing beings/ in touch and in control/ and happy birthing beings" is a big big lie. This was an example I remember with the affluent white women I used to live near.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I CAN FALL ASLEEP WHILE listeningTO YOU and on a loud nightclub speaker

When I was over at my aunt's place, I noticed something that I really didn't connect with . Sleep. And I mean a lot of it. I grew up around people, and visited people that always fell asleep while you were on the phone with them, talking to them, or while watching TV. And no one, including Ophelia EVER actually admitted to falling as sleep. IT was always, "I'm resting my eyes.." or "I'm not sleeping, I'm just dozing" or "You just thought I was sleeping, but really you were imagining things." This last one is my personal fave!


It sounds kind of funny, but really, I am stuck in the truth of having fallen asleep in som many odd situations, leading right up to - in conversation with DD. I have scratched my own head, thinking to myself - did I really fall asleep? Oh DD would say .. you sure did - "and who do you think you are to just fall asleep... without warning me or anything, AND the deny it!"

While we were at my aunt's house a week back or so, DD noticed in conversation with one of my aunts, and through her actions that auto-sleep, as I like to call it, is all over my family.

I know I used sleep and making myself fall asleep for difficult situations.. like being attacked as a child, or more accurately - after- waiting, no one would come, I would crawl into a ball and go to sleep - hoping when I woke up, all would be better.

It never was.

I still try and use this auto-sleeping today, in the wrong places... I'm no longer that little boy...
... in fact, I think I need to write a post about sleep, being up late, fear, and worling a lot...

In the mean time...

I went reading my older posts. I'd like to link to an older post about what I did in 2006 to try and move some of this stuff. This year I's like to re-visit the men's group, and also re-visit the idea of starting my own. Going to go now... but not to fall asleep.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

WELCOME to the new seminalson - and thank-you to 1TBM for the redesign...

I have to say, voices in my head are saying: who the hell are you to have all these pictures of yourself up... - and I have to say to myself, "I deserve it. I love myself, I love my family, I deserve to have a quality ... thanks to 1TBM - DD for this. Need to keep bloggin!


I could really see - or actually, was not able to hide from my dad's madness. Both he and my mom are quite a mixture. First though, I must tell you what we ate.. (sorry no pix) The vegetables: sweet potatoes with butter, and a hint of kosher salt. Rappini, boiled slightly and then pan fried briefly in butter (I really like butter!), basmati brown rice, monk fish, beef briskette - really fucking good, and for dessert: a cookie assortment... real good...

MY god, DD points out, and I can see where the heck I get some of my odd ways... "I don't like this" and "I don't like that" and "can you get me this, can you get me that.." "I'm too busy... sitting here.." AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

DD makes a good point that I hate to admit is true, but it is... I have a lot to learn from taking care of him. "IT's good for the Shomlian to see - after all, these are your people.. I told her I didn't like doing it.. cause it felt like.. .. "WOMAN'S WORK?" - she said.

Sadly, I said yes.
But it is true.
I remember, him asking me to do stuff in our family house, and I hated it. Granted, I hated the fact that he and the other one let did little to NOTHING to address my abuse... but then he still wanted me to fitch his TEA? Are you fucking MAD?

But if I look closer... I didn't mind doing stuff for good ol' Mom, even though she is and was equally to blame for what went on.

More in a moment.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

JUST saw the Brit sitcom- Keeping Up Appearances

The clip I want you guys to watch is actually from another sitcom called "Hyacinth and Auntie". I just wanted to lay some context as to the kind of people I come from when I talk about having seen my aunts and family over the holidays. MY mother, Ophelia is not exactly like this (she has her own odd ways), but the rest her family is.. and that is who I grew up with... CLICK HERE TO WATCH what I'm talking about. Just watch how the colonized Black woman, is critiquing the white Brit woman, and over identifying with conservative white British customes... I know, this is suppose to be comedy - it is suppose to be edgy and over the top.. but sadly: It's BANG ON! THIS IS THE FAMILY CULTURE OF MY YOUTH. It is also the culture of many of the west Indians living in this city...


It was a strange feeling, going over to my cousin's house and then my aunt. They actually seemed plesant, and dare I say it.. nice. Maybe it was because I had not been there - or really communicated with any of them for over a year.. in fact .. probably over 2 or 3 or even 4 years. I never really felt the need.
I grew up seeing them, spending time with them... specifically my aunts.. women dominate my family.. (there just weren't many boys...)
Visiting them this last time, I felt like they were taking me seriously... I figured: showing up with two (extremely beautiful, well behaved, bright and happy) children might do that.
So,what does it mean to actually care what they think? It means that a piece of me is still stuck in my childhood state.. my little boy is saying... seeeee! I am grown up..... nah nah nah nah....
I also found myself enjoying talking to them - we didn't talk about anything in particular...
although I got to see them pass jabs to one another. And one of them, is as evil as ever - even while obviously being really, really sad and lonely. I see pieces of me in all of them.

I had some body memories, while talking to them - about my trips to Barbados, and the different good times I had. Some of the stories they told about me, and my particular ways - reminded me of Stinkapee.