Fugitivity is seeing around corners, stockpiling in crevices, knowing the un-rules, being unruly, because the rules are never enough, and not even close.
If we continue to speak this sameness, if we speak to each other as men have spoken for centuries, as they taught us to speak, we will fail each other. Again. … Words will pass through our bodies, above our heads, disappear, make us disappear. Far. Above. Absent from our- selves, we become machines that are spoken, machines that speak. Clean skins envelop us, but they are not our own. We have fled into proper names, we have been violated by them. Not yours, not mine. We don’t have names. We change them as men exchange us, as they use us. It’s frivolous to be so changeable so long as we are a medium of exchange.
– Luce Irigaray
If you want to know what the undercommons wants, . . . what black people, indigenous peoples, queers and poor people want, what we (the “we” who cohabit in the space of the undercommons) want, it is this – we cannot be satisfied with the recognition and acknowledgement generated by the very system that denies a) that anything was ever broken and b) that we deserved to be the broken part; so we refuse to ask for recognition and instead we want to take apart, dismantle, tear down the structure that, right now, limits our ability to find each other, to see beyond it and to access the places that we know lie outside its walls. We cannot say what new structures will replace the ones we live with yet, because once we have torn shit down, we will inevitably see more and see differently and feel a new sense of wanting and being and becoming. What we want after “the break” will be different from what we think we want before the break and both are necessarily different from the desire that issues from being in the break.
– Jack Halberstam
Fugitivity is time-distorting, multiplying and erasing, making legion and invisible: the time of growing and harvesting, the time of gathering and watching, the time of rescue and hibernation. The time of remembering hidden granaries: not the time of war and freedom, but the time under, around, between, in the cracks, in the breaks, in the life-making, life-sustaining afters-and-during. Breaking temporal bounds with out-of-season memories and stories, the precise way to collect wild herbs. And the smell of ready. (and the feeling of jump – Shailja Patel)
To sneak in and around, about and away, to crevice and burrow: to jump under fences. (the world-making of fugitivity: this-then-that-this)
shouts bring down walls:
The conservative wing of the Supreme Courts of the U.S.A. (SCOTUS) destroyed a key portion of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) that, at its core, recognized the long afterlife of slavery in contemporary voting practices. One wants to believe that this is merely a bad conservative decision, but it’s not. Rather, it reflects the growth and success of post-race discourse that is intimately tied to discourses and practices of black respectability; the alibis created around blackness by the presence of contemporary black immigrants, especially those from Africa/non-slave-holding populations; the uses of symbolic victories and tokenism at the expense of material practices, where one Oprah, Beyoncé, Cosby, and Obama count more than the masses of materially oppressed and bereft black populations. Years of listening to well-intentioned, moderate students repeat post-race, regardless of race, suggest there’s much more to this decision than conservative consensus. Or, rather, that the politics of moderation are inextricable from the politics of conservatism when it comes to race. This is not new. But one can point to moments of intensification.
The Kenyan National Union of Teachers (KNUT) is currently on strike. They are responding to years of broken and deferred promises: the full terms of agreements brokered in 1997 have yet to be fulfilled. A government-sponsored plan to introduce free laptops to primary-age children does not seem to have had input from teachers. Newly-elected officials have allocated themselves huge salaries and numerous perks. The free primary school education program introduced by the previous administration has yet to work out massive infrastructural and staffing issues. Education continues to be instrumentalized as what producers workers in a Marxist sense. And what I once described as a development imaginary has become the national imaginary. Development is a magic word, guaranteed to arrest questions, produce allegiance and obeisance.
Kenya is in the grip of a sex panic. Stories abound of bestiality, predatory homosexuals, and unruly women: caught, sniffed out, disciplined, shamed. Our national morality is at stake. A male member of the national assembly slapped a female member and threw water on another female member. The Deputy President is standing behind homo-hating African values while the President’s heteronormative family runs around performing charity. We have never been so hetero-national(ist). And it is working. We may not agree on much. But the family is to be protected. Beyond politics, is the family: the foundation of our shared African-ness, our shared values, the thing beyond diversity that must be protected.
How can I tell you. How can I convince you, brother,
sister that your life is in danger: That everyday you wake
up alive, relatively happy, and a functioning human being,
you are committing a rebellious act. You as an alive and
functioning queer are a revolutionary.
There is nothing on this planet that validates, protects
or encourages your existence. It is a miracle you are
standing here reading these words. You should by all rights
be dead. Don’t be fooled, straight people own the world and
the only reason you have been spared is you’re smart, lucky
or a fighter. (“queers read this”)
The black unicorn is restless
the black unicorn is unrelenting
the black unicorn is not
– Audre Lorde
Why is the world always easier to fix
than our own homes?
– Essex Hemphill
I want to start
to save my life.
– Essex Hemphill
Now we think
as we fuck
might kill us.
– Essex Hemphill
Why not the quite simple attempt to touch the other, to feel the other, to explain the other to myself?
– Frantz Fanon
I belong irreducibly to my time.
– Frantz Fanon
I have taken to writing now-here to mean the space-time I occupy, and how it phantoms, so easily sliding into nowhere. If, as philosopher Kwesi Wiredu argues, the expression of existence in bantu languages always has an adverb for place—one must be from or grounded—the queer hovers at the edge of legibility, a root unable to be homed, waiting for the kindness of grafting.
(this is not an argument, but an ongoing search for something that enables livability beyond management)
Until now, there has been little that taught us how to be kind to each other.
– Audre Lorde
‘Tis grievous to think dat, while toilin’ on here,
My people won’t love me again,
My people, my people, me owna black skin,–
De wretched t’ought gives me such pain.
– Claude McKay
Meanwhile blackness means to render unanswerable the question of how to govern the thing that loses and finds itself to be what it is not.
– Moten and Harney
the work of race in post-race Kenya: Kenya is declared post-race by Jomo Kenyatta, when he erases the past he will repeat.
To declare post-race, Kenyatta teaches me, is to make newly possible the violations of racialization. To make minoritization persistent and available.
(memory forgets itself)
& as though
Look I am King of the Forest
Says the King of the Forest
As he growls magnificently
Look, I am in pain. My right leg
Does not fit my left leg.
– Jack Spicer
To be in the conditional, and to be together, as though possibility could expand into being-here-with-you (I’m writing love letters)
It may at least be worth working out just where – in which realms of experience – not getting it might be a good thing to do. What experiences are made possible by not getting it, and what getting it, whatever it is, might protect us from.
– Adam Phillips