a letter long overdue.

this is the first of what could be many blog posts in dialogue with goddess jaz at goddesses rising.  we have taken it upon ourselves to examine our feelings and thoughts on intimate partner violence, triggered by the rihanna/ chris brown incident.  this series will not just discuss them, but IPV against women across the board.  to facilitate a flow of words, jaz and i have opted to follow the letter writing format utilized by the women who write the kitchen table blog.  i intended to post my letter shortly after jaz’s initial post, but the words just would not come. alas, here i am now with more to say than i ever thought.
jaz:

first, thank you for agreeing to do this with me! it’s an honor and a privilege.  let’s see if we can’t make a dent.  

i’ve been rolling my thoughts around, trying to best articulate my disturbances around this whole thing and attempting to string those thoughts together to create a coherent point.  my mind keeps coming back to one simple point: this is bigger than these kids or twitter, bigger than any blogs or newspaper articles.  unnecessary violence, particularly in close relationships (romantic as well as familial) is a problem that belongs to each of us.  so, it is with that thought in the forefront of my mind that i’m processing the entire mess and the conversations/ actions that have resulted from it.  these conversations and actions concern me much more than the current state that either rihanna or chris brown is in right now.
my concerns reflect yours, definitely. and my initial desire was to see to it that we discussed the impact of various kinds of media (especially gossip blogs, twitter, facebook status updates, and the text message fowards) on public opinion.  but i’m now in a new space.
because i’ve seen a photograph of rihanna’s face after the incident.  i’m in angry mode. again. the gossip blogs have, from the beginning, been on my nerves in varying degrees.  but now one of these blogs is the source of the very photo i did NOT wanna see. it was easier to imagine the horror than to see it with my own eyes. not that it didn’t seem real before, but that it made the whole situation that much more real to me: rihanna’s privacy was not protected or respected.  not by persons in her camp or at the hospital where she was examined, not by people who know her or her alleged attacker, not by the LAPD employee who leaked her photo to the internet, and most certainly not by the media.  
this whole incident has a crazy tone to it, a media circus for lack of better words.  it went from speculation to insane made up justifications for the attack itself.  crazy rumors about STDs, jealous fits, and failed breakup attempts abounded. all the while, my concern was the repercussions in the world at large. children discussing these things amongst themselves (and sometimes with adults) might have concerns or questions similar to the grown folks who seemed to be all over the internet talking about it: how long had this been going on? was it likely to happen again? would they get back together? why would they get back together? in my opinion, it matters less what we know about chris and rihanna.  it matters much, much more what we know about the women who are counted in the statistics we hear about so often and the women whose stories we catch on the news. i believe that the seriousness of the situation itself was diminished greatly by the fact that this involves two “celebrities” instead of everyday citizens.  because they have wikipedia articles, we’re not supposed to know when we’ve encroached too much on their lives? yes, it is important to discuss intimate partner violence. yes, it is important to fans of an artist to know how well their favorite artist is doing. but what we don’t need to know — especially because neither chris brown’s people nor rihanna’s people haven’t said anything — is what kind of relationship they have. we don’t need to know any of that unless either of them decides that it is necessary (as part of their healing, and only then) to speak on the situation or the nature of their relationship. no. 
what we need to know is that violence is the norm for too many of us.  what we need to know is that children who grow up in abusive environs grow into teens and adults who don’t know how to deal with conflict in a non-violent way.  what we need to know is that intimate partner violence does not lie specifically in the hands of the men, of the women, of the heterosexual or the underprivileged.  there was a sentiment of, “they shoulda never gave you niggas money,” a la dave chappelle as rick james. but i give thanks that these two young folks have their privilege.  why? because we now have contemporary faces for this problem. there is now a more immediate reason to discuss these issues with our children, with our peers.  this is the opportunity we as concerned community members must utilize to have dicussions.  
i’ve struggled with what i wanted to say here, because i want it to be impactful and clear. but something i’ve realized over the past few days of writing is that murky situations very rarely yield clear responses. it takes time, it takes dissection, and sometimes it takes walking away from the issue and reviewing it with new perspective.
it is my prayer that these two young folks have some new perspective — and that if they have not yet gained it during their separation that they develop it — so that they  can begin to heal themselves.

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giving words to the unspoken: intimate partner violence.

i am thankful every day that i’ve never dated someone who has or would hit me.  that is a terror i’ve never known, and pray that i never will.  i do know what intimate partner violence can do. the losses of asia, latoyia, and san-dee serve as reminders to us all that women die because of intimate partner violence (also known as domestic violence, or domestic abuse). the very idea of the typical domestic abuse victim is seared into the consciousness of many people in the united states: she’s timid, she’s probably very pretty, she is attacked without having provoked her mate, and she always goes back.  the attacker is always someone who’s been emasculated to some degree — maybe his education level isn’t what hers is (or anyone else’s, like being a 10th grade dropout when everyone else is at least a high school grad), or he’s dyslexic, or whatever.  it’s mister from the color purple concentrated, it’s laurence fishburn as ike turner, it’s every lifetime movie shitbag boyfriend joined together like voltron.  
it’s never the sparkling smile of chris brown that spits threats or curse words, bites you or calls you names.  it’s never rihanna’s pretty face that is pummeled with fists. it’s always some nameless or faceless couple on “cops.” it’s always someone whose name has been changed to protect her because he’s stalking her. (and it’s always a hetero couple, but that’s another issue for another time.)  and this seems to be the root of the problem to me: celebrity, or fame, and the perception of “our” stars as anything other than human.  they are not necessarily regarded as human, even in times of tragedy (see: the losses jennifer hudson’s, bill cosby’s, and the late marlon brando’s close family members).  they are still these perfectly unreal creations — half of “their” public’s imagination, and half illusion borne of spin doctors.  celebrity is a tricky thing.  it’s fleeting, but so demanding. what does this pressure cooker life do to someone who’s barely a maturing child when they enter it, and is simply fortunate to be a functioning adult if/ when they leave it?
i ask this question because i don’t believe for one minute that this is a black and white situation (meaning chris, the aggressor, bears all the fault or that rihanna, the victim, instigated her own ass kicking).  i take into account that chris witnessed domestic abuse for as many as 6 years of his life (that’s 1/3 of his time on earth, roughly).  i understand that the highly invasive reports that are being shared pretty much confirm that rihanna was upset over a potential (or continued) infidelity on chris’s part. i understand that it’s likely that brown no longer wished to be in a relationship with her — but check this out: you can end a relationship with someone without hitting them.  you can make your point clear without fists and bitemarks.  
my concerns are for the privacy and safety of both of these young people. there are threats being made against both of them, there’s a lot of hearsay and conjecture. there are terrible jokes being made. it is now a verb to chris brown someone — to beat their ass.  unacceptable.  the facts are known only by the persons who were present for the incident that was reported to the police.  that’s not for any of us to learn about or gossip about. this is deeper than whether someone gave someone herpes, or whether someone’s cheating on someone else.
it is indicative of the fact that we all have work to do: work to heal, work to grow, work to end cycles. violence is never okay in a relationship, regardless of who throws the first punch.  intimate partner violence exists when women hit men, when men hit each other, and when women hit women.  intimate partner violence exists when we are unable or unwilling to talk about what hurts or bothers us, and when we don’t understand that it’s never okay to strike someone you love.  unless it’s self defense, it is wrong. always wrong.
this interview that jay smooth did with elizabeth mendez berry speaks much to why it doesn’t matter specifically that it’s a celebrity dealing with intimate partner violence. 

the radio’s been playin the same song all day long

 either you’re afraid of this big bad enconomy or you’re oblivious to it.

i’m neither.

let’s go.

dreaming of colors, light & sound

the first hints of the arrival of spring have visited my city.

the sun shines, the snow melts, it’s nearly 60 degrees & my toes cry out for sun. flip flops, open-toed wedges, etc. i want to craft, and to wear pretty things that my beautiful friends make. 
i feel like walking to run, running to take off flying.
soon.
freedom.

on the eve of your birthday

i wanna tell you how to get free as quietly as you please

because loudness draws attention that you say you don’t want.
i know that the sparkle in your eyes is dimmer, because of years of shit piled on top of you
the paradigm you never chose is the one within which you exist
nobody ever said it was okay to leave
i’m telling you it is
demanding that you do
for the sake of yourself, as no one else is important
no one is. 
walk forward w/ head held high
one foot before the other
start running towards you, instead of away from you
this is a new chapter.
5 is oshun’s number, multiplied by 10 you are to step into the abundance she promised you when you knelt in orun
blessings are meant for you
love is meant for you
peace is meant for you
take hold of it.
ashé!

i don’t know how to take this.

dear citizens of philadelphia:

i want us to do better. period. 
dear philadelphia police department:
remember that the stop snitching mentality is yours, too — only yours applies to your FOP brethren. you’re not fooling anyone.