Memories: Chicken Curry

It is about that time: Maurice’s Sunday Supper.

This month my guests are two poets and an academic so I’m sure the conversation will be on point as they are all wonderful smart beautiful people. So, that means I just need to worry about my responsibility, the meal. I try to pick meals that I am either craving, want to try, or have a special place in my heart. To that end, you won’t find extremely fancy meals at my dinner party, no Top Chef wanna be here, but what I hope you have if you come to my Sunday supper is the feeling of “going home.” I am not trying to wow you, I am trying to welcome you, make you feel loved.

This month I am cooking a meal I have loved since I was about 12. It is a simple meal with a very simple story.

When my family moved back state-side from the UK, for a summer we had a Jamaican lady who was going through a tough time, stay with us. She was so beautiful to me. Though she was sad, when she laughed it was full on, and her hair was a take on Toni Braxton’s except hers was a honey-brown. And when she walked, it seemed like she was two steps away from dancing. Well, one day, she was in the kitchen cooking, which was odd as I only knew her to eat but not to cook. I didn’t think she could. But, there she was, showing my mom, the best cook I knew, how to make a dish (my mom had already ate it before but wasn’t sure how to prep it). The smells were beyond seductive, and when I had my first bowl of the concoction served over hot white rice, I was taken over. It is one of my strongest food memories.

Later, I found out that curry is originally Indian and that colonialism was responsible for this black Jamaican woman knowing this dish, and I found out that she made it too thick, but, as with nearly all cherished childhood memories, I didn’t care. And while, from time to time, I get “fancy with it,” throwing in coconut milk or thinning it out (basically making it “properly”), no version, not even proper Indian curry, hits the spot the way her version does. I love it so much that every year, for my birthday celebration dinner, my mom makes this dish. And as it is still my birthday month, I am making it for my guests tomorrow: Jamaican Guest Chicken Curry. Prep done. Now, what in the world will I make for dessert. Are coconut dumplings a thing?

Chicken curry prep

Chicken curry prep

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A Kiki with Michael Sam

Michael Sam

Let’s Have A Kiki

“I’m sorry; did I answer your question right?” Michael Sam’s voice is not necessarily soft, nor is it smooth, but what it is, is respectful and earnest. This is at least the third time he has worried if his answers to my questions are correct. I, hoping to put him at ease, reply, “It is fine; just think of this as us having a kiki in a cafe.” Instantly Sam’s brow furrows; he briefly squints his eyes and asks, “A what?” The language is foreign to him. Again I reply, “A kiki. It is black gay slang for when friends get together to laugh and talk. Basically it’s shooting the shit.” His brow releases its wrinkles and he slightly smiles, “Oh; I thought you said ‘kinky.’ I was like, ‘what?’A ‘kiki?’ I have never heard of that?” The fact that he didn’t speak the language was not shocking to me; I had suspicions as to why but I wanted confirmation: “Don’t you have Black gay friends? Or are most of your friends straight? Or if they are gay are they…?” I thought better of finishing the question, but Sam answered, “Most of my friends are straight. I don’t have a lot of gay friends but I do have one really good transgender friend.”

Michael Sam had, unknowingly, confirmed all of my inner doubts about him, and he confirmed many of the criticisms of him and many out Black gay celebrities. Criticisms that maintain that Michael Sam and others like him are symbols of pride and progress precisely because they have such fragile ties to the Black queer community (or to Blackness in general except for confirming supposed Black pathology). They are the pieces of charcoal in Frosty’s white face that make him complete, the black top hat that brings his white body to life. Each one of them come to the media table with a story that confirms Black homophobia and the power of self-love, and each reach for their white lover, who becomes an avatar for whiteness. And, for many a Black queer boy, in that moment, the moment of the reach for the white hand, the fantasy reveals itself to be just that, a fantasy, a fraud, or, worse, a confirmation that healthy Black gay love is not loving another Black queer person.  

And, there is reason for this suspicion. If we turn to the world of imagination, sadly, it too fails us. We have a paucity of Black queer characters on television and film; so, often, when we see a Black queer character there is an initial moment of joy. A deep hope once again sprouts and we think, “Maybe this time will be different; maybe this time [we’ll] win,” but then we inevitably discover that our hope is misplaced. Often the Black queer is usually male and subordinate to other characters. If he is the center of an episode of television, he is often, though not always, on the DL.  If he is femme, he is often depicted as romantically and sexually undesirable and given little complexity. If he is “masc,” or simply “not femme,” he may have complexity, but his love life is always one constructed for the white gaze because he, visually coded as desirable, is almost always dating a non-Black character. It seems that even in the collective American imagination, Black queer folk loving other Black queer folk is too strange to comprehend.

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Questions in August 2014

            Will they find me? 

Where will they find me?

Will I be 

in the streets, with my thoughts in front of me

ten feet.

            Will they find me? 

Where will they find me?

Will I be on 

a tree, swinging slowly, 

feet dangling?

            Will they find me? 

Where will they find me?

Will I be 

on a fence, scaring crows

away?

            Will they find me? 

Where will they find me?

Will I be

in a class, my head across the glass as the

screen blinks/

            Will they find me? 

Where will they find me?

Will I be

in a street, with my skirt and 

legs open?

            Will they find me? 

Where will they find me?

Will I be 

on a sidewalk, throat 

pulled in

            Will they find me? 

Where will they find me?

Will I be 

found? 

Or will they hide me

will they wise up and hide me?

            Will they find me? 

Where will I be when

they come for me 

and…………………………………………………………

 

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What I witnessed at the Ferguson Cleanup

A Poem

A Poem

IMG_1881

Some of the folk out.

Some of the folk out.

IMG_1882

He should have left the poem up

He should have left the poem up

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Continued Cleanup

Continued Cleanup

Some of the bags

Some of the bags

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That Moment When Lafayette Read The Nation

“Has it ever occurred to that I want a piece of happiness to. Lafayette that queen who makes you white heterosexuals feel happy? No.”

I am sure that the quote is not 100% accurate but forgive me because I was too busy screaming, “Speak my life!” It was not because it was such a great read, I mean it was an epic read, but I screamed because so many times in my queer black life I have been made to feel as if I am to exist solely for the pleasure of straight females, or the curiosity of straight white folk, or to teach straight black folk about gay and queer rights, to convince masculine gay guys that fem guys deserve more respect than we are given by our brothers, or to tell white gay folk why Sierra Mannie’s article deserves something better than a “Bye Felicia.” I have been made to feel this way and I refuse it; I struggle against it on a regular basis.

It becomes repetitive.

It becomes too familiar.

It makes you numb.

This can be exhausting.

So, when Lafayette said his speech he was not speaking only to Jessica, nor was he speaking for all gay folk; he couched his words in a rhetoric that acknowledged sexuality, race, and gender performance. He was speaking to so many of you about us.

We black femme queer bois and gurlz want that piece of happiness and we don’t exist for any of you.

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“Let’s Take A Long Walk…”

I hear the question every time I leave my house; I step onto a sidewalk and walk: one foot in front of the other, my hips unhinged, dropping in diagonal directions to the beat of whatever diva coos in my ear; I walk deliberately and with an awareness that each time I move, I do so to the rhythm of: Who… do… you… think… you… are?

I answer with my body: more than big, gargantuan, and soft, unmistakable. It should be unruly but I swing all my pounds gracefully, demanding space, commanding attention. I will not cower. I will not apologize.

I strut down city streets because I am not supposed to, because I can. I have paid the price; the ticket is in my pocket. I feel your brother’s eyes on my chest. I have felt eyes on my chest since I was a boy standing in midwestern high school hallways; I have felt the hands connected to those eyes of greedy sweaty pimple faced white boys who didn’t take “No!” as an answer. I fought the hands that reached past my “NO!” and grabbed my chest to preview what Friday night with their girlfriends would feel like. “Who do you think you are?”

I, the tank with a little sugar, slink down the avenue. I am searching for sweet potatoes. The big ones are the sweetest, their flesh the deepest orange. I, the tank with a little sugar, slink down the avenue for potatoes to boil in water and mash with butter and sugar and milk and spices. Sunday is soon and there will be pie. We took the pie with us to Angleterre; we left the pumpkin in Amérique. I slink toward the shucking of corn, toward buttered dough made soft by brown hands, toward a salty smoked bone placed in the freezer, toward ham fanned on a plate, toward tough greens made soft. I slink toward Sunday. I slink away from bruschetta and small bites, away from thinly sliced fish, away from fish that can swim out of its roll, away from crepes with Nutella. I slink away from Friday. I slink about this town gathering my mind. I slink South. I, the tank with a little sugar, slink to the buzzing of that hot question: “Who do you think you are?”

The question stabs me everyday when you, yes you, look at me. I close my eyes and see myself: A figure, large and black. My edges dissolve into the soft black shadows that ziggs and zaggs through the city, limitless. Those parts of me forever trailing away from me, forever infinite. But my core, that stands out against the brilliant white of the city. A city that glitters all around me, sounding like coins fighting each other as they cut through the air, falling but never reaching a floor. This American city that does not hunger for me. If it devoured me, it would vomit me up. But, I bite it, lick it, kiss it, tear at its flesh and swallow, and call it love.

“Who do you think you are?” I answer:

I am a “We.” “‘Who we be’?” We be screamers, dancers, singers, and dreamers. “‘Who we be’?” The children of the first hym and hir. The South’s forgotten ones. “‘Who we be’?” No one named Tom; we know no Jemimiah. We have no uncle named Ben. “‘Who we be’?” Sugar made hard, candy laced with testosterone. Who are you? Hungry little ones craving something sweet. “‘Who we be’?” Jawbreakers. Who are you? Little boy lost and little girl scared; children who ate the lady’s house and blamed her for wanting justice. Who are you? Just Jacks and Jills dropping the pail because you were busy trying to kiss. “‘Who we be’?” Stars fucking, knowing that “this nut might kill us,” still; we engage in that “revolutionary act.” We be not shadows but suns. All that heat you feel be us twerkin’. We be young. We be gifted. We be the song that bird sings.

“‘Who we be’?” The originators of you.
Who are you? Imitators of us.

I switch all through the fucking city––––– the whole fucking city.

*For my fellow black queer brothers and sisters. We stomp all over this town they call America.

(Contains references to Nina Simone, Maya Angelou, Essex Hemphill, Marlon Riggs, Jill Scott, and my Mother and Grandmother’s kitchens.)

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FBD: A Queer Thought

I said something to someone yesterday; something kind and honest to someone who was rarely honest with me and didn’t deserve any kindness from me; it may help him but I think I said it for me because it was the first time I voiced aloud my fundamental core belief about myself, what drives me:

“Nothing in my life tells me that I am lovable. I am not talking about deserving love, we can make arguments for that and it is easy to say ‘you deserve love'; no, I am saying that my experience, my life has taught me that outside of my family and close friends I am unlovable, in the romantic sense.The only man who has professed to love me did so while hurting me. My ‘experience’ tells me that I will not be loved and the world tells me that I should not be loved: I am fat; I am dark; I am a faggot to some; I am ugly to others; the world and experience tells me that this is not what love seeks. I am not what love seeks. If I take your position and go by my ‘experience,’ then I should give up.
But, I can’t; I won’t. I have to believe that I can be loved, that I may be loved, that I am beautiful, that I am human. I may never actually be loved, by this I mean in a healthy way; I may never have that ending with a guy by my side telling me that I am what he wants, but that is not the point. The point is that I have to believe that I may have that, that the chance may come for me too. I have to believe in more than just my experience because my experience is so small, so narrow; it has been so short. I have to believe because it keeps me going, keeps me strong. I believe because not to is to give up and say to the world, ‘You win’ and I don’t know how to do that. So I say, fuck experience, believe that you can have, that you deserve more than what experience has taught you.”

D.D.

I want a disruption, a commotion,

an explosion.

Sing out loud in the restaurant,

sing out loud in the library,

sing out loud in the lecture hall.

And scream

at the house,

at the green grass,

at my car parked on the curb in front of the plastic mailbox,

scream till blood runs

and coats my throat;

scream that this suburban life is killing me.

I had a dream

that one day I would be fucking

beautiful, in NYC,

and setting the sidewalk aflame with my sashay. I had a dream

deferred.

And it exploded in my mind.

And it exploded in my mouth.

And it exploded in my hand.

I have no dream.

Only a deep aching need,

for disruption

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18 Ugly Truths About Modern Dating That You Have To Deal With

blaqueer:

sadly accurate

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

Celeste and Jesse Forever [Blu-ray]Celeste and Jesse Forever [Blu-ray]

1. The person who cares less has all the power. Nobody wants to be the one who’s more interested.

2. Because we want to show how cavalier and blasé we can be to the other person, little psychological games like ‘Intentionally Take Hours Or Days To Text Back’ will happen. They aren’t fun.

3. A person being carefree because they have zero interest in you looks exactly like a person being carefree because they think you’re amazing & are making a conscious effort to play it cool. Good luck deciphering between the two.

4. Making phone calls is a dying art. Chances are, most of your relationship’s communication will happen via text, which is the most detached, impersonal form of interaction. Get familiar with those emoticon options.

5. Set plans are dead. People have options and up-to-the-minute updates on their friends (or other potential romantic interests) whereabouts…

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My Blackest Wish: A Note to My Younger Self

If I could I would try to shield your innocence from time

I think myself to be a well, always for filling. I feel myself to be a dipper, plunging down and pulling up selves from myself.

I’d drink from my gourd to down ’94 with stones and sticks from all the years after  and I’ll swallow it all, even the bleach creams.

I would reach out and touch your face and say, “Look boo-bear, look; I have to reach up to touch you. Don’t you see the stars IMG_1510 - Version 2forming a bracelet around my wrist while my fingers are barely cupping your face? You are so high boo-bear, so high.”

I would carry you with me always like I do my mother’s first kiss. I’d hold you as close to me as my father held me next to him when he danced with me at night till I fell asleep and knew the comfort and safety of a man’s arms.

I would say, “No! don’t go that way. Don’t say yes. Scream. Scream. Scream!” but if you still went in, if you still opened the door, I would kneel down and tell you, “You will be okay; it is not your fault.”

I would tell you that the black boys and the black girls lied; you are enough and Africa beats in your veins through and through;  America does too;  Britain does too. You are not a cookie.

I would tell you that the white boys and the white girls lied; they do not forget the African in you–they deliberately forget. They lay claim to your mind, to your voice, but they leave the body. Your body carries you through. You are not a specimen.

I would convince you that the world lies. Your skin has hypnotized every god man and woman ever created. The sky weeps for not having kept you.  You are beautiful.

I would guide your hands to the stove, give them a knife and spoon, and move them over pots and pans, have cornmeal fall between your fingers, let peach juice stain your  lips, allow hot chicken and greens perfume your clothes. I would show you how to take flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, butter, and milk, mix it, bake it, call it a biscuit and plate it with eggs, rice, sausages floating in brown gravy, and serve, serve it to your mother and your father, serve it to your brothers, serve it to your grandmother because you remember–ancestors taking flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, butter, and milk, mixing it, baking it in kitchens not their own and calling it work for mouths not their own. I would teach you the recipes so the man you’ll love will taste and know, so your children taste and know, so you will taste and know.

I would take you into me and wrap you with Marlon Riggs, James Baldwin, Bayard Rustin, Langston Hughes, Bruce Nugent, Essex Hemphill, and so many numerous nameless black faces with stubble kissing other black faces with stubble. I would hold you while you cried at the beauty of possibility.

I would teach you to dance with  Toni Morrison, Ntozake Shange, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, and Nella Larsen. I would help you sing for Billie, Etta, Diana, Aretha, Patti, Nina, Lauryn, Beyonce, Jennifer,  Mariah, Toni, Janet, and Whitney–everyday Whitney.

I would make a garden for you and forbid you nothing.

I would kiss all of you.

I love you.

…Give you courage in a world of compromise. Yes I would… 

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