Radikal Readings: Women, Race & Class

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What can I say about the brilliance of Angela Y. Davis that hasn’t already been said? Like the other book by her that I recently wrote about, this is an absolute must-read. It should be required reading in every school. Davis writes about a history of the Black, Women’s and workers’ movements in the US and documents a side of the women’s suffrage movement that you don’t read about in history books as a kid. Her words are inspiring and the things she brings to light in this book are infuriating. It is incredibly well researched, presented in a straightforward manner.

It’s important to note this isn’t just about women, race and class, but  study that examines the prevalent racism in the certain women’s movements. A few of the reviews I’ve read by white women state that this book blew apart their idea of white liberal feminism, and that is a great way to describe. It is also one of the biggest reasons why this should be required reading, especially for non women/people of color.

Because it Takes Me Home

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Sometimes I just have a desire to write. To see where my thoughts and pen take me. Often it’s to my deepest secrets – the ones I don’t share with anyone. The ones I am afraid to admit to myself, and there is a beauty there that is unmatched.

My cousin once asked incredulously, “wow, so you really love writing that much?” when I told her I write regularly for myself. I do. I love writing; but it’s also that I often feel a need to do so. I writer will often tell you that. I believe that writers are the most mis-understood bunch. She couldn’t fathom that I enjoyed it so much that I would take my unpaid time out to do this for fun. Yet, that’s just what it is for me.

At times it’s fun. Sometimes it’s cathartic. Others it’s for a purpose, and sometimes it’s just like this – just a need to put pen to paper and release the thoughts. Perhaps that is what it is the most – a release. A release of all that’s inside that doesn’t get uttered into the air and landed upon ears.

It’s where I feel most comfortable. As a child and pre-teen, I would write letters to my parents when I had a problem, because writing it down felt more natural than saying it out loud. Time and age has made me comfortable with the saying it out loud aspect, but my inner most thoughts are still reserved for this medium.

Writing about a love of writing may seems cliched, but everything I’ve said is quite true to me. No matter what other aspect in my life I feel inadequate in, I know I can always come home to where I feel the most comfortable. Home is my pen, paper, and thoughts.

Poem About My Rights

Even tonight and I need to take a walk and clear
my head about this poem about why I can’t
go out without changing my clothes my shoes
my body posture my gender identity my age
my status as a woman alone in the evening
alone on the streets
alone not being the point
the point being that I can’t do what I want
to do with my own body because I cam the wrong
sex the wrong age the wrong skin and
suppose it was not here in the city but down on the beach
or far into the woods and I wanted to go
there by myself thinking about God
or thinking about children or thinking about the world
all of it disclosed by the stars and the silence:
I could not go and I could not think and I could not stay there
alone
as I need to be
alone because I can’t do what I want to with my own
body and
who in the hell set things up
like this
and in France they say if a guy penetrates
but does not ejaculate then he did not rape me
and if after stabbing him if after screams if
after begging the bastard and if even after smashing
a hammer to his head if even after that if he
and his buddies fuck me after that
then I consented and there was
no rape because finally you understand finally
they fucked me over because I was wrong I was
wrong again to be me being me where I was
wrong to be who I am
which is exactly like South Africa
penetrating into Namibia penetrating into
Angola and does that mean I mean how do you know if
Pretoria ejaculates what will the evidence look like the
proof of the monster jackboot ejaculation on Blackland
and if
after Namibia and if after Angola and if after Zimbabwe
and if after all of my kinsmen and women resist even to
self-immolation of the villages and if after that
we lose nevertheless what will the big boys say will they lain my consent:
Do You Follow Me: We are the wrong people of
the wrong skin on the wrong continent and what
in the hell is everybody reasonable about…

- excerpt from Poem About My Rights, June Jordan

Radikal Readings: Drown

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After a journalist who’s word I trust recommended Junot Diaz’s writing, I knew I had to pick up his work. Diaz has a series of short stories that appear in the New Yorker, so I decided to go with his first book Drown, which is a collection of short stories.

The collection of 10 stories is based on the Dominican immigrant experience. Diaz’s words are powerful and do not hold anything back when describing the reality of life for his characters. Yet, he holds a measured voice at the same time – not going overboard when describing horrendous odds. They aren’t the most uplifting stories to read, yet they hold a certain amount of resilience in the face of difficulties.

I loved this book. Junot Diaz is a tremendous writer. He writes his characters with such emotion, and on such a personal level. I do not read as much literature as I would like, but Junot Diaz’s writing makes me want to read everything I can get my hands on my him. Amazing book by an amazing writer.

Song of the Day: Mi Playa

Beautiful voice, minimal quiet is the way I describe Ely Guerra’s Mi Playa. It’s stripped down in such a simple, beautiful way that is absolutely infectious, and the slow build up is timed perfectly. The lyrics are just as beautiful and simple. There’s something so sweet, endearing, and truthful about lyrics like these. I find myself listening to this late at night on repeat.

Ode to the Book

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Book
beautiful
book
minuscule forest,
leaf
after leaf
your paper
smells
of the elements,
you are
matutinal and nocturnal,
vegetal,
oceanic,
in your ancient pages
camp fires
near the Mississippi
canoes
in the islands,
later
roads
and roads,
revelations,
insurgent
races,
Rimbauld like a wounded
fish bleeding
flopping in the mud,
and the beauty
of fellowship,
stone by stone

-Pablo Neruda

Radikal Readings: Women, Culture & Politics

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Let me start this post by saying Angela Y. Davis is an amazing woman, whom I look up to. Now that that has been stated, let me say this books can be life-changing for those who don’t know about the history behind the contents. It is dated now (written during the Reagan era) however, that doesn’t diminish the message, and sadly much of it still rings true.

I was born in the Reagan era, thus this book was at the top of my list of works by Davis to read. The collection of essays on being black and female in America and the world is an eye-opening read. Angela Davis gives us an articulate critique of the political, societal, and economic climate that defined the 80s, especially for women. She has such a passion behind her convictions that makes for such an engrossing read. She’s intelligent and provocative in her words.

It is an absolute must-read.

Song of the Day: Iga Bani

I found Iga Bani by Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté through one of those music streaming sites that plays music related to the artist you choose – in this case it was Buena Vista Social Club. It’s one of those songs that instantly fell in love with just a few seconds in. This is perfect for a Sunday evening, or when cooking after a long day at the office.

After looking into Malian artist Ali Farka Touré’s work, he’s quickly become an artist I can rely on to put his entire discography on rotation. Utterly beautiful music.

Women of Color

“A woman of color formation might decide to work around immigration issues. This political commitment is not based on the specific histories of racialized communities or its constituent members, but rather constructs an agenda agreed upon by all who are a part of it. In my opinion, the most exciting potential of women of color formations resides in the possibility of politicizing this identity – basing the identity on politics rather than the politics on identity.”

― Angela Y. Davis

Radikal Readings: Latin America Diaries

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After reading The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Guevara (Che), I decided to pick up the continuation of that, which Guevara himself called Otra Vez. This diary is a contination of Che’s travels through Latin America, this time without Alberto Granado. He visits Peru, Guatemala, and Mexico (where he would meet Fidel Castro).

This diary includes his entries, as well as letters to his mother, aunt, and friends, as well as poetry and a few journalistic pieces. It is definitely much rougher as Che didn’t get a chance to edit and compile this diary as he did with The Motorcycle Diaries.

It is an interesting look at how Che’s mindset changed from that first trip and continued changing throughout this journey. He also writes about meeting Hilda Gadea who would become his first wife. Again, it’s an interesting look into Ernesto Guevara, and not the myth and legend that was created. A quick read, it’s a must for those interested in his work.