Verdant rush across naked feet
Untethered wishes moved to action
Vibrancy calling from my throat
Heart pounding its echo
Waves of pulse reverberate
Teaching me to listen with my body
To the song that can only be heard
By the hairs on my arms
Whose words vibrate through the stream of my veins
Ancient call wakes a knowing in me
I am here in its thrall
My body surrenders in prayer
To a dance which knows its home
I have explored the conversations of ‘race’, or rather conversations of ethnicity and history, and where I’ve come to is, I see the importance of the conversations and I ask myself, what’s next?
As a Black/Latina looking at history it is painful and terrifying that not too long ago in this country, simply for my skin color, I would have had no human rights. I would have been segregated to the bare minimum needed to survive and treated like an animal. I would have had dogs let loose on me, fire hoses against my body, watched black men and women being lynched simply for being black and standng for human rights. Their body parts cut off for souvenirs, often many of them tortured first or burned alive. When the cotton industry was not doing well the owners of the land took it out on the Black community and lynched. Knowing how the Democrat party fought so hard to keep the Black community from being treated as humans. How the Democratic party enforced ‘Black Codes’ which were past in 1865/1866 as retaliation to the Civil War created to restrict the freedom of the Black community and force low wage labor. These ‘codes’ were in place until 1868/1870 dispersed by the 14th and 15th Amendment. Though it wasn’t until the Civil Rights Movement that human rights of the Black communty began to make lasting changes.
In 1890 Ida B. Wells an American journalist stood up to the lynch mobs including standng up to the Suffragettes who were appealing to the KKK for support and in this supporting the lynchings. The first KKK was created in 1866 by confederate veterans in Tennessee. Ida B. Wells bravely stood up to them and traveled to Europe to bring awareness to what was happening in America. Ida B. Wells is a hero to me who was unabashed in supporting the Black community even when Suffragettes did all in their power to shut down her voice.
I’ve heard such callous projections as ‘Get over it’. Well, as human beings telling another human being who is present to pain to ‘get over it’ never works. All it does is shame and dissasociate from the person as a human being. It’s not about ‘getting over it’ it’s about transmutation of the pain that is present. Being present with it, feeling it, really allowing it and if needed reaching out to talk about it with someone who would be supportive. To me there absolutely is a healing needed in relation to this history, to all of history honestly. There are affects of slavery to this day in the black community. That’s not something a phrase as simplistic and cold as ‘get over it’ is going to change any time soon. I remember being in class when we were taught about slavery, when I saw the horror of the history of the black community, what the Civil Rights Movement had to endure and I was shocked. I was so shocked I couldn’t even talk to my white friends for a long time. I was processing all of what had happened. I felt angry, betrayed, even though they were innocent, they had done nothing to me. How could I feel anything other than that when faced with the brutality of what had been done to the black community? They would look at me with shame and wince as if to say they were sorry for what happened in history. It is an intense reality to process. No one helped us process this. I felt like I had the rug ripped out from underneath me. When we watched movies and videos about the holocaust I was devestated. Between Black history, the holocaust, I was shocked that humans could be so evil towards each other. History is important, raw and real, so that indeed it does not repeat itself with any ethnicity. I do believe it’s important to be able to support each other when being faced with the brutality of humanity. The reality is humans have done horrific things to each other, to the Black community, Jewish community, the Irish and Italian immigrants, the Native Americans, Latinos, the Asians, everyone has experienced deep horrors. I believe it is so important to heal the wounds of history, for all of us as there is not one ‘group’ of human being who has not been touched by violence and suffering.
What I am speaking to here in this article is the pain of the Black community. When someone says to me ‘You’re not picking cotton what are you so upset about’ that to me is such a grotesquery. I am not nor have ever been a slave, nor should I be ‘grateful’ for not being a slave today. Simply for being Black that does not mean I am predisposed to being a slave and therefore should be grateful I am not. I find that statement to be completely ignorant and a shaming tactic to put Black people ‘in their place’ as a reminder that we should be slaves. This is a phrase that has been spoken across ethnicities including people in the Black community. No. Do not address me as slave. I am a human, I am free. And I am very aware of history and the effects of the Black community. I can’t pretend that never happened. The people who say such things as ‘you’re not out picking cotton, get over it’, I do not hate them. I find it upsetting and I recognize it is an unconsicousness that I do not need to feed. Just as I am human, so are they. They have their pain, their view of the world that even though I do not understand, I don’t have to hate them or try and force listening where there isn’t. I don’t have to take it on either nor do I silence myself. I just find another focus where my voice will make the most difference and hopefully create a thread of unity even in the disparity.
I don’t believe in minimizing the pain of the Black community processing history. Especially since there are still conversations underlying in society that view Black as nefarious. And guess what? I also don’t have to take that nonsense on. I make stories such as ‘Black people are nefarious’ insignificant. I am sovereign and simply do not need to enroll myself in or take on any hurtful stories simply because they exist in society. There will always be hurtful stories in society. It’s just part of humanity at this time. I do not need to give it power. I do not need to believe in any hateful stories aimed at me as that is not who I am. The hateful stories are not even a reflection of those who spew them either. Pain begets pain. I just don’t have to wear it anymore.
What I do believe in is, it is time to heal the pains of history, support each other and continue to rise. The after affects of slavery are real. The Black community has come a long way and will continue to. To me that is inclusive of facing history and really feeling what is there and healing it. It’s time to break the cycle of pain. It’s time to bequeath the new generations of the Black community to be free from being bound to the pain of history. To be present with the pain if it comes up for them too and release it and grow. Not to forget history, but to let go of the shackles to the past once and for all.
Me personally, I am stepping out of the conversations of ‘race’. They are important and for me where I want to focus my energy and voice in relation to this is on poverty and the poverty line beginning with conversations of self love. To me some of the most important conversations are the conversations of self love, self worth, self care and self-nurture. These conversations can transform so much in every ethnic community especially those who are in poverty. Conversations can lead to fund raising, taking a look at inner city schools at homelessness and more. Supporting people raising from poverty level into success to me is the conversation and ACTION I want to focus on. I’m tired of the yelling and virtue signaling and celebrities saying they are standing for the Black community and yet leaving everyone across the board with nothing but wounding. Stirring up history with no conversations of healing, just to stir it up to rip at wounds and leave the Black community raw and hurting. Celebrities just ripping at wounds to fit an egoic personal agenda or some unconscious game of ‘savior’. Just riling up pain to drive campaigns of division and hate. No. That’s not what the Black community needs. We need healing and focus. Putting that energy towards what actually supports the Black community.
For me focusing on the conversations of how to alleviate poverty support the Black and Latino communities as well as all ethnicites touched by poverty, Asian, White, Native American, Latino, everyone. I am a New Yorker and here in New York City every day I walk past people who are starving on the streets. Starvation knows no ethnicity, no age, no gender. We can all unite to make a permanent difference in America. Our homeless are starving to death slowly in the streets. It’s a prolonged torture, a slow death. I walk by Black men, Black women, Latinos, White men and women, pregnant women, Veterans. Our veterans who fought for our freedom, are on our streets! Human beings laying on the pavement braving all matters of weather, begging, BEGGING for a scrap of food. It is physically painful for me. Every single time. To walk by my fellow human laying on the streets, squishing themselves onto a small step to cover at least a small part of their body from the rain, it is painful. This is not normal yet we have normalized it. People starving in America is not normal. I do believe that people deeply care about this issue yet can feel at a loss or helpless to make a difference. We need each other. We need each other’s ingenuity, each others passion, each others brilliance, each others hearts. Of all the differences we have, political, religious, historic, whatever the differences are I ask myself, where is the common thread? I support everyone’s voice out there speaking their passion regardless of what you believe, whether I believe in it or not, whether it triggers me or not, I support your voice and passion. Everyone getting clear on what we DISagree with I believe is necessary alchemy for us to be clear on yes, our disagreement and I don’t believe it ends there. I believe in the clarity of our disagreement is where we find the clarity of our agreement. Not absolute agreement, just one thread. A common thread that unites us. In the midst of all of the debates, I believe we also find our common ground.
What if we didn’t need catastrophe to remind us? When catastrophe hits we put our differences aside and consciously and lovingly co-create. People naturally want to come together. We already are together, really. We are on this planet together. All of us born on this same earth.
I believe we can make a lasting difference in the communities stricken by poverty and in our homeless on our streets as well as support the middle class on the poverty line from crossing over. I believe it is an action that unites all ethnicities, all genders, all ages, and all economic levels. I believe we can do this. How? When? Where? I do not know yet. I don’t share it as a pressure to act out of panic and self neglect, rather as an opening to conversations and actions rooted in self care first. And I open to the infinite possibilities when I speak to you my fellow human being and do not shut you out because you look or think differently or because you challenge my set ways of being. I stay open to the possibility of lasting difference in this country and in this world by taking the time to self care, hold myself in the love I am, know myself as worthy and remember the innocence in me and the innocence in the people of this world. I believe in humanity and all the love and beauty and determination human beings are in being and in action.
I believe everything, all possibility, begins in my own healing, my own self love, self tenderness, the cultivation of my joy, inner peace, relaxation, health. It all begins in me. I can only meet you with the generosity I give to myself. If I am a miser to me, I will be a miser to you. I believe in generosity of spirit and I know that begins in me. I believe every human being holds a piece to a very important bigger puzzle, bigger than me, bigger than my identity. I don’t make our powerful differences wrong as a whole, as a matter of fact I believe that’s a piece to the puzzle too. Even if I as an individual have my own strong opinions politically, socially, etc and make certain conversations wrong, when I take myself out of it, pull back and look at all of the conversations, I do get the importance and value of opposing views. I belive it is opposition that keeps me honest. Without any opposing views, I would be concerned I had found myself in an echo chamber. As I have said, I do believe finding clarity of disagreement leads to finding a common thread amongst each topic of disagreement and perhaps even across the board. I believe lasting action isn’t birthed from anxiety but rather from the most powerful and radical activism I know- self love.
Anything is possible. I really do believe so. Starting with the call to my inner journey. Starting with how I view and treat myself. Starting with holding myself as precious. Starting with my own heart.
Attached meme created by unknown.
I used to think being ‘right’ made me happy. Now I see that I confused what I thought was happiness with a high. Being ‘right’ doesn’t make me happy or bring me joy, it’s a sadistic high that I feel. Nothing necessarily wrong with that either it’s just being honest with myself about what I’m doing and what I’m choosing in the moment. With a high comes the come down and for me it’s not pretty. The righteous high comes at a cost to me. The come down is rough, the fiending for the next dose to alleviate the inner backlash is blinding. Fighting through the addiction to see what is it that nurtures me and do I dare be it?
Love has a high, however, to me that can expand into deeper connection. Like a thread sewing together. It has a substance that the righteous high does not, a foundation it seems like to me, potential to create a bond, trust, vulnerability, it eventually grounds itself in reality and then builds itself from there. The love high has its own failsafe, illusion busting written in its composition with a call to grounding and deepening in self sight in my experience.
Exploring the highs in life. Nothing wrong, even righteousness has its time. Like anything, righteousness in its excess becomes a painful addiction with a high cost to self care, self kindness and my health.
Being what nurtures me is an important selfishness.
This is a long story and trust me you’re going to want to read it to the end. I’m not normally so arrogant as to state that and this morning has been quite extraordinary lol So, I have been determined to get a queen sized mattress for free. I’ve been looking on craigslist and found one. I went this morning at 8:45 to pick it up from the curb. It was wrapped in plastic, like new from Park Ave where people are happy to give things away that are still in excellent condition to help out others and because they just don’t need it anymore.
I met with resistance from the door guy who was saying ‘It’s trash you can’t take that’ and we went back and forth me saying I was told to pick it up. Finally, I’m on my way. 1 foot at a time. I pushed the box spring 1 foot, then I pushed the mattress 1 foot and so on.
A few blocks later I realized, this is taking me about 30 mins to 40 mins per block lol
Now, at first I start off all chipper- yay! New mattress and for free omg! This would have cost me hundreds of dollars what a gift I’m so happy wee! That lasted about half a block.
Men and women offered to help and then when I told them how far I was going just kind of grimaced and said good luck! Hahahah but I didn’t blame them, it was really freaking far and this whole enterprise was absolutely insane and I knew it and chose it anyway lol Free bed! So as much as I was grumbling about doing it and not getting help, which was my own choice, I totally got when people offered to help there was no realistic way I could expect them to help me all the way home.
The total distance was 7 blocks and 3 avenues. For those who don’t know NYC, an avenue is about 2 or 3 blocks long. I hadn’t had breakfast because I had no idea it was going to be this big of a deal and didn’t bring water. Derp!
Now doing crazy things like this, the mind gets pretty nutty. I was silently judging everyone walking by me and not helping. I also blamed feminism, I said ‘See! if the feminists hadn’t gotten all pissy about men helping women out this wouldn’t be a thing!’ Yup. I blamed feminism for me dragging a mattress home. Ohhh it gets way nuttier than that. I had to snap myself back using mindfulness and self talk ‘Kristal, no one told you to do this and it’s no one’s responsibility but yours to get this home. Don’t be a jerk’.
A few blocks in a woman helped me cross the street and 2 men come and offer to help. I got smart this time, if you could just help me to the end of the block that would be amazing. I couldn’t expect help all the way home, but god a block saved me a half hour or more! They simply lifted up the box spring and the mattress. Hahaha this was when my mind went into the marvels of biology and how men can lift things waaaay better than I can lol
Another man helped me across a block, then another man came to help me cross the mattress across the street. I had brought the box spring first then traveled back to get the mattress. The man said ‘I don’t even want to know why you are doing this or how you came to do this but it must be quite a story’ hahahahaaaa we had a good laugh. While we were pushing it across the street another man showed up with a dolly and we put the mattress on the dolly and he took over and they both crossed the street. I thanked them all so much. One of them had said if he had his truck he would have helped me take it all the way home which I didn’t doubt for a second.
Now came the avenues and maneuvering around dog pee. It took me about 20 minutes just to make it a quarter of the block with the mattress falling on a bed of flowers and getting stained on it’s first layer of covers. By now, the plastic covers had completely ripped off. I made it half way down the block and started to cry on the mattress hahahahahaa I had a split second of a thought of saying screw it I give up. But that was a mere moment because there was no way I was giving up. When I’m determined to do something, I do it. Even if it takes me awhile, damnit I’m doing it.
I crossed the street. I had become an animal at this point. People were staring at me and I was all ‘Oh no, I’m fine! No help needed here! I”m just pushing a mattress across the street! Feel free to watch!’ It was 3 hours in, mindfulness had gone right out the window. The rational part of my brain was completely silent. I had entered primal survival mode all for dragging a mattress home.
I entered a coffee shop to ask for water, the client next to me was keeping an eye on my mattress and box spring so no one took it hahahhaha
I drank the water and got right back to pushing. Only 2 avenues left. I make it half way down the avenue. Someone walks by with the cutest dogs but all I felt was abject terror ‘OH my god! Oh god, please don’t piss on my bed! Omg!!’ was all that went through my head. All was well they did not piss on my bed.
I saw a couple of teens hanging out on the steps smoking pot asked them if they could just get me to the end of the block I pointed ahead of me. They said yes just going to finish smoking. Well, I kept pushing because I knew nothing is set in stone. Sure enough, ‘ohh thought you were going in the other direction’. Wha? I pointed…nevermind! I waved him off and kept pushing. I was getting braver in asking for help because I was losing my mind. I asked another guy walking by he looked at me sipped his Dunkin donuts iced coffee and sighed and said, ‘Yeah I don’t have time’. Marbles irrationally lost on my end I said ‘No one has time!’ and I kept pushing. I didn’t expect him to actually help me after my jerky outburst but even though he was clearly annoyed by me lol he still helped. I felt so freaking bad. I’m all omg I’m an animal. Just yelling at innocent bystanders for my own insane quest. He got me near the end of the avenue and I thanked him and he smiled, I think he laughed a little? lol and we parted ways. He had flipped the bed and I could see the bottom from all my dragging the metal was coming through. I decided to touch it because that’s clearly a smart thing to do. I burned my pointer finger on my right hand and instantly congratulated myself for the brilliant move. Then I thought, omg, are there little fires going on inside this bed from all the friction?? Did I spark little fires inside! Then I thought about how I had no fire extinguisher and I should have one and how much it would suck to wake up dead because I dragged a mattress home and sparked little fires. Oh the brain.
So here I was. Only 1 avenue left before I was finally on my own block. All I needed to do was cross the street. I took my mattress across the street first. A woman was crossing and I glared at her as she was trying to find her way to walk around me and my mattress. Yup, completely nuts. That was me. I thought to myself, ‘See! This is why I like Christians! They would never let me walk a mattress on my own!’. I absolutely told you my mind got nuttier as the time passed on, I was not exaggerating. Luckily my rational brain woke up realizing that I was only 1 avenue away. So chill out psycho mattress lady. I felt a little sense of sanity creeping it’s way back.
I was just getting the mattress on the curb when I look across the street where my mattress box was. To my absolute horror instead of seeing my box spring, I see a garbage truck. My heart skips in my chest I scream ‘Noooooooo! That’s not garbage! Noooo! That’s my mattress!!’ I swear you cannot make this stuff up. I raced across the street in what would have been quite a cinematic moment. I got there just in time to see my box spring being crushed by the crushing thing of the garbage truck. Horrified I turned around to cross the street and people had seen the entire scene and were dying laughing! Ahahahahaa
A couple said, ‘That wasn’t garbage was it?’, as they were dying laughing. I said, ‘No! F my life that wasn’t garbage! Oh my god!’ They went into the restaurant and I grabbed my mattress thinking, OK OK it’s going to be OK at least it wasn’t the mattress. I’m not sure if the mattress is on fire inside but everything is going to be OK. I called one of my friends because it was just too outrageous not to share and I had called her at the beginning of the journey and we died laughing. I happened to be dragging my mattress past the diner the couple went into. The man stepped off the balcony and began helping me. I hung up the phone and thanked him so much he offered to take me the rest of the way I said you know what at the end of this avenue is fine, I live across the avenue. As he was pulling and I was pushing he says ‘I think that truck wants to help you carry your bed’.
A truck had stopped in the road and a man comes over and says, ‘We own a business and we sell mattresses…’ I interrupted and said, ‘I am so sorry I don’t have any money.’ He shook his head, ‘No, we just saw what happened. We have a truck filled with mattresses. We want to give you a mattress for free. With the box. Where are you going?’ I was in shock! Lots of ‘Oh my god thank you so much!’ He said, ‘Leave that mattress, we’re giving you a new one’. I aimed him towards my building and he said he would meet me there. The man who was helping me helped me drag the mattress to the side. He pat me on the shoulder with a smile and said, ‘I’m so glad it worked out for you this way’. Then went back to the diner with his wife.
I jogged home, they honked I pointed where my building was exactly. They met me out right in front of my building. The men opened the truck, pulled out a Queen sized Sealy mattress and I started crying. ‘Thank you so much! Oh my god!’ He said wait, you need the box spring too. They brought the box spring out of the truck. I was dehydrated but I was sobbing. I thanked them so much and said ‘Bless you!!’ I was at a loss for words on how to tell them what they did for me was so incredible!! I mean talk about miracles!! What are the chances of a truck filled with mattresses being nearby when that all happened and then offering me a brand new Sealy mattress for free still in plastic?? Oh my god!!
My neighbored helped me drag it in the door and my other neighbors helped me get it into the elevator as I told them all what had happened. Shocked looks and lots of laughter hahahaha I got upstairs, got my brand new Sealy mattress unwrapped and in position. I’m sitting on my brand new bed right now sharing this with you all as this has been a wild morning!! Hahaaaaa You really cannot make this up! I am so grateful for my brand new mattress! In all of the excitemnt I didn’t even look that their buisness name. I believe it was smaller private business as they themselves owned and operated the business. All I can recall is that they had red shirts on with white writing. If anyone knows who these Earth Angels are please let me know, they were here in Manhattan. I would love to give them a shout out! I’m happily shocked and it feels so good to be in my new bed! Mindblowingly unexpected! 😁 Also the sanitation men were of course doing the right thing how could they know? Hahaha they were doing their job keeping NYC clean so rock on.
So many people came together to help me, not knowing me from anywhere, not even knowing my name! That’s some awesome humanity 😊
What do I do with this?
These shreds of nothingness
Leading me nowhere but to the abyss
But providing nothing but a stain
A ribbon turning in on itself
There are no bows
Just knots with frayed edges
Barefoot in a barren land
Echoes of thunder with voices of the dead
I search for the connection
All I feel is nothing
It’s dead in me
And I can’t tell if that’s good or not yet