Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind

Nobody Mean More to Us: Every Time (from Artists/Scholars/Teachers Responding to Police Violence)

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Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 8.38.15 PMLast night a hopeful, anxious, heavy, urgent, connected, inspired group of artists, writers, scholars and teachers gathered to collectively tap into the legacy of June Jordan and Audre Lorde as we respond to police violence in this moment.

We called in our folks, lifted up our communities of accountabilities, honored our feelings, learned about the specific ways that June Jordan and Audre Lorde were impacted by and worked to respond to police violence, looked at the complex ways we are connected to police violence and our communities of accountability, recommitted to and recontextualized our daily creative praxis, activated the Lorde Concordance Oracle, held each other in process, shared our fears, hopes and lessons and created poetry together.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 7.27.39 AMWe chose the letter b (for brave for #blacklivesmatter for the bold act of listening our intuition) and we were blessed and broken open by the Lorde Concordance offering from the poem “Power” that spoke so directly to our process in the moment.   We reached for ways to ground our actions and decision making in legacy, ancestral guidance and profound purpose instead of reaction, scarcity, ego and panic.  The poems below are in the tradition of June Jordan’s “Nobody Mean More to Me Than You and the Future Life of Willie Jordan” and her “Poem About Police Violence.”  We place them here in honor of the communities we love and towards the world we deserve.

P.S. If you are interested in going deeper into this process of drawing on ancestral depth for this time of urgent change check out our upcoming 3-day intensive Breathe Underwater: A Baptismal Intensive for Ancestor Accountable Artists, Activists and Intellectuals.   And if you are interested in applying the wisdom of June Jordan and Audre Lorde to your work of solidarity against police violence, in support of transnational liberation movements, as and with precarious intellectual workers in the adjunct movement, as students and faculty of color confronting anti-blackness in the Ivory Tower consider coming to the in-person Brilliance Remastered Retreat Nobody Mean More in Durham, NC this September.

Nobody Mean More to Us

a roll call poem by the participants in Nobody Mean More

Nobody mean more to me than black & brown folks, black queer folks, haitian folks, young folks.

Nobody mean more to me than Black mothers

Nobody mean more to me than elders and ancestors

Nobody mean more to me than brilliant black women

who refuse to give up or go unheard

Nobody mean more to me than black mothers and babies

birthing and living free

Nobody mean more to me than queer youth of color

breaking through to love

Nobody mean more to me than sick disabled injured queer trans brown black broke and healing friends

Nobody mean more to me than black elders

Nobody mean more to me than my invisibly disabled community

Nobody mean more to me than black and brown folks

not only surviving but thriving

Nobody mean more to me than crip queer poc

sick and surviving still

Nobody mean more to me than babies

bringing light and blackness

Nobody mean more to me than all of the students of color at our school

and all of their communities and loves

Nobody mean more to me than students

who refuse to belong

Nobody mean more to me than anyone

willing to learn

Nobody mean more to me than poor folks

hustling daily

Nobody mean more to me than crip brown & black youth

teaching us

Nobody mean more to me than young people

who bring energy and passion to their despair and confusion

Nobody mean more to me than all people of color

excluded from home yet still resist

Nobody mean more to me than Black diasporic GNC Queers

coming up from nothing and claiming a right to their ancestors and culture

Nobody mean more to me than Black disabled femme folks

who can’t get out of bed sometimes

Nobody mean more to me than God

the orisha, ancestors and the lukumi community

Nobody mean more to me than us

Black and Brown folks

who hold us close and set us straight

and remember us on the days and nights we might forget us

 

every time

by the participants in Nobody Mean More: Artists, Intellectuals, Educators Responding to Police Violence

 

“Tell me something

what you think would happen if

everytime they kill a black boy

then will kill a cop

everytime they kill a black man

then we kill a cop

you think the accident rate would lower

subsequently?”

-June Jordan, “Poem about Police Violence”

 

what if every time was the last

what if every time

we killed the part of us that did this

what if every time

the dead returned to reckon with us

what if every time

we outsmarted our fear

what if every time

every one else had to hold and feel the pain of the mother for one day

what if every time

we were believed

what if every time

whiteness choked on its own violence

what if every time

the sun went out

what if every time

the water turned to blood

and we couldn’t drink one drop without tasting it

what if every time

all of the tears shed were collected in a vessel

and transformed into the power to dismantle institutions

what if everytime had already happened

and this was a question for historians

what if every time

we rush the road with 10,000 beating hearts

running perpendicular to the Mississippi

what if every time

videos of black bodies being murdered

were not played on a loop

what if every time

the TRUTH was broadcast far and wide

and false media messages were laughed at and discarded

what if every time

we dislodged the cold stone in our throat so we could speak

what if every time we loved each other more

what if every time

we admitted how hopeless we actually are

what if every time

we chose to continue to have hope in spaces of collectivity

what if every time

we knew there would be justice.

what if every time

we were allowed to grieve without any shame

what if every time I asked for one day when I do not have to think about being Black

but just being human

I got a day

what if every time

we had a national day of mourning

what if everytime police sacrificed black life

white people just went out and sat all over every police car in the whole country so they couldn’t drive out get out of the car for a day a week

what if every time

the “good” police officers

stood up en masse denouncing their colleagues

what if every time the police murder someone

a week’s pay of every police employee is withheld

what if every time

a politician chosen at random lost their position

what if every time a black body is shattered

a thousand more were loved into existence

bathed in joy, shown the power of our own wings

what if every time

we were allowed to feel Black Joy

what if every time

we could feel free to stop proving our right to exist

and get to the business of feeling the joy our existence

what if every time

we intentionally breathed into our bellies

what if every time we were afraid

we danced

what if every time

we allowed ourselves the space to cry outside

what if everytime

we put a bowl of water under the bed and ask our ancestors to dream us a way

what if every time

we were raptured away to a new dimension

to start again

what if every time

no one had electricity

and our news was our talk between stoops

what if every time

we read all day aloud while standing on corners

what if every time

we lost the language

and had to make a new one from scratch

what if every time

we would communicate without words

but make sounds from deep down

what if every time they kill black folk

everyone lays down in a grave

everyone

and rises up with dirt to do

what if every time

we planted a garden

what if every time we must create hashtags

we open the borders for ten days and allow 1000 refugees places to stay

what if every time

we gave a scholarship to a student of color

what if every time

we put a love poem into the pocket of every black child we know

what if every time

we made space to be gentle to each other

what if every time

we stole our days back

what if every time

we took a broomstick to the stained glass

what if every time

we centered in our dignity

what if every time

we allowed ourselves to be

what if every time

we remember how resilient we are

what if every time

we dreamed

we created new worlds with new possibilities

what if every time we hurt

we gain direct access to healing ancestors

with remedies to soothe our pain

what if this time

police were disarmed

and trained as midwives and doulas

and the midwives and doulas

became the keepers of safety

you think the “accident” rate would lower

subsequently?

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