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I spend a lot of time ranting about the wrongs the Kyriarchy perpetrates upon most of us. I’ve spent a lot of time ranting about the misogynoiristic wrongs I experience because of micro and macrocosmic aspects of said Kyriarchy. What I have not spent a lot of time doing is sharing what makes me happy. So right now, I wanna talk about what makes me happy.

tenor

OK, I see you’re laughing. It’s cool. I can understand why it’s difficult to believe I want to talk about what makes me very happy. So, take your time. Get your chuckle out.

 

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Done yet?

 

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Nope? OK, then.

 

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You’re good now? Great. Here’s the thing…

 

The longer I’m in this fight for justice, the more positive reprieves I need in life. Road tripping is a big reprieve for me. I relish the feeling I get speeding down the open road, around mountains’ bends, taking in every breath-taking sight I can for extended periods of time. Or as long as my bladder will let me. Road tripping is a method of reprieve duly needed after partaking in something massive like, oh, planning/managing/speaking in panels at a 4-day long convention, overseeing a very large writing group, and dealing with ubiquitous Degrassi levels of drama. Oh, and of course a day job.

Last year, after certain events took place, I opted to get the fuck out of town. I didn’t care where; I just needed to go. I opened Google Maps and threw figurative darts at the screen until I landed on Badlands National Park in South Dakota. This would be a change as I had never been on a road trip out west, let alone by myself. I had no illusions that I was going to be safe. As a black femme, I’ve never truly been safe in my life. This hasn’t changed in Trump’s Amerikkka – it’s only become more obvious. Yet, here I was, dead set on heading into Red Country. I didn’t care. I needed to get the fuck out of town.

So, of course, I went back. This time, I wanted to go farther into the west. I wanted to see those purple mountains’ majesty in a 80 mph speeding car so I could truly understand and absorb more of the geological diversity of this country. And let me tell you, gentle folk…

America[‘s land] is fucking beautiful, and I for one need to be regularly reminded that there is some sort of beauty in this world. I need a reason to keep fighting. I want to share more than what angers me about this society’s cishet white male supremacy. I want to share how I heal and what I learn about myself during these healing reprieves. With that in mind, I would like to share some photographs of my road trip and the important things I learned about myself while I was on the road. Now, onto the pictures!

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Mountains on the Wisconsin/Minnesota Border

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Sunrise on the Mississippi River

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What Happens When You Jump a Five-Foot Chain-linked Fence Running to the Bathroom

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Outlook of the Missouri River in South Dakota

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Badlands National Park – End of Trail

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Badlands National Park Vista

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Selfie on Badlands National Park Vista. Watch out for rattlesnakes!

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Crocodilians at Reptile Gardens in Rapid City, SD about to attack the host for cracking misogynists jokes. I like these guys.

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Peregrine [I believe] Falcon at Reptile Gardens. LOVE my raptor babies!

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I’m a proud Slytherin, so as much as I love my raptors, I love my snakes even more. Of course, I had to shine a spotlight the venomous local.

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Proud Slytherin loves her constrictors the best!

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Devil’s Tower, WY – Site of Close Encounters of The Third Kind! Admittedly, I’ve never seen the movie.

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Road view of the Rockies at sunset. As a Midwesterner, I feel cheated.

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Wildlife Animal Sanctuary in CO – Big kitty doing what kitties do.

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Yes, that’s a brown bear at the sanctuary. Yes, this photo is to scale. Yes, this means y’all on your own if we encounter one in the wild.

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Timber wolf chilllin’ in the shade. Imagine one of these running in front of your car. I don’t have to. It happened to me at the beginning of the year. This is why I don’t bike after dark in my neighborhood.

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Gotta love the suburbs of Denver in July HAHAOMGWTF?!!

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Deadwood, SD – One of the homes of the gold rush and HBO’s critically acclaimed shows.

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Me in the Badlands climbing onto things I wasn’t supposed to.

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Devil’s Tower, WY – Queen of The Rock!

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Devil’s Tower, WY – Hiding amid the boulders.

So, after seeing all of these wonders, what did I learn about myself from this road trip?

I like being off the grid.

My closest friends were not surprised when I told them I permanently deactivated my Facebook account last week. After spending seven months away from FB, as well as greatly reducing my time on Twitter, I more often than not found myself in a better mental state. Nothing to write home about, but that despair that weighs on my shoulders 24/7/365 was lighter. Being in the middle of nowhere South Dakota and Wyoming meant I had no service in many places, and I’m not just talking about only having roaming. I mean, I had no service. And it was magical. On the flip side, this also led me to realize…

I cannot be the only person in the car who knows how to read a map or has a general sense of direction.

I get it. This comes off as incredibly ableist as reading a map may not be something someone is capable of doing if they are neuroatypical. My concern is rooted in where I like to be on vacation. As I mentioned earlier, I like being off the grid. No WiFi. No Internet. No cell phone service. What does this mean? More than likely, it means that GPS won’t work. If GPS does not work and I am the only person in the car who knows how to read a map or has a well-developed sense of direction, that means I have to stay awake the entire time the car is in motion. As you have surmised from my photos, I like road tripping to places that are in the double-digit hours away from my home. Therefore, staying awake the entire time is not a safe option, for there will be a point at which I have to take over driving. It’s also not safe to get lost in some small town that greets those of us with permanent tans with pitchforks and ropes.

I like exploring.

You’d think that I’d be hesitant to travel outside of any major city above the Mason Dixon what with the droves of MAGA maggots running lose. Newsflash: They’ve always been there, even in every major city. I, however, have not, and I’m not keen on letting more violent cishet white men take away another piece of who I am and still want to become while I still can run about. So I explore. I go to places I’ve never been before. I try things I had never tried before. Because I still can. So I will.

I may like being outside all day, but I need to go back to my nice 3-star hotel at night.

I grew up like a Cosby – financially stable enough for private schools, dance and gymnastics lessons, east coast university, and *shudder* etiquette classes. Grant it, I saved for WisCon, but I am fortunate enough to have a day job that allowed me to rent a brand new Jeep Grand Cherokee, stay in the Governor’s Club at the Madison Concourse for 5 nights, and pay off that debt before I went on my road trip two months later.

This meant that, at least for part of a road trip, I need to stay in a no-less-than 3-star hotel. I tried the Super 8 on the way back. I am now hugging my Marriott Rewards membership card.

I need white people to follow my lead when we’re pulled over.

Getting a little serious here because this is an important message when you are a white person road tripping with a PoC.

I got stopped by a white cop in the middle of nowhere [somewhere between mile marker 160 to 170] in Minnesota. For the obvious list of reasons, I freaked the fuck out. I knew he had been tailing me for at least 2 miles. I cursed, pulled over, stopped the car as quickly as I could, threw it in park and placed my hands on the dashboard. I stared at my travel companion who had not put their hands on the dashboard. I had to ask them to follow my lead, then ask them to not go for their phone to record the interaction.

My dear melaninly challenged gentlefolk, when we are out and about, please please please follow our lead when we get pulled over by cops, especially by out-of-town cops. We’re focused on deescalating the situation as quickly and safely as possible and getting on with our vacation. So please, don’t do anything except leave your hands on the dash and stay silent.

With that being said, if you have the ability, I recommend road tripping throughout the U.S. of A., or whatever country you call home. You never know what beauty you’ll find.

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CN: Racism, Misogynoir, Suicide, Gender-Specific Violence and Assault

“Healing cannot take place without justice.” – Emma LaRoque

We’re picking up the interview where we left off last month, folks! I finally have the spoons to talk a little bit more of the shit that’s happened to me since post-C2E2 2017. Rest assured that I am aware of how self-absorbed, judgmental, vindictive and off-kilter these posts may seem. I’m using my semi-professional platform to spill my business all over the virtual floor.  That being said, my mental state is inseparable from my ability to work, be it at my day job or my side gigs. It is inseparable from my ability to write; it is inseparable for my ability to lecture; fuck, it is inseparable from my ability to live. More importantly, my mental state is inseparable from my ability to connect with others, so if me going on about my trauma helps anyone who might have/be going through the same thing, then I will have no regrets for a single word I have written.

And there is the little side factor of finally feeling sense of justice after all this.

So, without further ado, let us pick up where we left off.

Me:  Yo, Fourth Wall Being! Where you at?!

Fourth Wall Being: Nerd! How have you been? I hope things have gotten a little better since we last spoke?

Me: Well, I am out of my “Red Flag” funk, so I’ll take that as a win. I went from feeling nothing back to feeling irritated about everything lol.

FWB: Given that what you’ve been through since just last April, I’ll consider that a win as well. So, where did we leave off?

Me: We left off at the end of last July, going into August.

FWB: Yeah, speaking of that…we’re coming up on 1 year. How are you holding up?

Me: I have…made peace with the fact that I will be a fucking mess on July 20th. Like many others around the world, I am heartbroken to have lost, yet fortunate to have found. Given the number of influential celebrities my generation has lost over the past two years, I came up with a toast for all they have done for us.

FWB: So, let me have it.

Me: “Here’s to the ones we lost who helped us be found.”

FWB: You know, you third dimensional beings can be pretty deep sometimes. So, shall we move right into August?

Me: Let’s, because we’re cycling back to one of the ramifications of the psychopathic ex.

FWB: Oh putain

Me:  The first weekend of August, I was set to meet some of my peoples at Stitches Midwest. It’s a 4-day yarn extravaganza where any and every type of yarn you could possibly want is for sale. It’s the Portobello Road for yarn!

FWB: You knit? I heard knitting is really good for managing anxiety, depression, etc.  Is that true?

Me: For me? Absolutely! I get to have moments where it’s just me, the yarn and the pattern, and nothing else exists. Knitting is also how I judge how well I’m managing my mental health state. If I have no interest in knitting, that’s a red flag, and I go find my peoples and/or make an emergency therapy appointment.

FWB: So, I take it that Stitches helped you managed an upcoming episode?

Me: Well, it would have if I had been able to go.

FWB: Oh no. What happened?

Me: My phone blue-screened Friday evening while at my hair appointment.

FWB: Shit, well that sucks. I mean, I can see how that could be inconvenient, but how does that relate to your psychopathic ex?

Me: Because my psychopathic ex has a habit of hacking into my accounts. So, I had to set up 2-step verification and/or Authenticators for every platform on which I have an account. And when I say “every platform,” I mean every platform. So not only could I not text or make phone calls, I had no access to any email or social media accounts. I couldn’t even access my train pass.

FWB: FUUUUCCCKKKK…

Me: So, in lieu of going to Stitches and being surrounded by happy colors and hilarious peoples, I had to go to my carrier in the middle of the city and spend hundreds of dollars on a new phone…during Lollapalooza. Let me just say I’m glad I got to this carrier locale right when it opened because there was a group of rich white teenagers that came in crying because they got their phones stolen at Lolla. Thankfully, I was only at the shop for 15 minutes max to witness that mess.

FWB: Sooo, did you at least like the new phone?

Me: I still fucking love this phone, though it annoys the shit outta me from time to time. I even had the pleasure of saying is was the latest on the market for the first 3 weeks lol.

FWB: So, you got your new phone, you’re cruising into a new weekend…

Me: Yeah, about that…

FWB: Can you give me a second so I can materialize a head just so I can bang it against something?

Me: Sure. [Takes seat]

FWB:

tenor

Me: Props for The West Wing reference, FWB.

FWB: OK, I’m done. So, what the hell happened now?

Me: Well, you remember me telling you last time about that busted-ass Becky bullshit rite of passage us black women/femmes gotta suffer through?

FWB: Oh, for fucks sake! It happened again??!!

Me: YUP! This particular Becky went ape shit because I indirectly took her advice.

FWB: Say what?

Me: You heard me. She went ape shit on me for taking her advice.

FWB: I’m sorry, just…one minute.

Me: Take your time, you  know, since you’re in this dimension for the time being and are therefore subject to its rules.

FWB:

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Me: Yeah, that was me internally while this Bertha was going Glenn Close on me. Thankfully she realized that I could fuck her up and had the good sense to stop. I also had no desire to go to jail that night.

FWB: I’m glad you didn’t wind up in jail either, but damn, she would have deserved that ass-whooping.

Me: FWB, I got a 19-year backlog of Blair Beatings I need to dole out. That’s half of my fucking life. Half of my fucking life. Half of my fucking life tearing myself apart trying to figure out exactly what I did to warrant such misogynoiristic attacks, and all of them being over some dude. It took my most recent therapist to help me see that I didn’t do and have never done shit: I was just there, and that was enough. Just like all of these white people calling the cops on black folk for BEING. All it took was: (1) the white male supremacist society’s underlying Jezebel bullshit; and (2) the belief that losing a friend is always better than losing a man, even if that man is a trifling, lying, fuck ass piece of shit.

FWB: This is why you called good therapy a “boon and a bane,” right?

Me: That I did and still do. Around this time, I was talking to a good friend about all of this, and we traded some stories about coming to terms with our own respective issues, our shortcomings, etc. She’s a really fun and insightful person. She’s also very inspiring since she’s always trying to do better by herself. Also? She has amazing taste in wine.

FWB: Sounds like you have good peoples nearby.

Me: Yeeaahh, she moved out of state this same month.

FWB: Well, last August just gets pitched in the bin and lit on fire.

Me: Don’t get me wrong, FWB. I’m super happy for her that she’s pushed forward with her career, but friends who actually get you are hard to come by on this physical plane.

FWB: I see that a little more with everything you say. No wonder all this shit hits you as hard as it does.

Me: Betrayal was meant to sting. Anyway, you’ll be happy to hear that, minus a wicked nasty head cold, last September and October were pretty great.

FWB: Oh, Thank My Abstract Plane of Existence! Tell me a little bit about it! What was your favorite thing?

Me: Definitely the guest lecture gig I got at a local university. I’ve guest lectured before at classes and academic conferences, so I always get a rush whenever I’m able to do it. There’s something about passing on your knowledge to younger people that sparks something within you thought long dead. Watching them as they take in what you have to say or show, you can see a similar spark in their eyes. It’s at the point when you gain faith that they will take this knowledge, expand upon it, and do better than you ever could because of it.

FWB: The teacher exceeds the student, and all that?

Me: As it should be. And before you ask, yes I have thought about lecturing full-time, but a lot of things would have to happen before I could make it happen.

FWB: Well, exactly what would have to happen, huh?

Me: What? Aside from grad school, internships, “publish or perish”, a complete restructuring of the university accreditation and affordability systems, and poverty-level incomes?

FWB: Your dimension and money *sigh*. I do see your point. So we’re coming up on November 2017, which is your birthday month, as I understand it?

Me: Absolutely! And given the previous year’s birthday present, I was determined to hold SOMETHING that would not be a little bit more appropriate than a harbinger.

FWB: Come on, your 2016 birthday present couldn’t have been that terrible.

Me: I woke up to a Guardian UK alert that said, “Donald J. Trump has been elected the 45 President of the United States of America”.

FWB: …

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Me: As you should. *smiles*

FWB: Please please please tell me that 2017 was a better birthday year??

Me: Well, if you count ripping off a finger nail halfway down the bed, a waffle iron giving you a second-degree burn on your other hand, being gaslighted into believing a person who dehumanized you never did despite having done so in front of witnesses, your favorite day job boss quitting, and getting valuable insight from friends on your birthday proper that said dehumanizing bullshit has been happening for years and it’s a damn good thing you finally walked away, then yes, Nerd Birthday 2017 was definitely better than Nerd Birthday 2016.

FWB: Wooow, so that was a month…

Me: A week.

FWB: Excuse me?

Me: All of that happened within one week.

FWB: Nerd, I hate to ask this, but can we just stop?

Me: What?

FWB: This is too much. I mean, shit what’s next? Trips to the hospital?

Me: Funny you should mention that…

FWB: OK, that’s it. We’re done.

Me: But we haven’t even gotten into 2018. I owe…

FWB: That’s just it, Nerd. You don’t owe anyone ANYTHING. Not one gods-damned thing. [pauses]. Look, no one is denying that a heinous amount of fuck ass shit has happened to you.

Me: Tell that to the Beckys.

FWB: You know what, fuck them. Seriously, fuck all of them. Their fuckshit is on them, and you don’t owe them or anyone else a motherfucking thing. Sooner or later, whether they be conscious of it, their fuckshit is going to bury and burn them in ways you cannot imagine, and you will be too busy living your best life to even remember that they exist.

Me: And what if they come after me?

FWB: Well, what’s happened in the past?

Me: Bones need to be reset, psyches repaired, the usual.

FWB: Then let that be the case again, but this time? This time? Do yourself a gods-damned favor and turn to your peoples for help. I’ve been looking at your past, Nerd, and you want to know the last time you REALLY reached out to your peoples? You were in primary school. Since then, you’ve been tackling every single fucking microbe of a thing, and then some, on your own.

Me: Well, I’ve BEEN on my own…

FWB: NO YOU FUCKING HAVEN’T!!

Me:

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FWB:  Look, at your first C2E2, you remember that How To Cope With Fandom panel you did?

Me: I don’t think it was called that, but yeah?

FWB: Remember that young female-presenting person came up and asked how do you and your panelists find the strength to keep going when you have to deal with so much harassment? What did you tell her?

Me:…I asked her if she had peoples.

FWB: And she said yes, right? And you told her to what?

Me…Reach out to her peoples.

FWB: I can’t hear you.

Me: I said she should reach out to her peoples. Don’t act like you didn’t hear me.

FWB: Oh, I heard you. I just question whether you heard you.

Me: Can you like, not be reasonable and insightful right now?

FWB: Tough shit, you’re stuck with it. So, what are you going to do? Besides start reaching out again, I mean?

Me: [pauses] There’s this thing Minnie Driver says in a movie called Grosse Point Blank:
“They say ‘Forgive and forget’. I say ‘Forget about forgiving and just accept. And get the hell out of town.'”

FWB: Well, you’re doing that last part soon, aren’t you?

Me: And the first part. Can’t half ass a thing for change to happen. Shit, I suppose I should thank you.

FWB: Nah, thank yourself. I’m basically a figment of your imagination. All I did was help you see what you already knew. That being said, it would be nice if you came back around a little more often.

Me: I do owe it to myself, don’t I?

[Fin]

Thank you, dear gentlefolx, for listening to this interview. I hope that you all have peoples to whom you can reach out.

CN: Racism, Misogynoir, Suicide, Gender-Specific Violence and Assault

Before I start this long-ass post, a couple of things:

  1. I have written this post in a combination of playwright and interview format where I am having a dialogue with an imaginary being. I did this because this is the best way for me to process everything that I will be writing in this post and its follow-ups.
  2. The insights and opinions I express in discussing my mental illness status are mine and mine alone. I do not claim to speak for anyone other than myself. I am not that presumptuous. I am, however, not going to lie about how I feel or what I think.
  3. Given the various complicated natures of the foregoing events, I will have to be quite vague when relaying them. That being said, for those who stood by me when I was at my worst, I can never repay y’all for your kindness, compassion, and your friendship. I am beyond fortunate to have y’all at my side.

And to that certain group who played a hand that these tables of fuckery…

You Know Who You Are. You Know What You Dun Did. And Now, So Will Everyone Else.

With that being said, let’s begin.

“Healing cannot take place without justice.” – Emma LaRocque

Fourth Wall Being: So, anerdcalledrage, where in the fuck have you been? I haven’t seen you around since C2E2 2017.

Me: That simple question has a very complicated answer, Random 4th Wall Being. Can I give you a little backstory first to give you some context?

FWB: If you can get to the point fast enough.

Me: OK, I’ll try. So, 12 years ago, I broke up with a psychopath. Like all psychopaths, he did not take this very well. To this day, he still stalks and tortures me whenever he gets bored.

FWB: Damn, girl. That’s harsh.

Me: Yeah, try explaining that to different cell phone providers every time you have to change your number because he’s gotten a hold of the latest one.

FWB: OK, not to sound harsh, because this shit is truly fucked up, but…

Me: Yeah, I know. I’m diverting. Anyway, 5 years ago, this ex did a very bad thing to me. A no-good, very horrible, highly illegal thing. I can’t get into specifics, but it was bad. Afterwards, I did my due diligence as a citizen. I reached out and filed complaints with various legal entities. I consulted with attorneys. And I got fuck all for it.

FWB: Because this system wasn’t made for folk like you, sadly. If it were, you’d be…well, no sense in going into details, right?

Me: Yup, because premeditation is a thing. Even if he did hack into my email account and delete every confirmation of every one of my filed complaints.

FWB: Are you fucking serious?

Me: I only wish I weren’t.

FWB: So what’s this got to do with C2E2 2017?

Me: Right. Well, right after C2E2 2017, and by right after, I mean the next damn day, I get a call from one of these many legal entities about the complaints I filed.

FWB: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…..

Me: YUP. And again, can’t go into detail, but what needed to be done encompassed me reliving that terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad and highly illegal thing he did to me over the span of months, up to and including this year.

FWB: Fucking hell! So you’re basically telling me that you spent almost a year reliving one of the most traumatic experiences of your life over and over?!

Me: Yep.

FWB: Did you tell anyone about this???

Me: Only in the vaguest sense, like I’m telling you now. I told 4 people – my peoples. This will be important later.

FWB: Oh shit, you mean there’s more?

Me:

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FWB: Guess I better strap in then [sits on couch and pulls out bottle of wine].

Me: So, let’s talk about the conferences and convention commitments…

FWB: Hold on. In addition to working your day job and running your writing group, you still honored your conference/convention speaking engagements?

Me: Damn straight. I’m black. I’m queer. I’m femme. You think this white cis male supremacist society will give me the space and freedom to cry and mourn my trauma? The trauma it caused and continues to cause?

FWB: I ain’t even gonna try to argue with that.

Me: Good. So the good news is that I killed it at my conferences and conventions in May!

FWB: Swimming through the annals of the British archives paid off, huh?

Me: Thank you, Google Scholar! And thanks go out to my fellow Slytherins who showed up at the Harry Potter Pop Culture Conference! #notallpurebloods

FWB: SNORT. OK, you killed at these conferences, but you must have a reason for telling me about them in this context.

Me: The time, FWB. So much time, so much energy. I loved it. I loved the HP. I loved WC. But…

FWB: Remember, you said no holding back, only clouding when necessary.

Me: I never felt more alone all last year than I did at WC. I did 9 panels and a workshop.

FWB: [stares in abstract being judgment] We need to talk about setting boundaries and saying no.

Me: Working on that with the therapist. Anyway, I did all those panels partially because I didn’t want to feel alone.

FWB: Well, duh. Given that, in conjunction with your day job, writing group and panels, you were also dealing with that no-good, terrible thing. But, Nerd…where were your peoples?

Me: [sighs] Three of them were there, but at that time, they didn’t know. The one who did wasn’t there, and she got her own Pacific Ocean deep levels of fuckshit she has to deal with. I didn’t want…I didn’t think I had the right to bother them when they were trying to do their own thing and work on themselves.

FWB: Jesus, Nerd…so when did they find out?

Me: Glad you asked!

FWB: I sense another story coming…

Me: Because it’s relevant lol! So lemme tell you about Scottish Fest.

FWB: OOH! Are we talking haggis, kilts and cabers?

Me: We are talking all of the above. And shinies! Both of the aesthetic and potentially deadly variety! No, I will not post pictures.

FWB: Not fair, but given your description, I’ll let it slide. So Scottish Fest sounds like a perfect reprieve from all this fuckshit.

Me: And it usually is.

FWB: Oh fucking hell…

Me: Some context – you know I have massive PTSD, right?

FWB: Given the slice of life you’ve just laid upon me? Yeah, got that.

Me: I basically can’t trust a damn thing my mind processes, which is why I am the Dowager Empress Of The Screenshot. I collect shit and my peoples are gracious enough to review and confirm that I am not overreacting.

Receipts 1

FWB: Damn, girl.

Me: You wanna know what’s better than receipts, FWB? EYE WITNESSES.

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FWB: Oh Jebus Rollerblading Christ…

Me: You know, FWB, I just gotta drop something right quick. I have done a poll over the past year, and for some fucked up ass reason, it has become a right of passage for black girls/femmes in America to have some busted-ass Becky climb up our asses over some fuck ass white dude we never wanted…but won’t leave us the fuck alone.

FWB: Sweet Black Baby Trap Jesus, please come down and help these lip-deficient Daphnes…

Me: I should have listened to my peoples, FWB. All my peoples, and when I say all, I ain’t exaggerating. I mean ALL MY PEOPLES had been telling me for YEARS: “Run, Nerd. Run screaming blackly for the hills away from this mess! Yo ass shoulda run after that night…”

FWB: Wait…

Me: [looks at the audience] Friends and Family, we are going to take a quick intermission so the Fourth Wall Being can be caught up with minimal interruption of tonight’s show.

[INTERMISSION]

FWB: OH HAIL TO THA FUCK NO!!

Me: That’s pretty much what everyone else said after they saw the receipts. You think that would have been enough to get me to run, right?

FWB: Trauma brain be like that, though. Tell you everything is up when shit is actually down.

Me: So then you’ll understand why what I’m about to recount is actually an amalgamation of what 3 eyewitnesses saw and not what I remember, right? You’ll understand that I completely disassociated from the situation because PTSD, right? You’ll understand why, 1 year later, I am still fucked up about being force-fed in public by someone I once called a friend while their partner was walking around looking for them, right? You’ll understand why I was so mad at myself when my peoples told me I contained my fight stress response because they saw my stance shift? You’ll understand why I was so fucking embarrassed to find out that the edged weapons vendor whom I had made friends with earlier saw this shit go down and came to rescue me, right? You’ll understand how I keep beating myself up for not listening to my instincts and my friends who had been telling me for years to run the fuck away right? You’ll understand why I’m so grateful to have the friends I have who saw this shit go down and told it to me the way it really went down and keep reminding me of how it really went down because I still think it was somehow my fault, right?

FWB: [spits] Fucking cishet white men.

Me: [snorts] Don’t even get me started.

FWB: So, what did you do?

Me: I did what I do best, FWB. I ran.

FWB: Where to this time?

Me: The Badlands and the Black Forest in South Dakota. And I only told my peoples where I was.

FWB: Good for you. Good for you.

Me: Climbed up on some shit I wasn’t supposed to be on.

20170714_095111

FWB: And? You got up, you got down. You don’t seem like the type of person who does dumb shit to herself she can’t get out of.

Me: I’m working on getting to that level of awareness lol.

FWB: So you go on this amazing road trip. You tour 3 more National Parks because who the fuck knows who long they’re gonna be around. You recenter yourself. You find a sort of fragile, temporary peace. So you come back to your life, come back to your day job and your commitments feeling a little lighter…

Me: Then Chester Bennington dies.

FWB: …Big Linkin Park fan, huh?

Me: Since the first time I heard In The End in a friend’s dorm room my junior year at university.

FWB: I know I’m an abstract being and all that, but I’mma need to lay down. Metaphorically, that is.

Me: I get it. The evening I came back from WC this year, I didn’t even unpack. I dumped my shit in the living room and stared at the ceiling for the rest of the night. And that’s what I wanted to do when I got home on July 20th.

FWB: I wouldn’t have thought you’d be hit so hard.

Me: Well, I wouldn’t have thought that some skinny, screaming white boy would have been able to perfectly elucidate what’s been going on in my head for damn near 20 years, yet there it is. It’s not like I planned it. I was raised in a Jazz/Blues/R&B/Soul home. I heard a lot of songs about feelings, usually revolved around a man or woman. Or songs about the Black Struggle in America. I rarely recall hearing songs about mental illness [though Our struggle contributes heavily to mental health issues in Black America]. I certainly can’t remember hearing any black women singing about what goes on in their heads when they can’t tell up from down…that wasn’t caused by some dude loving or sneaking around. I swear, if it wasn’t for artists like Janelle Monae, the Black Women’s R&B Anthology would be called, “Dumb Shit I Did For [Cis]Dick: A Retrospective“.

FWB: So, is this the part where we talk about suicide?

Me: I led this section with Chester’s death. I would have thought that were obvious.

FWB: Abstract being, remember? This linear thinking shit is hard. So, do you wanna warn people?

Me: People were warned in the beginning and we grown. Well, most of us grown. They can either continue or not. I’m not making them stay or go.

FWB: So, I have to ask. Have you ever attempted to kill yourself?

Me: Yes, twice.

FWB: Are you OK with telling us how?

Me: First time I tried OD’ing and Tylenol and Benadryl. That was right after freshman year of university. Second time, I almost stepped in front of a blue line train. That was in 2010.

FWB: Are you OK with going into more detail about these experiences?

Me: Not at this time, no.

FWB: Can you tell us what it’s like? Where was your mind?

Me: I can tell you what I experienced, but that’s it. I can’t tell you what goes on in the minds of other suicidal people. The best way I can describe it is using a star’s life cycle as an analogy. My pain started off as dust swirling at intense speeds in a nebula until a little blue or red or yellow or white ball of fire formed. From there, it sped out into the universe, growing bigger and bigger with each sector it passed. Burning hotter and spinning faster until it went supernova. The gravitational force from that supernova was so strong that it created a black hole. And that’s the best way I can describe myself when I was suicidal. I was numb with this incredible, crushing weight pressing down on and within me. I felt collapsed into myself and doing simple shit like getting out of bed was the worst and hardest thing in the world. After the pressure of the numbness finally took its toll, I decided enough was enough. I just wanted the pressure of the numbness to stop. If that makes any sense.

FWB: I’m scared to admit it, but it makes more sense than I thought it would.

Me: I wish it had made sense to me right off the bat. It took 10 years and 5 therapists to help me figure this shit out.

FWB: I’m glad you did, though it doesn’t sound as easy as all that.

Me: I wish more humans had your abstract insight. Too many people think that mental illness is like a fucking light switch that you can flip on and off. “Oh, you’re in therapy and you’re on meds. You’re cured! You’ll be fine.”

Um, no.

thatsnothowthisworks

Therapy is not a hat-trick. Mood stabilizers [which I currently take] are not magic. Mental illness is a CHRONIC ILLNESS. What’s worse is that it is an underfunded, under-researched, still on-the-fringes-of-science chronic illness. This bullshit taboo-ing of mental illness has kept the psychiatry/psychology profession as basically a medical craps table. Sometimes the dice roll in your/their favor. Sometimes they don’t.

FWB: Wait a minute. There are millions of people suffering from a cornucopia of mental illnesses in your plane of existence, and there’s no real money, research or priority attention or action paid to these people in need??

Me: Fourth Wall, if we were flaccid [cis]dicks, we’d all be living the high life. Pun intended.

FWB: So, you’re in therapy now. It seems to be “working”? I don’t think that’s the proper description.

Me: It is and it isn’t. I’m “managing”. That would be the best descriptor, at least for me.

FWB: But what happened that made you not be able to manage?

Me: I gotta stop you right there. One of the things I absolutely hate is the “it was because of this one thing” trope. It doesn’t work like that [for me]. It didn’t work like that. Go back to my star life cycle analogy. It was a shit ton of things: bad brain chemistry, multiple traumatic experiences, lack of legitimate coping and communication skills. And everything just kept piling up. But everyone always try to tie it back to one thing. Any action that cannot be fathomed by the simplest mind always ends up shoved into the smallest box.

FWB: Sounds like very few humans actually listen.

Me: And there’s the rub. NO ONE FUCKING LISTENS. Angela Bassett had the best line from one of my favorite, yet highly problematic movies:

“Don’t be using the time I’m talking to be thinking ’bout what you gonna say next!”

Nobody listens. Because gods forbid that they take 30 seconds away from their self-important, yet ultimately irrelevant, constructs to seriously consider what a person means when they say shit like, “I don’t really feel anything anymore,” or “I just don’t see what the point is anymore.”

Also, and maybe you’ve already noticed this, the more privilege humans have, the more defensive they get when their comfort levels are disturbed in any way, shape or fashion. So gods FORBID they feel uncomfortable for 30 seconds and ask why their friend is giving away their favorite camera. Or a cherished necklace passed down through the generations. Or why, when they talk, you can hear this superficial affect traveling from their vocal chords like nothing is attached to it.

FWB: So, what can people do? How can they help?

Me: It depends. I’m not trying to blow you off, I promise. It’s that your question is super subjective. For me, I just needed to find the right mental health professional to listen and teach me how to manage my shit. I also needed her to teach me how to reach out to my peoples, instead of carrying this bullshit on my own 24/7. I now have a pact with one of my peoples: If either of us goes more than 1 week without hearing from the other, one will ping the other for a quick wellness check. A text with 2-3 words. That’s what I needed. This is a part of my very complex formula. Everyone’s needs are different, and sometimes, people aren’t going to like what those needs are.

FWB: You mean, sometimes…

Me: I can’t speak for others, but sometimes, I can’t help but agree with Plato: Only the dead have seen the end of war. I know that’s not a popular thought. I know that those who save want to save everyone. But I’m not telling this story to be popular. And I’m not convinced that “saving” has only one outcome.

FWB: So what about those people who call people like you and Chester and Anthony and every person who has attempted or succeeded at suicide selfish cowards?

Me: Fuck ’em. Fuck each and everyone of them with a 6-foot bamboo pole that’s wearing a cactus condom.

FWB: Damn, that’s a visceral response.

Me: It’s an appropriate one. Fucking narrow-minded, self-absorbed, hypocritical, self-righteous, deluded shit swizzlers are always the ones who equivocate living with inextricable suffering with courage. Or worse, piety.

FWB: Yeah, I’ve caught wind of those religious ones.

Me: Religion’s role in mental health has to wait for a whole other post. We need to wrap this part up because I need to get some sleep.

FWB: This “part”?

Me: Yeah, FWB. Didn’t you notice I haven’t even gotten to August?

FWB: Oh Sweet Black Baby Trap Jesus, keep my edges laid…

Me: You don’t have edges. You don’t even have a tangible figure.

FWB: Work with me here lol. So, real quick: What else should people not do?

Me: Don’t call the cops. Especially if you are dealing with a POC who is having suicidal ideations. Cops, specifically white cops, have a knack for killing all of us with permanent tans for just existing in their space. They’re even worse when confronted with one of us who is having a mental health episode. Google Laquan McDonald.

FWB: Nerd, I want to thank you so much for sitting down with me for this series. I know that this is taking a special toll on you, so I really appreciate you coming forward.

Me: FWB, it was way past time. Way past time.

FWB: One last question. Your favorite Linkin Park album?

Me: You’re gonna make me choose lol? Sigh. Gotta go with A Thousand Suns.

FWB: Alright, Nerd. Get some sleep. I’ll catch you on the next episode.

“Hey, anerdcalledrage! Where the hell you been??!”

It’s a LOOOOONNNGGG story, folks, but I promise I will get to the meat of it after WisCon is over.

“So, what’s this all about?”

Well, last year at WisCon, I did my first White Feminism panel, and it was [mostly] well-received…by the con attendees. Unfortunately, the Kafka-esque void that is Twitter had something else to say about it. [Long story short, the MAGAs got a hold of the handle]. In any case, I promised the attendees last year that I would draw up a reading list. Low and behold, I have actually followed through!

This reading list based on my Goodreads library. Feel free to browse as you wish. This is by no means a complete list. We have been creating race-specific feminist texts for decades.

Please note that some of these volumes are dated, thus the language is dated. Some of these authors are problematic. I included them because it is important to know from whence we started so you can understand how we evolved.

In truth, we [W+OC Activists] cannot fight White Feminism. This is your internal struggle, and I sincerely wish you the best of luck in defeating it.

* This piece is included as an attachment to this blog entry.
** I have not yet read these works. They were recommended to me by fellow W+OC activists.

CN: Racism, Race-based Misogyny, Ableism, Classism, Transmisogyny, Rape, Assault

Classics:

  • Demarginalizing The Intersections Between Race And Sex by Kimberlé Crenshaw*
  • Mapping The Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics & Violence Against Women of Color by Kimberlé Crenshaw*
  • This Bridge Called My Back: Writings By Radical Women of Color by Cherríe L. Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa**
  • Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment by Patricia Hill Collins
  • Women, Race & Class by Angela Y. Davis
  • Some of Us Did Not Die by June Jordan
  • Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
  • Ain’t I A Woman? by bell hooks
  • Dragon Ladies: Asian American Feminists Breathe Fire, edited by Sonia Shah**
  • Chicana Feminist Thought: The Basic Historical Writings by Alma M. Garcia**
  • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo*
  • When White Women Cry: How White Women’s Tears Oppress Women of Color by Mamta Motwani Accapadi*

The Next Wave:

  • Third World Women and The Politics of Feminism by Chandra Talpade, Ann Russo and Lourdes Torres
  • Making Space for Indigenous Feminism, edited by Joyce Green
  • Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes and Black Women in America by Melissa Harris-Perry
  • The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities, edited by Ching-In Chen, Jai Dulani and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha**
  • Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia, edited by Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs, Yolanda Flores Niemann, Carmen G. Gonzalez, and Angela P. Harris**
  • Dislocating Cultures: Identities, Traditions & Third World Feminism by Uma Nayaran**
  • Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology, edited by Andrea Lee Smith, Beth E. Richie, Julia Sudbury, and Janelle White**
  • Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism, edited by Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman
  • Beyond Respectability: The Intellectual Thought of Race Women by Brittney C. Cooper**
  • At The Dark End of The Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance–A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power by Danielle L. McGuire
  • Asian/Pacific Islander American Women: A Historical Anthology, edited by Shirley Hune and Gail Nomura
  • Arab & Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, & Belonging, edited by Rabab Abdulhadi, Evelyn Alsultany and Nadine Naber
  • Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide by Andrea Lee Smith**

Auto/Biographies And Memoirs:

  • Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock
  • Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur
  • Passing It On by Yuri Kochiyama**
  • Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers [For The Kiddies!!!] by Sarah E. Warren and Robert Casilla (Illustrator)
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  • Mankiller: A Chief and Her People by Wilma Mankiller and Michael Wallis**

Fiction:

  • Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories by Hisaye Yamamoto
  • The Sea Is Ours: Tales from Steampunk Southeast Asia, edited by Jaymee Goh and Joyce Chng**
  • The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson
  • Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction From The Margins Of History, edited by Rose Fox
  • For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf by Ntozake Shange
  • 2212: Book of Rayla by Ytasha L. Womack

Other Media:

  • Paris Is Burning – Documentary About QTPOC Culture In The 1980s
  • Janelle Monae’s Discography
  • The Heroic Trio and its sequel The Executioners

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

Mapping The Margins by Kimblere Crenshaw

WhenWhiteWomenCry

Demarginalizing The Intersection Between Race And Sex by Kimberle Crenshaw

So I keep saying every year that I will compile a list for the panel attendees. Well, this time I actually followed through. Obviously, this is a short list, but hopefully it will direct you to many more black women/non-binary creators of the ‘Verse!

Comics

Mikki Kendall – Swords of Sorrow

Roxanne Gay – World of Wakanda (Marvel)

Yona Harvey – Storm (Marvel)

Felicia Henderson – Teen Titans, Static Shock (DC)

Angela Robinson – The Web (DC)

Taneka Stotts – Beyond The Queer Sci-Fi and Fantasy Comic Anthology

Erika Alexander (yes, THE Maxine Shaw) – Concrete Park

Sources:

30 Black Comic Book Writers You Should Know – Book Riot, August 10, 2016

 

TV/Film

Ava DuVernay

Kasi Lemmons

Julie Dash

Salli Richardson Whitfield

Darnell Martin

Janelle Cook

Hanelle Cooper

Sources:

7 Black Female Directors Earning Incredible Hollywood Review – Mashable, January 13, 2015

16 Black Women Killing It Behind The Scenes Of Television – Buzzfeed, February 9, 2017

 

Literature

N.K. Jemisin

Nnedi Okorafor

Nisi Shawl

Nalo Hopkinson

Andrea Hairston

Chesya Burke – Check out her write-up on Black Women In Speculative Fiction!

Sheree R. Thomas

Tanavarie Due

Alaya Dawn Johnson – Check out her write-up for NPR’s Codeswitch!

Sources:

7 Black Women Science Fiction Writers Everyone Should Know – For Harriett, August 7, 2014

10 Sci-Fi Stories Created By Women Of Color – The Mary Sue, September 4, 2015

I promised myself I was going to get better at promoting my work. However, what with being on vacation and shaking off the sting of the latest rejection (such is a writer’s life), I’ve been a little slack on that resolution.

With that being said, I am super excited to be back at C2E2 this year! C2E2 has been a great home con for me over the last 5 years, and ReedPop has been a welcoming company in terms of promoting diversity and inclusion of marginalized nerds and geeks. As it has already stated by someone MUCH MUCH more influential than I, everyone gets to be a geek!

With that in mind, here is my C2E2 schedule.

On Friday at 6:45 pm, I will be moderating You Have Died From Exposure . We will be talking about the importance of equally compensating marginalized geeky creators as a market would and does those of the cishet white male persuasion.

On Saturday at 4:15 pm, I will be back with the Black Nerd Girl’s Journey and More Than Warriors & Weather Witches crew moderating Behind The Parable And The Power. We will be celebrating the black women/NBs behind our favorite stories of the ‘Verse, how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go. We will also be kicking off this panel with a discussion about Yona Harvey, the first black woman to write Storm!

If you can make it, I hope to see you there!

At least that is what I hope. Because I abhor self-promotion. Abhor it with a Katarina Strafford-level of intensity. Do you remember Kat’s rant against attending Bogey Lowenstein’s party? That’s me how much I rant against pushing my work [outside of this blog] on social media platforms, all the while trying not be come off like a pretentious asshat to friends and colleagues who seem to dive into this pool with little or no effort. Only recently did I accept [not realize, because I did that a long time ago] that I cannot escape promoting my work if I want to continue with it. So here I am, addressing, unpacking and trying to put away the reasons why I stop short of promoting what I do, even and especially if it is good work.

Read More »

(TW: Mentions of violence and rape)

I’m pretty open about how I do not expect to come out of 2017 alive. I didn’t expect to survive more than a week past my birthday, aka the day after the election aka the Day Hope Died. I ask myself constantly when those racist/sexist/homophobic shit stains will finally get me. Every time I get on my train. Every day that I walk into my office building. Each week when I host my writing group.

When will I wind up with a bullet in my head from a trigger-happy cop?

When will I be left beaten, brutalized and/or raped along the riverside promenade?

When will I be pushed off of a CTA platform for having the nerve to exist in public?

The answer: I do not know, for this is something over which I have no power. I do have the power to do one thing:

I can tell my story.

Read More »

Content Note: Mentions of abuse and rape

Dear Self,

“I never needed to worry about you.”
“I don’t know how you’re still even standing.”
“You are handling all of this like a pro!”

Whenever anyone in your life uttered these words, you used to feel a great swell of pride.

Read More »

Look, the election affected me. I’m not going to pretend that it didn’t. I drank. I raged. I cried once. I allowed my mind to rush through all of the possible ways in which I could do my part to clean up this mess. Then it hit me [again].

This is not my mess. Therefore, I am not required to clean it up.

I did my job. From the looks of it, me and mine did our jobs a hell of a lot better than white people. Story of the United States of America, amirite?

But I’m not here to patronize or demonize, white friends. I’m here to cheer you on from the sidelines. You have acknowledged that the racialized system in power from which you benefit has fucked all of us over AGAIN. You are out there on the streets, talking to your representatives, writing letters, signing petitions and forming grassroots organizations. White friends, you are out there trying to fix the mess that your culture made, and I love you all the more for it.

I just can’t, nay, I won’t be there to help you clean it up. Mammie don’ left the plantation, and she takin’ the good seasoning with her.

So, I will be over here making my set of Lisa-Frank-Only-Wishes-She-Had-This-Vivacity pom-poms and working on my endurance, because real talk, white friends? You’re in for one hell of a rough ride.

As a kick-off to my long-term cheerleading routine, I’m gonna leave you all with Samantha Bee’s wonderfully insightful post-election monologue. Girlfriend has definitely earned an invitation to my family’s next barbecue.

So, good luck, white friends. Seriously. As part of the demographic that’s been cleaning up after your demographic for nearly 500 years, you do not have an easy task before you.