I Have Moved!

After taking a few years off I have decided to return to personal blogging. I  recently moved to my new site: PhilisterSidigu.com. Pleas feel free to visit, comment, blogroll, or simply say hello.

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.                ~Henry David Thoreau

Why Are We Here? A Call to Action for Africans in the Diaspora

Often times we Africans in the Diaspora ask ourselves why are we here. Often we concede it is because of the sacrifices our parents made for us to have a better life, better education, or economically sound future. In reality we are reflections of our communities. We may have pondered over African writers, politicians, and musicians as a means of clasping onto our culture, but we have an obligation to return such privileges. The ability to eat three meals a day, live comfortably on our own, or wake up knowing that your family is not displaced and in the midst of darkness as war rages on. These are the tranquilities of living abroad, however the future of Africa is a reflection of us.

I believe the leaders of the future have the ability to see past the current state of the world and envision the necessary changes of the future. However, I think the future of Africa lies in the hands of Africans in the Diaspora and our ability to mentor our fellow Africans to be self sustainable and economically viable. While revolutions are often started from within, as Africans in the Diaspora we are privileged to understand the African culture while analyzing the traditional and theoretical aspects of the continent. It is our western education that allows us to question our culture while not disapproving it, and our heritage that offers such insight to transform the fate of Africa.

There are three immediate goals we must concentrate on improving for Africa to be competitive in the global market. First as Africans we must regain control of our economy. Africans are by nature entrepreneurial beings. We own in Africa what Hernando de Soto Polar would consider “dead capital”, whether it is the land we farm or the corner our kiosks reside on. To achieve the basic level of economic stability we must encourage Africans residing within the continent to own their own land. Africa is known for its mineral wealth, specifically diamonds and oil, however most Africans never see the profits of these sales. In most cases such minerals have caused more corruption, greed, and war. Hence the reason we must focus on developing and maintaining businesses that promote products beneficial to the local and intercontinental population of Africa. This is not to dismiss the positive effects of trade; we should continue to trade with each other and even the western world, but we must be adamant about fair trade policies and limit the production of export only goods.

As Africans we must understand that we are living in an impressionistic state of freedom; it is the difference between political and economic freedom. Our countries may no longer be subjected to western rule, but we unfortunately do not own our economy, thus we are stilled shackled by foreign capitalists in our countries. Most major businesses in African are currently owned by Indian and Chinese capitalists; with the backing of our governments. In 2008, Richard Behar noted in his Special Report: China Storms Africa the increase in China’s interest in Africa’s market after the government declared 2006 the “Year of Africa”.  In a March 2008 article titled Africa’s Burgeoning Ties With China, IMF’s Finance and Development Magazine made an effort to quantify “China’s economic engagement with Africa”.  Chatham House in 2008 published India’s Engagement with the African Indian Ocean Rim States, an effort by India to counter Chinas influence in Africa by strengthening its involvement in the African Indian Ocean Rim.  A 2007 article by the Asia Times titled India Pushes People Power in Africa,

made the distinctions between India and China’s investment in Africa.  China concentrates on resource-based investment, while India has focused on capacity-building. Indian investments are largely private-sector, riding on the back of the lines of credit given by the Indian government, says Indrani Bagchi in The Times of India.

While there are benefits to capitalism, mainly a competitive market, Africans have little to no chance of achieving such economic success. One could even argue that we are still struggling with our political freedom, specifically in countries like Sudan and Congo.  Though, I would argue capitalism can exist in an African owned and produced society it is a business model of the past. I am increasingly observing an increase of cooperative based business models. It is this model that I believe Africans will thrive, especially in such agricultural settings as mass farming and production.

Our second immediate goal is to promote a “Green Africa”. This is perhaps the most attainable and economically viable of the three immediate goals. I make this argument because of Africa’s vast tropical and arid landscape. The options of a Green Africa are limitless, from the solar hydrogen process to the kinetic energy of water. A primary objective should be the use our natural resources to supply electricity to the citizens of Africa while providing incentives for environmentally conscious businesses. Such progress will increase local stability and present an infrastructure for technological advancement.

The third immediate goal we must focus on is education; I have assessed three specific areas of focus. First, Africans must adamantly enforce the education of women and girls. It is widely known that women are the most successful business owners in micro-lending projects. The education of women and girls are fundamental to the future of a democratic state, and a family’s financial stability. Second, we must promote preventative medicine, as a means of combating diseases and promoting good health in Africa. Third we must promote technological advancement to compete in a global and industrial market. We must have computers in our schools and workplaces, and encourage Africans to invest in the banking system as a means to stimulate the economy.

Last, but not least I would like to discuss the concept of elitism. Many may argue that my approach and analysis of Africa can be construed as that of a western educated elitist; however I believe there is a clear distinction between elitism and progressive input. I would argue that the methods I’ve outlined in achieving our three immediate goals are non-elitist approaches to tackling the basic issues currently facing Africa. We are not taking a colonialistic approach to these problems, but rather encouraging Africans within the continent to consider our education and intertwined customs as a basis for understanding the western and African markets, the pros and cons of such business and governmental models, and offering this knowledge as a means of encouraging self sustainability and economic freedom.  While I believe we can offer financial backing to help support Africa’s infrastructure, our greatest impact will be the nonmonetary services we provide. In meeting these three immediate goals we will not have a perfect and unified Africa, but I believe we will have made significant strides towards a viable African economy. It is this belief, and the confidence I have in my Africans in the Diaspora that I ask us to take action towards a stronger freer Africa.

Mama Africa

Mama, I sometimes forget how beautiful you are.

How your eyes still glow bright like the Sudanese Sun.

Mama, you are Mama Africa.

That if God lowered the tempo of my chest to a slow hum

I would ask him, keep drumming, lower your gun!

If he’d just let me say bye to Mama Africa.

How those hands have stirred many ugalis,

Those tips have been burned by the heat of many chapattis

Those scars on your skin are remembrances

of the battles you fought to be free.

When I see you in pictures I just freeze.

Those muzungus you work for

have no understanding

that even in life and death  you smile and are at peace.

Mama, you are Mama Africa.

Even with my western education, I still ask for your wisdom.

What is success if one is not humble?

Help, I am lost in this unknown land!

Turned to walk away, but could not stand.

Mama, you are Mama Africa!

Your thick blood has been shaken,

Feet hardened, back broken,

Like the Nile you flow, never stopped by your sickness.

Mama, you are Mama Africa!

You listen to the traditionalists

The men roaming, their hands up in fists

Deciphering what it takes to live

I want to have that with my kids.

Mama, I sometimes forget how beautiful you are.

Those sambusas you make must have the ingredients only found in your yard.

In the cold now, you seem so far.

Mama, you are Mama Africa.

mamaafrica

Memorializing War: Is Black America at War?

gunsI have been reflecting on the basis of war recently. This weekend I watched as many remembered the fallen soldiers of America’s wars, and wondered if in doing so were we memorializing war.

I believe that war is a necessity in today’s global market. That’s correct, global market. War is often a need for economic or geographic control, and as much as we hope and reassure ourselves otherwise the underlining goal is usually economic gain.

I recently watched the film Crips and Bloods: Made in America, and wondered is Black America at war? The short answer, I believe, is yes. This is more of a personal assessment then an analytical governmental assessment. I know that Chicago’s Black community is at war as is the Chicago Latino community. We recently memorialized the death of the thirty sixth Chicago Public Schools student May 1st, when Alex Arellano was chased, beaten with baseball bats, run over by a car, shot and burned. The irony of these deaths is that they are often caused by those of the same economic and ethnic group.

Crips and Bloods: Made in America, is the brainchild of NBA star Baron Davis who overcame his own challenges at the center of south LA to become a prominent basketball player. It also brings to light the internal struggles of Blacks in America.

Watching this film reminded me of Africa’s own struggles and further illustrated the need for gun control. However, I have had various discussions with other African and African American activists that consider the right to bear arms a part of their own struggle. This reminded me of the Martin Luther King Jr. verses Malcom X debate. Should black people own guns?

I have found that often one makes the decision to own a gun under very emotional and unstable conditions. Often it is the affect of having been assaulted or humiliated, or worse having been absent as a loved one was battered or murdered. If there was ever a reference to hate, would this not be one?

I have had my own incentives for owning a gun and they were always based on getting revenge. It is possible as many in the black community have said that Black America is at war. However, there is a grey line in defining our enemies and our allies. War, much like death, is ruthless and bitter, and often leaves the innocent to bear the burden of reconciliation and forgiveness.

The interesting thing about the Black War between the Crips and Bloods is that it is strikingly reflective of the internal wars in Africa. Whereas our African wars delve into tribal and political disputes, Crips and Bloods fight for power and economic benefits by selling crack and controlling neighborhoods. Both of these wars have the underlying necessity of maintaining and expanding geographic control, much like other wars around the world, and often recruit young soldiers to sustain such power.

To be fair Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. came from very different backgrounds. While they both experienced racism first hand, Malcom X came from a broken household. His father was constantly threatened for his work with the Universal Negro Improvement Association, and when he died Malcolm’s mother suffered a nervous breakdown that caused Malcolm and his siblings to enter the foster care system. Malcolm also had an internal struggle with the complexion of his skin, and would note that his parents treated him differently for being the lightest of their children.

Martin Luther King Jr. came from a middle class family, where his parents struggled to provide the best education for their kids. Much like Malcolm X his family dealt with the bigotry of daily racism. However, it was his admiration for Gandhi’s non-violent activism that caused him to advocate for non-violent solutions.

Often Black American activists argue that we are fighting against “the man”, or government. Government or “the man” often delves into police violence, economic and political clout, and lack of basic necessities. Is this not what the Black Panthers were fighting for? The difference between the Black Panthers and other activists of their time was the principle of self defense. This was the justification of bearing arms.

The irony of this revelation is that 1) this is the argument gangs like the Crips and Bloods use for justifying their violent reign over neighborhoods, and 2) government used  as justification for disbanding the Black Panthers. While many may argue otherwise, recent investigations suggest that government directly influenced the collapse of the Black Panthers; with speculations leading up to assassinations.

The self defense argument is perhaps the greatest justification most gun owners use against gun control. However, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence noted in a report this month that in 2006 there were only 154 so called “justifiable homicides”, which is the killing of a felon by a peace officer in the line of duty or the killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a private citizen. The US Department of Justice noted Law enforcement reported 617 justifiable homicides in 2006.  Of those, law enforcement officers justifiably killed 376 individuals, and private citizens justifiably killed 241 individuals. The discrepancies in the reports are remarkable; however it’s even more baffling that an estimated 17,034 persons were murdered nationwide in 2006.

In terms of race the US Department of Justice data from single victim/single offender incidents showed that 93.2 percent of black victims were murdered by black offenders, and 82.9 percent of white victims were murdered by white offenders.

Paradoxically, most Black activists spend years analyzing data and social economic trends within the black community. Many of them are often highly educated and have an understanding for the complexity of Black struggle, but I believe that when it comes to bearing arms they have not done enough to counter the ideology of using guns as a means of fighting against government.

I believe that it was Malcom X’s struggles that led him to profess such violent rhetoric, much like I believe it is most gang members’ struggles that lead them to bear arms. This is not to invalidate the magnitude of Malcolm X’s other messages. I would note that during his time the Black community was perhaps able to achieve the solidity and discipline necessary to prevail a self defensible type war.

However, the Black War of today is one that begins with the understanding of freedom. Today’s black community is often held back by the mental and physical incomprehension of freewill. It is an endless cycle that could possibly be traced back to the Emancipation Proclamation.

Can one understand freedom if they have never been free? I often ask Blacks this question and most are quick to say everyone knows what freedom feels like and what it is. Is living on welfare freedom? I recently met a woman who has lived on welfare her entire life; in fact both her mother and grandmother were on welfare. I wondered if I could honestly blame her for staying in what I believe is a form of slavery for the black community. Did she even understand the context in which I would question such freedom, or was she simply content with the system she had been placed into?

There are various circumstances in which people enter the welfare system, others become drug addicts, and some commit crimes. Often these lives are tangled into cyclic and often similar consequences, beginning with the lack of support and stability in the household and ending with economic struggles.

I believe it is this misunderstanding of freedom that leads us to turn against each other, often trampling past each other in hopes of gathering menial and often materialistic objects. However, it is such wars, as the Black War, which constantly leads to such recurring behavior as the one Alex Arellano’s family is now coping to understand. The belief that one’s freedom has been shattered so that another cycle can begin, that another household can be broken, that another soldier can bear arms.

Alvin Ailey: Modern Dance King Fifty Years Later

alvinaileypic

Yesterday I had the honor of attending the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater North American Tour performance in Chicago. I was both inspired and saddened by the event. I took my best friend, an avid dancer and choreographer to the event as a gift. The crowd was excited and multigenerational, but what impressed me was the number of African Americans who turned out for this celebration. It reminded me again of how far we have come as a community, how during Alvin Ailey’s time we would not have been given the opportunity to be packed into such a beautiful theatre. How his performances may have been taken out of context as being a black radical approach to the racism of his time. How he would have been stigmatized for using dance as a means of communicating with his fellow blacks and the white community.

Alvin Ailey will always be the king of modern dance, which is both fitting and baffling due to the struggles of his upbringing. Modern dance I believe has its roots in the African spiritual movement; expressing ones soul and belief in a physical manner that leads to an emotional connection with the audience. This is both a leap of faith and fear of judgment, yet it is the dance that reflects the black struggle and revolution. Isn’t this what religion is to the black community? The song that most reflected my belief was titled I Wanna be Ready, Arranged by James Miller, and adapted into Ailey’s famous Revelations masterpiece in which a male dances to the reflection and proposal of death, letting go of ones sins, and gambles.

Alvin Ailey was a man that saw the world fold before him, but did not filter within its cracks. He was an adamant choreographer more then a dancer, often expecting perfection and then criticizing that perfection. His dances were filled with his religious beliefs, but also with the art of human form. Extensions overarched, and shapes constantly revolving, it’s as though he saw the human body as a sculpture to be mended with and reexamined, and often even broken down into new forms. He looked out into the stage of dance and envisioned a world beyond Texas, his hometown, and New York, which later became his base. He realized that dance had to be accepted on a universal arena, and to do so he emerged with an idea to show the world the power of dance by offering a touring dance company.

His most noted work, Revelations (1960); I believe is Ailey’s dance autobiography. It reflects the struggles of his youth in Texas as well as the technique he received at the Horton Dance Company. This piece strokes broadly into Ailey’s life; from the great depression, to segregation, to finding ones footing in the world. It also reflects the sadness that follows the death of an inspirer and mentor.

Many have tried to hide the fact that Alvin Ailey died of Aids at the age of fifty-eight (1989), in fact he is one of those many that tried to hide this truth. He asked his doctor to announce that he died of terminal blood dyscrasia to spare his mother the humiliation that came with the disease. As Alvin Ailey’s dance company celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, I think it is time that we begin a bigger dialogue regarding the Aids epidemic in the black community.

We have lost a lot of our entertainers and family members through silence. I believe if we are truly to honor the work that Ailey aspired to and provided, one would have to look at the education he provided to his own community. The times have changed since Alvin Ailey first came to terms with his disease; the humiliation of having HIV/Aids in America is coming to an end as we encourage each other to be tested and enforce HIV/Aids education. It saddened me to realize that his own company continued to live behind the curtains regarding his death rather then vocalizing the need for a dialogue. I hope that as we continue to celebrate Ailey’s work we also look at his short life as one that could have been spared and embraced much longer had we taken the time to discuss sex education within our community.

Idiot of the Week: Hamid Karzai

karzai i was thinking that the world had gotten much better, with countries vowing to set aside differences and work with the new Obama administration. Sometimes i think i should stop reading the news. It’s like being stabbed and kicked down a hill as you roll over rocks and leaves, scarping flesh and cursing inflammatories into the air; hoping that where you land will be a sea of four leafed clovers waiting to be discovered. Maybe being a woman makes us a bit inferior physically but we make up for it by our intelligence and loyalty. i think being invincible is more attractive then being humiliated and tarnished for something we have no control over. Is it true that starting a sentence with the noun i is an assertion of oneself? Maybe it’s more a of a proclamation? That’s why some men hate when we do it. In that case perhaps placing a lower case i would make me less assertive. i have decided that Hamid Karzai is the Idiot of The Week.

For those of you who do not know Hamid Karzai is a stout man, often well dressed and topped with a karakul hat. If you ran into him on the street you would think, bold, fashionable, and perhaps soft spoken. If you spoke to him at a bus stop or perhaps a high end cafe as he is more likely to frequent the establishments of his class, you could fluidly trounce between French, Persian, Hindi, English, and Pashto- his native tongue.

In reality he is both manipulative, sneaky, and discriminatory. Which is ironic for a man that married a former obstetrician. But, he is most notably known for being the current president of Afghanistan.  This week President Karzai signed in to law legislation that allows men to rape their wives. Many speculate that this law was geared towards swaying Shia votes during the upcoming presidential election.

The law passed both houses in Afghan’s parliament, however the United Nations has yet to see a copy. Many have argued that the law was rushed in for a vote and there was little discussion allowed.

Note: While the Afghan constitution guarantees equal rights for women, it also allows the Shia community, thought to represent 10 per cent of the population, the right to settle family law cases according to Shia law.

Negro Girl

I keep thinking of how incredibly close and exceedingly violent we are. I keep walking the streets looking for a victim. I realize now that enlightenment can’t cure grief. What if I can’t stop thinking, if I wouldn’t wonder between the dead and living? I wish people would stop using certain words like love, and husband, girlfriend, and spouse. They are to close. Like two codependent robots waiting for assurance. I think of the things I think I love, like tea. How the sweetness slides down your tongue and sometimes burns for days. Is that what love is? Or am I mistaking it for revenge? I imagine that you are somewhere watching in the distance and thinking I have forgotten our dreams and hopes and worst of all your smell.

I remember the first week I had an obsession with smells. How I would smell the racks of soaps neatly aligned at the local grocery store. How I sat sniffing over photos and past notes, and costumes I once wore in front of you hoping that the ghostly fragrance will reappear. But, it is like a rain drop that swims away until it has vanished into the unknown. I thought of the things I should have taken when I left: a shirt, a comb, a lock of hair, maybe your blood stained wallet. Sometimes I think I have forgotten those wishes and desires, but in reality they toss and turn like a wave coming thorough- in and out of my pours like a bad dream or a reckless car chase.

I know that you would deny it if you saw me now, typing frightfully in an empty studio. The truth is: I am a monster. I have turned into something that I can no longer control. I used to run past strangers and sneak into cafes assuming that someone would remind me of you. I would screen through the colognes at the retail counter imagining that I could bring you closer to me. I realize now that the mind plays tricks on you, like a mothers lost perfume where you are left questioning why she stopped wearing it. How phone messages accidentally get erased and CD’s scratch and memories become lapsed. What will I have left once that old picture turns brown and dusty? Honestly, I used to think that your picture was ingrained into my pupils, where I would close my eyes and remember the last conversation, how you smiled, how you laughed, how you argued. Now I question those conversations. How did they start? Was it a question or an answer? Did you smile with your eyes or from the side with your head tilted? Was it the laugh from deep down in your belly that got me laughing hysterically or the hidden light giggle of an afternoon? Did you always wait and think of your arguments or argue as I kept you up at night?

People are starting to notice, I think, because they no longer look at me as human. There’s so much I want to tell you that I think you will assume I am a different person. For example I am now obsessed with punctuations: Because; they say so much. And, so little. Sometimes I forget how to scream! Other times I force myself into silence… I may be paranoid/ scared but I am not delusional. People’s voices are now lower as though they are waiting for the moment that I return to humanity. I am mostly afraid of you. I keep thinking that I will look up and find you staring at me. Or, even worse, miss you running past me. Sometimes I jerk my head up to get a glimpse of reality, or imagine that maybe I will catch the in-betweens of life and death.

I listen more now. I can hear voices that I haven’t heard before, and I’m beginning to think that I’m not alone. I imagine the scenes and sets of the afterlife. Is it like it is here? Not that I am afraid of the unknown. I am afraid of having truly lost you. I imagine the darkness. I imagine the light, but there is only lonesomeness. The embodiment of my monstrosity. There are others like me. I am afraid of them too, but I dare not let them notice. They will only remind me of my transformation, and I do not want to be reminded of the past. At least not now. I hear them often on the train as I am looking down, as I usually do to the different classes of human shoes. Slipping into an uncontrollable brawl; thinking of you. I am often able to regain control of my wailing, but this is only to ensure the humans that I am harmless lest they shoot me too. I have tried a few times to reach out to others like me, but we speak the same language of silence, and solidarity in silence is most monstrous. The other day I heard one cry out on the south side of Chicago. I couldn’t pin point the exact location but I knew it wasn’t far from 61st and Ellis, where I’d lost you. I wanted to run out and help, but I knew that I would not be able to control my nerves and I would only be putting humans’ lives at stake.

I am not your average monster. I say this because I have been a witness of what I would consider other potential monsters. I wish they would understand this, but it is hard for me to explain. I keep leaving clues for them, but they are always on guard. I’ve tried doing human things to remind them that I can be tamed. I smile sometimes when they are watching, I eat with them when I am free, I have even made attempts to reconcile bad human relationships from the past. But, to my disbelief, the sobs and rage accidentally drift in and out of our conversations. I sometimes want to howl, and I force myself to run away into a dark or lonely hideout until it passes. Sometimes I can’t hide, because I know that they are everywhere. I try bathrooms, but the doors swing in and out and I begin to count how many of them have entered, and how many have left, and whether I’ll ever be free. I try hidden staircases, but I hear the bellow (from within) echo and I begin to wonder if I am truly alone. Trouncing amongst humans and monsters.

I used to hear humans talk about their encounters with monsters, but I never believed it until now. I am a walking testament of their faith in us. The truth is there’s no pleasing humanity. You have taught me that. They are walking luxuries always wanting to be upgraded. I’ve seen them rape, strike, and slaughter. I know what you would say -there are a few that understand. But this is because I believe they have evolved into half species. I hear about them on the news sometimes, they are the ones helping us cross the border or pushing us into their basement hideouts. They have been renamed by their own as Borderline Monstrosities. I used to care about them too, but my transformation has forced me to look at all humans indifferently. I am no longer afraid of their weapons, intellect, or strength. I now realize that I too can have all of those. I know that I can become anything I want and they can’t stop me. After all I am a monster.

I am now a hunter too. Everything changed for me when I saw you being sent home, scarred and lifeless. I never imagined you would return a lion with shackles from the new world. You were the only person that could have stopped my transformation and yet you helped me complete it. It is because of you that I became a hunter–for which I am preying on my next victim with precision and patience. I only have one victim. He is the only one that could have left you bound with no remorse.

I have practiced my attack for weeks now. At first remembering our last encounter at the el. How the whimper of the new fall season and the stench of a passing summer filled the air. The memory is a blur; funny how your absence disguises life. How I have started reinventing days and questioning the passing of time. Was it day or late evening? Early morning or night? Was this the mark of a passing? I have become obsessed with details; for which I no longer love. Was it a blue shirt and black slacks or grey slack and white shirt? Like a monster I look for clues, but they are only presumptions of death. Because I know that I will one day rediscover you.

I almost went out that night, looking to practice my new found patience on humanity. A monster controlling oneself. I imagined that I could even act human, if I were forced into an uncontrollable state of animosity and disgrace, but instead I fell into a cavernous sleep in which I dreamt only of my victim.

There he was, chained and handicapped by the slave traders of Africa. I laid next to him in a sea of charred bodies clinging to my dress. He smelled of soot, sweat, and desiccated flesh. His skin burned and drabbed by the heat of the east. It was the way I wanted to see him. In a horde of uncanny figures. I wanted to fight him, thinking of his helplessness, of his lack of humanity, lack of iniquity. “What are you now?” I asked. “A nobody!” It came to me suddenly, like an uncontrollable plague. “You are nothing! You are dirt!”I stared up at him, my head wobbling like a dieing fowl… “Are no-body!” I started to laugh manically at first, cling to my stomach frantically, fearing my gut would pour out like the Nile. “You hear me, nobody!” I cried. Chuckling at what little health was left in me. “You are nobody!” But, he did not cry back. He did not clench at the whip as it swept across his back like fine European linen. He stared ahead, not whispering the songs of his ancestry, or whimpering the poetry of his Great Great Grandfather’s father. Great grandfather’s father… grandfather’s father… father.

He was no Oroonoko; he was nobody.

I thought him dead, and would have wished it had I not noticed the blood sweeping across my eyelids. I shook from my laughter being struck across the face by his mannish fist. I saw his frightened eyes piercing down at me with disgust. There I was chained neck to neck and coupled to my victim’s hands. I clung to my bare chest hoping to save my tender breasts as I heard the whoosh of the whip sweeping against the heavens of bodies. I cried out at the sight of my nakedness, at the sight of my helplessness, as the white man leaned against me and poked and laughed. “You are no body! You are a woman! Your nothing; you dirt! A Negro girl!” My victim pulled harder, and I began to feel the monstrosity within me grow. My hands began to shake and I pulled back, my hands stretching out to the skies as I searched for your hand. I clung to my throat imagining my arms stretched out like a rope painting veins across the branches of a leaning willow tree. I began to rock back and forth. Back and forth. Him pulling, me pulling back, I watched the ghosts dance across the distance. In the dark I could make out their figures as they clung to the floor and fell hard like raindrops feeding on the earth. I shivered under my covers, and snickered at the thought that monsters cannot die.