"A good girl: bright, perhaps a bit of an introvert, perhaps not romantically pursued or interested in the pursuit for these reasons. Of course, these traits are likely not all she is, but when she is told that her brownness negates her goodness, she must determine how to be herself—all of herself—anyway. Tropism is the biological phenomenon that describes how she does it. In tropism, external agents determine the direction of an organism’s growth. For better or worse, it is often external agents that show a good girl of color how to grow into herself; they determine what she will look like and how she will act."
I'll be reading poems from Marrow, my manuscript about the Peoples Temple, a congregation of Americans who emigrated to Jonestown Guyana and were coerced into suicide by their spiritual leader.
Talking to myself--especially when it becomes a lot of talk all of a sudden, always tells me there is something I'm trying to work out of my brain and especially out of my body. It's interesting that I haven't been able to run lately, one of my choice ways of working stuff out of my mind and body.
I'm only recently accepting the extent to which my physical body has been intrinsic to how I self-identify. The realization has come on the heels of a bunch more that are the result of the heart failure (cardiomyopathy if you like big words) diagnosis in September. My body has changed significantly in the way I use it for self-identification purposes. [...]
Sexuality presents as attractiveness like “You’re cute, I’m attracted to your physical-ness.” And ultimately if biology and evolution is to be trusted, that translates into “I’d be interested in having sex with you.” It’s one way to fertilize the earth I suppose.
The training, racing, and creative process...is a triumph over the physical and psychic conditions just outside the parameters of control which would censor and stilt performance.
...common roles illustrate how Black women, and their sexuality, have often been synonymous with deviance. And reclaiming, repackaging, and/or discarding the roles has given women agency; a control denied the Good Girl who is essentially invisible. She needs that.
There are few, if any, choices a black body can make that do not speak its history, including the requisite traumas and proud triumphs over them. Under the gaze of the status quo, this body, with its history written all over it, is an indictment of the status quo. Erasing that physical body becomes critical to sustaining not just the aesthetic of the status quo but more importantly its structure. Erasure is not necessarily the literal murder of it, though that is one way to erase it, but more typically, the suppression of it. Suppression often comes in the form of assimilating the black body into the status quo.
It is no easy demon to face who has dressed you and your entire context as “fine.”
I am here to talk about silence. And the violence of it. How it traumatizes the body that practices it as well as the bodies it is imposed upon. I want to talk about how it (silence, I mean)—and I made up this word—invisibilizes. And how that act—to render someone, a body, invisible is violence. [...]