I thought long and hard before tackling this subject because I wanted to be as understanding of both ends of this conversation as possible but I found it hard to grasp, as I do with most minorities and their many hang ups, how a section of society arguably considered the most marginalized could…
————————————"Brooklyn, or Bed-Stuy to be exact, is an interesting space to explore and play with black masculinities, especially as a black queer man. When I am walking through my neighborhood I feel black and queer and unrestricted and seen and safe (except for my moments when I encounter police) and cool and connected to the black folk around me. In fact, the “street” is the perfect stage to perform and queer black masculinities. It is one of those spaces where black men and women expand the boundaries that are typically used to confine us.
Gender is stretched and pulled and reconfigured by black folk in Bed-Stuy in some amazing ways—so much so that it is easy to confuse someone’s sexuality based on the ways they queer gender. I think that particular aspect is dope as hell and radically political. Straight black men and women are often confused as queer (not just in terms of sexual identity, but as a politics and expression of counter-normative ways of being) simply because of the ways they free themselves from gender boxes. How fly is that? How fly is it that queerness becomes the “thing” that one aspires to regardless of her/his/their sexual identity?
For me, fashion is one of the means through which I express and mess with gender. Whether I am rocking some bohemian-esque shirts or street-fresh Tommie hoodie, vintage neckwear or handmade beaded bracelets, a pair of fly ass Jordans or head turning Alejandro Ingelmos, skinny jeans or an expertly tailored suit, I feel perfectly situated “in” my black skin. I feel cool as a black queer man in a black neighborhood where cool is constantly epitomized and re-imagined. I mean Bed-Stuy is so cool that white folk (and black & brown folk who once thought it uncool and unsafe to live in “Do or Die Bed-Stuy”) are moving here in droves. Go figure.
Nonetheless, to be black gay and masculine does not mean that I need to be conventional; queerness frees me to move from the question of who I am as a black masculine body to the more liberatory notion that beyond the way my body is caught up in a system of White racial supremacist hetero-patriarchy, I am someBODY, a human body. In other words, I try to express who the fuck Darnell is as opposed to what my body signifies (and prompts) as a black male masculine-performing body in a hood that is literally policed and increasingly gentrified.
So, yeah, I feel safe being me on the streets of Bed-Stuy. I feel safe being black queer and masculine…unless I am rocking a hoodie late at night and encounter the police. I guess that’s true of most black bodies inhabiting spaces where we are assailed by police. Shit, that is true of all black folk in America.”
The black struggle for liberation intends to refocus the white gaze in the direction of whiteness, that is, upon itself so as to correct its distorted affects. And why would we want to depoliticize the black struggle for liberation, a project that has the potential to transform all global citizens, but for no other reason than to resist such possibilities of transformation. Who’s scared? And, why? Our answers to those questions might just be the beginning of a global project of racial reconciliation catalyzed by the formation of new racial logics and politics.
Chatting it up with Mayor Cory A. Booker
My review of Frank Ocean’s “channel ORANGE”
HARM FREE ZONE 2012
Prevention- The act of preventing harm within the community.
Intervention- The act of directly intervening when harm has occurs
Reparation- The act of repairing harm among ALL community members
Transformation- The act of completely transforming individual and collective power relationships
"June Jordan’s words ( I was born a Black woman / and now / I am become a Palestinian) resuscitated my courage and like her I had become a Palestinian, though, I had been a Palestinian all along–even before my arrival on the land. I only needed to recall the guard that awaited me when I departed the plane; the guard that took my passport, my itinerary, my scrapbook, my words; the guard that interrogated me one on one in the security room wanting to know if my beard was a sign for allegiance to Allah…the many guards that guard a nation from everyone else but itself.”