“Are my ancestors mad at me?”
I don’t even know if this is going to make sense. Thinking about how someone asked in a session I recently attended — “Are my ancestors mad at me?”— my immediate response was, “FUCK NO. BECAUSE THEY SEE ME OUT HERE DOING THE BEST WITH WHAT I GOT AND HAVING AGENCY”
I also put in the [Zoom] chat…
Being a slave descendent is hard, in spaces of intellectual thought, esp living in and still being rooted in the south (traditions, customs, practices and aesthetics) is hard.
When I refer to ancestors I’m not immediately thinking about the ones that knew their native tongue. The ones that were indigenous to the land that they were born into. When someone mentions the word ancestors… I’m thinking first about Early Mae & Irene (Gma) or Braddis Seal(Great) or Sam Hatten or the Chatmans. I’m thinking about the ones—ancestors—who could only trace their roots back to Mississippi and Louisiana territory because there are no further records of where they come from. Now some of my heritage is Native American indigenous; but even that is hard to prove so it’s something I can’t connect to as an identity orientation, genealogy wise or visibly aesthetic (aside from the red undertones of my deeply brown skin).
A pressure to pick an aesthetic —core so that similarly oriented people align and one feels belonged.
So often I feel this pressure with the increase of education of my history/ heritage/ethnicity or Blackness to pick what aesthete-core I belong to like:
- Black Panther Revolutionary,
- Neue Afrotech,
- African Tribal Motherland,
- Southern Civil Servant
- And there are a few others that I’m not sure how to give name.
When really at my core I’m American as FUCK, more than deep, I’m sooo fucking Southern American sans Southern Belle. I like Blue jeans. I like cowhide and linen. I like magnolias and Fleur De Lis.
I like jazz and blues and country music and rock and roll.
I like sports cars And Lincolns and Ford trucks.
I like Dollar General stores and Winn Dixie and Piggly Wiggly.
I like eccentric, eclectic – a mix of the old and the new.
It feels like a pressure to choose a niche in a market. Like being able to read the room and assimilate to an orientation that will make everyone know that you’re safe to be around. The internet can make it so tough to be in contact with folk that don’t have the same deep orientations as you. But the internet is constantly preaching both inclusivity on a communal level and boundaries on an individual level without talking about how to properly reconcile the two when they need to be applied backwardly … what does inclusivity look like on an individual level and what are enforced boundaries like to a group of people who orient the same.
Grits & Oatmeal
I’m starting to find it easier to have conversations with folks who are rooted in a southern core of values. Folk who have very hard and long standing traditions and rituals and whose dialects are easily sensed and folk ask “where you from”. That’s hard for me admit because the politically correct thing right now is to be able to have conversations across “party lines”. I’m not saying that these things are equal but it’s honestly easier to talk to another person from the south who still lives in the south, like it’s easy to talk to an unorthodox Jewish heritage person who still does observe some orthodox practices.
The struggles between me and somebody from the west coast seem to not be unified because the struggles don’t have no solidarity in aesthetics. And often time I experience a weird power trip from folk who think that the south don’t have nothing to say.
I mean look at the aesthetic of the political map when we talk red and blue predictions forecasts from this year…..
and the aesthetic of the political map of 2020
I like this 2020 visual even more than I like the predictive 2024 visual because… what it shows is power dynamics or to be more blunt—where the mothafucking money at and how easily the scales can tip between galvanizing people by the aesthetic landscape of emotion or by the aesthetic landscape of power.
But the even more elusive aesthetic here is the one that lies between the mason-dixon and Louisiana
purchase lines. It hit different.. because for as much blue as you’ll find in places of the emerging power cities of the south: D.C., Atlanta, Houston, Miami, Charlotte — it’s because there still is a dream deferred. Not a dream that grants more access to materialized benefits like in places like N.Y.C, Chicago, San Fran or Seattle. Because the thing is… Black folk that live in those places have their migrating ancestors to thank and now the migration of progressive Black millennials that know more and want out of the dream deferred. Even if it is a delusion in the states on the west and in the north— at least it comes with material freedoms.
Because still down south… It ain’t gold tech trees like the west, it’s still the sun. It ain’t metal like the Midwest — it’s offshore oil. It ain’t stock exchange green like the north east- it’s red soil and white altar candles still down here. For as much as the South tries to mirror what’s working in other parts of the country … it is only facade art that’s covering up a physical land that still has not been reconstructed. That’s still the struggle of the South and it’s hard having conversations with people who don’t get that down here it ain’t just ideologies of liberation. Niggas is still trying to get free, not by fleeing. Niggas want to get free while remaining on the land that enslaved them because the heritage of the soil is rich enough to make us stay or comeback. There is something deeper in the dirt that keeps us bound here.
Moving from the physical land to cyber space inter nets while political movements are in abundance
So boom, when I get on IG — specifically because it’s a platform built on not just visuals but the aesthetics of those visual—and I witness talk about liberation or use the semantics of political language in attempt to mobilize… it feels like assertion of points of view on what organization and mobilization has to be or has to look like(aesthetics) are diabolically different. Especially between Black folk who are trying to build futures. Why? I don’t really fuckin know. I’m sure there are some theorists out there that can speak to a response to that question. For some reason Black folk want solidarity without even realizing that there was always and probably will always be tribalism within Blackness. Tribalism is a native concept to humanity, period.
I’ve reconciled with tribalism and am almost wanting to embrace it more except, without the concepts of empire and conquest. It makes me want to be very selfish, not from a consumption point of view. I want to be selfish with space. I don’t want to enlarge my personal, material territory I want to produce fruit and commodities that come from the exchanges that I have on the lot I inherited.
And now I gotta sit with that for the rest of the day how selfish (good I think for me) it is of me to want my own space that is not dictated by the aesthetics of reality. And that’s why I love cyber space because it is virtual land.
As a Taker (in consensual energy). When I step into reality … depending on who I come in contact with folk feel it on a scale of deep agreement or personal assault. And for me.. the more I grow in
skill or wisdom it often feels safer to not engage in physical realities or spaces where the goalposts seem to keep moving.
That’s why I love art.
And why I wanna run from IG so badly right now…