“I know a girl,
she makes it so fun to use su lengua,
su lengua,
say “fuck the world,”
turn that thing into a gun su lengua,
su lengua,
and if she please,
she will bring you to your knees su lengua,
su lengua,
she sets me free,
sparks a fire within me su lengua,
su lengua,
I’m happy, I roar, come let me give you some more…”

This song, which my eldest child affectionately calls “A Girl,” we sing in happy silliness, but with a sense of pride and self awareness.

I think I’ve been called a ho as a statement of distaste, whether sexually related or not, and by both men and women, as much as I’ve been called a bitch, and often they present themselves as a pair. A ho and a bitch. For the longest time these surnames were crimes for which I was immediately guilty and always the burden of proving my innocence was cast easily upon me: once it is said, so it is. I find it fascinating that ho and bitch are found so often in pairing; “ho” carries a sense of unpermitted looseness, shameful indulgence, letting apart the things that ‘ought’ to be bound. Differently, “bitch” tastes bitter, unwelcoming, clenched tight and difficult to consume and/or enjoy. How we can be simultaneously charged as spread and acidly fastened is evidence of a fickle standard or our limitless nature: truly, both. So many years I spent resisting the accusations, what glory I beheld once began to invite them.

A woman can’t help but become full of enchantment when she recognizes who and all that she is.

I have a friend in Puerto Rico who has become not only one of my dearest friends, but an obvious light in my life: I love a woman that loves questions.  Nilsa and I are able to speak freely of how we might quite enjoy some nature of prostitution; we are laughing but not joking. I might have found this peculiar not long ago but you can not be shamed for what you are unashamed of, and I learned to recognize that it was only my concern for what men thought that tethered me to the Arena.  What can a man tell a woman who knows there is nothing he could speak to her wisely about regarding her womanhood? And how much less could you tell a black woman in absolute adoration of her blackness? To a black woman who isn’t unaware of her identity as a Creator? Both through human arts and our innate ability to grow we can’t help but be who we are or drive ourselves to madness–or more appropriately, other levels of cognizance.

For as long as I was taught, as facts, that the sexually unbound were immoral, that gender was something fixed and unmovable, that intimacy had strict rules that nature and God insisted on, it came to me as a surprise (that later made the most perfect sense) that carefree black women, and especially those who might either be self described or externally labeled as queer, were astonishingly full of godliness–and God. So unrestrained by convention and so generous in spirit, they have an understanding of what it means to truly act in unconditional love; so interested and determined for freedom themselves, their compasses point toward justice and love and light as instinctually as I had ever witnessed. Doctrine could not confine them. I think it is not a coincidence that society is disciplined to believe that God is in rules instead of freedoms. The sermons they spoke cut, burned edifices to the ground, resurrected truths that our souls once knew like melodies to songs that have been long forgotten in the head but can not be disposed (as an aside and testament to Black dynamism by nature: it’s no wonder how black agnostics or even atheists can still feel themselves swell up under the iconic voices and tones of black preachers and choirs, especially the southern Baptist variety. Even if you do not identify with the deities or messages being employed, that ancestral fervor, excitement, and power of tongue can be electric.).

Without needing or desiring approval of others, they exude an air of self liberation that I attribute to godliness; who would argue that God is anything short of absolutely free and desiring freedom for all others? It is important to acknowledge that this isn’t simply about being freed by someone, that is to say that my liberation cannot be *granted.*¹ This is why I can appreciate the spirit of black women in wholeness: spread and tucked tightly, giving and guarding, sharing and resisting, indulging and commanding. Protecting ourselves against our disloyal creations.

Men, and by extension the World, would have you believe that women have a responsibility to follow the rules that have been laid before us which really boil down to simple statutes: be as available to men as they request in the moments they request, otherwise, keep yourself perched neatly on the shelf until you have been requested. While reading Alice Walker’s In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens this week, I noticed when she talks about how people take pleasure in the humiliation of other people–is there anything easier to be certain of? Whether regarding dress, size, liveliness, silence, the workplace, the home, sexuality, intelligence, or any matter of human life, we are told just how to behave and always it is at the hands of patriarchy: either too loose or not loose enough, we yo-yo ourselves in slip knots. Other than to control how women view themselves, their natures, their thoughts and feelings, and as a result their inherent self worth, what purpose does it serve to convince them that how they choose to live their lives, outside of oppressing others, is bad/evil/shameful/anti-godly?  And if we allow it, we permit the absolute robbery of our freedom to live and choose in what manners we find living pleasing to us. We cannot call our selections chosen if we do not consider openly all there is to choose from.

I have another friend, Shatia,* whom I am delighted by. I suspect there is a free woman within her softly aware of herself but convinced that she is deserving of the sovereignty of her chains. I can’t decide if the free her resides in her mind but is shackled by the corruption of her heart or takes residence in her heart but has been anchored by the corruption of her mind; both and neither possibility seem to relieve me of this wonder–perhaps this is meant when it is said that the soul is the prison of the body. In any case, her spirit, even if only in a round and indefinite manner, notices the crookedness, and if our lengthy conversations are any indication of what led her here, organized Christianity is the mischief wandering her halls and knocking her frames to a tilt.

Hos who own themselves was a new concept to me. Once I was wiling to stare at them instead of cringe and shunt under the teachings that bind us in the Arena, I became fascinated at their ability to operate both within and outside of–no, above!– society as we know it. These are the preachings that I am now focused on, and I am feeling more unhoused than ever. Have you ever seen a black woman proclaim her hoetry²? She is like fire, grounded in wisdom and self awareness, knowing its intensity can warm or consume at will. How can fire be convinced it is not alive? Only when it’s smothered or drowned can it be persuaded. And what when she recognizes herself as water? Giving life and refreshment yet fully able to overwhelm if she decides? And then to undestand herself as air, lulling you to slumber with her whispers and devastating you with her tornadoes? Yes, a woman aware of her ability to balance and choose, aware of her strength and her calm, happy to intoxicate and enlighten. You cannot defeat a woman who understands herself as a Creator because she also understands that along with the power to create comes the power to destruct, and only her love is your salvation.

Heauxs understand this. They can rile you into thunderous applause with their wildness because they have embraced themselves and therefore can think, speak, and move with freedom. You cannot define someone who understands they are above definition.

The more I relinquished judgement of others the more I became emancipated from judgement of myself. And with newfound and increasing ability to regard everything leaking from a man’s mouth plagerism at best and absolute garbage most regularly, so even the insults spewed at me from women that still participated in the Hunger Games also became either irrelevant or ironically perfect. Recently a white woman attempting to sneer at me and others heaved that we were a bunch of “angry man hating lesbians,” to which I found a good laugh: righteous anger is love, men ain’t a bit of shit, and I am a lover of women.

 

 

*named change to protect anonymity

¹Kevin Rigby Jr. and Hari Ziyad speak about this from a racial standpoint in “White People Have No Place in Black Liberation” but I believe something similar can be said about the liberation of women.

²I owe this term to Sherronda J. Brown who is easily one of the most fabulous and full of life people I have come across.

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