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Much of my work deals with how power gets tangled up and hard to understand. Having started organizing as a Black college student, I grapple with the contradiction between identity & privilege. Institutions like universities often work to silence challenges to racist, classist systems of criminalization and incarceration by spreading the lie that college students aren’t a part of those systems. It’s important to recognize that the same way dominant notions of who is criminal are defined by Blackness, notions of who is victim or who is successful are determined by anti-Backness. To move through and be a Black exception in such a system without challenging it, is to deny one’s identity and submit to white supremacy. To be Black and still alive after the New Jersey 4, after Trayvon Martin, after Renisha McBride, after Mike Brown, presents a similar responsibility.

We got to matriarchy in the syllabus and patriarchy, and I said, you know, the whole idea of patriarchy and matriarchy portends something called ‘power.’ We might have had these women-centered homes, but it didn’t mean power. These women were not going out there cruising with some high powered jobs, making a whole lot of money, doing steak every night. So I came up with a term—you know teaching makes you do more work—and I came up with a term called diarchy. I said Black families were diarchal, most of them, in that you might have had a woman there, a mother there, but you had a grandmother, you had an uncle, you had some cousins in there. Diarchy happens when a family is under duress, under stress from a society.

That was important, so therefore if you move to diarchy, then you leave the whole arena that Moynihan is talking about matriarchy, talking about ‘these women are the cause for all the problems happening in the Black community,’ and you leave the arena with the men who say ‘well I wanna be a patriarch’ and I say ‘well dude you ain’t making enough money to be a patriarch,’ being facetious, but at the same time saying ‘you didn’t come up in a family like that; tell me about your family?’ Tell me about your family; how is your composition of your family? And everybody, most everybody, most of them had a diarchy; had nothing to do with a matriarchy or patriarchy.

Sonia Sanchez

Quote is from a video where she discussed a course on Black women that her students theorized into existence and she taught only a few years after the notoriously anti-Black, misogynoiristic, ahistorical Moynihan report came out (responsible for many straight up lies and stereotypes about Black motherhood and Black families post-Civil War, invoking arbitrary pathology for not mirroring White families, while leaving anti-Blackness and White supremacy blameless).

Here she dissects the false equalization made between matriarchy and patriarchy themselves, and as pertaining to Black families, something I wrote about in Black American Families Are Not “Matriarchal”. There I deconstructed the ahistorical mess of Moynihan and more. I cited Patricia Hill Collins, Angela Davis and bell hooks in that older essay, but damn I would’ve loved to have cited Sonia there. 

Anyway, watch that short video! It’s wonderful hearing about how she engages in her classroom on difficult topics on gender, family and more with primarily Black students, especially during that first semester of this particular class back in ‘69. 

(via gradientlair)

(via gradientlair)

Frida Kahlo to Marty McConnel

by Marty McConnell

leaving is not enough; you must
stay gone. train your heart 
like a dog. change the locks
even on the house he’s never
visited. you lucky, lucky girl. 
you have an apartment 
just your size. a bathtub
full of tea. a heart the size
of Arizona, but not nearly
so arid. don’t wish away 
your cracked past, your 
crooked toes, your problems
are papier mache puppets
you made or bought because the vendor
at the market was so compelling you just
had to have them. you had to have him.
and you did. and now you pull down 
the bridge between your houses,
you make him call before 
he visits, you take a lover
for granted, you take 
a lover who looks at you
like maybe you are magic. make
the first bottle you consume
in this place a relic. place it 
on whatever altar you fashion
with a knife and five cranberries.
don’t lose too much weight.
stupid girls are always trying 
to disappear as revenge. and you 
are not stupid. you loved a man
with more hands than a parade 
of beggars, and here you stand. heart
like a four-poster bed. heart like a canvas.
heart leaking something so strong 
they can smell it in the street.