KNOW YOUR PLACE

Remember the words?

“put on your face…/KNOW YOUR PLACE…/shut up, and smile…/don’t spread your legs…”

We all embraced it, as an anthem for the Women’s Marches that happened all over the world, way back on January 20th as the Trumpocalypse became REAL. So real, one friend represented the entirety of it, with “the scream heard round the world”:

Last weekend, I put my pink pussy hat back on, and stood as a busker and sang the anthem. Not one person passing by met my eyes. No one smiled. Several hurried past. And the saddest part of this story to me, is that I was at “Women’s Week” at Provincetown. Point of clarification: I didn’t “just” sing that anthem, nor did I expect to make money as a busker singing… I simply wanted the connection with other women. A sort of “where ARE we?” check in. As people actually averted their eyes, I knew that I had my answer.

We are nine months into this nightmare, and the troops are sagging.

This averting of eyes thing happened to me once before in the last nine months. I had walked into an ecstatic dance event, in Ashland, Oregon (I was passing through, on my way to Sacremento, from Washington state); and I was flustered by that lack of eye contact. But as the dance went on, I filled in the blanks and had quite an epiphany. This community had just experienced a major jolt. There was an altar at the dance, honoring a mother in that community who had lost her son.

This was the event that led to his death:

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/27/530351468/2-dead-1-injured-after-stabbing-in-portland-ore

A heart-shaped wreath covered with positive messages hangs on a traffic light pole Saturday at a memorial for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday on a light-rail train in Portland, Ore.

A heart-shaped wreath covered with positive messages hangs on a traffic light pole Saturday at a memorial for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday on a light-rail train in Portland, Ore.

And, this is what his mother said, in response:

“Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, My dear baby boy passed on yesterday while protecting two young Muslim girls from a racist man on the train in Portland. He was a hero and will remain a hero on the other side of the veil. Shining bright star I love you forever.”

And I– being the only person in that room in Ashland of any color other than white– was a reminder of the tragedy. That is why no one looked at me. That is why people averted their eyes. Too painful, to make the connection. To risk that I might “look back, with ANGER”. Too scary, to be reminded, and to have to THINK about/ feel into that incident, and to wonder, “what would I have done, if I had been on that bus?”

I thought a lot about what I could have done.

Being Black and female myself, I start with the fact that I might have been the target. But if I wasn’t, and was simply a witness, going to sit next to the women and immediately begin a conversation (what I decided I would do, when the “safety pin pledge” happened) would just be pouring gasoline on that critical moment.

artwork by Pam Wagner

artwork by Pam Wagner

So, I would have screamed.

No, not actually scream… but used my voice in a big, BIG way. My favorite way to scream as a distraction, is to shout “BACK OFF!” and I learned it from watching my daughter as she took a model mugging workshop as a 14 year old: http://modelmugging.org/

Padded-Assailant-makes-a-rear-approach

Another effective use of my loud voice has been to sing. Except, something is happening to the morale of my sisters that is keeping us quiet.

Out West” (as I will refer to my time in the pacific Northwest, as I “blog” from “Back East” here in New England), I was a part of a Wyld Women’s Choir.

We conspired/inspired/respired (that would be breathing)/and aspired together, weekly. I learned to deepen my listening, to listen for harmonies, to make space for Spirit to “come by” and help me move from striving to thriving.

As I have been “back East” for just over a month, I have had my concerns (reasons that I left, in the first place) confirmed. The culture that I embrace in New England has a few standards that don’t work well for me. One is that it is better to be polite, than to be authentic. True dat. An acquaintance described the difference between The East and The South as “Easterners are open minded and closed hearted/ while Southerners are closed minded and open hearted” (stereotypes yes, but so much truth in there!)

I know my place. As AmeriKKKa removes the veils from our collective eyes and sees not only the white supremacy BUILT INTO our “democracy”:

And “me too” goes viral around social media sites…I recognize that my very presence is making white people uncomfortable. My work therefore becomes being a symbol and a reminder of how bad it actually IS…day to day…as a person with many identities under attack (black/female/integrationist with biracial offspring/bi-sexual/solo polyamorist/former genital mutilator turned intactivist/abortionist/pagan) to try to move as an authentic person and to make connections with others. So okay… I am NOT in the best environment for matching my temperament; but I have found ways to be resilient, to keep on moving forward, and to STAY LOUD. stay loud

I’ll continue to hone my skills at “leaning towards the lyrical” even though those around me experience that energetic loudness as migraine inducing.

How are YOU doing, these days?

taken from tWAT FB page (...the Women's Action Team in Vermont)

taken from tWAT FB page (…the Women’s Action Team in Vermont)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 Responses to KNOW YOUR PLACE

  1. Davi says:

    Thank you for this great essay, one of your most inspired yet. I am always so impressed how you find ideas, music, and imagery from such diverse sources and how your mind weaves them together. Also how you always get underneath a phenomenon and capture the essential, often unspoken, truth. Yes, the troops are flagging: anyone who thought it would be a good thing to have DJT as prez in order to get the masses riled up, was in pure fantasy that the masses would have the stamina and consciousness to prevail in such a protracted relentless war.

  2. yes new england how victorian repressed. landed here from an ohio childhood being raised by silent assimilated irish /french and wasp DAR ancestors who hailed from new england. anything LOUD is a discomfort. a buerican neighbor assimilates by taking their selves to livecasts of opera where they can imagine being loud and expressive. when i moved to the woods i found the earth grabbing me and erupting outa my lungs a bellow that i explained away as the sound of moose mating. friends in nearby college town complain of student noise (which i also think is awful particularly the “playful” screams of the young women, as well as the BANG BANG and dissonance) but wont go out in their yards n porches and make their own noise. i sometimes tease them by moose calling, why are they not practicing their guitar on the back stoop? but when the neighbor on the other side of my wall turns up the noise to cover the noise of him n his new woman friend n i can’t think. i think the thinking is opposite the feeling n they cant be in the same room. “what will the neighbors think?” ingrained deeply. shame in drawing attention. i am trying to prepare my neighbors and landlord for the moose calling but meantime i am most likely to confine it to inside the vehicle movin fast down the road. ha! Black? Fierce? Loud? Yep that’s a triple whammy of discomfort in this white frozeness. I would probly be shocked too into polite aversion. all the while the woodswoman would wish to harmonize

  3. JS says:

    I left you a question in my comment on your last post, yet you never responded to it. (I’m known to be nosy, sorry.) Are you back in Brattleboro for good? I was also curious as to why your west coast adventure was so short. Originally, you’d planned on moving to Canada to be with Orion, and maybe do midwifery. And also escape the issues here that you’ve written about. I thought that you’d moved permanently, since it was a big venture to get there and relocate.

    • ceremonyheals says:

      Catching JS up:
      –Plans to emigrate to Canada sorted, with initial extremely traumatic internet action with guy in photo below…

      — 3 u.s. and Canadian border security interactions later, too traumatized to even think about living. That passed in at three days back in late April early May.

      — Re-thought plans. Decided to settle in Pacific Northwest and await natural early retirement age of 62 to cross over to be with Canuck husband; no special needs. No emigration just same geographic location..

      –Canuck husband Orion has bailed on the marriage. Decided for both of us this was best. My little ditty:
      🎶I feel like a Jewmarried to a German just before World War II🎶

      — attempting to create a sustainable subscription like program for myself has been floundering as I tread water through the fall..

      (www.patreon.com/DoctorO)

      Car payments the most pressing issue (I live pretty cheap otherwise)… continuing to think outside the box and ideas getting Wilder and Wilder to the point of crazy bag lady Persona emerging most likely…

      Stay tuned!

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