New Directions: Home

May 24, 2010

It has been a year since I finished graduate school at Sarah Lawrence, and earned a degree that leaves me with intellectual satisfaction and a barrage of questions during unsuccessful job interviews.

Women’s History…why? :::brown suit asks with unfocused neurotic eyes:::

Maybe I’m not sure any more. I’m just sure that I need something to shift, and quickly.

I work two jobs as a College Advisor by day, and College Professor by night; Sounds like some super-hero script…and I love it and detest it all at once. I feel phantasmic and somnambulistic and I think I am developing an ulcer, but its probably something psychosomatic.

I am plagued by money and poverty, and a social class status in perpetual limbo transfixed between an elite-educated class and a poor boy from the Bronx on food stamps. Yes, I buy my lunch at Whole Foods sometimes with my Benefit card.

Whilst I sit transfixed between these borders, I turn to Gloria to get me through. She lets me know it will be okay…and tells me that I have a space.
But I do want to tell her that what I am really searching for is a home. Gloria said “homophobia is a fear of going home after a residency.” Well, where do we locate ourselves during a residency?
My home has been The Bronx for so long…but my dear friend, I think we’re headed for a divorce.

Last December, I spent countless dollars on applications to graduate programs in San Francisco, Toronto, and Montréal. I need(ed) to escape. Despite being accepted by a PhD program in San Francisco (I’m still awaiting to hear back from MTL almost 6 months later, but I doubt I would be able to secure a visa in time should I be offered acceptance), I decided that it was not my time to leave. I’m going to work out something with this city, I am going to find a space that doesn’t leave me jarred and marginalized on a daily basis.

Let’s see what happens.

NewYorkers/Tourists

Volver

August 5, 2008

It has been almost two months since my last posting! I intended on posting while in Canada and France, but I never really found the time to do so. While not much has changed since June…except for one thing: Roberto and I made it official on 18 July 2008 and registered as domestic partners! We did not make a big deal of it, and we don’t really intend on having any ceremony or stuff like that, but we have certainly enjoyed the shift in reception we get from friends and family…its like taking 20 minutes out of our life to fill out some papers and pay $40.00US suddenly further legitimized our relationship. But, hey I am not complaining 🙂 We didn’t do it for anyone else…we did it for security.

After we made the step to solidify our present, I am preparing to look forward and currently in the midst of  preparing for a huge change come September: my second-year of graduate school 🙂 This has been one of the first relaxing summers in a long time, and I will be sad to see it go. But its time to return. I have a task to complete…now the issue here is: what form the product take?

As I discussed with you all a few months ago, my intentions for the next year of study were to return (volver) to my roots: Cuba. I proposed a thesis project on Queer Cuban Nationalism, and while the proposal passed…the project no longer seems feasible 😦 I have not had any luck securing access to university libraries and state archives. Considering that my project will be based in historiographical research, it is imperative that I employ primary sources. I KNOW they exist…but I have to accept that I will not have enough time to locate and analyze the sources.

This is where the shift…the change begins to come into focus…(or somewhat)

In Montreal, I visited the Gay Archives of Quebec and attended the Symposium on Queer Feminisms. These experiences provoked me to look north…and in a way return to a topic that I have been interested on studying for the past decade: Sexuality and Quebecois Nationalism. It is a perfect fit 🙂 I fear speaking at length on the possible topic, as I don’t want to jinx this possibly.

but I will share with you another research project that I intend on pursuing independent of my work @ Sarah Lawrence. As most of you know, I am a native of the Bronx. I have lived elsewhere, but the Bronx (and specifically Parkchester) has always been my home. And in the past 10 years since I’ve “come out,” Parkchester and many parts of the Bronx have exploded with queer visibility. The Bronx now has Bronx Pride, a Gay and Lesbian Center, two HIV/AIDS organizations, a feminist/queer arts space, various queer nites at bars/clubs and damn, Roberto and I even registered our domestic partnership in the Bronx! Yet, in light of all these positive changes, a dense air of homo and transphobia continues to linger in this borough. I want to document queer lives in this borough…I want to engage with a history and enthnography of the queer Bronx. So if any of you have any resources, or directions for this project…please let me know.:-)

Without Notice

April 14, 2008

I just read some speeches by Maurice Bishop, the former Prime Minister of Grenada assinated after the U.S. invasion in 1983. I was provoked to respond directly to Bishop and the United States. If you want to read up on Grenada, wiki it–i support democratizing knowledge.
—-

Without Notice

I.
I am the voice that remains lost in your revolution.
I  cannot be explained in objective or subjective terms: I exist beyond that limited understanding.

I am the wo/man who does not know
of my fellow sisters
of the struggle
of who I really am.

This voice remains absent from your revolution and
I am not cognizant of the possibility of  my own liberation.

Your ties beyond this space
Nicaragua, Cuba, Iraq
provoke to me wonder:
where do your interests lie
what is your revolution?

The revolution lies in my body
I gave birth to it
and there it should begin and end with me.
my body lies present with a voice
an open womb bleeding for your revolution.

disease, illiteracy and famine
do not mark the parameters of my struggle—it cannot be explained in a material vision of
development.
your image of
development
remains colonized
and my voice does not have a space.
it is imbedded in
silence—
silence
so sharp that the dogs howl in misery each fortnight.

On your second and third anniversaries
will you wish to hear my
voice
as you blow out the fire?
Oh, dear Bishop,
you can only see a connection to your colonizers:
their sneeze
develops
into your cold.
yet, Bishop, in your revolutionary position of authority and oversight,
cannot see that when you cough
I choke and suffocate while warm trade winds speed through my naked hair.

Your revolution has improved the condition of my being,
but has not addressed the substance.
I now live:
longer, healthier, richer.
but my voice continues
lost in your reforms.

The crisis you speak of truly affects us all
and yes, affects us like a leech—
but I no longer have any more blood
to feed its hunger for raw materials.

Your Revolution seeks to deepen
individual and collective
consciousness.
and you call us, your local congregation to move
forward ever, backward never!
I remain lost somewhere in between.
Your Revolution seeks to deepen
international consciousness
rendering me lost before I reach the ears of interpreters.
I know not of my sisters elsewhere, because I know not of my sisters here.

Your jewel, with its sheer brilliance
transfixes
and
renders me silent.

I have no voice.
I have no elections.

II.
I mourn for the 17
but from bereavement
I now have my voice:
or so I believe.

Hello All,

It has been a while since my last post. I have been really consumed by work these past few weeks, but I hope to get back as soon as possible–better to post quality work, then just copious amounts of trash, eh?

Please take a look at these upcoming events. I will be present at all of them. Please come out and support the work of these amazing activists, organizers, intellectuals and fabulous people.

In Solidarity,

Pablo

——-

InterSEXtions

http://intersextionsconference.eventbrite.com/

In the upcoming election, “Change” has been thrown around as a bit of a buzzword among the Democrats. This “change” promises to restore hope in government and address the neglect of citizens of the United States by the current dictatorship. For generations, the right wing has used divide-and-conquer tactics to impede liberation for women, people of color, trans & queer people, immigrants, youth, poor and low-income people, and countless others. For too long, this imposed division has prevented our movements from recognizing the points at which we intersect. At organizing at the InterSEXtions, we hope to focus and build upon these points of intersection – for example: educational inequality, gentrification, legislation that diminishes both the rights of LGBTQ people and immigrants (ie. Marriage rights and the REAL ID act), HIV/Aids as a health, socio-economic and political epidemic, and the war on Iraq. The SEX in interSEXtions is a commentary to copulate the issues, to rub our activisms and identities against each other, to grind together, to flirt with other political discourses, and to make love to the movement!

InterSEXtions is on a mission to create a “state” where NYC activists, students, and movement leaders of tomorrow come together from their distinctive backgrounds, with their diverse perspectives and skills, to investigate social injustices at the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality, “citizenship” and ability and learn tools for grassroots organizing to develop a vision to further their activism. A central tenet to this conference is to build a network and solidarity among activists and students involved in intersectional social change. organizing at the InterSEXtions will be invigorating, critical, multilogical, and groundbreaking for movement building in NYC.

This conference will be held on April 19th and 20th, and will be a part of the larger “Building the Movement Weekend,” working in solidarity with ARKestra: Arts for Advocacy and Social Change and Zami, Like Me: Queer Womyn of Color CipHER.

Saturday

8:30-10am: Registration: Conference Resource Center, Lang Cafeteria

9am: Breakfast, Invocation and Libation: Julia Rhee, Leadership Academy Fellow with Young People For (YP4), Jamila Thompson, ARKestra and Women of Color Organization, Educator and Healer in training.

10a – 12:30p: Session 1

a. “Everyday Sexism and Modes of Resistance.”, Jamila Thompson, Women of Color Organization, ARKestra, Arts for Advocacy and Social Change.

b. “The Unexamined Whiteness of Teaching: The Challenge to Social Justice Education”, Bree Picower, Assistant Professor/ Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Teaching & Learning, Steindhart School of Culture, Education and Human Development, NYU., Core Member, NYCoRE.

c. Afro-Asian Relations: Hip-Hop as a Platform*”, Julia Rhee, Leadership Academy Fellow with Young People For (YP4)

d. Uses of the Erotic: In Activism and Scholarship,” Aih Djehuti Herukhuti Khepera Ra Temu Seti Amen, Ph.D.

12:30-2 p:

Lunch

and

Keynote: Kaila Story, Ph.D. The Audre Lorde Chair in Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality, Assistant Professor Women’s and Gender Studies and Pan-African Studies, University of Louisville

and

Reflection and Harmonization: Jenn Ghost Bear

2p-4:30p: Session 2

a. Learning & Media Pro(e)d(u)cation @ the Intersection of Literacies and Difference.”, 2008 Cohort, Educational Video Center.

b. “First, Class: Economic Justice and Class Issues in the LGBT Movement*.”, Kenyon Farrow, Board Co-Chair, Queers for Economic Justice, New York, NY

c. Moving from Prevention to Intervention: HIV/AIDS Activism among Changing Times“, Michael Roberson, Executive Director, People of Color in Crisis (POCC), Frank Leon Roberts, Doctoral Student, New York University & Research Fellow, P.O.C.C..

d. Local Anti-War Movement Building: Students for a Democratic Society

4:45-5:45pm: Organizing Mixer: A meet and greet, mocktail hour for conference attendees.

6p-9p: Zami Like Me: Queer Womyn of Color CipHER

*Tentative workshop title/subject to change

Sunday

11a-12:30p: Roundtable Discussion: “Academic Justice: A conversation with folks who seek it and fight for it.” Aih Djehuti Herukhuti Khepera Ra Temu Seti Amen, Ph.D., Jan Clausen, Greg Tewksbury

12:30-2p: Lunch

1p-2p: “Love=Peace: Spirituality and Social Justice.”, Maya Hatch and Kumiko Endo, Love=Peace Project

2p-4:30p: Session 1

a. “We know what we’re “against” but what are we “for”? Defining our vision for a progressive future.“, Dennis Chin, Program Associate, Movement Vision Lab, Center for Community Change, New York, NY

b. “Using Independent Media to Support Grassroots Organizing: Eugene Lang and Beyond.“, Eleanor Whitney, Lang Alumni, co-founding editor of New School Press Press (formerly Inprint), co-editor of riffrag.org, museum educator and freelance journalist, Irene Villasenor, youth organizer with P.O.V./American Documentary, Vani Natarajan, young adult librarian with the Brooklyn Public Library and member of Radical Reference.

c. [Re]Visions of Public Schooling: Grassroots Organizing for Educational Equity.”, Amita Swadhin, Sunset Park Education In Action Community (SPEAC) Collective

d. “Queer Diaspora: How might the cartography of a queer diaspora offer alternative narratives of globalization and its effects on subjectivity, culture, and kinship?”, Sadat Iqbal, Queer Union, NYU

5p: Closing Ceremony, Julia Rhee, Jenn Ghost Bear, Jamila Thompson, Maya Hatch

6p-9p: Zami Like Me: Queer Womyn of Color CipHER

*Tentative workshop title/subject to change

questions? email us at intersextions@gmail.com

conference produced by Joaquin Sanchez Jr and Harper Keenan,

the women of color organization, New School’s OPEN, Lang Student Union, Lang Dept of Education Studies, Lang Office of Community Activism and Participatory Citizenship

illustrations: Martin J. Fitzpatrick

and for a breakdown of Zami Like Me: Queer Womyn of Color CipHER:

http://www.eventbrite.com/event/101221757/emailinvite

“Does our sexual or racial identity compel an activist intersection with such a horrifying status quo or not? Is it sexual or racial identity that will catapult each of us into creative agency for social change? I would say, I hope so.” – June Jordan

Put on by The CipHER Project and co-sponsored by the New School Women of Color Organization and OPEN, the gay/straight alliance at The New School, Zami Like Me is a social, political, activist, artistic, educational and entertainment two day event that will serve lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, non-conforming, and two-spirited women of color and allies in celebration of our multiple identities, works and talents. It will be a one to two day women’s cipHER, a sharing space of skill, wit, talent and gifts that will run full circle, 360 degrees, with love and support. In reaching out to the New School community as well as the outside community, I hope to bring in artists (in many forms) and academics, youth and elders, to join in this two-day event to educate and learn about the issues that are prevalent to these women. This event will be on Saturday, April 19th and Sunday, April 20th.

[Please join us Saturday April 19 from 5:30-9 pm and Sunday April 20 from 6-9pm.]

SATURDAY, APRIL 19 5:30-9PM

3 FILM SCREENINGS:

black.womyn.:conversations with lesbians of african descent by tiona.m.

I Look Up to the Sky Now, created by Barbara M. Bickart and 11 young queer activists.

Like a Boy, Like a Girl by Ash. S. Tai and Cleopatra N. LaMothe

FOLLOWED BY 3 SMALL CIPHERS AND THEN 1 LARGER CIPHER LED BY KAILA A. STORY, AUDRE LORDE CHAIR AND ASST. PROFESSOR AT LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY.

SUNDAY, APRIL 20 6-9PM

ART EXHIBITION BY LGBTQTS WOMYN AND ALLIES!

LIVE PERFORMANCES!

LIVE ART BY THE AGYTATORS!

$5 to $10 suggested donation will be requested at the door. All proceeds are going to the Audre Lorde Project and the Youth Enrichment Services (YES) at the LGBTQ Center. NO ONE WILL BE TURNED AWAY BECAUSE OF MONEY. There will also be a raffle foe a gift bag of goodies!

Zami Like Me

Inspiration

March 15, 2008

Emanuel Xavier is one of my favorite contemporary writers. I was looking through some poems, just to serve as some inspiration for a piece I’m working on…and I came across this poem from Americano. I wanted to share it with you. If you think this is good, I hope that you will go out and support his work…(this means buy his books!)

Risk
By Emanuel Xavier

Emanuel, you know I love you, but I need you to be more affectionate. I don’t understand why you pull away when I try to hold your hand in public? I know you love me too but it makes me feel insecure. There’s nothing wrong with public displays of affection. It’s important for people to see two men or two women in a loving relationship. Society will never accept us if we hide our love like there’s something wrong with it. You, out of all people, should be aware of this. I mean, what are you so scared about? Do you really think I’d ever let anything happen to you?
I was six when a group of guys chased
what I thought was a girl
toward my stepfather’s parked car
outside our Bushwick apartment
Lifting myself from the back seat
young and curious
Mami rolled up her window as the young man smeared with make-up and blood
banged on the other side of the glass
crying for help
The mob caught up to him
someone pulled him by his long hair
dragged him to the hood of the car
smashing his face into the cold metal
Sometimes, I can still see his eyes
staring back at me in horror
I was introduced, for the first time,
to the words marica and maricón and faggot
It’s so ironic that in your writing and performances, you come across as so revolutionary and strong, but out in public, you’re so private and reserved. People look up to you and you need to take a stand. How could you get up on a stage and read the stuff you write about and then be afraid to be yourself with your lover out on the streets?

I was eleven when two men kissed outside the Manhattan store Mami had just finished shopping in
handing her bags over to me to block my view
blocking the love
Her purchases ending up on the floor
Mami ending up on the floor
pushed out of the way by some thug
Her bags, her body, beneath me
Opening up the view
to see a group of men replacing the two previous
cursin’ and punchin’
kickin’ and spitting’
howlin’ and laughin’
before Mami got up
and shoved me into her breasts to block my view
blocking the hate
Look, it’s not like we have to be on top of each other everywhere we go but it would be nice to have people realize we’re a couple every once and a while. It’s confusing. If this relationship is going anywhere, you need to work on being more affectionate.
I want so much to touch you
fall asleep in your arms
on the back of the bus
huddling together in our own little world
where the bumps and potholes
add joy to the ride
I want to kiss you out in the open
even if it means our brutal death
because our blood will feed the cracks between the concrete
weeds will grow to remind this world that nature
will never be completely destroyed
You’ve survived so much and yet you’re so scared of what people think. It doesn’t make any sense at all. A real man is someone like Stacy Amber that could live his life on a daily basis and not be afraid to walk the streets in a tight dress and high heels.

I was sixteen when a guy chased
what I thought was a girl
toward my trick’s parked car
outside the West Side Highway piers
Lifting myself from the front seat
young and angry
John rolled up his window
as the young trannie smeared with make-up and blood
banged on the other side of the glass
crying for help
The guy caught up to her
before I stepped out of the car
pulled him by the hair
dragged him to the hood of the car
smashing his face into the cold metal
Sometimes, I can still see his eyes
staring back at me in horror
He was introduced, for the first time,
to the words change and revolution from a faggot
I just want you to be a little more affectionate. You can’t keep hiding behind, “That’s just the way I am.” That shit don’t fly with me.
I was twenty-seven when you came into my life
I had never felt more comfortable and safe
with anyone in the world
You were the first to ever challenge me
to realize that sometimes sacrifice
is the only way to salvation
to recognize that true love
requires strength and compromise
If only I had reached out
in public
to hold your hand
Emanuel, you know I love you, but this isn’t working out. I can’t live like this. I need to be with someone who is not afraid to be themselves out in public. It’s really important to me. I want to be able to kiss my lover at any given time. I need someone willing to take that risk.

Considering my upcoming master’s thesis on Queer Nationalism in Cuba, I was ecstatic to find this essay I wrote in 2003. I suppose that even five years ago I had some idea that I wanted to pursue this topic deeper, but my analytical tools were certainly limited at this point–I was only a sophomore. Although this essay is too broad to fit under the purview of my thesis, I may decide to clean this essay up a bit and present it at a conference. I know the essay is a bit long–and requires a lot of editing, but any comments would certainly be appreciated 🙂

By the way, I couldn’t post the citations. If anyone wants them, just let me know.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve been thinking a lot about performance and politics. During the “Black Power, Black Feminism” conference at Sarah Lawrence, I attended a panel on the Black Arts movement and I was provoked to start thinking differently about art and politics. One panelist noted that during the Black Arts movement, dancers were not respected as a “serious” art in terms of social politics. Dance was perceived as frivolous apolitical action—and not a true art in light of the movement. Yet, the panelist argued that dance was by far one of the most politicized art forms during the movement, and also one of the most accessible considering that the only tool required is the body. Something else that only requires the body is sex, but this action is hardly understood as an art. Sex is certainly a performance, no matter how many people are involved. And art is certainly also performative, but what about pornography? Can pornography also be art? Before I even begin to consider this question, it is critical to start with deconstructing what we even deem as pornographic. In light of the performative scope of my inquiry, I would like to commence with a videographic introduction.

He has a point. Let us embody this problematic as the foreplay to our work…But I’m going to take this slow.

South Africa

February 29, 2008

I am absolutely appalled by these students’ actions.  They should be fucking expelled from university.

And why has this not received more press in the United States? Probably because students have committed similar or worse racist actions in this country. I don’t even know what to say.

Sex or Gender & Histories

February 28, 2008

Last night I was thinking about gender and history–and yes, I think about these things at home. This was prompted by a promo for an upcoming episode of Taboo on National Geographic. The focus of the episode will be on Sexual Identity, and while the program was quite interesting (its a rerun), I remember being disturbed by the their constant shift between the terms: sex and gender. While there is already amazing scholarship on this subject, I want to offer a succinct intervention.

Why gender as an analytic alternative to sex? Sex is a biological construct that relies upon reproductive capacity as a foundation for sexual difference. It creates a mutually exclusive binary structure that render as in invisible other histories that exist outside of this dualism. A number of “third-wave” and French feminists dispute the biological-natural status the distinction imputes to sex, arguing instead that both sex and gender are culturally constructed and structurally complicit. I am not yet familiar enough with this stance, but I do believe that it certainly warrants mentioning.

But at this moment I still understand sex as an analytic concept is subject to ahistorical forces which do not portray the altering circumstances of our social condition(s). Study of historical records reveal that the social conditions constructed vis-à-vis sexual difference—gender—has lead to hierarchy, inequalities and a number of other inequitable circumstances.
Gender offers a contextual variable that shapes to address social conditions.Through integrating gender as historically specific analytic concept, we can broaden historiography to include gendered personal and systematic experiences as equally valid as conventional means of recording history. Historical analysis is particularly useful to feminists who aim to develop a gender-based foundation to their social critique. Gender provides specifity to activist projects. Considering these advantages, we can easily see the relationship between gender and history is not an exclusive hierarchical setup, rather it is the feminist alternative, a mutually inclusive symbiotic partnership that will allow us to finally broaden our intellectual scope to fully understand our social conditions.

What do you think?

During a housewarming this past Saturday night (23 Febuary 2008), amidst great music and a flowing bar of drinks, I had a fabulous political conversation with three of the most brilliant people I have ever met. And Joaquin, Angelica, Jamila and I were definitely not talking about the upcoming presidential election–at the nexus of our conversation was simply how fucked up binaries can be. During the conversation I concluded that even the discourse we employ when speaking about politics can completely reinforce an mutually oppressive binary apparatus.

Example: Dialogue. We often think this term can lead toward progressive ends, but even within (di)alogue we can see the construction of a binary developing. Di is a greek numerical prefix meaning two or double. We hear of monologues and dialogues, but what about triologues or multilogues. Are our progressive (queer, feminist, womanist) politics flawed from its foundations?

In order to move beyond binaries, we should begin with considering the condition of binaries. Within an oppositional binary system, two items are juxtaposed with each other in a hegemonic cold war. One item aims to surmount the other…and in turn gains social value while the other is subjected to demonization. In this process, other items are (purposely) alienated from this system. This is best exemplified our hegemonic gender binary.

I cannot help but consider at this point, what is the purpose of gender. As it now stands, we are socially programmed to recognize two genders: male and female. Like every other binary structure, it is discursive and hegemonic in nature. Derrida (I love Derrida!) explores this discursive relationship that exists within our construction of social definitions. At the foundation of the definition of an object, we consider its meaning through juxtaposition with the object’s polar opposite. This process is exclusive and does not consider the conditions of other objects that live within this system. This is why I cannot identify as male. In the gender binary, male is valued over female. I cannot agree with this system. In this gender binary, male/female is the only acceptable structure. This rejects the existence of trans, gender-queer, two-spirited, and intersexed people. I cannot agree with this alienation. Binaries produce borderlands.

The borderlands are filled with knowledge and histories…but when will we finally open our minds to open the borderlands into conversation?

Ottinger