I wanted to revisit the story of invisible wounds that are carried with us into adulthood. To look somemore at where Jill’s story ends and how and why Mos Def’s story begins. The reason: Psychological concepts live in us and are always present. Love Rains offers not just insight but also understanding.
Jill Scott Now me non clairvoyant and in love, Made the coochie easy and the obvious invisible. The rain was falling, And I couldn’t see the season changing, And the vibe slipping off its axis. Our beautiful melody became wildly staccato. The…rain…was..falling…and…I…could not…see..that…I..was…to…be Plowed… And sown and fertilised, and left to drown in his sunny afternoon, Cumulus clouds, 84 degrees,
Wide open, wide, loose like bowels after collard greens. The mistake was made, love slipped from my lips, Dripped down my chin and landed in his lap, And Us became nu. Now me non clairvoyant and in love Made me the fool You were never true If you didn’t want me, ah, you should have let me know All you did was make a mockery of Something so Incredible, beautiful I honestly did love you So
Immature What then? Both hurt, but for two differing reasons. What follows is time healing and recovering from that pain of loss. Until it is met again and perhaps both can learn how to survive the intimacy and complications that romantic love can bring. For some, men can be less emotionally aware, less in tune with body-mind-emotion connections. Men can feel that shame and fear are the same and do not spend time investigating to understand their differences. Until an adulting experience happens. They are met by circumstances that force change. Then they do. Then they can. Then they will. Willingly facing the denial of their first hurts and begin the process of healing.
Throne Making Mos Def’s piece blew me away when I first heard it. It still does. No poem before or after had ever exalted and re-set the Black woman so perfectly, I wanted to possess and inhabit these words and the intention behind them, to make right the many centuries of wrong hurt blame shame and pain. This too is my shame. In a word I am sorry for the wrongs that I and my ken have brought to you. I want to make peace with you: Queen.
Mos Def: I stretched my arms towards the sky like blades of tall grass. The sun beat between my shoulders like carnival drums. I sat still in hopes that it would help my wings to grow, So that I could really be fly. And then she arrived, Like day break inside a railway tunnel, Like the new moon, like a diamond in the mines, like high noon to a drunkard, sudden. She made my heart beat in a now/now time signature. Her skinny canvas for ultraviolet brushstrokes; She was the sun’s painting. She was a deep cognac color; Her eyes sparkled like lights along the new city. Her lips pursed as if her breath was too sweet and full for her mouth to hold. I said, “you are the beautiful, distress of mathematics.” I said, “For you, I would peel open the clouds like new fruit; Give you lightning and thunder as a dowry. I would make the sky shed all of its stars like rain, I would clasp the constellations across your waist and I would make the heavens your cape, And they would be pleased to cover you. They would be pleased to cover you, May I please cover you? Please”
Heady For me there is little in the way that speaks of adoration and reverie to honour or emits love much better than this. The poem can be interpreted as if to say I am sorry – and somehow yet, still more.
That an idyll can be obtained and brought about between Women and Men in this tale. ‘I see you, have loved you, am in love with you. With you, greater than I could ever be without you. And for that, I will share all that I am and more with you.’ That’s what I interpret in Mos Def’s verse.
The story in the remix offers a safe turn around to what is a well-known and pre-destined ending to love: Loss. Defeat. Endings.
As a result of the Kaemotherapy counselling offer, a number of Black women have been accessing my free workshops on 21st century mental health. I’ll write up my findings about the workshops soon.
Supporting Black women and men have become primary targets for my therapeutic support. There is great work to be completed and I am glad to have found a role that leads to overall wellbeing and health for more people. Resources Goddesses of the Roundtable Healing The Father Wound Brené Brown Unlocking Us Podcast Ask Me Anything Tony Porter T.E.D. Talk A Call To Men
It was a warm night in July and I had been tossing and turning for the 2nd night in a row. Another awakening was happening for me. I asked myself what to do with the discomfort of knowing half of the population of people on the planet are valued lesser due to gender? It is a nonsensical, that has bothered me for 40+ years.
Bounce That night a song rebounded in my mind and I was left with a question. What can I as a spirit, living in a Black male human body support Black women overthrow the yoke of patriarchy? The supporting interview with Kim Evans that offered free counselling via Kaemotherapy is a reminder of the fantastic work already being carried out.
Zoom Overload Rotimi Akinsete who is involved with Black Men on The Couch shared with me, that a Somali Woman recently offered her community the access to a free session of counselling support and 30-40,000 Black Somali women joined the zoom chat. A welcome surprise that there were that many Women who wanted to access support from the call. There appears to be much work to be done!
Anthems Love rains is a phenomenal song by Jill Scott on her first studio album ‘Who is Jill Scott?’. The album, a launching of a new songstress-poetess back in 98/99. Who is Jil Scott broke down a small wall for me in relation to an appreciation of Black Feminism. Songs like ‘Getting’ In The Way’, ‘Long Walk’, ‘The Way’ and ‘Love Rain’ became summer anthems for me that year. Most of the songs involved Jill’s interpretations on modern love and experiences on adulting.
Step Over My wall was small because I had witnessed many of the challenges my mum and sisters were battling against daily. In many instances I was on the same side of the wall – bar 1 – male. Council housed, poor, from a sole parent family, Black, lower class.
Cardboard The box we found ourselves in appeared too layered to clamber out from. My mother wasn’t one to relent on the hustle. My sisters were all able to dramatically blow out the sides of the box in one way or the other and escape. They all leaving home at 15/16…
The telling of Love Rain is a song/story of falling in love, and that love being passion driven and failing/ending. She writes/sings
Jill Scott F/ Mos Def Miscellaneous Love Rain (remix)
chorus: Love rain down on me, on me, Down on me. Love rain down on me, on me, Down on me, Love rain down on me, on me, Down on me. Love rain down on me, on me, Down on me.
Met him on a Thursday, Sunny afternoon, Cumulous clouds, 84 degrees. He was brown, deep Said he wanted to talk about my mission, listen to my past lives. Took me on long walks to places where butterflies rest easy, Talked about Moses and Mumia, reparations, blue colors, memories of shell-topped Adidas. He was fresh like summer peaches; Sweet on my mind like block parties and penny candy. Us was nice and warm, no jacket, no umbrella, just warm. At night, we would watch the stars, And he would physically give me each and every one. I felt like cayenne pepper, red, hot spicy. I felt dizzy and so near heaven. Miles between my thighs, Better than love, we made delicious. He me had, and had me he. He had me tongue tied; I could hear his rhythm in my thoughts. I was his sharp, his horn suction. His boom and his bip, And he was my love.
Recognise There may have been these experiences Jill sings about above, a number of years ago. Perhaps even post the CoViD19 pandemic, pre and post lockdown experiences we may have taken long walks after being cooped up for so long. Fallen in love with our environment outside our front doors again. Perhaps met a special someone…
The rain was falling and slowly and sweetly and stinging my eyes, And I couldn’t see that he became my voodoo priest, And I was his faithful concubine. Wide open, wide, loose like bowels after collard greens. The mistake was made, love slipped from my lips, Dripped down my chin and landed in his lap, And Us became Nu. Now me non clairvoyant and in love, Made the coochie easy and the obvious invisible. The rain was falling, And I couldn’t see the season changing, And the vibe slipping off its axis. Our beautiful melody became wildly staccato. The…rain…was..falling…and…I…could not…see..that…I..was…to…be Plowed… And sown and fertilised, and left to drown in his sunny afternoon, Cumulus clouds, 84 degree, melody.
Love Fade Verse The ending of love and passion heads into something more pedantry, pedestrian, passion free? I wonder what else could be said here? What a woman who has been let down by her love, her world, by the problematic system of patriarchy might say?
Support by I am to, pay attention. Call out the many micro-aggressions. Listen. Take up less space. Be a witness. Recognise simply it is not about you (man) or me. It is about equanimity and equality of opportunity. The very basis of a fair society.
Wounded There is a story for both the woman willing to be vulnerable and for the man unwilling to bear countenance of vulnerability, that seems to be a part of the hidden story of this song. The idea that by barely whispering ‘I love you’, has someone who has been hurt by love – run.
Last weeks post Vicarious Trauma – Revisited, invited me to remember a suppressed memory. The memory was filed in a box that is seldom reached for. There aren’t many files in this box. It’s in a room that is locked shut. Big thick padlocks and chain.
Labelled: Confusion and Pain Lie here.
1st Job I remember an evening shift at McDonalds. Full of the usual fare. Me in the back room. Working my 7.5. Supporting the close down. Collapsing the boxes, re stocking shelves, getting changed and leaving Cathedral Square – Peterborough to make my 4 mile cycle ride home. Mum was alive then, 90/91. We all still live in New Werrington. I have either had a full week at College and am on a late shift mid week or am on an evening shift on a Saturday night. No main dramas. Some late night revellers asking for extra chips or a free burger.
Crime The ride home was uneventful until the rain came. I am midway home. I have no lights on my bike. I am cycling reasonably fast. Traffic on the roads – light – mostly heading in to the city centre. I have crossed the dual carriageway over the footbridge leaving Dogsthorpe into Paston ridings. I am thinking of how the nights events were funny and silly. I have a hamburger hum about me. The grease fat seems to cloak me even though I didn’t fry food that night.
Sighted I round the last bend before the slight downward hill from Gunthorpe into Werrington. I pass a police cruiser lazily heading away from Werrington. Reaching the footpath that takes me to the water linkway and on to my home, I chance a glance behind me and notice the police car ominously turn and head in my direction.
I don’t stop to think. It is cold. It is wet out. I want to be home. The police car picks up pace and blue lights begin swooping. The police car mounts the curb awkwardly and speeds across the grassy verge. I note the headlamps sweep in my direction. If I can just pedal hard I can make the distance to the bollards before they can catch me.
I don’t want to speak with anyone, especially to these officers. Not then or ever.
Chase The police car revs and I sense them close the distance between me and them, in a short space of time. They drive over long grass. Not using the footpath. Attempting to short cut. I am not stopping. Neither are they!
If I can just get to the wooden posts infront of the bridge before they ram me off the bike I’ll be free. The car skids to a halt infront of the bollards. I sail through. I imagine I hear one of the officer’s curse. I am away. I have made it!
My trusty bike has aided my escape.
Reflex I am elated and bewildered. They could not be chasing me to tell me about lights on my bike. What if I had fallen? What then? What if they had caught me? What then?
I had no reason to stop. The police had no good reason to chase. But chase they did. And flee I went. Away.
Much like a dog after it’s chew toy, ball, stick thing. Thrown aloft. Thrown far and fast. Dog’s chase out of instinct.
It is possible the police chased me for much the same reason. Sighting a Black boy on a bike at a time when most young people were heading in to the city centre not away from it. The picture to them may have appeared wrong, strange, suspicious? There may well have been cause to chase and make enquiries.
From the moment they turned, the chase was on!
And this race, I was not under the circumstances – about to lose!
Two, One The panic. The fear and confusion were unlike much else I had met before. There was the Stephen chase: aged 7. I’ll come to that experience later. The exhilaration of getting away this time was amazing.
I had been fortunate. Unlike so many others, sisters, brothers both here and there…
Vicariously Watching films like ‘Just Mercy’, ‘Fruitvale Station’, ‘Do The Right Thing’ ‘If ‘Beale Steet Could Talk’ all have Black Men in unjustly familiar situations. These films appear to be in the abstract, distant, objective.
Not for me! As an empath, I am sensitized to feel each blow, every hate filled undignified look as though I suffered it. With these films I am often incensed and saddened. Their characters depict men pitted against circumstances beyond their control. That potentially either lead to their deaths or serving unjustified sentences.
Mark Duggan, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland – happen to bring the trauma of death and unlawful killing viscerally primed.
Leaving me Looking for Explanation, spinning, Attempting to Find balance. Remaining askew.
The Luddite and The Technological Savant discusssupporting Black Lives Matter
Meeting Kim online was a serendipitous moment. She has a prolific Instagram posting regimen with sayings, providing instant support to over 900 followers. I wanted to interview her as she appears to have her fingers very much on the pulse of what the nation is looking for – A smart experienced therapist who can be available in a range of formats to provide those seeking help with immediate relief and guided support.
Full disclosure, Kim has also recruited a team of therapists to provide 4 hours (up to 6) of free counselling for Black people in the UK. I am one of the counsellors recruited.
I wanted to know what inspired Kim to develop the concept of providing free counselling for Black People and then put the idea to the public for Kaemotherapy to be crowd funded? A quick calculation informed me that the provision will deliver over 40 hours of Free counselling and counselling workshop experience for Black people in the UK. Which I think/believe is incredible!
MO: Hello Kim, thank you for agreeing to doing this interview. Kim: Thanks for having me.
MO: So we have known of each other for a little over 2 months. Mainly commenting and referencing each other’s Instagram posts through the CoViD19 experience and I wanted to know a little bit more about you. We have spoken a few times whilst you were finalising the plans for the 40 hours of Free counselling. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? Kim: I live in South London, studied in Nottingham. I’m a Person-Centred Psychotherapist, Body and Trauma specialist, I help people move forward from trauma they have experienced. And support individuals to understand the intricate relationship between mind and body.
I have experience of working with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse and supporting BAME clients through racial trauma. I’m passionate about…
Fighting racial inequality and supporting black communities with their mental health. I have a private practice but I’m fully booked at the moment.
Like Michael mentioned I’ve been offering online counselling and raising funds for that. It’s so we can support black individuals impacted by recent events and the exposure of racial wounds with the BLM movement. Check out my page 🙂 @Therapy_with_kim
MO: Your instagram is fire. The posts lift me every time I see one, I am not sure if it’s the smile, the words, the image of the plant or the combination. What brought you to want to provide counselling? Kim: Aww wow thank you so much. It’s interesting because I realised once I started to produce my own content rather than reposting other peoples stuff I got more followers and feedback. I think it’s about people understanding my values as a practitioner and getting to know me a little more. Also, I strangely muse on things at night when I can’t sleep, that’s when the best content comes to me.
MO: How long have you been practicing as a counsellor? Kim: I’ve been practicing for 5 years now.
MO: How do you go about counselling? What approach do you take? You might have to explain that for someone who is not too aware of the many different styles of counselling. Kim: My foundation is the person centred approach.
Fundamentally, person centred theory asserts that tensions between our external and internal worlds create psychological distress.
How that manifests in my practice is focusing on the autonomy & choices of the calient and helping them to develop their voice (message, desires, needs), delving deep into their subjective experience this may often include cultural and social contexts.
For example, if family culture or a country of origin plays a part in their self image and to what extent they want that for themselves.
I’ve also recently integrated some body work, meditation and body scans to support regulating my clients’ nervous system. This works well with anxious clients and clients moving forward from traumatic events which have let them numb or hypervigilant.
MO: You laughed at the word luddite when I was asking for technical support a few weeks ago, and you mentioned you studied at Brunel, what course did you study there? Kim: Yes because it reminded me of my industrial revolution module in my second year of university. The rebellious workers adverse to industry advances smashing up machinery, scared they’d lose their jobs. I studied undergrad History and love it. My passion for my community was fuelled further when I studied the slave trade.
MO: Why this approach (Person Centred) and not one of the many other styles of counselling? Kim: I just love and it fits with who I am and the values I hold as a person. Empowerment (voice choice) and redefining oneself to be flexible with lived experiences, has been part of my journey but I also have seen how its supported clients from different backgrounds and with various mental health issues. I did a bit of Gestalt training and I sometimes utilise attachment theory as part of assessments.
MO: I know this is going to sound like I am interviewing you on Instagrams’ behalf, but what has lead to you putting the work in to display your services on Instagram, not twitter or facebook? Kim: For the separation from my private space I have loads of friends on Facebook and I’m not that familiar with Twitter. I recently got a twitter account though, add me @therapywithkae
MO: With your most recent campaign, providing free counselling and workshops for Black people what has been the response from the community? Kim: The response has been amazing I’m so happy. I just wanted to help in some way as I was so angry with what was happening (still is). Loads have people have supported financially and all the counselling slots were taken up in a matter of days. Goes to show how needed it was at this time.
MO: How did you go about selecting the therapists on your poster? Kim: They were colleagues I studied with and therapists I’d made connections with since returning to London. They are all culturally competent, passionate about the cause and from different backgrounds.
MO: What do you hope will be the outcome for the community? Kim: For Black people to seek out and utilise the resources they have out there. Mental health awareness and support to be embedded in our families. For the ‘Work harder’ ethic to connect to emotional and psychological well-being as well as finance, academia and other definitions of success.
MO: Are there any plans for a similar initiative to be repeated again? Kim: Yes definitely!
MO: How has advertising free counselling supported your business? Kim: Perhaps you could answer that one Michael? MO: I would have to say that I am being contacted a lot more as a result of my link to the Kaemotherapy offer. So thank you for that.
MO: Lastly you mentioned that you are soon to launch a podcast, can I ask what it will be about? Kim: I have been featured in 2 podcasts recently which were a lot of fun to be a part of. I want to develop one and have a few ideas for a podcast. As with most things in life tt’s just a matter of having the time to develop them. I know that currently podcasts are a great way to promote an idea, and set yourself and your business as an industry expert. I am interested in doing that. Definitely.
MO: Thank you Kim. I look forward to listening to these and what you later produce for a podcast. Now to turn the tables and ask, do you have any questions for me? Kim: I do have a few. What made you want to be counsellor?
MO: That is a great question. I wanted to be an artist/architect/interior designer. At the age of 20 I lost my mother to cancer and that had a big impact on my original plans. A few years were lost trying to make sense of life and then became a youth worker, basketball coach and then a learning mentor.
These roles all seemed to naturally fall into psychotherapy and support at an adolescent level. I studied my first introductory course to counselling at Morley College and then jumped ahead of myself to do a Masters at University of Greenwich. That turned me into an integrative counsellor
Kim: What would your advice be for people wanting to do counselling especially men? MO: Do a bit of research about the course you are thinking of beginning. What are the parts of the course that most appeal? Ask a range of counsellors, or former students of that course about their experience.
Find a mentor to support your learning journey. BAATN offer a great mentoring programme of support for students of therapy. I would also advise for anyone interested in joining this path to become a counsellor/psychotherapist, to begin resolving their affairs of home, job and of the heart as best they can.
The course is going to pull some hard truths out of you. Having a solid home team is going to be at times the best thing to have spent time investing into. Counselling courses can be life changing in both necessary and dramatic/dynamic ways.
For men I would advise to be aware that counselling and psychotherapy is a profession that many women have made a great career in Esther Perrel stands out as an example of a global success. Being on a course potentially could be the first time that a male may encounter being in a minority.
Welcome the learning. Try to listen more. Aim at understanding – Always. The Patriachy exists and we have played a role in it’s continuance. The question for me is what are we men going to do to revolutionise and deconstruct the imbalance? I grew up with 3 sisters and realised that life whilst hard, had potentially more unfairness for them.
Kim: How have you found the workshops so far? MO: The 1st one was wonderful. I will complete the 2nd this evening on the 9th of July and the 3rd and 4th on the 16th and 23rd of July.
They are all free and look at Mental Health in the 21st Century. The workshops as you are aware as you attended the first week, are interactive and less about me talking at attendees and more with attendees.
I have found them useful and interesting to be a part of a learning experience. Many topics are discussed in just over an hour and I send to participants the presentation slides with useful follow up materials to support a person with their onward journey.
The following weeks discuss: Goals and Reducing Distractions, Reviewing Progress and Implementing new growth strategies.
Kim: What made you want to participate in the free counselling project? MO: The death of George Floyd in May 2020 and the vicious attack on Rodney King 20 years prior deeply affected how I viewed the world in which I lived.
When you shared your idea of crowd funding free sessions for Black people with me, I think my answer YES was said almost like I was saying yes to myself 20 years ago.
Vicarious Trauma is a difficult thing to recognise or make right when an event viscerally takes over a persons wellbeing. Knowing that you would be helping Black Women and Men recover through 1 – 1 support and with workshops, looked like a courageous and affirming project to be a part of. I am glad that I have. I have met some wonderful people through the programme, who all seem ready to begin their therapeutic journey.
Kim: What can we expect from the next free sessions/why should they join?
MO: The workshop Mental Health in the 21st Century began as a conversation had with you a number of weeks ago. The workshops will cover How to manage the deluge of information we are struggling under from a vast array of sources. How to reduce imposter syndrome and what steps to take to continue the work to change habits.
How to Focus and get shit done instead of eternally thinking and thinking and thinking about doing things and not getting them done, which causes a degree of fatigue and leads to impatience and frustration and then a sense of defeat that leads to dis-ease.
The other workshop topics look at Focus, Goals, and Reducing, reviewing Implementing. The aim of the workshops as you know as an attendee are to support fresher ideas and improve ways to live in a World that is moving and changing at an incredible speed.
The workshops are a culmination of thoughts I have had, fascinating discoveries I have gained from podcasts and articles I have listened to or read and a range of life experiences that I simply cannot keep to myself.
I’m like that child in the class room, arms pumping the air, waving frantically at the teacher or TA to call on them, bursting with ideas to tell the class or at least mildly entertain them with. Something that that kid knows, potentially is helpful but the class just aren’t ready to hear yet.
The events of the past few weeks coincide with events over the past few months. They appear to have met and produced a swell of human reaction and protest that would have been hard to imagine last year or even 20 years ago.
Never I had thought that my last post on the experience of CoViD19 would be my last. That post looked at the fatigued experience of when will the Lockdown end and things return to something that’s near normal? But something cruel and as life affecting as Corona Virus Disease 2019, has appeared on the horizon and I am drawn to look at this too.
Brutality 3 Black people died in quick succession this year at the hands of law enforcement. A bird watcher in Central Park perilously almost became another casualty. The 3 were Eric Reason, Dominique Clayton, Brennan Taylor.
Sailing A sea person I am not. But I have watched The Perfect Storm and enjoy seeing humans do battle against the elements. I cannot exactly tell you what makes a storm perfect. It may have something to do with weather, tides and currents synchronising to create conditions where storm surges of 40ft hit shores and coastlines. That would be me hazarding a guess.
Gasp For the perfect storm to have happened in the way that it has, took a tri partisan event. A triple threat. The virus. The Lockdown. 3 Black People being murdered by law enforcement and then George Floyd. That feeling of breaking the surface for air may be the result, after being confined to our homes for long periods of time. We may want and need to react to self and state imposed incarceration. We may want and need to shake the dust off and stretch our collective civil might on streets around the world.
Swell The deaths of 4 Black people in the US, may provide the perfect set of circumstances to take our 3 months worth of thinking and feeling, holding our breaths that we all come out of the ‘Rona alive. Then if we combine this sense of surviving with the injustice of people losing their lives unlawfully by law enforcement – repeatedly. If we add in, the deep seated feelings of sadness, confusion guilt, regret, shame, anger and rage. Then and only then breathe out in an exhilaratingly powerful way finally.
The slogan of Black Lives Matter and ‘I Can’t Breathe’ could potentially, take on more meaning. The sentiment being viscerally felt by masses because they, we get it. We too were restrained against our will for longer than we wanted. Some of us, unfortunately, just didn’t make it.
Letting Go Shedding years of misguided notions and seeing clearly that life for certain groups of people have been harder for hidden and ignored reasons. Black peoples challenges have not solely arisen from our own design. The making of systems that demean and devalue and place one group of people above others. The idea of superiority was deigned as a right of being and has been implemented globally by Europeans. Black people have been demanding equality. It’s time…
One George Floyd’s death gave reason for many to leave the safe protective confines of homes and take to the streets. Stating to ourselves and internationally that the cause of his death was unlawful, unjust and is simply wrong. The world needs to see how we feel #FFS. The videos and articles I have seen of a world united against injustice is heartening.
Continuing For Black, Brown and othered peoples this fight has been long standing. We have been fighting for the betterment of all. Austin Channing Brown’s request of being Better Humans stands ahead all other calls for me.
My hope is for the ongoing struggle to produce tangible life affirming results like: access for all to have an outstanding education system, healthcare, job opportunities, secure and safe housing in neighbourhoods that value collaboration and place being part of a community and advantage over being focused on the one called I.
Other outcomes could include an ever present critical awareness of the impact of systemic oppression and racist policies profiting one group over and above others the world over and a willingness from allies to fairly reassemble the pie. The pie will taste better and there will be more to go around.
Anti Racist change is a demand that is to be met globally by everyone.
Brutality 3 Black people died in quick succession this year (2020) at the hands of law enforcement. A bird watcher in Central Park perilously almost became another casualty. The 3 were Eric Reason, Dominique Clayton, Brennan Taylor.
Sailing A sea fairing person I am not. And yet I have watched The Perfect Storm. The enjoyment of seeing humans do battle against the elements is not lost on me. I cannot exactly tell you what makes a storm perfect. It may have something to do with weather, tides and currents synchronising to create conditions where storm surges of 40ft hit shores and coastlines. That would be me hazarding a guess.
Resource Van Jones discusses George Floyd and what comes next
Images Cover photo provided by PK at Diversity Space. Here is a visual ‘Becoming an anti-racist’ model (adapted from the COVID-19 model.) Andrew M Ibrahim.
Before I was 17 when the vicious attacks by LAPD officers on Rodney King were made and became a pre viral assault for global audiences. This was before the days of the internet. News was gathered from television news reports.
When March 1991. This was my first year attending an art college in Wisbech Cambridgeshire. The Isle College was as far removed from the site of the brutal attack as I could safely imagine. Wisbech was then a small rural town.
Heard Police and their brutal treatment of law enforcement towards Black, Brown and poor people – a frequent backdrop to the music I was listening to at the time – Public Enemy, N.W.A. and Jazz infused Hip Hop.
A First The Rodney King event was something I had heard about but never witnessed! The video arrived in as raw a format as it could be filmed. A video 8 hand held camera – shaky – unfocused – capturing a seldom caught, or filmed spectacle.
Art Imitating A friend at the time a fellow student, asked me the day after if I was okay? He a white male. A skateboarder. Aware of the hare-pin trigger reactions of police both here and there. His query stirred me. Back then I did not have the language, reasoning or capacity to make sense of Rodney King’s attack. I don’t now. His experience was unfathomable. Later that year I queued up to watch Boyz n The Hood. The film gave me a sense of context and framing to what I had been a naïve witness to earlier that same year.
Sho’ This post is short primarily because other’s have words that are far more apt, powerful and relevant for this time. In our age of oppressive acts and fear based divisive ideologies. The Jury left the building a long time ago and aren’t coming back.
Over For women and men like George Floyd slain because a combination of conflicting factors have violently met. This systemic experience now calls for historic revolutionary unprecedented change.
Images Cover photo by Tyrell Charles on Unsplash Inlay photo provided by PK of Diversity Space who sourced the image from: Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence 2005 Adapted: Ellen Tuzzolo 2016; Mary Julia Cooksey Cordero 2019; The Conscious Kid 2020. Originally shared by Michelle Gyimah & Ashanti Bentil-Dhue on their LinkedIn feed.
With thanks to Dr CW, ATPN, The Family Across the Miles Check in and Diversity Space for the videos and commentary.
With the experience of COVID19 being an extended period of strange, I am noticing things blending that perhaps would not have previously met. Such as home and work. Children and colleagues. Priorities and leisure activities. Tele-video conferencing and unlimited screen time. The challenge is with the frequent chopping and changing to meet a chaotic stream of demands. The ongoing effect of an ongoing strange situation is that of feeling, irksome, bored and fatigued. Can all responsibilities be equally met realistically?
Homogenised Currently I am working from home. I have not gone in to work since mid March. A warning from a friend who manages a number of hospitals was “if the virus gets in to a prison it will be like being on a cruise ship” she said. I took the cruise ships warning, to mean that if the virus got in to HMP X, it would run rampant and be unstoppable! Me with a compromised immune system and now as of mid May 2020, also being in the high risk category of being a Black Male I have relented and stayed home.
Unease Regretfully having not returned to my duties at Prison a feeling of malaise is growing. Now at 10 weeks in to self isolation I note that working from home has a number of common/uncommon challenges.
Full House Everyone is here! Dr CW and my two boys, are home. Where else would they be? I try to juggle a responsible role amongst making lunch, attending to squabbles between the 12 year old and 10 year old. I am also the unofficial teaching assistant (TA) for the boy’s learning. Dr CW is the qualified teacher, dedicating herself to managing the older one’s learning. I am grateful for her insights and perseverance through #Lockdown. I struggle with thoughts of ‘Am I doing this TA thing right?’ or ‘I don’t wanna ask her, but…’ and thoughts of doing not enough or too much.
Distant Guide I am also supporting my team that do go in to work at the prisons. I supervise remotely either by msn teams, Zoom or WhatsApp video call. Here too elements of guilt seep in to my awareness. Me at home, them there, putting themselves at risk and against the impossible task of welfare checks and keeping themselves safe in a prison! The thought of I should be there too, drags at me.
Lane Change I have given up the hour long commute – a 3 month old distant memory. The leaving the house at 7 a.m. is no more. The wondering about what to have for lunch at work is absent. The many other trivialities of getting ready for work seem a faint consideration now.
WFH The challenge for me currently is the blending of environments. Baffling and causing me to reminisce of the times had before the Lockdown. Work and home. Responsibilities of both now being mixed. Competing for dominance because they are both independently more important, urgent, and demanding of my 100% attention.
Pre CVD19 How were things before? They were in neat enough little boxes. Tidy. Distinct. Recognisable. Acknowledgeable for what each box contained. And I knew where those boxes were. And I knew how to open one and close another. There was an order, a schedule, a pattern.
Squared Now it’s like all the boxes are open. Things are leaking from some boxes into others, some are neglected or forgotten. The reasons for the negligence is that there are fires raging in some and rain pouring against others. Soaking some and threatening to utterly destroy the collection. It is Monsoons and Volcanoes. The Cardboard boxes don’t stand a Chance!
Reflection for Understanding I mentioned to 2 peer supervisees and to a friend that this time of ours in COVID19 Lockdown feels more stressful and anxiety provoking than anything I have lived through before. There have been other large seismic events that were as incredible as they were terrible. Tiananmen Square, the Zeebrugge Ferry disaster, September 11th, the Boko Haram kidnapping of school girls, the ongoing slaying of Black Women and Black Men in North America by police and security officers, Hurricane Katrina and the July 7 attacks in London all have pock marked my memory indelibly.
Never Ending But this enforced captivity and forgive the crude analogy, is like being sentenced along with family to an IPP indeterminate sentence. With little information as to our possible release dates. Parole options remain hidden. Being able to work towards a release date with good behaviour with our probation officers is off the table. The analogy here looks at those responsible for the management of the Pandemic (Governments). The offence would be catching the disease and spreading it by not socially distancing or non observance of WHO guidelines. With the suspected crime being committed we are then to be summarily mass incarcerated at home: indefinitely.
Tiny I mentioned in an earlier post that this virus, so small, is like a mushroom fungi spore. Altering the biochemistry of it’s infected hosts turning them into cadavers for birds and other feeding creatures to spread the fungi’s spores as far and as wide as possible. This virus has changed our view/experience of our world in ways that are similarly inconceivable.
Call Time Maybe I am not alone in thinking I’ve had enough. My fill of Netflix and Prime is replete. Being with the family and Zoom calls with friends, colleagues and clients a depended must. Contact with family overseas was good wholesome and necessary in the beginning of the outbreak. Now seems as tiring as the push me – pull you antics of the UK government. The experience being a blend of missing the simple act of human to human connection and dislocation/dissociation/disruption from what is and what is not real.
Summarise That Post COVID19’s tag line might read ‘Life Just got Tougher and Now Closer to the Impossible.’
If you contract the illness there is a fair chance you will survive but you might not be the same after you recover! It is probable that our world won’t be as well.
Walking whilst Black through this though, may be another type of story. This tag-line might read: Life was tough before. COVID19 brought out the worst. We are to gather and be limitless!
Demanding better futures and an honest retelling of our world history. Insisting on a closer, more informed and equally educated society, fearing less, eating healthily, thinking clearer and inclined to critical analysis and desiring to be ready to make meaningful change for our lives and for the lives of generations to follow. Perhaps with an idea of a sense of responsibility is a reason for fatigue?
Remembering There was something about those boxes (mentioned above) that gave a sense of knowing that also comforted and fatigued in a naturally expectant way. Life back then was manageably unpredictable. Now – exhaustively confusing. An old saying is – ‘Life is simple, it’s just not easy’.
Life is also tough but ultimately, it is an ongoing process of change adaptation and learning. I advise us to simply be open to what happens in the years to follow.
In answering the query at the top of this piece, all responsibilities are not equal and so cannot be prioritised equally or fairly or at times rationally.
Weather The reason I am attempting to write a counter conspiracy is for a counselling client (PK) who summed up the mælström that is the pandemic. Wherever one may have been in the last 2-3 months, in all of the countries around the globe, one word has possibly been used billions of times more than almost all others: CoViD19.
More The meaning of the word CoViD19 is an amalgam for the Corona Virus Disease 2019. There have been other Corona Viruses which this one has become the most famous currently. There was H1N1 and SARs that are also well known to have had deadly effects on us humans.
Past responses In my last piece of writing, I attempted to show what a millennia of learning has taught us. What do we do in the face an of overwhelming threat? We share knowledge to defeat said threats. With this virus – sharing unverified information can have a large downward spiralling affect.
Valuable Sharing viable information from reliable and trustworthy sources serves to contain and uplift those that we care about. Putting forward concerning or hopeless material can put even more stress and strain on already overwhelmed biological systems. The effect: more illness and disease and possibly death. Various communities have been hit disastrously by COVID19. Globally – China, Italy, Spain the UK and then the US, have been affected grossly with high infection rates and death tolls.
Guardians African Americans, African Caribbeans, Black British and Asian British people appear to be experiencing the illness at a considerably higher rate than the general population. Within these communities the disease has spread very quickly: see the Guardian article below. Some time could be spent reviewing incident rates, skewed figures and total numbers observing underlying health difficulties.
You at the Front African and Asian communities, here in the UK are often frontline workers i.e. Doctors, Nurses, Public Transport operatives, grocery shop employees, refuse and garbage disposal operatives, cleaners, janitors, security guards, delivery agents, postal workers, packers and sorters. Who come into frequent contact with the disease from a wide array of sources. Often frontline workers are without the appropriate equipment, training or guidance. Simply doing their jobs without due protection.
Responsibility These women and men as brave as they are, perhaps, are as wary of the set of circumstances we all face but may have little option but to continue to support themselves, their employers, employees, their families, their communities. Why? Because they care? Yes, and there maybe a simpler more human reason. If they aren’t able to fill the unforgiving task, who will? If they don’t, will frontline workers be able to stop working if they are the main earner in their household? If family in countries of their origin are in need of the stipend they are able to send each month can frontline workers easily walk away from their frontline roles?
Unknowing Unseen Perhaps just before we are about to click send on the latest conspiracy theory: showing how this latest crises caused by the Nameless Them will be our undoing. Maybe we should think of others who are fighting for a larger ideal. Rather than the 2 or 3 minutes of edutainment that the video has provided us with. Maybe we can think how is this information going to serve another? Spending time with the idea of – “if I cannot verify or make good use of this too hot to handle information, should I send it?”
Accountability I am not saying do not send info that you feel can be useful for others. What I am asking is that we make a considered effort to pause and think of others more. Because if what is sent causes another to feel progressively worse and hopeless – do they deserve that? For another to carry the burden of a future that looks as bleak and as unpromising as their not too distant past has been?
Dual Responses For communities suffering with co-morbid presentations of hypertension, diabetes, auto-immune diseases, poverty, racism, homophobia, sexism, mental illness, personality disorders, substance misuse and pasts affected by the criminal justice system – would adding another straw to an already overworked overburdened back be a compassionate wise or empathic response?
Light in Dark Spaces Aim always for kindness I have been told. Always! Aim for lessening the load of others and bearing some of the weight they carry.
Do not click send without forethought.
If the South African term Ubuntu (I am: Because You Are) is used as a guide, CoViD19 could be used as a tool to look to a greater good for all.
Pandemics do not need to separate but throw us all under the same sky fighting a microscopic monster together. Would that not be a better conspiracy to spread?
I take the opportunity to let the idea of resistance run riot. This blog in the series attempts to not restrain itself whilst appreciating the topic of resistance.
noun: resistance the refusal to accept or comply with something. “they displayed a narrow-minded resistance to change”
the use of force or violence to oppose someone or something. “government forces were unable to crush guerrilla-style resistance”
a secret organization resisting authority, especially in an occupied country. plural noun: resistances; noun: resistance movement; plural
noun: resistance movements “he went underground and joined the resistance”
Current Experiences There have been a number of current and recent experiences that deal with resistance Feb – April 2020. Staying at home and protecting ourselves and family from contracting COVID19 supports our health services. There are many other experiences that include presenting strong public opinion to those in power like: Black Lives Matter movement, the Me Too movement, resistance protests about nation states going to war, closing of mines or factories, the occupy movement and stopping to pay attention to the crises of global warming by a young Swedish school student that inspired the extinction agenda.
Wall Putting up a resistance ultimately is about standing up for something you believe in. You may feel that an issue or a problem you face is unfair. You may want the direction of a concept or policy decision or a group of people’s ideas to change.
Being someone who resists can bring with it an experience of conflict. For young and mature individuals the idea of conflict can be a break from the norm. Realisations and advances are made at a greater speed in times of conflict. The conflict could involve intellectual, moral, gender concerns and differences, race, scientific, religious, economic, social, ethnic, cultural and educational*awareni.
Fight When I think about resistance I often think about buildings resisting gravity or of the American Civil Rights Movement. For something to be resistant towards an ideal or a way of thinking, that something is invited to oppose – strongly.
Logically and emotionally the idea appears not to hold together much like Dave Chang’s Ugly Delicious Netflix show. But somehow it does! An idea such as capitalism or socialism exist along a continuum. Both existing to support communities and the state and having different ideas of how each achieves good for all.
Food Journeys In Ugly Delicious The Chef, Dave Chang, travels the world to discover food origins and stories of the people that cook amazing meals. The show presents us with the idea that food can be much more than pleasing to the eye, or technically advanced. That food can be about just bringing people together with the experience of eating. Ugly D is an intellectual fight and an education at the same time through what looks like amazing food.
Day to Day On a down to earth level, resistance is about recognising what you want and identifying what you don’t. Making sure you recognise another person’s agenda for you. Being okay to stick with your choice. The choice you made may well be in opposition to another or other people’s ideas. Being okay with that is an awareness of tension and continuing to resist!
Continuing There is a saying that ‘What you resist, persists’. Here I pause for thought. The reason I say this is because acceptance of something becomes a mindful act. When full acknowledgement of an experience happens, we can then accept it and choose to take it, or leave it. Knowing fully what it is. If we are simply resisting something that is not known fully it is likely to persist.
Let Go The reason that an idea or an experience persists is because part of our minds hasn’t fully appreciated it and so cannot let it go. 10 years ago (Oct 2010), I started my career at a London prison. I had a genuine curiosity about men and women I would meet behind the wall. What lives did they lead before? How were they living now in prison? What would happen once they returned to the community? Until I had satisfied these questions I would find myself wondering.
With Great Power Not all curiosities without prior research are to be jumped into. Be aware and satisfy wanting to know more by reading or consuming a lot of media on any subject or topic. The internet is like a Library. Use it well.
WithCaution Lived experience is one thing, sometimes accessing information from others is just as useful. Reducing the intensity of an itch could be a goal. Thereby closing a loop. What are you currently resisting? What reasons do you have for pushing against? What would happen if you stopped resisting?