275-28: Black and White and Green in Québec;

In my opinion, La Fête Nationale  tragedy shines light on the mindset of the organizers with regards to the intersecting issues of race and the environment. In particular, it unveils how white french Québec grapples with  its changing climate and evolving identity. Within the limited  boundaries of the pure-laine vision of a sustainable future, it is clear that the  desired transition to a low-carbon economy will not object to the unabashed sequestration of energy from melanin bodies. This green vision binds these black bodies to low-status work on behalf of the environment. The “forever-immigrants”, many born on this land, in this environment, can never fully rid themselves of the brand of “Les Autres, là”  burned onto their skin with white-hot iron.  This blurry condemnation has been written in quebecois prose onto black bodies for centuries, to the point where ink and grit collude to usurp skin and culture. To what extent does the  green imagination of the white Quebecois and the white Canadian couple greenhouse gas reduction with the subordination of black and brown peoples?

Black Internet is well versed in decoding the care-free gesturing of matantes but is it not their nieces and nephews, (the organizers) that whisper the racist rigaudon?

“On a mis le nègre au travail pour l’environnement,

Mais l’environnement du nègre,

On l’a négligé volontairement!

Vive la développement durable!”

This is organic racism clothed in eco-friendliness. This is white sustainability. A sustainability where what stands the test of time is not  the well-being of the planet and the people who populate it, but the tense relation between those who benefit from unjust decisions and those who are forced to carry the weight of those same decisions. 

Mon cher Quebec, you can paint di ting green…but the issue remains black and white. Ya nuh foolin’ we.

275-27: Untitled

We leave tomorrow,she says, by noon, in order to harvest enough bullets before dark.  I flinch.  I hate harvesting, taxing on both the knees and  the blood.  Plus, by then, baby will be starving, our few supplies depleted and frankly  the bartering of bullets alone won’t fill our stomachs. Still, I follow her, like we followed stars when there were stars. Early morning, we pack what few belongings we have, steal the ones we lack and set forth at high noon. This particular sun is vengeful and the other grounders  find shelter in cement cavities and abandoned catacombs. Warily we  venture above,vulnerable.  The heat curses our trio heading towards the Fields, meandering around metal and bone carcasses.  So hot. Heat drums incessantly at my neck.  Sweat and soul release, my feet forget.  I drop to my knees and look at She who carries baby.  They haven’t realized that I stopped, and I can’t  don’t tell them. I’m fucking done.  I can’t.  I love you both.  I love you too Sun and I am so sorry. Forgive me. I reach down into my tattered pocket; a bullet.  Probably worth a dozen seeds on the line but that it is not this bullet’s purpose.  Genuflect, I force it to the back of my mouth. And press. Till I hear crack, till I crack.  She turns, and her face is frantic. She puts baby on the floor and her eyes stay on me, on my body as it freezes in burning ataxia.  I cry no tears. She beckons no words.  I give my body up to the essence…I..I..

 

Hello Sun. I am yours now.

275-22: Mango nwa

In Ayiti’s  Cité Klere-Klere is where you and your sisters will find les Mango Nwa.  Literally  black-flesh mangoes growing downwards past the crumbling slabs of cement, past the shards of blood-stained glass, past what your father`s ancestors used to call soil (soul?)  and blossoming by some dark miracle in the buried skulls of the Dessous-Nu. You will know them by their roots. At the surface, these same finger-like roots claw at the sediment heavy fog and rigidly gesture profanities to the sun-killers of past days.

When you reach Cité Klere-Klere or whatever is left of it,  take a moment.  Stand there in the debris and touch the cold skeleton army of lamp posts that once made the city the heart of the Caribbean.  Taste the steel, press your tongue against its frame till your saliva is saturated by its grime.  What does it taste like?  Foreign aid?   Innovation?  Salvation? Old shit, perhaps.

Make sure, great-grandmother, that you cry deep astro black tears…and when the moment of mourning is fleeting and the surface still damp , you grab your sisters and start digging. Dig like you  truly are the first and last line of defense for Rne La.

That night, I promise, you will understand why I sent you forward to the Cité.  Why I asked that you bring your sisters.  Why I asked that together you harvest every last mango nwa in Cité Klere-klere and throw them deep into the acrid cesspool that is zone C3 of the Sans-Poisson Sea.  That would put the odds in our favour.

And, please, bring your rifle. After all these centuries, the piecekeepers still lurk amidst the rubble.

275-21: In Search of The White Ahaw

If you were to ask tomorrow’s farmers, they would all agree that  the White Ahaw is no myth but a very real entity.  They would say it comes in the form of a thick cloud, sagging with unwanted remorse only to burst one time on  dry black soil until the seeds dead of overdose.

Ask  the indoor field workers and they would all profess, that the White Ahaw is not a thing of legend, but a breathing and living mess.  They would say that it is like the frenzied pangs of torrential winds, forcefully licking through window panes and  door panels. Pure licks on any type of structure, on any type of history as it bawl-out  ‘Progress! Progress!’

Ask the Mystic Man Dem on Fielding Avenue and they will all attest, that to them the White Ahaw is no new-age theory but an ancient bona fide threat.  It is like bad inside-outside smoke, the kind that clings to your lungs  and muffles your voice, hiding the road to your own terms.

But see you now, looking for the White Ahaw..have you not been warned? Do you believe that you can invoke this creature and expect not to be scorned? You cannot eat its meat nor will it  work your land and it will grin as it teef  resources from your hand, what business do you have feeding this beast, child?  For the sake of tomorrow`s farmers, of the indoor fieldworkers, of the mystic  man dem who will always watch over your children, kill it and leave it there on the side of the road to rot in a pool of its own self-righteous promises.

275-20: Backsee

They didn’t tell her this like so, but everybody know that she get fired cuz her backsee stick out hard-hard in them cheap uniform pants.  Hear the joke; yuh think a fast food franchise that make nuff money off of dealing fat and sugar to people would have simple common sense to acquire staff uniforms  with a little more waist, a litte more hips for the thickly-inclined? They can’t afford it? More like they don’t want to afford it! So she now have to hold her breath tight to squeeze-up in dem two piece of ting they call leg pants. And every morning she praying to Jesus that they put her on cash and not on clean-up.

 

You know what rotund does mean? She get fired because of that type of backsee…round and rotund. Suggestive, they say.  In trut, I find it to be quite regular, but I work fries and ain’t get promoted to consultant just yet..

So…

 

Backsee big and bad. But not too-too bad cuz assistant manager keep calling her into the back office.  Dropping sweet lines left and right. Lines of a promising future in the service industry.  Telling she to stand tall and all typa mess like reach for the top as he recline nice in the manager’s leather chair.  Nasty snake. No wonder she scratch up he face like that. Good for him.

So they fire she.  One time.


That’s why me, I here in this breakroom and I keep to myself, smile when called and yam-up these white people salad we selling now so that my frame tight like they like, and wallet fat like I need.

275-13: Spinach

This being her second visit to the grocery store, with its blinding fluorescent light and constant AC, she came prepared. The wool sweater, a gift from her best friend back in Nairobi, smells of incense and coal, the scent of safe secrets, closeness and familiarity. Its fabric caresses her chin as  she exhales a memory not far away in time, but distant in space. She looks around to see if others too, had their breaths and dreams crystalized for a brief moment and ruthlessly stolen again and again as they aimlessly rummaged for deals on frozen dinners.

She used to anticipate talking and touching vegetables; a cabbage in the palm of her hand, its aroma sharing stories of sun and soil. “Best One!” The boy-seller cajoled, regardless of her selection. She kissed teeth, he smiled. The first time she brought a cantaloupe to her nose in Toronto, the entire display cascaded onto the floor, causing everyone to stare, which made her feel small.

Today, she was on a mission and briskly walked to the produce section. She picked up a plastic container of spinach, leaflets cut from the roots and incarcerated in a cold transparent cell. She abandoned the idea of being able to feel, to brush her hands across living surfaces. She had to trust what the new gods declared; that all these packages are uniform and that uniformity is good. Trust that since it says “Triple-filtered wash”, that the machines prepped it like how gran-gran did back home. Word is Bond.

In the express cash, she pulled out a five dollar bill. “$4.99, plus tax ma’am.” Said the cashier.

She didn’t have enough.

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Panafrikan dances

Panafrikan dances when and where they please.

Harlem-shakes in the courtyards of Harare

Isicathulo deep in the metro stations of Montreal.

Capoiera on rooftops in Grenada

Slow whine in front of cracked mirrors of high-school washrooms in Belize

Panafrikan can sway, lunge, lift, slide, whine-up, twerk, twist and shout across borders, checkpoints and coat check lines. Nuh mind dem.

Panafrikan rubs shea butter on their hard thighs.

Cassamance mango juice lick dry forearms as fruit flesh and skin fuse in the clenched black palms of dancer.

Sovereign and untaxed.

Panafrikan is not exotic. Not an anomaly to be praised, or shunned, or studied.

They are not the exception

Dancing since a time before their watches and their watches

Chuh.

Panafrikan, like Panafrikan, sings in sun and sense

Improvises on patterns of leaves and stories

Strikes decisive chords of Discipline Sharp

And chops a clean development

How yuh mean? Our Panafrikan!

Watch ah dance so sweet!

They must get it from they gran-gran so.

Feel ah whine so sure

they must get it for they gran-chile  so.

How yuh mean? We Panafrikan!

Briefcase hail mop and

Rake teach diploma.

Panafrikan dances where and when they please.

If you please. Panafrikan.

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275-4: Black Gold, Black Power

Composting is the managed biological process that optimizes the conditions for microbes to break down organic waste in the presence of oxygen, transforming the organic waste into a versatile soil amendment primarily used to improve soil quality.

Composting, a stream of organics recycling, is location-specific, which physically ties the process to a limited circumference.  This differs from other recycling processes, where materials are shipped across oceans to be used or discarded.  The enforced circumference of organics recycling has people at its center and calls for greater stewardship and communal responsibility over the management of food waste.

The result of this process is compost also known as Black Gold. As communities of colour work towards self-determination, I believe that Compost can be a useful aid in reclaiming agency over oppressive living situations. The discipline of composting and the product that it yields can serve as a testament for communities to acknowledge their potential involvement in the food cycle.  Labelled as consumers, black communities if they so choose can identify themselves as producers, as agriculturalists  and in so doing, access more decision-making power  as to how their neighbourhoods flourish.

However, there is much work to be done to insure that organics recycling brings power to the people, and not get co-opted and green-washed by removed, capitalist interests.  This is hard.  Large-scale compost facilities tend to be built in struggling neighbourhoods often without consent from residents therein.  Traffic increases, pollution skyrockets all at the expense of the peoples’ health.

I do believe that organics recycling can be an integral step towards Afrikan Self-determination, symbiotically balancing black gold and black power all while resisting climate change and environmental degradation.

275-3: White Paint, Black Hands

The scenario happened as follows : 

In an effort to support the rooftop gardens of Radio Kayira of Mali, Canadians and Malians are working together to create what will hopefully become a model of urban agriculture and food sovereignty in the city of Bamako. Gardening techniques are shared, questions are asked; a Kodak moment of international cooperation. But behind the cheery smiles and sweaty brows, a more disturbing negative is developing. A young African animator decides to wash his hands of white paint in the water reservoir used to water the garden. A cloud of horror hovers over the Canadians.  They stand bewildered as the African casually washes his hands and contaminates the water with hazardous toxins. 

The foreigners (i.e.: the Canadians) look in dismay, some try to explain the situation, some shake their heads in disbelief. Our eyes point fingers at the sheepish culprit, his hands still submerged in the valuable liquid gold. Some of us even have the nerve to say what most of us are thinking. 

“What kind of ignorant person washes their hands and in the process contaminates their own water with toxins?” 

I pondered on the question for a while, trying to come up with a logical answer to the scenario. Miseducation is probably a good reason. Habit could be another. But then another less obvious but more prevalent question pops into my head: 

“What kind of shameless fucker makes toxic paint and puts peoples’ lives at risk just to make a profit?” 

Suddenly, the fingers are no longer pointing at the African. Suddenly, I can relate to the brother trying to clean his hands of the toxic white paint.

(edited from a Journal entry written in August 2009)