Tuesday, December 31, 2013

0 2K14: A Critical Fuck U2 Homelessness

 By Tabias Wilson

  "A chair is still a chair
Even when there's no one sittin' there
But a chair is not a house
And a house is not a home
When there's no one there to hold you tight
And no one there you can kiss goodnight"

-Luther Vandross/Dionne Warwick
 A House is Not A Home

It's necessary to begin this manifesto with the recognition that I have spent little time sleeping on the physical streets of America. I'm not well-versed in the act of survival without a physical covering, nor would I feel comfortable identifying as homeless in the public policy notion of the word. This is no means an attempt to belittle the struggle(s) of the physically homeless in America or worldwide, neither is it an attempt to use their experience as a transaction necessary for expression. However I tend to identity with the old Luther Vandross/Dionne Warwick tune "A House Is Not A Home."

"Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don't believe I'm wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone."
-Maya Angelou

When thinking through the notion of home, and it's role in my living, I have found two definitions to be of good use. The first (noun) "the place where one lives permanently, esp. as a member of a family or household" and the second (adjective) "of or relating to the place where one lives." Home seems to be commonly conceptualized as a place where living takes place. The first definition speaks of a permanent space where one lives as a member of group that is bound by love, blood or common connection to the space. The second definition, that of the adjective, is squarely centered on the space where one lives. Taken together both definitions present home as a place central to living and being alive and full of life, if not thriving.

“If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” 
-Audre Lorde

Growing up black, queer and radical here, I've almost always had a roof over my head; my grandmothers, mother, aunts and cousins (all women) have always made sure of that. This roof was sustained by the strength, scars and endurance of their backs. However, I cannot say that I've ever had a home. This did not quite occur to me until a recent conversation with a close friend about going "home" for the holidays. I've never been one to long for "home" over the breaks of college. Not because I didn't love my family or my relatives, but because I wasn't quite sure what home meant. From his tone, and that of others, home seemed to be a place where one found strength, companionship and unity with those who you were most bonded with in kinship or common purpose or his-story. I hadn't quite experienced that and in that moment of our conversation, I realized that this "home" is what I'd always been looking for. Of course, I'd always found love from my family, friends and relatives but that love was targeted, marketed and intended for certain sections of being while syphoning life from other layers of my self. My family and poc community showered their love on the things about me they made me most like them: my blackness,laugh, lips, wit, blunt nature and determination while unintentionally marking my queerness and critical consciousness as unwarranted excess. My (LGBT/straight/non-queer) friends and acquaintances loved and strengthened my commitment to critical inquiry, the process of loving, activism and honesty but generally through a heterosexist lens. My (non-poc) queer community nurtured my queer ethic and ability to thrive in same-sex relationships, but often at the expense of my blackness. Blaqueer communities healed the rupture between my queerness and blackness creating a particular fierceness still untheorized, but often at the expense of my masculine performances and anti-sexist ethics. I was a man with many houses to visit but no home to dwell in.

"i believe in living
i believe in birth.
i believe in the sweat of love
and in the fire of truth"
-Assata Shakur

I say all this to bring light to the state of solidarity and love in queer communities and communities of color. At a time where intersectionality has become the buzzword of choice, what does it say that our intersections have become traffic jams locked in a parilysis of identity centric affections? While such targeted demonstrations of love, healing and support are necessary important--if not done with the totality of the person in mind--we risk creating and sustaining a new type of isolation based upon the number of intersections or (identity) layers that a sister/brother may have. In our zeal to heal the wounds made raw by systems of violence, we risk circumcising and dividing the very self we wish to empower and make whole. By ignoring, displacing or antagonising the divergent and diverse features of those minoritized within our communities we risk discarding the foundation of a home for the creation of a temporary shelter. If love is to be noted and performed as a commitment to the creation of mutual growth--spiritual, emotional, economic and intellectual-we must be sure that this growth is experienced in all journeys of living.

In 2K14 I'm committing myself to the creation of loving, healing spaces that exclude only subordinating powers and privileges. For these spaces-and a movement of radical love and restorative justice-I must first commit myself to the loving of individuals and communities that I've long feared and never met. I must confront the other within and the fear of being furthered othered by association and disassociation with particular narratives of being and unbecoming. For my blaqueerness to exist unencumbered I must first commit myself to resistance to colonial systems of power based on violent circumcision of self and other. To do that, I must first love me while also endeavoring to love you and that which you are not. That perhaps is the strongest fuck you to homelessness I can attempt.


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