Bolide: A Brief Study of Black Privilege

“There are cities on fire as I write this because it appears that, once again America would rather gnaw its own foot off before it allows itself to walk peacefully toward an equitable future.”

I wrote those words awhile ago, but they were true twenty years ago, and twenty years before that. In all likelihood, they will also be true twenty years from now.

Hear me out.

I’m not a fatalist, and I don’t plan on becoming one. But I do think that the freedom we seek is one that comes like a bolt of lighning that can strike a stone and split it in two.

Instead, what we’ve won for ourselves thus far is freedom that moves like water. It’s precious even as it is muddied. and it’s powerful enough to corrode stone as long as it coninues to flow.

So it will.

I also like to think of our true freedom (the version that includes the level of equity we’ve been rallying toward) as a bolide. It looks bright as a swollen moon, burning it’s way across the sky. It’s beautiful and terrifying, because freedom is those things too: emancipation for an oppressed people is beautiful.

But to the oppressor? Terrifying:

A bolide /ˈboʊlaɪd/ (Italian via Latin from the Greek βολίς bolís, “missile”) is an extremely bright meteor, especially one that explodes in the atmosphere. In astronomy, it refers to a fireball about as bright as the full moon, and it is generally considered a synonym for a fireball.

Thinking of the cultural shift occuring before my eyes as a bolide is soothing to me, and the ability to consider its definition in an optimistic way–especially in the political turmoult of this moment–is actually the bastion of Black privilege. Meaning, no matter how powerful the one who observes a bolide percieves themselves to be, that power is limited.

They can only track it. Create a narrative around it to make people fear it. Try as they might to destroy, while knowing that the latter is an impossibility. Still, being able to do any of the latter is a privilge.

I accept that.

But…Black people possess a different kind of privilege. I can only describe it as an innate knowledge that our movement toward freedom is not a benign, far-off bolide burning across the sky as it is studied and characterized until it’s archived. Made myth.

No.

It’s a bolide that will explode and light up the atmosphere, because it’s fuel source is Black joy and resilience, in equal parts. Those two things are like patience and fire, perpetually tempering each other and thus, our resolve. Those two things can move mountains. Those two things are the gifts we hold dear while the shift occurs, and balance is restored.

Happy Juneteenth.

Lunar Eclipse: Villainy, Backlash, and Joy

Lunar eclipses are a good time for emancipation from old things, cleansing. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to initiate cleanses in your life. People on the other side of it may read your step forward as a blow their ego, leaving you to feel like the villain. But trust your own process, because after the backlash comes joy, which means that sometimes, it’s totally worth it to play the villain for awhile.

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Biking Hans Solo: On Brushes with Death, Vanity, and Being Grateful

Sometimes we move too quickly and pile too much on.  This time last year, I spent my mornings in my grandmother’s basement writing furiously as I took on any freelance gig that would help me recover financially from my separation from my husband. After  a few hours in front of my laptop, I’d crack the door that led into the laundry room and open the back door that led out the yard, just so the light would flood in and I wouldn’t lose my mind in the shadowy space.  Fast forward to this year, and I’m making more than I’ve ever made at any other day job, working around the clock on creative projects while trying to scale a business, and juggling my fitness and parenting goals in between.  Awhile back, I started feeling a little overwhelmed by my schedule, but I kept telling myself I’d take a decent break after Ramadan, which ends in mid-June. Only, I didn’t make it that far. The universe put me on my back instead…when I got hit by a car while riding my bike.

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Gravity: The Heavy, Messy, Sex Edition

I went to New York to see a show and speak on a panel about afrofuturism last week.  I hired a photog friend who recently moved up there to capture some shots of me speaking so I could use them for my personal website.  After the panel, I rode the train with my photographer friend and playfully told him to delete the ones where I looked particularly fat.

I thought he’d laugh, but instead he said, “You’re serious?  I always thought you loved the camera.”

“I do, but only when I control the shot.” Then, more shakily, I told him, “I just have a lot of stuff I don’t like about the way I look on camera, and plus I’ve gained weight.  It gives me anxiety. It always has.”

He looked genuinely confused at that point.  The train was coming and more people had gathered close to us, so he asked the question loudly.  “But…why?  I mean, do you ever ask yourself why that is?”

I just looked at him as I thought about all the horrible reasons that I know exactly why that is.

Before I could conjure a self-shaming joke to mask the tension, he said, “I think you should write about it.”

So here we are. Read More