Saturday March 22nd-Black Girls Are From the Future x Oakland: 6pm- 9pm @BettiOno Gallery: $10

MYMC_MARCH 22nd FLYER_Book Covers_Final_Friday 3.28

Saturday March 22nd, at Betti Ono Gallery in Oakland California, I will be doing an Oakland book launch. Tix are $10 on Eventbrite and you can get them @ the door as well.

As you know I have been writing about Oakland, for a VERY, VERY, VERY long time, so it is really surreal to go home to the place that made me and say “Look ma we did it,” literally and figuratively.

Honestly I am happy to go home too to pay homage to the Oakland Public Library, specifically the ones in West Oakland and Martin Luther King on East 14th (yeah, I know it’s International Blvd now, but when I was a kid it was E14th, so there) and see about getting the book into their library system. The West Oakland Library was so extensive in terms of their fiction and nonfiction by, for and  about Black Women and Women of Color.

Peep game. In the 90’s the dope game was eating Oakland from the inside out, so there are two places that I didn’t have to plead with my mother to let me go to; the grocery store and the library. Hence my Love affair with the MLK library on 66th Ave.

I feel safe in libraries.

For me it is really important for little bears to have access to books the way I did. AND BGFTF is now on the Kindle, so folks can download them and get it cracking, “We Are Living in Your Internet” ~Ms. Erykah Badu. By May of this year, I’ll have broader distribution so that I can get in libraries. (Let’s not even GET into the indie publishing politics around getting into the Library of Congress, book stores, and libraries. I will save that for another day.)

I can’t help but thinking all the times I was a little bear walking up and down telegraph avenue, buying cd’s and tapes at Rasputins, now I am selling books on the internet. What!?!?!?

Oakland Haunts Me.

Oakland Made me.

Here are 5 Things You Can Do Before the Event

5 Things you can do before

LINKS

1. Video

2. Newsletter

3. Audio Book Chapter “Oakland Haunts Me, Why I Will Not Be Going to See Fruitvale Station”

4. Facebook

5. Digital Story

Here are some of the topics we will discuss.

MEME_Questions Discussed

Please leave a comment below, ESPECIALLY if you were one of the people who encouraged me back in the day. I have something I’d like to send you.

Reading anything good lately?

What do you see on the horizon for Black women’s stories in 2014?

Oh and if you bought a book and have something nice to say, please leave couple of sentences on AMAZON. Ya’ll have my page looking thirsty, and I KNOW I’ve sold some books in from August to September. I know you are busy, so a few sentences are fine. Do it on the bus/train on the way home. I’ll hug you for it.

Is 2014, #BlackgirlTime, as I say?

What do you do to relax before a big day, I am kinda pressed, and all I want are tacos, #snowedin. #notacoyet.

 

@ 12:34 am

At 12:34 I called home. I went to set my alarm on my phone. I saw a missed call.

510.

Home. I called back.

Only to find out that the little bear I baby-sat passed away. I assumed, car accident, drive by……

Only to learn that he took his life.

I am so fucked off in the game Gina.

I knew this child when he was 6 and I baby sat him for dough to pay for BART to got to Lick-Wilmerding, a FANCY prep school in Frisco.

Working class Black girls always have to work.

I curled up in a ball on the floor crying.

I talked to him in August, right before comps, he was thinking about Medical school. We laughed. I told him about Goldy.

How in the fuck do you get over losing a 23 year old that you consider to be a little brother.

Through God I guess?

If I could, I would cancel tomorrow’s class.

I will probaly just explain to them why my eyes are swollen.

I feel like a failure as a play big sister. Not to say that I could have saved him. Because I couldn’t. I just feel like I could have checked on him, more. You know?

Dadddy just said that when someone is ready to leave earth, they ready to go.

You can’t stop them.

I still feel like I am in a daze.

I hope little bear got some peace where he at now.

Loved ones aftermath of suicide is the devil.

How Oakland Brought Me #Aquemini

On Saturday, I met #Aquemini.

I was posted up, waiting for someone, doing me. He then spoke, and asked if I was a professor. I had just come from writing the midterm and reading so I had a bag of books next to my chair. I responded no, I am a teacher. I asked him if he taught, he said, yes, once. He was a substitute teacher in East Oakland and he was just getting ready to talk shit about the Town and I said, “Baby, I’m from there.”

He responded, “Oh, really.” Yeah, Oakland.

I gave him another look, my undivided attention and said, “When is your birthday.” He stated, “June 11th.” I was like shit.

You are #Aquemini. It sounds really creepy as I write it, but I have been really deliberate about having a Gemini or Aquarius in my life.

I have been so specific about #Aqeumini that A dub walked over and said hello, and I introduced her to him and said girl, he is #aquemini, and she raised her eyebrows like word. Word.

I ask people their birthday’s before their names. Why? I am being purposeful.

So we conversate. Marinate. All that.

He apparently saw me before. And spoke last summer. I asked if I was nice. Sometimes I shut it down. He said yeah, “You were nice, but it was clear that I were reading your book and didn’t want to be bothered.” That DO be the case sometimes and I am entitled to that. Time and place for everything, no?

He is currently and anti war lobbyist, adorable and White honey. Like Kevin Costner eye crinkles and everything. As I contemplate the politics of puttering around on that interracial in DC. Man listen.

Black girls pay a social cost when they date someone other then Black men. Because I walk like I have a right to be in the city, the threat of violence is always there. Our current sex/gender system says that women are not entitled to be in public, let alone claim the right to occupy city space publicly. Domination is maintained through violence and the threat of violence.

Ah, but the synchronicity of the night.

So, first there is the Oakland connection. Then some how he brings up Ta-Nehisi’s blog. And I say #ummp.

He says, the man has awesome prose. And I respond saying, well he does, however I had a really public conversation with Ta-Nehisi last fall when he asked whether or not For Colored Girls was a classic at a White publication in front of a largely White audience, even though he hadn’t read the book since he was a teenager. #Ummp.

I went on to say that Ta-Nehisi didn’t respond well to being challenged intellectually around his gender politics, and I am referring to his willingness to read a Black feminist text to broaden his analysis, and that I found this unwillingness to be problematic.

He was like, what “That was you” and kinda put his hand over his mouth like “Oh Shit.”  I answered yes. Now see, this is surreal because I am not use to my work preceding me.

Further it speaks to importance of remembering that your words go places that YOU don’t go.

Lastly he has done work in South Africa around the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. You and I both know I Love me some TRC’s. So. Um. Yeah.

I can’t call it.

Oh. And I don’t think we exchanged info. #Extra. So Yeah. #Aquemini. Holler @cha girl. You know where to find me @2:26 sec.

#BoomandPow

#VulnerableyFearless

Can you believe that East Oakland ‘ish?

Peace to the Gemini’s.

Why You Pay for Shit Twice in the Hood.


Image courtesy Faith in Action.

I just received an email about a digital farm network in Dallas, and I thought, this is interesting.

I often have conversations with @afrolicious and @tomphilpott
about how to use technology to bridge the gap between farmers and people who buy food.

There is a lot of money being made off of people who live in the hood and this is why if you live in the hood you pay for shit twice, and the endless need for profit/growth plays a huge role.

Last fall, my professor said that a unit of profit requires exploitation. What she meant by this is that in order for someone to profit, someone else has to take a short.

Look at it like this, if you are working at Target, making $7 an hour, Target is making arguably $100 to $200 dollars an hour off of you. You are taking the short, and the corporation is keeping the rest.  What if you were able to keep more of the money you earned for them? Life would be different. On top of that, most of the items that we get from stores are from factories in China, Mexico, Haiti and the Phillipines where women work earning $2 per day. Again, those women are taking the short.

How do people pay for shit twice in the hood. Poverty is lucrative. People who own businesses in the hood make money charging incredible prices for the day to day things needed to survive.

The first example that comes to mind is a New York times article where Barbara Ehrenreich talks about the “ghetto tax” and how being poor is expensive. She writes,

  • “Poor people are less likely to have bank accounts..”
  • .”..low-income car buyers…pay more for car loans than more affluent buyers.”
  • “Low-income drivers pay more for car insurance.”
  • “They are more likely to buy their furniture and appliances through pricey rent-to-own businesses.”
  • “They are less likely to have access to large supermarkets and hence to rely on the far more expensive…convenient stores.”

When you add that all up, you really get a sense of how when you live in the hood you pay more for services and products, just because you live in the hood.

The example of how poverty is expensive is Rafi and Dallas’ video Check Mate. Checkmate analyzes why people in the hood use check cashing places rather than banks, why there are arguably no banks in the hood and how check cashing spots,  pawn shops and gold chain shops operate to seperate the people who don’t have a lot of money from the little bit of bread that they do have.

So people in the hood pay more for mortgages, food, care insurance, furniture, banking or check cashing.

Let me focus on food for a minute.

For a long time I thought that the issue around food and social justice was that we just need have more locally sourced food. But the thing about this is that all cities and states are not created equal.

We don’t get our oranges from Idaho.

Because I come from Oakland, where lemons, limes, tomatoes, rosemary and avocados grow everwhere, I assumed that local was the solution.

It isn’t. More than anything, a solution will be food systems, bodega’s, grocery stores, co-ops, farmers markets where earning a profit, and accumulating ENDLESS profit isn’t the main directive or inspiration.

We have been raised to think that everyone can profit, that growth will always increase. Growth or the endless accumulation of profit has real consequences on the quality of life of people in the hood, and it shows. Peace to South East DC. Peace to East Oakland.

Growing and distributing food and ensuring that low income Latina women in Bushwick, and affluent Jewish women on the upper east side both have access to good, fresh reasonably priced fresh food and vegetables is what I envision.

@Umair talks a lot about this  issue of corporations thinking about the bottom line second or even third his blog.

I know that I am talking about a new society here. But isn’t it time?

Do you pay for things twice?

Have you moved from the hood to the suburbs?

Where you surprised by how much cheaper things were?

Real Spit. #Oakland

I am so Glad my mother is alive today.

Some shit went down in Oakland that I can’t get into and I think that much of the subtext of distress/anger I been feeling this week has to do with the fact that it is only by God’s grace that a bullet ain’t strike her.

That she is still alive.

As many of you know I was working on a proposal to study the impact of Crack on Oakland specifically but cities in general.

In one of my classes, one of my peers asked me the “so what” question.

The “so what” question is basically “who should give a fuck about the fact that you are doing this” question. It is reasonable. Right?

But peep game, this woman’s project was four condom. Meaning that she censored herself out of desire of be published.

People without heart need to stay out my face. #OnEverything.

Trust. I want to be published however, I am not gone compromise my heart to do it. I am the person that has to live with that shit every day, not anyone else.

And if I do compromise myself to do it, I ain’t gonna be up in people face ‘taumbout the “so what” question.

In class, a colleague spoke up for me, because I honestly was in shock and ain’t know what to say.

She said that my project has meaning for people who are interested in:

Drug Reform

Violence? as a Public Health Issue

Drug Policy

Race, Gender and Drug Policy

Race and Public Policy

Modern US? City History

The Crack Epidemic and the Global Economy

Etc.

For me. Violence is a feminist project. Violence is a huge part of my work because so much of where I come from is marked by it.

My mother’s experience reminds me.

I am glad she is alive. I almost ain’t have my mother, and it kinda got me fucked up.

Thank you for reading.

~Renina