We have a moral responsibility to become the most ourselves we can be. In order to do that, I think kindness, justice, compassion, empathy, art, truth, and beauty better facilitate our ability to be uniquely ourselves than do injustice, cruelty, acrimony, lies, etc. It is more of a function of how we fulfill our purpose. In that sense, faith and spirituality motivate my sense of justice.
To me, this is a really interesting example of how complex racism can be. It doesn’t matter if Kodak was acting in a racist way, because the lived experience of people was the same. If you were a person of color who was trying to get your wedding photo taken, that was the grinder with Kodak. You have dark skin and a white dress. If you’re a photographer trying to capture the detail in the dress, all of her skin tone is gone. She just turns into kind of a black smear. No bride wants to spend all the money on a dress for her special day and see no detail in the pictures.
During your reading at Wednesday Night Poetry, you said something that struck a chord with me, which was: “My being alive is a protest even if it is a protest against something inside of me that I am struggling with.”
Yes. I have been having a difficult time figuring out my place as a poet and what my responsibility is as a poet, especially as a poet of color that identifies as Afro-Latina. I’ve been trying to figure out how to lend my voice and whether my voice needs to be heard or not, and whether what I have to say is important.
A man and I stand on a New York street corner waiting to cross. Music playing in both our ears. He looks down and says something I cannot hear. I remove an earbud. He points “nice kicks man” I return “thanks man, cool shirt” a few beats later we both agree that you gotta stay fresh out here in these streets cause “you never know who you’re gonna meet” I joke “Rihanna could be right around the corner” we laugh and end with “have a good day, be safe” a few hours later I am sitting on a stoop enjoying my peace. A door slams behind me. A man looks down at me, at my shoes. “Fresh ass adidas” he doesn’t wait for a response. My voice chases after him “thanks man, preciate it”
I am many half things, which is not strange at all. Sometimes I am a metal sculptor, other times I am a blacksmith. Sometimes I am a 3D/CNC technician; other times I design artistic installations with robots. Sometimes I am an artist. I serve tacos part-time. There is nothing too strange about that.
August 21st, 2016. Oakland, California. I’m a twenty-three-year-old college junior on my way to my first class of the year. “If you don’t study under Jay Gupta while you’re here you’re wasting your time,” said one of my advisors. So I signed up for his 11:00 AM study of aesthetics—the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and appreciation of art and beauty. I haven’t set foot on a college campus in almost five years so I’m intimidated.