Apologies...I didn't (fully) introduce myself...

Context is so crucial and yet it is the thing that is most often absent when we meet each other and attempt to form first impressions.

I "met" Poetry Man a few months did I come across you?...or did you come across me? He's been reading me and I've been reading him. I don't get the impression that much of what I write phases him. This has been a source of happiness for me in that I make friends (real time or blogverse it makes no difference) with much difficulty. There are a handful of people I have affection for who have looked on me...heard me and still managed to develop something that feels like affection for me...that I actually also read as affection.


I'd like to do a belated mini (self) introduction.

I'm darkdaughta. I am a wannabe saucy wench, self described shit disturber...yeah, I think I do like to take on the role of devil's advocate for very self serving reasons...meaning that I'm trying to get various feet off my neck.

There are a few things you should know about me which will help you all to realize where I speak, write, blog from. I think this piece of writing should help.


from conception to birth

a personalized, politicized, spiritualized critical meditation on anti-oppression, consciousness and lasting change
by t.j. bryan
copyright december 2003

let me
situate myself.

i mean, let me tell you about myself, so you can be as clear as possible given the fact that language is notoriously inadequate. nonetheless, i like to do this sort of telling, this sort of revealing to model what i think can happen when people come together in community. the whole keeping one's cards close to one's chest comes out of feeling unsafe, out of fear, out of ambition, out of the fact that you may soon have to be hurting or double-crossing or protecting yourself from that person you're presently smiling with.

so, i like to be clear when i meet folks in community who talk about change and activism and revolution. i ask questions, sometimes silently, sometimes not.

who are you?
can you show yourself to me in a way that says you're gonna come correct and be accountable to discrepancies between your talk and your walk?
are you able to open yourself as a gesture of trust?
do you possess a belief in the potential power of our coming together?

when activists and organizers and community members come in close, i want to see if they are grounded in the beliefs they say they have. do they embody their politic? are they attempting to make change in themselves as well as in the world around them?

who the hell do i think i am?


just the person they decided to approach.
i'm just me - attempting to be discerning and make conscious choices about the company i keep. but don't worry, i'm not into withholding. i've got energy and thought and affection and alliance and loyalty
to offer. and offer is just what i those who come vulnerable and willing to show me who they are beyond the facades and practiced ways of being.

some will turn their nose up at this act of self-naming referring to it
as labeling, pointing out that they hate labels. i attempt to define the space between self-naming and the labeling done by others as a chasm with very little common space between.

precious will do nicely


an act of personal power
defiantly choosing for one self the powerful
that indicate an understanding of self
grounded in experience and self-observation

the domain of those with power over
an act of assumption arising out of stereotype
the imposition of dominant values and
bits of discrimination
hiding the very nature of that which is defined
grounded in control
ownership and denial

so! now that we have that bit of differentiation out of the way...
i'll show you mine first. this way, barring any possible acts of denial or tuning out on your part, you will understand who you're dealing with, who is speaking and who presents themself before best as you can.

i am:
a multi-celled, carbon-based life-form
a mammal
a homo sapien

a woman as in...
biological, vagina bearing, gender defining
as female.

able-bodied as in...
presently ambulatory, presently
hearing, presently seeing [with the aid of pretty strong prescription lenses]
presently speaking, presently not living with any illness or environmental sensitivity to fluorescent light, smells, chemicals, etc.

black as in...
politically positioned through choice and through my social location on a continuum privileging whiteness and to a lesser extent...lightness.
as in...
diasporic african
as in...
my mother tongue really should not be
english, but things are too mix-up mix-up at this point to be able to tell what i should be speaking.
as in...
the beings who are my ancestors were not originally from canada or barbados.
as in...
political does not mean perfecti'm about four generations removed from the forced migration and [psychic/physical/sexual/
emotional] colonization through domination slave experiences of my forebearers [which makes family/community/relationship shit profoundly influenced by this colonization quite recent and painfully obvious].
as in...
i'm an
dark[er] skinned, west indian, bajan-born, immigrant child of immigrants.

wounded to the quick as in...
an abandoned child, turned latch key,
turned runaway who grew up away from extended family/community raised by an authoritarian patriarch parent who loved me as best as he good given what his parents had not taught him about the nature of love.
class as in
i'm not performing the guilted political by perpetrating or disguising biological family access to credit or status or affluence
as in...
there was no housing security [and there still isn't[, the was often no food in the fridge or in the cupboards...
there was never a guarantee that thelights would be on...
as in...
i went to university not because my
father could afford it, but because the osap (provincial post secondary school government granting body) government flunkies realized he so clearly couldn't.
as in...
i observe and am deeply affected by the ways class functions as a way of socially positioning and manipulating people under imperialist, capitalist, colonial systems of control in and outside of communities of resistance.

queer, as in...
strange...odd...misfit...deviantly sexed...given to bouts of perverse
sexploration when time and childcare offer me the pportunity...use'ta'be lesbian, use'ta'be a dyke, use'ta sleep with wimmin only, morphed violently into a same sex abuse survivor no one believed who opted to dispense with same gendered utopian dreams in favour of queering myself through relating to a myriad of other multi-celled, carbon-based life-forms of all/any genders in a myriad of sexualized/sensualized ways.

sex positive, as in...
i think fucking is important, natural, soul renewing, emotionally releasing, political, emancipating and necessary.
as in...
information about fucking and how to do it well, safely and consciously should be made publicly accessible to all who seek it in boundary-respecting ways.
as in...
i'm a mama who wants to consciously nurture and safe-guard my daughter's age-appropriate experiences with her own body.

fat, as in...
good sized, as in...
sitting on a continuum of body fat in relation to societal and community-based fat phobia
as in...
possessing multiple rolls of fat concentrated around my waist, hips, but and thighs
as in...
too fat to be considered skinny, and too maga to be considered truly fat

as in...
too far into my thirties to want to/need to/have to/be able to be
constructed as a young, strong of body, unwrinkled, desirable, wide-eyed, flirtatious, nubile, pert tittied, yet nonetheless seen as inexperienced, unclear, unwise twenty-something
still too far away from the silver age of seniority to want to/need to/have to be constructed as a wise, old, yet nonetheless seen as weak, slow, undesirable, flap tittied, grey haired, wrinkled, cackling, don't have to impress anyone...crone

polyamorous, as in...
open to insightful, deliberate, respectful, caring, open, honest relationships between more than two fully consenting adults who are politicized and emotionally grounded in ways of loving that reinforce the links between dominance/oppression, desire, consciousness and the agency of beings with the ability to present relationship is looking like a dominant, dyadic, hetero union in part because others insist on projecting their internalized isms but mostly because my partner and i are too busy to cruise. :)

i aint your mama mama, as in...
presently raising a head-butting, agent of chaos while attempting to create family and community for this daughta of my spirit, my dreams and my body
as in...
i spend a lot of time attached to a very attention-hungry 24 month old baby
as in...
time to myself to think and write and create is at a premium
as in...
my body has ripened, spread and blossomed in ways i was ready for intellectually...
as in...
my body is riddled with breast feeding hormones that often drive me to the brink of something that looks like/smells like/sounds like/feels like insanity

north americanized, urbanized
as in...
compared to the citizens of many un/under developed countries i've got so much [some might say too much] available clothing, shelter, electricity, water, food, transportation, entertainment and time on my
hands to introspect and write
as in...
i'm sitting on lands riddled with blood -
colonized first nations' land
as in...
i don't believe in the 'two founding peoples' creation myth of this particular militarized nation state

as in...
i channel some of the universe's life force through my body, my hands
as in...
wild woman energy runs through my center
my place of
and otherworld knowing
as in...
what i touch i
mold and change
as in...
my mind and spirit like to play with ideas and
words and matter
as in...
i've been a barber, a hairstylist, a corn-rower, a clothing designer, a hand-sewing seamstress, a beaded jewelry maker, a potter, a wood-carver, a soft-sculptor, a baker, a cook, a 2-d artist, a video-maker, a writer/poet at different points in my past lives and will be again and again and again...

am a first daughta of a first
daughta who has birthed a first daughta.
am the illegitimate oldest
child of a man and woman who attempted to legitimize their pleasurable, yet frowned upon procreation experience soon after my birth through miring themselves in the extensively flawed and oppressive institution of marriage, two people who soon afterwards tore themselves and their tie asunder under the patriarchal, abusive, heterosexist, coupled weight of what that marriage implied.
am cursed
trojan cassandra...
a few millennia removed -
heard but never truly
can you hear me?
can you hear me?

don't worry if my words seem to go in one ear and flow out the other. denial is this society's default setting.
that's a given.
now it's up to you to decide where you wanna go from here. break the curse? hear, comprehend and internalize tru-isms you already know but maybe can't acknowledge? or continue on with the schisms, internalized isms, building your own psychological prisons?
am pregnant with myselves
many times over.
i am sperminator, ovum, mama and midwife.

i am excruciatingly present. in fact, i often make my own self uncomfortable with the links i struggle to make as i attempt to offer myself something that seems like meaning in this messed up world.

i talk...a lot. or to be more accurate,
i spend extensive, extended periods of time diving under my own skin, learning and thinking.

most times, most kinds of human contact are excruciatingly upsetting. folks come in close and smile and offer me an opportunity to get blunted...psychologically.
to slip into denial via becoming a likeable good girl as i passsss over the power of my own judgment and my own common sense.

most times, bearable human contact looks like my bio, hetero male lover, my gurglingly, incomprehensible child and a few close friends who call to shoot the shit hopefully without smearing me with their unresolved shit.

at home i chew over experiences, ideas and theories on a regular basis. which looks like politicized conversations over meals, politicized conversations before bed, politicized conversations while changing
shitty diapers, politicized conversations while cooking meals, politicized conversations while scrubbing the floor, politicized conversations while having arguments, politicized conversations before/after [and on a few occasions even while] get the picture?

visits or calls by acquaintances, allies and friends punctuate the voluntary, semi-aloneness i jealously guard.
this self-imposed isolation allows me to envision, resist, create and see the world clearly. at irregular intervals friends call and offer up an innocent:
"how are you," unwittingly opening the floodgates. bleah! they are deluged by a barrage of ideas and hazy links fast getting clearer.

tj stickerfor me these friendships/alliances/community members and chosen family relations are defined and upheld by the quality of our intense dialogues about the nature of most everything under the sun. i tend to stick with the folks who can stand to witness the bright light i shine on myself and who can stay present even as that light begins to turn, turn, turn until it shines squarely on them. these are my intrepid traveling partners - the ones who challenge themselves and me to excavate, process, explore and, most importantly, verbalize and the seemingly disparate, yet quite messily intermingled bits of experience that combine to form our realities.

together we acknowledge the day-to-day stuff we're dealing with and develop insight into the ways our lived experiences are linked to our experiences of societal oppression and privilege.
from this place we strategize around the kinds of choices we're/they're/i'm making. together we explore ourselves and each other as soft fleshed, soft hearted, passionately present beings engaged in dangerous struggles to build intentional, conscious, ethical community.

we move away from assumption by asking questions...yet, i realize that often, there are no hard and fast answers.

as a grassroots worker, anti-oppression workshop facilitator, writer and artist, i understand how easy it can be to not ask myself hard questions even in community, even with people who are perceptive, and who know
me. in an atmosphere where so many of us identify as teachers as opposed to learners, it can be simple to hide.

you know...just give that knowing smile wrapped in that demeanour that says:
i know
i'm always clear
i'm the wise one
i'm the paid expert full of knowledge
i am
i don't have miles to go or many rivers to cross

in a society where experts are created, paid, glorified and sought out for their advice in regards to the most basic problem/issue, it would be fairly easy for me to make sure that other people always come away looking like they need to do more personal/political work. why claim the fact that i'm struggling and that often i just don't know? when it's so much easier to walk with an air that says there is nothing more i have to learn?

because i see this way of being so often in the folks i encounter in community, and because i find it so difficult to have genuine interactions with folks who manifest themselves in the world in a way that privileges their facade over their actual self, i tend to push past the impulse to perform perfection no matter how seductive or rewarding
the perks may be for my ego.

there are things i want to understand and paths i still need to walk. as a nomad still seeking, i need to name my desire for more knowledge, for more learning, if i'm actually going to open myself to the receive the gifts of understanding i seek.

but why seek?
why learn?
why not hide the things i don't understand behind a thick layer of

well, for one thing, i don't wanna fake tha funk. my sense of integrity about the work i do in community and a responsibility to the creative impulse i channel make it necessary to recognize how integral speaking
and the destruction of facades as i struggle with the forms of denial offered to me just by virtue of living in this society, are to my political resistance against the forms of oppression at work in my life.

it can be difficult to consistently exist in a place where i actively internalize the politics i say i stand for. this involves taking the ideals i've read about and learned about and working to make them manifest in my life. critiques related to power/dominance-based ideologies such as heterosexism/ heterocentrism/ homophobia and erotophobia, classism/conservatism, ageism, fat phobia/sizeism, ableism, white domination/racism/white supremacy/shadeism, lookism, transphobia
and gender oppression, patriarchy/misogyny/ sexism, imperialism, colonialism, etc., etc., etc., are more than just words on a page. mouthing them often or organizing events, demos, dances, spoken word readings and organizations around them are only part of the struggle.

another crucial thing for me is actually taking the critiques i've been learning, developing and writing about to heart by examining how/when/why/if i think, live, love, fuck, befriend, make community, work and resist. it also involves realizing that the world is not a
this-or-that kind of place. so, even if i do this work often and with
conviction, the choices offered to me are still going to be most often the best of the worst.

sometimes all i can do is be conscious of all the imperfect choices available and be clear about why it is i've chosen one messed up possible choice over another messed up possible choice.

influential south african, feminist, intellectual, educator, therapist and author dr. rozena maart, who many years ago challenged/encouraged me to write defiance, told me once, "awareness is pain." presntly what this means for me is that my inability to do more than examine any given playing field and decide my path is often dull if not downright heartbreaking. when i feel depression creeping into my psyche,
which is fairly often, it becomes even more imperative that i be able to speak the truth of my perceptions and my existence if i am to have any hope of working through the emotional residue i've come to associate with actively defying systems of thought control and domination.

it's as if i'm continually birthing my warrior self, my conscious self - transition from one conscious state to another. this is how i see the struggles i go through to increase my understanding of the world around me.

but birth, even at the best of times is hellishly intense. the sort of transition i'm describing is a place and time for reckoning and clarity. this is not the time for me to fall back on the training us wimmin are offered by the patriarchy. you know what i mean - when the going gets tough, the good girls smile, behave courteously and try to find a
way to smooth things over.
tj sticker
this way of dealing is prevalent not just in dominant communities, but also inside communities of resistance. it strangles us wimmin even as we apply yet another prettified, sugar coat to whatever it is that threatens to colonize our bodies, our minds, our dreams and our spirits.

in communities of resistance, the twist is
that i often see wimmin continuing to speak of anti-oppression even as the ways they react under stress, when oppression is in the air, reek of their efforts to make sure they're behaving in a friendly and interactive manner, making space even for people who, in an equally friendly and interactive manner, are oppressing and dominating the space, event or collective in ways that speak of the numerous isms we all say we are fighting.

ironically, as someone who tends to speak up about oppression and not glaze over issues so as to leave others with a feeling of comfort, i often end up being defined as the oppressive one, the out of order one, the one who has disturbed the peace, the insane one, the one who just doesn't know how to spread positivity, the one who has changed the energy in the room...for the worse.

and so...

i ask myself...
in this sort of social, community climate, one where to name oppression is to disturb the dazed and blunted state of even the dominated, how do i speak, develop consciousness, feed my spiritual need for the company of conscious others, and link my politics to my reality?

this experience often leaves me with the distinct impression that i'm attacking myself through getting into political struggles with people whose realities parallel to my own who don't want to [or can't] examine how oppression works in their own lives and in the communities we share.

these people live out their lives compartmentalized, as though the aspects of a whole being should be divorced from each other because the alternative - extensive, truthful, integration of one's ideals, one's politics, one's spirituality and one's empowered self-understanding into a cohesive whole - is unbearable, too difficult, too unrealistic given the fragmented world in which we live.

but what is the alternative to a spiritualized, personalized, conscientized coming together of the self? from where i stand it smells like hypocrisy, a lack of personal integrity and an absence of a consistent, politicized ethic.

and this is where i recommit to resisting in the trenches no matter how uncomfortable it has become or may become. it's not possible for me to double back by choosing the easy going facade of what seems over the really painful, sometimes frustrating, oftimes furiously crazy-making, definitely lonely and downright unpopular work of struggling toward societal, revolutionary change.

i choose to be self-actualized and struggling toward wholeness in the ways i live and love and work and think. in truth, what kind of powerful, meaningful anti-oppression work would i be able to do if i could not firmly occupy this space?

speaking and critiquing defiantly as a conscious daily way of being, developing a spirited, life-defining set of values as well as an alignment between ways of living and the work of struggling toward lasting change within and without is an achievable goal.

at this point in time, it is possible for us to effectively resist forces of internalized dominance through risking vulnerability, quieting our egos through humbling ourselves even as we continue to teach and shed light and work and organize. in this way - through individual example as well as through more obvious revolutionary, collective struggles, perhaps the societal transformations we've been working towards may eventually
be conceived within and move outward, birthed into this world.


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