If I love You, I Cannot Lie To You
Our discourse cannot be whole if we can’t tell the truth about what Black Lives Matter is now.
This is a mural of Virginia Taylor, former head of The Northwest Dispatch and my first writing mentor. I was reading the article about Jill Abramson, and I thanked god that, in the summer of the year 2000, when her health was going sideways, Virginia took the time out of her life to kick my ass as a writer. She was blunt, direct, and real, and the end result was that I knew how to write a review, knew the history of my city, and knew how to work my ass off to get something done. She had every right to either kick me out of her office( I barged in without an appointment) or coddle me, and there would have been a good chance I would have still been an angry self-pitying knucklehead at the Winthrop Apartments. But no, she saw something in my initiative( “ you must have something if you crazy enough to come in here unannounced while I’m doing layout”) and cared enough about me to help make me into something. In criticism, I didn’t do as right by her legacy as I should have (by being a closet drunk and a pothead), but in poetry, I know she is proud of me. So much of my voice, particularly my aggressive humanism, is influenced by her.
The most important thing that she taught me what’s the history of the black press in the history of Grassroots black politics. In my writer boot camp, she made me read a Rolodex of black newspapers throughout America and the spirited but not contentious debates about every detail of black political and cultural life. Though unknown outside of my black bubble, I would later come to understand they were part of the fabric of black voter bases in America; and that those bases prided themselves in being thorough and pragmatic in their political choices as the best way to survive in America.
It is this knowledge that makes me say the caveats I’m about to say before I say the controversial shit. Unless you are willing to grapple with the history of sexism toward black women( and the history of black women going above and beyond in Grassroots politics), I don’t want to hear a goddamn thing you have to say about black lives matters finances. The history of black politics in America is the history of black men being faced with the choice of freedom and frat house stuff in choosing frat house stuff. Dr. King kneecapping Ella…