Growing up in New York, you tend to turn a blind eye on much it has to offer. Native New Yorkers generally leave all that gawking, oohing and ahhing to the tourists. Celebrities might get a nod…maybe. Museums get visited on school field trips. Broadway plays? Please. Only went to the World Trade Center on […]
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Me: Sounds like you’ve got Dementors in your office.
Student: De…nani? (what?)
Me: Dementors…I don’t know how y’all say it in Japanese, but remember in the Harry Potter movies? They were these black shadowy creatures that fly around and suck the joy and happiness out of any space they inhabit…and eventually they suck it out of you!
“I was feeling kinda frustrated,” says Avril Haye Matsui, co-founder of BWIJ, addressing how and why the group came into being. “I didn’t feel like black women were being represented well. There were people writing books about ‘Western’ women in Japan but none of these women were women like me. It was like we didn’t really exist.”
For the briefest of moments I imagined myself as the kind of person who could extend a finger and the butterfly, sensing my, I don’t know, my inner Snow White, purity of heart and utter inability to harm another of the Creator’s creatures, especially one as beautiful and guileless and harmless as a butterfly,
“As I looked around, my hands stretched out before me like a blind man, trying to keep my balance, I realized this was no tremor! Watching power lines and light poles sway and swing is one thing, but watching train stations and buildings do so is another. I heard loud noises, rattling, clinging, banging metal and glass, like a thousand chandeliers shaking. Sounds I’d never heard before were coming from all over. The street was screaming.”
One Sunday, in March of 1941, a child was born to sharecroppers in Savannah, Georgia. They named her Rosemary, and the whole of creation shouted, “praise the lord!” for she was a godsend, like all children. She was a dutiful child, toiling beside her parents in the cotton fields, learning the ethics of hard work […]
Curtis Mayfield had found a way to disseminate a “stop this drug madness” caveat throughout my community, and black communities far and wide, like few others had been able to. He put it in song, tapping into a timeless oral tradition that kidnapped and monetized African bodies brought with them like spiritual contraband; this unsanctioned heritage they smuggled aboard slave ships from the motherland and kept it hidden, folded into their anguish.
“In America we always say we’re in a post-racial society. That’s debatable, but we act like it, at least. However, in Japan, race is the only thing they focus on. And even with non-Japanese it’s the only thing they focus on as well — black idol, black idol — but I don’t mind. I like breaking barriers!”
I was 9 or 10 and a 5th grader at a very revolutionary school in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. It was a Friday evening, I believe, and I was staying over my best friend and classmate Ketema’s house, as I often did back in them days, over on Herkimer Street in brooklyn. His father told the two of […]
My first year at the school, there was an isolated incident where one student who was being bullied by another finally had had enough and went after him, in the middle of the class, with a pair of scissors. As I approached the student with the scissors stealthily from behind, the Japanese teacher practically dived in front of the damn things to stop him from slicing the other. The way he had thrown himself into the fray led me to believe that maybe the Japanese teacher’s guidelines say something along the lines of: in the event of an altercation, if there is blood spilt it had better be yours, or heads will roll.