Train Thoughts #1

journal notes:

On the train you see the truth of who you are. What do you want to do? Write, read, throw tarot, observe, think, zone out, listen to music, browse your phone?

I want to be philosopher, muse, lover, explorer, preacher. Do I want sometimes to get lost, to have fantasies, to find and make my own way, be heard, shout, ask the world to love me. Observe, give something that looks like something, course correct.

This too is Sunday.

In New York, I’ve had those moments, saying and doing dumb things, smart things, feeling myself expand, the thoughts grow--of ports and rivers, of black neighborhoods destroyed or being taken over, of countrymen separated and united, of neuroses that threaten to undo or create me, of trying to be a better person, yet reveling in my badness, of wondering where I’m trying to go in the attempt to escape, soak into the world, of not being able to take another second of this city, but wanting months more, of wafting smells that invoke vices and desires, of couples leaning into each other in a way that I’ve forgotten. Of too much litter, construction, parks, water, black people everywhere, people from everywhere. Art and access and culture and food and customs and spirituality and inspiration absolutely everywhere. Until the experiment of Atlanta obviously can not be that of New York, and I’m left wondering. What in the world will this one be? New Orleans is next, but part of me longs to know about New York. In the summertime, babies saying mi gente, block parties, afropunks, soul sessions, Bedstuy, colador, stores selling shea butter by the vats, beautiful brown people from everywhere, Spanish spoken like English, passing through Little Senegal, the loss of greenspace and it feeling...right.


There is not much humans can own anymore. A few universal ideals remain, like time and space, but even they seem to be seized by those whose entitlement dwarfs that of the other. For the African, both displaced and continental, space and the right to govern one’s own body have been dangerously threatened for centuries. The African has been taught that their bodies, their land and the resources that belong to it are not theirs. When they move to another country, they are immigrants, and equally separated from the right to own something. 

Speaking from the perspective of the African in America, we have grown to show a certain disregard for some of our environments. Over decades, our forefathers have carved out new homes for themselves, up North, out West, but there is no standard of certainty over even these spaces, tides move in and push families further and further away from any shared desired space. So what can we hold on to? Where is the certainty over our own Black bodies and Black spaces, have we grown out of the fear that our families will be separated, or do we still cower under the belief that we can be pushed out by one wayward cop or skyrocketing rental prices.

In many cases, you can see the evidence of our forgetting. Forgetting that we have rights and are just as much right to exist within our internal and external spaces as the next man, or the next descendant of anyone who came to this country, by choice. 

Why have we allowed this for so long, the seizure of our land, our bodies, our spirits, our artforms, our connection to history and each other? And when do we stand up and say enough. This was a word you could hear coursing through different moments in history. Enough echoing across food counters. Enough behind bayonets and lit windows. Enough screamed out to people who look like us, but who we still find ourselves to be against.

The evidence of our forgetting runs deep. And as our neighborhoods display this nonchalance, someone sees that it is time, time when noone will stand up and fight, time when anything can be snatched from underneath us without us raising our voices, because it appears that we will continue to sit back and allow it to happen. 


We who have lost our names, our homes, our forefathers. We who have traded stories for silence, who have had our freedom stolen then offered back with conditions as a bargain, as all we can afford. We builders of empires, givers of genres, spilling music over lands as fast as blood, sweat, tears.

We stand here now, reclaiming every ounce of history we can - our spaces that are stripped at every opportunity, our ancestral kin, held back by oceans, our monuments reduced to rubble. As long as our hearts beat, and space still exists, we raise our voices decibel by decibel, we carve new paths with each step, we form bonds hand by hand, our individual chants become collective.

History has been used as a weapon against us. Present: a promise, and future: a threat. We hereby revoke the vows of silence, begun by separations and violations, carried over one generation at a time until we disenfranchise ourselves from our own brothers and sisters, daughters and sons, mothers and fathers. Strength has always been ours.

We reclaim the strength to talk about our people, our times, our spaces. We reclaim the vision of ourselves as a massive structure, dismantled and scattered, but still as powerful as its whole. We set down kindness and pick up autonomy.

We commit to tell our stories, loud. To turning secrets into shared keys that unlock generations of understanding. We respect each other as ones with minds that can birth empires, and acknowledge that we wreck those potential empires when we deceive each other.

Let us be mirrors, shining beacons of truth, solidarity, possibility, a sharing of the old that allows the shaping of the new.

I hereby recognize within you the power that has always been yours. I hereby refute within you that your legacy began with travesty. I acknowledge that you are part of a nation, as wide as it is varied in shade, as sweet as a soul song crooned by your lover, as strong as a young girl staring down military tanks. We are the painters, the writers, the dancers, the actors, the guardians of the old, the crafters of the new. Please, reach out across time and space, connect. Connect, ask questions, say something true, make another square on this quilt of openness, togetherness, uprising.