Ode to Happiness.

Middle class homes and graveyard in Birmingham, Alabama USA circa 1936. Courtesy of Library of Congress public domain phtographs.

You’ve escaped the best you can.  You wanted happy.  Happy.  Your life was sad and bad and cruel and cold.

So you grew to want happy happy happiness.  Along that road, your own culture and village and old ways were made to be stupid and old-fashioned and dumb and primitive.  So you grew to hold your own ways in contempt.  With loathing but with longing.  You remember with sadness and pain—ahhhhh the old ways of my grandmother and grandfather.  Oh well, life goes on.  You’ve learned to bury.

Let’s find and build a home!  Four walls, many separate rooms.  A car or two.  A fence to keep those “others” out.

Or perhaps you found a “commune,” with “like-minded” people who thought just like you.  Even though some of them molested you and entered you at night, you kept it secret in the name of the secret and not-so-secret wishes for happy happy happy.  It’s okay.  Bury those pains and dreams of those people.  They violated you.  They perhaps killed your sons and brothers and raped your mother and sisters.  You hold them in contempt.  Now they smile and they build you orphanages.

First they killed your parents.  Then they build your orphanages “for you” with a compassion.  It’s all over the news programs!  It must be true.  Our government and our leaders are compassionate and they want what’s best for us!  You wither in secret.  But outwardly you go to work everyday to do what everyone does.  Otherwise you would be homeless.

Happy.  You are happy.  You hold it superior.  If I cry you tell me I should see a therapist.  I cry for my ancestors and live with its weight.  Unlike you, perhaps, I cannot shake it off.  I come from their bodies and their struggle against their genocides.  And the superior people, privileged in their assimilation to privileged openings to technologies and banking and the hiding of their brutality in their loopholes and crevices of escape inside the laws they themselves write….create more suffering and blame it on my ancestors.  It is a weight.

Quit your crying they say.  I cry.  But I also rage.  Crying and rage move together to struggle for ethical concerns and meaningful democracies.  The Democracy that is the USA and Western Europe and Japan now, are a sham.  But everyone is now trying to escape.  Escape away from the unexamined actions that is their life.  Life.  Apparently we are all on our own.  Whatever we cry about is our own problem, even though the problems come from the socieities and the people assimilated closely to, and WANT TO ACCESS those escapes, those that want to move into the homes and have vacations.  And communes with like-minded unexamining.

Forget the dead.  Forget those destroyed by the machine that is now prevalent, disguised as happy happy happy.  Promising thing unfulfilled.  The most dangerous thing is our own minds, our own actions.  Especially when we congratulate ourselves.  Exploited, then made into disguising it as something not.

Then you tell us what to do.  You tell us the road to happiness.  Your happiness kills.  Your happiness is a history of lying and deception.  Your happiness is the amassing of resources that masks itself as providence, as mainstay, as supposed-to-be and supposed-to-not be–over and over and over.  Followers of happiness, never happy, just followers of promises that are unfulfilled.  I am happy, others should copy me–that’s what you say.  That is called “colonizer.”   Happiness is not my goal.  But you say it is.  Happy happy happiness.

Systems replaced by other systems.  Systems should be local and egalitarian.  This makes things messy.  You don’t want messy.  You want an order, a value system, an unexamined value system that continues to annihilate in the crevices that you have not thought through or care not to face.  Oh no, I’m not racist.  Oh no, I’m not heterosexist.  Oh no I’m a nice person, really.  The germs aren’t here.  Or perhaps you know that what you say disguises your real pain–your self-disgust, your disgust at your own culture.

The old ways are not promising either.  Babies with the bath-water.  Thrown, no CRUSHED away.  With glee and celebration like those after the Atomic bomb was dropped on Japan, or after the Malaria blankets were laid on the Native American children.  Oh but it’s for democracy, our great land.  Continual colonialism, disguised as:  “That’s that, it’s different from what I do.  I’m a good person.”

Who are you?  You say you’re happy.  Or you will be as soon as the others listen to what you have to say.  You know better. You are good.

You are happy happy happy.  House, children, cars, vacations, traveling into lands where people don’t want you or have been made to want you because it’s the only way your own government has made their lands–to be slaves to the tourists and foreigners.  See–they want me here, they need us.  That was made real, my friend.  It wasn’t an accident.  Open your eyes.  But all you care is that you’re happy and that happiness looks a certain way.   I get sick.

I don’t want your happiness.   I want life.

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‘Taint’ – afro-japanese poetic musing & Point

TAINT

I exile myself from myself.  and YOU——-Don’t see yourself as…….Tainted.   If you do….you hide it and make me tainted and I see you Sad.   And that makes you see me angry, insane.  Impossible.

When I do, I’m home.   Home is exile.  Exile because there’s no way what you call ‘home’ can be mine.

And as if home doesn’t change, morph, move into something — always unrecognizable.  It’s too late for recognition.  But I will show you something and you will recognize it for what you think and feel and hear and taste.  My body is colonized by your gaze.

We’re people-of-color.  That’s an identity that’s tainted.  But without it I completely become white and Japanese and black. Colonized by those rules of walk, talk, understanding, dance.

When I choose my ‘own’ way, I know it’s not my own.  It’s been handed down.  If so, who gives a shit?

It doesn’t matter in this so-called ‘post-social’ world of ours….alienations and displacements where people who have had communities continued in another land, another space/time and call it ‘home’ will ————look down——-down——on me and those like me.  And we can pretend to be brothers and sisters because we share.  And some who don’t look down on me,  think we are equals.   No time/space, no legacy, no sekihan, cho-cho, miso shiru, barbecued ribs, konketsuji, nigger, left unconscious dead.   I’m not allowed.  So in that time where you cannot bear my pain and it is exiled into me, we SHARE ———the colonized mind.   But there are those who do share.  There’s no need for the pain, but there’s a need for allowing and alliance.

Can we ‘Be’——with our differences?   The thousand bombs and body-part explosions, mushroom clouds and slavery whips, and imprisonments of my ancestors and the occupation of my body in heterosexual mindscapes and border-guard territories———will NOT make you superior to me. Because you don’t remember.   Forever you may enslave yourself but I remain TAINTED in your result, your gun.  Your attitude-pistol that props you up WITH it.   Instead of takuan, I eat hamburgers in that place.  But I eat takuan uh huh.   Hungry.

Forever blackened in your multicultural superiority that pretends equality.   Forever not right.  Forever imprisoned.  No matter how many songs I sing to you, no matter how many silences and gentle hands, I’m only a big penis, a tawny muscle movement, a …a…..a….a.  some ‘THING’ that is compared to your utopia. Utopia……the unconscious colonial organ.

‘Thing’ yourself with your colonized mind, until you crave, then so so tired   tired     you start to see me.  Perhaps someday….we may actually touch beyond eyes here.  Right here, and between your complete and beautiful to my complete and beautiful.  Always it is part, incomplete, moving and dancing in time.  complete is incomplete always and beautiful, but justice moans. Then we understand that we are scarred.

Scarred and twisted in your so-called will to perfection.  That is perverted….tainted.  Just ‘being’ I am tainted because YOU are tainted.  Funny thing is…. there doesn’t need to be this———TAINT.  But what?

Taint me and I you.   Let’s walk y’all.

Poem: Who is Hiroshima?

Photo: Osaka from the air after bombings

WHO IS HIROSHIMA?

It was no mushroom cloud. It wasn’t

When I speak……… WHO is Hiroshima? WHO owns its name?

What does its memory confront or continue?

The heavy boots of US American navy men, running off of their American boats onto the shores of Naha in Uchina, Yokohama, Tachikawa or Yokosuka—into the bars where the so-called ORIENTAL girls are there, ripe for their pickin’s and choosin’s. Attractions, games, bribes, collusions, rapes. The pliable and obedient oriental slaves. The imperial Japanese……watching, planning, bribing, stealing, Starved for food, comfort, defeated, wanting, Starving flesh.

No rule of law in Japan can touch Americans there. This started BEFORE Hiroshima was on the maps of any American. Before anyone else existed, all others are inferior.

What is Hiroshima? Who carries its name? Hiroshima overcrowds the real story, the real picture, the BIG picture.

Month after month //////// daily fire-bombings///// Tokyo, rubbles, stench……….. One month of the torture-fires at night came to Osaka where my mother was a child, forgotten now even in history books. It’s only a shadow of Hiroshima if that. Screams. Screams. Burnt flesh. Shanghai, Nanking Chinese cries under Japanese bombs. Now Tokyo under Americans.

Sirens, burning flesh, screaming, running, sweating/////// Quivering lips in bomb shelters…… Limb-flying explosions. The limbs without bodies….the end…the beginnings.

My mother the little girl—a nameless black-haired girl under flying, released, BOMBSsssssss /////

Her life supposedly never happened for neither the Japanese nor the Americans. Bone-rattling///Poundings, chemical-fires of the inside-out…….

Little GIRL survived…………the rats she ate in poverty, the hanging skin of her friends’ burnt flesh, the plea for food and water…..scrap metal roofs and trash for walls………never happened except in a warbride diary of someone else’s land. SHE was in OSAKA, Tokyo—NOT Hiroshima. And yet……..IT was Hiroshima we only utter….and remember. But as what?

It was another war////////// different from what Japanese say……….. Americans say……….burning.

I knew my mother as KIYOKO. She signed her name on her checks in the stucco red desert house……..Albuquerque. and there it was on her ID card: KIYOKO ……… written carefully, slowly, with flare by her aging hands. American military jeeps in her eyes and splinters of her friends’ bodies in her skin.

She practiced for three months everyday for one hour, to write her name in English.

Why did my FATHER, her husband, and my mother’s brother TERUO, call her EMIKO?

Over genmai-cha and osembe……I asked her at 27 /////////

She tells: Kiyoko is my sister’s name. She died in Hiroshima.

Our family papers were disappeared on AUGUST 6—you know—the JIGEN BAKUDAN. To marry your father, I needed papers.

She marries an American occupation soldier—a military policeman, just 16 years old, faking it so he can fight for the country that hates him in his own land–African-American, almost proud to be an American but this American…..is a promise and a hope, not real. Even as he was an occupation policeman with gun in hand, the lynching of black prisoners in the US military jails in Japan haunted him. He bears the only truth he knows.

I, as a son of the victor and the defeated ////////// Hiroshima is unending. Hiroshima covers all issues. Hiroshima was a wall of fire and 3000 degrees Celsius.

It was not a mushroom cloud. Blood. Scream. Flying. Death…..wall of fire.

I, the son of a Black and Yellow. I, must now…… Articulate this Place, in my body, everywhere.

Ghosts passed onto lands and dreams.

Soochow….Osaka…Tokyo…Yokohama…Tuskeegee…Nashville….Detroit….San Francisco Peace Treaty signed…then….A-bomb…Pyongyang….DaNang …Albuquerque….Stop. Listen.

When I speak………….. WHO is HIROSHIMA now?

Debate regarding the August-September 2010 ROMA evacuations in France

Political bodies arguing. States and nations being more important than people currently, increasingly.

Political bodies arguing that institutions and processes are in place in many European nations regarding ‘how to deal with’ the Roma.

The Roma, having to assimilate into the ‘civilized’ European, North American and Japanese colonial systems…..is already a violence, an exclusion, a globally-mandated assumption of obedient minorities having to create themselves into something they are not. It is already a set-up. The fascisms are not acceptable now. But there are residues of fascism in every state, in certain attitudes of many individuals, ourselves possibly. When things go underground, they adapt to the current milieu and operate with new tactics. It is easier to follow an ideology or a fundamental structure in our minds, families and neighborhoods. Many of the scientists and thinkers of fascist governments were paid by the so-called democratic states, to survive and thrive and continue to create in the name of the elites. They are everywhere. The residues show up in people’s attitudes. As I write this, some people have wanted me dead. It is not a surprise. Ethics, love, negotiation, difference, intensity, and struggle, are seen as unwanted. It’s so much easier if everyone just obeyed. It takes lots of obedience to be civilized. It takes lots of obedience to be many things. It is a struggle to think creatively about our issues and what it is we want.

There is little talk of getting programs and institutions together, providing counseling and educational change and other activities, to address the prejudice, racism, violence, brutality, impunity, and aggression of the dominant attitudes and behaviors against the Roma and other minorities. It is a set-up. But there are many who are privately setting up creative ways of resisting the dominant flow of treating minorities like something to do surgery on, to assimilate. The issue is dominance and resistance.

Apparently, much like some of the US Americans I know who are anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim (and whose families were probably anti-Japanese-American during WWII etc.), states have a right to keep the ‘other’ out. Who is ‘us’ and who is ‘them’?? The lines are often justifications for our psychological/social violences to be played out. It is that division, that demarcation, where we give permissions of violence. Nations and national systems are that place, an extension or perhaps where it begins through histories of developing from tribalism to ethnic/sexual/gender/racial/religious identity and national identity currently.

Now it all plays out in its failures. Violent nationalism internalized into safe havens and names such as ‘our state’ and ‘our city’ and ‘our people’. Tribalism continues as democracy fades. But democracy isn’t fading for many. It is enacted and seen everyday. There are thousands around the world, millions around the world, right next to us, who understand the difficult struggle for democratic ethics in our lives. We cannot confuse permissions without ethics with democracy. We cannot confuse the boundaries of identities as demarcations of democracy.

The Roma, the Kurds, the Jews, the Armenians, the Dahlit, the Ainu, the Mayans, and millions of other bodies are forced into the isolation called ‘minority’ and are treated like chess pieces and diseases in the national systems now global. We must make our way in the violent world structured by the dominant system and we are supposed to listen to these people and bodies that have somehow assumed precedence. Even as those in governments are for justice, the system requires you to be a strong state, complete with strong militaries and economies and secret hiding places and hidden tactics and lots of money to pay the secret operators to make the state into a certain self-image, leaving certain ideas, cultures, ways-of-thinking and acting, out of the equation of this imagined state.  It’s an imaginary of violence, playing out with hollow words such as ‘rights’ and ‘diversity’ and ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ in many cases.

There are many people in world government, such as can be seen in this video snapshot of politicians arguing about what to do with the Roma people, who actually care and want peace.  However, justice cannot come in states where peace is about obedience to laws, no matter how lofty.  Laws, in most powerful states, ignore the brutality of how that state came into being in the first place.  Law is not justice.  Neither is law about anarchic violence and tearing down of all.  Justice is more of an attention to history and creative processes of negotiation through differences. But in positions of privilege, where a person or a body of people ‘decide what to do with others’ is precarious when the rules of law are interpreted in different ways. What is worse, as Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959) himself, wrote the first writings on the term ‘genocide’ and watched about a third of the laws he proposed be left out when the genocide laws were implemented by the international body–because those laws that were too threatening to the so-called integrity of the state would make all states culpable and make the global national system criminal itself). The human rights system is a necessary group of policies, laws, and research and documentation bodies, do not get me wrong.  But no one can enforce them. There cannot be a human rights police.  So human rights are continually broken in the United States, the European Union, Japan and other nations.  All one can do is watch arguments or invasions.

What’s even more daunting is that the term ‘genocide’ has been coined as an event, a moment in time with a certain look, an obvious massacre and displacement and hatred. The issue is that genocides rarely happen as an event. Culminations in massacres happen, but the processes of cleansing in states and regions happen over long periods of time, due to intensifications of exclusion-wishing and creating our living spaces in certain ways that do not allow certain differences. Displacements may happen continually for centuries, making a certain group poor. Policies to exclude and keep them poor keep being passed, while institutions are set-up to ‘help’ these minorities. The help keeps that group in their particular circumstances and are designed to construct assimilation. Help is usually a form of surveillance and identity-making. It is created through the dominant’s will, not those who are marginalized. Propaganda can be created over decades, where racism and prejudice can strangle the look of a city or a state or a people into a  reality where certain people and communities and areas can only be seen through that lens of the constructed dominant instead of through a different lens. Criminalizating minorities and their actions is a tactic of killing the spirits and locking the men away, leaving vulnerable populations to fend for themselves. Since laws concern the privileged, what does survival look like for the already-vulnerable?  Genocide is not an event. The killing of spirits and ideas and lives happen over prolonged periods in all of the ways Raphael Lemkin has stated (in the complete version, not only in the edited version the international body has made public). So genocide may not look like genocide. For change in our world, we must intervene into these smaller structures of cultural killings before an event.  In fact, some philosophers have actually spoken to the everydayness of genocide. Our ignoring and going about our lives is an aspect of the killing of another community. Buying or not buying certain things can also play into killing ‘the other.’  We cannot wait for the ‘event’ that we recognize. By then it is usually too late.

These politicians can argue, but whoever has the biggest weapons currently controls whatever happens, regardless of human rights. States have more power than groups of persecuted peoples. States have become more important to maintain, rather than communities. Self-hatred begins to creep in as we think of ways to empower and resist. Making ourselves into ethnic groups, then wanting a state, seems to be a logical conclusion of ways to live, as the stronger states treat those within its boundaries that are not the dominant group, as well as weaker states and non-dominant peoples globally, as things to extract work from (exploit) and displace and make into problems at will. It is ugly. There is no secret. We all know individual people like this in our lives. But when it is larger, we may think they are nice people, but the structures will a certain pattern, a certain way for things to turn out. More and more people are no longer willing to take it, however.

Issues of dominance and dominant attitudes control the so-called ‘Roma issue’ and other minority peoples’ and stateless peoples’ living circumstances, continuing to be ‘cases,’ as can be seen in this video, in the early 21st century.  It brings up memories of World War II, fascism, and the current crisis of human, social, ecological systems at crossroads. They don’t fit it.  ‘They’ are nomadic, ‘they’ are communal and not individualistic, ‘they’ have ties to life-ways that are contradictory to the dominant globalizing state system. Where does difference come into play? What can be done? Must we/they obey to survive? Where is our creativity?

“Calling it Home” Documentary Video by Zeynep Uygun: Displacement & Democracies

Tarlabasi is a district in Istanbul, Turkey with a long history of housing non-Muslims and other displaced persons such as trans-identified persons, Armenians and Kurds, Christians, Romani, and others. There are a few neighborhood districts in the huge city of Istanbul that are like this. They are home to these thousands and provide safety and diversity in a city that is continually mobilized (in people’s minds and therefore actions) as one that tows the dominant ideologies and meanings of the Turkish state. The Turkish state has long afforded many of the elites with the controls to navigate its global identity through the late 19th century and early 20th century political worlds, imprinting it into the present. In that period in the 1800s and through the 1950s, the Turkish model of citizenship included everyone as long as they became ‘Turkish.’ The single mode of identity was crafted as a defense against encroaching European colonial powers in their times. But to the popular masses, no mention of ‘Turkishness’ was spread.  Only after the establishing of the republic in 1923 did the ideas of cleansing move into full force to create national unity.  Through tremendous and bloody wars against many fronts, the Turkish mono-identity politics was formed as a resistance to a certain domination. It was done at such costs considering the general poverty and exhaustion of the large Ottoman population that earlier, stretched from the edges of Spain and the African continent, into the edges of China and South Asia. Centuries of warfare left its people exhausted and wartorn. Yet, through tremendous efforts, it fought off completely being swallowed by the French, British, American, Greek and Italian encroachments, among others. The region’s peoples gained their strength of spirit, through warfare as defense of itself. In empowerment, how does this play out as identity? However, its ideological center, which usually creates the nationalist unities necessary in order for people to fight against something against all odds, was borrowed from those foreign ideologies that were popular and powerful at the time, which had totalitarian and fascist elements, mainly the French and Italian forms of ideologies and their forms of ‘science.’

These elements have been called ‘Kemalism’ –named after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who was the military officer who is credited for saving what was left of the former Ottoman Empire and creating it into the new Turkish Republic. This authoritarian form of rule, mixed with its secular Muslim Turkish ethnic identity written into the Turkish Constitution, has created its violent political clashes ever since. Although Woodrow Wilson’s democratic ideals were forced upon the new Turkish government, its wordings and its lack of protections created a diverse array of dominating tactics along mono-ethnic and mono-religious lines.  Difference existed in relatively more harmonious relations in the Ottoman period, have been hammered into violent political differences in the nation-state system of Turkey. Today, the diverse population tries to navigate and make life live-able with its diversity, while the laws and policies remain very typically staunch in its single ethnic, and particular forms of secular Islamic qualities that defined the earlier periods of Turkey. Those who have gained prominence and power in this system, will not let that go, even though their changes may bring about more love from some of its people. On the other side, it will bring about exile, imprisonment, and assassination at the turn of a dime, as have the many coups and right and left-wing assassinations in the streets and even in Europe, have proven, in the name of maintaining the structure of what is considered ‘the Turkish state.’

Tarlabasi is one of the beautiful, poor neighborhoods of Istanbul where the marginalized have crafted lives and learned to live with each other, complete with disagreements and harmonies, sharing and autonomies. While cities in modern nations are crafted, the marginalized are apparently equal to everyone else, and must find their own way. As those in this great video state, the neighbors know each other and respect each other. If they are displaced, how will they live? Where will they go? What will happen to them? Often, people do not realize how social ostracization works in countries where they are heavily more politicized than in, let’s say, the US or the UK. But even in these two western nations, the marginalized are still invisible and their voices are the last to be heard, if at all. Oh well, the city wants to build new apartments here. So we’ll give you a couple hundred or a thousand dollars, go find your new home….

Tearing people and communities apart is only the beginning of a series of fears, isolations, loneliness and the sheer exhaustions of starting over again in new places. In places such as Turkey, which are communal, much of the ways people survive are based on relationships formed, the places frequented, etc. In new places, without those places and people, starvation and stress and ill-health begin to form. In many nations, these are blamed on the poor and marginalized themselves. In effect, the elites and governing forces, along with the over, tacit or secret agreements of the more privileged, create these circumstances.

Please watch and listen to this wonderful video. This is a glimpse into Tarlabasi, but also a glimpse into a way of making and displacing and creating suffering, that is common in every nation, especially those that are ‘modern’ and supposedly civilized.

Photo by Tesstantrum at Flickr.com

Geoffrey Oryema – singer from Uganda

Geoffrey Oryema is one of my favorite singers from the African continent.

Geoffrey Oryema (April 16, 1953 –) is a renowned Ugandan singer/musician. In 1977  Oryema was smuggled across the Ugandan border in the trunk of a car  after the assassination of his father, Erinayo Wilson Oryema, who was a cabinet minister while Idi Amin  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idi_Amin had come to power. Today his songs keep alive the languages of his youth – Swahili and Acholi and return to the lost country – the ‘clear green land’ of Uganda. He has been living in exile in France and has become an internationally recognized singer who has participated in some of the most important music events which aim to raise awareness and funds for human rights, especially for the African continent.
Three of many of my favorites by him are posted here for your enjoyment/reflection……even if we cannot understand the words, we can perhaps, feel…….
The first song, entitled Solitude’ is a one of the most beautiful to me, and expresses the contradictions of solitude in sadness and relief.
The second song, Lapwony is a song which presents a scene of  children on the playground and classroom, who asks where the teacher is.  The undercurrent of this piece is that the teacher has been exiled, taken away, disappeared, fired, killed….. They ask, ‘where is teacher Lapwony?  This is a live performance at the Live 8: AFRICA CALLING -2 event in July of 2005 in the UK  http://www.efestivals.co.uk/festivals/womad/2005-live8/.
The last song is mostly in the English language and is entitled ‘Bombs are Falling.’