BOOK Release Date Changed!!

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My book — Dream of the Water Children: Memory and Mourning in the Black Pacific— is slightly delayed and will be released in Spring 2016.

For those anticipating, please forgive the delay.  Publishing a book is a very intense task between publishers and authors. There are many facets that, along with everyday life matters, keeps things changing and moving and needing work to make it right.

The book is in the “proof” stage so it is in the final stages.

Be on the look out for announcements and other fun things regarding the release!

MY BOOK – Coming Fall 2014

1 - Web Version

My Book will be released this Fall 2014, by 2Leaf Press!!

Introduction by Gerald Horne

Foreword by Velina Hasu Houston

Cover Art by Kenji Chienshu Liu

Here are just a few preview comments about the book:

Fredrick Douglas Kakinami Cloyd has written a profoundly moving and thought-provoking book. He courageously challenges our neat categories of identity, going beyond broadening our understanding of mixed race to touch what is human in all of us. This book will shift readers’ perceptions and assumptions and may change many lives. Above all, Cloyd is a master story-teller who honors and respects memory.

–Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, historian and writer

This is a mature book that moves fluidly, as the mind moves, untroubled by traditional distinctions between writing considered to be academic vs. creative, memoir vs. personal essay, sure-footed in unexpected ways. This genre-bending book is not “experimental writing.” The author knows what he wants to say and he knows how he wants to say it, seeking, in his own words, “restoration and reclamation” for silenced voices and histories never erased because they have not yet been written. Dream of the Water Children demands that its reader rigorously consider the constructed nature of memory, identities, and historical narrative. And it is also an enormously kind and passionate chronicle of a son’’s long journey with his mother. To read it is to marvel, to learn, and to discover anew what surrealist poet Paul Éluard said: “There is another world, but it is in this one.”

–Patricia Mushim Ikeda
    Buddhist teacher / activist
    Oakland, California

Can be read as a ghost story, a meditation on how to disassemble the heartbreak machines; a catalog of copious tears and small comforts. This is a challenging example of personal bravery and filial love. It puts the “more” in memory.

–Leonard Rifas, Ph.D
   Communications, University of Washington

2Leaf Press Book LINK: http://2leafpress.org/online/dream-water-children/

My Poem published in KARTIKA REVIEW!

Kartika Review is one of the best literary journals dedicated to Asian-Americans.

The current issue– the Spring 2012 issue has just come out.

My first poem has been published in it (page 54).

It is entitled: For Kiyoko, Epitaph/Chikai – which is dedicated to my mother who recently passed, just this past September.

Race-Nation-Gender-Class-Nation: Forget it. Never Forget it

Pat Parker (1944-1989), poet, teacher and activist, wrote this poem: For the White Person Who Wants to Know How to Be My Friend  and had this wonderful line:

The first thing you do is to forget that i’m Black.
Second, you must never forget that i’m Black.

For any social difference that exists in any society, we can place it there, in the space of “Black.”   In any case, color-blindness, gender-blindness, mixed-space blindness, sexual orientation blindness, socio-economic class blindness, neighborhood blindness, body-size blindness, nationality blindness etc. etc. —  we have to pay attention to how quickly we may subsume, make invisible, refuse (ignore), make trivial, something that makes a difference.  Sameness is too valorized in the globalizing society.  It’s not about any particular choices we have in holding on and letting go—-because even this is an action and a series of action (holding or letting go, that is), that come from political positionings that rely on privilege, luck, ability, amount of trauma, fear, violence, and a host of other things that come from oppression and social constructions of society.

Let us not forget how completely and utterly different we are from each other.  This way, we truly understand diversity.  If we “understand,” then perhaps we do not understand difference at all.  We just consume, co-opt, and bring into our own history and culture and language and values, that OTHER.  This is a violence to that Other.

But in saying they are different, do we automatically become AFRAID?   Or do we automatically become ANGRY?  Do we automatically IGNORE?  Do we assume we can translate, communicate?   Yes we can communicate, but understanding its partiality is important.

Honor you.  Honor me.

In our difference.  Utterly different.  Utterly ourselves.  Yet somehow, we are related as humans, as that who has experienced pain.

Perhaps other things.  But do not assume equality.

Be human.

There . . . . . .  Can we allow difficulty, struggle, powerful connection and dissonance?

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?

Slavoj Zizek on Charity & its collusions with oppressive results: A commentary

Slavoj Zizek (1949 –)  is a very popular Slovenian-born political philosopher, change-agent, and cultural critic.  Like most of the better cultural critics and revolutionaries, he cannot be locked into, or defined as representing any one branch, sect, ideological framework of any discipline, yet he is most definitely political/cultural in orientation.  He also invokes psychoanalysis as a gate through which he can link dominant cultural actions with psycho-social factors as well, although his psychological analysis seems to be closely linked with his understanding of Jacques Lacan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Lacan).  I, as you know, do not think of one philosopher or idea as all-encompassing and ‘good’ or ‘evil.’  I think of everything as multiple (remember Chimamanda Adichie‘s talk on multiple stories?) including our ideas and trajectories of action, which come from our world histories and our relations with each other’s histories, thoughts, cultures, and power relations.  I enjoy listening to, and reading Slavoj Zizek.  Many of his best works are within panel discussions or partnerships where he can discuss with others.

In this video, he presents his ideas on the idea of ‘charity,’ being a prioritized ‘good’ action on the part of a globalized dominant Christian narrative and now moral value, that has spread as a tactic of giving and compassion in the eyes of the media and political interest.  If you recall, I have mentioned that I feel and think that things are contradictory.  Within a contradictory reality, we must think of how our actions will have effects and choose accordingly, understanding the complex arrangements and further contradictions that arise from our actions.  Instead of being paralyzed because we are NOT doing ‘good’ or that we may do ‘bad,’ our analysis and knowledge and discussions can lead to better actions that take into account, the multiple stories that arise from our actions.  This, may then, lead to more ethical choices and diverse contexts through which we may analyze what road to take, what decisions we must make, and what processes we use to reach those determinants.

Charity has been viewed as an action that a benevolent and privileged group, family, or person—and now in the case of nations, the ‘good and benevolent nation’ would do in order to be seen as positive for the world to become better, or perhaps enjoy rewards in shape of arriving at a ‘kingdom of heaven.’   In any case, Slavoj Zizek presents a wonderful case for the collapsing of the idea of a ‘charity’ into our nation-state system, whereby charity is not totally what it seems.

Feminist and postcolonial and post-structural analyzers of economic development concepts, have long understood the uses of charity and ‘giving’ as a tactic of powerful nations to control the weaker nations (see the book: The Development Dictionary: The Guide to Knowledge as Power. Edited by Wolfgang Sachs. Published by Zed Books 1991).

With this in mind, Slavoj presents the idea of how our middle-class, comfort and ease-seeking mainstream societies of dominant nations, globally, would want to be charitable without lifting anything but a finger with a checkbook or a vote.  In other words, by being able to be charitable in a very immediate sense, without any contact with those we give to, or without any thought of how those recipients may be affected, we collapse buying as a consumer with the knowledge of our charity.  In buying a certain product, and having that product have a percentage go to some poor family, we feel good about ourselves.  Slavoj also questions if we actually do feel good, or that we are just doing it because it is available for us to do it but do not wholeheartedly believe that this is actually happening.

Slavoj does not mean, as he states, that we should NOT give and be charitable.  He asks us to see this as a contradictory affair, where the charity has oppression attached to it and that while we give, we must think of new and more just and ethical ways of caring for each other, beyond the consumerist and very alienated way of so-called ‘giving’ that we have inherited and reproduce.  It is attractive to our lazy middle-class ways, and also being satisfied with what we ourselves want (a cup of coffee, etc.), and we can ignore whatever else is happening in this case.

How can giving be bad?  Well, there are may ways to ‘give.’  I would say that Christian charity is born of privilege.  First, it may have started out as a moral act, but soon it became much more political.  In a sense, as I have mentioned before, the giving is actually quite condescending.  It is very self-centered and really not about ‘the other.’  It is about ourselves getting to heaven, doing ‘good.’  SEE GOD, I AM GIVING…….I AM A GOOD PERSON……..I’m trying to get to heaven…..See me.    I feel sorry for the person I give to, and may even get a sad look on my face, showing concern.  This may also be quite enraging for the receiver.  In the case of economic charity and the giving machine, the giving is never just giving.  The news that we watch about how the US gives to New Orleans after the Katrina hurricane, or how we give to the Iraqi children during war, or how we set up Offices in Japan after the Atomic bomb for victim relief……are all also fronts for more cruel and cold acts of crime, in some cases, by the American government.  These are no longer secrets.

There has been much lost in this charity game.   We must become more courageous and take our lives back, and in so doing, we take the ways we care for each other back.  First, I think, we must get through a century of fear and isolation that has guided and stunted our identities so that we no longer approach things as mysteries and different.  We must ‘know’ and recognize and be able to define so we can control.  So, I think Slavoj is correct in saying that charity is, in many ways, damaged.   Let us examine how we participate, but we must also not withhold giving where we need to, as we have no other system to give to those far away and the necessities of our privilege in the US or the UK or in Japan, or other first-world nations, can be used to give in whatever way we can.  And as Slavoj suggests, we must , at the same time, be discussing and implementing new ways that may disturb the current mainstream system of oppressions and perhaps pave the way for new systems not born of reactionary patterns born from our current situation, breathing life anew.

Slavoj Zizek overview: http://www.iep.utm.edu/zizek/

Chimamanda Adichie – Single Story Perception & Understanding

Nigerian novelist/writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s writings are among the many good works that present stories of difference.  In the video here, she gives a fantastic talk about how multiple stories of one subject, are important in how we may interact/not interact with that subject; perhaps in a more thoughtful or just way, ideally, than approaching a subject with a single story in conscious/unconscious mind.

This is an important point which I, in its basic way, agree with.  We are multiple, we are not singular.  Our stories have multiple points and trajectories, multiple positions from which we come to life and how our stories are told to self and other, can determine many attitudes and opinions and processes.  If our multiple-ness, is taken into account, then perhaps there is more patience, more reflection and pause, more of a place from which to engage other, perhaps understand positions in relation to culture and oppression, resistance and heritage, privilege and sorrows, joys and questions.  Single stories do cut-off history, cut-off political positions brought on through histories, cut-off the circulation of the realities of life and its movements in time and change.  Multiple stories may open avenues in taking these into account.

This being said, I have a critique of one aspect that may come up in listening to, seeing, and engaging this talk which is so eloquently spoken.  It is what I have mentioned before in my blog posts, and through which I speak on practically every post.  It is this question of how to accept/not accept: Difference.  I do not say that Chimamanda Adichie means one thing or another, but I am certainly opening up a discussion about how she approaches the topic of difference.  She says that people often have single stories and this closes a ‘fuller’ understanding or the realization of the similarities between people, communities and cultures.  She then goes on to say that people have more similarities than differences and there is an assumption that this is ‘better’ or that it is a fact of life that there are more similarities, which means this is more positive.  I am not sure that she means this exactly, but this is certainly one way in which Chimamanda Adichie speaks to the difference/similarities dynamic.  I say that this ‘similarities and differences’ polarity is not eternal, or a set of natural ‘facts’ and that this similarity that is so often prioritized in the world, is not positive necessarily.  To put it another way, I think that valorizing similarities is an act that can legitimize violence based on difference, with the matter of sameness and similarity being measured and applied as criteria for treating someone or a group or thing, with respect or dignity.  This is a problem with liberal thinking as well as conservative in the United States.

The measure of similarity and sameness should NOT be a criteria for measuring respect or how we treat someone or culture or community or history, or how we approach avenues for engagement and/or understanding.  Not understanding should be just as much of a pleasure and accepted space.  In fact, the reason there are more similarities today than ever before, is that there is less diversity.  One can go to any scientific journal and there, it is no secret.  There are extinctions in progress, as well as less species of most of the beings on this earth, as human beings increase their numbers.  There is less diversity not just because of over-population.  I say there is less diversity because of neo-colonization– i.e. globalization, which is an extension of colonial expansionism and what goes along with it in the nation-state system:  homogenization.  Everything is become more of the same.  This sameness has been constructed through history through the colonization of minds and lands, cultures and ideas, killing, torture, coercion and manipulation and exclusion through laws, textbooks, military weapons, covert agents amidst cultures, educational policies, judicial systems, and everything else we know to be our reality.  Assimilation and exclusion have worked hand-in-hand in order to create national cultures in the global system.  This is a continuation of the colonization process.  Difference can only be understood.  It cannot be different and not understandable.  This is the reason we must experiment on people and animals, develop stories around them that make scientists and counselors wealthy and create medicines and psychologies that deem certain things abnormal, inexcusable, sad and assimilatable, or wrong.  Learning to question ourselves and others become wrong.  It is now normal to think of everything as right and wrong, good and bad.  We either know, or are embarassed to say we don’t know.  Or we just repeat what our elders and teachers have taught us, or our parents, or our own reactions to what they’ve said because we have hated them.  In any case, our perceptions of reality do not accept difference as well as we would like.  So if we are to follow Chimamanda Adichie’s path, we come to the same tactic of exclusion and marginalization.  There is not acceptance of difference if we only look for and fetishize ‘similarity.’  Looking for a mirror in others is a sure way to the death or invisibility of both yourself and other.

You can do your own experiment. For instance, go through the history books of practically any culture group through history and pick out pictures of soldiers and their uniforms over time.  So start with pictures and drawings of how soldiers in Turkey or in Guatemala or in China or England looked in the 12th century, the 14th century, then the 17th century, the 19th century, the 20th century early and late and in the present.  See what the uniforms look like for each country.  You can do this with several other aspects of life as well, such as clothing, in general, or food, etc.  The affluent people from various cultures around the world starting in the 12th century to the present should confirm what I get at.   It will not be the ‘same’ in every case.  But there is certainly a pattern.  And do we excuse this as ‘evolution’ and ‘progress?’  Shall we now have to look at who used these terms ‘evolution’ and ‘progress’ and address and analyze for ‘what purpose’ these terms were used and how they were used to subjugate and annihilate?

So I disagree with the tone and assumption that Chimamanda Adichie brings in speaking to the issue of single versus multiple stories.  I like how she approaches the subject and explains it.  I do not agree with her notions of making sameness and similarity a criteria for harmony or a reason to let alone and not molest or control.  Isn’t that the reason colonization was justified in the first place?  Why genocide is justified from its beginnings in massacres and to the present day?  Is our understanding a criteria for killing and maiming, manipulating and giving permission to change the other?  However, I do not condone unethical behaviors and traditions so do not say I condone things like female circumcision and other such things.  However, I do not believe that not understanding someone or some culture group or tradition or history, means that we must.   In order to do this, we must co-opt ‘the other’ into our own understanding.  There are differences.  Why are we so afraid of non-difference (irreconcilable differences that is further than what we think about as ‘different’)?  It speaks more about us than of the other.

So this wonderful talk with fantastic, lucid points about history, education, power, and relations, is as is everything, multiple.  I only take issue with the will to incorporate other into an understanding that allows us to be at peace with difference.  In that instant, we are even further apart and alienated.  And in our present climate, this would give a legitimate go-ahead for a take-over and a make-over; violence as some normal activity.  It is a something we need to de-colonize in our thinking.

In relation to the subject matter and analyzing content while appreciating, we must also look at where this video rests.  It rests in the TED site.  If one has so much money behind it, so much corporate connection, then we must also think of it as towing mainstream thoughts in some ways, perhaps in subtle ways in more of the radical thinking.  Let us not be mistaken, this is not a radical change site.  It gives comfortable, informative, interesting, and safe thoughts.  For instance, for as much great things Al Gore has done in warning the public about Global warming, he does not touch his constituency, his ‘group’ and friends, who have been the ones to engineer the human quotient and engines to the destruction of our ecology.  Until he himself becomes radicalized, he keeps himself and our elites and our patriotisms comfortable, continuing the invisible domination by elitism and privilege without a shift in thinking.

And with all this, I highly recommend this wonderful talk that pushes mainstream thought to the edges of history, colonization of the mind, forgetting, education, nation-state and cultural/historical difference.  Critique is not about excluding and putting down, it is about analyzing its various positions, approaches, assumptions, possibilities reached for freedom and creativity, aspects that need further investigation, etc.  Enjoy, think, appreciate, change!

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie website:  http://www.l3.ulg.ac.be/adichie/

TED (technology-education-design): Remarkable Talks site: http://www.ted.com/