simply streaming day 1

July 16, 2010

yesterday, i blogged under a new theme: simply streaming: writing whatever comes to mind and posting. i’ve decided to set myself the challenge of simply streaming for 30 days starting today. of course  being a writer, such posts will be edited – minimally.  as someone commented on a previous blog, i rarely use capitalization when i’m blogging. in fact, as a poet, i find the whole capital – lowercase thing problematic. i never like how my poems look when i use standard grammatical rules. poems are not novels. novels are supposed to have structure…even if it’s a deconstructed structure. so to free myself of constraints in this undertaking , you will rarely see capital letters in simply streaming. let the words flow like water…undammed.

shitty dreams. shitty dreamers. that’s just want floated through my mind at this moment in time. it’s a kinda harsh juxtaposition: shit and dreams. maybe that’s why i don’t like either kind. who knows. i do know that a decision i made about five years ago was the right one. i also begin to understand that why i entered this year thinking it’s gonna be my year. i thought whatever it was about this year that made it “mine”, was going to involve writing but now i realize it’s all about independence and declaring it. i am free now. the die is cast and it spells out amandla tichaona.

freedom, of course, is scary. scary and humbling. but every person in the world, i repeat, every person in the world deserves freedom simply by being born and as i so aptly wrote in my younger years: i wasn’t born to die.

Today, I came across a site called NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). I was immediately inspired by the suggestion for today’s blog post: How Do You Feel About the Name given to you at birth?

I do not possess the name I was given at birth. We parted ways, legally, over a decade ago. Since assuming my true name my life has changed in fundamental ways. I have gotten married and divorced. I had a child and he’ll be entering first grade in September. I have written and published three books. I have published the work of three other authors. However, the change that underlines and informs all other changes is that I am more myself.

My mother let my father name me and he named me according to naming practices which also decided his name. I was the first daughter of my mother so my name was ordained. Apparently, it wasn’t significant that my dad had two older daughters; one of whom happened to be the first daughter of her mother. Therefore she and I shared the same name. With the hindsight of 20/20, it seemed as if I was designed to fit into a construct; one which didn’t fit. As a result, I was Toby with his foot cut off, not Kunta who had a penchant for running from slavery.

When I learned about freedom, I wanted to be free and freedom meant a new name. Frederick Douglass, not Frederick Bailey. Harriet Tubman, not Araminta Ross. Assata Shakur, not JoAnne Cheismard. In other words, I wanted the freedom that comes with self-naming. However, ironies of ironies, in obtaining that freedom, I became more bound to my family, more my mother’s daughter, more decidedly African than I had been under my birth name. To quote a Bessie Head character, “I [was] just an African”.