You’re looking for another generation to sell, so sell this. This story. In 2000, the year I graduated from high school, I decided to become a man. Being a black woman from Florida, from a small town about 300 miles from Zora’s Eatonville, this involved only three things: 1) cutting my hair; 2) wearing baggy clothes and 3) watching Boys Don’t Cry. So I could see what not to do and so I could live to tell the tale.
I applied to Morehouse College, the renowned black all-male institution on October 5, 2000. My acceptance letter came on March 3, 2001. I left a note for my parents telling them I loved them and left in the middle of the night. I moved into the dorm on August 27. And for some reason I felt, for the very first time, happy and free.
Let me make it plain: it was not that I wanted to be a man. Or that I was running from what I truly was—a black woman. I did not hate myself. I was not abused as a child by a stuttering uncle, or suffering from an odd Freudian complex (that I knew of). I was engaging in a grand social experiment, an existential game, recreating myself and the world I wanted to see through my words and actions. And I understood the nature of this quest, that to create herstory you have to leave history behind, all the traditional things that make us typically what we are in modern society (family, consumerism, marriage, religion, etc.). I just felt and still feel—that the American game and world history has operated duplicitously off false binary systems of reality that unnecessarily pit blacks against whites, Jews against Gentiles, Christians against Muslims, God against Satan, and men against women. The way to end these wars, to pull off the mask of intolerance, hate, violence, misogyny and racism, is to end all essentialist theories, to violate their myths and bend their laws from straight lines into circles.
Being a man was easy. Pretend you shave. Get greedy: about everything, but especially pussy. Choose the light-skinned girl with long hair over the dark-skinned sista with short. Eat a lot of chicken wings and play a lot of XBOX and spill beer in front of the TV during games while talkin bout bitches that wont call you back. That shit was the easiest thing ever. I would do all that then go down the hall to the bathroom to change my tampon.
I fell in love with a guy and a girl while I was there. And I dated them at the same time. The guy was bi—his girlfriend was an AKA from Spelman, and she had no idea. The three of us grabbed Philly cheesesteaks from Gutbusters a lot, and she thought he and I were just roommates. Best friends. Little did she know. That I masturbated while they had sex on the other side of the room. And after having sex with her, he would climb in the bed with me and I would suck his stuff. Sometimes I wondered if he would have been so into it if he knew I was a girl. Secretly, I wanted him to be mine, to have kids with him, love him forever. I fantasized about our future sometimes, but I never told him the truth. When I realized my heart couldn’t take anymore, I found a reason to disappear. And the girl I loved, well, that was tragic in the opposite way. I was the man she always wanted. She wanted me to marry her, have kids, build a family, even tried to take me home to Jersey to introduce me to her family during the holidays. I never told her the truth. I just couldn’t. I kept my clothes on when the lights went off. I ate her pussy for about a year. Then I left her a note, just like the one I left my parents. I left and I didn’t come back.
I began to write poetry after those relationships. And for some reason my poetry was tormented by America, and by the insane, absurd politics of my blackness, and my newfound maleness. It was as if inside my female body there was a black man, a tormented African king, an enslaved spirit with an erect penis trying to break out, trying to escape. When I read the book The Signifying Monkey, and when I saw the statues of Esu—his long erect dick and that big broad smile on his face—I shuddered and began to understand. I was pregnant. Africa had knocked me up. And my life, my heartbreak, my trauma, my wayward outlaw lifestyle and shuddering poetic visions and stories and experiences were the result. I gave birth to my first child, a poetry collection. The black men in the poems were not me but yet were all mine. I called the poetry collection i. And for the creator’s name I put the only name that made sense: Esu-Elegbara, otherwise known as Papa La Bas.
This world needs a disruption. Disruption causes evolution and evolution is the only chance we have at survival. The problem with revolution is that at some point the revolutionaries leave the zone of disruption to become the rulers, at which point they become useless, limp dicks. Tyranny is tempting. See Animal Farm. The way out of that conundrum is for a new class of cyber-feminists to be born that are not interested in politics: they’re interested in self–evolution, in the bodiless nature of cyberspace and technology, in masturbating, in taking walks in the woods, in videogames, in Walden fucking pond, in accepting the end of race and gender and nature and religion and humanity itself as the new normal, in being disobedient to the notion of civil disobedience itself. Fuck everything. Be yourself. And create the future from there.
Old school Feminism is another bag. But I take it seriously. After reading The S.C.U.M. Manifesto, it occurred to me that any man that realizes his fecundity, his divine nature and creative power, can become a woman. A wom(b)man. And any woman that realizes she can run a household, be a protector and a provider, can realize her divine nature, and become a man. That said, it is the 21st century and most women, especially in the black community, have become men out of necessity—our men are in jail, shooting each other, or lost playing the hip hop capitalistic, misogynistic pimp-ass games they see on TV. That said, we women have careers and children, and strong viewpoints on the way the world should spin. We’re not fucking around. We can run shit, and we know it, and we’re done waiting for the rain to stop. We now have an imbalance in our communities. The woman has become the man. Out of necessity. But the man is scared. The man refuses to become a woman. We women have evolved. But the man has refused to evolve. He refuses to become a Bitch, and still denigrates her, that sacred part of himself. Little does he know that that’s the only thing that can save him.
I first heard the band Deep Cotton on a stormy Thursday night. A show in Paris at a bookstore called Shakespeare and Company. How did I miss them in Atlanta at Apache Café? Why were they dressed as tuxedoed buppies playing Gibsons and congos outside the store where Hemingway and Baldwin and Wright used to hang out? I liked the music but I didn’t understand it. Chuck Lightning told me they wanted to be the Rolling Stones. To which I responded don’t you know they were just trying to be Muddy Waters who was just trying to get his black ass back to Africa. They laughed but we stayed in touch. After they finished their first release Runaway Radio, Nate Wonder reached out to me to write a video treatment for their song “We’re Far Enough From Heaven Now We Can Freak Out.” I listened to it. Loved the song. Especially the part about Boccaccio. So I wrote the treatment and told them if they changed anything—1 fucking idea, 1 fucking shot—I would take my name off of it. They read it and were blown away and told me they were gonna make it happen. And they did. But when I heard they had a man named Alan Ferguson directing, I changed my mind about the whole thing. I thought it’d be impossible to do this project correctly without the omnipresent male gaze, especially with a man directing. So I told them they could shoot it. But take my name off. Put Chuck Lightning’s name on instead. When I saw the video, I laughed. I found it cute, hilarious, sexy, fun to dance to—and most certainly, certifiably not what I intended. But I’ll give it to the guys: you can jam to it. And at least now, The SCUM Warriors are alive.
I approached them afterwards with the idea of the Scum Warrior Vision Cards. I wanted to give all the warriors, those beautiful women, their own vision of the world, their own voice. How these cards should be used: like playing cards. Throw the card down on a table and discuss it. The quotes. The books mentioned. The worldview. The photo itself. Crawl back into your memories. Tell stories. Joke. Cook. Argue. Burn the card if need be. Sacrifice it. Then get drunk and fuck. Before falling asleep. Write down the dreams you have after this fucking. These angry orgasmic dreams will become the new Constitution of America.
I realize now that I went to Morehouse College not to get a degree, but to marry myself. And that is a wonderful thing.
Like the song says: Let’s cook. Let’s clean. Let’s paint the fence. Together. All of us. Men. Women. Black. White. Green. Purple. Christian. Muslim. That’s our only chance.
I’m on the move again. Crossing another border. My hair is growing. Perhaps I will become a woman again. Perhaps I will stay a man. One thing is certain: I will do all it takes to remain happy and free.
See the SCUM Warriors in action below in the emotion picture “We’re Far Enough From Heaven Now We Can Freak Out: Part 1.”