call

December 5, 2011

“i believe in love when you can’t possibly call it love.” -nppa

by any other name
it will still be
the action that lives
long after earth has
expired in its own
hatred.

it will be the verb
that creates a new world
the big bang
of a new universe

without a doubt
someone will die for it
another will build for it
a few will act a fool
(cause it can make you do that)
while others will give up on it.

and when you have no idea
what to call it
…it will call you.

open letter to campaign x

December 5, 2011

dear campaign (fill in the one of your choice there are hundreds to choose from),

please, under no circumstance, mistake organizing with campaigning.

organizing is when you gather a people, have THEM identify the issues, provide the tools necessary so that they may advocate for themselves and they LEAD the way to systemic change created from within.

campaigning already has a set agenda and you invite others because you NEED them to meet your goals.

did you catch the difference? (i hope you do. i mean, you and all your law degrees and political jargon and your corporate behavior dressed in non-profit should see it clearly).

the former starts from its people, works with its people, and then its people create the change they wish to see. the latter, well, just wants to move a personal agenda and when it realizes it doesn’t have “enough people,” they scramble to find tokens in a jar of spare Blacks, Latinos, Queers, women, low-income people… throw us a t-shirt and some event, catered by who else but us… and expect us to join or even more baffling, fight for… what YOU want.

well, shit… have you stopped to look at your campaign from the perspective of the tokens in your jar? have you taken the time to really look in your jar? i mean, honestly… stop looking at people like they’re just people. it makes you insensitive, shallow, and disconnected. plain and simple. take the mutha’ fucking time to really learn a people. go with intent. sit and have a cup of coffee with someone you might never sit with. learn their struggle. see if you can taste it. learn what moves them to continue in light of their struggles. try to have a genuine human connection that tugs at your heart.

…but you won’t.

you’ll keep pushing your campaign based on political strategies created by the same people you claim to be fighting against. in the end, you might win… ’cause money, well… money is money.

and conversely, in the end… you will not have changed anything. because the system remains the blueprint for legislative oppression created by the oppressor.

but please, do me at least one favor… don’t call it a movement if it ain’t moving.

sincerely,

Sarahí Y. Almonte

i gave a presentation this morning to a group of college students on community organizing. one of the students asked, “how do you remain positive when you continue to meet the challenges of a movement?  how do you keep from becoming cynical?” immediately i responded, “oh, but i am cynical.”

(we laughed)

but it is true.

the truth is it is totally possible to become discouraged, exhausted and cynical when you are fighting for a cause. the challenges of fighting for “rights” alone is ridiculous in my mind. i mean, why should anyone fight for a “right.” but that is not what this reflection is about.  i simply elaborated by saying that when she felt “exhausted or discouraged” that she should… rest.

we need to rest. to reconnect to the sources that provide us with strength. to return to the things that feed our will to keep going. and ultimately, to tap into the core of what really moves us to continue “the work.”

as i drove home, i started thinking about the question. and i thought, what if i applied this to my personal life? what if i used these same answers for my own internal movement?

when you feel that your internal movement is not gaining ground… rest. but don’t give up.

return to family. to friends. return to you. seek inspiration in your nieces’ laughter… in a movie date with a friend. find strength in a two-hour phone conversation with someone who haven’t talked to in a while. get on skype and see the face of someone who brings you peace and tells you to “breathe.”

then go and sit at the center of your core. feel the feelings. breathe the emotions. find that which moves your spirit to action.

after you’ve rested, gather all of this … get up and press on.

expired

December 1, 2011

in the time and space
that exist in the geography
of distance

lies
a sometimes
uncanny moment
that shows the illusion
to be real

there are days
i feel you so close
i swear you never left

right

here you are
sitting in the void
i think is empty.

one is only as far away
as the heart that misses them.

so really, you’re not gone

if every beat
pounds your name
on my chest
escapes from my lips
with every word i speak
you are heavy on my tongue.

a gypsy, you come and go
traveling through my veins
with an expired passport.

my circulatory system
carries your dna

i begin to bleed you out…

so that i may let Her in.

based on a true story

September 23, 2009

last night
the moon
spotlighted
on us

as we showcased
our love.

gently,
tenderly,
we offered the night
a kiss for every star
that witnessed our love.

undressed
our desires.
slipped into
passions.

tasting
savoring
honey
coated
love.

the stars
called for  an encore.

without hesitation,
we obliged.

the night
gave us
a standing ovation.

bowing.

curtain falls.

our love rises.

~sarahi yajaira, 2009

stage an uprising

August 19, 2009

we are a perfect imperfection
created in the image
of saints and sinners.
we rise and fall.

we love hard and strong
every day
because we believe
in it, through it and for it.
because we believe “love wins out!”

we are but a small gigantic part
of a world in need
trying to create change.

at times
we loose faith,
our hope dwindles.
with heavy hearts
our feet drag..

take a stand.
hold your ground.

we gain strength.
we press forward.
we take flight.

we cannot let ourselves
be held back.
we cannot allow hatred
to triumph.

fear is a four letter word
with a five letter sentence.

create an honest rage
that stages an UPrising .

see
talk
listen
touch
taste a new movement.

we must be
the next big bang,
the air that fans the flames,
the start of an evolution revolution.

consider this an invitation.

~Sarahi Yajaira, 2009

spirit

August 17, 2009

I have never been “in the closet” except to pick out my clothes and such… but I have never been IN THE CLOSET. When I learned that what I was feeling had a name to it, I simply stated a fact: I am a lesbian. I choose at the tender age of fifteen (sixteen years ago) to let it be known. Whether my family, friends and others liked it or not, was entirely irrelevant to me. And much to my human nature, I decided that I wasn’t going to give those who claim to “love me no matter what” much of a choice. It was simply, “This is who I am.”

With this in mind throughout the span of the last sixteen years of my life I have met many a closeted people -including women I have been in relationships with. To some extent, I found it difficult to be in some of these relationships because in some instances, I had to quasi-jump in a closet or omit information or alter some facts because well, I was in love and I did what I had to. I have also experienced the closet from a friend’s perspective. I have heard all the reasons why people are in closets: “I am not ready,” I could loose my job,” “My family will disown me” and a myriad of responses and reasons that I have always respected but never fully understood.

I am not sure if I have ever fully understood the reasons because I never had to experience being in a closet. Perhaps that is the main and only reason. But aside from my desire to get all of those who live in these confined spaces (which I presume can get quite comfortable given some decoration, a bed and even a small window) out and about, I have wondered what it does to a spirit to live in silence.

A spirit that is not free cannot live as a spirit.

When I stated my truth the only door that closed was a door that was barely open -my mother’s. And while it was very difficult not to have her support, I went on about my life because I sought to be around those who did support me and the new beautiful spirits I have met along the way. I am fully aware that not everyone is as fortunate as I have been. I have heard horror stories that have included beatings and death. But what has been playing in my head for about eight months now is a question that goes beyond the rhetoric of “coming out,” it goes to a place that’s intangible: the spirit of a person.

I wonder what a spirit feels when it must remain silent (whether in a relationship or not).

Everywhere in the world you see signs of people in relationships through a family picture on a desk, a wedding band on a finger, a conversation about a vacation or a telephone call reminding someone to bring home milk and eggs. It is in these small details that I find myself frustrated with the idea that my closeted sisters and brothers feel that they must remain silent.

The individual who is not in a relationship must experience this two-fold because I believe that at least the one who is in a relationship (when the doors are closed and the curtains are drawn), can experience a free spirit within the confines of a bigger space than the closet.

Again, I do not know what it feels like to live in silence -shit, I came out of my mothers womb one-and-one-half-months early and screaming. My mother said then, that she knew I was going to be very expressive and forward. But since I do not know what it might feel like to live in silence I can do nothing but come up with what I would imagine myself to be experiencing if I had felt that I had no other choice but to remain silent. I try to put myself in the shoes of my closeted sisters and brothers.

My first thought is that the shoes are tight. You see I have long feet (actually, long toes). My second thought is that I would feel like a wilted spirit trying to grow with the little light that sneaks through the window in my closet. I feel suffocated. Claustrophobic. Ashamed. And my biggest fear… alone.

“Alone.

And I don’t even have my self.”

That’s what a young student told me at a presentation I made in October of 2008 at Rutgers University. She said she,”felt as though [she] didn’t even have [her] self to turn to.” That, “[her] spirit had somehow left [her] side.”

It was one of the few times I was left speechless. And my only response to her at that time was, “Your spirit has not left you. It’s just standing outside the closet door waiting for you… all in due time.” And she half-smiled.

In December of 2008 I received an email from her subject title: “knock, knock.” The email read, “I talk to my spirit from the inside of my closet. It feels a little better knowing I am not alone. It’s not time yet… but at least I breathe easier. Happy holidays!”

As I recall this conversation, this email and my thoughts these past months, I realize and learn two things:

(1) That as much as I try to put myself in those shoes, I could never fully express the feeling of silence because I cannot digest what I do not consume.

(2) That spirits live and survive in the most threatening environments because the spirit is transcendent.

NOTE TO THE READER: The word spirit comes from the Latin word spiritus, meaning breath.

~Sarahi Yajaira, 2009