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Black Bodhisattvas

February 3, 2010

Well, friends, it’s been a tremendously emotional 24 hours for me.  This art school business really makes you take a look at some hard stuff.  Reaches in and digs it right out of you.  And last night and today, particularly, I’ve been encountering the legacy of Black American slavery again and again and again.  Blues.  Lynching.  Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl — Written By Herself (1861).

There are so many ways to understand this multifaceted history, and new facts and visions keep emerging all the time.  Besides which, as one faculty member, Gale Jackson, reminded us tonight, we continue to live the history through trope in so many respects, acknowledged and unacknowledged.

So for tonight, for my part, all I want to do is honor the Black bodhisattvas of that legacy.  A bodhisattva, in certain Buddhist traditions, is one who has reached the cusp of enlightenment, but delays their own liberation in order to remain in the human realm and guide other people on the path.  Harriet Tubman, Harriet Jacobs, and even Billie Holiday, to me, exemplify this courage and selflessness, putting themselves at risk for the sake of others.

To all those who reach the brink of freedom, turn right around and plunge back in to help the next person.

Thank you.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Cat permalink
    February 3, 2010 11:47 pm

    Mmmmmm. I love it when your blog pops into my life at all the right moments, like right now. I’ve been in the same space as you, marveling at whose shoulders I stand on.

    Can’t WAIT to see you, love! When are you coming back?

  2. February 4, 2010 8:02 am

    Caterwaul! I love and miss you.

    I come back late Saturday night. A bunch of folks (Leora suggested it) are thinking of having a group sit on Sunday night — you want in? Maybe Lucas could come, too?

    Girl we’ve got so much to catch up on. Can’t wait to see your shining face.

  3. February 4, 2010 11:05 am

    Hey Katie,

    Your blog is great. I sent you a message on Facebook – hoping you get it soon.
    Thanks,
    Rebecca

  4. noa permalink
    February 4, 2010 10:42 pm

    i am wondering what the intricacies of the emotions that are coming up in all of this are, for you. i can’t wait to hear much more about all of it in person, come saturday. saturday! it’s so soon.

    until then, i am curious what parts of this feel connected to you, to your history, to your roots- or if it does at all (i imagine it does, very much.) i am wondering what it feels like to learn and connect more in your art making and in your path, in general, to those roots and histories. that’s something i’ve been thinking lots about in my life, lately.

    i love you, dearest. keep up the bravery and soul work. and the appreciation of those who came before us.

  5. bohemiankitsch permalink
    February 8, 2010 12:34 am

    as always, you’re amazing. :) like Cat, i came upon this post at the perfect time, so thank you.

    i really need to stop by here more often!

  6. February 8, 2010 2:07 am

    aw, friends!

    noa love, i’ve been thinking a lot about your question, which seems so obvious but doesn’t feel at all simple to answer. what i’d really love would be to talk with you about it in person, and hear what’s been on your mind. i know we’ll get a chance soon. :)

    bk, it’s so good to see you here — thank you for coming. can’t believe i’ll get to give you a real live hug at the alice walker talk coming up! yay.

  7. Roger Nehring permalink
    February 28, 2010 12:29 pm

    Hi
    i just got here by way of Trike. Great blog, I’ve read several and I LIKEit! See you at Trike.

  8. February 28, 2010 12:43 pm

    Thank you, Roger! Welcome. Glad you’re feelin it. :)

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