Don’t Be So Careful

BayoBy Bayo Akomolafe (originally posted to social media on June 28, 2020)

Don’t be so careful. Don’t be so calculating about where you place your feet. Don’t be so logical. The beckoning horizons do not dip into a merciless abyss, from which nothing can be salvaged. You will not fall if you reach the abominable edges – where the ground stops abruptly; you will fly. Yes. There’s much more room than our fondest ideologies and contrived evidences could possibly apprehend. So, dance with the sensuous decadence that comes with knowing that you are larger than your containing spaces, that your most outrageous obsessions and drunken fantasies are just as inconsequential as the most popular fads and the most accurate heavens. And in the heat of your glorious performance, toss away those interrupting preoccupations with outcomes, with how you appear in the eyes of public scrutiny, or with how well you are doing – for you are not a crease in the fabric of things, you are the fabric of things…exploring the intense and forlorn beauty of a crease. Life is a dance, and dancing wasn’t invented for destinations.

Thoughts and Prayers

BayoFrom spiritual practitioner Bayo Akomolafe (Facebook, August 4, 2019). 

The phrase “thoughts and prayers” needs a new cosmology. The one it now operates in presumes ‘God’ is absolutely transcendent, heavenly, irretrievably cast away at an unbridgeable remove from our earthly goings-on. Brought down to our material earth, thoughts and prayers take on a new urgency. Thoughts become public things, the shared fabric through which my life becomes yours and yours mine; prayers become matters of accountability and justice. Thoughts and prayers should be ecological matters that enable us to meet ourselves, to share our tears and ask hard questions about our complicity in the suffering of others. Not Twitter templates that deepen our indifference and bypass our complacency, masking as piety.

The Ghosts America Has Kept At Bay

BayoAnother pressing social media post from Bayo Akomolafe (April 30, 2019).

An older gentleman in Iowa asked me:

As a non-American, what do you think is our greatest problem in America today?

I replied, “I’m not sure about it being the ‘greatest’, but I would say immigration.”

He nodded his head as if in agreement, so I drove the real point home: Continue reading “The Ghosts America Has Kept At Bay”

Sitting Together in the Darkness

BayoFrom Bayo Akomolafe of The Emergence Network:

This time, which some call the Anthropocene, disturbs the idea that we can summarily understand everything that is going on, or that such a venture is even desirable. We can study patterns and notice dynamics, but we can also exercise care and be humble about the reach of language and rhetoric – knowing that (as the Yoruba say) “wisdom is like a baobab tree; one cannot fully embrace it.” Continue reading “Sitting Together in the Darkness”

This is Why I Speak of “Postactivism”

BayoFrom Bayo Akomolafe, originally posted to social media on February 26, 2019:

A sticky myth of modern activism is that we are human observers looking out upon a world of troubling events from a distance that allows us to think up solutions to, or ask poignant questions about, those critical occurrences. Our popular equations of social change seemingly take for granted the constancy of human subjectivity and agency. We are pillars in the sandy storm: the world outside our skins may roar and thrash and turn, but we are the calm interruptions in the wind – and it is our impenetrable inner world and free-willed consciousness that will bring order to the chaos around us – if only we get our act together. What we do not see, however, is how fluid, incoherent and unstable we really are. For instance, with the problem of environmental degradation, we do not usually notice how we are co-produced in the leaching of dangerous toxins from aquatic bodies in plastic oceans, how these secretions not only penetrate our own bodies but modify them, and how these modifications imply that we are not pure referees of the situation. We are “in deep”, and we must account for the fact that how we even see the problem is part of the problem. Continue reading “This is Why I Speak of “Postactivism””

Sermon: Cockroaches are my superhero too?

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Isaac wearing spiders and wrapped in a spider web

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann
September 30, 2018 at Day House Catholic Worker

James 5:1-6

“Guess what Mommy? Cockroaches are awesome!!!” Isaac said to be right after school last week.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, they can hold their breath under water for a whole hour! (or at least 4 minutes) And they have a hard shell! Also, they took lady bugs into space where it was below 0 degrees and they were still alive. So lady bugs can live in space!!!”

It was with such joy and enthusiasm as if these bugs had super powers!

Continue reading “Sermon: Cockroaches are my superhero too?”

There Are Other Clocks

BayoAn excerpt from Bayo Akomolafe’s These Wilds Beyond Our Fences (2017). Dr. Akomalafe is a self-proclaimed “walkout academic,” globally recognized for his poetic, unconventional, counterintuitive, and indigenous take on global crisis, civic action and social change.

The world does not careen toward progress, and human improvement and well-being are not matters owned by the practices of economic development and growth. There are songs that trees know that we haven’t heard; there are alliances that termites and the pheromones they secrete forge that we can learn from; there are wild things that do not know the moral discipline of purpose or the colonizing influence of instrumentality; and then there are murmurations—the waltz of wind, sky, starling, and ground—which are not meant to be spoken about but merely to be seen and appreciated. In short, there are other powers, other agencies, and other clocks. And, perhaps, we release ourselves not only to the performance of our many colors, but we free those in the posh parties that have somehow denied us entry from their secret fears of losing their own seats at the table, when we say, “there are other clocks, and we will not be on time.

The Decolonization of the Cherished Figure of Man

BorderFrom Bayo Akomolafe of The Emergence Network, social media post June 18, 2018.

Reading about the heart-breaking stories of immigrant children at American borders who are snatched from their parents (literally from their mothers’ breasts), tagged, categorized, renamed, hushed, and assigned spots in surveilled warehouses, reinforces several points for me:

1. We often become what we strenuously resist: In its effort to keep the exteriorized ‘outside’ at bay, the American nation-state is exhibiting the same gestures of biopolitical subjectivization that characterized gruesome dictatorial regimes it once claimed to be morally superior to. Already, grainy images of old Nazi concentration camps and the haunting language of finality (Stephen Miller’s “simple decision” sounds eerily similar to Nazi Germany’s “final solution”) are sweeping through the Internet, drawing startling connections between the US and the Third Reich. The lesson here? Exceptionalism is pricey. The reward for hard-line protectionist policies might be safety, but their real cost is the loss of the freedom to be otherwise. The same move that freezes the outside is the very same gesture that damns the inside to its own prison. Continue reading “The Decolonization of the Cherished Figure of Man”

Beyond Counting “Bad Apples”

BayoExcerpts from Bayo Akomolafe’s social media post (May 31, 2018).  To access more of Bayo’s writing, go to his website or order his recent release These Wilds Beyond Our Fences (2017):

Considering the US media’s coverage of the recent termination of Roseanne Barr’s show over comments she made about an African American woman, Valerie Jarrett, I think one ‘should’ be wary about speaking of racism as if ‘it’ were a disease that someone ‘has’, or as if it could be reduced to genomic expression…

Racism is not an attribute reducible to hatred, ignorance or even belief. It is not a ‘sinful nature’ or evil essence squirming in the dark corners of conservative minds… Continue reading “Beyond Counting “Bad Apples””

The Left Cheek

BayoBy Bayo Akomolafe, Nigerian author and “walkout academic,” [re]posted from his blog

Through this year, my explorations into new materialisms possessed me. In talks and text, in teachings and learnings, I dived into the queerness of seriously rethinking the boundaries I had been conditioned to erect between me and nature. I asked the question: what if we really took seriously the idea that the world is alive, that nature is more mind-like, magical and incorporeal than we know how to speak about, and that humans are more animal-like, embodied and carnal than our stories of centrality allow us to see? My book, These Wilds Beyond our Fences, struggled with these ideas and their implications for the ways we understand race, social justice, culture, loss, environmental degradation, and our perennial fascination with scaling heights. Continue reading “The Left Cheek”