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!

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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

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

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

What the Tears Falling to the Ground Might Yet Fertilize

BayoBy Tommy Airey

Earlier this month, I started Bayo Akomolafe’s recently-released These Wilds Beyond Our Fences seeking spiritual solidarity.  Like most, my soul has been squeezed by concentric circles of cacophony. Climate catastrophe rages (globally) while a major political party (led almost exclusively by white men) denies it all and “successfully” utilizes weapons of voter suppression, legalized bribery, gerrymandering and Russian collusion to take full reigns of power (nationally and state-wide). Meanwhile, water shutoffs and home foreclosures pelt a city cloaked by leaders calling it a “comeback” (locally).

These rings of austerity and white supremacy have formed the ice rink of an epic institutional collapse. Families, faith communities, foundations, the “free” market and finance—these fail to offer compelling solutions for any of it. Instead, they drive the Zamboni. These are maddening times and no one, it seems, is really sure what to do about it.  Confusion reigns. Continue reading

Decommissioning Whiteness

BayoAn excerpt from Bayo Akomolafe’s “Homo Icarus: The Depreciating Value of Whiteness and the Place of Healing.”  Dr. Akomalafe is globally recognized for his poetic, unconventional, counterintuitive, and indigenous take on global crisis, civic action and social change. He is the author of the about to be published These Wilds Beyond Our Fences.

To address Charlottesville is to meet the implosion of white order and normativity. It is to go by way of a prevalent distrust in the political order, a coming to terms with the real limits to the power of neoliberalism to cater to our basic needs and yearnings as an ever-emerging co-species. It is to touch upon the silent racialized class war that is still being fought – only under other names and so invisibly as to now be expected. It is to exorcise the demons of fruitless wanderings and search for land. It is to meet those who are broken, who – like the rest of us who might claim some sanity or goodness to ourselves, who might consider ourselves on the right side of history, who might think of ourselves as progressive and welcoming to diversity – are not yet at home. Continue reading