Fashion

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][ultimate_spacer height="90" height_on_tabs="50" height_on_tabs_portrait="50" height_on_mob_landscape="50" height_on_mob="50"][vc_column_text] REFLECTIONS [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][vc_column_text] THE URGENCY: TABULA RASA FOR BLACK GRIEF IN AMERICA [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][vc_column_text] WORDS by MARCUS ANTHONY BROCK  IMAGES courtesy of NEW MUSEUM  [/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner row_type="row" type="grid" text_align="left" css_animation=""][vc_column_inner width="1/6"][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="2/3"][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]“I’m not who I used to be, a part of my childhood was taken from me. […] It changed me. It changed how I viewed life. It made me realize how dangerous it is to be Black in America.” –Darnella Frazier, Grief and Grievance Personified[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/6"][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="80px"][vc_column_text]It is certain that Black life is a gift. I believe that all our humanities have gifts to share. We have inscriptions to leave upon each other and throughout the gravel, crust, and salt of the earth—but if only we could get on with the business of living and forego the strain of existing with swiveling necks—waiting for the next guillotine to drop, swarmed by a spectacle of ongoing death. We are not born with the instructions to shame, hopelessness, or pathology. Yet, along the way of living in Black bodies—of living in bodies—like a piece of papyrus or tabula, we are inscribed, erased, and written onto again until the bounty and beauty of Blackness are distorted into a tabula designed in the destructive image and ideology of the oppressor. We have been brought to the world by hook, crook, and by way of our ancestors, standing at our backs hurling us forward, crawling, walking, and rising. They carry us up over yonder closer to that ‘ultralight beam’ that the controversial Kanye West yearns, “We on a ultralight beam, we on a ultralight beam, this is a God-Dream.” One thing about Black people: we are truly descendants of a mighty oral tradition, and we will give you song, story, and some blessed assurance. But our lives in this country are continually under siege and Black people are continually intentional in their approach towards our grief.   I am forlorn—from writing about death.  I am forlorn—from thinking about death. I am forlorn—from singing songs of sorrow.  I am forlorn—with grief. I—am forlorn.  Still, I am hopeful that the ‘In Memoriam’ of Black people slain by the spectacle were not lost in vain, and that our grieving and mourning are not in vain.  It was a sunny, Spring afternoon when I attended the New Museum’s exhibition, Grief and Grievance: Art and  Mourning in America. With Mahalia Jackson’s “Trouble of the World” on my mind, I chose to attend on my birthday and would endeavor to experience the dichotomy of living with the anarchy of mourning. I would also arrive to pay homage to the work and life of Nigerian-born, Okwui Enwezor, who began to produce Grief & Grievance in 2019 with plans for it to showcase just before the historic 2020 election, but he passed away at the age of fifty-five years wise to cancer. The global pandemic left us in shambles during that same year, further delaying the opening and prolonging our mourning. Acting as advisors, artists, and curators, Naomi Beckwith, Massimiliano Gioni, Glenn Ligon, and Mark Nash were able to resurrect Enwezor’s vision and carry the exhibition through. Grief & Grievance is a tribute, but also a commemoration of the atrocities placed on Black life in America and the global civil unrest of 2020. I do believe Enwezor’s intention showed us that the work of sitting with grief is much larger than the grief itself—it was—and it is. I imagine it is grotesque, laborious, and empowering on another level to create an exhibition confronting the shock and horror of being Black and American, in a pandemic no less. And through it all, both a catalog and an exhibition were created as historical documents conveying the grief of Black Americans. [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="80px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_single_image image="2781" img_size="large" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="80px"][vc_column_text]In the exhibition book, Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America, Claudia Rankine has republished, “The Condition of Black Life is One of Mourning.” A photo of Mamie Till Mobley hovering dejected over the casket of her son, Emmett, in 1955 at his funeral in Chicago accompanies Rankine’s words. Till was originally sent to his mother in a pine box from Mississippi, where the grievance occurred. Even over sixty-five years later, racists and white supremacists refuse to let Emmett, nor us, rest in peace. Till’s memorial in Mississippi at Graball Landing along the Tallahatchie River has been replaced four times now. Racist vandals have destroyed the memorial sign by riddling it with bullets, wanting it made plain—we don’t belong here. As of 2019, the sign is now bulletproof and weighs 500 pounds, to fend off racial terror, or rather the psychological racial terror of learning about the number of times the memorial has been replaced from a litany of news notifications. So, in that regard, the condition of Black life is one of mourning, but I wonder, just how much longer can we mourn? We deserve to feel free.  [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="60px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_single_image image="2782" img_size="large" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="80px"][vc_column_text]In just three years, the centennial of James Baldwin’s born day will undoubtedly implore celebrations of grandstanding. Like Enwezor’s exhibition, it too will be one of mourning, but also one of resilience and commemoration. Grief has taught me that these stories can live on and impact the maturation of so many Black people.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="60px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_row_inner row_type="row" type="grid" text_align="left" css_animation=""][vc_column_inner width="1/6"][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="2/3"][vc_column_text]During a 1990 interview with Bill Moyers, Toni Morrison paraphrased Baldwin’s words as a reminder: “You’ve already been bought and paid for. Your ancestors already gave it up for you. It’s already done. You don’t have to do that anymore. Now you can love yourself. It’s already possible.” And yet, the problem is that Black grief is one of psychological terror in a futile, but repeated, attempt to erode that possibility. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/6"][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="40px"][vc_column_text]It is a grievance that a Black teenager, Christopher Martin, has to sift through the dirt that is receiving the counterfeit bill from George Floyd as the cashier on duty. During testimony, he recounted that he offered to pay for Floyd’s cigarettes himself. His awareness of Black people and the police is omnipresent here: ultimately he knew it all could have been avoided. Darnella Frazier, seventeen years old at the time, filmed Floyd gasping for air for more than nine minutes on her camera phone. Following that dreadful day, she said she shook so much at night that her mother had to “rock her to sleep.” [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="60px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_single_image image="2784" img_size="large" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="80px"][vc_column_text]Taking this all in, I crossed the street to enter the museum. Black people don’t just understand Black grief, they have also recorded it. Perched on the outside of the museum was Glenn Ligon’s neon fixture, Blues Blood Bruise, originally conceived for the Venice Biennale, but a reference to a recording of teenager Daniel Hamm, one of the Harlem Six brutally beaten in 1964 and denied medical treatment. During an interview, he makes a slip of tongue, “I had to, like, open the bruise up, and let some of the blues blood come out to show them.” Following Ligon’s piece atop the roof, I was greeted with a familiar song as I crossed the threshold into the museum: loud, like a headwind lifting me up, carrying me into the space, and setting the stage, a repeated recording of Kanye West’s, “Ultralight Beam” from The Life of Pablo. Grief and Grievance occupied all floors of the museum, but before I could enter the space holding the familiar tune, I followed a young woman’s voice, narrating Garrett Bradley’s award-winning short film, Alone. A single mother, Black, shares an experience about how incarceration shapes a Black family. In choosing to marry her lover behind bars, she is intentional and making a commentary on choosing and defining her own happiness in spite of those who disapprove. She yearns for love. She yearns for freedom in this lifetime. Also within that room were the X-ray photographs of ritual funerary objects, “memory jugs,” by Terry Adkins. A juxtaposition, if you will.  I then sat to watch Arthur Jafa’s montage, Love is the Message, the Message is Death. I sat and consumed the montage twice, spending fifteen minutes on a bench, shaking my head, nearly in tears, and reciting the lyrics of West’s backing track through my mask, “I’m trying to keep my faith, but I’m hoping for more, somewhere I can feel safe, in this Holy War.” A closer inspection of Jafa’s work asserts that relinquishing to Black death is not the only option. We must not fold under that grief. Perhaps, the message is not death, because the spirit of Black people transcends such triteness. As Chance the Rapper beckons on the record with West and Kelly Price, “You can feel the lyrics and spirit coming in braille, Tubman of the Underground come and follow the trail.”[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="60px"][vc_video link="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPRo4R8HEr8"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="80px"][vc_column_text]In Memoriam  During Chauvin’s trial for the murder of George Floyd, Darnella Frazier told the jury, judge, courtroom, and global viewing audience, “It’s been nights I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life.” Instead of Chauvin on trial, it was our Black children on trial. Her act of contrition, much like Martin’s, is a reality for teenage Black children who are now living with the trauma and the “condition of Black life” in this country. They are not at fault for the engineered system of anti-Black aggression. Yet, they wear the scars.  It is tried and it is true that Black people, in all our majesty, have been in a state of perpetual mourning in America since we stepped upon these shores shackled at our ankles. But, those are not our origin stories. Yet so much of our outward existence and portrayals around the world, in media, film, and art are wrapped in the trauma and systemic grievances flowing from our enslavement. Though we have created home in this country, Black people have mourned their homeland since we arrived here, and not just the physical homeland, but our spiritual homelands. In Zora Neale Hurston’s, Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo, Hurston speaks to “the last known surviving African of the last American slaver—the Clotilda,” Cudjo Lewis, or Oluale Kossola. He speaks of Plateau, Alabama, which was once called Africatown, where he settled after his freedom was granted. It was a sacred place where they restored their rituals of song, prayer, food, and gathering to create an Africa in this land—an African American identity and culture. Scholar, Deborah Plant, found and edited Hurston’s work in a posthumous publishing  through the eyes of “the Last Black Cargo” almost ninety years later. I wonder when Phillis Wheatley was stolen from Senegal at just seven years old, did she think that we would still recite her poems centuries later to trace and hold our history? We inhabit the organic matter of our bodies, but what is true is that we will leave them, eventually. The body will die, but the spirit of Black people will not. The legacy is there in perpetuity, and we are here to make sure it thrives. The grievance is racism, but we must find a way to use the grief if we are to live out our full potential and leave our descendants with a reminder that we are not born of pathology. Before Enwezor’s passing in Munich, he wrote about the “national emergency of Black grief” and the assemblage of thirty-seven intergenerational artists who are responding to the emergency, imploring Black communities to aspire and transcend those images about...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][ultimate_spacer height="90" height_on_tabs="50" height_on_tabs_portrait="50" height_on_mob_landscape="50" height_on_mob="50"][vc_column_text] ESSAYS | SUMMER '21 [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][vc_column_text] WHY TUSLA CAN'T FAIL [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text] POST-PANDEMIC REFLECTIONS ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF BLACK WALL STREET, JUNETEENTH 2019 [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][vc_column_text] WORDS and PHOTOS by KHARY SEPTH [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="12px"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="80px"][vc_column_text]*MONEY*   On a flight to Tulsa this past Summer, I decided to binge the caricatured Killer Mike’s Netflix series, Trigger Warning, in which he performs a rather crude, doomed-to-fail experiment. For 48 hours, he buys Black for his most basic needs: food, shelter, transportation, and weed, thus illustrating for all the fools watching that there is no way to make America work for Black folk until it gives us our economic independence. For the non-fools who know and live the shit—not only do we know something ain’t right; at the core, we know we are owed.  In one commonly cited statistic, which a Howard University fact-checking project debunked in 2017, “A dollar spent in the Black community stays there for only six hours” versus days, if not weeks, for White, Browns, Reds, and Yellows. In a recent series of The New York Times articles highlighting “The Gaps Between White and Black Americans,” the disparities in all material living standards (housing, employment, and even intergenerational wealth transfers) reveal a cruel and cruddy truth: of all the cons of being Black in America—from the overlapping crisis’ of poverty and police brutality, it’s the economic injustice that is the worst of them all. Consider, for example, the story of Tulsa—Black Wall Street—where in the early 20th century on the old Indian and Oklahoma Territories, Black folk who’d migrated from the Deep South and beyond to the Bible belt boomtown, set up shop on top the biggest known oil field in the world at the time. Just two generations out of slavery, they built an extraordinary amount of wealth: “two Black schools, 13 churches, 2 Black movie theaters, a Black public library, Black-owned shops, Black-owned hotels, a Black-owned newspaper.” I arrived on a crisp Saturday morning and strolled along the legendary Black Wall Street to see it for myself. A crowd of Black Tulsans were setting up for the annual Juneteenth Celebration. Music was going, press conferences were being held, and a Black queer brother, Nehemiah Frank, whose people walked to Tulsa from Tennessee way back when, joined me to introduce the story—not the myth—of his ancestors. “My family was the third wealthiest Black family during that era,” he shared as we sat to chat in the sanctuary of the Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church (the only structure still standing from the Historic Black Wall Street era). “Fur coats, pearls, they had it all. We had it all. We had the best schools which produced the doctors and the lawyers and the pilots…the minds that would go to Tuskegee and learn to become Red Tails...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][ultimate_spacer height="90" height_on_tabs="50" height_on_tabs_portrait="50" height_on_mob_landscape="50" height_on_mob="50"][vc_column_text] REFLECTIONS | SUMMER '21 [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][vc_column_text] LESBIAN IS NOT A DIRTY WORD [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][vc_column_text] WORDS by TIMINEPRE COLE [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_single_image image="2756" img_size="large" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="80px"][vc_column_text]I worked for a corporate law firm in Lagos, Nigeria for about two years and stood out like a sore thumb because my gender expression was quite different from traditional ideals about how a woman should look. This meant there were whispered debates about my sexual orientation where the word lesbian was thrown around as some form of slur. One day the Ellen Show came on TV whilst a few of my colleagues and I were seated in the conference room. One of my colleagues said she was impressed by Ellen’s charitable deeds but was disappointed that she had to taint her reputation by being a lesbian. It felt like a personal attack on me. I felt the need to speak up in defence of Ellen, of me, and every other person who uses the label lesbian. I asked her what about being a lesbian automatically made a person who helped others despicable. She spat the words sin, abomination and unnatural at me with so much venom. In the heat of the conversation, she asked if I was defending Ellen because I was also a lesbian. I stood frozen for a few seconds before walking out of the conference room without saying anything else.  With at least four legislations criminalizing homosexuality in Nigeria, being a member of the LGBTQ+ community here means that most of the time we keep our identity buried to avoid any form of discrimination or violence. With the negative connotation attached to most of the labels, it is difficult for people who identify as LGBTQ+ to claim their identity—especially in public spaces. This incident made me recall the first time I was asked questions about my sexuality. I was in my first year of university, and a boy who had persistently asked me out for months with no luck getting a date started telling people I was a lesbian. He was conceited enough to assume that any woman who would say no to his advances was a lesbian. At this time, I was blissfully ignorant about my sexuality; I was fourteen and uninterested in romantic relationships. It felt unnecessary to question whether I was attracted to men or women. People often conflate gender presentation and sexual orientation. As a result, I have never been able to hide the fact that I am a lesbian. Even before I discovered my sexuality, they would look at me and all the ways I presented as masculine and assume my sexual orientation immediately. More often than not, this exposes me to high levels of harassment and violence from homophobic Nigerians. Most times when I get stopped by the police, and they realize I am a woman and not a man as they had initially suspected, they question why I am dressed in a masculine manner and independently reach the conclusion that I am a lesbian. I liked to think that as a fourteen-year-old I was liberal enough to not care about a person’s sexual orientation. As an adult, I attributed how I interacted with my identity to the fear of harassment. Now, looking back at all the effort I put into explaining to whoever confronted me then that I was not a lesbian, I am forced to interrogate my discomfort with the word. The first time I heard the term lesbian I was in secondary school. One of the prefects found two girls kissing and she reported them to the principal. I remember this day because we all stood quietly on the assembly ground under the scorching heat of the sun. The smell of sweat mixed with dust hung in the air as we wondered what offence was serious enough to interrupt classes. I could see the disgust in the principal's eyes as she looked from one girl to the next. She said, “You dirty lesbians, we are raising god-fearing children in this school and we will not tolerate this kind of abomination.” It was on this day I realized two women could be together sexually in the way that a man and a woman could. As I heard the girls cry out with each stroke of cane that landed on their buttocks, I unconsciously registered the word as the worst thing a person could be. After the incident in the conference room at work, I talked to my friends about it. Three out of four of them admitted that they found the term lesbian flinch-worthy and uncomfortable, but they could not really articulate why they refused to claim the label as their identity. I realized then that my experience was not that different from theirs, and I wanted to talk more about it with people who could relate to what I felt on a personal level. In these conversations with other lesbian women and non-binary lesbians, I found that a lot of us had and still have this aversion to the label. Panini, a non-binary lesbian says they have always felt weird about the term because it has always been used in a derogatory manner. "Even though I am more comfortable calling myself a lesbian, especially because I have made more friends in the queer community, I still feel hurt and ashamed when a stranger calls me that." Growing up in Nigeria, I was well aware of the old colonial homophobic laws still legally enforced in the country as well as new laws which criminalize the existence of sexual minorities. I often sat through religious sermons that reinforced anti-LGBTQ+ ideas, and at some point, I tried to make sense of these ideas. I understand how vital these laws and religious beliefs are in shaping perceptions and opinions where sexuality is concerned. L.Y., a masculine-presenting non-binary lesbian, recounts growing up in an extremely religious home with catholic parents. "The religious messages portrayed queer people as sinful, morally corrupt, and unacceptable. This made me develop low self-esteem. I would isolate myself from others [because I was] worried that they could tell. I was scared of my friends and family rejecting me." Just like L.Y., I was raised in a religious home. Most of my family and friends were Jehovah’s Witnesses, and my greatest fear when I started to embrace my sexuality was losing my family and friends. I never came out to my friends, but once I became visible in online spaces as lesbian their interactions with me gradually stopped—as if to say I had become infectious. “Even if homosexuality was decriminalized in Nigeria, a lot of people would still feel shame identifying as lesbian because of their religious conditioning,” Panini said when reflecting on how religion affected their experience. Lesbian as a word has also been used to ridicule and spew hate towards people who do not fit into neat feminine boxes, women who are fluid in their gender expression, masculine-presenting, or androgynous women, and non-binary persons who identify as female aligned. These standards, which are set by the patriarchy and sustained in all aspects of our society, are easily weaponized against people who look like me. For instance, Alex, a non-binary lesbian says, "presenting the way I do in Nigeria automatically means that people assume I am a lesbian, and as a result, proceed to discriminate against me. I remember when I was in secondary school, there was a clampdown on lesbianism because it was an all-girls school. My name would always come up on the list and I was punished for it. At this point, I wasn't even aware of my sexuality. My only crime was that I am masculine presenting. There is a constant anxiety that comes with living the way I do.” Though the experiences of femme-presenting lesbians are different, some still have an aversion to the label.  Mariam says, "It is easier living in Nigeria presenting as a femme because I 'pass' as a heterosexual woman. I do not suffer as much of the violent homophobia that masculine-presenting lesbians may have experienced. However, the fetishization and unrealistic expectation on femme lesbian women to perform for the male gaze still makes it difficult for me to identify as a lesbian in certain spaces.” When I was still dating men, it was a bland experience I endured in a bid to perform compulsory heterosexuality. I met nice men I could laugh with and hold conversations with, but the absence of passion or any form of sexual attraction towards them was obvious to me. I wondered if romantic relationships were supposed to be so unsatisfying. When I finally fell face-first into the world of loving women, I remember actually feeling something for the first time. It was like rain after a long drought. It was also ironic—I laughed at the memory of my fourteen-year-old self telling my coursemates, “I am not a lesbian, I am  just not interested in relationships.”  For a long time, I questioned whether or not I was bisexual. Later on, I eased into describing myself as queer. I discovered that so many others found it easier to identify with vague and ambiguous terms like queer as opposed to lesbian. Toby, who now lives in Canada where she is free to express her love for other women, said she remains averse to the word; "To be very honest, even though I am a lesbian, I would rather refer to myself as queer. I went to an all-girls catholic secondary school where we were constantly told that lesbians go to hell.” The first time I was brave enough to call myself a lesbian I was coming out to my younger sister. She asked if I was bisexual because she knew I had dated men before. I said “No, I am a lesbian. I feel no form of attraction towards men.” Then she said, “Okay, cool. This changes nothing.” It was that easy; It was just another random word like pineapple, flip flops, or balls. I realized then that I was only uncomfortable with the word because I grew up hearing people say it with disgust. Earlier this year I moved to London and it has been quite a freeing experience. On my first date with someone I was getting to know at an outdoor restaurant in Brixton, a random man walked to our table to start a conversation. He soon stopped to ask if I and my date were lovers, and fully insisted that we were even without a response from us. He was uncouth, but I felt joy in something about our interaction with each other—maybe the way my laughter poured out in deep appreciation of the person before me, or the way their eyes held mine with complete focus. It was the first time I had been out with someone I was romantically attracted to without being worried about how everyone else perceived us. [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="80px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_single_image image="2755" img_size="large" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="80px"][vc_column_text]These days, when a man asks me out I tell them in clear terms. Most times they are upset or even disgusted. They try to convince me that their penis can change me, but it has taken an entire lifetime and two boyfriends to come to a full realization about my sexuality. I am the kind of lesbian women unintentionally refer to as 'sir' and then blush when I respond in my soft voice. The kind older, religious, Nigerian women stereotype and stare at like some form of apparition. I am okay with all of these impressions. I no longer think of lesbian as a dirty word, instead, I associate it with all the things about myself that I love: short hair, flannel shirts, boots, leather jackets, and the kind of beauty that exists outside of patriarchal standards. It also pleases me to find that my experience is not one...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][ultimate_spacer height="90" height_on_tabs="50" height_on_tabs_portrait="50" height_on_mob_landscape="50" height_on_mob="50"][vc_column_text] ESSAY | WINTER '21 [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][vc_column_text] SOUND[ING] BETTER A READING OF GAYLE THROUGH THE ISLAMIC JURISPRUDENCE PRACTICE OF TAQIYYA [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][vc_column_text] WORDS by NKGOPOLENG MOLOI [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="80px"][vc_column_text]I grew up believing in the efficacy of speech as a tool for resolution. First of all, that everything could be (re)solved, and second of all, that speech was the way to get there. You’re angry? Talk it out. Hurt and confused? Express yourself. You don’t like something? Speak up. Speak out. Speak boldly. Speak openly. Speak frankly.  In some ways it is easy to understand speech’s allure; the very mythology of existence is grounded on the power of the spoken word— “Let there be light.” And there was light!  Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years. And let them be for lights in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. (1) This is how the spoken word became the originator of any and all things (or so we are told).  But as I get older, I’m drawn towards an exploration of silence, non-verbal vocal emphasis, and other unvoiced ways of speaking. I’m thinking through powerful and perhaps more subversive ways of communicating. My sense of fatigue with “speaking up” is largely brought on by the loudness of social media and how that noise is translated, or not, IRL. We’ve become well versed and articulate in political correctness and woke politics—saying the ‘right things’ at the ‘right times’ and saying them loudly. The currency is in your thunderous voice and the sound it emanates, but of course, one (wo)man’s sound is another (wo)man’s noise where noise is simply thought of as unwanted sound. Impulse noise. Background noise. White noise.  My unwanted sound is speech that is rhetoric and a form of propaganda—it is too obvious, it lacks imagination, and at the worst of times, it is violent and deadly. Wherever speech exists (if it must), I’m interested in its undertones, the variations in pitch, the depth of lung capacity required, and the circularity of breaths between each word.  I’m interested in how each of these underscores social justice, and thinking about liberation through the sonic; sound [ing] better—where ‘sound’ is about pressure waves but also about resonance, energy, and the auditory impressions we have on each other. sound [ing] better. sound [ing] together. Genesis 1:14-15. King James Version.  [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_single_image image="2673" img_size="large" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="70px"][vc_column_text]In her book, Listening to Images, Brown University professor Tina Campt explores the idea of frequency as a site of possibility. Taking inspiration from British historian Paul Gilroy, Campt theorizes sound as an inherently embodied process that registers at multiple levels of the human sensorium where sound need not be heard to be perceived (2). Both Campt and Gilroy offer a framework of understanding life (particularly Black life) through sensory registers of sound that manifest a different kind of futurity. Here, I see the possibility of spoken language, in its gestural and aesthetic form, to respond to cultural, political, and social realities. Languages of subversion and resistance have existed and evolved in various parts of the world through responding to different moments in human history. Whether it is Fanakalo, spoken by mining workers from different parts of the African continent in South Africa’s mines. Or Camtho, which was spoken mainly by urban youth in the west of Johannesburg between the 1940s and 50s. Or the long-dead Polari, used within the British gay subculture. Language can offer political agency and obscurity in its performance, beyond the essence of facilitating communication. One such language is Gayle, which is a codified vernacular combining English and Afrikaans through an  arrangement of traditional female names carrying specific meanings.  Priscilla - police.  Shiela - rubbish.  Wendy - white gay man.  Dora - to drink/ drunk. (3) Believed to have originated in the hairdressing salons of Cape Town’s District Six, Gayle was largely used by the ‘coloured’ (4) gay community during the 1950s and 60s. It is considered a ‘gay’ language where “the term gay embodies a group of people who have adopted a particular perspective of reality which goes way beyond the bedroom” (5).  Although underground and hidden at first, the language has reached broader societies in different geographies and made its way into popular culture. It has evolved in form, content, and usage. Gayle is imaginative and performative and was a conceptual but also palpable argot of resistance (during and around the time it was conceived). It allowed members of the gay community to communicate, protect each other through passing information secretly, and to gossip. Its ability to facilitate gossip is largely as a result of its precision and characterization of humour. And of course, in most communities, especially so in marginalised communities, gossip is a key practice of pleasure that allows strong bonds to form. Gossip is also a form of knowledge production and distribution.  In the seminal book Afro-Fabulations: The Queer Drama of Black Life, Tavia Nyong'o writes about the conditions of contemporary Black artistic production in the era of post-blackness. He notes that “gossip is the one true living archive.” Gossip is not just merely malicious truths, extemporaneous intensifications, and manipulations. Rather, it can be “deployed against hegemonic demands for legibility and transparency that so often simply expose and endanger minoritarian lives.” Similarly, one could argue that the use of Gayle in its entirety, over and above its function for gossip, is the employment of language against hegemonic demands for legibility and transparency where the typical insider (read white, straight, rich male) / outsider (read black, queer, poor) dynamic is inverted. Gayle, therefore, is an elusive strategy fundamental to survival. It situates comprehension and maybe even truth (a kind of truth) away from formal taxonomy and places agency on the speaker’s lips. The testimony is in the body where differences between language and body, subject and object, and fact and fiction exist in a single utterance (6). Priscilla is a girl’s name. Priscilla is also a warning to seek refuge from police who, through a long global history of police brutality, are to be feared and avoided. 2. Campt, T. 2017. Listening to Images. Paul Gilroy 3. Excerpt from gayle dictionary provided as notes in the 2018 exhibition “Kewpie: Daughter of District Six”. 4. Mixed race communities were classified as Coloured under apartheid laws. This categorisation is largely still in use to refer to mixed race people. 5. Cage, K and Evans, M. 2003. Gayle: The Language of Kinks and Queens : a History and Dictionary of Gay Language in South Africa. Jacana Media. [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="50px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_single_image image="2672" img_size="large" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="50px"][vc_column_text]In an audio essay titled Contra Diction: Speech Against Itself, presented at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin) in 2016, Lawrence Abu Hamdan contemplates the workings of speech, truth, and silence in today’s all-hearing and all-speaking society by introducing us to the concept of Taqiyya. Taqiyya “is an old piece of Islamic jurisprudence practiced only by esoteric minorities that allows a believing individual to deny his faith or commit otherwise illegal acts while they are at risk of persecution or in a condition of statelessness.” (7) Taqiyya allows one to speak untruths by sounding words differently—the pronunciation of the word is what determines the truthfulness of a statement. So it is possible to denounce one’s faith (by uttering the words) without actually truthfully denouncing one’s faith (because the truth lies in the sounding of the words). I find the principles of this practice to be quite instructive and useful in thinking through language as a tool for survival.  “Truth lies in the ears of the beholder”, notes Abu Hamdan,“Taqiyya is never the expression of one clear position but a multitude of statements that all emanate simultaneously from one voice. Each of its numerous truths is forged by and for the ears of its listener.” Within this practice, one speaks to listeners based on the level of their readiness to listen, and on their knowledge of hidden meanings.  Abu Hamdan notes further; “Taqiyya is not unlike the freedom of speech. It is the right for free expression. But it is more like the freedom of the speech itself. Rather than the freedom to speak it is the freedom to use your voice to mimic and mutate to dissimulate in order to navigate the sometimes hostile terrain of those ears that prey upon your voice.” In both Taqiyya and Gayle, freedom of speech means the freedom to remain opaque. Secrecy is camouflaged by words which allows humans who exist in environments of precarity to create spaces of freedom. 6. Paraphrased from Abu Hadman. 2016. Contra Diction : Speech Against Itself. 7. Abu Hadman. 2016. Contra Diction : Speech Against Itself.  [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="50px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_separator type="normal"][vc_empty_space height="60px"][vc_column_text]NKGOPOLENG MOLOI is a writer and photographer based in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa and is excited and intrigued by history, art, language and architecture.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="60px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="10px"][vc_single_image image="675" img_size="full" alignment="center" onclick="custom_link" qode_css_animation="" link="https://thetenthmagazine.com/"][vc_empty_space height="80px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row]...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][ultimate_spacer height="90" height_on_tabs="50" height_on_tabs_portrait="50" height_on_mob_landscape="50" height_on_mob="50"][vc_column_text] REFLECTIONS | WINTER '21 [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][vc_column_text] HOW TO MAKE A FRAGRANCE: SADE [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][vc_column_text] WORDS and RECIPE by JORDAN BRYAN ILLUSTRATION by JACOBI MYLES [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="80px"][vc_column_text]As QTIPOC individuals our ideas aren’t always valued and our work not always fairly compensated or credited. Even when this is the case, our bodies are rarely considered or even shown within our own work product. I’ve lived this in group uni projects, in bar and office jobs, in brothels waiting in the lineup, and on set for fansites and studios. It doesn’t matter where, and even in my role as a perfumer these days, I see no exception. The ads I see for my industry are invariably qwhite interesting. Whiteness in perfume is a lie (just ask the Himba, and definitely ask the NGO). More likely than not, it’s a lie in your industry too. We need to stop chasing crumbs—it is not in the interest of whiteness to (meaningfully and immediately) change a system that benefits itself—and build our own systems, proving we were here and that we mattered as ourselves without anyone's permission to matter. So I will teach you and I will teach you honey, to make your own perfume at home inspired by QTIPOC icons who have advanced our cause. Which is why I’m starting with Sade—because, who else embodies the Sweetest Taboo? SADE SOLID PERFUME (STARTER RECIPE)* INGREDIENTS 1 drop Rose Water (or 1 half cap rose water) 1 drop Nutmeg Oil (or 5 ml nutmeg powder) 1 drop Cinnamon Leaf Oil (or 5 ml cinnamon powder 40 ml Talc or Cornflour Cotton pad EQUIPMENT 50 ml glass jar with screw-on lid 3 x glass or plastic pipette 1 x powder brush or glazing brush INSTRUCTIONS Place the cotton pad flat inside the glass jar Add the Rose Water to the cotton pad Repeat with Nutmeg Oil, and then Cinnamon Leaf Oil (if using powders, premix and then pour in) Add the Talc or Cornflour Shake well, turning and rolling the jar as you do. When you open the jar, you should see an even colour, and smell the ingredients evenly blended together. Using the brush, dab the powder then apply lightly to pulse points (neck, behind ears wrist, inner elbow, inner knee) [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text]*Above is just a starter recipe. Experiment with the scent proportions and add your own powders and scents in your cupboard, until the scent is right for you. Good places to start would be Vanilla/Almond Essence, Cardamom powder, and Ginger powder.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="80px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_single_image image="2648" img_size="large" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="80px"][vc_column_text]To state a harsh truth of our chosen queer icons, regardless of their amazing contributions and allyship (Sade’s son is trans, and she supports him), the truth is that those whom we champion, revere and defend most, often need it the least. Because they have privilege within our community, or are simply born above it in the context of our wider social strata.  Very rarely do we, our community, accept and advance QTIPOC unacceptable to Whiteness. The poor, the non-conventionally attractive or able-bodied, the flamboyant, those unable or unwilling to ‘pass’ in appearance or manner. We need to question and unpack that, in context of shame and socioeconomic survival. That is the entire point of this column, so I’ll leave this here. Now, back to Sade. Born Helen Folesade Adu, known and beloved for her mystique and her trademark quiet storm sound. Nigerian and English, and asked to sing in her first band because she was black. She is now a respected Black Briton: a phrase breeding contention in the UK, but she has the OBE. Releasing their first album in 1984, Sade (the entire talented band) have since sporadically released 6 albums over 26 years. But it all began with ‘Diamond Life’. Specifically, the first song the band ever recorded and first single ‘Your Love Is King’ (though most people will know the breakthrough third single, ‘Smooth Operator’).[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="50px"][vc_video link="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1ljpLQ1V6Y"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="50px"][vc_column_text]Released February 25th, ‘Your Love Is King’ is one of my favourite songs. Its smoky melodies, neutral grooves and husky vocal tones lead my mind to peace and my nose to a scent in the Amber family. I wanted to capture something defining Sade’s (the legendary frontwoman) ‘earned’ place (and I’ll get to that soon enough) in Black British history. The top notes in any fragrance are the first to evaporate in horizontal perfume, diffusing to reach the smell receptors in your brain. They “open your smelling experience of the perfume. To me, Rose is the opening for this song: structured, gentle and complex. This perfectly captures Sade’s musical style and, as a known symbol of England, acknowledges the band’s iconography. The open is the first 20 seconds with the rush of the hot high sax, calming down to a refined drawl.  And for those with darkness in their skin, the symbol of Rose is more jingoistic, something to be earned while somewhat feared and resented. This captures the tension of the term, “Black Briton” and how this “title” must be endlessly “earned” no matter your nationality. By making herself unknowable, Sade “earned” her Black Britishness in the minds of white Britons. Precisely in being unknowable, she challenges the idea that black people “owe” something or must be as others say. People can project their ideas of her, including myself, but never onto her.  This affords her a clean slate in the eyes of the public. That refusal to be known by all, and therefore to owe, is the point of this series and the reason Sade opens this column. She releases albums when it suits her, not the hourly demands and changes of the white-led music industry. Her simple, plaintive musical style doesn’t tick the boxes expected of a black female singer. Nor did it musically tick the boxes of her early era’s bawdy Brit or slickly produced American sound.  As for the “middle” notes, the main body of the perfume you’re wearing, the ingredients I have chosen would also differ from the pungent scents that littered the eighties. I have chosen Nutmeg instead. For one, ‘Your Love Is King’ was and sounds like a winter song. In husky deep vocals, controlled and unshowy in a musical era of vocal powerhouses, a simple ballad is sung about a lover. The emotion is felt, but so is a sense of craftsmanship. When I play this song, I feel quiet and warm against the cold. The Fender Rhodes piano is played painstakingly in phase with the live piano. Like Nutmeg, the song is a gentle spice to warm your heart against the bitter cold. Behind the restraint of Sade’s vocal delivery lies a timbre that is plaintive. This is not unlike the history belied by the tingly Nutmeg. It is known for its association with the VOC in medieval times, where slaves would work the ruthless Bandra monopoly on the supply. This again speaks to the perception of the term “Black Briton.” The bottom or “base” note is the last to be detected by your smell receptors. With the heaviest combination of molecular weight and intermolecular bonds, these notes linger longest. It is wise in perfume design to keep these understated. In ‘Your Love Is King’, this is the steady staccato groove of the bass guitar. It permeates the entire song, complimented by shakers and drum in a slow one-two step. That’s why I’ve chosen Cinnamon. Like Nutmeg, Cinnamon is warming. Unlike Nutmeg, Cinnamon has a more intense aroma and storied history. For a long time its origins were guarded most jealously, and its price fixed due to tall tales around the production. Cinnamon’s history underscores my point made six, thirteen and sixteen paragraphs ago: we cannot and should not exhort others to see our value. I love perfumery. In the crudest sense, I put smelly oils in alcohol, then doll it up and hike the price to flog it to the public. I speak no lies, and your faves all do the same, but there’s more work and nuance than that. Yet, no matter how much work goes into it, the art and science of perfumery is always centered around whiteness, and it’s not very likely as a QTIPOC individual, that my work will be truly seen or appreciated.  That’s why I’m writing this series, sharing these starter recipes, sharing these examples of great QTIPOC/ally rulebreakers. To ask that we all demand more. [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="50px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_separator type="normal"][vc_empty_space height="60px"][vc_column_text]Jordan Bryan is a UK based writer who is the founder of Celie & Couch - an independent perfume house, supporting self-care and self-love. Bryan creates each scent by exploring memory and queer identity. Jacobi Myles is an illustrator whose imaginative use of color and balance provide a unique gaze into the black, queer heart and mind.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="60px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="10px"][vc_single_image image="675" img_size="full" alignment="center" onclick="custom_link" qode_css_animation="" link="https://thetenthmagazine.com/"][vc_empty_space height="80px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row]...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][ultimate_spacer height="90" height_on_tabs="50" height_on_tabs_portrait="50" height_on_mob_landscape="50" height_on_mob="50"][vc_column_text] REFLECTIONS | WINTER '21 [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][vc_column_text] FROM BRIXTON, WITH LOVE [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][vc_column_text] WORDS by NEMAR PARCHMENT [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_single_image image="2628" img_size="large" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="80px"][vc_column_text]Many viewed Brixton as a spec of dirt to be ignored on the map of London—muddied with unscrupulous characters. When letting people know you were from Brixton, their faces would often scrunch up like a used piece of paper, their aversion to the area caused a physical reaction they could not control. It was defined by outsiders as a dangerous area riddled with crime and poverty. If you ever had the misfortune of visiting, grasping onto all personal belongings and avoiding eye contact were necessary to ensure your safety.  Growing up in the south London district allowed me to see past its bad reputation and truly bear witness to the beauty that resided within. Brixton was a beautiful place illuminated by rich Caribbean culture. A true sense of community lived within the residents, while the sweet scent of hard dough bread wafted out of First Choice Bakers and filled street corners. It was a flamboyant area with one of a kind characters where self-expression and individuality were celebrated. The place where my love for fashion was conceived. As a young boy I would spend hours getting lost in fashion books inside the rust coloured cocoon of Brixton Library. Books and papers laid scattered across the table where I resided in the back of the building sitting on a miserably uncomfortable black seat. Still, I would sit and read book after book after book, until my body paid the price. I began sketching my own designs and using them as a vessel to tell my own stories. Drawings of extravagant ruffles and oversized lapels represented my flamboyant nature. Bright yellows and greens became an expression of my Jamaican heritage. I felt free getting lost in the limitless realm of fashion; it felt natural, innate. I made a subtle pact with myself to forge my way into the industry, not knowing it would be a journey that the young boy consumed in the fashion books never had the courage to foresee.  You see, the imagination is a wonderful thing that allows you to create realms that have yet to take form in reality. Despite this as a child, I found it hard to dream of a reality outside the sand coloured blocks that made up my Brixton Hill estate. I never saw full thighs, broad shoulders, round stomachs or rich mahogany skin while trawling through those fashion books. As a person who possesses all of these underrepresented characteristics and is a signed model, five years into my career, it feels like a fairytale no-one was brave enough to write. Gracing the pages of fashion magazines, appearing in TV commercials and having my face plastered on large billboards has done more than just filled me with joy. It has given a voice and visibility to a demographic of people that are often forgotten in fashion. In many ways, looking back, my presence as a person with a large body who viewed himself as beautiful was needed at that particular moment in fashion to respond to the call for change in the industry. This call  would harken a new generation of shoppers and scrollers to buy into the belief that the fashion industry had become a more accepting and tolerant space. [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="80px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_single_image image="2626" img_size="large" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="80px"][vc_column_text]Even though a shift in representation created an exterior that appeared more welcoming, internally navigating the industry as a big bodied black man has not been the easiest feat. My 4B crown has often been met with hairstylists poking and prodding at it like a suspicious package, nervous to touch it, and brushing waves backwards against the grain. For makeup artists, my rich hazel skin would cause panic. Face beaters rifled through bags trying to find a colour to match my tone, often to no avail, sometimes bringing out face paint sets or telling me that my skin was “great” and did not need anything as their brushes caressed the faces of white models. For the wardrobe stylist, my body triggered a loss of interest which caused them to direct their attention to the smaller models. My sparse clothing options would hang lonely and isolated against the rail of  bountiful “straight size” garments. Often, I’d be asked to cram my body into clothing that was not my size, and those experiences are echoed by my model peers. In spite of this, being able to tell my story, and the story of an overlooked group of people through my work reminds me of the Brixton characters that inspired my love for fashion. Brixton was full of unique personalities with senses of style to match. People from Brixton played by their own rules and used clothes and style as a roadmap to tell the stories of their culture, thoughts, and beliefs. My mother was one of the greatest storytellers. As parents flooded through the ocean blue gates of my Church of England school, “Your mum is so cool” would often resound through whispers quietly cascading through the air. Oak trees stretched towards the sky and casted shadows over the playground as I walked like a little king drowning in my indigo blue school jumper toward my mother. It was typical for me to walk myself home, so to see her was a shift in scene and a glorious one at that; golden light fit for a queen filled the playground.Her long locs cascaded past her shoulders—a show of her strength. Her wrists were adorned in layers of glistening gold bangles etched with swirls of paisley, and her fingers were engulfed in precious stone rings—an expression of her honest spirit. There she stood—a rebellious African Queen residing in the body of a young Black woman born to Jamaican parents in post-Windrush London. There I was—taking it all in. The emotional quality of the stories that her clothing told came together so seamlessly. She was the storyteller, with a deep emerald cape swept across her body and stacks of gold bracelets resting on the bend of the wrist. I was the student, with a crumpled school book bag, and soot-coloured trousers with loose tattered hems which were an inexpensive fix for my recent growth spurt. How I wished I had the same pen to tell my own stories and express myself the way I wanted. [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="80px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_single_image image="2627" img_size="large" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="100px"][vc_column_text]My mother was not the only storyteller I knew. On my Brixton Hill estate we had “Pops,” the resident elder, fountain of wisdom, and occasional disciplinarian. He had high cheekbones, rich onyx skin, and a wool trilby often sat upon his head concealing his short, tight curls. He would tip his hat ever so slightly when greeting you, inadvertently letting you know he was a man of tradition. He donned an authoritative blazer in a bleak, closely woven fabric that made it clear he was a figure to be respected. His hard bottom shoes were always in pristine condition and freshly polished.  The Brixton Dancehall Queen Pinky from the early aughts also had a pungent sense of style. She would weave together elaborate tales detailing the culture behind Dancehall music using only the colour pink. Her pink wigs, over-embellished jewellery, and pink mini skirts were all nods to the dancehall culture and the empowering sense of self-representation it promotes. After school my best friend and I would walk through the colourful Brixton streets with our ties loosened and blazers off feeling free from the shackles of our dull school uniform. We thundered down to Brixton Market to buy the latest Dutty Fridaze or Passa Passa DVDs, hoping to get a glimpse of what pink concoction Queen had chosen to adorn her body in. It was an event that never failed to disappoint. Whether it was her rose coloured finger waves, her bright pink bantu knots, her orchid colour cowboy boots, or her hot pink shorts, she exemplified what it meant to be fearless and unapologetically yourself. No place on earth has illuminated my soul, fed my mind, and left an everlasting impression on me in the way that Brixton has. My fellow Brixtonians taught me lessons about being proud of who you are by constantly celebrating our distinctions. Its vibrant streets and colourful characters created a unique space unlike any other. To the South London gem, thank you. The people that have resided there over the years bestowed upon me life lessons and exposed me to experiences that have made me the person I am today.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="60px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_separator type="normal"][vc_empty_space height="60px"][vc_column_text]Nemar Parchment is a UK-based, Bright Black Young Thing—full of energy and conscious of minding the gaps of a mainstream cultural conditioning that says, “Black man, stand down.” Making that model money may pay the rent, but Nemar’s creative pursuits as host of Another Space Podcast and  contributing writer at The Tenth suggests that his dream will take on all types of shapes and forms on his journey. [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="60px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="50px"][vc_single_image image="675" img_size="full" alignment="center" onclick="custom_link" qode_css_animation="" link="https://thetenthmagazine.com/"][vc_empty_space height="10px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row]...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][ultimate_spacer height="90" height_on_tabs="50" height_on_tabs_portrait="50" height_on_mob_landscape="50" height_on_mob="50"][vc_column_text] INTERVIEWS | WINTER '21 [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][vc_column_text] M+O [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][vc_column_text] TONYA HEGAMIN INTERVIEWED by GABRIELLE LAWRENCE ART by TONYA HEGAMIN [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="12px"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="80px"][vc_column_text]I was introduced to Tonya by the Director of my MFA program a couple of years ago, just  before I started putting together my thesis. We connected over our love of art-making,  particularly the use of paint to connect with our inner creative child. It’s something we can  turn to when the heaviness of our daily responsibilities feels suffocating. It’s one of the ways  we find play. I thought that be great context for our interview and time together. For this  paint N’ chat, we talked about Hegamin’s first novel, M + O 4ever.   In M+O, two small town teens from Northern Pennsylvania, who were once inseparable as  children, try to cope with the complicated realities of their emerging adulthood. Opal (“O”)  and Marianne (“M”) struggle to imagine viable futures for themselves, and despite their love  for one another, they can’t seem to find that perfect fit anymore. Or perhaps, the world just  seems bigger and more complicated, especially when you’re forced to live for yourself. As  Opal’s colorful support system rallies around her to help ease the weight of sudden loss,  fittingly, we learn about Marianne, our tragic hero, through the love-soaked lens of Opal’s  flashbacks. At the time, this story of two young black lesbians trying to determine the kinds of  lives they want to live was not mainstream. The book was buried, and didn’t receive the same  publicity or marketing efforts as titles that featured white narratives.   The Tenth Magazine, myself, and Hegamin came together to make space for this conversation  because we felt that Marianne and Opal’s stories hold something for us in the present. Tonya  and I talked about being an outsider, the complexity of black womanhood, the legacy of black  poetry, reigniting curiosity about creativity, finding new ways to take risks, the ways the  publishing industry fails black queer people, and more.  [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="80px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_single_image image="2605" img_size="large" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="80px"][vc_column_text]GABRIELLE LAWRENCE: I think I'm going to try and use one of these today.   TONYA CHERIE HEGAMIN: Oh, yeah. Sponge brush?   GL: Yeah, to cover some kind of ground or something. It'll be my first time using it  on a canvas, though. So we'll see.   TCH: I had a piece of paper, and I cut out some weird shapes. I'm going to use that to  be sort of a collage, well a stencil. Then I’ll go over it in different colors.   GL: Ooh that sounds like it’ll be pretty. I've mixed series of greens, and deep, dark, bluish violet-ish colors. I'm hoping to play with some brown, just all inspired by  nature. That’s where your book took me. I felt like I was on a hike the whole  time, or in the woods exploring.   TCH: Thank you. That's what I wanted her to be.   GL: So, Opal and Marianne.  TCH: Ah, yeah.   GL: Such longing and wanting. There's that scene where Opal is desperately  wanting Marianne to run towards her, and instead, she runs in the opposite  direction.   TCH: Never comes back.   GL: It hit me so hard, but it was so relatable. Their quiet relationship, where things  are known and understood by all but not necessarily vocalized or affirmed; the  silence of it all. Can you possibly talk more about why this is one of the first  scenes we’re introduced to? Since this gives us major context and insight into  these characters and the kind of space they take up in each other's lives, what  was your intention was in writing their relationship? What did you want to  explore there?   TCH: Well, I spent a lot of my childhood in or near woods. They played a big part in  my identity early on. I used to take other friends from the neighborhood, and  do "séances". I would make everybody wear handkerchiefs around their heads  and burn candles.   I was a witch from the get. I lived in a pretty much all-white area, so I knew  that isolation and the feeling of being the outsider from very early on. I also  think I felt like an outsider around people of color, and abused in many ways by  them, because we were all in an oppressive circumstance. Not to dismiss that  or to belittle it, but to contextualize it. So in a way I knew how both M and O  felt, but also, I didn't know. That left me enough space to exercise my curiosity and my imagination.   When I was a teenager, my mom started working in Rochester, New York. We  moved from where I had grown up, where all my family was, and everything I  knew. So we would take these road trips, we would drive through Pennsylvania, to Rochester, and we would pass through, or near, Punxsutawney. I would just look out the window and imagine what people's lives must be like in those tiny little towns, where it was just the highway going through.   I was always interested in history, so thinking about the ghosts that also  inhabited those spaces sparked my imagination. Those are the spaces in which  the story was born.   GL: I love that you used to do play séances in the woods when you were younger,  and that it shows up in your work. For me, Gran serves as the spiritual anchor  in the novel. Whenever she's in a scene, I now there’s going to be some spiritual movement.   TCH: Yeah that's the purpose of her character, to serve as an anchor. I wanted the complexity of black women to be throughout the novel. There's Gran, the  anchor, whose story is very interesting. Her backstory doesn't really get told,  but we know it's going to be as interesting as she is, where she is, and who she lives with. There’s her legacy, and the mother's legacy of living your own dream  and finding your own voice. Mom comes in as a magical bomb as well. Then  there’s Hannah, and her story that guides and uplifts all of these women. They’re all black women transcending in their own ways. I wanted to show how women, in general, transcend the spaces that they have been born into or  placed.   GL: What was it like braiding all of these narratives together from a craft  standpoint? I’m thinking about the timing of it all, the end of Hannah's story, a reconciliation, Opal finds her own peace. We learn more about why Marianne took her own life and her mother’s backstory. There's a big release towards the  end, very poetic, and it’s very satisfying. I was wondering if you could talk  about how you came to that ending.   TCH: Well, there was actually an entire other half of M+O that was cut by the  editors. So that sort of Russian combination is a reflection of that. And poetry,  that's my background. So it was definitely a part of what my writing really was  at that time. My other books are less of that, and I miss it.   Originally, I wanted the novel to begin with the ad for the escaped slave and  end with Opal's graduation from Spelman. To give that sort of context for the  arc of the story and the general arc of the varieties of paths that all of these women have taken in their lives. Those are little love letters, or poems, or calls to action, in some ways too   Just thinking from where I was in my life, my bachelor’s degree was in poetry. I  studied with Toi Dericotte at the University of Pittsburgh, and then also at Cave  Canem, so my sense of language was really built around black poetry. My MFA was also very centered around poetry. My first picture book is really a long poem. So I sort of created a novel by accident, because I was in my MFA, and if  there's a time to try a novel that's what you do.   I had started a novel early to apply, but that didn't resonate with me as much  as the newer work that I put down in grad school. I sold both of those, the  picture book and M+O. One in my first semester and one in the second semester. So, it kind of took off for me. A lot of it had to do with my relationship to language, my upbringing, if you will, in the annals of black  poetry. Michael Harper sat me down one day and made me learn all the poetic  structures and talk to me about theory and…   GL: THE Michael Harper?!   TCH: Yes! These are the very early days of Cave Canem. I watched Elizabeth  Alexander breastfeed her second son. Those were the days. Nobody was  anybody back then. We were all just kids, so excited to be black and poetic, and thought about.   I definitely felt like I was a part of making history in that time. That novelty  wore off eventually. The markets became flooded, and that's beautiful. I'm not  at all sad about any of that, but the work that I was doing, became more about  story and less about language.   GL: Can you talk about the difference?   TCH: Well, I think that there's a space for marriage there, but there's a lot of  courting that has to be done to make that marriage work. That requires a lot of  time, space, and energy. Once my diagnosis happened, it became harder for  me then to be in balance of a lot of things. I lost a little of my multitasking ability. I don't want to say all of it, or that I can't bring it back, but it was  something that really changed me. The ability to sit and think about poetry,  and words, and how things are said became secondary.   GL: Thinking about how things are said versus figuring out what you wanted to say?   TCH: Well, there's the constant. I always say my disability is like having a second job. It's very time and energy consuming in ways that I would have never thought  about before. The energy of poetry is incredibly thick, from my perspective. I  think in my next book, part of my main concern was about the story I was  telling. All of the research that I did for Hannah in M+O I wanted to put to work  in a fully historical manner. So I thought of work differently, and what I was  doing was the work. It’s funny because I'm doing a talk about the play imperative actually. It’s the importance of play in our everyday lives when  we're going through especially stressful times. Poetry was that for me. It was a  lot of play when I started out. Then it kind of became a different. I viewed it  differently and I thought it was simply because of my point of view, more than  anything. The work of being an artist, and then having to also be a full time  educator on top of that was a lot of work. So I think that in some ways, my  relationship to the world changed, simply because I was trying to just get shit  done. I know it's very unromantic, but...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][ultimate_spacer height="90" height_on_tabs="50" height_on_tabs_portrait="50" height_on_mob_landscape="50" height_on_mob="50"][vc_column_text] ART I 2021 [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][vc_column_text] Space to Wonder, Wildly with Jonathan Lyndon Chase [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][vc_column_text] WORDS by MALEKE GLEE ARTWORK by JONATHAN LYNDON CHASE [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="80px"][vc_column_text]Chase's two-part book WILD WILD WILD WEST / HAUNTING OF THE SEAHORSE demonstrates a grasp on multiple mediums. Handwritten poems, sketches, polaroids from Chase's life, and other elements create a kaleidoscopic experience. The acts of intimacy depicted are bold, autonomous, and assertive; here, figures and subjects are not pictured as marginal or performing value. Instead, they are central to the discourse, holding a space of power. The power wielded is not about dominance, but subversively about submission, the power to submit to desire, to love another. For many queer Black men, intimacy is covered by shame. We are taught that our male attraction is primarily of physical interest. The interiority and depth of male-to-male affection, either platonic or romantic, is seldom commonplace conversation. Gay and queer men—absent of rites of passage into manhood and its connection to romance—define these terms, often much later than hetero counterparts. There is an absence in our homes, and more broadly in the society of Black men loving Black men. Cultural posturings of queer Black men are either closeted or hypervisible because of their embraced “feminine” gesture.The visibility of Black queerness is always in spectcale. There is the hyper-destructive or hyper-perfect narrated in media, and now the curated social media, where snapshots are often confused with daily reality. This fixity breeds toxicity; it encourages inauthenticity, numbing, grief. There is a polarity that dismisses the in-between, where brothers left unseen occupy closets and gloryholes, finding pleasure in dark, seedy spaces.  Queer Black men are illegible at times, not meant to be read, but instead studied. There is so much nuance, both historical and contemporary, that have yet to surface in the public consciousness. As I reflect on my life, my circle of brothers, and how queer life is historicized, it appears that our queerness is "seen" only in "perfect" form. Our queerness is ready for discussion in extremes—-in dismal circumstances and statistics, or hetero-adjacent terms, often guised as "Black Excellence." As I look for spaces without performance, I find a home in Jonathan Lyndon Chase's fantasies.    Jonathan Lyndon Chase's practice is a study of Black male, same-gender-loving feelings. We seldom see men's interior lives, moments that would require vulnerability, scenes that further establish a feeling, and fragility—peering through masculinity's performance. Images of queer Black masculine bodies have a preoccupation with physicality, with the body as a medium. Often the parts of the body that are (re)-productive are most visualized, the sexual organs and muscles which exert power for material construction. In these posturings, what is given visual priority occupies a relation to consumption and capital. What is notable about Chase's portraiture is the equal, if not more dominant, posturing of butts rather than penises. It is the bottom-affirming nature of the work that I admire, the images of men who desire penetration. This penetration is not solely for physical pleasure, but penetration beyond the performative, public layer—a rawness of affection and submission into passion. [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="80px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_single_image image="2571" img_size="large" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_row_inner row_type="row" type="grid" text_align="left" css_animation=""][vc_column_inner width="1/6"][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="2/3"][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text] lucky lovers, 2020. Acrylic paint, spray paint, oil slick, glitter on canvas. 72h x 60w in. (182.88h x 152.40w cm.) [/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/6"][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="60px"][vc_column_text]The stylistic choices often reflect an in-between, playful undoneness found in scribble, circles, and doodle. Even in its playfulness, the work deals with the male body with a rare sincerity. Chase marks a moment, adding to the visual lexicon of portraiture an explicit eroticism. This eroticism is less concerned with the audience, but rather are private moments of tenderness and care. Men occupy intimate spaces like bedrooms and kitchens and other atypical environments in male portraiture. There is a richness and beauty to erotic scenes, a depth of spatiality that invites a narrative, a space to wonder.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="80px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_single_image image="2573" img_size="large" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_row_inner row_type="row" type="grid" text_align="left" css_animation=""][vc_column_inner width="1/6"][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="2/3"][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text] WILD WILD WILD WEST [/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/6"][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="60px"][vc_column_text]WILD WILD WILD WEST, and “Wind Rider”, Chase’s recent exhibition at Company Gallery, (closed on November 21, 2020) reference family and memory. Chase pays homage to their late grandmother, to whom the book is dedicated. The book opens with "grief….as memory, as a dream, as depression, as a love letter." Grief is central to the text, and I would assert a centrality to memory for queer and gay Black men.  There is grief to half-lived lives, partly from our design. Potential is thwarted in adolescence. There is the grief of our families who require our lives to outplay their imagination. Our lives become their fantasy. There is the fear of disease, as sex was never introduced as productive and purposeful but rather risky behavior. We grieve free pleasure. We desire rawness, to be felt fully because in daily life, there are many degrees of separation. There are parts of ourselves we lost, often too young to know our negotiations consciously, not knowing what there is to lose. It is the shadows that obscure the bright potential of actualized, full selves. We look for ourselves online, and there, the troupes of engagement continue to manifest— “no fats, no fems.” We affirm ourselves through connection, to be embraced fully.  We uncover remnants of parts negotiated and tucked away each time we kiss, and for Chase, these remnants are frequently shared. [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="80px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_single_image image="2574" img_size="large" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_row_inner row_type="row" type="grid" text_align="left" css_animation=""][vc_column_inner width="1/6"][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="2/3"][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text] cum in, 2020 Acrylic paint, photo paper collage, sunflower seeds, wood door, steel. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/6"][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="60px"][vc_column_text]The book and exhibition commingle aesthetics but live fully as different experiences—both reference church culture, Hollywood Westerns, and scenes of submission. Hollywood Westerns, so central to the exhibition, are often the racial fantasy of conquest and domination. But in Chase's paintings, such as grandma's garden, these journeys through the West are not depicted as conquest, but journeys through and to feelings. [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="80px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_single_image image="2575" img_size="large" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_row_inner row_type="row" type="grid" text_align="left" css_animation=""][vc_column_inner width="1/6"][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="2/3"][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text] grandma's garden ❤, 2020 Acrylic paint, spray paint, marker, plastic, graphite on muslin. 84h x 78w in. (213.36h x 198.12w cm) "I was 28 years old, 78 buckets of piss." [/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/6"][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="50px"][vc_column_text]Buckets of urine are sketched in the book and are sculpted in the shape of the cross in the exhibition. Urine serves as a connection, how Chase remembered the last moments with their grandmother. "She's gone, I've peed the bed in tears," implies Chase's grief, which fully engages the body. Chase's use of orifice is immensely passionate; these holes of the body are said portals into the spirit. The spirit communicates through the most extreme emotions prompting tears, urine, vomit, and semen as often uncontrollable expressions of pleasure, pain, discomfort, and connection. This bodily expression also reflects male communication's nature, often in the non-verbal, through gestures and silence. Chase, through text and figures, uses bilabial sounds to bring us closer to the subjects. This imagery widens conceptions of maleness and emotion, allowing it all to bear, as the body is witness. Mouths agape, assholes, my wildest dreams.  The scenes of eroticism, of pure male affection, are a staple to Chase's praxis. Male bodies are desirable and express their seduction. Bodies of all types enjoy pleasure.  Assholes occupy obscurity as they resemble targets, something punctured, perhaps in battle. This visual language mirrors the complexity of the sexual lexicon, which pairs pain and pleasure. "Beat it up", "tear it up", "screw", "fuck"— all are claimed to denote passion, often devoid of intimacy or aftercare. Assholes, like targets, reflect the chase, the conquest that’s the ultimate goal in the Western.  Both exhibition and book are complete experiences through grief. The familiar grief is for those lost and the realization of their support and their role in personhood. Our grandparents hold us, teach us, and participate in life in many ways that parents could not. This personal history adds nuance to stories of Black families and queer life.  The book and its related artworks invite us to wonder, wander, and be wild. We are invited to cum, to fuck, to cry, to piss it out and away. [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="60px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_separator type="normal"][vc_empty_space height="60px"][vc_column_text]   Jonathan Lyndon Chase’s current exhibition “Big Wash”is on view at The Factory Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, PA.     [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="50px"][vc_single_image image="675" img_size="full" alignment="center" onclick="custom_link" qode_css_animation="" link="https://thetenthmagazine.com/"][vc_empty_space height="10px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row]...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][ultimate_spacer height="90" height_on_tabs="50" height_on_tabs_portrait="50" height_on_mob_landscape="50" height_on_mob="50"][vc_column_text] REFLECTIONS [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][vc_column_text] 2020: AN ARIA FOR STAYING THE COURSE [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][vc_column_text] WORDS by MARCUS ANTHONY BROCK PORTRAIT by ERIK CARTER [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="80px"][vc_column_text]This Christmastime, I am nostalgic. In my writing, and in my heart, I have returned back to nostalgia, but not in the familiar way. Nostalgia literally means a return to pain or a return to home. Yet pain is formative, pain is useful, pain is home, and I’m trying to find my way back. Taking it all together, the highs and lows of 2020 have taught me one valuable lesson: we must stay the course — even when life has not given us much reason to. Faith and hope are revolutionary aspirations. They are the railings holding us up as we steer the course. Ending one year and going into the next is a heavy reminder of things gained, but it is also a hyper-visible reminder of the many things lost.  This year is an anthem — no, an aria — on our humanity.  And the thing about our holidays, whether it’s Hanukkah, Christmas, Festivus, Kwanzaa or for the non-observant, everything comes crashing back: loss, trauma, happiness and mistakes. Once Mariah Carey’s annual jingle begins to blare so does the year in review for ourselves. There are years that I have been broke, and years where my needs were well-met. There are years I have overflowed with immense joy. There are years that have felt snaked and stolen. And there are years that have felt blessed and beholden. This year, I am simply smiling while listening to the breath in my body — and holding.   *        *        *   I must have been approaching 10 years old when, just days before Christmas, my mother’s partner stole her money. I sat playing on the floor when she tearily said, “There will be no Christmas this year.” We both cried in our rooms, simultaneously. I vaguely remember us both crying together. An apartment filled with grief and lacking smiles would populate that Christmas morning.  So many memories are vague from my childhood, but this one is not; it is omnipresent. I cried myself to sleep those nights leading up to the holiday, but on Christmas morning I awoke to some of the presents on the list I had left for Santa. I don’t know what my mother did to make sure Christmas had found us, or whether she begged, borrowed or stole, because Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings said it best, “There ain’t no chimneys in the projects.”  This year, Christmas did not come for many. The financial, physical and spiritual losses have accumulated during the coronavirus pandemic and the scars are heavy. No present under the tree, and no stimulus check, will salve those wounds, so we must look elsewhere for the endurance to weather a lacking holiday.   *        *        *   There was a year when I was down on my luck, feeling as though God had shown me a love unrequited. I had agreed to attend a friend’s Christmas party, but had no money and would not have any coming in for at least two more weeks. My Mississippi ancestry knows better than to show up empty-handed to an affair — no matter whether it’s flowers from one’s garden or the main dish in hand, you still convey your gratitude by bringing something to a house party. Unbeknown to me, however, a friend’s mother had sent me a package, which arrived  just before the party. I opened my door to discover a box filled to the brim with homemade baked goods and Christmas treats. It also had a bottle of dark rum that was perfect for my yuletide greeting. And just like that, the shame of showing up to my friend’s party without a gift quickly dissipated. And that shame ran deep.  I hated attending the market when I was a kid. There were times when my mother had money to spare, and there were times when we were broke. And in those times of depression, when money was funny and change was strange, public assistance put the training wheels back on our family. But kids don’t understand that, so asking me to run an errand to the grocery store meant I had to carry the multi-colored book of food stamps down Artesia Boulevard to Lucky’s, which was humiliating for a young me. Today, those poverty-protesting crayon-colored books have been replaced with debit cards, but there is still so much shame that comes with poverty, and I had been programmed to think I was lesser-than back then. Looking around my school, I didn’t understand why those kids had the things we did not. How was I to hold gratitude as a child for the food that would keep me healthy and alive? I couldn’t. I did later, but then I did not, so I would hurl the bags over my shoulder and drag my nourishment all the way home.  It is time I return home. [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="80px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_row_inner row_type="row" type="grid" text_align="left" css_animation=""][vc_column_inner width="1/6"][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="2/3"][vc_column_text]Got my house it still keep the cold out Got my chair when my body can’t hold out Got my hands doing good like they ‘sposed to Showing my heart to the folks that I’m close to Got my eyes though they don’t see as far now, They see more ‘bout how things really are now. -Celie, “I’m Here,” The Color Purple Musical [/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/6"][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="80px"][vc_column_text] *        *        *   So here I am, back at home. The public murder of our kin has forced me to take refuge back home, back with my ancestors, and pour a few libations. I am emotional and infuriated that Darnella Frazier, at only 17 years old, was the one who captured the video of George Floyd gasping for breath. She witnessed his lungs as they shriveled and became arid. There were others present, but she held the camera. A fleeting memory for some, but an inscribed one for her. You see, it wasn’t just George Floyd; it was the culmination of it all — Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, the pandemic, isolation, violence, God, the quarantined quarters with the ones we loved, the quarantined quarters with the ones we despised, and the countless instances of anti-black vitriol that have plagued our screens since the moving image was invented — Spring 2020 pushed it all to a fever pitch. And yet, the document of the thing — the atrocity — has become ubiquitous. The crime against humanity, unfortunately, has to be given wings, and that is a tall order to replicate for each generation.  During the first week after George Floyd’s assassination, I wept every day, sometimes twice a day, and all day on Sunday. My kin-friend Cristian reached out for us to hold space with each other in the aftermath, but I could not bear to see him right away. When we did meet, we talked as day turned into night, grief-stricken, but also sharing laughter in my home and on our walk to a nearby park. At the age of 50, James Baldwin told Maya Angelou, “I’ve been writing between assassinations,” as he recounted the lost lives of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And here we are, still writing, making, living and breathing between assassinations, just as our ancestors did. As Black people, it is easy to forget the emotional labor we endure to succeed in an American cultural framework that was intended for our forced labor and entertainment — and yet we stay the course. Margaret Garner stayed the course. Andrew Saxton stayed the course. When we think of New York, we see skyscrapers, Ellis Island, Macy’s, the Astor-Rockefeller-Rothschilds, but do we think of those enslaved bodies, slain Native Americans and indentured Irish servants who turned this place from New Amsterdam into New York? What about that Queens was named after Queen Catherine? Or that the Bronx was named after Jonas Bronck and the Dutch who bought the land of New Amsterdam—for a song — nevermind its inhabitants. Resiliency is rooted within the oppressed, but like Fannie Lou Hamer, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. The trauma penetrates our DNA, literally. The enslaved African-Americans had bones that showed the osteoarthritis of a senior in the bodies of a 20-year-old. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. Museums hold bone artifacts of the enslaved, the oppressed Jewish descendants, queers and Romani people who were forced to labor during the Holocaust. Where did all this trauma go? Nowhere. It is still there, regardless of our acknowledgment, but we have found a way to use it.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="60px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_single_image image="2531" img_size="large" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="80px"][vc_column_text] *        *        *   Before I sat down to journey back home, I watched the remarkable Viola Davis in August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The capture of endurance is what took me over. Gertrude Pridgett, who became Ma Rainey, was well-aware of her exploitation by white music executives, her rising  success, singing the blues and the sorrow songs, and her bisexuality were all in her arsenal. When she demanded her Coca-Cola, or that her nephew was paid his rightfully earned $25,  she did it for the culture. That’s the blueprint. The executives only capitulated to her needs when they realized she had not signed the contract to license her voice. And this is why Chance the Rapper can pull up with deadheads in the lobby if one more label tries to stop him. He ain’t studying them. She was the blueprint. Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal of Levee didn’t capitulate, nor did Boseman himself. I think he was the coup de grâce, not for himself, but for me, for us, in what has been a volatile year. He was the blueprint. Glynn Turman said Boseman’s eyes sparkled on set alongside his then fiancée, now widow, Taylor Simone Ledward. On-screen, I saw the sparkle too. And though his body had become frail, he left the magnitude of his soul, and the same gravitas of Black Panther in film history for us. He overtook Wilson’s words when he questioned God. Indeed, his endurance to play that role while his body was failing him was a gift. That is the reason we pay homage to our elders and our ancestors. We rise on trains and buses for our elders, not because they are too old to stand, but because they have earned the right to sit. There is, and always will be, a body count for liberation. The body count has come in the form of illness, suicide, war, and now a global pandemic and racial wars.  You see, the real project of hatred, racism, sexism, misogyny, transphobia, xenophobia and genderphobia is denouncing someone’s origin, their truth, their culture, their majesty so much until they too believe the lies they have been told — in effect rendering them incapable of aspirations of freedom. You cannot see it, you cannot touch it, you cannot hold it; you can only drink it, smoke it, eat it, buy it, fry it and dye it. Therefore, it does not exist. So, we need art. We need utopia. We need to dream. We need hope because without it, could any of us go on? Or in the words of W.E.B. Du Bois, would any of us have the “dogged-strength alone from being torn asunder”? So this Christmastime, you must understand, I’m not looking for any traditional gifts. I just needed to go home. [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="60px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_separator type="normal"][vc_empty_space height="60px"][vc_column_text]   MARCUS BROCK is an Afrofuturist, a college professor, an attaché, a flâneur and a postmodern vagabond. A frequent contributor to The Tenth, who always maintains a Black queer view of history and offers harmonious, yet unrestrained prose to the quest for liberation.    [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column][vc_single_image image="2468" img_size="large" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][ultimate_spacer height="90" height_on_tabs="50" height_on_tabs_portrait="50" height_on_mob_landscape="50" height_on_mob="50"][vc_column_text] STORIES | WINTER '20 [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="40px"][vc_column_text] an excerpt of a memoir by KEVIN MAXWELL ILLUSTRATIONS by MELISSA ROBLES [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="12px"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_empty_space height="80px"][vc_column_text]After a week’s annual leave, with no goodbyes, I transferred to Bootle Street Police Station, a grand old stone building in Manchester’s city centre, the headquarters for the old City Police. Moving during your probation was unheard of, except in extenuating circumstances, granted by an assistant chief constable or above. During the week off, my mum and partner supported me, but a strain started to develop in my relationship with my partner, who was now a junior doctor. I soon learnt the inner-city police was in competition with other local stations like Longsight, which covered Moss Side in south Manchester, a predominantly black area that had had its own Toxteth-like riots. My new station was called ‘Brutal Street’ by my colleagues, a reputation it lived up to. I arrived at the station’s front desk with my uniform and equipment, and was sent straight to see the sub-divisional commander, who held the rank of superintendent, in his office on the first floor. The first thing he asked me – in front of his deputy, the sub-divisional chief inspector – was, ‘Have you come to my station on a crusade, waving a gay and black flag?’ Alarmed, I said that I hadn’t. It was the Union Jack that stood proudly on my bedroom shelf back in Liverpool, along with the flags of the Commonwealth that I collected. I was not a member of any political association, staff or otherwise. I just wanted to do my job. I was placed on a patrol shift, known as a ‘relief ’. The shifts were either from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (day), from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. (afternoon), or from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. (night). There was also a 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. afternoon shift on the weekend. There were five patrol reliefs at my station, A to E, as well as other units, like plain-clothes and the criminal investigation department (CID). My relief shift had more than twenty other constables, three sergeants, an inspector and a dog handler; my station had the biggest reliefs in the Force. I was, once again, the only black officer. There was another gay officer at the station, who had experienced homophobia and as a result was now office-based. We paraded on (i.e. they took roll call, checking who was on duty or on annual leave, etc.), and were given our duties and our intelligence briefings in the parade room, for which we could now sit instead of stand, as used to be the way. The parade room was a place of banter, complaints about ‘the job’ (‘like no other’) and easy chat. I settled into life at Bootle Street, working uniform response ‘999’ policing (i.e. attending emergency calls), but quickly realised that it wasn’t very different to Wigan. Members of the public would often turn on minority officers, especially when they were being arrested. They were very vocal when it came to race, and more so when it came to religion, which I believe worsened as a direct result of the 9/11 attacks. I was once called to a disturbance at an entertainment complex called The Printworks in the city centre. I ended up arresting a drunk man who was causing trouble. As I was placing him in the back of the police van, he loudly snarled at me, in front of my peers and the watching public, ‘Get your stinking Muslim hands off me.’ Although I was a Catholic, my dark skin was reason enough for him to assume that I was Muslim. In fact, the inner-city police could have taught the small-town police a thing or two. Manchester was policed by people from the small, predominantly white Lancashire towns that surrounded it. When we policed a white working-class area, those we came into contact with were known as ‘chavs’ or ‘scum’, those we called ‘shit-bags’ in Wigan. When we policed a black or Asian area, they were ‘niggers’ and ‘Pakis’ respectively, and in the gay area they were ‘queers’. In Chinatown, they were ‘Chinks’. Many people didn’t even know the difference between a Sikh, a Hindu and a Muslim. It all came with the territory. Sometimes this sort of behaviour could backfire. I was on the 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. weekend shift in the nightclub riot van, when our vehicle pulled up alongside a black motorist on Deansgate, outside the bars on the strip. One of my colleagues opened the van’s side door and started to berate the driver of the vehicle, though neither I nor my colleagues could see a reason why. Whatever it was, the sergeant sitting in the passenger seat encouraged my colleague, whilst everyone laughed. That is, until the driver got out of his vehicle and identified himself as a lawyer who worked with the Force. He asked for my colleague’s number and that of my sergeant’s. After my colleague apologised, the sergeant was left red-faced. We drove off in silence. One day, a white female colleague and I were leaving the station yard in a marked police vehicle when an Asian taxi driver drove by blocking our path. At the top of her voice, my colleague shouted out to the taxi driver, ‘You stupid Paki!’ Embarrassed and disappointed, I gave an imperceptible shake of the head, but couldn’t find it in myself to do more. What could I have done? I thought, as I sat next to her. She was well connected and popular, especially amongst the male officers. Had I said something to her, or to someone else later, I would have been ostracised for having challenged or reported her – being a grass, untrustworthy, not a team player. And the careers of cops who weren’t trusted by other cops would stall. This close-knit camaraderie bred some more intimate relationships. Many cops at my new station were having extramarital affairs with other officers and police staff. It wasn’t my business to question the morality of these relationships, but they strengthened bonds in the police, including between junior and senior members of staff. Some tutor constables were sleeping with their tutees. Some officers even got together with people they had dealt with as victims of crime, including domestic violence. There were officers who didn’t care that others knew, as long as their partners didn’t find out – and of course they rarely did, because of that blue wall of silence, because no one trusts a snitch. Cops ‘did’ cops because they understood ‘the job’, they said. I was privy to several extramarital affairs between those in the highest ranks down to the lowest, on duty and off duty, in police offices, toilets and cars. The safest option seemed to be to turn a blind eye, especially as some of the people engaged in affairs were dictating my career. These affairs didn’t stretch to gay relationships; I knew several straight officers who had gay tendencies – some ‘played’ (i.e. experimented) with gay officers – but homophobic attitudes still continued. For example, one Christmas, when I was working on a crime report in the station writing room, a female colleague began to complain about not wanting to go to Via Fossa, a bar in Manchester’s gay village, and deal with a theft. Apparently she didn’t want to be dealing with ‘queers’ and their ‘drama’ anymore. Within the safe confines of my mind, I challenged her, calling her out for her homophobic language – but fear kept me from actually saying anything. I did not want to make any enemies. On another night, after work a group of us went to the local nightclub, 42nd Street, which was on the same road as the police station. I went to join a circle of my colleagues, just in time to hear one of the male officers announce, ‘If a gay guy ever tried to hit on me, I would break his nose.’ His words were meant for me; it was an observation he felt it was important to air as I joined the group. This officer had tested me previously, by asking me in front of others if I liked women. My brain shouted, ‘So, just because I’m gay I’m attracted to you?’ But again, I kept it to myself. He carried on, saying he didn’t think what gay people did was ‘natural’. I held my tongue, smiled and drank my drink. Maybe he was scared that gay men would treat him like he treated women. On another night, later, Officer Don’t Hit On Me and I bumped into each other in the gay village at Sackville Street car park, when we were both on duty but working separately. He told me and my van partner that he was annoyed by ‘queers’ and their ‘problems’, having just gone to an incident in the area. His eyes were on me as he said it, and I could sense his satisfaction. He knew I wouldn’t say anything, just as I hadn’t the last time. Anytime I tried to make friends with my new colleagues and had to sit through more of this, I came away feeling isolated. It impacted on my relationship with my boyfriend, who had already felt the pressure of my experiences at Bruche, Wigan, and now Bootle Street. Sometimes my feelings of isolation were compounded by the fact that, seen from the outside, I was part of that blue wall. During the spring 2003 protests against Tony Blair, George Bush and the Iraq war in Manchester – the biggest political demonstration in the city since the Peterloo Massacre in 1819 – three separate marches converged at the city’s town hall. I was on one side of the police line, and my friends from university, including my best friend and confidant Dan, were on the other. We smiled as we pretended we didn’t know each other, to save any embarrassment.  A Chinese officer at my station was in a situation similar to my own. He was struggling to fit in, and I sat and listened as my colleagues talked about how they would let him struggle and fail, in the hope that he would leave the police and return to the chip shop in Manchester where he came from. He was tutored for much longer than was normal, and as a result they described him as useless, lazy and incompetent. He did fail, did resign, and did return to the chip shop, to their utter delight. Whilst they roared with laughter over his resignation, I just stayed silent.  I was starting to resent myself for the way I kept quiet. I wanted to scream. But what could I have done and who could I have spoken with? The sub-divisional chief already warned me about ‘flying the flags’. As the most senior officer on the sub-division, he set the tone, and the other officers, especially the most junior ones, followed. I found myself eating in the writing room during my breaks, whilst my colleagues ate in the rest room next to the gym. The rest room was an uncomfortable place, pumping with testosterone. There was a television and when particular programmes came on – any programmes to do with gay people or rap music – my colleagues would circumspectly air their views, cautious of using fully racist or homophobic words.  Once I was with a male colleague who had pulled over a female motorist on Newton Street outside the police museum, for committing a minor traffic offence. She asked why he had stopped her. He replied, ‘Because I can.’ She fired back that he couldn’t stop her for no reason, so she received a ticket for failing her attitude test. When we got back in the car, out of earshot, I told him that he was completely out of order.  ‘What...

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