Flights of Faith

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Back at Yale.

How is there even MORE construction?
Silliman is not finished. CCL is not finished. JE-BR walkway is under construction.
Something was done. I can't remember what. Old Campus is it's usual glistening self. Except President Dwight is under construction.

I'm gonna miss this place.
What I've realized I'll miss more though is the mission that pulsates in my steps when I'm here. I know exactly what I want to do. And I have a carved out a space for me to do that. That second step is what my life is going to be about for the next however many years. Carving out spaces.

When I'm back at home, I feel listless. I haven't found a community. It's just me and my dreams again. Just like Iowa. There has not been a concerted effort to find a community either. All in all, I've had less than 20 non-consecutive days to do this. I still feel like something is off though when I don't act. Or plan action.

It's that sense of purpose and iminent mobilization I'll miss about college. The urgent calls. The strategy. The action plans. The actions. That and the landscape. Isolating that makes it a lot easier to deal with leaving. Just a handsome campus and what I already had in me.

I'll fret over friends but, truthfully, the ones that stay will stay and the ones who leave will play out in transitory memories, a plesant type of haze that becomes less of a person and more of a feeling.

My biggest goal relating to it being senior year (read: not a life goal) would have to be making this nostalgia meaningful. Either by writing something like this and sticking it in the freezer to be enjoyed later or reveling in a moment. However, I cannot simply wallow in my own emotions and find the clock ticking even faster than usual. This will be a year of action and goalsetting. Finally trying to keep myself accoutable. I'm very excited.

So, about the sightings:
a building that has strangely become a home, Dwight Hall
Dean Salovey and his mustache entering SSS
The woman known as The Flower Lady
a building that should become my new home, SML
black people whom I do not know
I guess, Yale.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Napkin Writings

I write a lot.
Unfortunately, I often do it on napkins and such. This leaves me with the tedious task of collecting and and reviewing my trash when I leave places.


A book fell down from a Borders shelf, and I felt that was significant enough to at least write its name down: The Ghost Road by Pat Baker. Receipt.

A pretty long prayer about forgiveness, healing, and molding. Psalming it, pretty much. Takeout menu.

Lyrics I need to look up: something i can write about something i can cry about; talk to her that's right and you don't have to leave a thing, she threw the dinner at you; and maybe tonight i see your hips on fire, moon is so bright no one can tell us what love brings; actually what is there to allow. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pre-order receipt.

Train observations: fabric handgun shifts to realize the length woman. japanese couple makes out. woman watching them. aiming for them. flicked poles. smart purple tie; oxford. he flicked it. i adjust for others. picking at his cost. I plant. I pivot my feet. my step. two feet. Subway napkin.

Thought was to turn the last one into a poem. You might see it soon.

2 more days. Sermon to the Aboriginal church today... not realy defined. Sigh. I need to stop living on the edge. At least I packed with more than 12 hours to go this time. That was helpful.


Friday, August 03, 2007

That Crew

Reading over that last entry, I definitely did not expect my thoughts to be that confused and almost damaged. You can read it in the "guesses" and the "sortas." I'm getting used to life as an activist, a doer. Gotta make it fit by feeling the pain a little. A dangerous metaphor, but an apt one here.

Anyway, let's make it simple and breakdown the crew. No, THAT crew. Now, I have no problem being THAT crew since my imagination envisions us a tight band of ragtag heroes and sheroes set out to simply make meaningful days.

So, the general.

No restrictions based on any type of identity makeup.
Belief in something.
Diversity. Of anything.

I think this means everyone is still in the game, right?

The specific.

Activists! And lots of them. I want to roll deep with people who want to help change stuff.
A music head! If I could find someone that could find me positive messaged beats and melodies in diff genres and time periods, I would be set! Boogie on down.
Filmmaker or Film Lover! I need some people around me who see life as the movie it could be. Shaky cams, long shots, and SLAMCUT will be regular lingo. And our crew will have its own youtube site, if not a website.
Writer! Necessary. I need someone who loves languages and words and expresses them through poetry, prose, performance, and the like.
Artist! Can someone please explain to me what is going on at that contemporary museum? Can we work together on a banner for the next protest? Can you cartoon out something for a kid's event I'm going to? Please.
Dancer! Ballroom, hip-hip, Flamenco, Salsa, two-step, even square dance. Movers and shakers who unashamedly will bust out the goods with me in the subway on the street or on the dancefloor.
Singer! Raise your voice to the sky and shout out melodically for change. Yes!
Fantasy Buff and Comic Book Kid! Geek out with me at significant dates for us who are still trying to find a closet that'll take us to Narnia or a talking robot who can double for your best friend on jedi missions.
Struggling Intellectual! Admitting you're struggling keeps you from being pretentious! Intellectual means you might be deep!
Theologian! Let's work some things out together. Keep each other on top of things. Be pray partners and the like.

That's the essential list, I think. I'm basically describing my current friends now hoping that I can be around as many of them as possible post-Yale and coalesce into a collective. I'm also describing little bits and parts of me that either drew me to my friends or stirred up inside me as we grew together.

I need to write a short story about this crew. I think I just want to flesh out the activist identities as I've been waiting to get close to some people who specialize in areas where I need growth.

Hmm. NYC keeps popping up in the background...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

That Friend

I am an optimist because I'm alive - James Baldwin

I've been thinking of collectives recently. A band of people. A crew. More and more my friends are being defined by their activism and their faith. I have few friends who do not fall in that category. Even those friends are works in progress with regards to caring about justice. My mind has been resting on my post-college crew though andthe diversity it might hold, especially among Christians.

It's strange. Before Yale, my identities were a smart kid, a strong Christian, and an undefined blackness (my community's assumption of undefined, not mine; yet, I have to admit it wasn't crystal clear yet). And a bit of a fanboy, I guess (Disney, Star Wars, Pokemon.)

Now, my identities are similar but incredibly empowered through my experiences. A strong Christian who believes his faith has a plan for this world (not simply his own life). An activist who believes that love and compassion through justice is the only way we can reform our country and this world. A black man who uses his place as a marginalized and often oppressed citizen to witness other injustices from other identities and to encourage a collective rise that keeps a hold of everyone as we stand in solidarity for communal justice. A writer whose words have gained a potency and continue to develop. And still a man who is passionate about what he loves and links his interests and favorite things to his other main identities.

In non-Christian circles, I'm usually defined as a Christian activist. In Christian circles, an advocate of social justice. Non-white Christians would probably include racial justice too, possibly not seeing the connection between social or racial or simply wanting to stress my passion for that strand of my work. It's interesting how blackness sorts of fade away in interpersonal relationships when you live it out seeking justice in its name. I think externally it's definitely there. As my TA called me, a "super black man" identity is still a reality. Friendships lose the distinction though because one has most likely given a reason for the non-black person to care about blackness as a social justice issue providing them a space for that identity. It avoids the stiff arm that keeps them away from true reconciliation, yet forced to care superficially as to not earn a "racist" label.

I don't know though. I sorta dislike being "that friend." Nowadays, this means Christian or activist. Admittedly, I do this too. I have a few friends heavily into music and I hope to make more after college since my wannabe DJ days are through. I tune the dial and just look for a strong beat or melody that doesn't perpetuate some form of injustice. Usually, that leaves me with slim pickings in the mainstream music department and resorting to middle aged approved oldies like Luther, Stevie, etc. Not a bad place to be at all. But being someone whose ears love funk and some electronica and British two step, I miss the complexity of non-traditional arrangement. Anyway, my friends sometimes deliver me from that static life by recommending new artists. While all these friendships are too rich to become "the music friend," I could see it happening easily. I see their world through music since it is a major component to their livelihood. I guess this is the place I'm ok with my faith being in terms of an identity for others to see. If you wanna get in it, I am definitely gonna welcome you like all my other identities. If not though, I just ask you respect is as my worldview and acknowledge it is as my truth if that need arises. Once that is put in place, then you can try to interpret my truth, make me change it, critique it, etc. You just gotta set it up first.

Activism, however, is a bit different. Being "that activist" friend can be a bit of an annoyance. Honestly, I don't know how my vegan and vegetarian friends put up with me since I guess I fall prey to my own critique in that case. I just need you to be an activist in your own way too, ya know? I don't expect anyone to join the causes I support but I sorta need a willingness to respect them and, at least, not tear them down with words or behavior. Maybe this is picky, or rude, or insensitive. But it's not like we won't lay down a bridge for us to cross together.

It's sorta like when a Christian aware of my passion for social justice said to me during a goodbye, "Good luck saving the world!" And I said, "Thanks. Let's save it together." She politely shook her head and said, "No. I'll sit this one out." Besides "this one" meaning a LIFE she only has ONE shot at, I was really struck by how happily she could dismiss everything I presented in myself. It just feels strange, ya know? I guess since I present my passion for social justice like an everyday passion for art or music (a good thing, I think) I guess results that follow that pattern accordingly. No use getting bitter. Just an interesting thing I've noticed since building social justice and activism into my identity.

I guess it's no different from people asking Yalies heading to dinner to help stop genocide in Darfur and getting shut down when someone says they're too busy.

Just feels weird on the other side because we're asked to be ok with their response.
I don't want to make that normal.
Looks like I'll have to find another way to achieve that.