Thursday, January 14, 2010

Talking a lot

But what did Kelvline and Benjamin and I talk about, besides meetings? Kelvline: Benjamin and I would have fights about Nietzsche, because he would quote Nietzsche and I would say why are you quoting that misogynist, and he would say have you ever read Nietzsche? And I would say why would I want to read Nietzsche? And then I had a lot of essentialist ideas about race and blackness, and Benjamin would kind of school me on that. I remember I would say I was a rapper, and she would say: that’s tired.

Me: that’s right, she identified as a rocker, which to her felt like a more complicated engagement with blackness, because you were supposed to be a rapper if you were a black musician, right? Kelvline: remember that time when we were at a meeting, and Brodie was going on and on about something that didn’t make sense at all, like usual, and Benjamin raised her hand and said: you seem to be talking a lot, but you aren’t saying anything. And that shut Brodie up.

Benjamin was one of the most critical people I knew, but also he was entrenched in the Mission scene, even the straight part which was higher fashion and more jaded. Especially that part. I guess it was because of his band, he thought he needed to socialize in that world in order to get shows and attention. But at meetings, if Kelvline was seen as something of a novelty, Benjamin was a familiar commodity: people either loved or hated him, so whenever he said something half the room would already be ready to oppose it. She would use the drama, build it into her performance, become even more scathing.

I remember her critique after our political funeral. She was worried that people were comfortable protesting for Gwen, a 17-year-old Latina bludgeoned and then strangled to death by four men at a party in Newark, California after they discovered she was trans, but not so comfortable protesting for Jihad, a gay black Muslim man shot dead by the SFPD after he reportedly brandished two knives taken from the kitchen of a popular Castro District restaurant. People were echoing the media argument that Jihad was armed and black, therefore he deserved to die. This was exactly the racism we were attempting to illuminate by linking these two murders.


davka said...

such exciting and amazing things that went on in these groups/friendships/relationships- all with such intense striving to make a better world. everything i say sounds trite, but i can feel the exhaustion and frustration right next to the excitement and love in these memoir posts. no clue what i'm trying to say just really good and important shit going on right here

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Davka, this is all great to hear -- "i can feel the exhaustion and frustration right next to the excitement and love in these memoir posts" -- and me too, it's hard to write, so I'm so glad to hear that it's translating too...

Love --