I’m a human, being. A human being the best way I can figure how day to day. I've been thinking a great deal about the imperfection that it is to be human. Yet, here we all are human, being. Our spirits are housed in these bodies as we have our individual human experiences. We are all that - spirit. Somehow, there are those among us that refuse to accept or see that we are all one. It boggles my particular mind why the people who most likely to miss these facts seem to be wielding the most control, resources and access. Do they also hold the most power?
Some days, more recently than I care to admit, I truly do think so. I wake up not wanting to do another day. A world that can allow Trayvon Martin to be murdered and George Zimmerman to walk free surely has an imbalance of power. This imbalance seems to be bearing down on our backs in such unbearable, sadness and awe inducing ways. However, when I really stop and consider it, perhaps they see too much power in us. Is it possible that the need to control and hoard come from the fact that they can see that we are powerful beyond our own recognition? I think about a fraction of the humans I know personally. I especially think of the ones I call friend. Many of them are creative and caring to a degree way higher than I've ever experienced from people I've encountered with control, resources, access.
In New York one can be privy to experiencing numerous worlds at once. I know I have. Sometimes, it happens all in the same night. I remember one night being in a bar uptown that was filled to the brim with people who had big titles in big companies, their own or internationally recognizable brands. I sat quietly listening to them talk at each other about the things these types go on about: material possessions, vacations in the trendy places, clothing from labels I know nothing about, real estate locations, etc. A woman I was sitting next to exchanged cards with me saying that we should meet up for lunch or drinks soon. That never happened. She LA’d (a term I coined for when people flake) me every time I followed up. We would all know the brand she helms if I named it. Anyway, off I went to a poetry open mic downtown. This was also filled to the brim but with people happy to have a space to share the words they’d written. People talked to each other about ideas, current events, and plans for future creative projects small & large.
That lady from uptown did not see me fit for her level of human after a quick Google search, I’m guessing. Strippers are not human at all as far society is concerned. If we are human, we certainly aren't respectable ones. People who are involved in any kind of sex work or sex education work are for sure hugely flawed humans. Add to the equation all of the things that these people with control, access, resources deem value-less. I personally can add quite a few marginalized communities into my own human basket – person of color, queer, female, 1st generation (I guess I would be what they call an “anchor baby”) for example. So what if we are all skeletons beneath it all?
Yet, I exist among a great big wide network of people creating beautiful things despite. It is one of the reasons that I lend my talent, time and abilities to projects like The Red Umbrella Project. I’ve certainly benefitted from being a part of the memoir writing class that they offer to current and former sex workers. It is an amazing experience to sit in a room full of people who can see each other for the spirits we all are as opposed to the flawed human experience we exist as a part of. This experience has led to two literary journals which tell the stories of sex workers (Prose & Lore). Prose & Lore 2 was recently launched on July 10, 2013. It is my hope that through sharing our stories (sad, happy, shocking or fun) all work toward the end of educating the world of sex worker’s humanity. I think about the world before the internet where sex workers only knew the sex workers at their club or on their stroll or with their agency or, worse, in hiding going it all alone.
I am grateful to be a part of different communities which strive to share with the world the stories of our humanity despite and in spite of our flaws (women, people of color, queer, managing mental illness, survivors, I could go on. You get the point.). They are not perfect worlds. Even within this world, issues of marginalization breed ignorance and callousness. There is an unwillingness to simply empathize without feeling threatened or becoming needlessly defensive. I personally find myself in a space that is never enough for anyone. I’m not militant or loud enough for the activists or feminists. I’m not gay enough for the queer community. “How dare you say you’re a sex worker,” say the strippers. “How dare you say you’re a stripper,” say the burlesque performers. Daggers for being thin though I’ve worked out like an athlete since the age of twelve (for years with trainers). Mind you, I’d also get daggers were I overweight. “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. There’s no such thing as depression,” say the "positive" thinkers. It never ends.
At least, however, even with that, we are able to harness true power by creating, community building and bringing awareness to society at large. This tribe which is not cut from mainstream cloth has issues. It is surely not utopia. But every merry band of misfits I know finds their own chosen family within which they can build no matter what lack of control, resources or access society at large imposes. It’s because the things we do, we do because we HAVE TO for our own survival and peace of mind. Those of you in the tribe know exactly what I mean. To those of you not in this tribe it probably makes no sense. Yet, when we serve it to you as only our creatively unique selves can, you get it a little more each time. I hope. I have to believe that these are the things that change the world. This is the power within us that is feared and attempting to be extinguished.
ESSENCE REVEALED - Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston. She got her BFA at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU's Steinhardt School of Education. Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque. She's been published in two anthologies: Pros(e), Prose & Lore 2, & Johns, Marks, Tricks & Chicken Hawks. She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque. Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.