It’s been 2 seasons since I wrote anything. A lot has happened to you & I. I hope you’re finding yourself somewhere in the middle, with (little to) no catastrophes in the heart.
This is the year of collaboration. if you’d like to meet my current crew, come to one of these:
The ~live~ Little Strike experience is transforming. You are now likely to encounter Koof Ibi on the trumpet, shredding heart beats into polyphonic waves. The prismatic Raymo Ventura can be seen spinning our visual collaborations. But check it I’ve decided to take a big break from shows –!- I’m gonna study and search my ego a bit. I want to be a better person. on all fronts. Also i’m going to Colombia, any recommendation?
2. Releases: I’m nearly done with my EP. That’s nuts!! Jan/ feb. I’ll let you know. Also Raymo and I shot a wild ride of a music video, to be release this january. There will be a release show. We will serve fruit. comeee
Here’s an essay I meant to send 3 months ago,, topic feels relevant. Hope it’s useful. All love.
The Performer: Part 10
“How shall Integrity face Oppression? What shall Honesty do in the face of Deception, Decency in the face of Insult, Self-Defense before Blows?
W.E.B. Du Bois
Strange times. Truth is, my integrity and honesty have been coming into question since puberty, since I started getting feedback about my human body from strangers and familiar men in my environment. Look at this, It’s taken me 10 essays to get to this topic because frankly, I had no idea where to even start. This is a vast topic with endless anecdotes and emotions, nearly infinite, so I decided to share 1 personal story along with some quotes from wiser people. This essay is about love in the face of pain and domination; trying to make sense of it all.
Just as a disclaimer: In my core, I believe that women’s issues are directly linked to all other social issues, I mean how can they not be? Women make up half of the population. The math alone is persuasive. Also also it’s important to note that non binary folks, trans, and the queer community are and should be included in this discussion, as they face these issues daily as well.
“Cultures of domination attack self-esteem, replacing it with a notion that we derive our sense of being from dominion over another. Patriarchy teaches men that their sense of self and identity, their reason for being, resides in their capacity to dominate others.” ― bell hooks
6 months ago Philadelphia experienced its first official hot day, right at the brink of summer. I was walking to work from center city, a 10-15 minute walk depending on your tenacity. Right as I started my walk a man commented on my body, something rather innocuous like “hello there beautiful”, nothing abnormal, so I just kept it moving without too much thought or attention. Not a minute went by when I heard another comment semi whispered at me, something of the “hey baby” variety. Surprised at the high rate of occurrence within theme, I made a bewildered face and crossed the street. Little did I know that waiting for me on the other side was another comment in said theme, this time more explicit, something like “look at that body mmm” followed by an up and down glare and lip lick – a grotesque combo for the ages.
Utterly grossed out and now at a total loss at the frequency of these unprovoked moments I started noticing my body language shifting. Suddenly my gaze became fixed at the ground (while normally I look up and often smile at people, depending on circumstance), I was walking faster and with visible preoccupied mood, and most importantly my face had now displayed fear. This is important to single out, because what came next highly depended on this transformation. About a minute after my vibe changed I encountered a man that was on his phone. As he was talking on the phone he managed to lock eyes with me, and then he said in a tone just audible enough for me to hear: “there’s a sexy bitch walking right here you should see that body”. In disbelief I felt my body become hot with anger. With shaken integrity I imagined taking this man’s phone and shouting into it “your friend is a piece of shit” right before breaking it on the ground with my foot. But I didn’t do it, I just imagined it while walking away, in total silence.
About to reach a light, I continued to see my body language cower in fear and disgust. Right before making a turn at the light, a man, seemingly out of nowhere, grabbed my arm and said “get over here baby” — In total disbelief I instinctually pulled away my arm and started walking so fast I was effectively running. Another man made a comment about my body as I was literally running away. What just happened. Why did this escalate, and how??
“Dominator culture teaches all of us that the core of our identity is defined by the will to dominate and control others. We are taught that this will to dominate is more biologically hardwired in males than in females. In actuality, dominator culture teaches us that we are all natural-born killers but that males are more able to realize the predator role. In the dominator model the pursuit of external power, the ability to manipulate and control others, is what matters most. When culture is based on a dominator model, not only will it be violent but it will frame all relationships as power struggles.” ― bell hooks
This anecdote that I shared, it’s just one day. Actually It’s just 10 minutes in one day, and I know that I am not unique in my experiences. Every woman (and non binary GQ people) experiences this form of domination regularly. Endless examples aside, I want my point to be regarding the harm that this behavior creates not in just introducing mild trauma into my (and countless others) daily lives, but also the harm it creates for all of us, men included. Patriarchy is harmful to all; It isn’t rooted in love, but in fear. And it manifests in countless ways.
Some days it’s very hard for me to be a woman in this world. Some days I walk into venues to play music and the sound person* asks me if I’m the new waitress, or a band will ask “whose girlfriend” I am. “who makes your beats” people often ask. Those moments require a lot of energy to combat but they are also teaching moments, and every time I can come back with strong eye contact and a peaceful truth, I educate someone about reality. It’s a lot to have to constantly convince people of your worth; And coupled with the very real fear of violence from strangers and non-strangers alike (verbal and physical), it can create an unfriendly world. In this world I am constantly suspicious of my fellow humans. So how do I keep my integrity in the face of oppression? How do I keep my peace?
Patriarchy and domination is not to be denied. We all grew up in it and our role is to figure out how it has penetrated our lives (through movies, music, education system, the words we use, our family structure, how we view sex, etc). To really examine the dark corners of our minds, that is of utmost importance. Patriarchy has no gender bell says. I myself look deeply into my soul daily to find its remnants, from body shaming other women to moments of unprovoked jealousy. Attempting to unlearn, this is the challenge. Personally I see a direct link between the current wave of social unrest and the culture of domination – over women, minorities and the poor in general. Fear of a ‘loss of power’ has plagued us — ‘when you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.’
We are all suffering under the tyranny of the culture of domination.
All love, here’s one final quote I promise !!
“the wounded child inside many males is a boy who, when he first spoke his truths, was silenced by paternal sadism, by a patriarchal world that did not want him to claim his true feelings. The wounded child inside many females is a girl who was taught from early childhood that she must become something other than herself, deny her true feelings, in order to attract and please others. When men and women punish each other for truth telling, we reinforce the notion that lies are better. To be loving we willingly hear the other’s truth, and most important, we affirm the value of truth telling. Lies may make people feel better, but they do not help them to know love.” ― bell hooks, All About Love
*it’s sound person/ sound engineer. not a sound guy 🙂
My bad, it’s been a few months. I was away attempting to follow my intuition abroad and locally, trying to quiet down the thinking mind. I’m here though, more than ever trying my best to concentrate on what is in front of me. It is hard. But that’s good. Little Strike stuff:
1. SHOWS (Philly)
04.08 Sat — @Studio 34 (4522 Baltimore Ave) Yoga & Music 6pm-7:15pm $20
05.03 Wed — @ The Barbary ~with Smiles With Teeth, Lapses, Camp Candle
This Saturday, April 8th, I’ll be testing out a lucid dream of mine: combining yoga with music. My friend and general bamf Amanda DeLeo will be teaching the class and I’m going to be gently musicing to the movements. Y’all, yoga changed my life and continues to daily. It has forced me to deal with my erratic behavior towards my body and noisy mind. Do not get it twisted, it wasn’t ever easy or intuitive for me; in fact I found it intimidating and just plain hard. It forced me to think about my breath and body and nothing else.! it is completely counter intuitive to our over-sensory world. It is awesome. I hope you can make it, we would love feedback on how to make it the best environment for YOU, for future reference. Come move your body and your soul.
** West –> east coast tour in July. details ahead.
2. Working on an EP for this summer. And collaborating with my talented community. New things: live trumpet, drums, bass. New visuals. Trap music. Reducing fear of intimacy to null. Get nulled with me.
As always, an essay into my brain will follow below, hope it uplifts. I am way too busy and i don’t like it so I wrote a thing. Let me know if you have thoughts. All love.
The Performer: Part 8
Have you ever had this thought: I would sacrifice the health of my body for my goals.
Side note: feel free to replace “goals” with passion, art, individualism, financial security, school, etc.
So the other week someone at yoga for recovery said that sacrificing their body for art was acceptable to them at one point. I perked up, eyes dilated, I breathed in.* This is a thought I’ve had many times over the years: vividly in art school, a place that intuitively breeds sleepless nights in your studio while simultaneously daring to ~objectively~ grade you on your arting (??). And dare it does. But that’s just good ol’ school. School practically normalizes stress and anxiety. You’re supposed to drink coffee and smoke cigarettes, it’s a dorm ! My dorm had mold everywhere. Mold will suppress your immune system and much of the population is terribly allergic.
Mold aside — though I can talk mold with the best of them — I’ve been thinking about my body’s well being a lot lately, especially as it relates to goals. And art. Sacrificing one night to finish an assignment is acceptable, but what about long term sleep deprivation? Skipping breakfast every day, nervously smoking cigs in between business meetings, overeating late at night, endlessly scrolling social media, refined sugar blah blah. What about staying up really late and working on my new spiritual trap song because I have no other time for my art other than super late at night because I’m over worked and underpaid? And how come no one really talks about back pain on instagram. The reality of sacrifice is far more nuanced.
Self sacrifice is certainly a romantic idea, but much like a bathtub full of champagne, the reality can be a bit acidic. Who is this personal sacrifice serving anyway? This important work that I hope to generate, this money that I hope to make, these goals, are the motivations behind them personal or do they serve us all? Jig’s up, it is time to own up to my true motives: simply looking at my actions isn’t enough anymore. Hey tamar do you sing to share a part of your soul or are you looking for external approval from strangers?
Pro tip in checking motives: I like pretending that people can read my mind while I’m in conversation with them. It helps me keep track of negative thoughts and makes me behave more honestly. It’s also terrifying. Try it out today if you get a chance and watch your ego get checked. Dig in.
In my research for motives I discovered a loop: self sacrifice that serves my ego leads me to having less time for self care (exercise, yoga, meditation, relaxation, sleep, eating patterns), which leads me to having less energy in general, which then turns into more destructive thoughts and behaviors, having less impulse control and more unsavory immediate gratification (bad diet, irritability, desire to isolate, oversleeping, lust, drinking, numbing activities, general avoidance), landing me in self-centered-ville. It’s a classic energy loop, which eventually leads to guilt. And guilt is like soul plaque — it will build, it will suffocate.
Stuff that just serves our individualism just isn’t sustainable. Adam Curtis said “The problem with individualism is that, whilst it is liberating and exciting and beautiful, when things get difficult you are very weak. If you go into the woods at night, by yourself, it’s frightening, isn’t it? You get scared by the slightest noise, the slightest snap of a twig. If you go into the woods with your friends in a group, it’s incredibly exciting and thrilling because you somehow feel stronger.”
Maybe self sacrificing my body for my individualism (art, goals, money, clothes, etc) is my ego disguising itself as a martyr, trying to convince me there is a higher purpose for my selfish desires. Maybe. Or maybe it’s just my ego looking for love. At the end of the day, you can boil every fear into some desire, and more often than not, that desire is for love. Choosing how to go about it is still key. Releasing myself from a guilt cycle is, in itself, facing a fear. Perhaps even in the process getting closer to true love? Maybe. Much more to say about this and the importance of self care in general, but I’ll give it time to marinate. It’s Spring up here, give yourself a break. If you can afford it, take time to just be. Catch me in the park. Say hello.
*did you just breathe in?