September 6, 2017 § Leave a comment

Heard an interview with the hip hop artist Logic on the radio like last year and was intrigued, because much of the interview was about his experience as a biracial person of color who is super white-appearing—intriguing because that is my experience as well (not Black and White but Brown and White in a part of the U.S. where that colorline runs deep). That weird experience of realizing that the folks you feel most at home around automatically assume you’re not one of them.

Anyway, forgot about him. Then, recently, was reminded again when I saw him in an anti-smoking PSA on YouTube—a literally one-second snippet in an ad from TheTruth.com about how tobacco companies have historically targeted people with mental illness, even going so far as to donate cigarettes to psychiatric facilities.

(This doesn’t surprise me, incidentally. The PSA suggests that the disproportionate percentage of cigarette smokers with mental illness, something like 40%, is due to corporate targeting, but in the NAMI Family-to-Family classes I attended a couple years back, I also remember hearing that folks with schizophrenia in particular actually have some biophysically unique relationship to nicotine that such that smoking alleviates symptoms. Quick internet skim suggests that there are various hypotheses about what accounts for this relationship, though, so I’m not really prepared to say what part of the association between smoking and mental illness is biological and which part is social or marketing-driven.)

Back to Logic, though: wow, a white-appearing, nerdy-looking biracial rapper plugging mad pride too? Who is this guy? So then I finally got around to looking him up and found this video:

Y’all seen this? Kinda reminds me of that Macklemore gay marriage video that The Lonely Island spoofs in Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping—which I have seen three times now—which is not to say it’s not moving: it is. More than the message about suicide among LGBT youth, though, it’s the song’s simple act of intervening in the inherently isolating experience of suicidal feelings, making them an issue of tender public concern, that is so powerful. Naming a catchy song after the suicide hotline number so that everyone remembers what to do in a moment of crisis and absolute isolation? Fucking brilliant.

With no visual narrative to compete with this message, the live performance from just a few days ago on the MTV Video Music Awards in some ways is more compelling:

And, if you’re interested, here’s his white-looking biracial POC anthem too. I love that he has to write an anthem to let everyone know just for the record that he’s Black. I get that.


July 27, 2014 § Leave a comment

i told my dad: so just leave now. or maybe: when that day comes, go ahead and go. but i’ll cut off the relationship. and i’ll be very angry. and i won’t want to stay in touch. when he said that after my mom died, he would rejoin the seminary and renounce his earthly family.

i know i am dreaming about g. i try not to stand in the way when waves of grief overtake me. i cry in public, sitting in my car in the bank teller line or on the bench as x plays on the jungle gym. it’ll pass if i just let it happen. grief like he’s dying. it feels like he’s dying.he’s not going to get better. it’s too hard, and there’s nothing that works. i know that’s the story spun by his illness. my story, triggered by his illness, is this: i’ll always be left. if i love someone, that person will leave. if i love someone, that love will make the person leave. it is my love itself that will make the beloved withdraw, ambivalent. my love is disgusting in its excess. my love is painful to experience, as the imminence and inevitability of abandonment. this is the story. this is the story. as soon as i type it out i feel my chest constrict into panic, my eyes burning.

so i try to change the story. i sit in front of my altar where i have placed the candles i once bought for myself when i moved to the little house in west sacramento, finally alone, finally on my own. there is the clay sculpture of the dark skinned ocean goddess, her skirts flowing with jellyfish, her arms bearing coral. there is the ceramic box cradling two origami swans that my friend sat folding without thinking at a meeting once. the requisite virgen vela. a streamlined wooden figurine of mother mary–different from la virgen–with eyes downcast and hands folded in prayer. a gift from my mentor, my surrogate grandmother. i light incense and work on changing the story.


of course he wants to die; he’s depressed

many people face this situation–disability, unemployment

there are always things we can do to get better

i believe in the possibility that things can get better

and so i pray:


may i be fearless in the face of loss

may i be courageous

may i be curious

may i be kind to myself

may i stay open and tender

may this suffering awaken



and when you are gone

i still have my writing

i still have my daughter

my family

my work in the community

i have a chance to breathe

and not to worry

until you return.


it doesn’t make the grief go away

it doesn’t change the reality of loss

but it changes my relationship to it.

it doesn’t make the fear go away

yet it cultivates a fearlessness.

a friendliness that greets and bows

and says, yes, please come in,

i know you.

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