The Erotics of Abolition
by Junauda Petrus-Nasah
About the project:
How do I heal from generations of white supremacy with sweetness and limitless compassion for myself and my ancestors? What ways am I accountable to healing as my centered focus? As a Black person, my whole life I was raised to struggle and expect struggle. That my dreams and desires were to be made small as to not to aspire for disappointment. In this piece reflected on how in this time of uprising, I want to not only decolonize myself, but decolonize the way I struggle.
In this piece, I want to reflect on how we abolish the police from our bodies and psyches, especially, when so much of Black life is shaped in surviving the violence of white supremacy. How do we lean into the sweetness and possibility of that shimmering unknown?
I have been in some kind of activist struggle since I’ve been 16 and in 2020 at the age of 39, after life on this earth, breaking my heart over and over, I am learning how to be pleasure in connecting with the divine heat of liberation. In tiny, medium and thick gestures, I luxuriate in all the unfurlings of me towards the arch of justice and beyond.
Last night, very late, I smoked a joint and got down a YouTube rabbit hole where I watched a lot of gospel that made me cry in a good waterfall and cleansing way. Tears that were stubbornly, coating my heart and throat were excavated through the vocal doula work of Yolanda Adams. I love Yolanda Adams. Pretty sure I have a crush on her. I love how femme and dominant and powerful and divine she is. I think I have a thing for church girls, spiritual women, women who talk to God and anything divine. The women who experience ecstasy with things that are invisible and sacred.
In the video that started me down the rabbit hole, Yolanda was singing a tribute to Whitney Houston, a gospel song called, “I love the Lord.” It was at a BET awards right after Whitney died. All of the beautiful and dripped Black people were in the audience taking it all in, all composed and reverent, living in their persona of fame. Trying to mourn for Whitney in ways that were composed and stoic for TV. And Yolanda almost let them, her performance began composed and fierce, but then the gospel dripped honey from the lips of her, alto exploding, invigorating goosebumps on every
melanated body. Her baby hairs were moistened from her effort. It was glorious, it was orgasm.
The tribute from Yolanda, was a loving, deep and dripping wet response to Whitney’s rendition that I watched in another video. Church girl to church girl. Watching Whitney’s performance of the same song, she is in a brown, glittery mystique of a gown that makes her look shimmery and naked as she sings her love for the Lord. For all of Whitney’s religeiousity and reverence she is deeply in the rapture and erotic of gospel. You see her body glisten in the sweat and pleasure and cosmos of worship. She is escaped in plain sight, in a divine realm, untouchable and protected by her voice and
in an ecstasy that billows beyond and into all of the souls.
And I am still in the rabbit hole of Black women vocalists. Feeling their erotic and their soul, through the church. Black femme sexuality is as expressive as it is subversive, divine as it is situated in the sacredness of our lust. I am crying and feeling awakened. The next video I watch is Yolanda Adams singing a tribute to Anita Baker, who was maybe my very first crush.
I fell for Anita in Pre-K in the 80s when my aunt Brenda would play her records on repeat. Anita can sang so much joy and yearning through her depths of alto and feeling. Gospel and jazz and all of the Black girl feelings you can stand, wrapped up into an impeccable shape of an alto propelled from records and cassette tapes. In her tribute to Anita, I watched Yolanda Adams serenade her with “You Bring Me Joy,” and Yolanda came out onto the stage, body snatched, hair laid, dress immaculate, and floating across the stage on disco-ball stilettos. Anita is sitting in the audience, front row center and letting herself be blessed and sanctified by her own and Yolanda’s combined genius. You feel the joy of Yolanda singing Anita’s songs and the joy of Anita having her songs sung to her by Yolanda. Their smiles were so genuine and bright.
I watch this and my heart is literally awakened on a whole ‘nother level and the awakenness melts from my hearts into my thighs and I feel a connection of spirit and erotic that I need. And I just cry and cry.
When the tears come out during this particular sensuous gospel, it comes from my chest and my gut, and is uncontrollable. I feel it shake me. An orgasm of grief, or possibility of wonder of survival. Man, I love crying sometimes, so bad. I want the tears to travel down to my womb, down to my pussy, up from my womb, up from my pussy. A pussy wet from tears and release and healing.
I orgasmed in my dreams last night. My orgasm moved through my dream body like an intelligent current of stars, that lit my clit and echoed throughout my pelvis. I don’t remember all of the details, but I know I wasn’t fucking anyone else, I wasn’t even touching myself in the dream.
The previous week, I had orgasmed from my thoughts. It was partly out of curiosity if I could do it and boredom. No licked fingers, or rubbed nipples, or tickling of clit, just my mind. Or maybe I was trying to manifest something material from the immaterial, the visceral from my numb and distracted mind. Or maybe unconsciously prepare myself for how to get off in these Octavian times where at any moment, I might have to grab a backpack with minimal items and survive amongst a disappointing and corny dystopia. Either way, I had let my thoughts and un-touched body manifest itself into literal ecstasy.
This dream location was some place that was a mixture of a boring, dinner party and an office of a non-profit organization. In my dream, I remember I was discrete, my mind in its own universe, amidst a room of people distracted from me. A delicious delight, like a kid lost in a grocery, before they realize they are lost. Regardless, this absence of attention was arousing enough in this dream moment, I guess. Or maybe the doldrums of the space gave me the idea to disappear through getting off. Or maybe I was being aroused by the existence of my own pum pum between my thighs, pulsing and petal-y, warm and with inherent subtext. What I do know was in my dream. I was using my mind and not my hands, and suddenly emotional contractions from around my pelvis helped me come so nice and fully resonant in this dream that I woke up so contented. I lingered in it. And had gratitude for an unexpected new super power for these heavy and strange times.
My 6 year old daughter asks me if I want to play, “dare or truth” one day.
It takes me a second to realize what she is talking about, until in my density it dawns on me that it is the game “truth or dare” but just with her preferred selection of the two being said first. I haven’t played dare or truth/truth or dare since I was a teen, attempting to put myself in proximity to first kisses that I felt too afraid to ask for more directly from anyone I was interested in at 14.
As an adult, with a mind that feels chronically distracted by life and the heavy that it holds, I remind myself that my child is my guru in escaping myself. I contemplate her question again, “dare or truth?”
What do I dare? What do I truth?
I contemplate my choices.
I determine that saying truth would allow me to play this game with her and keep sitting folding up laundry in the multi-tasking, multi-verse of adulthood’s responsibility.
As we played, everytime I would answer “truth” she was disappointed and bored, asking questions that were half-baked and half-hearted, like “What do you want to eat tomorrow?” not really caring to ask anything about my intimate thoughts or life, per the games custom. She didn’t want my truth. Maybe she knew, I didn’t even know my truth. My child wanted me to dare. And I for a second in all
of my heavy and quarantine and sadness, wanted to dare too.
After a couple of rounds, and much hesitation, I relented and chose dare. A smile creases open upon her face, mischievous for sure. I begin already feeling the dread from what her imagination would orchestrate for me to do. What dramatic or outlandish dare, would she dare me to dare?
“Go to Mama Gowo and tell her, ‘I wanna go poo poo on your head.’” My child says with unflinching clarity and delicious delight. “Would you dare?” her eyes tease. I look at her back in her eyes and nod my head, accepting the duty of my dare.
I walk to my wife as she is at her work from home desk, amid her consuming and insistent projects. I tap her on the shoulder, feeling the shadow of my child behind me. My wife looks at me, partly curious and partly flustered. I look at her in her unsuspecting brown eyes and tell her, “I wanna go poo poo on your head.” And before she can reply, I run away with our kid and hide. I don’t know why I run, maybe because isn’t that what you always do after completing a dare? We run to my room and into the closet and close the door behind us, breathing heavy, laughing and giddy and she looked at me with pride, and I felt it. I was grateful and emotional at the silly. She reminded me how dares lead to their own truth, their own whimsy and boldness.
I was 18 and reading Assata for the first time and getting to experience the very mundane and limitless interiority of a young Black, femme freedom fighter. The book was leant to me by a really pretty ass woman named Assata, who read the book when she was a teen and it changed her life, so she changed her name. Assata Shakur was grown by the time I read it, living in Cuba as a revolutionary deity. Initially, I thought she was Tupac’s mom, but that was because there was no internet then and mad people thought it because her magic seemed like it could yield the magic of our hero.
But I digress.
In reading her memoir, and reading about her feelings and struggle it ignited visions for me that were soulful and revealed to me that I could be a revolutionary. That I SHOULD be one. I needed to work for my people to be free, and I wanted to because of Assata.
Being a teen and learning how to wrap my hair in a headwrap for the first time taught me a practice for protecting my antenna and psyche. My best friend at the time, Patricia, was Kenyan and adept at several variations on how to adorn your head in fabric. And she was the only girl who had on any kinda headwrap in our high school in the 90s and she was recognized in the halls for it. We was 16 and was playing Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu all of the time, and for the first time felt like someone was talking to not only us, but our consciousness. I was still wearing wide legged, 26 inch radial, JNCO jeans from my alterna-teen phase, and over-sized button-ups to hide my big boobs.
At that time in the 90s I was learning and remembering forgotten truths about a sacredness within that I was taught didn’t and couldn’t exist within me as a Black girl, a descendent of Africans in a place that refused to love me for the me of me.
It was in First Avenue seeing Dead Prez for the first time. They was impeccable, melanated magnificence and intellect, and I saw unapologetic divinity and dignity. And they had me dancing and chanting from my pum pum and soul with them, “I’mma African, I’mma African and I know what’s happenin’” and feeling something break open honestly and visceral. A timeline of me, before the interruption and incarceration of my Blackness. Whoa. And then we was flipping the question to other Black folx in the crowd “Are you a African, are you a African? Do you know what’s happening?” Cause shit was happening and we needed to know who we were, in the midst of the happenings. The happenings to us as Black people were persistent, non stop. Amadou Diallo was murdered that year for holding up a wallet in front of NYPD cops. On the cover of their album, “Get Free” was a man who was whipped so many times that you couldn’t wrap your heart around why they do that to our Blackness?
I have been in some kind of activist struggle since I’ve been 16 and in 2020 at the age of 39, after life on this earth, breaking my heart over and over, I am learning how to be pleasure in connecting with the divine heat of liberation. In tiny, medium and thick gestures, I luxuriate and slowly backbend me me towards the arch of justice and beyond.
I am committed to keeping joy in my heart and spirit as I work to demolish the police state and plant seeds of Black-Diaspora-futuristic, abolitionistic, delicious, abundant, tender, limitless, compassionate, reparation-proliferating, healing wounds and unifying magic in my life. I will keep joy in my heart as I demolish the police state. I will keep joy in my heart and hold it fiercely and just dance and twirl in joy, even as I feel and witness the grief and the unimaginable loss in this world, I will love myself and love the earth and the stars in myself and demolish all and every oppression I see.
It’s the full moon and I am hemorrhaging out of my coochie and onto everywhere in my life. Red Kool-aid nightmares. Sit on my sister’s couch to watch a reality show, I get up and I’m caught, red coochie-d. Hydrogen peroxide to get out the stain, and I feel shame and shame for being ashamed of a body who speaks in blood code.
Take a drive to the coop, grocery shop quick, sit in my car, drive home, stand up and there is a little crimson lake, courtesy of my generous and bloody abundant pussy on the car’s upholstery.
I ride the bus an hour and a half to sit in a classroom of beautiful Black teens to talk about Afro-futurism and my brain is multi-tasking contemplating how much of the red insides of me have pooled into my panties and broke the levy of my maxi pad into my pants.
After years, I commit to heal my fibroids, these non-cancerous tumors that bud in the wombs of women, mostly Black. These growths have invaded my womb and it results in days of heavy bleeding and knee curling cramps. Almost a decade of this burden of blood. When I would go to doctors, they would tell me I could either take birth control or wait and get surgery.
I stay home and move less, I am sad more and tired and stressed. I don’t do circus or last minute trips. I imagine ancestral bodies in my lineage and the rivers of blood that they lived with and had to work hard in ways that were unimaginable. I ask my mom about how it was for her to have fibroids when she was younger and she shares a story with me about working for the Hyatt Regency Hotel as a cook and having to wear TWO tampons with TWO maxi pads at a time and working on her feet, and nine day stretches with one day off. This story makes me hate white men and capitalism for having my mama hemorrhaging in they kitchens, making them money and then having to use cotton bought from more white men (the irony) to capture her blood. I feel depressed for the blood sacrifice in the lives of the women in my lineage. I also feel gratitude to them for being able to to bleed and work from home.
I lead a double life of being in the world strong and fierce, and the internal world of being with my body and crying and frustrated as it rivers life force out of me, thick blood clots and menstrual cups that are my chalices of offerings.
After years of this experience I begin asking myself new questions. I save and invest in acupuncture and herbs (it ain’t cheap!!!!). I hover my coochie over steamy and healing herbs. I use dildos out of rose quartz to massage my pussy with attention and curiosity. I let my coochie hold the rose quartz in itself and be encoded by the healing energy. I’m with my pussy in ways that involve deep listening. I am squeamish to be so intimate with myself without a goal. I don’t want my pussy to come or do anything special like kegels. I just want my pussy to feel the power of being listened to and getting to hold something warm, heard and smooth and divine
without their being any expectation of my pussy.
I ask my pussy new questions like, what do I want to say yes to? What does the blood want me to know? How do I use pleasure and intuition as technology toward personal and global abolition? What is the erotics of my abolition?
I have been working on decolonizing and healing my trauma around my sensuality and embodiment for the last year before the uprising happened. After decades of low level
depression and heavy. I seek answers for revolution in my own sensuality. How do I heal through creating pleasure in my womb space? At 39 this uprising in Minneapolis and the world has sparked deeper insights about the nature of the erotic on the path to abolition.
In the days and weeks since the uprising, I have reflected on how seeing violence and death intersected with Blackness and our bodies has impacted my psyche, body and spirit.
I have tried to infuse my activism with embodiment, tenderness and a focus on becoming more whole in a society that actively seeks to tear up Black people. I contemplate on how living a lifetime in a police state has impacted me in ways that are visceral, ambiguous and omnipresent even mushrooming in my womb. My coochie! I have been pushing myself beyond the cerebral and into the body when it comes to understanding true abolition.
I am the imagination of desire that is inherent in this moment of change and transforming. I get to center listening to my body as an antidote to listening to the noise and distraction. As a girl, adults always told me to “close my legs” as if to shut off a light in an empty room or closing a lid on stinky trash. I realize now the “closing” had more to do with a disconnecting me from unfurling truths and succulent prayers. My pussy, my compass.