The girl’s small. Her hair is endless and black. Cascading her back. Yards of it. She comes into the stand and turns. Her head just reaches over the table. Her fingers are tiny stars. Flitting over the surface of things. Sunshine snaps at her fingernails. Breaks there. Her wrists twist away. She wants to play with everything. She moves her digits over the cloths and the tables. Her mother comes up behind her. Takes her fingers. Stops her. Whispers something. Tries to steer her away. The girl moves off towards the gold cabinet. Her eyes are dark, restless. Her fingers flit again. Her mother follows her. Tries to contain her. It doesn’t work. The girl moves again. She returns to the first place. The entrance. Her fingers flit again. This time, they discover the pearls. She picks up the bracelets and the beads. The mother comes up a third time.

“Please, that’s enough.”


The girl goes back to the pearls. There are little studs inside a shell. Green, blue, red, cream, white, silver. She twists over these now. Her fingers lifting. She drops them suddenly. Handfuls descend. Scatter. Bounce over the cloth.

“Stop,” the mother says.

This time the mother grabs the girl’s hands. She twists. Tries to release herself. The mother holds fast. Pearl studs are still rolling. I move over to them. Continue reading


Aldrin Valdez, "Sometimes (after Henry Darger)" 2013-14, digital collage
Aldrin Valdez, “Sometimes (after Henry Darger)” 2013-14, digital collage


Buses & Elocution

Out here in Nassau County, Long Island most of the people that take public transportation are people of color, workers earning low wages, and immigrants on their way to work or to school. When he was a teenager, BoyBoy aspired to be white, but if you had asked him then, he’d have had no idea what you were talking about. Instead say Hollister and say blond. Say not wanting to smell like the fish his sister just cooked before he went to school. Stress the soft TH sounds instead of the hard T, F not P: First, myTHology, THree, PHoenix, Four, Full, Faggot, teeTH, Five. Even Filipino, which he is. ConFused, too. He hated taking the bus.

  Continue reading

My own Private Normcore: Part 1


This month, the writers of Private Commission were prompted by the “normcore” trend (google it if ya haven’t heard). The discussion of normcore triggered one of our members to have an intense flashback to her 12-year-old self living in suburbia.  And so we found our perfect writing prompt: the Shopping Mall. Something all suburbanites exist in relation to, and that even urbanites have at least a passing familiarity with. What follows is the first in a three-part series generated by the writing prompt. Continue reading

For Karyn Washington


Your silence will not protect you. Your silence will not protect you. -Audre Lorde

Those words were rolling around in my mouth as I read through the several blogs posts and articles chronicling the untimely suicide of Karyn Washington, founder of For Brown Girls. Immediately, my bones stiffened like concrete and my heart began to thump briskly behind my breasts. This response is familiar; it arrives as a protective warning and physiological memory of trauma. Karyn and I had never met but in solidarity we carried a kinship of resonant armor. I was distressed by the reality that the darkness of mental health had taken another one of us. A darkness that has also visited me.

Here lies a complicated conversation surrounding silence. It truly demonstrates the abstract space of the individual, the shadow that seals the body in tight, discoloring our vision and making the world appear to exist very far away from us. A scrim used to protect and sometimes hide behind, but cannot always be removed. Her singular experience may never be able to be examined. The private qualities to mental illness. The darkest parts of vulnerability. The depth of repressed pain. These complexities are difficult to pattern or describe. They are real. Real enough that her emotional experience most likely existed like a violent, but familiar enemy lashing out unexpectedly. As we have seen. Some may believe that Karyn had the resources and belief systems she needed to rise above social naysayers and tackle the dense barriers inside of a black female body.

Is this proof of our silence not protecting us? Continue reading

How Many Feminist Bookstores Are There?

WomenWomenFirst-GenderDetectiveFor my documentary project, The Unknown Play Project, I’ve been doing some research into different spaces that have been important to queers past and present. Feminist bookstores are often at the top of many people’s lists, but, as most readers know, brick and mortar bookstores have been quickly disappearing over the past two decades.

Below are some highlights from some of my research into feminist bookstores in the US of the last twenty years. Read the full article on the project website.

And stop by your nearest feminist bookstore to give them a little love!

(Click purple icons to get name and address information. See full list of 2014 feminist bookstores with addresses and links below map.)

Feminist Bookstores in US in 1994/5 (Total: 100)

Feminist Bookstores in US in 2014 (Total: 14, as of 15 Feb 2014)

Existing US Feminist Bookstores (as of 15 Feb 2014)

For information on the sources for this information and more feminist bookstore resources, read the full article.