As Lust Gets In the Way

It was a very unsettling idea for me for me to grasp, initially. Lust, settling in like dust into an old wooden window sill. As the years begin to pick up momentum, I have started to recognize the pattern. There are so many processes that reign automatically--especially living in this time and especially with this color. Lust is an arguable leader holding weight in decision-making.

For the record, there's no way I'm going to bullshit and posit that I have a deep metaphysical understanding of the reality of the ancients; that perhaps I have some divine insight into the way people reacted toward levels of impulse brought on by physical desire. I don't. I've heard theories, but the ancients don't plug into me that way. What I do believe, within the paradigm of my comfort is, there was an overriding sense of community that lead to my being conceived. Where people, black people, felt indebted to one another.

There was an instinct that we nurtured with the hopes and faith of a better life cycle. A time when self-determination was what kept folks alive, and not just a talented tenth but people who didn't find shame in being poor and who weren't offended if their daily activities appeared to be mundane or as the (falsely revered) bourgeoisie would think to be unsophisticated. I think love: a generalized sense of holistic appreciation for our survival, was the theme of the day.

We're in a more glamorized state of manumission and reconstruction as black folks living all up and through America. We can recognize that there isn't too stark of a cultural contrast between 2012 and say 1912 or even 1872--when, at the very least, our folks had a genuine understanding of where we stood on the timeline from when chattel slavery was legal and the captivity and/or genocide of our people was the norm.

Of course, after enslavement and a good dose of patriotic propaganda, people were aroused by the promise of having assimilated into "equality" or at least being a cog in a carbon copy of a successful economy. But the underriding message was one of respect and support. Considering the emotional context of it all--there wasn't so much of an insatiable desire, across the board, to have things so quickly. When we as an entire people recognized the constructs of healing and time, we sought a gratifying life knowing that, in time, we would take steps together to be able to develop as a new culture living in America's new social landscape.

Love, patience, hope ... I don't feel that now--not in large part, anyway. The stimuli is obvious; and growing up surrounded by advertisements and media messages everywhere, I am sure that my response has been ripening for at least a decade.

Now, and in the past 10 years of being a black adult--a woman with dark skin and nappy hair--I don't feel the love. I feel resentment on a platform of impulse brewing from the core of our people. There's no way to skate around internalized racism and how it has evolved into this autonomous animal that doesn't need much management from modern-day Willie Lynch-isms. This lust thing is just a result of the momentum of "keeping hope alive" (thank you, Jesse) with no real strategy or collective end goal of something to actually be hopeful for.

Whatever the process for lust's arrival to now and whatever climate has been built, specifically for ghetto youth dem (i.e. my black ass)--it's here, and it's the popular route for decision-making.

Again, this is my belief, but I've been infused with this lust, so I hold its definition akin to a lot of the superfluous character flaws that I've learned to embrace. This is all in an effort to maintain the Self. More than the primal responses that lead to me making decisions based on dripping wet serotonin and testosterone swirling around in my bloodstream--it's an embedded cultural response.

It is believed, by Hindu and other south Asian principles, that this age is that of Kali Yuga. The time is described to be that of little patience for connectivity with God and imbalance. Kali is a male demon of war, bringing strife to the land through avarice, upset and, of course, lust. It is considered the "age of iron," an element controlled by the planet Mars. Even the other popular religions of the day warn of succumbing to the sinful, worldly distractions that plague mankind. I believe that we are all living in an age where the very principles that we are taught to revile and say no to--are the tacit law of the land.

To further complicate matters, we're living in a rolling wave that has built an abundance of negative images of black women. Since the inception of entertainment in the United States, there have only been prejudicial depictions of black womanhood and girlhood--absorbed into the mind of anyone who's been able to sit, look and listen. This is the burden felt in my life.

American culture has dehumanized us and made it generally acceptable to love us less or not at all. The collective subconscious believes all that has been assigned of the black woman and the response is seen in how people treat her and through her behavior toward others. My beauty isn't respected for its sacredness--it cannot innocently be valued. For me and all other black women, it's a feat to honestly believe we are whole because there is so much telling us we are not.

These negative-traumatic depictions complicate this further because I believe that by the very essence of our humanity we are sexual. Very, very sexual. Add to that, ancestrally, we descend from the most sophisticated of backgrounds. There's no question to me that the people we descended from were with equanimity: inventive, creative, intelligent, savvy, beautiful, spiritual, fair, honest, diplomatic and sensual. There was an equal balance between the heart, mind, body, community and erogeneity. In the contemporary, we are far removed from the lifestyle and environment that would allow for our people to flourish despite the destructive nature of the age of Kali Yuga. So, we spiral into an abyss of bad timing (both cosmically and historically), lack of preparation because of the absence of collective knowledge of self and the inundation of false precepts that are being broadcasted in mass media. Tack on to that the dwindling concept of community (love and loyalty) and what's left is really just primal desires--with nice haircuts and fancy gadgets.

As I have matured and grown into this woman--who is arguably ancient in beauty--I've witnessed, played victim to and have even imposed the unrehearsed dance of living in lust. Since regret isn't a default modality for me, all those episodes have earned rank in the schema of my memory.

When the urge calls, when the response is met--the heat and the tightness is something that shouldn't be avoided. It feels so good, because it's necessary. There's no logic once the throbbing is initiated; plus who in their right mind is going reject a golden moment of connection?

Despite the pleasure found in trysting with beautiful people--I've found that those experiences can 1) leave a mean trail that can illustrate a misleading narrative of one's intimate exchanges; 2) place a precedent on organic experiences once motivations become clear and intentions are (mutually) made.

The popular notion of honesty being the best policy--where "experts" wax poetic about honesty and communication being, "some of the best tools to navigate relationships"--is all a crock of ca-ca. Folks love to lie ... in the midst of the romance, wherever it may be. Along with the pleasure derived from the instant reward and the satisfaction from indulging in the moment--people want to and oft times hold on to, a layer of fantasy. Lust is multi-pronged in its ability to capture your sensibilities once the dance has begun. Perhaps because it is rapidly becoming the easiest tool to be vulnerable and instinctual. People don't reveal their humanity regularly. Nowadays we revere cool attitudes--to have the sense of being above emotions. The attitude of the colonial elite--troublesome because it has been assimilated into the day-to-day life of folks who live in all classes--even the class that gets shitted on by this so-called elite class. And it's all conveniently being packaged as American culture.

Nevertheless, the dance is a favored one, and I'm unsure if I am really ready for the responsibility of taking a seat from that boogie--to sit down at a table of something I haven't had the luck of learning the flavor of, yet.

There's got to be a balance between the dripping sweetness and the funk. It is possible for indulgence to be a theme but never the motivation for action. People rush to judgment when you offer them truth. This truth, that most, if not all, are in a search of, lives in a frankness that is implied when you move in lust-based actions. There are guidelines that, are implied during events as they are that are happening. These guidelines are true in application and afterwards, too. Muthafuckas don't stick to these guidelines. Collective realness is the dance movement that coalesces with the rhythm of this passionate impulse thing. Collectively we're not being real to ourselves when making decisions about lust--or anything else.

Here's the biggest obstacle that I face:

The process proves that though lust may be the way of the time--the very folks that employ the practice don't fully understand the steps in the process. How can one soundly engage in anything remotely hedonistic but then handle outcomes with the agility of an evangelist? It's just backwards.

When I pray, I give honor to Oshun, Lakshmi, and Isis: (all the same) goddess of love, fecundity, sensuality and pleasure, and I was even born on her feast day. I also pray to a "male" god that keeps me on the pipeline of interconnectedness with the ancients, and my living loved ones. So, I am bursting with love and all of its spoils! That is ironically the obstacle I face: my personality isn't in line with the times. I believe living life is never a solo mission (no matter what people say) and my hope is that--though the dance of lust can trip one up--it doesn't distract from the process. I doubt many people want to travel through life and not share with anyone. My heart bleeds for those folks who choose to be too cool for the love part of life.

The result of the actions that are catalyzed by lust--can be devastating (some people use the word "heartbreaking")--this is usually when the lust leads to a mass consumption, or what I'm talking about specifically: sex. I've found that to be the end goal for many (myself included) and I've really only the theory to explain why that is the theme of the time, because speaking practically--I'm am still at a loss for the real motivation, behind the movement.

Maybe if sex were removed from the dance of lust--maybe if I could just indulge in the other consumption--bathing in those indulgences and actions for a while and then learn what sparks those drives. I could then possibly learn why lust is such a tall and wide hurdle and why I/we believe it is better to indulge in it than to avoid it.


I am, like most, unaware of the societal spiritual move away from understanding why we do what we do. What I think is key is that this piece started out as a very candid (yet still cryptic) letter to a man, a man that I found interest in, whom I had come into contact with through a friend of his whom (at the time at least) I was also interested in. It was my naive attempt at being honest about my sexual desires for more than one person--in the same social circle--at the same, damn time. I wouldn't go on to say that it was a heartfelt appeal to have my needs satisfied--more like an intellectual appeal to get those needs met without looking like I was trying to "smash the homies." At the time of me penning the letter, I had been confronted with information that helped to legitimize my subconscious understanding of why I had the desire, why I wasn't alone in wanting it to be this way, and why it was okay to for me to express myself. It was based on a series of events that took place and I'm only in the early stages of being able to comprehensively examine contemporary black sexuality (as seen through the eyes of a non-straight, black woman's lens).

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by Jeanette E. Toomer (Brooklyn, New York:USA)

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