The Bookends of Amerikkka: A Toni and Miles Documentary Review
August, which I recently looked up the etymology of and discovered means “increase,” was bookended by the release of Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am and Miles Davis: Birth of Cool. I watched them both, I cried in them both and each of them showed me the profound wisdom of directed power in womxn and the profound wisdom of men* in joyful creation.
I feel after seeing both films and learning more of both individuals, that these two documentaries alone could educate and raise 7 generations of humxnity. These films are tiny slices of what these two individuals had to offer and can barely scratch the surface or speak to the lives of either of them and yet even if a humxn being saw nothing else about what people are but watched these two films, they would be bettered by them immediately.
They would know innately how rich being humxn can be, can be felt, can be expressed and can be exacted upon and through others, both consensually and non-consensually. They would see what can grow forth even through the bitterest of pasts, hatreds or prejudices. They would listen to, or see, or read or experience Toni and Miles and they would know the wide breadth of potential of all humxnity.
How many black people can you say that of? How many African descendants of Amerikkkan ancestry transcended through every oppression, limitation and naysayer imaginable to inspire you today just fucking around in 2019? I’m asking because this is a question I realize I have to ask myself daily. Not through anxiety or in comparison, but to remember the potential of my own trajectory. To know that I have more to do here than win the invention of society.
And Miles wasn’t born until 1926 while Toni didn’t come along until 1931. Yet these two singular humxn beings created prolifically until the day that they died and mirrored humxnity so profoundly that they are as significant in their deaths as they were in their lives. They each are communicating with fetuses in the womb right now through someone else’s life. People who don’t know they are people yet are being exposed to Toni and Miles lives and it will help them thrive.
Miles managed 65 years despite some of his worst efforts. Toni gave us 88 out of 100ish. And from them alone we could distill 7 refined and knowledgeable generations of humxnity. But they didn’t raise themselves.
I couldn’t help but note how Miles was legitimately saved first by his daddy and then by at least 4 womxn in his life from not only killing himself, but from the seeming banality of a continuously successful stardom (dude didn’t make an album that didn’t hit an audience! Which, annoyingly, were not the only people he was hitting) and the monotony of the PTSD of being a black man in Amerikkka.
That shit really fucked Miles up and he tried to take plenty of womxn down with him to his own admitted detriment. He came back from France to experience his black manhood and went directly into heroin to cope with the result of feeling what I can only assume is a particular cocktail of self loathing and aggression born from dehumxnization and being emasculated away from the privilege of patriarchy.
In Toni’s life she had her fun, but then the man who was supposed to be in her life as a partner abandoned her to (seemingly) never be seen or heard from again; yet she coped by taking her sons and going home. In her times of need she turned to writing, her family and womxn. Miles turned to music, womxn and heroin with much less personal success, but neither Toni nor he seemed to have ever created a project that flopped.
The difference between learning from someone who is a womxn/man/GNC, or cis/trans, hetero/queer or (racially profiled) black/white/between in this current invention of humxnity we live in is this:
Depending on the groups you have been designated within, there are individuals who have truly had to transcend every imaginable limitation and every type of fuckshit someone in an oppressor category or position has not even had to comprehend as a privilege of their designation.
That does not define the parameters of any individual’s ability to contribute to the great and varied diaspora of humxn understanding and intellect, but it does have a lot of influence over an individual’s distillation of wisdom and how they comprehend to embody it
And I repeat that Toni and Miles were born in the 20th Century. People of the Pigment-Least-Appreciated have been profoundly affecting others lives all throughout humxnity, but in the last 400 years of chattel enslavement that has taken place in this “United States of Amerigo Vespucci” how many black and Afro-Diasporic people have shown you they BEEN TRULY ACTUALLY AND FACTUALLY BEEN FUCKING KNEW HOW HUMXNS SHOULD BE TREATED AND HOW HUXMNS NEEDED TO ACT IN ORDER TO CREATE A SOCIETY THAT EMBODIES THE INTEGRITY IT LIKES TO CLAIM IT HAS?
How many womxn BEEN KNEW? How many black people BEEN KNEW? How many queer people BEEN KNEW? How many children BEEN KNEW? How many disabled people BEEN KNEW? How many old ass people long been dead to the ancestral BEEN KNEW? How many thicc and fat and voluptuous people BEEN KNEW? How many immigrants BEEN KNEW? How many poor AF not having a capitalism to piss on people BEEN KNEW?
And how many of them have TOLD YOU?! Told society, told the cops, told a friend, told the family, wrote a book, sung a song, made a movie, painted a picture and snapped a photograph to TELL YOU WHAT THEY BEEN HAD BEEN KNEW?
Mark my words: Amerikkka may have begun with the mass genocide and enslavement of indigenous and black people, but it will meet its end with the divestment and empowerment of black and indigenous womxn (queer, cis, femme and gender non conforming people too) from the invention of society in its current form which feeds off of them.
Everybody else will be there along for the ride (of a lifetime, def overdue a few lifetimes) including men, cis people and those categorized as “white,” but they will also be listening and they will not be the majority of leadership in this divestment undertaking.
That is how this country will learn to embody the integrity it’s claimed it has had since it was founded.
And it is the only way “The West” as we’ve known it will be anything that remotely resembles “won” or “winning.”
*I am not denying androgyny by writing about either of these individuals in this way because obviously both of these people—these Masters—had a mixture of all three energies in them to varying degrees like every humxn. Arguably, Toni had a great deal of masculine extensiveness and Miles had a great deal of feminine fluidity. But they identified as cis in the language that they had and as far as I know of them, so I will speak about them mostly from this context for the purpose of this writing.