Friday, April 8, 2011


Friday night, after a day turning soil biodynamically, preparing for the spring planting. More on that in a future post (I'm sure you'll be dreaming about it, waiting for the day). First, I want to address some issues with a recent post, about Imenz -The Black Rockstar, Troy, my nephew's father and my sister's partner.

He took issue with three things. First, my calling me his mentor; second, my use of the words Homo sapien sapien; third, my calling us part of a rainbow tribe. I will address the third issue first.

Some years ago, I watched a film about Josephine Baker, the American singer/dancer/actor/freedom fighter, who as a performer was simply too much for the America of her time; I have her Ja'i deux amours on the FrenchySpanishyPortuguese playlist I've been listening to every day the past several months. In the film, the name of which I can't remember, she calls her family, and the twelve multi-ethnic children she adopted, her rainbow tribe. I am of Celtic/Germanic extraction, my niece is half Hispanic, and my nephew, Troy's son, is part African-American. Growing up in central Minnesota, with about two black persons in the entire county, and maybe a few dozen non-whites, I consider us a rainbow tribe. Which I'm tickled about.

Which leads to the second issue, my use of the phrase Homo sapien sapien. I make much of that phrase in my first book. It is of course the scientific designation, the genus name followed by the species. Just as the white tailed deer is called Odocoileous virginianus, we are called Homo sapien sapien. Most people familiar with the phrase use instead Homo sapien, which is accurate. The additional sapien is used by some to designate the post-Neolithic, or post-Paleolithic human, though there really is no reason to make a distinction. We are physiologically no different than we were 200,000 years ago (if less capable and less skilled, generally), when we are said to have evolved into our current state. I say Homo sapien sapien because I like the way it sounds when I say it.

I am exceptionally proud to be an inheritor of the 200,000 year story of my species. The Black Rockstar, by comparison, comes from the inner-city black community, and has little familiarity with the term other then the use of the word homo as a pejorative, like faggot. A faggot is in fact a bundle of sticks, and we are all Homo sapien sapien, but aside from linguistic ignorance, the idiot who uses such words in the pejorative is betraying his discomfort with his own feminine aspects, which we all have, as we all have masculine traits, one or the other more prominent.

The black community is not entirely on the bus when it comes to equal rights for the LGBT community. In addition, the phrase Homo sapien sapien implies evolution, which implies monkey, which, just as homo and faggot is used to disparage gays, monkey is a pejorative some white Homo spaien sapien use against black folk. Of course, in the timeline of Hominid, we are all about equally removed from Africa (with the exception of African-Americans). It's not at all surprising that Imenz, The Black Rockstar, who is young, and whose contemporaries are generally less versed in the story of our species than he is, bristles at the use of the phrases Homo sapien sapien, and rainbow tribe. It is sad, nonetheless, as we are all from the same source, and it is generally in the interest of those who abuse power in this world, that we quibble amongst ourselves about little things that don't separate us as much as we think they do.

As for mentor, this too is a word long neglected, almost without meaning in a world when the old increasingly have little knowledge worth imparting, or the ability to impart the knowledge we do possess. He bristled at the word because it sounds to him as if I'm saying I'm the sole reason he is the man he is, that I am the puppet master behind his music. He grew up without a father, there were hookers and pushers on the next corner, he was entirely on his own at seventeen. He doesn't want to hear anybody talk like they are the artist, like they are the reason he is a strong, thoughtful young man, a good father.

I took umbrage with the fact that he had a problem with me suggesting I was mentoring him. "Who the hell else is talking to you about mercurial energies!" I shouted good-naturedly, in the kitchen, over drinks. I tried to explain, lamely, that a mentor is someone older who teaches you something. More to the point, a mentor is anyone who offers you knowledge, who teaches you how to do or be something, who leads you to a greater understanding of yourself. In my own experience, I have had several powerful mentors, generally but not exclusively older men, who modeled characteristics or talents I wished to have for myself, who were willing to spend time with me. Under this description anyone could be a mentor, even a child.

Which led me to the realization that it is not for me to call myself Troy's mentor, nor to call myself mentor to anyone. It is only for me to act; I cannot be a mentor unless another recognizes me as such. And even should Troy, or anyone, call me a mentor, I can only be a model. Troy, The Black Rockstar, Imenz, is his own man. And based on my experience, a powerful one, impressive.

No comments: