In the 1974 film Space Is The Place, Sun Ra describes a new space he has come todiscover when he states:

 “The music is different here. The vibrations are different. Not like Planet Earth. Planet Earth sounds of guns, anger, frustration. There will be no one from Planet Earth we could talk to who would understand. We’ll set up a colony for black people here. See what they can do on a planet all their own...They would drink in the beauty of this planet. It would affect their vibrations, for the better, of course. Another place in the universe, up in the different stars. That would be where the alter-destiny would come in. Equation-wise – the first thing to do is to consider time as officially ended. We’ll work on the other side of time. We’ll bring them here through either isotopicteleportation, transmolecularization of better still, teleport the whole planet here, through music (Sun Ra, Space Is The Place).” [1]

As a black woman, occupying multiple identities at once, I have questions about freedom.  What is freedom exactly and how can we obtain it? Are there different types of freedom? And, is this so called freedom even a realistic aspiration? Is freedom something where in which we will (at some point) be able to find, reach, tap into, or access? And what does freedom look like when inhabiting a black(female) body or a multiplied space of identity ?

In Space Is The Place, Sun Ra embarks on a fantastical journey wherein which he is moving between two spaces. These two spaces operate as a duality or dual framework. Sun Ra is traveling and transitioning through the physicalworld and an alternative world. This alternative world is a separate space or ‘space away from’ that exists outside of the tainted physical world.

In the text, Can The Subaltern Speak?,[2]  Gayatri Spivak describes the world as being severely tainted by the ramifications of colonialism. Spivak further explains that the systems and frameworks birthed by colonialism have created a highly complicated terrain for the racialized body to travel through and navigate. Concluding from this crucial bit of information, this post-colonial terrain makes it a questionably impossible space to achieve freedom. Sun Ra moves back and forth, werking through both spaces, bringing others along to join him on this journey to this wondrous alternative, fantastical world, but most importantly, essentially “free” world or realm.  This alternative world functions as a free space. The newly inhabited alternative world does not inhabit the oppressive structures and frameworks that exist in the physical world. Sun Ra maneuvers. Not only does Sun Ra find and inhabit more agency through the alternative world, he finds agency through this maneuver, through this werking.; essentially becoming a rhythmic dance between both worlds.

In the text Borderlands/ La Frontera: The New Mestiza, Gloria Anzaldua explains the many hardships that which she faces navigating this post-colonial terrain, mentioned earlier, as a Mestiza, Chicana, by product of colonialism. She describes the languages she embodies and her maneuvering through, as if these languages are different worlds(where in which they most definitely are). Spanish; The language of the oppressor: An enclosed non-free space for her to navigate vs. Her native tongue; the alternative space, the free space that exists as the place where she can escape to and inhabit on her own terms (Anzaldua 38 - 39). There is familiarity in the free space. There is fluidity in the free space. Her native tongue is a space that had been stripped away of its vast complexity during colonialism, much like that of Black people, black history, and blackbodies when they were forced to provide labor in the capitalistic chattel system of Slavery.  In Anzaldua’s writing strategy throughout the text, like Sun Ra in Space is the Place, she moves back and forth, in and out, between her native tongue and the language of the colonizer/colonized; fluid without restraints. Her understanding of these complexities gives her a transcendent like power. In this skillful-like finesse, she becomes transcendent because she embodies all.

Perhaps Sun Ra is operating within acode switch, like that of Anzaldua suggests in her writing. Sun Ra partakes in an operative Finesse or technological hacking; moving through and through autonomously. And within this finessed hacking, Sun Ra arguably becomes transcendent. Just like Gloria Anzaldua describes in her text, through his movement, and knowledge of each space throughout, Sun Ra transcends the confines of both frameworks. His ability to enter and navigate both terrain gives him a transcendent like power.

In understanding and examining the complexity of our notion of freedom/ examining the complexities of I further question, Is the psychological space or alternative world where the black body can access freedom? to which even then, in this psychological space or alternative world, the black subject experiences antagonizing thoughts in strategizing how to maneuver through the physical world. This makes me further question where freedom resides and how we are able to enter into such a concept “Freedom” as black subjects.

I'm taking my freedom/ Pulling it off the shelf/ Puttingit on my chain/ Wearin’ it around my neck/ I'm taking my  freedom/ Putting it in my car/ Wherever Ichoose to go/ It will take me far/  I'mlivin' my life like it's golden/ Livin' my life like it's golden/ Livin' mylife like it's golden, golden/ Livin' my life like it's golden/ Livin' my lifelike it's golden, golden[3]

 I question, where the agency lays within particular spaces or frameworks. These particular frameworks that I am questioning are spaces like: blackness, black space vs. non-blackspace, black womanhood, black female identity, sexuality (erotic space), physical space vs. (imaginative/cognitive) psychological space, domestic space vs. non domestic space, enclosed space vs. open space, access vs. denial or refusal, the body in motion vs. the body stagnant, looking vs. looking back and etc.  Like Spivak, I have found that ultimately, achieving (or being externally granted freedom) is questionably impossible for the black body on Earth, but there are glimpses of freedom. These glimpses are not provided to us by the post colonial world in which we exist, live in and have learned to finesse, hack, and Mastr. We have constructed  these specific glimpses of freedom Ourselves.

I'm taking my own freedom/Putting it in my song/ Singing loud and strong/ Grooving all day long/ I'mtaking my freedom/ Putting it in my stroll/ I'll be high-steppin' y'all/Letting the joy unfold/ I'm livin' my life like it's golden/ Livin' my lifelike it's golden/ Livin' my life like it's golden, golden/ Livin' my life likeit's golden/ Livin' my life like it's golden, golden[4]

These glimpses of freedom or agency occur in movement and are birthed out of a maneuvering black body and black consciousness; like SunRa… traveling…. werking. These instances of freedom occur in the maneuver; in the back fourth shift. The glimpses of freedom ultimately lay in the movement, voluntary stillness, and self-determination as these pertain to the black body…moving. On and through (out).

[1] Space Is The Place. Film.Directed by John Coney, 1974.

[2] Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Can The Subaltern Speak? FromColonial Discourse and Postcolonial Theory: A Reader. 104.

[3]Golden - Jill Scott. Beautifully Human - Words and Sounds, Vol. 2. 2004.

[4]Golden - Jill Scott. BeautifullyHuman - Words and Sounds, Vol. 2. 2004.

May 2017. 

(excerpt from a larger body of writing titled WERK)

Using Format