Friday, April 20, 2012

POETRY: The Blessing of the Least/God on the 1 Train

The Blessing of the Least/God on the 1 Train

 Madre de dios
 Your hijo in one arm
 a sign of the times in the other

of God whispers una bendición
 I can't hear through my headphones
Avicii spinning
as the blessing of the least settles on my skin
resurrecting goosebumps
I have never received a truer bendiction
Gracias a Dios
que me bendiga

Feed us all.


-Brandon Lacy Campos
-New York, NY
-April 12, 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

Upcoming Event: This Is How We Do It featuring Grace Lee Boggs, Andrea Smith, and Nelson Johnson...moderated by Amy Goodman!

A Festival of Dialogues
about another world ///
/// under construction

April 20-22 @ Cooper Union

Friday, April 20 at 7p in The Great Hall
moderated by AMY GOODMAN

Saturday & Sunday Afternoons in The Rose Auditorium
Show-and-Tell presentations from SOUTH AFRICA, ARGENTINA, BRAZIL and throughout the US

There are people and communities all across the world who are no longer waiting for the systems around them to change, who are engaged in alternative practices right now -- in the workplace, in politics, in public safety initiatives, in media and communications, in new economic systems and more. This year Foundry Dialogues will feature the practices and experiences -- the how -- of some of these remarkable innovators.

In our lifetimes, in these times, how do we realize a more just, democratic, sustainable way of life? This is how we do it.


PS My beloved lovely RJ Maccani asked me to share with you all that this will also be live streaming!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Reproductive Justice and HIV: Comments at the 26th Annual CLPP Conference From Abortion Rights to Social Justice

Let me begin by saying that being a bio boy that grew up with a penis and male privilege, that I have one and only comment to make about abortion: as a man, I fully respect the autonomy and sovereignty of women over their own bodies and my only legitimate opinion on abortion is that I am required, by the privilege of being male, to use that privilege to protect in anyway and every way possible the right of a woman to choose.

Any bio male that says otherwise is entitled to have his opinion validated just as soon as he figures out how to give birth through his penis.

But this amazing and brilliant conference, From Abortion Rights to Social Justice is centered in a reproductive justice framework, and you can't talk about reproductive justice without talking about sex, and you sure as hell can't talk about sex without talking about HIV, prevention justice, and justice for people living and thriving with HIV and AIDS.

And I am hella qualified to talk about HIV....and sex. Considering I have both.

Yesterday, I was blessed, and I mean truly blessed to sit on a panel moderated by Alice Welbourn, and with Sonia Rastogi, and Jennifer Marshall. If you don't know these women, let me be emphatic in saying that you should. You should know them. You should know their work. And you should know why they are critical to truly creating a reproductive justice movement that is inclusive of folks living with HIV as well as HIV prevention: these women are working and sometimes living at the intersections of HIV and reproductive justice, and whether or not you have been personally touched by this virus YOU as members of the reproductive justice movement have an obligation to live at this particular intersection as well.

The right to live full, happy, sexy lives without or WITH families is the right of every person living with HIV. The right to have mind blowing, wild, out of pocket, hang from the rafters, and clap your hands sex is the RIGHT of every person living and thriving with HIV. And incorporating sex positive, desire uplifting, radical and righteous analysis and messages about sex, love, and HIV are critical and core to any movement for justice and even more so for a movement on reproductive justice.

In a conference with 1,000 attendees, it was telling that there were less than 10 conference goers sitting in that workshop yesterday with Alice, Sonia, and Jennifer. That can not and must not happen again at this conference. Ever.

Let me be clear. HIV isn't over. It is relevant to your work. It is relevant to your lives. It is not just a disease that affects white gay men. It isn't a disease that impacts only men of color on the down low, in fact, it isn't a disease that impacts only men. Women, and specifically women of color, and even more specifically African-American and Latina women are the fastest growing population of people living with HIV, and with 300,000 women living with HIV in the United States and women representing more than 50% of HIV cases around the world, you can not in justice or in faith remove issues of HIV from reproductive justice.

I challenge each and every one of you as allies, as conference attendees, and as conference organizers to make HIV more than a side note at this conference and in the places you center your work. Ain't nobody coming to lift the burden and stigma from HIV from us, and doing work around HIV is about so much more than handing out condoms and old, tired, worn out ineffective admonishments and moralizing that haven't done shit but make a lot of old white men at Pharmaceutical companies over the last 30 years very very very rich.

It's about creating and building a world that strips the stigma out of HIV, that strips the stigma out of just and healthy choices about reproductive health, and it is about loving, uplifting, and holding high every person that has had to make a difficult choice about her body or had to hear the words, “your test came back positive.”

Thank you for sharing this space with me and giving me the honor to share some thoughts with you today.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Best Book Review Ever for It Ain't Truth If It Doesn't Hurt

I received an email today from a beloved educator and friend from back home in Minneapolis letting me know that he is including my book as part of the book list for his class next fall.

He also shared with me why and sent me the opening paragraph from one of his students, a conservative Chinese woman that had lots of questions about mixed race folks, queer folks, and politics. This woman teaches Chinese and translated some of of lines in the book into Chinese to help her understand better.

This is why I write. And this will keep me writing until I jump into the dirt for that long nap. You can purchase a copy here.


I was shocked, surprised and excited when I read Brandon Lacy Campos’s poem “It ain’t truth if it doesn’t hurt.” I read once, twice, checked my English – Chinese dictionary, read it a third and fourth time. I was shocked by Brandon’s straight forward thinking, he bravely writes: “I don’t believe in America, I don’t believe in the Constitution…” If this was in China, he could be put in jail for that statement. But thanks to the freedom of this great nation, Brandon is not in jail, his book was published and distributed. I admire Brandon’s courage to stand up for his point of view, regardless of how others may possibly criticize. I admire his spiritual freedom and plenitude sentiments towards the people he loves. I was surprised to read a very different style of poems, they have lots of graphic descriptions, long and short, they are parallelism, but not strict on rhyme, and are strong and powerful. I was excited to read his poetry, its raw without any shyness, and I felt his rage and anxiety. I saw the death and blood, and smelled the rosebud and paint. I fell in love with the writing… And as a conservative Chinese woman, felt the excitement of holding Brandon’s collection as if holding a banned book.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Guest Blogger, Kamal Fizazi: A Letter to Friend About Hope and Survival

New York, NY
1 April 2012


I found out today that a friend killed himself a few days ago.

His death makes me sad and makes me think how sad I would be if I lost you and felt I had not done as much as I possibly could to help you.

I love you and I hope you are ok.

Over the years, especially recently, you have spoken to me about your severe anxiety, depression, PTSD and other issues, and about wanting—at times—to kill yourself.

I have tried to be a good friend, to listen and, when you asked for it, give you names of therapists and other resources that could help you address these issues.

We haven’t spoken in a few weeks, so maybe you are feeling great these days and I am worried for nothing. If this is the case, I am very happy for you.

After losing my friend Tony, I can’t be silent. I have to ask: Have you followed up and sought help for the issues bringing you such pain?

If not, I beg you, call one of those therapists whose names I shared with you a few weeks back (after your request to me), or to seek help in other ways.

Even if you are feeling good these days—especially if you are feeling good—now is the time to do something about all this, while it is easier to take steps that connect you to support that will help you survive the times when you are not feeling so happy.

If you are feeling down these days, I still urge you to seek help. I know how hard it can be to seek help when we are down, you know I know this, but I still hope you will try. It could save your life. Just as importantly, it could help turn it around.

I keep learning and still have to keep reminding myself that nothing in life is permanent. Not joy and not pain. LIFE is not permanent! But it does not have to be painful. We may have to do some hard work to make things better, but things can get better.

As you know, I use Surat al-Asr as my mantra in times of loss, pain, confusion, and fear. This Qur’anic prayer tells me: Time itself is a witness, all humanity experiences loss and pain, except for those who have faith, do good works (or are of service), and live as an example of honesty and as an example of patience (and forbearance).

I’ve shared this with you before, and this painful reminder is impetus to share it with you again.

My friend Tony is dead, and I am still here.

I do not know why, but I do know this has been one of the resources that got me through those terrifyingly bleak times when I considered doing what Tony did.

How does this simple yet powerful prayer work for me? As any mantra, repeating it means I change the tape in my head from whatever terrible tape to this pre-recorded, familiar, repetition. In that way it functions like any prayer or ritual in which we can seek refuge.

But this prayer is pragmatic in other ways too.

It comforts me by reminding me that my pain and suffering is not something I alone endure—“The Ages witness: all humanity experiences suffering”—and it gives me practical steps I can take, solutions to my pain, loss, and confusion:

Faith (Imaan)
The prayer directs me to have faith. To me this means making a choice to believe things can get better, even that a specific someone or Something loves us. Sometimes I have had to simply trust that this was true even when I doubted it deeply or didn’t feel it. But then, that is why it is called "faith." :) Sometimes it has been faith in, belief in, someone other than myself, someone who told me things do get better. At those moments, again, I did not believe it was true, but I could believe my friend believed it, and, ”borrow” her faith. At times it has meant a faith in a Divinity, Most Merciful and Most Compassionate, Greater than any trouble I might face, an Everlasting (internal) Resource any one of us can tap into, in times of loss or not.

Service (Saalihaat)
The prayer suggests that I do good works, that I be of service. I take this to mean reach out and help a friend or volunteer in an effort to improve my community. Doing something good for others gets my focus off my problems. When I do this, I shift the focus from the running commentary and obsessive concern with my own problems to the world outside my head. This liberates me from the not-so-merry-go-round of nasty thoughts *in* my head (that nasty committee that never has anything nice to say to me about me). There is always someone can use our help, so why not shift the focus from our complaints to gratitude and to service? Let us improve the world we find ourselves in! It sorely needs it. And we end up feeling better about ourselves because we are doing something positive in the world, rather than feeling stuck in, or focused on, our pain, fear, and confusion.

Honesty (Al-Haq)
The prayer suggests that I live as an example of honesty and truth. What this means to me is that I am supposed to walk through my fears and be rigorously honest with myself and others about my fears and the reality (or falseness) of them. Living as an example of honesty means letting go of my fantasies or the narratives I spin about how things are. When I am truly honest, I can see what I can change and what really needs to change. I also see what is not in my power and how, if I have no power over it, it makes no sense to spend time worrying about it. You know what I mean: If I have a role to play or choices that could be different, I can do that, if I can’t, well, then I can’t. Talk about freedom! Living a life of honesty and truth also means unburdening myself with someone I trust about what I have done or am doing, or what I am feeling, all of which helps me not live in shame, secrecy, or fear. This frees me from carrying the burden of my troubles all by myself. Living honestly and in truth also means removing that awkward, painful, conflict and stress that arises when I say one thing (to be polite or because I am avoiding a confrontation), but I really mean or want to say another. This type of honesty also can be daunting, but it too sets me free.

Patience (Sabr)
Lastly, the prayer says I am to try to live as an example of patience and forbearance (while facing all my troubles). This to me means, “Don't give up.” Ever. It is a reminder that things get better. Things change. The hard work we can do (therapy or whatever path we choose) takes time. We didn't get into our mess and messed up way of thinking overnight. We won't get out of them overnight. We have to give time time. I know the despair can be all-encompassing, I have felt it. But I also have learned—as I am sure you have too—that I am strong in patience. No matter what troubles that befall me, even when despair feels like a reality convincing me to my bones, something that I feel as if I KNOW will always be my reality, I can be patient. I can wait the pain out. It too will pass.

Trust me. Things do get better, if we do our work and we are willing to wait.

Things have gotten better for me, and I promise they can get better for you too.

Love, Light, & Peace,

P.S. I would add one more thing to all my fabulous (& unsolicited) advice above (): Music. I know you love music. And that’s great, because music moves us, changes our mood, reminds us things get better (and have been better). Here are some of my favorites that have so far worked to get me through some pretty tough times:
“I Look to You” as sung by Whitney Houston (RIP) or the GLEE version with Amber Riley,
A soft strumming song I just recently discovered, by City and Colour, “O’ Sister”
“It’s a Beautiful Day [don’t let it get away]” by U2
“Feeling Good” by Michael Bublé,, or the Nina Simone version,
“I Am Changing” by Jennifer Hudson,

P.P.S. What are your favorite songs to get you through tough times?

Bio: Kamal Fizazi is a writer, activist, lawyer, policy wonk, strategic planning and program consultant, and all-around good guy who spends his time thinking about and working on issues of human rights and equality, diversity and inclusion, democracy and social justice, equity, gender, sexuality, public health, HIV/AIDS, addiction, mental health, recovery, faith-based anti-oppression efforts and interfaith organizing, and Lord only knows what else.

You can follow Kamal on facebook: or on twitter: @kamalfizazi. You can also read his blogs on and

Additional notes and links:

Suicide claims 36,500 lives yearly in the USA; close to one million attempt it each year.

Suicide Prevention & Support:

Solidarity & Fundraising: