Jason on...Indexing Relations
The gingko tree outside my house has got me contemplating all my relations.
Jason on…Indexing Things from Their Queer Cosmos
Hey Family, Comrades, and Neighbors — To save a bit of space in this post, I am not including a transcript of this video. It does have closed captions, so if you need to read along you can do so in the video. If you would prefer a transcript, please leave a comment, and I will update this post.
AND…Check out my NEW & IMPROVED YouTube Channel! I’ve organized some playlists cause I found a lot of content with me across numerous accounts. Now, you can find it all in one place.
Relations: An Illustration
image description: An illustration of a gingko tree in spring. The leaves are just budding. The illustration includes the root structure. To the right of the tree in hand lettering reads, “All my relations to tend.” To the left of the tree reads, “Neighbors: Who is in proximity to me? Who needs aid? Who is vulnerable to violence? Who is adversarial? Comrades: Who shares your values? Who can you co-create with? Family: Who loves you unconditionally?
Jason’s Index of One Particular Thing in Their Queer Cosmos: Relations
RELATIONS refers to the kinds of relations one wishes to cultivate and how one understands the relationships between relations. It is the articulation of communities, identities, and groupings. In other words, it is the who. Keep in mind, who does not only mean people. It also includes relations with land, animals, plant life, the cosmos.
A way I’ve visually begun to understand relations is by studying the gingko tree outside my home. On the most basic level, there are roots, a trunk, and branches. At the end of the branches are leaves, forming a glorious canopy overhead.
This simple form informs my view of relations. The roots, deep beneath the concrete and probably working their way into the foundations of my apartment, tether the tree to this place and this time. They hold it in place and allow it to draw from the depths. To me, its roots represent family, both of choice and of blood. The roots are all of my relations from whom I draw my strength, my ancestors, those present with me even when I cannot see them.
The gingko tree’s roots are deep and strong as evidenced by its glorious canopy. Before it branches out, they come together to form the trunk, which is rough and cracked, scarred from spurts of quick growth. The trunk are my comrades, the ones with whom I can co-create because we can share space. Often, those comrades come together in a sudden burst of development. We hold together, strengthen ourselves, draw from our roots, so that we can support our neighbors. For we comrades are not just coming together to co-create for ourselves; we co-create so that those under whose canopy we find shade are supported and uplifted.
The gingko tree’s branches stretch almost evenly in all directions. The canopy they create creates a sense of wonder for all who pass by, and often neighbors will come and hug its trunk after seeing its magnificence or pose with it when all its leaves turn gold late in winter. The branches form a network not dissimilar to its roots. They start thick and sturdy and grow narrow at their ends. When unhealthy and undernourished, the tips become fragile and break off easily. These branches are all of my neighbors, physical and virtual. They are the relations amongst whom I live, and their health reflects the health of the whole tree.
There is no real separation between root, trunk, or branch; they are simply parts of a whole and their names reference a type of position or relationship to the others. Family, comrades, and neighbors are simply names for all those with whom I share relations. Their position within the metaphor helps me understand not just their relationship to each other but my relationship with and to them. I am the whole gingko tree, and the gingko tree is all relations. I am all relations. There is no separation between me and family and comrade and neighbor.
There is just the gingko tree.
in all its magnificence and glory
A Short Bibliography to Aid in Relations
Standing with Standing Rock: Voices from the #NoDAPL Movement by Nick Estes and Jaskiran Dhillon. Published 2019 by University of MN Press.
The Red Deal by The Red Nation. Published 2021 by Red Media and Common Notions.
Another Mother Tongue by Judy Grahn. Published 1984 by Beacon Press.
Mirrors by Eduardo Galeano. Published 2009 by Nation Books.
“7 Seeds” by Kafi-Ayanna Allah. Published 2020 by Kafi-Ayanna Allah and the Alliance Youth Media Network.
Crystal & Jason’s Comrade Questionnaire
image description: Two illustrated portraits of Crystal Mason & Jason Wyman done by Jason.
My dear comrade Crystal Mason & I know that we have to continue co-creating with others across this country because we believe that our liberation is tied to everyone’s liberation, especially those with the boot of White Supremacy and capitalism upon their backs. And COVID-19 and this Delta variant continue proving that our co-creating must center accessibility, safety, wellness, and belonging. To do that, we need your help, input, and advice.