Ntozake Shange

“Somebody almost walked off with all of my stuff…”

This line starts my favorite monologue from Ntozake Shange’s award-winning choreopoemfor colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf . Shange recently passed away at the age of 70. Her death has received little attention in mainstream media. It has been mostly Black women honoring her life/work, probably because Shange wrote about our lives in such an honest and frank way, it’s hard for many people to digest.

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Shange detailed our pain/fears/disappointments, but also our healing. In a society that is anti-black/woman/poor etc., Black women often find themselves navigating a myriad of oppressions (racism, sexism, classim, heterosexism, colorism).  Shange’s for colored girls… captured all of these “isms” so eloquently, it’s not surprising it’s considered an iconic piece of work.

The homegoing of Shange (as well as Aretha Franklin), highlights the importance of always celebrating brilliant Black women, when the world quickly wants to forget them. Thank you so much Ms. Shange, and rest well.

 

 

 

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Domestic Violence Awareness Month

This month has been going by so fast, I almost forgot to pay homage to Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“National Domestic Violence Awareness Month is an annual designation observed in October. For many, home is a place of love, warmth, and comfort. It’s somewhere that you know you will be surrounded by care and support, and a nice little break from the busyness of the real world. But for millions of others, home is anything but a sanctuary. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are victims of physical violence by a partner every year.” https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-domestic-violence-awareness-month-october/

It is especially important to honor Domestic Violence Awareness Month, as the current administration has made it clear its disdain of women. The absurdity that surrounded Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings is an example of this hatred. The whole situation was alarming, because if a white upper-class highly educated woman could be treated with such venom, what hope is there for women who aren’t as privileged. Particularly, Black/women of color.

I thought about this when I recently attended an event focusing on domestic violence in communities of color. Black/women of color often face unique challenges when trying to deal with the issue of violence in their lives (interpersonal, sexual assault, etc.) They are forced to rely on institutions that have historically oppressed, ignored, or exploited them (healthcare services, law enforcement, etc.) The workshop I participated in, the speaker discussed the need to create resources for Black/women of color outside these dominant systems. This can look like building underground networks for these women.

As the speaker noted, “Since the days of slavery, we as a people have been resourceful in creating safety amongst ourselves because safety historically has not existed for us within dominant culture. As enslaved peoples our ancestors created and learned to use codes and underground avenues to create safety and community amongst themselves. This same concept applies for DV survivors of color today; safety and support is sought in unconventional ways.”

We also watched a video featuring Bernadine Waller. Waller talked about the stereotypes and assumptions about Black women that make it hard for them to be taken seriously as victims of violence. She urged professionals to see Black women, to REALLY see us…to see our humanity.  Waller’s speech was moving, and highlighted how much work needs to be done in ensuring that Black women are living whole and healthy lives.

 

Black Women Read

A couple of months ago, I decided to revamp my YouTube channel.  I wanted it to reflect my interests in literature/writing. I review books, zines, and everything in between (movies, etc.) It’s an opportunity to expand my work on a different platform. I’m still working out the kinks, but it’s been fun to play around with creating videos/video editing. I’ve been inspired by so many wonderful Black YouTube content creators. In a few videos, you may hear light snoring in the background. I usually have to record while my toddler is napping 😉 I encourage folks to subscribe, like and comment! 🙂

The Future is…Hannah Eko

 

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This past summer I hosted a workshop on women of color: creativity and self-care. I decided to reach out to good friend/fellow writer, Hannah Eko. Eko has done amazing work on the issues of self-love/body positivity/mental health. I knew she would have some fabulous advice for attendances. So, I was thrilled when she agreed to an interview.  I thought I would share with y’all as well 🙂

Hi Hannah! Tell us about yourself/background…

I’m a Nigerian woman who was born in London and mainly grew up in Southern California. I’m the oldest of four. I’m also an Aries with a Gemini Moon and Ascendant in Aquarius. I served in the Coast Guard for 8 years and was Miss Tall International 2014. Currently, I’m a third year MFA in Fiction student at the University of Pittsburgh.

I first met you at a zine event. Why did zines resonate with you? In your debut zine, The Weather up Here is Great! you write about your experiences as a tall Black woman. Why was it important for you to tell this story?

I grew up reading TONS of magazines as a kid/teen. I went to this after-school center. The site leader, Cristina, would gift me all her magazines. I read Teen, CosmoGurl, YM (my fave back then), Teen People, and Seventeen. I had adolescent dreams of being some kind of model-writer person, but obviously wasn’t really seeing too many models that looked like me. Nor was I always interested in the banalities covered within the articles. So, when I moved to Portland, Oregon, I was really looking for something to express myself. I somehow luckily got wind of your Black Women Zine Group and immediately loved it. I loved how with zines, anyone could create what they want and share their unique vision with the world. I loved the creativity and the community. I had a lot of insecurity about being taller than the average woman. So, zines were the perfect place to write about this. I wanted other tall girls to know that they were gorgeous the way they were. Of course, I wanted to tell myself this as well. My experience being a tall woman is multi-layered and a lot less straightforward than I was seeing presented. I wanted to at least showcase my own point of view.

You’ve been published in various magazines (Bust, Bitch, etc.) Did you always want to be a writer? How do you stay passionate about writing? Are there any writing tips you can give to folks? 

I always wanted to be a writer, though I had absolutely no idea how one “became” a writer. I honestly thought you were just kind of discovered (a nod to my modeling dreams, I’m sure.) First I was into drawing, probably around age 4 or 5. And then writing soon followed. I love writing because it helps me make sense of the world. It’s a way I talk with myself, it’s a way that my thoughts become crystallized and I can sit back and be like, wow, so that’s what I think. Writing allows me the room to create whatever I want to see. Though I have many interests and extra-curriculars, writing is the one thing that has been a constant. I sometimes get frustrated with my own progress and fearful of the fast pace of the market and all these new, sparkling writers. However, I will forever love writing. I don’t really have to push myself to be passionate about it. I’m a constant journal writer, so I am always writing. I think my only suggestion is the piece of advice I am doing my best to live out, which is: write from your deepest self. Let go of ego and awards and fame and being clever and cute. Write fucked up things. Write things that make you cringe and propel you to go deeper. Write the thing you most want to see.

Continue reading “The Future is…Hannah Eko”

It’s Officially Fall…

and I’m tripping! It feels like I just posted I was going on blogcation. Well, I guess all good things must come to an end. I hope everyone had a great summer. I tried to stay off social media and failed miserably.  It’s hard when EVERYTHING you do is connected to the internet. I spent a lot of time with my youngin. I participated in community events. I also tried to partake in nature, which is saying a lot for me as I like the luxuries of life 😉 Overall, I had a decent summer. I think I am ready for the upcoming cooler months and seasonal festivities.  I made a short video of some of the shenanigans I engaged in these past few months. Enjoy! 🙂

 

 

Blogcation

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”–Audre Lorde

Now, that it’s summer it’s a perfect time for a Blogcation. I’m ready to tackle some other projects these next couple of months. A few of my summer plans are to cut back on social media, read a good book, and spend time with my toddler. There’s been an agenda from “you know who” to crush our spirits. The mainstream news has been filled with overwhelming stories of racist/other oppressive incidents. This constant bombardment of negativity is meant to disorient us and leave us feeling hopeless. While traditional forms of resistance are always necessary (boycotts, etc.), engaging in self-care is also important.

So, that’s what I’m going to do. I encourage all my readers to do the same. I also want to thank everyone for your support. My goal with this blog has been to show the unique experiences and complexities of Black women/womanhood. If you are not quite ready to say goodbye for the summer months, I will be offering online courses at my new virtual school.  It’s an opportunity to expand on my work. There will be fun activities, so be sure to check ’em out! The courses will be available in July.

Otherwise, I will be back in the fall. Have a safe and cool summer!

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take care of self 🙂

Summer Thangs #3

There have been so many fabulous things happening this month like LGBTQIA Pride and Juneteenth. It’s easy to forget that June is also Black Music Month. This is a great time to upload your playlist with tunes from iconic Black singers or listen to fresh Black talent.

If you are looking for suggestions for summer jams…check out these Black women singers who dropped new music this month.

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Joi: Props to Janelle MonáeKelela, and SZA. But before these ladies there was Joi. Joi was doing the quirky/alternative/Afrofuturistic music and imagery back in the early 90’s. She was before her time, so she struggled with mainstream acceptance. However, she has been able to cultivate a strong underground fanbase. Recently, an amazing article detailed her brilliant career. Personally, my favorite album from Joi is Star Kitty’s Revenge (“I’m missin’ you/ wishing you were here baby”). She’s back with the album SIR Rebekkah HolyloveA wonderful opportunity to support a trailblazer in Black music.

Macy Gray: It took me a minute to catch on to Macy’s new video. I kept thinking why is Evan Ross in this? Then it clicked. The video is a take on Diana Ross’s movie “Lady Sings the Blues.” Of course, Evan is her son. He is playing Billie Dee Williams’s role. (If you are a Millennial…Google all this 😉 Gray’s song “Sugar Daddy” is pretty catchy. I raised an eyebrow when I read it was co-written with Megan Trainor.  It explains why it sounds bubble gum poppish. But Gray can pull off any song with her textured vocals. And at 50, I know she’s probably trying to catch the attention of new fans. So, a diva has to do what she has to do. I ain’t mad at her and look forward to the album.

Nao: I came across Nao’s music a few years ago. It’s shocking she isn’t more popular.  Like Ms. Gray, she has a unique and tantalizing sound. I love her voice. I was excited when she posted snippets of new music on her website. Then she released “Another Lifetime.” This is my current theme song. I like to randomly pick theme songs for some reason. In any case, this is a nice summer cut.

“I swear I won’t run/In another life, I’ll keep us bounded”