The Future is…Coreena

*My new series “The Future is…” highlights innovative Black women/Non Binary folks.*

A few weeks ago, I was reading my new favorite online magazine Divine Dark Skin, when I saw an ad featuring singer Coreena.  I love learning about upcoming Black women artists, so I double-clicked. I liked what I heard, and decided to follow her website. Not long after, I was pleasantly surprised to find out Coreena was a member of an internet forum that I’m part of. I enjoyed her vibe in the group, and decided to reach out to her. I almost fainted when she agreed to an interview. I’m glad I asked. What I found was an adventurous young woman, carving her own path/identity/career.

Coreena Pic

Hi! So, tell us about yourself…

Hello and thank you for having me. Just want to say your blog is the bomb!!! Okay, enough of me gushing! My name is Coreena, I’m a musician currently based in Seattle Wa., but in two weeks moving to Berlin, Germany! I was born and raised in Seattle, went to college in Boston, MA at Berklee College of Music. I got married in Southern California and was in that relationship for 8-9 years. I divorced and moved back to Seattle. I currently teach voice/piano and perform /record music.

After my divorce, I started stepping into the person I wanted to be. My favorite quote is…“your beliefs don’t make you a better person, your actions do.” So, I became an ethical vegan. I’m more spiritual than religious. I followed my true path of becoming a full-time musician, no more side giggin. I wanted to use all of my talents to make a living.

I started getting into activism for animals and made the connection of oppression, abuse and subjugation in all forms. I was always aware of social justice issues in the Black community, but I was a bit of an elitist. I used to think the Black Panthers were too “extreme” and thought that upward mobility and respectability politics was the path to success for Black folks. Thinking about it now I’m like…who was that woman? She had all the best intentions, but allowed fear to guide her.

Currently, my “politics” and/or belief systems may be viewed as radical or extreme. Although, I think its ridiculous that some would view equality for all as radical! I proudly identify as a Black feminist/womanist. Let me be clear this identity for me includes trans women and gender-nonconforming femmes. Black feminism has really taken heat and so many folks don’t have a clue of what this identity embodies.

When I interview Portlanders of color, I often ask “What do you like/dislike about Portland?” I know Seattle is a bit more diverse than Portland, but is also known for being a white city. What are your unique experiences as a Black woman in Seattle? 

Seattle is my home so I’m sentimental and nostalgic about my physical surroundings, seeing familiar family and faces. I like that some of the younger Black folks and POC are already clued into radicalism. Maybe these younger folks can make the changes I’d like to see. What I don’t like is how Seattle prides itself on being very liberal, yet drinks diet racism. Many fail to ask the question, “How can I use my privilege to help and contribute to equality?”

Has music always been a passion of yours or did you have other interests? You are also a songwriter/producer. Do you think it’s important singers be “multi-talented?” 

I started singing when I was a wee little girl 5-6 years old, but professionally my career started when I went to Berklee at 19. It has ALWAYS been a passion. I can’t imagine doing anything else, maybe little things on the side like acting as I did in high school. My other interest was history, it’s so fascinating and important to know. You don’t know where you’re going, if you don’t know where you came from.

YES! I think its very important, but not necessary. It’s not public knowledge that a lot of “singers” are actually multi talented. Aretha Franklin played piano, wrote her own music and was her own music director at times. Chaka Khan played drums and did many of her own back up vocals in the studio. Bjork writes and produces. And the list goes on and on…

Your music has an electronic/Afrofuturism flavor, that reminds me of Kelela and FKA Twigs. What are your thoughts on the current state of Black women singers/artists?  How do you define your music? 

I’ve been making music in this genre and have had this sound for the last 13 years. It was not popular to see Black faces let alone a Black woman doing this back then. One of the main reasons I’m going to Berlin is because electronic music and its sub-genres are thriving there. As a Black woman who is an indie artist I get questions like…do you have anything that sounds like Beyoncé? Don’t get me wrong I really DIG Beyoncé, but I’m not her. I can get down singing some R&B/soul music tho! Don’t sleep! LOL!

I think the U.S. has a long way to go still in its acceptance of Black women “alternative” artists. I define my music as Electronic/Ambient/Trip Hop/Alternative/Beat Driven/Downtempo…with hints of jazz.

Your YouTube channel “CoCo Reena Goes International: A musician’s guide to travel, food, and discovery” chronicles your move to Germany. What do you hope to accomplish in Germany?

I decided to go to a place where the genre of music I do is celebrated and not tolerated. I’ve always want to spend quality time abroad and I do not want to get to a place in my life and look back with that big regret. After the election of #45 that was my push…escaping the U.S. in the era of Trump. I’m so disgusted by him and how bold his supporters are. The current climate in the U.S. is not healthy. I told myself I need to go be a citizen of the world for a while.

I’m girl crushing for real! I think your beautiful smile, exemplifies the positivity that radiates from you. What keeps you joyful/optimistic? Do you engage in self-care? Do you have any tips for Black women maintaining a healthy sense of self? In our “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” society (to quote bell hooks).

Oh, Thank YOU!!! What keeps my mind in a productive place really is music. Thru music I have the opportunity to do my passion while expressing all my feelings, thoughts and activism! Music is my self-care. I also get those books out, take those baths and veg out!

I think for Black women to obtain a sense of self and foster healthiness is such an effort that it has to be done EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Specifically, for those that are dark-skinned Black women such as myself. We are perceived with so much bias. The images, social media, and person to person contact…just about everything in the outside world will remind you to “stay in your place.” What I do to fight this is surround myself with media, books, and people who reinforce what I believe to be the truth. Black is beautiful. Black is diverse. Black does not mean wrong or bad. Black is me and I love me.

Thank you for your time

Thanks for having me!

HOW TO SUPPORT COREENA

Website– https://www.coreenamusic.com

Patreon https://www.patreon.com/coreena

Youtube (Coco Reena)https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC432n57Sb0mnmcNnr2zzlyA

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/coreenamusic/

Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/reena0519/

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/coreenamusic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Holiday Gifts: Black Girl Stuff

The holiday season is fast approaching…12 days until Christmas! It’s been hard getting into the festivities this year. It feels like so much has been going on. It’s been a long year. But this is a great time to support Black women’s businesses. Especially, after Black women saved the world again. *cough Alabama* 

If you are looking for last-minute gifts, here are some crafty Black women making fabulous things 🙂

The brilliant writer Alexis Pauline Gumbs is now selling these cozy looking hoodies! I’ve been a fan of Gumbs since I came across her website, years ago. She’s one of the editors of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on Front Lines and has a great piece in Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Movements. These hoodies are a wonderful way to show your support for Black feminist literature.

 

black feminsit mobile
I Am: A Black Feminist Bookmobile

 

I can’t remember where I saw this delicious organizer, but I’m glad I bookmarked it! The 2018 womanist agenda yearlong monthly planner is a cute accessory for those who will have a busy 2018. The organizer is filled with beautiful images of Black women/Trans/Non-Binary folks and empowering quotes.

plannerr
2018 womanist agenda yearlong monthly planner 

 

In 2013, I got the opportunity to interview Kayin Talton Davis for the Women of Color: How to Live in the City of Roses and Avoid the Pricks zine. She talked about her shop, Soapbox Theory, and the challenges of being a Black woman entrepreneur. It’s been amazing watching her business grow. I know it’s been difficult for her to hold onto her shop, in a Black neighborhood that’s been hit hard with gentrification. Check out these new products from Davis!

black girl looks
Soapbox Theory

Black Woman Heal Day 2015

Last week, I attended the first national Black Woman Heal Day with an event held in my city.

Lilada Gee founded the day as a way for Black women to address sexual violence/other issues that have impacted our lives. In a society that is very hostile to Black women…how can we stay emotionally/mentally/physically healthy. Gee was inspired by her own life experiences.

“Lilada Gee was 6 years old the first time an adult family member sexually abused her. Throughout the ensuing years, she struggled with issues related to the abuse; including clinical depression, post-traumatic stress and low self-esteem. Now, as an adult, she is committed to helping girls and women who are victims of child sexual abuse, heal. Lilada’s Livingroom began in the living room of Lilada’s home, after she publicly shared her tumultuous journey of healing from childhood sexual abuse. Girls and women who were in the audience started showing up at her home, in her living room to find a safe place to heal. Since that time, Lilada has traveled from coast-to-coast and abroad, creating safe places for women and girls to rid themselves of the shame, secrets and stigmatism of abuse.”

http://lilada.org/

The organizers at my event provided a creative space so that attendees could express themselves any way they needed to. Whether it was making cute African dolls (with just fabric/wire!!) or painting our hopes/dreams…it was a cathartic event. And of course there was lots of food. You always have to have food 😉 Gee Skyped in. She was lovely, of course. I could tell she was moved by our participation.

Inspirational African dolls made by attendees.
Inspirational dolls made by attendees.
I was eating everythang :)
I was eating everythang  😉
I tried to get my paint on!
I tried to get my paint on!

Hopefully, this national event will continue on. It’s important work that needs to be sustained. Check out this great interview with Gee. You will get tears in your eyes. Rock on Black women!!

bell hooks

March is Women’s History Month. I’ve been trying to think how I could honor this month. Since this blog focuses on black feminism as a tool to resist oppression, I thought it would be proper to show love to a woman who helped revolutionize black feminism. That woman is the author bell hooks:

“bell hooks, is an American social activist, feminist and author. She was born on September 25, 1952. bell hooks is the nom de plume for Gloria Jean Watkins. bell hooks examines the multiple networks that connect gender, race, and class. She examines systematic oppression with the goal of a liberatory politics. She also writes on the topics of mass media, art, and history. bell hooks is a prolific writer, having composed a plethora of articles for mainstream and scholarly publications.”  http://www.egs.edu/library/bell-hooks/biography/

I first learned about bell hooks in college (which is way too late if ya ask me). I took a course all about bell hooks. We read her books and discussed them in class. The thing I love about bell hooks is that she keeps it real. As a poster responded to an interview with hooks,“she gives it to you straight, no chaser.” This can be off-putting to folks, especially folks who have bought into what bell hooks calls Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy. She is going to hurt your feelings. Rip out your heart, really. But it’s only because she wants you to think deeper about the world around you. Too many folks believe racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, etc., that it’s “just the way it is.” These oppressions have been normalized in our society. However, we must resist this conditioning. Someone shouldn’t be viewed as more valuable just because of the whiteness/lightness of their skin, because they are male, rich, etc. We all deserve to live our lives with respect and dignity.  That is all bell hooks is saying.

So much love to her this month and every month. I also like to give  honor to other pioneer black women feminists: Sojourner Truth,Fannie Lou Hamer, Alice Walker, Michele Wallace, Audre Lorde, and Patricia Hill CollinsOf course, this list  could go on forever!!

Happy Women’s History Month 🙂

bell hooks & Melissa Harris-Perry livestream

I think this event happened last Friday (the days are going by in a blur). It was an interesting conversation to watch. bell hooks was amazing, of course. Perry didn’t bring it like I thought she would. I can’t be mad at her. I would probably freeze up around bell hooks too. As hooks noted, “she has twenty years (of life/writing experience)” on Perry. The issues that were brought up sometimes faltered, because Perry was nervous. However, I would still recommend folks watch it:

“bell hooks (née Gloria Watkins), scholar-in-residence at The New School, is among the leading public intellectuals of her generation. Her writings cover a broad range of topics including gender, race, teaching, and contemporary culture. Melissa Harris-Perry is founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South, Professor of Political Science at Tulane University, author, and host of MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry.”  via livestream

http://new.livestream.com/TheNewSchool/blackfemalevoices

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Dr. Omi Osun Joni L. Jones’s Blackademics Talk: “Sista Docta”

In Blackademics talk #1, Dr. Omi Osun Joni L. Jones combines poetry, dance and drumming to illuminate her experience as an African American woman professor in a predominantly white and male academy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SJlR34S8L8&feature=player_embedded