Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Peace Gumbo YaYa Supporters,

Thank you for your generous thoughts, participation and support since the first cycle of Gumbo YaYa in 2007. Gumbo YaYa has travelled from NYC to NC drawing on the power of sisterhood and creative healing in every session or workshop. The second cycle of gumbo yaya is wrapping up in Durham, NC.

Here are a few updates:

New Community Support!
Gumbo YaYa is pleased to announce new sponsor, The Body Shop. The Body Shop ( is providing wellness and beauty items for the Gumbo Yaya Sister Circle and supporters. Many thanks to our awesome intern, Kenya C. Harris, for solidifying this sponsorship. You rock Kenya!

Love is Radical Performance!
Gumbo YaYa is wrapping up its second cycle on 3/29/2009 with a community performance, panel, and potluck.

What: Love is Radical: Performing Mothering, Daughtering, and Sistering
When: 3/29/09, 2:30 pm
Where: 214 Broadway St.
Durham, NC
Who: The Entire Community
Cost: Free
Why: Because we want to share our magic with you!

Please bring a dish, dessert, or beverage for the community potluck.
More Information: or 919.423.3780

Please tell everyone you know to come out and support Gumbo YaYa!

Gumbo on the Go!
A Gumbo YaYa session was presented at the 5th Annual State of the Nation Arts and Performance Festival. Accepted with open arms by a diverse community of artists and activists, women and men engaged in "Brilliant Tomorrows: Sister(ing) as Creative Communal Performance" session in New Orleans, LA.

Brilliant Tomorrows will also be presented at the first We Are 1 Women's Conference in Durham, NC. The conference seeks to bring women together regardless of sexuality, faith, ethnicity. Check them out at

On the Horizon...
Gumbo YaYa, the movie!
Gumbo YaYa, the curriculum!

We want to hear from you!
-Join our list serv at

-Check out our website and leave a comment at

In sisterhood and community building,
Gumbo YaYa/ or this is why we speak in tongues

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Yeah Lex!

Just wanted to let everyone know that our colleague and good friend Alexis Pauline Gumbs was identified by David Horowitz as one of the radical faculty ruining america!!!

Yay! Alexis!! you know you are on the right path when Horowitz has something to say about you!

see below

well,the first chapter is pretty much all about duke, and his mention of you is under a section called "Marxists and 'Queer Black Trouble Makers': The Department of English." He then highlights specific classes, and your class "To Be a Problem," is the first one. He writes:

"The synopsis explains 'This class will explore trouble-making, radical performative critique, and the transgressive and embattled act of (visual, textual, sonic and multi-media) publishing as possible responses to systemic and individual exclusions.' According to the instructor, a graduate student who calls herself a 'queer black trouble maker,' since 'publishing is an act of stolen power for outcasted communities, this class will be a publication of what it can mean to be problematic in a society inflected by race, class, sexuality, and gender norms.. Our aim is not to solve the problems of classism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia as inflected by race, but rather is to create a space where it is possible to act, speak, write, and think otherwise, anyway.' In short, the classroom is intended to be a forum for the radical views of instructor Gumbs.

"Throughout the course, students are asked to consider American blacks as an 'outcast community,' a point underscored by questions that they are expected to consider. ('Is outcast status the mark of being 'truly' black, or is it grounds to be kicked out of the 'black community'?') The same themes emerge in the books assigned for the course, which exclusively reflect the instructor's idiosyncratic views. The White Boy Shuffle, a novel by Paul Beatty, features as its protagonist a black poet named Gunnar Kaufman, who casts himself as the prophet of 'a divided, downtrodden, and alienated people' and voices sentiments such as this: 'In the quest for equality black folks have tried everything. We've begged, revolted, entertained, intermarried, and are still treated like shit.'

"Other assigned texts take an even more strident line on races. Thus, Sister Outsider, a book of essays and speeches by the lesbian activist Autre Lorde, describes American society as a 'racist patriarchy' that intentionally seeks the 'destruction' of its black citizens. The introduction to Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology claims that the 'black feminist agenda' has failed to gain a popular following because of the 'virulent racism' of American society. Essays featured in the book decry the 'racism of white women in the women's movement,' the 'prevailing popular culture of racism,' and the 'racism that is perpetuated by the white male dominant society.' No other views need apply."

The book is littered with these kinds of flatfooted readings, but it will also most likely be read by many on the neocon right who need to have their suspicions about the academic world--and of people of color in it--confirmed in the typical racist/sexist/homophobic/etc way.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind: Claudia Jones

Jones was known for giving out book lists to women she met on the street, in the laundromat and everywhere else.  Our radical reading group honors this legacy.

Jones was known for giving out book lists to women she met on the street, in the laundromat and everywhere else. Our radical reading group honors this legacy.

Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind: Session 3

Claudia Jones---Co-Sponsored by the People's Durham Initiatve

March 31st 6pm

Potluck at Lex's House ( for directions)

In her crucial book on the political life of Claudia Jones, Carole Boyce Davies describes Jones as "Left of Karl Marx." Jones is literally buried in the same cemetery as Marx, to his left, but Boyce Davies is also suggesting that Claudia Jones a rarely remembered black feminist Trinidadian communist organizer who was deported during the McCarthy Era for her radical beliefs and activities, is also left of Marx politically because her black feminist approach and her empahsis on cultural transformation challenged the limits of Marxism.

In her essay "An End to the Neglect of the Problems of the Negro Women" (download here) Claudia Jones articulates her understanding of how black feminism can transform the left in a revolutionary way. Join us, in Durham or wherever you are in reading and discussing this essay this month (because every month is women's history month!!!!)


BrokenBeautiful Press

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


The Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB)
--a member of The Institute for Popular Education at the Brecht Forum--
--founded in 1990--
451 West Street
New York, New York 10014
(212) 924-1858

The Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory presents

Confronting Diabetes with Theater

Two Workshops with Robbie McCauley

Saturday, March 21,2009 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm
Register online at

Saturday, April 25,2009 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm
Register online at

Award-winning actress Robbie McCauley returns to the Brecht Forum to lead
a series of workshops called "Diabetic Dramas" based on subject matter
from her performance piece *Sugar*, which looks at everything there is to
see about sugar, from slavery to colonialism to American mythologies to
diabetes. An ongoing work-in-progress, *Sugar*, which will be presented
again at the Brecht Forum in June, will incorporate some of the story
exchanges by participants in the "Diabetic Drama" workshops facilitated by
Ms. McCauley. Through the interweaving of stories, images, facts and lore
we will see that diabetes is not only a medical issue but also one of race
and class, and we will also see how sugar is sometimes something that is
very bittersweet.

The first Diabetic Drama workshop took place in January and will continue
with two more workshops on March 21 and April 25. It is not necessary to
have attended the January session to enroll in the March or April

Robbie McCauley has been an active presence in the American avant-garde
theater for three decades. One of the early cast members of Ntozake
Shange's *for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is
enuf*, Ms. McCauley went on to write and perform regularly in cities across
the country, striving to facilitate dialogs on race between local whites
and blacks.

In the 1990s, she received both an OBIE Award (Best Play) and a New York
Dance and Performance (BESSIE) Award for *Sally's Rape*, which she wrote,
directed and performed.

A core member of the American Festival Project, she has practiced and
taught theater in several communities throughout the US and abroad. She is
anthologized in several books, including Extreme Exposure; Moon Marked and
Touched by Sun; and Performance and Cultural Politics, edited respectively
by Jo Bonney, Sydne Mahone, and Elin Diamond.

In 1998, her *Buffalo Project* was highlighted as one of the "the 51 (or so)
Greatest Avant-Garde Moments" by the Village Voice, a roster that included
work by artists such as Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso, and John Cage. Her
recent piece, *Sugar*, a work in progress, was presented at Ohio State
University in collaboration with several institutional departments and
organizations, and with members of Columbus' Near East community.

Robbie McCauley is on the Performing Arts Department faculty at Emerson
College in Boston.

Co-sponsored by the Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB) and the
Brecht Forum.

Tuition--sliding scale: $15-$35

Pre-registration required.

Register online by using the links above or contact TOPLAB at or (212) 924-1858.

All sessions take place at:

The Brecht Forum
451 West Street*
New York City

* travel directions below


Other Upcoming TOPLAB Workshops

March 28-29: The Rainbow of Desire
(info at

March 29: Closing party for Refuge and Resistance: Reflections on Gendered
Violence (an installation and performance piece conceived and executed by
Ocean Ana Rising)
(info at

April 18-19: Cop-in-the-Head
(info at

May 23-28: Workshops with Augusto Boal
(info from or [212]924-1858)

May 25: An Evening with Augusto Boal
(info at


Travel Directions

The Brecht Forum and TOPLAB are at:

451 West Street *
(between Bank and Bethune Streets in the far West Village,
1-1/2 blocks north of West 11 Street)
New York City

* Note: West Street is the same as the West Side Highway


IND Eighth Avenue A, C, or E to 14 Street or BMT Canarsie L to Eighth
Avenue (take a few minutes to look at "Life Underground", Tom Otterness'
series of whimsical bronze sculptures scattered throughout both sections
of the station). Walk down Eighth Avenue (against the traffic) to Bank
Street (at Abingdon Square). Turn right on Bank and walk west to West
Street. Turn right, walk a quarter-block to 451.

IRT Seventh Avenue 1, 2, or 3 trains to 14 Street. Exit at the south (12
Street) end of the station. Walk a short block west, across 12 Street, to
Greenwich Avenue. Turn left and walk one block to Bank Street. Turn right,
walk west on Bank Street to Abingdon Square. Bank Street continues on the
other side of the park; keep walking on Bank Street to West Street. Turn
right, walk a quarter-block to 451.

New Jersey PATH train to Christopher Street. Walk north (with the traffic)
on Greenwich Street to Bank Street. Turn left, walk west on Bank Street to
West Street. Turn right, walk a quarter-block to 451.

(From Penn Station or Port Authority Bus Terminal take the IND Eighth
Avenue A, C or E trains downtown to 14 Street and follow the directions
above. From Grand Central Station take the IRT Lexington Avenue 4, 5 or 6
trains downtown to 14 Street/Union Square and then change to the BMT
Canarsie L train heading toward Eighth Avenue. Follow the directions


#8 (Ninth/Christopher Streets crosstown) to Christopher and West Streets,
walk up West Street to 451.

#11 (Ninth and Tenth Avenues): From uptown--to Abingdon Square (at Bethune
Street). Walk south one very short block to Bank Street, turn right, walk
west to West Street. Turn right, walk a quarter-block to 451. No service
from downtown--Abingdon Square is the terminal stop.

#14A (Grand/Essex Streets/Avenue A/Fourteenth Street crosstown) to
Abingdon Square (at Bethune Street). Walk south one very short block to
Bank Street, turn right, walk west to West Street. Turn right, walk a
quarter-block to 451.

#20 (Seventh Avenue and Hudson Street/Eighth Avenue): From downtown--to
Abingdon Square (at Bethune Street). Walk south one very short block to
Bank Street, turn right, walk west to West Street. Turn right, walk a
quarter-block to 451. From uptown--to 12 Street (near St. Vincent
Hospital). Walk a short block west, across 12 Street, to Greenwich Avenue.
Turn left and walk one block to Bank Street. Turn right, walk west on Bank
Street to Abingdon Square. Bank Street continues on the other side of the
park; keep walking on Bank Street to West Street. Turn right, walk a
quarter-block to 451.


Drive west on 11 Street all the way to West Street (West Side Highway).
Turn right for one block, to 451, between Bank and Bethune Streets.

Along the West Side Highway: From downtown--stay to the right and follow
the Highway to 451, between Bank and Bethune Streets. From uptown: Take
the Highway to Clarkson Street (exit left), make a U-turn at Clarkson and
proceed back up the Highway to 451, between Bank and Bethune Streets.

Note that there is no legal parking on many parts of West Street before
6:00 pm, and parking on the surrounding streets is scarce. Fines for
illegal parking are a minimum of $115, and your car could be towed.
Retrieval can cost you as much as $300. Fees at parking lots and garages
can run as high as $35 a day. WE URGE YOU TO USE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION.

The Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB)

"My fellow Americans, major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the
battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."
--George W. Bush, May 1, 2003

"...I told the American people that the road ahead would be difficult, and
that we would prevail. Well, it has been difficult--and we are
--George W. Bush, June 28, 2005

"Our cause in Iraq is noble and necessary....America is engaged in a new
struggle that will set the course for a new century. We can and we will
--George W. Bush, January 10, 2007

"Prevailing in Iraq is not going to be easy."
--George W. Bush, March 19, 2007

+U.S. military fatalities through May 1, 2003: 140
+U.S. military fatalities through June 28, 2005: 1743
+U.S. military fatalities through January 11, 2007: 3017
+U.S. military fatalities through March 19, 2007: 3217
+U.S. military fatalities as of March 10, 2009: 4256 (this figure exceeds
the number of people killed in all of the incidents that occurred on
September 11, 2001)

+Iraqi deaths due to the US invasion, as of September 2004 (estimated by
The Lancet): 100,000+
+Iraqi deaths due to the US invasion, as of July 2006 (estimated by The
Lancet): 654,965
+Iraqi deaths due to the US invasion, as of March 10, 2009 (estimated
by Just Foreign Policy): 1,311,696*

*These figures are based on the number of deaths estimated in The Lancet
(the British medical journal) study through July 2006, and then updated
based "on how quickly deaths are mounting in Iraq". To do that, Just
Foreign Policy multiplies The Lancet figure as of July 2006 by the ratio
of current deaths reported by Iraq Body Count (IBC), divided by IBC deaths
as of July 1, 2006. The IBC numbers, considerably lower than those cited
by The Lancet, Opinion Research Business (a British polling firm which
estimated 1.2 million Iraqi deaths as of September 2007), and even the
Iraq Ministry of Health, are based on the number of fatalities cited in
various news reports and have been criticized, with much justification,
for not giving an accurate assessment of the real Iraqi death count. The
much more rigorous and statistically-reliable study, conducted by teams
from Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University and Al-Mustansiriya
University, and published in The Lancet in September 2004, put the figure
at around 100,000 civilians dead. However, that data had been based on
"conservative assumptions", according to research team leader Les Roberts,
and the actual count at that time was credibly assumed to be significantly
higher. For example, The Lancet study's data greatly underestimated
fatalities in Fallujah due to the surveying problems encountered there at
that time. The second Lancet study, released on October 10, 2006,
indicated that 654,965 "excess" deaths of Iraqis have occurred since the
outbreak of the aggression and genocide committed by the United States
against the people of Iraq. The current figures provided by Just Foreign
Policy seem to be logically consistent with the increasing rates of death
from 2003 to 2004, and 2004 to 2006.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Monday, March 09, 2009

SPEAK!: Words of Radical Womyn of Color

Greetings loved ones,
I am THRILLED to let you know about the release of a CD created by SPEAK! a Radical Womyn of Color Media Collective that I have been learning and growing in for the past few years. SPEAK! the self-titled CD is an amazing resource and I'm so proud to be a part of it because I truly believe that it is fierce and transformative in the tradition of This Bridge Called My Back. I know that being part of this process has changed my life.

The CD is available for purchase at The CD is part of a pilot grassroots fundraising project to fund young mothers of color to attend national gatherings within the progressive movement starting with the Allied Media Conference in Detroit this summer.

I am super super proud to be part of this project (even though I am freaked out about the recorded sound of my own voice). One of the featured poems on this CD is "Wishful Thinking" a poem that (as most of you know) I wrote for the National Day of Truthtelling in Durham, NC. I.e. it's a poem a wrote for you.

Your support for this project means everything to me.


p.s. To listen to an interview with Adele...the loving genius diva who first spoke and facilitated the idea that became this CD click here:

p.p.s. here is the official press release...SPREAD THE WORD!

UNITED STATES — March 7, 2009– SPEAK! Women of Color Media Collective, a netroots coalition of women of color bloggers and media-makers, is debuting March 7, 2009 with a performance art CD, accompanied by a collaborative zine and classroom curriculum for educators.

Speak! members at the Liquid Words studio

handful of Speak! members at the Liquid Words studio

Compiled and arranged by Liquid Words Productions, the spoken word CD weaves together the stories, poetry, music, and writings of women of color from across the United States. The 20 tracks, ranging from the explosive “Why Do You Speak?” to the reverent “For Those of Us,” grant a unique perspective into the minds of single mothers, arrested queer and trans activists, excited children, borderland dwellers, and exploring dreamers, among many others.

“We want other women of color to know they are not alone in their experiences,” said writer and educator Alexis Pauline Gumbs of Broken Beautiful Press, one of the contributors to the CD. “We want them to know that this CD will give sound, voice and space to the often silenced struggles and dreams of women of color.”

The Speak! collective received grant assistance from the Allied Media Conference coordinators to release a zine complementing the works featured on the CD, as well as a teaching curriculum for educators to incorporate its tracks into the classroom environment.

“Speak! is a testament of struggle, hope, and love,” said blogger Lisa Factora-Borchers of A Woman’s Ecdysis. “Many of the contributors are in the Radical Women of Color blogosphere and will be familiar names… I can guarantee you will have the same reaction as to when I heard them speak, I was mesmerized.”

To promote the initiative, the Speak! collective is coordinating listening parties in communities across United States, creating short YouTube promotions illustrating the CD creation process, and collaborating with organizers and activists online and offline.

The CD is available for online ordering at on a sliding scale beginning at $12. All inquiries for review copies should be directed to us at Proceeds of this album will go toward funding for mothers and/or financially restricted activists attending the 11th Annual Allied Media Conference in Detroit, MI from July 16-19.


Please spread the word on your blogs and websites!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Gumbo YaYa Celebrates Women's History Month
with Love is Radical:
Approaches to Mother(ing), Daughter(ing), and Sister(ing)

Contact: Betty's Daughter Arts Collaborative
Media Alert

Durham, NC- March 5, 2009

Gumbo YaYa, ushers in Women's History Month with a four-part series of creative arts workshops, performances, and community-wide discussions about the beautiful complexity of relationships among women of the African diaspora.

Gumbo YaYa Dates of Importance:
March 8: The Aesthetics of Intimacy: Daughter(ing) as Communal Performance with Ebony Noelle Golden

March 15: Love is Radical: Performing Mother(ing), Daughter(ing), and Sister(ing) with Gumbo YaYa Sister Circle

March 22: Performance Rehearsal

March 29: Community Performance and Panel Discussion with the Gumbo YaYa Sister Circle (this performance is open to the entire community)

Nancy (Nia) Wilson, executive director of SpiritHouse-NC, shares, "Thank you to our sponsors: The North Carolina Humanities Council, Healing with CAARE, Inc., betty's daughter arts collaborative, and everyone who has supported this process by providing child care, cooking a meal, or attending a session. Gumbo YaYa is such a wonderful way to begin or continue building a healthy relationship between women and girls in our communities."

Ebony Noelle Golden, creative director of Gumbo YaYa, is over-joyed by the response. "Our sessions have been generously attended every week. Mothers have brought their daughters and granddaughters. I can't wait to see what the final performance brings, and what the lasting effect of this 12-week session will be."

The "sista circle" uses improvisation, dance, journaling, meditation, storytelling, photography, theater, poetry, and music to explore the intergenerational relationships among black mothers, daughters, and sisters.

All sessions, materials, performances, and discussions are free for participants and audience members. Gumbo YaYa provides child care and dinner during every "sista circle". Participants do not have to be students, or affiliated with any particular institution to participate.

For more information about Gumbo YaYa visit, or email

Ebony N. Golden, MFA, MA
Creative Director

Hire Betty's Daughter for your arts consulting needs!
"creating radical expressiveness in community"

Check out...Gumbo Yaya/or this is why we speak in tongues
"Creative Healing and Expression for Women of the Diaspora"