Sunday, August 29, 2010

grandma, we are poets: Lucille Clifton Rebirth Broadcast #10

grandma, we are poets: lucille clifton rebirth broadcast #10 from Alexis Gumbs on Vimeo.

Take home message: ableism denies and perpetuates trauma. In this poem Lucille Clifton breaks down traditional definitions of autism and reminds us that every way we experience the world is poetic, and necessary for the end of oppression...i.e. the transformation we deserve.

For more info about the Lucille Clifton Shape Shifter Survival School of End Cycles of Child Sexual Abuse see:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

water sign woman: lucille clifton rebirth broadcast #9

water sign woman: lucille clifton rebirth broadcast #9 from Alexis Gumbs on Vimeo.

remember what you know.

to see all of the Rebirth Broadcasts to go

and to find out more about the upcoming activities of the Lucille Clifton ShapeShifter Survival School visit

Thursday, August 19, 2010

School's In (Beware)

School's In (Beware) from Alexis Gumbs on Vimeo.


Dedicated to the man who didn’t want to let me into the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library

all beware the bright black girl
she who papercuts her heart
she who favor sliced to art
she who sells her soul to need
she who speaks and dares to read
look out, she approaches now
all beware the bright black girl

look how she approaches now
hair untaught, her hands unfurled
laugh uncaught like this her world
dare she look me in my eye
dare she tell me who I am
devil test my waning strength
look how she approaches now

devil test my waning strength
in my age I cannot bear
fertile rage the brazen heir
what god offers such a flame
Lorde, who justifies her claim
save me from her growing name
lest she sense my waning strength

save me from her growing name
build with me a wall of forms
pierce her skin with darted norms
someone rapture her away
someone capture her today
maintain my shame, at least delay
save me from her growing name

maintain my shame, at least delay
what her face must signify
she whose people sing and fly
painting life into their season
please encase me in my reason
(shit!) protect me from her
i was waiting for this day


protect me from her freedom
hungry ghosts trail behind her
high day song squeals deep inside her
look how savage lust provides her with
everything she needs
oh please protect me from her freedom

everything she reads
feeds needs unspoken
breeds youth unbroken
white god you joking do not let her look at me
uncouth truth watch her bleed out
everything we need

oh beware the black bright girl
impervious to hate and death
inhaling like this her first breath
multitudes astride her hair
avert your gazes if you dare

or see
how her walk will swift unsuit you
lightning in her eyes seduce you
til there’s nothing else you can do

-Alexis Pauline Gumbs 2009

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday, August 08, 2010

In the Mirror: Lucille Clifton Rebirth Broadcast #7

In the Mirror: Lucille Clifton Rebirth Broadcast #7 from Alexis Gumbs on Vimeo.

Pronounce the shape of an unsafe life. Look at yourself in the mirror.

and don't forget, this is the last week to sign up for the Lucille Clifton ShapeShifter Survival School.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

This Bridge Called My Baby: Legacies of Radical Mothering

This Bridge Called My Baby: Legacies of Radical Mothering

"We can learn to mother ourselves." Audre Lorde, 1983

All mothers have the potential to be revolutionary. Some mothers stand on the shoreline, are born and reborn here, inside the flux of time and space, overcoming the traumatic repetition of oppression. Our very existence is disobedience to the powers that be.
At times, in moments, we as mothers choose to stand in a zone of claimed risk and fierce transformation, the frontline. In infinite ways, both practiced and yet to be imagined, we put our bodies between the violent repetition of the norm and the future we already deserve, exactly because our children deserve it too. We make this choice for many reasons and in different contexts, but at the core we have this in common: we refuse to obey. We refuse to give into fear. We insist on joy no matter what and by every means necessary and possible.
In this anthology we are exploring how we are informed by and participating with those mothers, especially radical women of color, who have sought for decades, if not centuries, to create relationships to each other, transformative relationships to feminism and a transnational anti-imperialist literary, cultural and everyday practice.

"We don't want a space where kids feel that only adults can imagine ways to strengthen our communities and protect ourselves against the Architects of Despair," Sora said, "and we don't want adults to feel that either. We want to create a space where all of our imaginations help each other grow; but we realize that kids might get bored from sitting still the way that adults tend to do, so we set up the play room with toys and games." Regeneracion Childcare Collective 2007

Sometimes for radical mamas, our mothering in radical community makes visible the huge gulfs between communities, between parents and non-parents, in class and other privileges AND most importantly the wide gulf between what we say in activist communities and what we actually do. Radical mothering is the imperative to build bridges that allow us to relate across these very real barriers. For and by radical mother of color, but also inclusive of other working class, marginalized, low income, no income radical mothers.

"Parenting and being a role model to kids in your community is important because they will be the activists of tomorrow. And they will be our gardeners and mothers and bakers. They will question our generation, they'll write their own history, create new forms of art and media."
-Noemi Martinez 2009

We find the idea of the "bridge" useful because we believe that the radical practice of mothering is at once a practical and visionary relationship to the future IN the PRESENT, a bridge within time that can inspire us to relate to each other intentionally across generation and space. We also acknowledge the not-so-radical default bridge function of marginalized mother in society. How our children in particular get walked all over in terms of public policy that criminalizes our mothering and movement spaces that claim to be creating a transformed future without being fully accountable to parents or kids.

"I came into the Third World Women’s Caucus when it was well under way. The women there were discussing the caucus resolution to be presented to the general conference. There were Asian women, Latin women, Native Women and Afro-American women. The discussion when I came in was around the controversial issue of motherhood and how the wording of the resolution could best reflect the feelings of those present. It was especially heartening to hear other women affirm that not only should lesbian mothers be supported but that all third world women lesbians share in the responsibility for the care and nurturing of the children of individual lesbians of color...Another woman reminded us of the commitment we must take to each other when she said ‘All children (of lesbians) are ours." -Doc in Off Our Backs 1979

We see this book as a continuation of the accountability invoking movement midwifing work of the 1981 anthology This Bridge Called My Back in that it:
a. is the work of writers who see their writing as part of a mothering practice, as not career, but calling and who believe that their writing, and their every creative practice has a strategic role in transforming the possible world.
b. contextualizes contemporary radical mama practices in relationship to socialist and lesbian mothering practices experimented with and practiced in the 1970’s by writers including Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Adrienne Rich, Third World Lesbians conference, Salsa Soul Sisters, Sisterhood of Black Single Mothers
c. seeks to speak to those who participated in that earlier practice and who have been informed by it as a primary audience, and to connect those who have not have access to that work to it

We invite submissions including but not limited to the following possibilities:

*Manifestas, group poems, letters, mission statements from your crew of radical mamas or an amazing group from history
*Letters, poems, transcribed phone calls between radical mamas supporting each other
*Accounts of your experience as a radical mama
*Reflections on enacting radical mamacity at different ages
*Motivations for/obstacles in your practice of radical mothering
*Conversations with your kids
*Rants and rages via the eloquence of a mother-wronged
*Your experience of radical grandmothering
*Self-interviews, interviews with other mamis
*Birthing experiences
*Ending child sexual abuse
*Mothering as survivors (survival and mothering)
*Mothering with and without models
*Mothering and domination
*Mama to-do lists
*Mama/kid collaborations...
*Radical fathering
*Overcoming shame and silence in the practice of radical mothering
*Ambivilence, paradox, emotions, vulnerability
*Experiences of state violence/CPS
*Balancing daily survival
*Loss of children, not living with children, custody arrangements and issues
*Sharing your stories from where you live
*Everything we haven't thought of yet! Take a deep breath and WRITE!!!!

Please send submissions via email to
or via snail mail to
P.O. Box 4803 Baltimore Maryland 21211

by April 1, 2011.

Monday, August 02, 2010

the light that came: lucille clifton rebirth broadcast #6

the light that came: Lucille Clifton Rebirth Broadcast #6 from Alexis Gumbs on Vimeo.

the light that came to lucille clifton came during the summer that she understood that she had not understood.

what light is coming to you this summer? what signs are you receiving to tap into your inner divinity for change?
(and see earlier broadcasts at