Friday, November 18, 2011
Tomorrow is the day for Body Ecology's 2nd RingShout for Reproductive Justice! Dress warmly, fill your thermos and prepare yourselves for what will be a gripping and enlightening public art performance.
What is a RingShout? A ringshout is a method for praise and worship. In the ring shout people sing, dance, testify. Body Ecology recognizes the technology of the circle has made black women and black communities un-breakable. It is our circle that keeps us focused on the whole, the light in our community, the hopefulness that we can collectively vision.
Body Ecology affirms that this campaign, this ring shout this circle of energy and creativity is our best asset for addressing justice and reproductive health.Our RingShout is a performance of healing, truth-telling, humor and recovery. We do this through the performance of original poetry, narrative, choreography. Expect to be moved! Each ringshout ends with a community cipher/ story circle so bring a dance, a poem a testimony about health, legacy, reproductive justice or creativity! Join us!
Betty's Daughter Arts Collaborative
Thursday, November 17, 2011
with Audre Lorde in transition
after Gwendolyn Brooks
“You have enabled yourself to prove of incalculable aid to many, many women—not just today’s women, but women down the ages...I am have been and always will be proud of you.”
Gwendolyn Brooks to Audre Lorde
“This is the urgency: Live!
and have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind.”
-Gwendolyn Brooks “Second Sermon on the Warpland”
brook open stream woke
this is how we conduct our blooming
brash and gentle at kitchen tables
on living room floors
noise and whip and head turned around
did you just say…
something scattered here
(our several dreams)
played into particles
stepped and stepped over it
trip and trip over
something flew apart
arrival is in the instant of yes
glitter your hands with the grace of grief
knot your hair with knowing
never meant to hold money
never meant to braid it into noose
never knew another way was
warrior healer be we
how to go there
warrior healer be we
who wont be who we are
until we are
warrior healer be
we who don’t know what
until we say
when voice shake
warrior healer be
warrior healer be
for Bessie and we
warrior poet be watching
warrior mother poet be
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Access to the moon.
The power to heal.
Daily visits with the spirits."
-Ntozake Shange on little sister Indigo in her first novel Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo
We are in my car with the top down dodging the falling leaves when Assata drops knowledge on the subject of grades, a new clarity gained during this first term of 6th grade: "Grades are bullying the alphabet." The girls find out that their hands can bend in ways they never knew. They read outloud parts of the books they are reading. They punch each other very lightly at the sight of a volkswagen bug. And this is just the car ride.
The Indigo Afterschool Program was an idea that 11 year old Alex Lockhart shared with her mother, using the words: "I want to go to an afterschool program at Alexis's house." Inspired by Ntozake Shange's character "Indigo" from her first novel Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo, the Indigo Afterschool TeaParty is a place to share dreams, make art, blow bubbles and investigate Indigo's practices of healing, self-love, dream interpretation, doll-making, compassion and full self-expression! Girls from 3 Durham middle schools participate!
We check in over tea and snacks letting a deep breath out at the end of our check-ins by blowing a real or imaginary bubble. We make dolls that listen, healing remedies for emotional emergencies, books for our dreams, collages for our visions, love notes for each other in the name of Indigo who used all these things to create the world she needed when she was right in the arena of the menstrual transformation.
It is an honor to participate in the building of community and sisterhood among these brilliant young women, and as the Crunk Feminist Collective reminded us with their development of a women's studies 101 workshop for high school students (http://crunkfeministcollective.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/feminism-101-or-why-womens-studies-cant-wait-a-workshop-for-girls/)
the intentional support and nourishment of the love, transformation and brilliance that is already living and growing and possible in young people can never start to early.
Indigo Afterschool uses the model of Indigo...just one of many audacious, inventive, complex, community accountable and wise young Black characters created by Black feminist writers to give young folks a chance to love each other and explore their own magical skills, a space to critique the norms they are noticing at school, and a validation of the practices of breathing, creating and listening.
As people around the country reclaim space in their communities to activate their visions I am proud that the space that these 11 year olds (who have just proposed an expansion of the program to bi-weekly sessions) have decided to takeover my living room with their dreams.
(Here is what Alex left on the chalkboard)
Indigo Style Remedies:
Yesterday we read some of Indigo's remedies that she creates after difficult experience and share with her community of dolls so that her growth can also benefit them. Oh Indigo!!!
Rock in the manner of a quiet sea. Hum softly from your heart. Repeat the victim’s name with love. Offer a brew of red sunflower to cleanse the victims blood and spirit. Fasting & silence for a time refurbish the victim’s awareness of her capacity to nourish & heal herself.
The Indigo After School crew also wrote their own remedies yesterday (they also wrote a healing recipe for popcorn, getting past writers block and "boredness").
Here is some of their advice...that I recommend keeping on hand or enacting right now for your own healing:
Emergency Care for the "the funk"
(i.e. like on Glee, when they were in a funk because they were afraid their singing group wasn't good enough)
Surround oneself with loved ones, then go on top of a tall object and scream to hearts content all of ones deepest feelings. If this does not work, go in private room and listen to songs that mention only of happy things, then write down all of ones problems and think of a way to turn them around.
Emergency for Sadness
1. go to the bathroom and turn on hot water. let it steam.
2. get your favorite incense and burn it
3. get a robe and put it on
4. put the incense in the bathroom
5. put a stool in the bathroom
6. write all the things you are sad about on a piece of paper
7. write on the steamed mirror all the things that are peaceful
8. sit in the bathroom and be peaceful with the steaming and the incense
Forged by Fire (for hard experiences that change you forever):
Bathe in a tub of warm water without bubbles. Slowly lie down and let all the bad energy out. When you get out, don't dry off, instead go to a silent room and let the peaceful air dry you off. Next rub your skin with soothing lavender oil. Now go outside and let the sun wrap its loving rays around you.
Amazing! Priceless and here is how you can support this space!
1. Of course donating to the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind one time
or becoming a monthly sustainer helps infinitely to sustain this free program for superhero youth.
2. This community of readers is the best thing ever. Want to send as a winter break gift 1 or 3 copies of your favorite young adult book from when you were around 11? The Indigo afterschoolers are self-identified "cool nerds" and will need a lot of reading material when school lets out next month to keep their brains engaged! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for the address.
3. Or contribute to the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind Library that surrounds and uplifts the participants and their parents and grandparents and younger siblings and friends by donating a book from the Eternal Summer amazon wishlist!
Keeping it quirky, eternal and off the hook!
Monday, November 14, 2011
Lunch Plenary on Coming Out in the South as Queer and Undocumented
Dedicated to Ms. Vera Martin
To get to Ms. Vera we faced our greatest fear. We drove through Arizona. Scarier even than the Mississippi police who separated us for questioning when we told them we were driving across the country interviewing visionary Black LGBTQ feminist elders, was that drive through Arizona in the middle of the night. The closest my partner Julia and I, raised in North Carolina and Georgia, have ever come to the segregation stories we've heard all our lives about travellers scared to stop for gas, to pee, to talk to a stranger, especially after sundown. When we finally did stop, because hail and fog and the presence of elk made it impossible to keep driving through Tonto national park, we put signs on every side of our purple and turquoise RV explaining that we didn't want to stop and we weren't trying to tresspass, but we just couldn't keep going.
We knew where we were: Arizona in the era of the state bill that is a hate bill, where it is illegal to be a person of color, standing still, on land, asking for help. That night was the closest we have come to the stories that make our parents and grandparents shake at the words "police," "highway," "bathroom," "night." The reason my mother tracks our queer black deviant adventurous behinds on Google latitude every step of the way. Probably the reason that Ms. Vera, living in Apache Junction Arizona in a retirement RV park full of white lesbians doesn't get many visitors and in fact laughed out loud at the concept of us, two queer black young people willing to drive through Arizona just to see her, to sit and talk with her in person.
For us, the scary thing about Arizona was that we knew that conservative copy-cat laws would pop up in our region, taking us back to the good old days that give our relatives nightmares, that still turn my father into a completely different person if he gets pulled over by a white Georgia cop. Our folks that know that no amount of hard-boiled eggs and fried chicken packed lunches can save us from that knowledge in the pit of your stomach that for us there is no such thing as home that cannot be taken away, that for us, for generations it has been about trying to move through undetected our queer selves our colored selves in a land where it is illegal to be us and to be loved and to be here all the way, where anyone might notice us and be transformed.
That cop that stopped our purple and turquoise love-mobile in Mississippi was flabbergasted. Queer, feminist, black and intergenerational? What do you mean your "elders"? He squinted. And then he called for back-up.
To love who we love, to claim who and were we come from is dangerous and possibly contagious. We are counting on the contagion of queer Black intergenerational love which is why we would go through Mississippi and Arizona and hail and hell to get to Ms. Vera. Who knew better than anyone why we cannot allow the laws that would pre-emptively and comprehensively invalidate our families. Including anti-immigration laws and includes narrow marriage amendments and includes anti-choice legislation and suggestions to legally say there is no such thing as rape. Ms. Vera knows best of all why we cannot believe for one second the lies those laws would tell about us and must in every moment recognize those attacks as the desperation they are against our brilliance, our unstoppable power against how radiant we are that we inspire even those who try so hard to hate us. We are love and we know it and we are contagious.
And so it makes complete sense that when Ms. Vera told us about her trip to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Creating Change conference, the first thing she spoke of was her love for the young undocumented activists speaking out. "Because I know what that is," she said. Ms. Vera was born in Louisiana in 1924. "I know what that is," she said. Where there is no law that will protect you, only laws to hurt you. Where there are people who can see that you are human and don't want to know it, so they try to make you illegal. "I know what that is," Ms. Vera said. "And I love those young people because they're not gonna take it."
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
RingShout for Reproductive Justice Continues Nov. 19th!
Body Ecology continues its RingShout for Reproductive Justice Campaign with a second public performance and street story circle. Check back soon for more information about the performance and how you can get involved!
Lauded as the "father of gynecology", Dr. James Marion Sims brutally experimented on enslaved African women in Birmingham, Alabama. There just so happens to be a monument built in his honor on 5th Avenue. Body Ecology wants this memorial removed!
We are calling on the power of the women who suffered at the hands of this "doctor" as we offer our second installment of RingShout for Reproductive Justice. We are calling on the power of the women are experiencing joy, trauma, revelation, doubt, and a myriad of emotions and feelings that relate to our reproductive health and choices.
What is a RingShout?
A ringshout is a method for praise and worship. In the ring shout people sing, dance, testify. Usually the songs are lead but there is time for each person to speak or sing. You may be more familiar with recent configurations of the ringshout including the cipher or even the "sista circle" or sacred circles for women. The idea is that the circle is sacred and when those join in the circle they harness an energy and power to manifest what they choose. Also, there are theatre makers who are using the ring shout in traditional theatre settings for similar purposes.
Body Ecology recognizes the technology of the circle has made black women and black communities un-breakable. It is our circle that keeps us focused on the whole, the light in our community, the hopefulness that we can collectively vision. Body Ecology affirms that this campaign, this ring shout this circle of energy and creativity is our best asset for addressing justice and reproductive health.
Our RingShout is a performance of healing, truth-telling, humor and recovery. We do this through the performance of original poetry, narrative, choreography. Expect to be moved!
Each ringshout ends with a community cipher/ story circle so bring a dance, a poem a testimony about health, legacy, reproductive justice or creativity! Join us!
More about the RingShout for Reproductive Justice Campaign
Read More Here: