12.27.2011

boundaries!

my first video blog: a little something on good boundaries and how they keep us on track.

12.16.2011

synergetic synthesis

a few years ago, i consciously began the process of synthesizing the parts of myself i'd either scattered far and wide, or pushed into obscurity.

many of us split ourselves this way, for various reasons.  for me, there were times when this scattering happened in the name of protection, but more often it was simply to fit in, feel normal {whatever that is}.

in a general sense, some folks become aware of these splits, then try to gather in the disparate parts.  others allow the soul-shards to wander--at best never fully actualizing their full potential; at worst, fearing and hating the manifestation of those aspects in others.  sometimes people will even project that hatred outward.

in any case, if you've been reading along for awhile, you know how often i've used this space to speak on the process of re-integrating my self back to myself.

during my morning prayers, i cried--tears of frustration, longing, mourning.  but those tears made way for an important realization: today, i'm probably more fully integrated than i've been since childhood. i still have moments when i wonder how i'll be received, but i no longer fear myself or my power.

i took a deep breath and stood securely in the knowing that people, places, and circumstances of my life  always adjust to reflect my state of being.  as long as i follow the patterns and heed the signs, things run smoothly.   there is no reason for this phase to be any different.

gotta keep moving...
[again]

12.14.2011

Dr. Amos Wilson

i grew up calling this common sense...but it's not always that way...

12.07.2011

mother wisdom speaks

a former coworker gifted me and some others with this poem almost two years ago...it was beautiful then, but it has really special meaning for me now.

Mother Wisdom Speaks
by Christine Lore Webber
from All Will Be Well

Some of you I will hollow out.
I will make you a cave.
I will carve you so deep the stars will shine in your darkness.
You will be a bowl.
You will be the cup in the rock collecting rain.

I will hollow you with knives.
I will not do this to make you clean.
I will not do this to make you pure.
You are clean already.
You are pure already.

I will do this because the world needs the hollowness of you.
I will do this for the space that you will be.
I will do this because you must be large.
A passage.
People will find their way through you.
A bowl.
People will eat from you
and their hunger will not weaken them unto death.
A cup to catch the sacred rain.

My daughter, do not cry. Do not be afraid.
Nothing you need will be lost.
I am shaping you.
I am making you ready.

Light will flow in your hollowing.
You will be filled with light.
Your bones will shine.
The round, open center of you will be radiant.
I will call you Brilliant One.
I will call you Daughter Who Is Wide.
I will call you Transformed.

11.27.2011

this blog: version 3.1*

peace & blessings, beloveds!

obviously there have been some changes around here--with more coming.  including video blogs!

i'm kinda trying to hype myself up there.  i'm not really into the idea of slapping my mug up here, for a variety of reasons.  but...when Spirit speaks, i listen.  and the truth is, it's time to combat some of the wack interesting things floating around in the name of knowledge and understanding.

plus, i'm a bit slicker than i've let on.  time to own that and put in some work.

but that's enough tooting my own horn.  if you want a taste of some of the things i'll be touching on, check out Queen Mother Imakhu's podcasts or her youtube channel.    

i'm also in the process of starting my reiki practice, so there will be some cross-posting re: healing energy work.  if you'd like more information on that, feel free to comment here or get in touch directly.

so there you have it: the long version of my vague little update from two weeks ago.  and...there's more coming.  god/dess ain't finished with me yet.

as always, whether you comment often or never, i sincerely appreciate you reading and following along with me. let's go! (c) casamena

m khut n mer**,

Nuit Menhit (Omi)



*i think. i can't keep up. lol.

**m khut n mer is a kemetic salutation that essentially translates to "in light and love".

11.10.2011

peeking in...

wow...i didn't realize it's been almost a month since i wrote here.

on the other hand, i feel like i've lived a lifetime over the last couple of weeks, so random blogging kinda fell off the agenda.

i've taken my spirituality to a new level and gained a new family.

i've been gifted with a love sweet and delicate as a newborn. instead of being lovers, i often feel like we're devoted parents determined to see "our baby" thrive.

i am, once again, at the beginning of something. several somethings, even.

and i am grateful.

10.17.2011

Jobs & Justice - DC, 10.15.2011

{for pictures, click here.}

I arrived at the Mall around 11:30am, thinking I’d missed the march itself. Actually, it hadn’t started. Speakers were still speaking, folks were still gathering.

I noticed the youth first. They seemed ubiquitous, some in marching bands, others rhythmically shouting “Free DC!” as they made their way through the crowd. Black youth. I had to struggle to find whitefolks--one of the radio personalities cracked a joke about that from the stage a little later on.

10.15.2011

singlehood chronicles # 9

in the midst of a conversation yesterday, i realized that i've never had the relationship i truly desire.

yes, there have been close calls and other glimpses, but not a full-blown expression of it.  something's always managed to get in the way: distance, school, fatherhood, workaholism {his, not mine}.  an emergency always popped up. a trip always had to be taken. money always had to be made.

life is gonna get in the way, no doubt.  but it seemed unnaturally problematic.  then there were the things i saw and sensed, but didn't name until much later: trauma was a big one, mental illness or distress was another.

eventually i realized i had to state a definitive boundary about what work i was not willing to do in my heart and in my bed; that i wanted my purpose to be lived in my larger life, not my intimate one.

as i approach my mid-30s, my sincerest desire is for a relationship where we sincerely make time to grow with and love one another despite the ebb and flow of life.

i need a man who knows how to navigate his existence so the distractions aren't allowed to dictate our pace.

i want time spent being: chillin in our/each other's space after work a couple days a week, lazy weekends in bed or on long drives...

this probably means no more daddies.  y'all know i love the babies. and, yes, i know i'm at the age where it can be difficult {note: NOT impossible} to meet someone who hasn't had a partnership or marriage that's resulted in at least one child.

however, i've observed that parenting a school-aged little one is very time and energy consuming, and it puts a lot of weight on a new relationship.  this is especially true since (a) i don't have children myself and (b) i am not willing to include said child(ren) in our dealings until/unless the relationship becomes a serious one.

i've also noticed that in those situations, time with me becomes a refuge--now, that's something i naturally and enjoyably create for lovers. but i want that reciprocated.  and that's difficult for a man who is perpetually exhausted by his life outside of "us".

for better or worse, that's where i am right now.

the good news?  i feel like i'm on the verge of realizing this dream. there are different and no less serious challenges...but nothing insurmountable.

guess we'll just have to wait and see, huh? 

10.14.2011

growing up black

i love tumblr.

when i first arrived there, i barely understood it: a blogging interface designed mainly for artists, photographers, and other creatives who wanted to blog without words. although it's greatly expanded since then, it is still, mainly, that.

tumblr's also allowed me to encounter a fantastic community of insightful, intelligent, constantly questioning women whose thoughts i enjoy reading and, occasionally, engaging with.  i say occasionally because i try to keep the words to a minimum, poetry being an exception. i built my tumblog as a space to take in inspiring imagery, and i've largely kept it that way.

however, i have noticed the stories of {presumably} blackfolks and other people of color who didn't grow up around blackfolks/their folks.  and the deprogramming that has to happen when one grows up in that context. 

by no means were my parents or extended family what you would call "race people".  there's not even a black muslim among us.  i heard few explicitly political or religious conversations, although i picked up nuggets of their philosophies. folks shouldn't go without in a country this affluent. god is love. that kind of thing.

one thing that was explicitly spoken: whitefolks weren't "like us". they weren't raised to the level of angels or reduced to heinous demons; they were just different. and, sometimes, they tried to make us feel bad about who we were. but that was just some bullshit they made up.  and so what? we're still here anyway.

yes, i heard the stories of carrying food with you when you traveled.  all the places we couldn't go to or neighborhoods we couldn't live in.  my great grandmother was a domestic worker. my dad constantly railed against the racism in law enforcement--but he'd also praise those whose love for the city enabled them to do their jobs well and fairly.

and, yes, i got the equivalent of the "don't bring 'em home if they can't use your comb" speech {that might be another entry...}.

on the other hand, they also didn't care if my friends came from roland park or north avenue, as long as they were good friends.  they didn't hang with bourgie negroes, and no one felt the need to sacrifice culture and sense of self to "make it".   

my schools--because they were built around ability more than zoning, property tax, or anything else--were more multicultural than most in baltimore city.  in elementary school especially, i was taught by teachers who engaged us and loved us--race or ethnicity notwithstanding.  i fully understand that for a solidly middle class, urban black girl, i had a charmed public education.  on all levels.

what's all this mean? it means that whiteness--as a social and psychological concept--did not truly enter my life until college. the notion of white supremacy making the world go 'round was something i don't think i had language for until late adolescence, if then.  no one insulted me (to my face) with a racial slur. with family, i only heard the n-word used for someone you didn't like--and when it was said out of that context, it was amongst blackfolks in varied and colorful ways.    

i helped run "sisters for black awareness" in high school, but that wasn't to confront whiteness or make safe space, i've just always been interested in my identity and heritage beyond the "we came here as slaves" narrative. there were times when the organization had to step up in that way, but that's another blog.

whiteness wasn't prettier. it wasn't easier. if anything, it was almost pitiable. it didn't matter if most of the folks on tv, the president, or similar folks were white--probably because the first mayor of my city that i was aware of was black.  the main magazines in our house were ebony, jet and essence

blackness was normal.  broad, wide and deep.

and now, i can see how wonderful a blessing that knowing is.   

8.29.2011

random thought: cooking with garlic

one day i'm going to get one of those gadgets so my fingers don't smell like garlic for days after i've been cooking.

what had happened was, i fell in love with fresh garlic a few years ago and never looked back. no garlic powder in my cupboard. nope.

then again...i kinda like the stickiness of the oil and the crunch of the paper. so maybe i won't.

me and this tactile thing, i swear...

8.12.2011

full moon gratitude

ain't got much money on this friday, but i am feeling quite grateful for what i have got:

breath and life in my body

an understanding of reasons, seasons and lifetimes

friends and family

the willingness and ability to learn, grow and expand

health and strength

sound mind

love/loving

i am blessed, and trying my best to be a blessing. that's what i'm holding on to today.

7.23.2011

amy, amy, amy...


one of my favorite artists of the last few years has passed on...ironically joining the 27 club.

i'm gonna credit a combination of okplayer and my girl sparkle for putting me on to her. the first notes of "rehab" hit me like a train. once i had back to black, i knew i had to go back and buy frank, her first album.

i related to her on several levels.

i laughed at "f*ck me pumps".

i played "love's a losing game" and "wake up alone" until i could sing every note.

i cosigned "in my bed", "stronger than me" and "some unholy war"--having been (and still being) all those women.

i triumphed with her when i heard "tears dry on their own", remembering the moments when i was truly, finally over him, him, and him.

i didn't consider it at first, but there is something to her channeling lady day some two generations later. since i discovered jazz, i've loved billie--probably for the same reasons i love amy: that willingness to put your heart and soul on record, literally, bruised and bloodied for all the world to see. crying through the music so we can take it out on our pillows and barstools. to this day, you'll find me pulling out "good morning heartache" on an emotionally difficult evening.

i had a blake, too. our relationship wasn't nearly as dysfunctional, but the bond was similar. we were tied to each other's spirits. we fueled and loved each other in rarely rivaled ways. recently i had to make the sort of break i'm not sure amy ever did. it hurt, and it's still hurting. but i knew i couldn't walk that road of stagnation and pain--not even for that love.

what really hurt amy? did it start with her wild dance with blake? before that? i often wondered.  i do know i could have slipped down her slope.  i've seen addiction both in my personal and professional lives and glimpsed it in my own. i have an unwavering compassion for folks with monkeys, demons, white horses, and pink elephants.

i kept hoping i wouldn't see this news. when she slipped from the tabloid glare, i thought maybe she was preparing to come back--bigger and better than ever. and maybe she was.

instead....she let go. 

rest, amy. rest.
may your gift inspire, and may your story save.
ase.

7.15.2011

humbled

the best gift i ever gave myself was surrendering to my intuition.

i freely admit that i don't always (consciously) know why do the things i do. i follow hunches, pray on a whim, pick up pebbles that catch my eye.

i'll stop in my tracks for that "still, small voice".

i'll sometimes have a candle, gemstone, or knick knack for months before i completely understand why.

but it always works out. there's always a reason, always a blessing.

for that, i am grateful.

6.29.2011

an (un)likely story: from abuse to healing

TRIGGER WARNING: mentions of sexual abuse, molestation, sexual coercion, self-mutilation. the triggering text is noted by border lines.

if you need immediate help or resources for these issues, skip the text, and scroll down to the bottom border.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

{note: i encourage you to share this as you deem necessary. i only ask that you please do so in full--including the trigger warning--and with proper credit. thank you in advance.}

5.17.2011

poverty is not revolutionary.

i don't think i've ever seen this articulated as well as Sis. LaTava did on facebook recently.

i'm posting the note in its entirety since not everyone would be able to see it if i simply linked back.

An oath to poverty is NOT indicative of a revolutionary mindset; it is a sign of ABUSE!"

In the 22 years of knowingly and actively working on behalf of my people I have seen family after family, couple after couple, choosing to live in what I call an oath to poverty. I have seen women hold to commitments to men who are unable (really just unwilling) to [help] provide the basic provisions of food, clothing, shelter, transportation and money for them and their children in the name of “Amerikkka is falling” and “This white man’s system is going down. We gotta let go of materialism.” Hmm… I agree. Materialism is a major problem and contributes greatly to a person’s willingness to live in economic slavery.

HOWEVER, having decent, safe and stable housing IS NOT A MATERIALISTIC EXPECTATION! Being able to feed your children, not just to sustainability, but to satisfaction IS NOT A MATERIALISTIC EXPECTATION! Insisting upon reliable transportation and living in a house with heat AND lights AND water IS NOT A MATERIALISTIC EXPECTATION! Having a voice in your own house IS NOT TRYING TO BE THE MAN in your relationship, nor is it being a FEMINIST! Having NO SAY SO about how the money is spent or earned is ECONOMIC OPPRESSION and is a form of ABUSE! Being made to feel guilty because you change your mind about a path taken or a decision made DOES NOT MAKE YOU DISLOYAL OR A LIAR! It means that you have intelligently reconsidered your options based on new or additional information or changes in circumstances.

BLACK WOMAN! If you and your children are living like this… it may be his fault, but YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE! And you have the power and authority to CHANGE IT today! Choosing to live in poverty, oppression or abuse at the hands of a man who says he loves you is much like being a passenger on the TITANIC. By telling you that you must learn to be satisfied with nothing, he is telling you that the ship is sinking and we must learn to live in the ocean. Practice holding your breath and regulating your body temperature so that you don’t feel so bad when death comes your way.

If, in fact, the ship (amerikkka) is sinking (and the ship is damn sure sinking) it would seem to me that a logical next step would be to find and or build a lifeboat that will carry you and your children safely back to shore (sure footing). It would seem to me that you would desire a means to return you to the standard of living to which you are accustom. If in your so-called consciousness you have learned that you are in fact descendants of “kings and queens,” then why don’t you work toward providing the finest life your skills and education can produce for you and your family.

Like many, I too want to leave this country, but I do not intend to do so on the back of a mule. Nor do I desire to flee to a destination only to find myself living in primitive conditions all in the name of revolution. If it is true that this white man’s education system is inadequate in comparison to the brilliance of our legendary wisdom (and it is), then I should be willing and able to easily master it to the point of providing myself with a quality of life I can be proud to offer to my children as their heritage. My "supreme" knowledge, wisdom and understanding should produce a woman whom my daughters seek to emulate and qualities my sons desire in future wives. If this does not sound like the results you are experiencing from your "superior enlightenment" SOMETHING IS WRONG! Look around you. Find a woman you RESPECT and admire, who is NOT living in the same dissatisfactory (sorry-ass) condition you are dying in and ask her for her sisterhood and her help. And when she tries to help your Black-ass… LISTEN! If you allow false pride and/or pretentious titles (i.e. queen, goddess, priestess, empress, oracle, tree stump, door mat, whatever) keep you from accepting the help you need to CHANGE YOUR CONDITION you are a fool and a fraud. You only hurt yourself and your children, because once you become the total dead weight that your death style produces, your so-called man will be on to the next one.

Any REAL MAN (any real king) wants a woman who is of high quality character, who sets standards that will improve the quality of his character more and more every day. A woman who he knows that in her own rights commands the honor, respect and admiration of others. A woman who will bring forth children with the cosmic intuitive nature to produce and create beyond the furthest imaginations of a slave. A woman who is the queen YOU WERE DESTINED TO BE!

*drops mic*

5.15.2011

my ancestors, i tell you...

today i had this strange urge to look through the book of psalms....as someone who was not raised reading the bible, i figured it might have something to do with my ancestors...

i started to pick up the bible i bought for myself a few years ago, but decided to look at the one on my ancestor altar instead. it was my great uncle's--a catholic bible, so it has a few more books than most standard protestant versions.

i went to psalms, and started to flip through, thinking i'd stop on a page with a message. it's happened before.

instead, i found a wallet sized portrait of my grandfather i'd forgotten i put there.

when i turned it over, there was a note:

"to: l---y
from: pop pop
1978
"

apparently the photo was taken the year i was born.

*cue teary eyes*

i love you, too.

5.13.2011

open post: when "consciousness" fails to recognize linked oppressions. or: if you're brown, stick around (unless you're gay).

i was just having a discussion with my godbrother around this book, and had a thought:

i've noticed that the problem with [black / "afrocentric" homophobia] is that they're focused in on sexual acts, which, in turn, are sometimes confused with fetishistic practices. but trying to bring the complexities of kink into the conversation is pretty futile...

generally:

what makes babies = good
what doesn't make babies = bad.

the quality of the relationships in question and/or the psychosocial underpinnings of human relationships as a whole never comes into the conversation. it's black folks' fear of rejection/extermination/cultural annihilation on steroids. now, that's a real fear that's been imbued in us over generations--but we have to get beyond internalizing our oppression, even in our bedrooms.

so you have all that. coupled with a general lack of education around the basics of sex and sexual expression (except in the most patriarchal, male-dominated/controlled, sexist sense), it's a recipe for disaster when it comes to queer people.

folks wanna complain about "europeans" being sexually/sensually repressed, not realizing they've caught the same disease.

in my understanding, our ancestors understood ALL ways of being, living AND loving--balanced, imbalanced, and beyond.
[emphasis added]

and, as i added later, this attitude can also make things pretty rough for the sistas, albeit in a different way*.

what do y'all think?



*aside from the blog entry, i also find that these same voices are the ones railing against reproductive justice for black women and other women of color, couched in "concern" and, again, that looming fear of genocide.

5.09.2011

awesome stuff

i read this.

then i watched this.

i'm so glad that the conversations are finally finding better frames and language, and expressing the intersections that so desperately need to be acknowledged. well done.

4.11.2011

nonsense & tomfoolery

this is bullshit.



and so is this.



sigh.

where to begin...

first and foremost, who decided that men were mindlessly lustful, emotionally childish creatures who never get out from under their mamas and can't think beyond the next piece of ass? some of you brothas need to be just as insulted by this as many of us are.

the only thing i could agree with was around 1:30 when shantel mentioned knowing yourself before you try to get involved with someone else.  apparently she knows that she's willing to tolerate that kind of thing--or at least excuse it's happening to others--and that's her right.  

however, (to truncate my earlier twitter rant) in my world, commitments come down to character. plain and simple. if you don't want a commitment, don't make one. and if someone breaks a commitment they make to you? you have every right to be hurt, angry, and walk the hell on out. period.

and the random "we got monogamy from whitefolks" argument? no.  i am all for poly relationships based on a spirit of mutual trust, understanding and respect. if you want to bring other folks in, and everybody's informed and consenting, more power.

but, please, let's stop making excuses for bad behavior.

and, tyrese. you're gonna tell your daughter not to "own the cheat" (agreed), but at the same time, dude can't help but to run out on her? mixed messages, darlin. really mixed.  then he almost recovers by bringing up the madonna-whore double standard, but jacks it right back up by basically saying madonnas should get used to being shitted on.*

these excuses, mixed messages, and generalized poppycock is part of what continues to disempower sistas, keeping them depressed, abused, dying of broken hearts and all manner of other maladies.  these are the scripts that make it that much easier to cave to a partner unwilling to use protection; to stay in situations where we are not loved as we love, nor cherished as we cherish.  this is what happens when you "love your sons and raise your daughters".

we need to deal with our denial--around our general mental and spiritual health, and the ways dysfunctional standards, upbringings, and ways of being have been normalized.**  

i implore you, yet again, to educate yourselves in the machinations of TKON.

want more. be more.

choose to love fully, with eyes, ears, hearts, and spirits open....with the highest and best parts of yourself.

we can let this shit go. more than that, we need to let it go.

in my humble opinion, it's beyond time for a new paradigm. 


*also note that this clip is about the only time in life i've ever wanted to hug wendy williams. it's unlikely to happen again, so i wanted to mark this historic moment.

**for more eloquent statements on these issues, i highly recommend browsing the crunk feminist collective and/or quirky black girls.

4.07.2011

it's that time of year again...

april is national poetry writing month, and i've decided to do napowrimo via posts on the writing blog.

that said, i'll probably be pretty scarce here this month--not that i've had a lot of time to blog regularly anyway.  obviously. more on that a little later...  

in any case, you can follow the poem postings on the blog, thru its rss feed, or on twitter.  enjoy!

3.27.2011

married to myself*

today i read this from brotha kefentse on facebook:
African people don't play the dating game. We marry with the foundation of spirit and responsibility. We procreate with the idea of generational progress and nation building. We love with the actions of nurturing & protection. Either you are in it to win, or you are playing games with not only your "girlfriend" but yourself as well.

a powerful statement, and a worthy ideal.    

for most of my teens (yes, teens) and twenties, i was a serial monogamist. not so much because i was encouraged to be...that's just the way life went. in my mid-twenties, i entered a relationship that lasted for most of the next six years. one i thought would lead to marriage, kids, the whole deal.

obviously, it didn't.

as i approach my mid-thirties, i wonder almost daily if i'll marry at all.

it's not a desperate wondering. i am not lonely, nor do i feel unloved. i've enjoyed the experiences i've had since my relationship ended. but there are times when i consider the positive aspects of our situation--our common ideas, the way we dreamt about building some kind of community center or gathering place where youth and elders could come to learn and teach--and wonder if i'll share those kinds of visions with another.

since then, i have come to relearn the sort of effortless, nurturing, protective love that he often was unable to provide. but i am also far less interested in bearing children.

when i think about kefentse's statement, i also consider that the major issue i've come across has not been a lack of love/loving or even commitment, but an inability to see, name, and heal the traumas that keep us from sustaining whole, nurturing relationships with one another.  

to my knowledge, my ex's fidelity was never in question. he constantly and consistently told me he wanted a life with me, that he loved and cherished me. but there were some key elements missing in making that a reality--much of which had to do with an unexamined, unhealed past.  these are the things that are hamstringing quite a few "good brothas" out here.

it took me quite some time to see and learn the patterns he exhibited and to understand what was happening. and it took a little longer to realize that that was not the kind of foundational work i wanted to do in order for our love to live. he was not ready. i had to go.

now, i've reclaimed my dreams. i'm putting things back together, slowly, but deliberately. i am measuring my steps.

i have also learned that love will always, inevitably, find me.  but it remains to be seen whether or not i will have the kind of partnership kefentse talks about.  gaining it would require a level of focus and attention that, frankly, i'm putting into myself, my destiny, and my evolution--and, for me, that feels right.

if there is someone meant to fit into that picture, whose energies align with my own, so be it.  


*for now, anyway.

3.24.2011

kevin powell's open letter to chris brown

yes, it's long.

but it's on point.

i'm only about 1/3 through it, but knew i had to share.

i've known so many men who could have written this...some are still in the process of writing it.

either way, it's worth a look.

thank you, kevin, for saying what so many brothas need to hear. even if chris doesn't take it to heart, someone will.

3.09.2011

workinonit (c) dilla

i'm in the midst of reading peace from broken pieces, and there are some interesting insights coming from reading iya iyanla's work...

last night i journaled about my "personal lie". i'm aware of it, and i've been working on dispelling it for awhile. however, i'm also aware of the near-constant breakthroughs i'm having around it.

and i know i'll need to stand in those understandings to get some work done.

that's humbling, terrifying, and empowering all at the same time.

but i can do it. i am doing it.

all will be well.

tiger, tiger, burning bright... (c) wm blake


tiger paid me a visit…

i may never adequately put into words how much i love the spirit and form of this animal.

again, i say: thank you for walking with me.

3.08.2011

merlin stone has passed on...

i remember when i was first coming into a new consciousness around god/dess and someone told me i should read when god was a woman, not now but right now.

i never looked back.

whatever scholastic errors she may have made along the way, she opened a door that could never be shut again.

may we continue to discover the Divine in our own images. and may we love Her fiercely.

thank you.

3.06.2011

woman, unapologetically

it is my hope that, one day, my sistas will stop spitting out "feminism" as if it's a dirty word.

first and foremost: the mainstream feminist movement was never "ours" anyway.  black folks seem to have developed a gross misconception of what the feminist movement entailed both during its inception, in the mid to late 20th century, and now.*

the labels womanist/womanism do better to explain the struggle of women of color for dignity, life and freedom within the kryarchic oppression imposed by their respective men--but even that might not be enough.  and that's ok.  wikipedia attempts to sum up some of the complexities:
Black feminism argues that sexism, class oppression, and racism are inextricably bound together.  Chicana feminism focuses on Mexican American, Chicana, and Hispanic women in the United States. Multiracial or "women of colour" feminism is related. Standpoint feminists argue that feminism should examine how women's experience of inequality relates to that of racism, homophobia, classism, and colonization.  Postcolonial feminists argue that colonial oppression and Western feminism marginalized postcolonial women but did not turn them passive or voiceless. Third-world feminism is closely related. These discourses are related to African feminism, motherism, Stiwanism, negofeminism, femalism, transnational feminism, and Africana womanism.
that's a lot, right?

for me, the bottom line is this:

i deserve to be able to stand up for myself and my humanity--from my seat as a woman and in solidarity with other women. if that somehow screws with the worst manifestations of the black man's ego, i don't see that as my problem.  or, more sweetly said, that is an opportunity for healing amongst the community of brothas, just as we have healing to do amongst ourselves.

being down for some of "our men" at the expense of ourselves is killing us, not to mention forcing us to shoulder the blame for systemic problems that harm us all.  somehow, our collective consciousness around those systemic issues has been reduced--in many circles--to a perceived inability to have "respectable" heterosexual relationships.**  in my humble opinion, that loss of consciousness is both unfortunate and dangerous. 

expanding that thought: if "feminism" is the root of the black man/woman problem, then maybe it got that way when black men achieved a measure of male privilege in the general society.

yes, you heard me.

in that historical window between the end of segregation and the beginning of urban decay--including the rise of the prison industrial complex--it seems that black men learned a lot and forgot a lot.  then, when sistas got wise and started looking out for ourselves, the response from the brothas wasn't, "whoa...maybe we should check ourselves."  black women were simply wrong, acting counter to our original culture, trying to be "white" and all that. or lesbians.

the forgetting was deep and complex.

black women have always worked.
black women have always been spiritual leaders.
black women have always made, kept, and used their own money.
black women have always been strong.

it'd be lovely if we could recall the concept of ubuntu, coming to understand that all our oppressions under white supremacy are linked. i can't get free without you, you can't get free without me, and the basis of all that is that we also have to let ourselves be ourselves--man, woman, human.

it is my belief that when you are following your purpose--the things you agreed to do before you incarnated--then you are assisting the community. but so many sistas are being taken off their square so they can fit in, be down, please a brotha or at least remain "attractive" to one...

warrior goddesses pushed into to being handmaids for the consciousness movement du jour. mama goddesses forced to settle for mediocre mates as they fulfill their calling to raise the beautiful babies that will someday move us all forward. love goddesses pushed into the ever changing vortex of the madonna/whore complex when they could be transforming the energy of whole communities--while enjoying deeper, higher love in more powerfully intimate spaces.***

we are so much more than the boxes we've been given. if we're going to decide to embrace afrika, we need to look at her fully, and that includes understanding the true depth and complexity of the afrikan woman.

"feminism" doesn't have a whole lot to do with that.  being truthful with ourselves does.


*anybody remember that little rift between elizabeth cady stanton and susan b. anthony around whether or not to give black women their due? remember mama audre's constant calling out of white feminists? no? see what i mean?

**despite who might be left out of that equation--not to mention the centering of the gender binary.  and who defines respectable? but that's another blog...

***and please note just how white that madonna/whore thing is

2.23.2011

i want...

it's less than a month 'til my birthday. and i have a wishlist a mile long.

now, i have what i need, generally speaking. so this isn't meant to be a long complaint. but i think it's worth getting in touch with the (mostly) little things i'm desiring right now and give voice to all the little bits and pieces of "lack" in my life.

so here goes {this will be a living document...}:

cash is always welcomed...

an awesome new place to do yoga. {suggestions for studios welcome...PG county or NE DC would work best...or within walking distance of a metro station.}

a pretty new compact mirror.

a new wallet.

shoes. in the sensible department, i need at least 2 pairs of boots (black and brown) and 2 1 pair of flats (also in black and brown). just for fun: stilettos.

pretty scarves

all these books

i'm starting to crave a laptop...

miniskirt

fishnets

spring skirts 


cardigans

a new blush brush. or a whole new set of makeup brushes. why not.

snake jewelry!! this is a nice start. and don't forget the matching earrings...


the new orleans voodoo tarot deck 

2.05.2011

reconciliation

a recent conversation with a sistafriend has led to reexamine my relationship with ogun...


it has been true for me that the african spirits have settled into familial spaces.  i have fathers, mothers, aunties, cousins...ogun is like that distant, elder uncle who doesn't always come to the family functions, but when you really need him, he's there with that extra money, the "spontaneous" pep talk, the warm, tight hug--the perfect thing to make it better.

you may not know him all that well--maybe he lives far away, or just happened to be around a lot when you were a baby--but, almost inexplicably, he knows you.  well. 

the first time i saw an ogun shrine, i thought, whoever that is, i don't think i want anything to do with him.  little did i know how closely he was walking with me, and the ways he'd eventually manifest in my life.

over time, i came to love ogun.  i learned more about him, and, suddenly, he was all around me: in urban wooded areas and not-so-urban ones, on the railroad tracks scattered through the city.  i even came to recognize his influence on my (paternal) family.  it dawned on me that he's always loved and watched over me.

almost two years ago, i endured some drastic changes--including suffering a deep wound left by one of his sons.  i still praised ogun in my libations and other prayers, but, admittedly, we became estranged as i leaned heavily on other "family members" to get through the transitions.

more likely, i estranged myself as he sat in the forest and waited...  

this morning, i listened to yolanda adams sing "step aside" and immediately thought of ogun.  tears flowed, and i remembered the way he's always embraced me, held me up, pushed me to acknowledge and embody my strength.  more than once, he has wiped my tears and assuaged my heartache.  when my pain turned me away from him, he understood and let me go.  even then, i know he always made sure someone was looking out for me.  maybe he even kept an eye on me through esu.

today, i thank you, baba. from the bottom of my heart.  modupe for all your blessings--seen and unseen. modupe for taking care of me--even as fear and hurt kept me from you. i truly do love you. 

ase o.


2.03.2011

stirring the pot

saw this via facebook today:



by force or otherwise, many great-to-the-nth-power grandparents and other ancestors of black folk were also the result of mixed-race unions. however, due to societal conventions or just straight up slave status, they had to stay "black"--unless they could pass or you were in louisiana or something like that.

however, given a choice, we don't necessarily know how they would have identified.

who would they have married?
who would we be/what would we look like as a result?

without all the one-drop rules and slave codes, i wonder if black identity in america would have emerged more along the lines of various latin@ cultures or the m├ętis of canada. and let's not forget that whitefolks have lost quite a bit of history and ethnic identity by being lumped into the american salad bowl.

the parents' consciousness is also a factor. if you wanna just be "american", ok.  if you have a deeper understanding around your family history/identity and participate in your various cultural traditions, a different understanding might emerge. 

i also noticed that this trailer seems to focus on african-european parentage.  i'm told there's a whole other conversation that happens around having two parents of color (e.g., bi-cultural parentage among west indians, (afro) latin@/african-american, asian/african, etc.) that often gets overlooked in the typical american obsession with black/white relations. 

either way, it looks like an interesting documentary, and--given the changing demographics of this nation--something we need to begin talking about. 

1.28.2011

to be tired.

i've noticed that when i'm fatigued, i walk a very fine line between ecstasy and exhaustion.

i never want to wear myself out to the point of illness...but the way my walls come down is nearly addictive.

a very specific kind of clarity.

creativity glitters in the cracks made by alarm clocks and stress dreams.

the world and everyone in it becomes beautiful.

etc.

it's an interesting thing...

1.23.2011

shadows, part 2

the queen of swords is another part of my darkness.*

although i don't like that this description harps on the negative, this is very true:
Personality is cautious and clever. Can be cunning, destructive and manipulative. She is often aloof and distant. She keeps her distance and puts up barriers around herself. She displays an air of unemotional responses... Beneath her facade she hides much previous emotional pain and/or hardship. She has learnt how to survive. She is a woman alone. She is either a widow, divorced, a spinster or without a loving partner. She may have spent a long time on her own and keeps up her defences and her sword drawn to protect her at all times. She has a fondness for red roses...

She feels more in control if she can avoid having too deep feelings for anyone, lest they puncture her heart and give her reason to despair. She can become big hearted if in the right company and circumstances and when she feels safe and secure. There is hope for her and she is wise enough to know it. She is symbolic of the rose, seductive and potentially dangerous, capable of cutting the skin and making it bleed, yet the soft velvety petals can blossom into the most beautiful arrangement and captivate your heart. She is wistful and reflective, serious yet sensuous, yet always alert. She is capable of being the Goddess or the crucifier.
i am grateful that i've learned more about her higher aspects than her lower ones.  when i've been hurt, my empathy is the water to my initial fiery flare.  i've been blessed with a foundation of love...and that keeps me balanced, too.

but i keep a shining, well-sharpened machete handy...and always will.


*in my light, i am the empress and the high priestess.

1.20.2011

black mermaid...



if you've read this, it's easy to see why this song means so much...

1.18.2011

enough

i can get overwhelmed by all the "bad" news and bad news parading as "information" that folks seem to focus on...

i wonder if i'm making a difference, if i can make a difference...what my niche truly is. 

and even if i find it, will that make a difference?

i'm not an "activist", per se.  i'm not in the streets constantly uplifting (or yelling about) a cause. i don't feel the need to browbeat people into understanding...well, anything, really.

i care. i keep an eye on what's going on in the world. i don't shy away from the uncomfortable or the undesirable.

i try to live in a way that makes my ancestors proud.

is that enough?

do i have to be loud?
does everyone have to know my name?
do i have to wear my allegiances on my chest?

i seek the wisdom of the quiet elders. 
it would do no good to drown them out.

still, i'm always asking, am i doing enough? being enough?

am i missing something, or looking at the wrong examples?

sometimes, it's hard to know.

1.10.2011

drumming while female

i've been thinking seriously about owning a drum. for several reasons.

i know a lot of sistas can be intimidated into thinking that they can't/shouldn't/never did drum, but we do, and we did.  this knowledge is reemerging from many sources.
From a metaphysical standpoint, women are natural receptors. As such, we, often unknowingly, pull in the energies of our environments. The added bonus is that we also have the bonus ability to transmute. Any toxicity we pull in can be changed and released to the community or cosmos for greater benefit. Personally, I become much more psychically in tune with my environment when I drum, and can feel when something is in or out of sync. Our ancient foremothers knew these secrets as they gathered in secret during the mooncycles to trance dance and drum these energies into personal and collective empowerment. Today's woman has lost touch with these practices, but tries to subconsciously transmute by partying, obsessive exercise, drinking, shopping...all in an effort to shift the toxic energy that has been built up from daily living.

Buy a drum.

You will be delightfully amazed at how beneficial just five to fifteen minutes of drumming is for you. And when you drum, pray. Mentally focus your intention. Bond with the energy of your instrument and make magick. Extend the time as you go further into your drumming meditation. You'll find yourself trancing out as Queen Nyabinghi's drummers did as they were possessed of her warrior spirit. You may have ancestors come to your aid. [source]
also check out layne redmond's research, obini bata, and this blog that seems to have quite a bit of information on female drummers in west africa.

1.09.2011

the radiant night queen

in recent divination, i've pulled this card more than i can remember.  Inanna's mantra in the deck is "embracing the shadow".

when i first seriously began exploring this aspect of myself, i mentioned how i gravitated to Pomba Gira, a spirit revered in brasil's umbanda tradition.

it was a sudden introduction--similar to the forceful wind that blew Ezili Danto into my life--and followed closely by a compulsion to wear some combination of red and black whenever possible. 

by now you'd think i'd be used to the endless curves in Spirit's roads. but, they can still take me by surprise.

stay with me, now...

Pomba Gira is often depicted as a roma (gypsy) woman. word has it that the roma came to europe from india.

india--particularly the south--has deep, often obscured connections to africa, as evidenced through the indus kush civilization and the cultures of the various adivasi groups. many of these people are african in appearance, and they are considered to be the indigenous people of that nation.

so when i retrace my steps, coming to understand my shadow-spirit as a devadasi* warrior queen with a river of onyx hair doesn't seem so unusual.  she is still, at her core, an afrikan woman.

she speaks:

deeply brown skinned child of an indigo-black mother, i am devoted to the temple and my people.  i know the power of the sword and of the heart. 

my aura precedes me.  i stand fully in my sensuality, empowered by my priesthood--a child of the Love Goddesses.  i carry all the mysteries of womanhood deep in my garnet womb.      

upon my throne, i am an entity beyond the control, reach, or comprehension of any man, even as i haunt their dreams.  i am dazzling in fine fabrics, jewels and radiant flesh. equally full of bawdy, ribald humor, i can blend into the seediest tavern without detection or molestation. 

i am always, fully myself.  i speak my truth.
 

i respect all who approach me confident in an understanding of their full selves.  

i remain appropriately humble, but i never cower.  

the spirit of balance and reciprocity is my breath.  i fearlessly face and resolve my karma.

fear, hesitation, and unwarranted self deprecation have no place in my house. Royalty Knows Itself. 

...and she is me. 
  



*i've only skimmed (with intent to read) it so far, but this work purports to trace the historical/cultural evolution of the devadasis from their status in ancient times to the implications of their lives and work--such as it is--today. i wanted to post it for the sake of perspective.

i am speaking of all this from a spiritual perspective and, as such, i am considering the higher aspects of the tradition, the work, and its intent--as i recall them in my spirit and through Divinity. i am aware of many of the ways in which the culture and traditions of india are being exploited and warped to disenfranchise adivasi people--sometimes known as dalits, tribals, etc.--and the issues surrounding sex work there. however, that is probably all the more reason we are called to remember the older, more original truths, so that we can reclaim the ancient wisdom, heal, and renew ourselves.

1.07.2011

short memory, long history

in all the discussions about what's going on with black folks, i often hear references to things like post traumatic slave syndrome, the industrial prison complex, loss of identity and culture, etc.

i agree with these explanations, and we should definitely be aware of them.  however, what i rarely see woven into the conversation is the more recent history that has decimated our communities and placed gaping holes in our historical memories.

vietnam scarred our parents' generation and layered generalized PTSD onto our other wounds.  many were lost during the war, but we'll never know how many were lost in the streets after it.   

in the 80s, the crack epidemic and reganomics formed a perfect storm in urban america.

on its heels, the early days of AIDS wiped out scores of queer elders, simultaneously claiming the intravenous users crack left behind.

but even before all this, before integration and the civil rights movement, there was the destruction of places like rosewood and tulsa's black wall street.  we had our own businesses, banks, goods and services, schools and social supports. but when we got too good at it, we were often put back in our place.  

despite it all, we have survived and thrived. no doubt about that. still, when we start to wonder "what went wrong?" i think we can have a tendency to reach back a little too far for the answers.

the fact is, in the last 30-40 years, we've lost many--known and unnamed--who could still be singing songs, writing words, and painting pictures to inspire, enlighten and lead us.  mentors who could have ushered us over the ground we seem destined to endlessly retread--because we're leaving too young to tell our stories and share our gifts.

just a thought.

so when the scripts start running for the millionth time, stay mindful. dig deeper.

1.01.2011

this year...

...is going to be a great one.

happy 2011, y'all.