Ascension

Ascension

Last night, I cooked spelt spaghetti listening and intermittently peering into the living room to catch scenes from Solange’s When I Get Home visual album. I love the scenes with Black cowboys, riding regally down Houston streets.

I cut that part of my evening short to virtually attend Brooklyn Public Library’s event #SAYHERNAME, A Public Reading of Audre Lorde’s Need: A Chorale For Black Woman Voices, hosted by Sheena Wilson and moderated by my storytelling sister from University of Alabama, Tuacaloosa, Dr. Jameka Hartley.

There are times where you should be speaking and there are times where you should just listen. Last night was a time to listen. It was not because Jameka and her fellow poets, Keya and Liseli read Ms. Lorde’s work beautifully.

It was because I needed to learn.

During Jameka’s introduction, she mentioned she was moved to do this after the tragic death of the young activist, Toyin Salau, earlier this year. Need was written in 1979 after the death of 12 Black women in four short months in the Boston area. Sadly, we know why this is still happening.

Black women are still invisible. Our pain is ignored. But when we speak up a little too loudly about our pain or organize coalitions, birth movements, we are a threat–to colonized mentality, to governments, to whatever “status quo” is deemed to be.

I found myself typing and then erasing in the chat “Black women are invisible and perceived to be a threat simultaneously. It is infuriating.”

I erased it because I just wanted to listen and for that night to be about these scholarly sisters honoring Audre. Another one of my storytelling sisters spoke up about the adversity she’s encountered in her quest to secure quality mental health resources. This led to a discussion that included solutions in the form of a “kitchen table”, a close knit group of people with whom you can be vulnerable, calling on an ancestor and “dating” therapists until you’ve found “the one.”

There was commentary from the one man in the room about his need to protect his own sister and other Black women. Recognition of the fight of queer women like Audre Lorde and the founders of the Black Lives Matter was discussed.

At the end of the night, powerful poetry was recited for us. It was the perfect closing. After logging off, my husband asked how I felt. He heard my rejoicing and saw my head nodding vigorously throughout it.

He knew how I felt. He knows I want to be in a real room with those people. He knows I now want to close the door behind me with a stack of books written by Black women and do my homework. I want to write and read and shift my perspective.

I want to ascend.

So last night started with a pot of boiling pasta, being awestruck at Black cowboys and transcendent music and ended with Ms. Lorde’s work setting something ablaze inside of me.

The Next 30 Days

The Next 30 Days

I recently decided that I will spend from September 3rd-October 3rd eating raw foods and journaling everyday. On the 4th of October, I leave for the Digital Storytelling Workshop in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. By that time, I want to feel mentally, spiritually and physically prepared as possible for the experience ahead of me.

Today, I was listening to a man who has been water fasting for over 40 days now speak about how he feels that we take on the characteristics of the things we eat. His statement was reminiscent of the age old saying “You are what you eat.” What struck me was the calmness in his tone as he recounted how he was reacting (or not reacting) to others in typically stressful situations. He feels like water–going with the flow without rising to anger or panic.

Even though I was raw throughout the month of July, I didn’t document how I was feeling each day. I want the next 30 days to stand out in my memory and the best way for me has always been to write it down.

I also want it as a record for all I have to be grateful for…the physical and the mental results.

 

Storytelling in Tuscaloosa

Storytelling in Tuscaloosa

The other day I was accepted to participate in The Storyteller Project: Digital Storytelling for Women of Color at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa created by Dr. Rachel Raimist and Dr. Robin Boylorn. I paced the room after reading the email. I could barely contain my excitement!

I applied for the project after seeing a post on the See Jane Write Facebook group so special thanks to her for sharing it with us! Even though I don’t know exactly what’s in store yet, I do know I will be surrounded by 9 other women who also have a story to tell. Stories that may look radically different than mine. It’s the thing I look most forward to. Collaborating and learning and growing and developing with complete strangers united in one mission.

One question I’ve been asking myself since my acceptance: Who will I be on the other side of this experience? I have reasons to be both exhililarated and fearful of the answer and I think that’s more than enough reason to go and find out.

Every time I have taken a chance related to my writing or speaking, I have not had an ounce of regret. It has always brought me to a new level of self-awareness whether the outcome was what I pictured or not.

So next month I will spend a few days in Alabama, uncovering more of who I am and how I want to share her with the world.