Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Women, Rock! and Politics Conference 2008
Institute for Women's Studies, UGA
Athens, Georgia

Everyone is welcome to this free conference. For information on local
accommodations, registration, and other details, go to

Athens locals don't miss keynote performance by queer and feminist rock icon
Gretchen Phillips, 6pm Saturday
( and after-conference party
with guest dj Melissa York.

Conference Program

Friday, May 30, Edge Hall, Hugh Hodgson School of Music, UGA

5:00 Opening reception

5:30 Welcome and Introductions

6:00 Fred Maus “52 Girls” A talk on the women of the B52s

7:00 Latin-American Scenes
Lesley Feracho , “Contesting the Nation :Women and Rock in Latin America”
Patricia Vergara “Funkeiras: Transgressing the Place of the Poor, Black, and
Female in Rio de Janeiro”

SATURDAY, May 31, Tasty World, downtown Athens

12:00 Brunch Buffet

1:00 Girls Rock Camps Collective, “Creativity, Community and Confidence
through Rock & Roll: Girls Rock Camps”

2:15 Rocking the Margins
Matt Jones, "(Re)discovering the Music of Judee Sill"
Sarah Cozort, “Women in Experimental Music”

3:00 Break

3:15 Stella Pace, “Riot Grrrl Self-Esteem Now: A Multimedia Performance”

4:00 Hip/Hop Feminisms
Ebony Noelle Golden, “Sonic Soul: Erykah Badu's Performance Practice”
Sarah Young Ngoh, “Black Motherhood in Hip/Hop and R&B Music”
Marnie Binfield, “Women’s Contributions to ‘Conscious Rap’”

5:45 Break

6:00 Keynote Performance/Presentation Gretchen Phillips

9:00- After-party at Tasty World with special DJ Melissa York, of The Butchies

UGA to host second annual conference on Women, Rock! and Politics

Athens, Ga.—The Institute for Women’s Studies at the University of Georgia is
hosting its second annual conference, Women, Rock and Politics, from Friday,
May 30 to Saturday, May 31.

This year’s conference brings together a great range of talks, images, and
performances on topics ranging from Girls Rock Camps, to hip hop feminism, to
the riot grrrl movement, to women in rock in Latin America.

The conference will begin on Friday at 5:00 p.m. with a reception and
presentations in Edge Hall at the Hugh Hodgson School of Music on the
University of Georgia campus, followed by a talk on the women of the B-52s by
renowned music scholar Fred Maus (UVA). Saturday's presentations and
performances, including keynote performance by rock icon Gretchen Phillips,
and conference after-party with guest dj Melissa York, will be at Tasty World in
downtown Athens. For a full program please visit

The conference is free and open to the public. Edge Hall is located in the Hugh
Hodgson School of Music, Third Floor, at 250 River Rd on the eastside of
campus. Tasty World is located at 312 East Broad Street in downtown Athens,
Ga. For more information contact the Institute for Women’s Studies at 706-

Molly Moreland Myers
Public Relations Coordinator
Institute for Women's Studies
University of Georgia
706-542-0066 (voice)
706-542-0049 (fax)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dear MaComere: Dream Come True

Yesterday, J, my number one comadre, insisted that I stall my strawberry picking adventure in order to cradle her for a 10 minute nap. Powerful woman that she is, spirit healer that she is, listener for another world that she is, I trusted that there was something divine in her whine. I waited. After the nap our mailman knocked on our door with the first package that I've ever had to sign for since we've lived here. And inside were copies of the book you see above the literary journal of the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars. MaComere. The word MaComere has no real translation into English...its translation into Spanish would be mi comadre. It is the way women in the French influenced Caribbean name the women who the grew up with, the woman who they tell everything. It means best friend, comrade, sister in everything. To say it literally we have to invent a much needed phrase "my co-mother". Since Audre Lorde said "we can learn to mother ourselves," I believe that MaComere means the way we learn to mother ourselves together.
It is no coincidence that this journal came yesterday in the midst of a period (surrounding Mother's Day) where J and I are struggling with how our relationships to our mothers and their challenges and our difficult memories of their frequent desperation impact each of us and our relationships to each other. It is not a coincidence that this came on a day that I was blessed to sit and talk about how/if we can remember what our grandmothers know with sisters who have been partners with me in the creation of UBUNTU arts--- a comothering process of nuturing, healing, and making space that has forever transformed me and our community and what it means to respond to sexual violence. It is no coincidence that J needed a little mothering in the minutes before the package arrived.
And indeed it is divine that the piece I wrote, a blue airmail letter between myself and my mother and grandmother, between myself and the Caribbean women writers and scholars who have made me possible, between myself and the mother daughter granddaughter characters of Dionne Brand's novel At the Full and Change of the Moon, with footnotes full of overdue shout-outs to my fellow travelers in a graduate seminar on Negritude arrived when it did . Two full years after the scheduled publication...but you know...Caribbean time stretches to dream for those of us living dispersed. It arrived in the mail after I had stopped expecting it, like many of the mother/daughter letters that inspired what I wrote.
I'm honored that my piece appears after (or anywhere near!) a poem called "Hook"
by Olive Senior (THE Olive Senior) about mother's and daughters trying to catch each other through letters and clothing and loss. It is a miracle that my work appears alongside work by Olive Senior and Pamela Mordecai and Ramabai Espinet women whose books sit on my shelf, who I studied for my prelim exams who make me cry and think about everything differently when I hear them read outloud. I am honored for my words to sit beside theirs. Women who have been helping me mother myself even if they don't know it. I am honored that the women who create and recreate the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars (the only academic association that actually feels like home) were generous enough to give my words space, and to insist that my thoughts about diaspora and gender were important and useful to them...those women who given me critical definitions and terms to use, those women whose academic and creative work has reminded me that we exist. Women who have been helping me mother myself intentionally and with love and grace. Women who are always right on time, regardless.
And it is no coincidence that you are reading this on a blog that is made worthwhile for me by the reading eyes and open hearts of everyone, but especially radical womyn of color, comothers with me in a transformed world. Gratitude overflowing.

Thank the Lorde for comothering and the possibility of being reborn together. (And thank you!)

Check out the journal here:


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Freedom Dreams: Today is Blog About Palestine Day

This week thanks to some precious advice from Fallon Wilson I have started remembering and recording my dreams.

This is a scene from a dream I remembered on Monday morning:

"and then i met a dark man with a beard. committed to defending the olive trees to the death. but he told me, unashamed, that he would never harm the woman i named, even if she ate every olive."

This affirms what I already know. A free Palestine is an imperative in my life time. The occupation that outlived June Jordan will not survive us. Period.

I think this dream was probably also influenced by what a learned at a progressive and belated passover sader that I was able to attend a couple of weeks ago...which was some insight into the profound impact of the Isreali uprooting of olive trees in Palestine. A friend explained to me that there is no equivalent that explains how important the olive trees and the olives themselves are to the survival, culture, heritage and well being and sustainability of the Palestinian people. I now understand that the uprooting of these olive trees is a violence against the earth and a deep harm to humanity. I remember that I learned to read in Spanish against the backdrop of Lorca's screams about arboles de aceituna. I remember that olive trees are one of the major metaphors in the bible, a teaching tool about what heritage is, about how our actions impact generations. Maybe I should go back and read those parts.

Maybe I was the dark bearded man in the dream. He was ready to die. I think he was ready to kill too. But I asked him about a particular woman (i don't know or remember who) and he said even she ate every olive he would do no violence.

There is something for me to learn here about the relationship between the fruit and the roots. I am being reminded that there is a difference between the cause and the manifestation of violence. I am being reminded to be radical. I am being reminded to go for the root. I am being reminded that there is a place for forgiveness in militancy. I am being reminded that our sustainability is worth more than our individual lives.

I am being reminded to grow.

I am free when Palestine is


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

There is Such a Thing as Growth

or because this made me cry.

Vita's Garden
by K Shalini

Shalini also has another film about the importance of water:
A Drop of Life

And for anyone who hasn't seen OUR garden:
gardening meeting Wednesday 8:30 on Lex and J's porch!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

"This Instant and This Triumph": Women of Color Publishing

Announcing:American Book Review, Volume 29 Number 4 with a focus on Women of Color Publishing

Top 10 Reasons to get a copy of American Book Review (just this once!)

1. Audre Lorde's face is on the cover of American Book Review. Enough said.

2. "This Instant and This Triumph" an introductory essay that puts the current women of color publishing movement into historical context by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

3. Profiles of some of the amazing publishing initiatives that women of color are popping off RIGHT NOW!

4. Ernest Hardy's exciting new release from RedBone Press (BloodBeats Vol. 2 The Bootleg Joints) reviewed by the brilliant collar popping scholar ALISHA GAINES!

5. Asha Bandele's contemporary classic The Subtle Art of Breathing reviewed by the inspiring womanist performance diva EBONY GOLDEN!

6. INCITE: Women of Color Against Violence's crucial The Revolution Will Not Be Funded reviewed by the strategically fly organizer PAULINA HERNANDEZ!

7. Girlchild Press's new anthology Just Like A Girl: A Manifesta reviewed by the most talented and necessary fiction writer of our generation DANIELLE EVANS!

8. Hermana Resist's collaborative 'zine The MAIZ Chronicles reviewed by BROWNFEMIPOWER!

9. UBUNTU/BrokenBeautiful Press's interactive anthology Wrong is Not My Name reviewed by the textually incisive KINOHI NISHIKAWA!

10. A bunch of headlines that the guest editor DID NOT APPROVE, but finds amusing nonetheless.

Check it:

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Grace Lee Boggs: The Next American Revolution

shared by

The Next American Revolution

By Grace Lee Boggs
Left Forum Closing Plenary, Cooper Union, New York
March 16, 2008

I have decided to talk about the next American Revolution because I believe it is not only the key to global survival but also the most important step we can take in this period to build a new, more human and more socially and ecologically responsible nation that all of us, in every walk of life, whatever our race, ethnicity, gender, faith or national origin, will be proud to call our own.

I also feel that it would be a shame if we left this historic gathering in this Great Hall, at this pivotal time in our country’s history – when the power structure is obviously unable to resolve the twin crises of global wars and global warming, when millions are losing their jobs and homes, when Obama’s call for change is energizing so many young people and independents, and when white workers in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania are reacting like victims — without discussing the next American revolution.

Since it is hard to struggle for something which you haven’t struggled to define and name, my aim this evening, quite frankly, is to initiate impassioned discussions about the next American revolution everywhere, in groups, small and large.

I begin with some history. Forty years ago my late husband, Jimmy Boggs, and I started Conversations in Maine with our old friends and comrades, Freddy and Lyman Paine, to explore how a revolution in our time in our country would differ from the many revolutions that took place around the world in the early and mid-20th century.

We four had been members of the Johnson-Forest Tendency, a tiny group inside the Workers Party and the Socialist Workers Party, led by C.L.R. James and Raya Dunayevskaya. Lyman, an architect, and Freddy, a worker and organizer, had been in the radical movement since the 1930s. Jimmy, an African American born and raised in the deep agricultural South, had worked on the line at Chrysler for 28 years and was a labor and community activist and writer. I was an Asian American intellectual who had been inspired by the 1941 March on Washington movement to become a movement activist, and after spending ten years in New York studying Marx and Lenin with CLR and Raya, had moved to Detroit in 1953, married Jimmy Boggs and became involved in the struggles organically developing in the Detroit community.

Our mantra in the Johnson-Forest Tendency had been the famous paragraph in Capital where Marx celebrates “the revolt of the working class always increasing in numbers and united, organized and disciplined by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production.” In the early 60s when the working class was decreasing rather than increasing under the impact of what we then called “automation,” we separated from CLR when he opposed our decision to rethink Marxism.

Our separation freed us to recognize unequivocally that we were coming to the end of the relatively short industrial epoch on which Marx’s epic analysis had been based. We could see clearly that the United States was in the process of transitioning to a new mode of production, based on new informational technologies, and that this transitioning was not only epoch-ending but epoch-opening, with cultural and political ramifications as far-reaching as those involved in the transition from Hunting and Gathering to Agriculture or from Agriculture to Industry.

As movement activists and theoreticians in the tumultuous year of 1968, we were also acutely conscious that in the wake of the civil rights movement, beginning with the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962, and the exploding anti-Vietnam war and women’s movements, new and more profound questions of our relationships with one another, with Nature, and with other countries were being raised with a centrality unthinkable in earlier revolutions.

Hence, as our conversations continued, we became increasingly convinced that our revolution in our country in the late 20th century had to be radically different from the revolutions that had taken place in pre-or-non-industrialized countries like Russia, Cuba, China or Vietnam. Those revolutions had been made not only to correct injustices but to achieve rapid economic growth. By contrast, as citizens of a nation which had achieved its rapid economic growth and prosperity at the expense of African Americans, Native Americans, other people of color, and peoples all over the world, our priority had to be correcting the injustices and backwardness of our relationships with one another, with other countries and with the Earth.

In other words, our revolution had to be for the purpose of accelerating our evolution to a higher plateau of humanity. That’s why we called our philosophy “Dialectical Humanism” as contrasted with the “Dialectical Materialism” of Marxism.

Six years later the practical implications of this somewhat abstract concept of an American revolution were spelled out by Jimmy in the chapter entitled “ Dialectics and Revolution” in Revolution and Evolution in the 20th Century (Monthly Review Press, 1974).

“The revolution to be made in the United States,” Jimmy wrote, nearly 30 years before 9/11, “will be the first revolution in history to require the masses to make material sacrifices rather than to acquire more material things. We must give up many of the things which this country has enjoyed at the expense of damning over one third of the world into a state of underdevelopment, ignorance, disease and early death.” Until that takes place, “this country will not be safe for the world and revolutionary warfare on an international scale against the United States will remain the wave of the present.”

“It is obviously going to take a tremendous transformation to prepare the people of the United States for these new social goals.” Jimmy continued. “But potential revolutionaries can only become true revolutionaries if they take the side of those who believe that humanity can be transformed.” Thus, the American revolution, at this stage in our history and in the evolution of technology and of the human race, is not about Jobs or health insurance or making it possible for more people to realize the American Dream of upward mobility. It is about acknowledging that we Americans enjoy middle class comforts at the expense of other peoples all over the world. It is about living the kind of lives that will end the galloping inequality both inside this country and between the Global North and the Global South, and also slow down global warming. It is about creating a new American Dream whose goal is a higher humanity instead of the higher standard of living which is dependent upon Empire. About practicing a new more active, global and participatory concept of citizenship. About becoming the change we want to see in the world.

The courage, commitment and strategies required for this kind of revolution are very different from those required to storm the Kremlin or the White House. Instead of viewing the American people as masses to be mobilized in increasingly aggressive struggles for higher wages, better jobs or guaranteed health care, we must have the courage to challenge them and ourselves to engage in activities that build a new and better world by improving the physical, psychological, political and spiritual health of ourselves, our families, our communities, our cities, our world and our planet.

This means that it is not enough to organize mobilizations calling on Congress and the President to end the war in Iraq. We must also challenge the American people to examine why 9/11 happened and why so many people around the world who, while not supporting the terrorists, understand that they were driven to these acts by anger at the U.S. role in the world, e.g. supporting the Israeli occupation of Palestine, overthrowing or seeking to overthrow democratically-elected governments, and treating whole countries, the world’s peoples and Nature only as a resource enabling us to maintain our middle class way of life.

We have to help the American people find the moral strength to recognize that, although no amount of money can compensate for the countless deaths and indescribable suffering that our criminal invasion and occupation have caused the Iraqi people, we, the American people, have a responsibility to make the material sacrifices that will help them rebuild their infrastructure. We have to help the American people grow their souls (which is not a noun but a verb) enough to recognize that since we, who are only 4% of the world’s population, have been consuming 25% of the planet’s resources, we are the ones who must take the first big steps to reduce greenhouse emissions. We are the ones who must live more simply so that others can simply live.

Moreover, we need to begin creating ways to live more frugally and cooperatively NOW because as times get harder, we “good Americans,” if we view ourselves only as victims, can easily slip into scapegoating the “other” and goose-stepping behind a nationalist leader, as the “good Germans” did in the 1930s, with Hitler.

This vision of an American revolution as transformation is the one projected by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his April 4, 1967 anti-Vietnam war speech. As Vincent Harding, Martin’s close friend and colleague, put it recently on Democracy Now, King was calling on us to redeem the soul of America. Speaking for the weak, the poor, the despairing and the alienated, in our inner cities and in the rice paddies of Vietnam, he was urging us to become a more mature people by making a radical revolution not only against racism but against materialism and militarism. He was challenging us to “rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world.”

King was assassinated before he could devise concrete ways to move us towards this radical revolution of values. But why haven’t we who think of ourselves as American radicals picked up the torch? Is it because a radical revolution of values against racism, militarism and materialism is beyond our imaginations, even though we are citizens of a nation with 700 military bases whose unbridled consumerism imperil the planet?

In Detroit we are engaged in this “long and beautiful struggle for a new world,” not because of King’s influence (we identified more with Malcolm) but because we have learned through our own experience that just changing the color of those in political power was not enough to stem the devastation of our city resulting from deindustrialization.

I don’t have time this evening to tell you the story of our Detroit-City of Hope campaign. We hosted a panel about it yesterday morning and you can read about it in the Boggs Center broadsheet.

Our campaign involves rebuilding, redefining and respiriting Detroit from the ground up: growing food on abandoned lots, reinventing education to include children in community-building, creating co-operatives to produce local goods for local needs, developing Peace Zones to transform our relationships with one another in our homes and on our streets, replacing punitive justice with Restorative Justice programs to keep non-violent offenders in our communities and out of prisons that not only misspend billions much needed for roads and schools but turn minor offenders into hardened criminals.

It is a multigenerational campaign, involving the very old as well as the very young, and all the inbetweens, especially the Millennial generation, born in the late 1970s and 1980s, whose aptitude with the new communications technology empowers them to be remarkably self-inventive and multi-tasking and to connect and reconnect 24/7 with individuals near and far.

Despite the huge differences in local conditions, our Detroit-City of Hope campaign has more in common with the struggles of the Zapatistas in Chiapas than with the 1917 Russian Revolution because it involves a paradigm shift in the concept of revolution.

One way to understand the paradigm shift is by contrasting our vision of health in a revolutionary America with the health care programs offered by the Democratic presidential front-runners.

Hillary’s and Obama’s “health care” programs are really insurance programs having more to do with feeding the already monstrous medical-industrial complex than with our physical, mental and spiritual health. By contrast, once we understand that our schools are in such crisis because they were created a hundred years ago in the industrial epoch to prepare children to become cogs in the economic machine; once we recognize that our challenge in the 21st century is to engage our children from K-12 in problem-solving and community-building activities, our children and young people will become participants in caring for their own health and that of our families and communities. Eating food they’ve grown for themselves, creating and sharing information from the Net, and organizing health festivals for the community, they will not only be caring for their own health. They will be helping to heal our communities.

This kind of transformation is what the next American revolution is about. It is not a single event but a process. It involves all of us, from many different walks of life, ethnicities, national origins, sexual orientations, faiths. At the same time, based on our experiences in Detroit and the panels I attended at this weekend’s Forum, I see the Millennial generation playing a pivotal role. As Frantz Fanon put it in The Wretched of the Earth, “Each generation, coming out of obscurity, must define its mission and fulfill or betray it.”

Monday, May 05, 2008

Lest We Forget: Radical Black Feminism Defined

radical black feminist: "always disrupting in transgressive ways racist, classist, and homophobic structures with courage, resilience and risk taking."
-Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall