Friday, September 27, 2013

Enough: Affirmations that Sustain Sistorians

Last night was the LAST NIGHT of the Brilliance Remastered Sistorian Webinar.  I'm not ashamed to say I teared up.  Also I kinda sang Boys II Men's "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye."  None of us wanted to get offline.  It was truly a 'you hang up, no you hang up' situation.  I am so grateful for this space and to each of the amazing sistorians who participated.   As part of our process of moving forward affirmed and empowered to continue to act on the insights we came to together we collected quotations from geniuses (from Gwendolyn Brooks to Rob Base) to carry with in our offices, keep in our wallets and to turn to as mantras when we need them.   We hope they can affirm you too!!
“I am who I am, doing what I came to do.” Audre Lorde (Eye to Eye: Black Women Hatred and Anger)
"for we are the last of the loud, nevertheless live. conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind.” –Gwendolyn Brooks “The Second Sermon on the Warpland”
"come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed."
--Lucille Clifton
"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." -Audre Lorde
“I love myself enough to be who I am.” Essex Hemphill
“I have hopes for myself.” Gwendolyn Brooks (Interview in Sturdy Black Bridges)
"Black women are inherently valuable." -Combahee River Collective Statement
"I have everything I need within myself." -Rah Goddess
"I got an idea that I want to share. You don’t like it? So what. I don’t care." Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock (It Takes Two to Make a Thing Go Right—especially useful in a racist academic/activist workplace)
“Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can anyone deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”
― Zora Neale Hurston
“Anyone working to resist white supremacy has to be a visionary..”  Bekezela Mguni
Want to sign up for the October Webinar---Bright Black: Ending Slavery in Contemporary Black Intellectual Practice?  There are a few days left to get on board! Sign up here.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

When In Rome (Finding Poems): All Day Retreat on June Jordan's Architectural Poems


10am-4pm Saturday September 28th, 2013

Durham, NC

Join Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind for an all day retreat inspired by the poetry June Jordan wrote while on her Architecture fellowship in Rome!   (This retreat also includes a walking meditation on the architectural structure of LGBTQ parades complete with box lunches!  We know June wouldn't want to miss it!) We will also have a video guest appearance by Cheryl J. Fish, the first scholar to publish in June Jordan's architectural work!!!
Offer your retreat fee here at a rate you can afford.  (Keep in mind comparable one day retreats cost about $155.00)
Image of June Jordan's vision to redesign Harlem by designer Shoji Sadao.
Did you know that acclaimed black feminist poet June Jordan was an architect?   Not only that, she won the Prix de Rome in architecture in the 1970s.    This retreat asks us to find the poems in the built environment around us in conversation with the poems that June Jordan wrote while in Rome (some of her less studied work).  For more by Alexis on June Jordan and the poetics of architecture see:
On the Finding Poems Series:  This set of 6 one-day community writing retreats over a six month period is designed to offer writers at all levels an opportunity to find the poems speaking to them everywhere and to deepen their poetic practice by drawing inspiration from black feminist poets.  Each retreat will be all day on a Saturday and will include meals, inspiration, nerdy contextualization and loving support from an exuberant educator who has been creating transformative writing space for over 15 years.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

We Who Believe in Freedom: A Sweet Remix for Ella from the Sistorian Webinar!

ellabakerLast night was the first night of the Brilliance Remastered Sistorian Webinar facilitated by Laguana (Elle) Gray and Alexis Pauline Gumbs!  After reading Barbara Ransby's introduction to Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision we had an affirming and transformative conversation about what the technology of sisterhood teaches us about self-care, abundance and love.   Many of us remember Ella Baker's statement (immortalized by Sweet Honey in the Rock) that "we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes."  A few years ago while doing some research at the Schomburg Library in NYC I came across a letter from Ella Baker to a friend and comrade that made that statement real in more than one way.  Ms. Ella was explaining that even though her community was begging her to take a sabbatical and had even fundraised the money to allow her to do so, she could not "find the time" to actually take a break.   When I read that letter I saw myself and so many of the organizers, educators, activists and artists that I know, and many of us in the webinar have seen the people we love work tirelessly and unsustainably.   With this poem we begin a practice of modeling abundant presence and sustainable freedom for ourselves, each other and everyone who would call us sister.
We Who Believe in Freedom
(a remix for sweet Ella and all of us)
by the participants in the Brilliance Remastered Sistorian Webinar

we who believe in freedom rest

we who believe in freedom believe in the centrality of joy
we who believe in freedom believe in the transformative power of pleasure
we who believe in freedom believe in the transformative power of silence
we who believe in freedom cultivate the faith to be still

we who believe in freedom nourish our souls

we who believe in freedom nourish our souls with deep breaths
we who believe in freedom value our breathing over our reputations, our relationships over our resumes
we who believe in freedom believe that freedom is a personal practice
we who believe in freedom listen to our bodies and take time to release what does not uplift us
we who believe in freedom allow ourselves to talk back

we who believe in freedom TAKE NAPS
we who believe in freedom kiss ourselves and jump back smiling!
we who believe in freedom SING for no or whatever reason!
we who believe in freedom dance in our seats...
we who believe in freedom LOVE!

we who believe in freedom love ourselves like we love our little sisters.
we who believe in freedom forgive ourselves as a practice of compassion
we who believe in freedom practice the power to say no

we who believe in freedom don't gotta do it all ourselves!
we who believe in freedom believe our ancestors are helping us.
we who believe in freedom remember and share the stories of our past freedom struggles
we who believe in freedom believe in each other enough to share power and responsibility
we who believe in freedom speak in love and cultivate honesty
we who believe in freedom actualize the transformative power of sisterhood
we who believe in freedom don't have to prove it we just live it

we who believe in freedom REST
(Does this make you want to sign up for the next Brilliance Remastered webinar?  Get the details here:

Monday, September 02, 2013

FREE ‘EM ALL: A Black August/Labor Day Podcast By Body Ecology Performance Ensemble, NYC "Because all prisoners are political prisoners." for Syria for Assata Shakur for us all... Listen here: Black August ended just a few days ago and Labor Day is almost over. But in case you haven’t noticed, we the people of these so-called United States must continue to labor for justice, equality and the liberation of political prisoners world-wide. Our positive thoughts are with Syria, the Middle East and right here in our communities that impacted by political and economic unrest. The associate artists of Body Ecology Performance Ensemble, based in NYC, have put together a podcast of some popular music along with our poems and ideas as a sonic exploration of the barriers to liberation as well as our ideas for liberation. It is our duty to stand up. It is our duty to speak out. It is our duty to make the change the world needs with whatever tools we have in our communities. We call this podcast FREE EM ALL because it is time to redefine criminality. It is time to redefine punishment. It is time to free those who have been pawned by the United States project and are essentially causalities of political, economic and social warfare. If the United States government isn’t locked up, the millions of people it has chosen to criminalize and block from ever having full access to citizenship should probably not be locked up either. Honoring Black August should be a life-long process and a year-around celebration of resistance, love and wellness. This year, Body Ecology felt it best to share our honoring just as people begin to get busy with the fall season, school, and work. Come back to this podcast as a reminder that each day should move you and your community closer to freedom. If our world is to be free, that freedom begins with each of us.
Along with the voices of Body Ecology’s associate artists, expect to hear the familiar words and sounds of Assata Shakur, Blitz the Ambassador, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Fela Kuti, Erykah Badu, Janelle Monae, Oya Candomble, and Wale. Body Ecology is please to also share a performance of Rhinoceros Woman from Assata Shakur’s acclaimed autobiography, “Assata.” Please enjoy our offering. Conceived in 2009, Body Ecology Performance Ensemble works for the collective liberation, wellness and creative empowerment of black women and girls globally through performance art, educational experiences and cultural arts direct action campaigns. Body Ecology’s current campaign, RingShout for Reproductive Justice (#rs4rj) utilizes the cultural and spiritual practice of the ring shout, a method of praise in worship in the African tradition, to raise awareness, create solutions and broaden the conversation about reproductive health to include creative freedom and expression. The motto of the campaign is “our bodies and our creations are our own”. Current Body Ecologists include: Jasmine Coles, Katrina De Wees, Audrey Hailes, Sydette Harry, Ebony Noelle Golden (Artistic Director), Heather Lee, Taja Lindley, Kelly Thomas (Assistant Artistic Director) and Jessica Valoris. For more information visit Our next public art performance will happen on the streets of Crown Heights in Brooklyn, NY. The performance of RED TIDE RISING is the second theatre piece in our current campaign. The performance will be on September 27 at 6 pm. It is free! Look for information on our facebook page or at