Monthly Archives: December 2014

Leading with The Feminine in 2015

“The white western patriarchal ordering of things requires that we believe there is an inherent conflict between what we feel and what we think–between poetry and theory. We are easier to control when one part of ourselves is split off from another, fragmented, off balance.”

-Intro for “Sister Outsider” by Audre Lorde

There is so much going on right now, I can’t even begin to get to it all. The main thing is that my husband and I have finally moved into a larger fully renovated apartment in Fort Washington. In fact, we have been literally moving for the last week and a half. We spent Christmas Eve at my sister in-laws but Christmas in general was just a train that sped by me this year. We were focused. We were moving, lifting, dragging, sweating, huffing, sore, scratched. But it was all worth it. A new home for the new year is just one of the best gifts I could ever ask for right now.

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This past Saturday, I left the new place to go to Home Depot, brought that paint to the old apartment in Harlem where I met my husband, then we spent over an hour cleaning out the place, removing trash, packing the last few things, putting things out to give away. Then we drove to my mother in laws in Rockland county, spend about 20 minutes getting dressed for a birthday party for a good friend of hers at a restaurant in Mamaroneck. We were there until after midnight. I spoke to my mom Sunday morning. She was like “Where are you now?” LOL!!

Where am I now?

Well physically I’m back at work after having been out for over a week. It’s a bit surreal. But mentally, I’m in a place of feeling a lot of real newnesshappening. There’s nothing more new than being in a new home and sharing that space equally with the person you love and share your life with. It’s beautiful. It’s immediate. I love that feeling! Family is also deeply integral to the things we have been able to get done in this short space of time. Family is so necessary. Family is team. Team gets things done, supports, motivates, challenges. And the feminine aspect of family is radical in it’s ability to influence the masculine. In all aspects of life this is true but in family when I believe it functions with balance, this fact it is fundamentally necessary.

To be quite honest, I have always been reluctant to fully occupy the space of woman because of ways in which I interpreted it’s meaning through the eyes of patriarchy. As a girl, and even as an adult it can be very hard to understand patriarchy even when you’re looking right at it.I hated to wear skirts or dresses because I always felt they impeded my need to run and jump and roll around. I hated the idea of wearing  a bra an fortunately didn’t really need to wear one until my 20s. But reading Judy Blume finally made bras seem like a feminine right of passage rather than a jail for breasts which is what I feel bras really are some of the time. I was equally as reluctant even though I had no doubts about getting married, to occupy the traditional space of wife as I saw it as a position of subservience on many levels that I couldn’t handle. But it’s steadily becoming obvious to me that in order for any marriage to work, both halves of the team need to cultivate their natural abilities in order to contribute to creation of something that works for both.

Feminine and masculine qualities exist in all of us but in a world where white patriarchy has vigilantly kept women disconnected from the power of our femininity (not as brought to you by Summer’s Eve or Maybelline) it has become second nature to most of us to feel that in order to have control, to feel value, to be seen and to be heard and taken seriously, we have to use the tools of constructed masculinity. Pants, power suits, no crying, chin up, chest out, doing everything on our own, never asking for help because we’ve been conditioned to see it as a sign of weakness or never admitting we need a man for the same reasons.

For myself, I know that the need for control rears it’s head in many aspects of the way in which I behave. I never even identified it until recently as an imbalance in the way I use masculinity to move through the world rather than equally embracing my receptivity, intuition and feelings. My ideas about what a wife and a woman can be, though I was raised in a progressive way by a mother who has cared for children since she herself was a child are not only pervasively patriarchal but they are also ideas which have come primarily from other women, which makes it very tricky, particularly for women of color to really understand how leading with the feminine can be empowering. Our ideas about power are deeply and systematically influenced by the masculine and so, like racism and self hatred, are a tough habit to break. The idea of leading with the feminine is also one that is difficult to embrace if you feel you’ve already embraced it in the ways which have been dominantly manipulated, policed and promoted by patriarchy.

For me, this is all really a work in progress, a discovery of the kind of “woman” I want to be because I’m realizing that being a woman is so much more than just this one thing. And maybe I’ve always known it a little bit but just never valued it?

God….I never valued it.

There’s so much I was informed about with regard to being a woman, loving myself and being connected to my higher self through spirit which I always felt I valued but am now realizing I never really did because I never really shared it with anyone and never fully lived it. What you live and share with those you love is part what it takes to allow yourself to be the person you truly are.

Urban Eve Essentials

solstice requests

For the passed week or so, my husband and I, who are technically still “Newlyweds”, have been moving from our present apartment in Harlem, to one in Fort Washington. This is the first apartment we have ever moved into together. The apartment we’re in now is under my name. My husband moved in with me a few months after I populated it with myself and all my stuff.

It’s been a bit crazy. Most of our stuff is over there. We have new furniture coming on Christmas Eve and I’ve been living out of bags since the weekend. Since the Millions March demonstration, I’ve just had all my essentials in a book bag instead of my usual shoulder bag. It’s just more practical for me right now. In it I have my Nikon DSLR, my journal, my make-up, a book of poems by Sonia Sanchez (Morning Haiku), which my husband brought from the library in the high school where he teaches, sunglasses, cell phone charger and water. And of course, I also still have my laptop here at the old apartment.

I was at the new place earlier today dusting and cleaning with a Swiffer, hanging shower curtains and taking pictures and making plans. But when I first came in I just sat on the hardwood floor in the bedroom and ate some late lunch I bought from the Starbucks on the corner, listened to some music on my iPhone and watched the light from the windows change. It’s something I really enjoy doing, watching the light change in a room. It’s really extraordinary, natural light. It changes slowly and yet with such deceptive speed, so profoundly and so distinctively. I guess that was my Winter Solstice moment. It’s important to practice stillness during the period of the Winter Solstice when it is said that to go within is to begin planting the seeds of all that you wish to manifest in the coming year.

Man, I cannot wait to be fully moved in. It’s one of the best Christmas gifts I can imagine. But before that happens we still have a few more things to box up and throw away. I really like throwing stuff away. I really want to practice having less stuff in the New Year and that is the closest I will come to making a resolution because I don’t do New Years resolutions any longer.

I hope that you all, my readers, my friends, my followers are gearing up for a warm and wonderful Holiday and New Year with family and friends, a year of awareness, action evolution, of joy and true connections.

I Have Black Women in My Ears!

Instead of trying to transcribe to you my discoveries of last night I would like to direct you over to my Soundcloud podcast for Urban Eve so you can lend your ear over there. Let’s just say I have been wanting to do a podcast for almost a year now and I’ve been thinking about and writing down ideas for formats and listening and researching and after last night, I’m just doing it. I’m just doing it!  Urban Eve is just going to take you through the carefully selected live moments of my life and my day, my thoughts and my dreams, my interactions and my observations through Soundcloud.

I won’t stop writing here. I love to write and writing is a great way to interact, an important way to share and gain information but from now on I will be experimenting with Soundcloud accompaniment because I just need to and I also love to talk and I love what I get from the podcasts I listen to and being informed in this way as well. So check it out! It’s just the beginning.

See you on the sound side!

Racebook

Oh I love the way Stacey Patton goes in with this article about Black women not being here to wipe the tears of White Women or White anybody for that matter over hurt feelings as the daily onslaught of Facebook posts and revelations about race and the damage done by White Privilege come pouring in. For me Facebook has actually become one of the most meaningful places to be for reasons other than Pet Society and Farmville! LOL!

At some point, both my husband and I who have a few white friends, some mutual, exchanged our reluctance to be blatant in our FB statuses about or feelings on White oppression in regard to the recent injustices in the case of Brown and Garner and many more. Always on the fence about hurting my white friends feelings, I finally got fed up a few weeks ago and said my piece about it, still worried that there would be some awful comment waiting for me in a long thread when I checked it hours later. There was none. In fact nothing I have shared about race or racism from For Harriet or Junot Diaz or any site has gotten a significant comment from the White people on my FB network. Oh wait I did get one “Wow” from a quote I posted from Chris Rock about the ridiculous lack people of color in Hollywood films. And I appreciated that wow more than the silence.

At first I was relieved that the Whites on my FB page made no noise, because I didn’t have to feel so anxious but the lack of comments actually started to worry me more. I have this reoccurring mental image of them crouched in a corner somewhere waiting for all this “Race talk” to die down so they can go back to the coziness of their privilege and come peeping out again to complain about inane, first world problems. But what I’ve come to realize in all this and what Stacey Patton has helped me to realize is that I don’t have the time, energy, nor the obligation to both point out the subtle and overt violence of White privilege and racism and make White feel not so bad about it. Awww poor baby, you’re a latent racist. Your attitude contributes to the senseless murder of thousands of innocent Black men, poor thing. These two sentiments cannot exist in the same space.

This afternoon, one of my White male co-workers, a guy I haven’t known very long but like a lot, came in and asked me if I wanted to see something funny.

Sure.

He’s someone who has been participating vigilantly in protests and anti-police brutality demonstrations for weeks now. As it turns out someone took a photo of him at one of these demonstrations with his hands up and head down and posted it on slate.com with the words of an article posted underneath.

“What White Privilege Really Means: It’s not about what Whites get. It’s about what Blacks don’t.”

…yeah.

Well….

He took it well.

It’s a damn good image and he’s on the right side of history. He’s a white male so he fits the profile. What can you say? I asked him how he felt about it and he really had no significant argument against it. But what I now realize is that I asked the wrong question. If I had to ask anything at all, it should have been whether or not he would have agreed to have this image posted with that headline if someone had given him the choice he did not get.

But I’m not asking questions like that anymore. It’s not my problem. I have enough problems.

Yoga Gives Me Something

So I had lunchtime yoga today which has not been in regular session for a few weeks. I ashamed to say that I have not been working out at home lately so this was the first time I’ve moved my body in some time and my menstrual cycle just started this morning so I wasn’t sure what I was expecting but I was looking forward to it.

I’m not sure why, maybe it’s the extra boost of energy a woman’s cycle provides in the beginning, but I felt strong and capable instead of worn out and shaky which I have felt many times when I have not been on my menstrual cycle. So go figure. I also felt calmer afterwards but I’ve felt that before also. Today, what I noticed most of all was a lack of impatience and emptiness that has become the norm to me. If everyone has a bucket of patience and empathy, I usually walk around on empty, hoping no one will notice and trying to pretend a supply into being until I can get back home and collapse. Either that, or I just hold back a bursting damn of rage and negativity until I get home and collapse. I guess yoga centers me up a bit, a feeling I don’t get to have very often. I have a great instructor who encourages us to be respectful with ourselves and for whatever reason, I actually pay attention to that. I think I look forward to yoga because it takes me out of my head where I live most of the time. I watch, I listen, I do, I feel, I trust. That’s all. What a relief when Shavasana comes at the end and I can also focus on letting the ground support me and let my body and it’s vibrational qualities leave it’s unique impression in the spiritual ether.

I promise I won’t start chanting.

We did reverse tabletop pose today which we don’t do often and I certainly haven’t done in ages. I was surprised at how easy it was to get into. I watched my poofy stomach rise up above my hips and didn’t judge myself, just took it as a sign I was doing well and could raise my hips up that high.  My yoga instructor has a belly as well but that’s because she’s pregnant! YAY!  I think it’s really cool that she still practices with us, because it’s essentially like having two people teach us yoga. Well sort of. Baby has no choice.

I wonder what goes on in utero while mom is doing yoga. I wonder how the baby absorbs practice in that space.  It’s so amazing watching her stomach get bigger and bigger in her small frame every week and I wonder how long she will continue to teach us, or rather how long she will be able. I kind of hope she goes into labor during practice just so I can write about it. LOL!

It’s amazing the things women’s bodies can do while we’re carrying other bodies inside!

And outside for that matter! LOL!

What Revolution Looks Like

“I cannot know who am if you do not know who you are.

Will you help me know?”

A Huey P. Newton Story

I was chatting with my good friend over at Life As I Know it this past weekend during that insane downpour in NYC which is still going on now and I mentioned some issues I experience when I’m blogging here with regard to my own identity. In this new world, we write and record things for public consumption which often sit in the draft position forever and never get seen. For whatever reasons, we doubt ourselves, have fears about what others will think, have trouble connecting to our authentic selves and back down into the seeming safety of silence where we serve no one, not even ourselves.

It was in one of these unseen drafts that I said I am not a revolutionary even if I do and say revolutionary things. But I call bullshit on myself because I think that’s a cop-out. I just have a hard time taking responsibility for the enlightenment of others because it means I am responsible. And that’s just it. I AM! We all are. Otherwise, what is the point of this life we’ve been given?

Brown Girls Blythe
Three Black Blythes

In 2008 I became obsessed with a collectors doll called Blythe. Shortly after purchasing my own first Blythe Doll I began to see Black versions of her which I could not find for sale. When I discovered that collectors were painting their white dolls Black, I inquired online with collectors and customizers and learned everything I needed to know in order to make one myself. In doing so I created a doll that was one of a kind, and the first of several. It was an incredible feeling. The politics of color with regard to doll manufacturing is crazy. “Skin Trade” by Ann DuCille helped to to understand a bit about that world and how it affects young girls of color.

Reconstructing a pattern of oppression so that it reflects images that you seek and are familiar with in a world that is dominated by ideals from the dominant culture is nothing if not revolutionary.Through doing so in this regard, I have connected with some incredibly creative women who do revolutionary things within this hobby which I am endlessly inspired by. Photographers, crafters, diminutive seamstresses and much more.

My mom was revolutionary when she replaced white baby Jesus with a Black one in the elaborate nativity scene she would put under our Christmas tree each year and when she designed ornaments that represented the animal hierarchy in the mythological Tree of Life connecting Heaven to the Underworld.

Like the history of people of color, revolution has never had only one face, one name, one story, one movement. And that has never been so obvious as it is now with the internet and social media being used to promote the work and voices of innovators, entrepreneurs, educators artists and activists alike. We all have the opportunity to revolt against injustice in our own way.

For myself, I will work hard on not letting my own rigid ideas of what it means to be revolutionary keep me from sharing my own unique voice with others. Because you can never know how revolutionary you are if you keep your light hidden out of fear.

#crimingwhilewhite

CWW tweet

There were many #crimingwhilewhite tweets that I faved and retweeted last night in between reading and feeling stunned, angry and validated and just amazed. This one really captured how I was feeling while looking at 20-60 tweets pop up every 5 minutes or so.

I found out about  #crimingwhilewhite while following Romany Malco on IG. Not only is it one of the most incredibly revolutionary ideas I have seen as a response to the failure of Grand Juries to indict the police officers that killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner but it also made me stay on twitter for nearly an hour which is something I never do outside of tweeting about “Scandal” and “How to get Away with Murder” every Thursday. Ironic isn’t it? Cops definitely know how to get away with murder. We know this.

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Among the hundreds and hundreds of tweets that poured in from whites who were exposing their privilege through countless testimonials of run ins with the law which would gotten any Black person brutalized, beaten and killed, there were some people who tweeted how “surreal” this was, how these can’t all be real, how they sounded like “jokes” or were “bizarre”, many of them from Black Twitter. While I’m sure there might be a few false or exaggerated admissions, what’s bizarre to me is that people would be so quick to believe that #crimingwhilewhite is significantly false but that Fox News or CNN are reputable purveyors of truth.

#crimingwhilewhite is Whites joining the cause is one of the many ways that is actually useful for a change. And I hope that those who have been honest and forthright on twitter will also use their voices offline to effect change. As vocal as many of us have been online, we need to step away from the keyboard and the smart phone and also take some action offline.

If you’re in the NYC area there will be a demonstration this evening around 5:30 in Union Square. Look up a schedule of demonstrations in your neighborhood. Use technology for good.

Peace be with you.

Trippy Tuesday: The Ancient Future

EWF Triptych

Do you remember Earth Wind and Fire album covers? As a girl I would sit in my parents room and listen to Earth Wind and Fire while staring at the album cover art and being totally fascinated and freaked out by the ones above. My mother had been studying the history of Egypt since I was a baby so I guess I was drawn to the graphic illustrations of Ancient Egypt because they were all over the house. Plus we made regular trips to the Brooklyn Museum to see the Ancient tombs and ruins and pieces that were excavated from tombs. My imagination was often inundated with images of hieroglyphs, sphinxes with smashed noses and the cat, Bastet the Cat Goddess.  It all makes sense now. Egyptians worshiped cats and so do I. LOL!

But these EWF album cover illustrations depicted a very strange version of Ancient Egypt by showing ships taking off from pyramids that looked like launch pads or spaceships, statues with Afrocentric features and a Goddess who is part stone, part sound system that fused the “futuristic” with the ancient in a seamless and disorienting way that did something wacky to my brain. Something wacky that I liked but did not understand. I think what threw me was the audacious certainty of the illustrations, as if transforming and re-interpreting familiar Egyptian imagery to suit a kind of space age vision was perfectly normal. My mind was blown. It was like tripping without drugs. It took me years to be able to accept that this is just what people ahead of their time do.

Thinking about these covers recently has given rise to my own theory about the nature of the Ancient past with regards to the Egyptians who were clearly way ahead of their time. I have this feeling sometimes that as a race, we are not actually headed towards any traditional sense of the “future” as we have come to understand it. Perhaps the most amazing things technology can offer have already been conceived by beings who existed long before “civilization.” Who knows?

I mean can anyone really explain how the pyramids were made? This was over 3000 years ago and technology has still not been able to duplicate the structures of the Ancient Pyramids in Egypt. So how far have we really come? What did they know that we didn’t? And why did EWF choose Ancient Egyptian images to make a statement about time, technology, sound, exploration and mystery? Maybe we’re actually living in the past. Maybe ancient times were the future and we’re going backwards. Or maybe all these films based on scientific theory about how the nature of time is not linear but cyclical are really onto something.