Monthly Archives: May 2015

I said the word vagina to an audience last night

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Well it was a poetry audience at Lenox Coffee in Harlem but I was not reading poetry. I was promoting Soul Sistah Series’ latest event “Your Yoni  You” which is happening this Sunday, May 31st at 9:30am. It is an event that centers around women of the Diaspora reconnecting to our sacred feminine through our sensuality. Because the major feature of this event is the ancient practice of vaginal steaming, I just figured I’d cut straight to the chase and mention the word vagina to a coffeehouse full of people by way of explanation.

Then I read a poem. LOL!!

I wasn’t nervous or anxious or self conscious about it, which is weird for me but recently in situations where I would normally feel anxiety and tightness and don’t, I just kinda roll with that. I don’t want to function with heart palpitations and knots in my stomach every time I come up against something that makes me nervous. But the not wanting to doesn’t always result in not feeling it.

But I wasn’t feeling it last night, not about anything I made announcements about. Maybe its the turning 40 thing. I turned 40 on Memorial Day and mentioned that to the audience last night as well.

Maybe it’s some Mercury Retrograde glitch where normally fluid communication comes to a halt but you have no problem saying vagina to an attentive and unsuspecting crowd? LOL!

I don’t know. It’s probably best not to question it and chalk it up to what I’ve been putting out in the universe with regard to challenging my fears and self consciousness. That’s all I can make of it at this point.

Oh the sun feels so good on my neck right now. I’m sitting in Bryant Park eating chips and guacamole, feeling the breeze and looking forward to the exciting weekend ahead. 

Happy Friday!

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Smart Television Also Knows Sex is Important

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‘Thanks for the numbers Josh but are you getting it in at all man?”

You’re going to get sick of my “West Wing’ revelations, but watching some of the very last episodes of the last season when hot ass Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) takes office, it becomes obvious suddenly that some of our favorite characters are not having nearly enough sex. And more than that, that they should be.

Just before they call the vote count that makes Santos as the winner, he gets so stressed out that his wife tells him he should sleep. Of course he says he can’t. She takes him up their bedroom and makes sure he rests. We never see sex on West Wing really but we know when it happens because it hardly ever does. “The West Wing” is about people so maniacally dedicated to serving in the White House that they barley notice they have no life at all outside of it. It’s one of the major issues I’ve always had with the show. I need fun and sexuality in life as well as in art. But this is just a testament to how good I think “The West Wing” is. I have never watched entire seasons of any other show repeatedly that had so little demonstration of physical and emotional affection….ever.

In the last season Josh Lyman, Santos’ campaign manager and new Chief of Staff becomes so tightly wound up and stressed out that Santos asks his aid, Donna if she knows whether or not Josh is getting any at all. It’s pretty obvious that Santos has a good work, life, sex balance and you just know it will continue even after he becomes the leader of the free world. Even President Bartlett whom he will succeed has more sex than anyone else on the show.

Josh is all work all the time and though he dates and has relationships on an off, nothing ever lasts. His life is not about lasting relationships. And he is the character I love most until the last season when he stubbornly refuses to power down, take a break, let Donna love him, and let himself love. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand most people who don’t know how to be happy. It’s not a judgement but a fact. It’s hard for me to relate but I know there are many of us who find it difficult to be happy or to think of happiness as something that can last or that there are people for whom happiness is a soul purpose. I’m not going to pretend I’m an eternal optimist. But I could never live for work. I could never live without the promise of love and happiness. And I think sex is an incredibly important part of our health, emotionally, spiritually and otherwise. I think it’s wonderful when people are passionate about their work, when they love what they do for a living. I have never had the experience except for when I create so perhaps if I did I might have a different opinion. But here’s what i do know.

A kiss can save a life.

And good sex can save many lives.

Stay tuned for my next entry about being raised in a naked house like Rainbow Johnson played by Tracee Elis Ross on”Black-ish” Thank you Rainbow for validating my childhood experience. LOL!

Head Wrap Friday

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Is this what Chimimanda Adichie feels like all the time? Because she exudes confidence, grown woman sexiness and just grace whenever I see her. Only a few days after my Friday head wrap debut and I already know this look is going to be a permanent part of my Summer wardrobe.

First of all!

It feels very sexy in a way I had never guessed before. There is something really feminine and pretty about seeing a woman’s face framed only by a creative and classic up sweep of boldly colored fabric. I might need to incorporate this in other ways at home.

Wink wink*

I have to say, leaving my apartment in a head wrap felt very regular. I almost totally forgot about it until I saw myself in occasional urban reflective surface. And I was happy about that. I wanted it to feel fabu-normal. Yes, I just made that word up. Other than a few sweet compliments, my interactions with co-workers were normal and without incident.

Except for one.

K. is a woman of color who rarely speaks to me, mostly because I rarely have occasion to see her. She works on a different floor and pretty much keeps to herself. But last Friday she came up for some coffee we had out at reception and when she saw my head wrap her face lit up. “I really like it!” she said to me. Without being able to go into too much detail about what I know of her feelings about working where we work as a woman of color, I know that for her, the head wrap was a symbol of resistance and perhaps even liberation and I was so happy that she communicated her genuine admiration and respect to me. That maybe meant more to me than anything because it inspires me want to continue.

We are all famndjamn (strong woman in Hatian Creole) women and one of my deep desires has always been to demonstrate the strength it takes to dress on the outside in a way that reflects how one feels on the inside without shame or self consciousness, to reflect my culture, my pride and the unique twist that makes me who I am, like no one else can. Imagine how amazing we would all feel, if we could do this even just once a week!

I know it’s not something that can happen in all places of work and that dress codes often restrict our ability to wear our cultural or distinctive accoutrement on a regular basis but I would push women, particularly women of color to question exactly what we can get away with wearing in the work place and why or why not in regard to perceptions of respectability, uniformity and cultural stereotypes.

What kind of styles, hairstyles, jewelry, clothing have you wanted to wear at work that made you hesitate because you felt it might be seen as insubordinate, or keep you from getting a promotion or just make people perceive you in a way that caused them to treat you disparagingly?

Amaze Vagina

Doesn’t have the same ring as Amaze Balls does it? I wonder why.

Over the weekend, Soulsistah4real and I had this really fun and inquisitive conversation about things like why the word Vagina is so unpalatable, how we as a society are so much more comfortable talking about penises and things of a phallic nature without always clutching our pearls in shame and horror. Clutching your pearls is such a gendered performance of female shame and shock. Is there a male equivalent to that? I don’t think so. I know for a fact that when any talk of vaginas come up anywhere, men are the ones who lean in while women for the most part tend to look the other way, lower our voices, whisper or avoid the subject altogether.

Continue reading Amaze Vagina

My First Headwrap

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So I don’t know if you remember how last year I was raving about this head wrap company that I found at fanmdjanm.com. I was especially jazzed to see that they had these cool, funky video tutorials on different ways to wrap the fabric on their site. That had me really excited. It made me feel like this was something I might actually be able to do. My bff, Vanessa and I used to wear African fabrics on our heads in High School but I never really learned how to do anything fancy and I never really wrapped my whole head.

The one other time I can remember rocking a head wrap was in my mid- 20s. One day when I just got it into my head that it would be cool to wrap my head in a white fabric that I had to go this poetry reading my white ex-boyfriend invited me to. I had my hair out natural then after having cut my second set of locs and I thought I looked really cute. Well we were sitting at a bar that night and he looked at me smiling a smile that I had come to know as a snarky kind of “what’s this?” smile and then he called me a Nubian Princess but not in the way that brothas in Harlem on 125th Street do. I think he meant it kind of as a joke because he couldn’t take it seriously. He wasn’t familiar with this part of me. I was annoyed and offended and generally put out for the rest of the evening and never wore a head wrap in public again.

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Badu brought the head wrap forward in a way I had never seen before and blew my mind

Well I finally ordered my head wrap fabric from Fanm Djanm (which means strong woman in Haitian Creole)  last week and I can’t wait to see it. That’s it just above. It’s called “Ill Thrill” and I like it because it feels like the pattern than can transition easily from a formal or work (because I do intend to rock it at work) as well as a recreational setting and can be paired with a range of different outfits. I just love the shade of orange which has been a color that started rocking my visual world last year.

Orange started speaking to me loudly saying, “HEY!!!! Come and play with me! Everything is cool! I’m bold and can’t be ignored but I’m also very friendly and happy and I want you to come take a closer look. I want to sooth you and excite you at the same time.” It’s hard for me to look at orange and feel anything but a kind of blind joy for no reason. It also emanates a glowing, loving warmth. Few colors do all of those things to me at once. It was one Fall Season a few years ago while I was taking pictures outdoors that the color orange started to emerge for me with a deep significance I had never noticed before. I couldn’t believe I had been alive for so long without ever appreciating the golds, yellows and bronzes of sunsets and Fall foliage. Now, I can’t pass these colors in nature without being driven to distraction.

Color is wonderful and traditionally, many African fabrics have been full of color and ornate patterns but I haven’t always felt comfortable appropriating the looks I see worn by African hair braiders up and down Harlem standing at street corners in beautiful dresses that they wear all the time. But that’s just Western thinking getting in the way of what I feel drawn to and what I’m entitled to connect with by way of my ancestral roots.

If Erykah Badu can do it, so can I right?

So YAAAAY head wraps!

it’s about to be on…on my head!

: D

Women Call to Prayer

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I accepted and invitation from Soulsistah4real to the Facebook event, “Women Call to Prayer” on May 1st, the day it began. The call to prayer is a dedication to “prayer for the praise and demand of justice, respect and unity within the Black Community” for 30 minutes a day every evening until May 6th.

I was unable to do it on the first day because I was out that same evening but for the last three days, I’ve set my alarm to remind me to pray for half an hour straight and also set a timer for those 30 minutes.

It’s only been three days but it’s been intense.

I praise the memory of those of us who have been slain by the relentless fear and brutality of the police force and other agents of racism all over this country now and in the past. I pray for the mothers, friends and families of those men.

For me it’s been a lot like meditation at times because I don’t have a specific prayer prepared as yet so often I’m just focusing on sending out as much love, light and positive energy as I can as I sit still.

Here’s one thing I’ve started to notice.

This is something I should probably be doing every day no matter what. Over this wonderful and relaxing weekend I have have experienced stillness in simple and profound ways that have made me realize how necessary it is to access this kind of centerdness on a daily basis. The Women Call to Prayer has been more than just a a way to be unified with other women all over the world as we pray for justice, but also a way for us to connect to ourselves and our powers of manifestation for 30 minutes a day.

It’s funny, i’ve attempted several time in the past to dedicate sacred time to stillness, prayer and meditation  and it’s never stuck. But for some reason, being invited to do it for others has made it something that I feel is my my undoubted responsibility. Prayer is something people have done for decades as a part of organized religion and spiritual belief. Any one of us can do it and participate collectively anywhere in the world! It makes me think of the daily Muslim prayers and how when I lived in Harlem i would see vendors of the Muslim faith on 125th Street kneeling and praying on their mats  five times a day no matter no what was happening around them. My mother who believes very much in the power of prayer, would gather my brother and I together every night to pray in front of a lit candle. We made up our own prayer which I still remember to this day. Prayer and candles and the dressing of candles and the lighting of candles, the significance of their colors have always been a part of my life because of my mother.

No matter what may be happening around us and especially inside us, the dedication to any period of time where we can be still, meditate,  pray and reconnect to the place in ourselves that remains steady and secure in any situation each day and at the very least every week, feels more and more urgent to me lately. I am so grateful to have had the sense of that importance reach me through a form of prayer that is dedicated to justice, respect and unity in the Black community which of course is also about justice, respect and unity within us all.