Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Changed Waters Evaporating or Breathing is Believing

“Coalition Politics: Turning the Century”, Bernice Johnson Reagon, West Coast Women’s Music Festival, 1981.
“Mr. Close-friend-of-the-family pays a visit whilst everyone else is out”, charcoal by Sonia Boyce, circa 1983
As A Black Woman, Maud Sulter, 1985 (Akira Press)
Black Women Talk Poetry, BlackWomantalk Collective (Da Chong, Olivette Cole Wilson, Bernadine Evaristo, Gabriela Pearse), 1987,
“Calliope”, (a gilt framed self-portait photograph by and of Maud Sulter shown above), 1991
Shadowboxing: Representations of Black Feminist Politics Joy James, 1999.
Pedagogies of Crossing: Meditations on Feminism, Sexual Politics Memory and the Sacred, M. Jaqui Alexander, 2005.
“Southerners on New Ground: Our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community”, Mandy Carter in What Lies Beneath: Katrina, Race and the State of the Nation, 2007.
“Political Literacy and Voice” Joy James in What Lies Beneath: Katrina, Race and the State of the Nation, 2007.
“Radical Social Change: Searching for a New Foundation”, Adjoa Florencia Jones de Ameida in The Revolution Will Not be Funded (an INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence Anthology), South End Press, 2007.
“Are the Cops in Our Heads and Hearts?”, Paula X. Rojas, in The Revolution Will Not be Funded (an INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence Anthology), South End Press, 2007.
“Non-Profits and the Autonomous Grassroots”, Eric Tang in The Revolution Will Not be Funded (an INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence Anthology), South End Press, 2007.
“On Our Own Terms: Ten Years of Radical Community Building With Sista II Sista”, Nicole Burrowes, Morgan Cousins, Paula X. Rojas, and Ije Ude in The Revolution Will Not be Funded (an INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence Anthology), South End Press, 2007.

“Welcome”, Loretta Ross at SisterSong 10th Anniversary Celebration “Let’s Talk About Sex” May 31-June 3rd 2007.
“Your Human Rights are My Human Rights: Building a Reproductive Justice Movement Together”, Byllye Avery
“Reproductive Oppression and Reproductive Justice for Women of Color”, Dorothy Roberts
“Self-Help: Speak Truth With Power”, Dazan Dixon Diallo
“Integrating HIV/AIDS and Reproductive Justice Movements Globally”, Dazan Dixon Diallo (SisterLove Inc)
“The Future of Sex and Reproductive Technologies”, Sujatha Jesudason (Center for Genetics and Society)
“Intersex Human Rights Issues”, Emi Koyama
“Myth of Overpopulation and Dangerous Contraceptives”, Cara Page (Deeper Waters Productions and Committee on Women, Population and the Environment)
“Organizing Youth at the Domincan Women’s Development Center, Claudia De la Cruz
“Valuing Young Motherhood”, Benita Miller (Brooklyn Young Mother’s Collective)
“If Another World is Possible, Another U.S. is Necessary—Moving Forward to the U.S. Social Forum”, Jerome Scott (Project South)
“Sex Work and Economic Justice”, Juhu Thukral (Sex Workers Project @ Urban Justice Center), Erika Derkas and Gennifer Hirano (Sex Workers Outreach Project Los Angeles)
“Undivided Rights: Women Of Color and Reproductive Justice”, Jael Silliman, Marelene Gerber Fried, Loretta Ross, Elena Gutierrez
“The Power of Stories: Depo Provera and Women of Color” Committee on Women and Population and Luz Rodriquez
“From the Birth Room to the Bedroom: Decolonizing Women from the Imprint of Violence (The Butterfly Approach)”
“The Erotics of Childbirth”, Luz Lesero
all at SisterSong 10th Anniversary Celebration “Let’s Talk About Sex” May 31-June 3rd 2007.

In Guyana they believe that ancestors move in wind, take us over quick like that, fill us with the power of the universe and more (the multiverse perhaps). And when M. Jacqui Alexander explains that we don't walk alone, that we walk accompanied in a way that makes our bodies sites of memory, talking books, that spoils our souls from ever being bought, that opens our mouth to possession that is already communal, I hear that. We hear that. We know. Last night while I finished reading M. Jaqui Alexander's Pedagogies of Crossing, Oya took me over (took me again?) into sounds of recognition that probably made Jurina (sitting next to me calculating statistics at the time) wonder since when had Duke library been lending out 350 page hardcover erotica. But I mean it. When Alexander shared that her teacher described Oya as being able to "kiss you with a light breeze" I recognized a possession that has had me all along.
Last week I wondered about superpowers and living forever and as if in response (as if being in the presence of almost a thousand brilliant, fierce, committed beautiful women including my very own mother at the SisterSong Conference in Chicago were not enough!) this huge book by Jacqui Alexander that against good advice I lugged along the journey holds a name for this act of transgenerational remembering, of an archive in the body not coded in genomes, of an intellectual act of faith, theorizing as an existential act of (simply put) superpowers and living forever. What a model for sharing, as Cara Page spoke completely habituated by Audre Lorde about how we risk our lives to love to transform the world with the ample erotic us, and how capitalism names that overpopulation...as if it were the millions and not the few wasting 80% of the resources. As Luz Lesero spoke rebirth into this same Audre in her workshop on erotic childbirthing. As the midwives of the Tewa Birthing Center spoke of the Butterfly approach that splits open worlds that remain connected into thousand year histories in which we are small and growing. As heroes in the reproductive justice movement are mourned as 14 year old urban butterflies make group poems...the dead are born and born and born.
And we thought coalition in the present was hard. And we thought relating across organizational affiliations, callings and practices was difficult, was humbling, was taking too long! But we are relating across planes, across centuries, across death, across oceans even now. Even right now June, Audre, Claudia, Olive, Ida, and Ella crowd into my fingers, rush forward to fill this next breath when it opens. And we thought resources were scarce! I feel like my face has smacked into the wall of infinity and moved through because it was air...it was air all along. I am learning the meaning of a map without conquest, I am swallowing the depth of what I almost bartered cheap. Revolutions cannot be funded...just as much as Gil Scott Heron cannot die alone. Revolutions cannot be funded and we would sell our souls, chain our freedoms to money made to weigh the flight of our porous bodies down? I cried during many moments of the SisterSong conference, but clarity stung most when I learned that the same funders who pay for this beautiful conference in this bad-ass hotel...who paid for my mother and I to attend towards our futures...were paying for our knowing with residuals that they made off of testing birth control at 20 times the stregnth, of inserting depo provera prototypes without consent, of sterlizing and sterlizing until the elementary schools had to start closing, simply put for raping women in Puerto Rico and Jamaica of all the generations they might have been holding to pass on. Birth control drug sales are big business...big enough to fund the Reproductive Justice movement off the crumbs leftover.

So when I say we are connected that means everything. That means as much as I am open to joy I am open to pain 100 generations worth using me to change the water. That means if we are divine, if we are forever, we are also complicit, we are trading in soul. As the Sista said "Capital is not only all around us in the society we live in. It is also in what we value...in what we believe is possible." Who knew that Oya had been sitting here all along (Maud Sulter knew through the name Calliope)? Who knew that Oya had been circulating through me all this time...hoping I would continue to give her away, to open to faith, hoping I would sell off no more of our power than necessary. Hoping that sacrifice wouldn't scar me passed passing on all that she is pushing through.

1 comment:

furious flower said...

divine energy moves and enlivens us all. your essay/poem/memior here is a beautiful reflection on the power of god in and thru us, reminds me of the broad definition of sensuality, and the beauty that comes when we open ourselves up to spirit and the passion that stirs god in you me and our ancestors.

i must note that oya (the mighty mama oya) is no joke and it is no coincedence and that sista warriors you mentioned here would be associated with her. she does come and kiss a beautiful honey breeze, but she also swirls a tornado and insits change. she is the mother of revolution. ashe.

i wonder what the connection(s) is/are between/among our brilliant orisha-memory-social justice-community-sensuality/passion-history-movement. your writing brings me to this point, the orisha, like revolutionary power of (re)memory are tools of individual and universal balancing. as each orisha represents a unique and special force in nature thus in the body so does each story/poem/creation and articulation of our past and present. nommo is indeed a power to behold. ask mama zora how the spirit womanifests in the work of herstory and movement. hmmm

maybe this is why some of the must revolutionary sistas we know are deeply dedicated to the spiritual. maybe that why at a certain point mama zora needed initiation. maybe thats why I am undergoing the process as well. maybe this is how we "vibrate higher" maybe....

it is no coincedence that some of the most revolutionary sistas we know were dedicated muslims, buddhists, christians, and yoruba practioners.

ashe indeed,