Monday, December 13, 2010

The Queerness of Love: Photoshoot from the Juneteenth Freedom Academy



Tabblo: Photoshoot for My Pretty Man


(a genderqueering photoshoot

after June Jordan's "Poem for My Pretty Man")







the complexity is like your legs
around me
... See my Tabblo>


Thursday, November 04, 2010

Intention and Interdependence: Eternal Summer 2011

Loved ones!

This week's emphasis on vision and purpose (see the Combahee Survival activity here: http://combaheesurvival.wordpress.com/2008/10/04/1-vision-and-purpose/) has me very inspired. After some crucial and helpful conversations with participants in the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind process and some wisdom from elders who are part of the MobileHomecoming Project (especially Barbara Smith, Imani Rashid, Nadya Lawson and Cessie Alfonso) I am excited to share a vision for Eternal Summer in 2011 that will celebrate and amplify the way that BLACK FEMINISM LIVES in our community as an intention and as a catalyst for us to honor our interdependence.

Thanks Barbara!!!

As many of you already know, the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind happens locally and portably through in person gatherings in Durham, North Carolina, workshops around the countries and internet engagement around the world. Those levels of participation have been very symbiotic or helpful to each other. All the different people who have supported the project and interact with the educational materials in different ways have been spreading the good news (that BLACK FEMINISM LIVES!) fortifying their own revolutionary spirits, and creating inspiration in the different and overlapping communities that they love. The work that happens at the Inspiration Station in Durham gets uploaded as Inspiration to people elsewhere. Folks as far as Berlin make donations to receive publications and help pay the energy bill at the Inspiration Station. And this is only one energy cycle. More importantly everyone is participating in an energy field where we get more and more excited and inspired, more grassroots, low-overhead projects are popping off in Durham, queer Yoga, free healing clinics, community supported food justice sources and every day I am inspired by the initiatives that women of color are creating online (the Revolutionary Petunias Reading Group, the Crunk Feminist Collective, the Divine Survivors free online reiki clinic) and in person gatherings where folks draw on creative genius from within their communities and the communities they politically align with are sprouting up too as organizations like the Detroit Summer mural tour, the amazing Pachamama Skillshare and more sustainable beautiful spiritual, ritualized, intellectual and politicized initiatives to align our movements with the transformative messages of the universe. Eternal Summer is part of this energetic field and shift, all of this is interconnected and interdependent. We are benefiting from a shared ecology where inspiration, as a process, is circulating. I love it.

There have also been some lessons learned in terms of intentionality this past year that have clarified what it takes to continue abundantly participating in the flow. One major lesson was that while it is important to document and share the brilliance and inspiration that happens here in Durham with our wider community, and our local community who just didn't have time to stop by....it does not work to facilitate the same curriculum simultaneously in person and online. There are major benefits to letting the very jazz influenced, improvisatory and spiritually transformative work we do in person inform the development of shareable curriculum. Doing it at the same time seems scattered and rushes both processes. So in the name of INTENTIONALITY and to support the continued interdependence between the local and planetary impact of Eternal Summer it has been important to be very PRESENT to the local programming and the amazing energy that people bring as a major life source that everyone benefits from more when there is less pressure to produce a "product" for wider consumption immediately. In other words the clarity is that keeping the in person project somewhat blurry is good! Look at these beautiful blurry people.


Similarly the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind ecology acknowledges that while Black Feminism centers the role of black women and black queer folks in transforming the world, the transformation that we are participating and the critiques and practices created in that process are necessary for all who would live holistically in a loving world. This is why the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind has and will continue to create spaces specifically inspired by and focused on the brilliance of black women and black queer people that are open as a space of study and worship for everyone who is ready to be inspired and transformed. I am especially excited about the merging of two favorite activities...the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist mind monthly potlucks and the Black Girls Rock series. In the first six months of the new year every monthly potluck will be a listening party and discussion about the brilliance of artists from Abbey Lincoln to Lauryn Hill. Also as a contination of the Lucille Clifton ShapeShifter Survival School there will be biweekly poetic activities specifically for survivors of child abuse and parents intending to break cycles of violence in their families. The work of Nadya Lawson with Holding Our Own an initiative that is intentionally 60 percent women of color and 60 percent queer reflects my vision for diverse participation in the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind.

In addition to these ongoing programs that acknowledge the pricelessness of a Black Feminist approach for all people, there will be at least two programs that honor the intentionality and value of space that is more specifically and intentionally aligned. Based on the belief and the historical reality that spaces where black women and gender-defiant folks engage each other deeply and specifically open a space for radical healing and invite a powerful spirit of transformation into our communities. The historical example of the Black Feminist Retreats, which we learned more about last week from Barbara Smith and Cessie Alfonso and the contemporary brilliance of the Gumbo Yaya 12 week session on Sistering, Mothering and Daughtering here in Durham are more than proof of the value of intentional loving spaces for Black women as a gift for our whole communities. In that spirit I am excited to announce, far in advance Indigo Days a week of healing, building and visioning for black women (trans and cis) and genderqueer black healers to share their magic and affirm each other which will take place May 20-26th here in Durham. All of our diverse allies here in Durham are exuberantly invited to offer food, childcare and housing to make this event happen!


Another specific priority of Black feminism historically and need for our communities in the contemporary moment is space for diverse women and genderqueer people of color to build relationships with each other across shared oppression and important differences. This was the energy behind last year's Love Harder session and is part of the reason that this January's MotherOurselves Bootcamp (January 7-9), based on Audre Lorde's theory of learning to mother ourselves by addressing internalized oppression as it impacts our own spiritual expression and our relationships to other oppressed people, will be specifically for women (trans and cis) and genderqueer people of color. Again we will need and want the support of our diverse community in making sure we can have accessible space, food, childcare and housing so that all the women and genderqueer people of color who want to participate will be able to feel fully supported to attend.

And of course you are ALWAYS ALWAYS welcome to donate towards these experiences being free and freedom-producing for everyone!

Donate one time:

or become an Eternal Summerian by donating monthly!


I am so excited about the coming year and the ongoing ETERNAL energy of transformation that we get to participate in together in this little piece of the world we want to see.

Infinite love and inspiration,

Lex

p.s. so this is my clarified vision...what's yours? Participate in the activity here: http://combaheesurvival.wordpress.com/2008/10/04/1-vision-and-purpose/

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Reports from the Living Room: Juneteenth Letter Home

Last week at the Juneteenth Freedom Academy session on Palestine we started to write letters inspired by June Jordan's "Letter to My Friend" (available in this packet: Juneteenth Palestine Essays). Here is my letter. Looking forward to seeing you all at any of these upcoming Juneteenth Palestine events at the Inspiration Station. Feel free to post your own letters in the comments or email them to brokenbeautifulpress@gmail.com.

Wednesday, November 3rd: STORYTIME FOR PALESTINE! Bring the whole family for an evening with Ellen O’Grady’s picture book “Outside the Ark“

Thursday, Nov. 4th: Session 2: Journeys Towards Solidarity (featuring Jodeen Olguin-Taylor and Bryan Proffit on their trip to Gaza)

Friday, Nov. 5th: Movie night: SLINGSHOT HIP HOP

Thursday Nov. 11th: Session 3: Because We Still Are Here (with possible telecast from Mai’a Williams in Cairo)





Dear Maya,

You were my best friend at Sundance preschool. I remember going to your house. I remember your going away party where most of the friends were from temple and my family was very visibly Black and my parents didn’t stay too long, but I insisted on staying with you, and the kids from temple and the parents who had a world that like all adult worlds was incomprehensible to me.

You taught me some words which I’m sure I forgot and then relearned from other jewish friends at other private liberal schools. But you were first. And you left to move “back” to Israel. I would not have known to call you a settler. But I could tell that you were on an adventure. You sent a letter once, with pictures in it, I think. I sent a letter too, all the way to a place I couldn’t imagine, and would never have known was only the age of my grandparents. It wouldn’t have registered. I thought places, like grandparents, were forever.

Nobody said that there was water poisoning and olive tree removal and armed forcing of people out of their homes that was happening to make room for families like yours to go “back.” Nobody in no private liberal school even to this day ever mentioned that there was a war the year after we were born where 60,000 people, some of them preschoolers like we were when we knew each other, were forced to leave where they lived so that families like yours could live there and feel safe and at home. I felt safe and at home when I was in preschool. I felt safe at your home in New Jersey.

I got the feeling that you were leaving because you would feel much more at home in Israel than you did in New Jersey with me. I didn’t know back then that there were some people who were not allowed to feel at home. I didn’t know about all the people, some of them my indigenous ancestors who had been pushed out of New Jersey. I didn’t know that the both the Caribbean islands that more of my ancestors came from used to be full of indigenous people who were made to disappear by the same ways and means that my ancestors were forced to live there.

I knew we had something in common. You were my friend. I didn’t know how much. Sometime later I learned in a young adult fiction book about the kibbutz. Collective work and living. It seemed very socialist, very Kwanzaa. I didn’t know back then either that the man who invented Kwanzaa had tied up some outspoken women in his organization to pipes in his basement and tortured them for being exactly the type of person I am, for speaking their minds.

I learned about the Kibbutz and it resonated and I thought not about pipes or poisoned water or smallpox blankets. I thought about you my friend Maya with deep eyes like mine. I imagined you peaceful and working and growing up and like me and working and responsible. I never thought of you when I heard people say “peace in the middle east” to mean goodbye on Arsenio Hall. It never occurred to me that you were part of a war.

I learned about driedls and latkas in elementary school. I played Hannukah games every year. In middle school I found the ofikomen at my friend Jessica’s family passover. I went with my almost completely Jewish seventh grade class to the Holocaust Museum in DC and cried. I saw a boy named Jared, the same name as my brother lose it on the bus and slam his hand against the window when we saw a man with a poster saying the holocaust was not real. How can people deny genocide, I thought. I was in Washington DC getting ready to visit the White House. How can people deny genocide, I thought. I knew that I was far from Aryan, I knew that many people of color and people who were any kind of different were murdered by the Nazi state. How can people deny genocide, I thought. I was looking at a big white house that I didn’t know was designed and built by enslaved people. I was not thinking about that. How can people deny genocide? I was not thinking about indigenous people from the land that I stood on at all.

I learned more and more Hebrew words in high school. I identified with a people who remembered that they had been enslaved and who remembered that God wanted them to be free. At the Passover services that I went to, there were quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. And my first year in college, my roommate Alyssa and I made the most beautiful blue and white hannukah decorations for our all-girls Ivy League dorm hallway where June Jordan used to go to school. Where Edward Said was teaching at the time. Lanterned dreidles, stars and candles.

I never heard Palestine mentioned in a classroom, but I saw orthodox Jewish men and younger students shouting at each other, deep in argument in the middle of campus one day the most passionate verbal arguing I had ever seen, right in the middle. I had no idea what they could be arguing about. I didn’t know that a Palestinian student would call my school the Zionist University of the United States. I didn’t know that years later, my friends and loved ones would be in a shouting match with men and women our age who believed that Israeli military forces could do whatever they wanted to people in Gaza and to anyone who dared to help them. I only knew about Zion as a place in the bible, and in the matrix and in a love song that Lauryn Hill wrote for her son. And then I saw an email about protesting the occupation of Palestine, and then right away, right right away an email that said there was no such place as Palestine and that if you looked in any atlas you would never find such a country.

I was shocked. I had assumed that Palestine was in eastern Europe because those were the countries that my middle school geography class no longer described correctly. I had no idea that Palestine was a place living in the hearts of thousands of displaced people. I had no idea that Palestine was a place denied so that a place called Israel could tell Jewish people that they had finally arrived home. Years of liberal education had given me no clue that there was such a place as Palestine. No literature class taught me that Mamoud Darwish, a Palestinian poet had said that possibly Palestine was a metaphor. I had no sense of Palestine as a history, as a critique or as a possibility as a secret and suppressed name for dignity and freedom. I had no idea, Maya, that you lived in Palestine.

I was yet to cry hearing Suheir Hammad, with a distinct Brooklyn June Jordan cadence read her poetry at the Poetry is Not a Luxury event in honor of Audre Lorde. I had not met my beloved sister comrades Nadia, a Palestinian woman from Detroit or Mai’a barred from Israel and living in Cairo. So now I am writing a letter, 24 years later to you, my best friend Maya, who moved to Palestine when we were little kids, in honor of you and of friendship and of the place, Palestine, where I could never address a letter to you. I don’t know where you live now, or what you call it. I don’t know if you are an Israeli peace activist, or if you have already served in the military and if you are one of the people who was proud when Israeli marines spoke out against the attacks on a flotilla sending aid to Gaza. I don’t know if you came back to the states to go to college or if you are in love or if you have lost someone or if you are a parent. I don’t know who you grew up to be or where you are now or what you believe.

I want you to know though, wherever you are, something important about who I have grown up to be. Like June Jordan who says she was born a black woman, “now I am become a Palestinian.” I always felt very peaceful around you, very loved and accepted, very much myself. I hope that we can be friends again soon.

Peace,

Lexi

Friday, October 29, 2010

Juneteenth Palestine: Report from the Living Room

Greetings Eternal Summer Family!

Last night was the kick-off of Juneteenth Palestine, a night school exploring June Jordan's actions and words in support of the fact that solidarity with Palestine and critique of the imperialism of the state of Israel was and is a Black feminist priority. This first night was about identifcation and solidarity. We brought our ancestors and loved ones into the room through a dedication exercise, meditated on June Jordan's "Moving Towards Home," where she declares "I was born a Black woman/and now I am become a Palestinian" and Suheir Hammad's meditation on "Black" in the preface to her collection Born Palestinian Born Black with collages, a BlackOutBodyBrainstorm, a telecast from anti-zionist Jewish organizer Tema Okun and a letter writing exercise based on June Jordan's "A Letter to My Friend." Experiencing the sincerity and brilliance of the folks in my living room was an honor and a true tribute to June Jordan's idea of Living Room as a global political vision of love. In honor of all displaced people here are some of our visions of living room...


























love,

lex


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Keeping it Hot! Little Black Feminist Book Series Vol. 2 (FIRE)


Eternal Summer means keeping it hot...This beautiful black booklet joins the legacy of Harlem Renaissance firebrands and the brilliant youth of SPARK reproductive justice (see fire@sparkrj.org). It includes lust poems and polemics to/for/about black queer community and an essay on FLAMBOYANCE dedicated to Alexis DeVeaux and Gwendolyn Hardwick of the Flamboyant Ladies!

I know you want your very own! So paypal 15 bucks to brokenbeautifulpress@gmail.com and include your current address. Thanks for keeping the Eternal Summer ETERNAL!





or just this link if it is easier: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=3VHV86GHPK56J

Love,

Lex

p.s. oh and there's a matching podcast!

http://brokenbeautiful.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/the-proud-podcast-the-visionary-heat-of-black-queer-community/

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cameron Village (or u scared)

Cameron Village (or u scared)

Raleigh, North Carolina


(After Audre Lorde’s “Generation”)


i.

(how?)


How our faces are broken

splinters into rage over ages

rages into splinters of ages of always

facing the breaking of truth


how we remember to live

is a question

we grow into

if we’re lucky.


ii.

(what if?)


what if love could sing in every key

what if every touch every open every close

was

a sacred reminder that love

was all we needed.


what if it is not our held hands

our open mouths our ready boots

what if it is our simple joy

that makes us golden

makes us gay.


iii.

(u scared)


We are seizing your limited power

Cameron Village

your crept up promise

that children will beat the hope out of each other

and sell it to their parents for silence.


Who would come to your latched city of falsehood

Cameron Village, to hear

your warning that that love is not welcome

your indecent and rehearsed rejection

slippery with the spit of slave names

to hear you warn us

that you know what we know

that you have drunk a river of nothing

just to protect your even more nothing

your unquenchable failure.


iv.

(what we know)


You know what we know

even one even two even three glimpses

of what we know how to do

which is love

is danger

that if anyone saw who we are

what we have

they would batter your doors with return receipts

they would dig up your parking lot to farm

they would never buy your sham semblance of somewhere to sit

you know that you know what we know

and we know

that

if anyone saw

the love that we have


they would never buy

anything

ever

again.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

shapeshift


For Samuel Blizzard Jr., Calvin Streater and Durand Robinson, black gay men murdered during the last 10 days in Atlanta.



who learns to love me

from the mouth of my enemies”

-Audre Lorde “Need”


who have your back

who cradle your lightheaded bright eyes

who frame your face with hands pride portrait sending home

who love

who write your sweat salt into affirmation

who believe in you enough


surely the thin rope tied sweatshop stitched free backpack

filled with plastic reinforced dance party flyers

is no shield for your bulletproof and brazen spirit

no container for your purpose


who hold you and keep you safe

who watch your moving mouth and learn to love you whole


when did your open heart become a liability

when did your brave insistence on the community of an instant

become an open temple for the fear

of shapeshifters who know not

themselves in you

until too late


who paint our faces

taste the iron of your blood

until our words turn Kevlar and mean something

the back of your head looks so soft little brother

eggshell skull and brilliance breaking

sometimes I want to cry just looking at you


how to accept that your clean lined queen glide

tentative teeth ready to smile

fierce and femme

is a hopeful contradiction that could end


who believe in you enough to change everything

who love to learn your mouth whole

who hold

who hold

who hold your waiting hand

who cup your fresh cut hair

who kiss your lashed down lust

who hold

who hold

who hold you up

who have

who have

who have

your back

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Here (for Assata Goff)

Here

after Lucille Clifton’s “Crazy Horse Names His Daughter”


for Assata Goff


call down the name freedom call

up the spirit of no matter what now call

your shared name liberation veins steel will

fierce focus shielding sacred smile laugh

your own name radiant as cuba

laugh your yawning name into language laugh

in the face of any power that does not know you laugh

to save life from leaning and falling over laugh

planting yes between sidewalk cracks up mural walls

and we will sing your grace walk like we know laugh

earned and eternal when we speak

Assata is here

Monday, September 06, 2010

Crazy Horse Names His Daughter: Lucille Clifton Rebirth Broadcast #11

Crazy Horse Names His Daughter: Lucille Clifton Rebirth Broadcast #11 from Alexis Gumbs on Vimeo.




This week our Lucille Clifton ShapeShifter assignment is to cast names of powerful people in our lives and in our history into the future and to create a ritual or list of naming that describes the energy in the names of the children in your family, life or community.

To see all the Lucille Clifton Rebirth Broadcasts see http://blackfeministmind.wordpress.com/category/shapeshifting/

And to learn more about the Lucille Clifton ShapeShifter Survival School and the upcoming Everett Anderson Storytime week see: blackfeministmind.wordpress.com/survival-school

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Eternal Something: Alternate ROOTS Testifies

Eternal Something from Alexis Gumbs on Vimeo.

Brilliance! The participants in the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind Studio at the Alternate ROOTS annual meeting TESTIFY!!!!

blackfeministmind.wordpress.com

Monday, August 23, 2010

Eternal Summer Haikus


created by the participants at the Eternal Summer Studio at Alternate ROOTS 2010


(photo by Sed Miles)


See grandma ain’t gone

The crickets sing her church sings

Be still, hear her.

-

I create because

Knowing life more intensely

Takes paint and brushes.


-Jessica Solomon


eternal struggle

blows like a hurricane wind

through creation’s soul


-A. Assaf


Made not certainly

A Summer Source discovered

Eternal Other


Eternally something sighs

Much to much abundance lies

In the summer’s light


-Jackson Kroopf


My eternal core

Dances for endless summers

Dignity in space

-

Eternal Wonder

Magnificence Undefined

Blooming Forever


Maybe hood ‘bundnace

Is the hydrant on full blast.

-

eternal spirit

guiding me, supporting me

move me with your light

-

trees and rocks, rivers

waterfalls…is anything

really eternal


this sweet summer seems

eternal as echoing

wind chimes and sunlight


perspective growing

eternal something knowing

means never going


eternal something

latches onto my soul and

grows inside the heart

_

eternal summer

sitting quietly waiting

it is breaking, breath


eternal something

wraps itself around my skin

it’s time to begin

-

when the world smiles

when we laugh

all is healed


-Ebony Noelle Golden


Make Summer soul free

Tap that bundance now y’all and

Love eternally


-Julia Roxanne Wallace


A new life forming

Past shaded future visions

What will be will be


The potential of life

The coming together of love

Forever starts today


Love goes on and on

Thru the life shared between us

As a new child boarn.


-Chris Youngston


When it is this hot

Let the tears flow down more more

It will cool your face


My name is Vzwhyahy

Such it in breathe it out woosh!

More more suck it in


-Marquetta Dupree


eternal endings

fall to the earth to become

eternal seedling


sweatstinging the eyes

mango mash and moonlight swim

eternal summer

-

abundance is all

leafy greens, vibrant colors

and smiling bellies


forever spinning

stories of struggle and grace

lifting as we climb


eternal darkness

vibrates on another plane

pregnant with spirit


-fari


Learning to listen

Growing in compassion this

Eternal summer


Powerful rivers

Ancient, towering rocks this

Eternal summer


Hope that carries change

Working for peace justice this

Eternal summer

-

Eternal Summer

Fire exchanged through solid hugs

Rhythms, yearning peace

Eternal September: Jewelle Gomez and the Cost of Silence


(Jewelle Gomez and her Nana, photo by Ann Chapman)

Reconnect with the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind Potluck Series on September 2nd at 6pm at the Inspiration Station. We will be discussing Jewelle Gomez's "Because Silence is Costly" and discussing what it means for us to speak up intergenerationally and in community.

You can download the reading here: "Because Silence is Costly"

Bring a dish and a friend if you can and your brilliant eternal mind.

love,

lex

Sunday, August 22, 2010

water sign woman: lucille clifton rebirth broadcast #9

water sign woman: lucille clifton rebirth broadcast #9 from Alexis Gumbs on Vimeo.

remember what you know.

to see all of the Rebirth Broadcasts to go blackfeministmind.wordpress.com/category/shapeshifting.

and to find out more about the upcoming activities of the Lucille Clifton ShapeShifter Survival School visit
blackfeministmind.wordpress.com/survival-school

Thursday, August 19, 2010

School's In (Beware)

School's In (Beware) from Alexis Gumbs on Vimeo.

Beware

Dedicated to the man who didn’t want to let me into the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library

all beware the bright black girl
she who papercuts her heart
she who favor sliced to art
she who sells her soul to need
she who speaks and dares to read
look out, she approaches now
all beware the bright black girl

look how she approaches now
hair untaught, her hands unfurled
laugh uncaught like this her world
dare she look me in my eye
dare she tell me who I am
devil test my waning strength
look how she approaches now

devil test my waning strength
in my age I cannot bear
fertile rage the brazen heir
what god offers such a flame
Lorde, who justifies her claim
save me from her growing name
lest she sense my waning strength

save me from her growing name
build with me a wall of forms
pierce her skin with darted norms
someone rapture her away
someone capture her today
maintain my shame, at least delay
save me from her growing name

maintain my shame, at least delay
what her face must signify
she whose people sing and fly
painting life into their season
please encase me in my reason
(shit!) protect me from her
freedom
i was waiting for this day


please

protect me from her freedom
hungry ghosts trail behind her
high day song squeals deep inside her
look how savage lust provides her with
everything she needs
oh please protect me from her freedom

everything she reads
feeds needs unspoken
breeds youth unbroken
white god you joking do not let her look at me
uncouth truth watch her bleed out
everything we need

oh beware the black bright girl
impervious to hate and death
inhaling like this her first breath
multitudes astride her hair
avert your gazes if you dare

or see
how her walk will swift unsuit you
lightning in her eyes seduce you
til there’s nothing else you can do
but
be
free.


-Alexis Pauline Gumbs 2009

Sunday, August 08, 2010

In the Mirror: Lucille Clifton Rebirth Broadcast #7

In the Mirror: Lucille Clifton Rebirth Broadcast #7 from Alexis Gumbs on Vimeo.



Pronounce the shape of an unsafe life. Look at yourself in the mirror.


and don't forget, this is the last week to sign up for the Lucille Clifton ShapeShifter Survival School.

blackfeministmind.wordpress.com/survival-school/

see earlier Rebirth Broadcasts here: http://blackfeministmind.wordpress.com/category/shapeshifting/

Thursday, August 05, 2010

A Legible Legacy: Candice Boyce

from the mobilehomecoming project


I knew her first through the curve of her signature, the pressure of her type-written words, the persistence of her mimeographed hand. Candice Boyce, the signature announcing and insisting on the existence of a publication like none I had ever seen before, the Salsa Soul Third World Women's Gayzette. As I sat in the upstairs room of the Lesbian Herstory Archive imagining what it must have been like to create an affirming and magical social world for lesbians of color in the 1970's and 80's it was Candice's signature that I traced over with my fingers, with gratitude. It was Candice's name that I saw behind my eyelids when I closed them to breathe: "thank you, for leaving a record."

Without the work Candice did, I never would have known about the Salsa Soul Sisters. And because of Candice's textual vigilance when I sat in a room with Harriet Alston and Carolyn Gray and heard them talk about Salsa Soul, I felt as if I already knew them, as if meeting them was coming home. Without Candice we may have never had the conversation and the context to create the MobileHomeComing Project.

Maybe Candice knew we were coming, those younger quirky queer world creating women who would need to know that we were not the first to make the world over in our own images, to build affirming space, and craft our own rituals, because according to Harriet she was diligent with her camera, one of these people with a visionary talent for remembering the future, and therefore documenting the present. Every click of her camera said we were here. This happened. Never again will anyone be able to say lesbian women of color who love themselves and love each other did not exist.

By the time we started seeking out and celebrating Salsa Soul members, Candice was already very sick. We learned about her past adventures through Harriet and Carolyn and Imani Rashid, we also learned about her deteriorating condition every time we asked her chosen sisters how she was doing. Which means I have never said in person what must be said:

Thank you Candice for living your purpose. Thank you Candice for creating a record. Thank you Candice, for your legible legacy and for teaching us what it means to live, forever.

love,

Alexis Pauline Gumbs for Julia Roxanne Wallace and the MobileHomeComing Project




For Each Other: the Salsa Soul Sisters from Alexis Gumbs on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

This Bridge Called My Baby: Legacies of Radical Mothering

This Bridge Called My Baby: Legacies of Radical Mothering

http://thisbridgecalledmybaby.wordpress.com/



"We can learn to mother ourselves." Audre Lorde, 1983

All mothers have the potential to be revolutionary. Some mothers stand on the shoreline, are born and reborn here, inside the flux of time and space, overcoming the traumatic repetition of oppression. Our very existence is disobedience to the powers that be.
At times, in moments, we as mothers choose to stand in a zone of claimed risk and fierce transformation, the frontline. In infinite ways, both practiced and yet to be imagined, we put our bodies between the violent repetition of the norm and the future we already deserve, exactly because our children deserve it too. We make this choice for many reasons and in different contexts, but at the core we have this in common: we refuse to obey. We refuse to give into fear. We insist on joy no matter what and by every means necessary and possible.
In this anthology we are exploring how we are informed by and participating with those mothers, especially radical women of color, who have sought for decades, if not centuries, to create relationships to each other, transformative relationships to feminism and a transnational anti-imperialist literary, cultural and everyday practice.

"We don't want a space where kids feel that only adults can imagine ways to strengthen our communities and protect ourselves against the Architects of Despair," Sora said, "and we don't want adults to feel that either. We want to create a space where all of our imaginations help each other grow; but we realize that kids might get bored from sitting still the way that adults tend to do, so we set up the play room with toys and games." Regeneracion Childcare Collective 2007

Sometimes for radical mamas, our mothering in radical community makes visible the huge gulfs between communities, between parents and non-parents, in class and other privileges AND most importantly the wide gulf between what we say in activist communities and what we actually do. Radical mothering is the imperative to build bridges that allow us to relate across these very real barriers. For and by radical mother of color, but also inclusive of other working class, marginalized, low income, no income radical mothers.


"Parenting and being a role model to kids in your community is important because they will be the activists of tomorrow. And they will be our gardeners and mothers and bakers. They will question our generation, they'll write their own history, create new forms of art and media."
-Noemi Martinez 2009


We find the idea of the "bridge" useful because we believe that the radical practice of mothering is at once a practical and visionary relationship to the future IN the PRESENT, a bridge within time that can inspire us to relate to each other intentionally across generation and space. We also acknowledge the not-so-radical default bridge function of marginalized mother in society. How our children in particular get walked all over in terms of public policy that criminalizes our mothering and movement spaces that claim to be creating a transformed future without being fully accountable to parents or kids.

"I came into the Third World Women’s Caucus when it was well under way. The women there were discussing the caucus resolution to be presented to the general conference. There were Asian women, Latin women, Native Women and Afro-American women. The discussion when I came in was around the controversial issue of motherhood and how the wording of the resolution could best reflect the feelings of those present. It was especially heartening to hear other women affirm that not only should lesbian mothers be supported but that all third world women lesbians share in the responsibility for the care and nurturing of the children of individual lesbians of color...Another woman reminded us of the commitment we must take to each other when she said ‘All children (of lesbians) are ours." -Doc in Off Our Backs 1979

We see this book as a continuation of the accountability invoking movement midwifing work of the 1981 anthology This Bridge Called My Back in that it:
a. is the work of writers who see their writing as part of a mothering practice, as not career, but calling and who believe that their writing, and their every creative practice has a strategic role in transforming the possible world.
b. contextualizes contemporary radical mama practices in relationship to socialist and lesbian mothering practices experimented with and practiced in the 1970’s by writers including Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Adrienne Rich, Third World Lesbians conference, Salsa Soul Sisters, Sisterhood of Black Single Mothers
c. seeks to speak to those who participated in that earlier practice and who have been informed by it as a primary audience, and to connect those who have not have access to that work to it

We invite submissions including but not limited to the following possibilities:

*Manifestas, group poems, letters, mission statements from your crew of radical mamas or an amazing group from history
*Letters, poems, transcribed phone calls between radical mamas supporting each other
*Accounts of your experience as a radical mama
*Reflections on enacting radical mamacity at different ages
*Motivations for/obstacles in your practice of radical mothering
*Conversations with your kids
*Rants and rages via the eloquence of a mother-wronged
*Your experience of radical grandmothering
*Self-interviews, interviews with other mamis
*Birthing experiences
*Ending child sexual abuse
*Mothering as survivors (survival and mothering)
*Mothering with and without models
*Mothering and domination
*Mama to-do lists
*Mama/kid collaborations...
*Radical fathering
*Overcoming shame and silence in the practice of radical mothering
*Ambivilence, paradox, emotions, vulnerability
*Experiences of state violence/CPS
*Balancing daily survival
*Loss of children, not living with children, custody arrangements and issues
*Sharing your stories from where you live
*Everything we haven't thought of yet! Take a deep breath and WRITE!!!!

Please send submissions via email to
alexispauline@gmail.com
maiamedicine@gmail.com
and china410@hotmail.com
or via snail mail to
P.O. Box 4803 Baltimore Maryland 21211

by April 1, 2011.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Announcing the Juneteenth Freedom Academy in Durham, NC

Juneteenth Freedom Academy

Apply for Juneteenth Freedom Academy Unit 1: ANGRY LETTERS AND PROTEST POEMS here:http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CWWYZ3N

During theJuneteenth Freedom Academyparticipants break bread during weekly night school sessions that deeply engage and build on the work of June Jordan as transmitted through the committed (obsessive) research of Alexis Pauline Gumbs on the angry, letters, protest poems, solidarity politics and teaching practices of the visionary badass June Jordan. Participants will also get coursepacks with some exclusive and unpublished materials on/by Jordan and will apply what they learn of Jordan’s methodology to pressing community issues. Participants can choose to participate in one 3 week semester or the entire process. Everyone who completes an application and can attend each session is admitted!!!

Want to donate to the Juneteenth Freedom Academy? Name a scholarship? Email brokenbeautifulpress@gmail.com for details!!!!

Unit 1: Angry Letters and Protest Poems:

6pm-9pm at the Inspiration Station on August 18th, 25th and September 1st

June Jordan is described by many of her editors, publishers and colleagues as “difficult” because of the intense anger at all forms of oppression that she expressed in her writing. This course is based on the belief that our anger can be powerful and poetic when we channel in the service of creating the world that our communities deserve! During this course we will explore some of Jordan’s angriest and most impactful open letters, unpublished letters and poems and write our own protest poetry, and open letters that transform the world!!!!

Apply here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CWWYZ3N

Unit 2: Free Palestine

6pm-9pm at the Inspiration Station on Thursday November 4th, 11th and 18th

During her lifetime June Jordan worked in solidarity with Arab-American women towards the vision of a free Palestine and in protest of the media mis-representation of the occupation of Palestine and Zionist imperialism. This unit of the Juneteenth Freedom Academy allows participants to engage in indepth study of Jordan’s poems, speeches, writings and letters on occupied Palestine and the 1980′s conflict in Lebanon, and learn about local solidarity efforts against the 60 year occupation of Palestine as part of a local strategy for solidarity towards the end of imperialism and towards the self-determination of all oppressed people.

Unit 3: Dedication

6pm-9pm at the Inspiration Station on Wednesdays Dec 1, 8th and 15th

Poem for the Poet Alexis De Veaux, Poem for Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer, Poem for Nana, Poem for Daniel Pretty Moynihan, Poem for All the People in Lebanon. Over and over again June Jordan wrote poems for specific individuals and groups of people, and in her act of dedication modeled a possible revolutionary or critical relationship to love and solidarity. In this unit of the Juneteenth Freedom Academy, just in time for the gifting season for many traditions, we will study Jordan’s “Poems For…” and create our own revolutionary dedicated poems for the people in our lives, our communities and people we stand in solidarity with.

Unit 4: Experimental and Hopeful Society (on Teaching)

Summer 2011: specific dates to be determined with visionary teachers in and around Durham, NC

June Jordan, creator of the Poetry for the People curriculum and facilitator of numerous poetry programs for all ages of children and adults thought of the classroom space as an “Experimental and Hopeful Society.” For those of us teaching in a variety of liberatory and constricted settings this is a space to learn from Jordan’s syllabi, and her philosophies on teaching while supporting each other to develop strategies for an experimental and hopeful approach in our own teaching settings everyday!


Announcing the Juneteenth Freedom Academy in Durham, NC

Juneteenth Freedom Academy

Apply for Juneteenth Freedom Academy Unit 1: ANGRY LETTERS AND PROTEST POEMS here:http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CWWYZ3N

During theJuneteenth Freedom Academyparticipants break bread during weekly night school sessions that deeply engage and build on the work of June Jordan as transmitted through the committed (obsessive) research of Alexis Pauline Gumbs on the angry, letters, protest poems, solidarity politics and teaching practices of the visionary badass June Jordan. Participants will also get coursepacks with some exclusive and unpublished materials on/by Jordan and will apply what they learn of Jordan’s methodology to pressing community issues. Participants can choose to participate in one 3 week semester or the entire process. Everyone who completes an application and can attend each session is admitted!!!

Want to donate to the Juneteenth Freedom Academy? Name a scholarship? Email brokenbeautifulpress@gmail.com for details!!!!

Unit 1: Angry Letters and Protest Poems:

6pm-9pm at the Inspiration Station on August 18th, 25th and September 1st

June Jordan is described by many of her editors, publishers and colleagues as “difficult” because of the intense anger at all forms of oppression that she expressed in her writing. This course is based on the belief that our anger can be powerful and poetic when we channel in the service of creating the world that our communities deserve! During this course we will explore some of Jordan’s angriest and most impactful open letters, unpublished letters and poems and write our own protest poetry, and open letters that transform the world!!!!

Apply here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CWWYZ3N

Unit 2: Free Palestine

6pm-9pm at the Inspiration Station on Thursday November 4th, 11th and 18th

During her lifetime June Jordan worked in solidarity with Arab-American women towards the vision of a free Palestine and in protest of the media mis-representation of the occupation of Palestine and Zionist imperialism. This unit of the Juneteenth Freedom Academy allows participants to engage in indepth study of Jordan’s poems, speeches, writings and letters on occupied Palestine and the 1980′s conflict in Lebanon, and learn about local solidarity efforts against the 60 year occupation of Palestine as part of a local strategy for solidarity towards the end of imperialism and towards the self-determination of all oppressed people.

Unit 3: Dedication

6pm-9pm at the Inspiration Station on Wednesdays Dec 1, 8th and 15th

Poem for the Poet Alexis De Veaux, Poem for Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer, Poem for Nana, Poem for Daniel Pretty Moynihan, Poem for All the People in Lebanon. Over and over again June Jordan wrote poems for specific individuals and groups of people, and in her act of dedication modeled a possible revolutionary or critical relationship to love and solidarity. In this unit of the Juneteenth Freedom Academy, just in time for the gifting season for many traditions, we will study Jordan’s “Poems For…” and create our own revolutionary dedicated poems for the people in our lives, our communities and people we stand in solidarity with.

Unit 4: Experimental and Hopeful Society (on Teaching)

Summer 2011: specific dates to be determined with visionary teachers in and around Durham, NC

June Jordan, creator of the Poetry for the People curriculum and facilitator of numerous poetry programs for all ages of children and adults thought of the classroom space as an “Experimental and Hopeful Society.” For those of us teaching in a variety of liberatory and constricted settings this is a space to learn from Jordan’s syllabi, and her philosophies on teaching while supporting each other to develop strategies for an experimental and hopeful approach in our own teaching settings everyday!


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

not. by Audre Lorde

This morning I have been reading from "The Black Unicorn" by Audre Lorde...really struck this morning by how several of the poems in that collection end with a powerful statement of what is NOT

the black unicorn is not
free.

I am
woman
and not white.

I am
the sun and moon and forever hungry
the sharpened edge
where day and night shall meet
and not be
one.

I have died too many deaths
that were not mine.

for the embattled
there is no place
that cannot be
home
nor is.

what you know
can hurt
but what you do
not know
can kill.

Once
freed from constancy
this house
will not stand
forever.

May I owe nothing
that I cannot repay.

and of course...

we were never meant to survive.

So this morning I am thinking about the clarity of negativity. Of expressing what is not. Or what is, in its absence necessary to make present as a critical clarity, shaping what is.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lucille Clifton Sunday ShapeShifter Rebirth BroadcastL Birthday Edition

This week…in honor of Lucille Clifton’s first birthday since her transition to starshine I offer the first of a series of weekly Sunday Rebirth Broadcasts in honor of Lucille Clifton! Today’s exercise is based on her powerful survival poem “won’t you celebrate with me.”


Lucille Clifton Sunday ShapeShifter Rebirth Broadcast: Birthday Edition from Alexis Gumbs on Vimeo.


This series of broadcasts is part of the Lucille Clifton ShapeShifter Survival School:

In honor of the great poet Lucille Clifton, who was also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, a mother, an artist and self-identified Amazon warrior through her poetry, the Lucille Clifton ShapeShifter Survival School is especially designed for families that are committed to ending childhood sexual abuse and all forms of gendered violence. Informed by Generation 5 and the regional plan of the Atlanta Transformative Justice Collaborative, the ShapeShifter Survival School is part of a holistic process of ending child sexual abuse by creating healing community.

for more details on the 4 components of the ShapeShifter Survival School look here: http://blackfeministmind.wordpress.com/survival-school/

And finally…no one delivers this poem better than Ms. Lucille herself.