Friday, February 25, 2011

"If You Scared Just Say It": Shirlette and the Dynamite Brothers

Play the song before it plays you. Turn it on before game recognizes game. Touch the wound inside before it heals.

This is the urgency of the sharp lyrics and doom bass-lines of the new collaboration between Shirlette Ammons, the Dynamite Brothers and a slew of North Carolina's quirkiest artists on their new project: Shirlette and the Dynamite Brothers. The title isn't the only thing that makes it plain. Full of lust not pretending to be anything but lust and love wishing it wasn't really love, this series of songs faces you with that encounter at the bar, that number exchange, those nights you can't get back and makes you wish you had at least wrote about it and sang to keep from crying.

The queer thing is that these are dark love stories without anything to prove. And for a crew of LGBTQ singers and artists in the age where the dominant political presence of that alternative- lifestyle-type-love is marriage inclusion and clamored for psuedo-respectability, this is a queer stance indeed. What if we already are who we're supposed to be? What if we give "no nevermind" to the chokehold structure of fairy tales and live our lives as the lessons they are? During Black History Month no less.

On "Kissin and Cussin," Shirlette sets the context, "your kiss is fist violent" and (grammy winner!!!!!) Justin Robinson opens the first version of the chorus "tell me pretty baby do you think you're too sweet to die?" Rhianna and Eminem and others have tried this dangerous and controversial hate-how-much-i-love-you trope before, but never with as much haunting, this "inherited, handed down" inevitability. The track is dark, like a chain gang walking on their hands in a coal mine. No one sees a way out, but the fiddle struggles like life depends on it and dawn breaks.

The album is a threat, what if we no longer have to be clean, shiny, fresh and without angles to be visible as who we are. What if we claim the place we stand in? Strut in the funky complicated mess of being here and changeable? On "Tomorrow Neva Comin" Shirlette and Yazarah assert that this is the question of the future asking "If you scared just say it you scared if you're not why not go head and take it there." This album takes it there, to that place too many of us can't admit we already are: ready to just say fuck it, let go of who we thought we were and what we thought the game was and just live real with each other in the face of the morning.

Play these songs before they play you. Accept the invitation to stop your frontin, tomorrow's comin.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mississippi "Odd" Damn: Intergenerational Black Feminism is Unbelievable

Black women on the move have always been queer to the intersecting systems of oppression that rely on us staying in our interchangeable and demeaning place.

“It just sounds really odd. You know?”

This is what a white male police officer said to me several times after he separated my partner and I for questioning and we both explained to him that we were driving through Mississippi as part of our cross country journey interviewing black LGBT feminist elders.

And outside the matrix of uniforms, skin, privilege and visible weapons, ghosts and the bloody history of the state (in the specific sense and the general sense) his disbelief would be at worst a strange look to brush off and at best a conversation to have about intergenerational black feminist love in action. But in this case the fact that the officer could not believe our truth and was much more likely to believe that we were troublesome black teenagers joyriding across state lines in a stolen RV, could have been the difference between us driving through Mississippi and being locked up, or worse. We are inside a matrix where to be black and feminist, to be black and driven by love, where to be black queer women on the move together is unbelievable from the perspective of the state. And we still live in a time when to be black, queer, brilliant, feminist, driven, to be incredible, unbelievable, stunning, to be exactly who we are, is a threat to the state and a risk to our lives.

Officer writing a "courtesy warning" to us for being "odd" in Mississippi.

The Story:

While driving on 1-20 in Mississippi a police officer from the interstate crime division pulled us over, citing a traffic concern: our following distance. Once we were pulled over, he asked us who owned the RV and what we were doing. We explained that we bought the RV, which is in my name, together with the support our community in order to travel the country interviewing our elders. The officer then asked my partner to leave the RV and called for back up. He questioned us separately. He asked us several times where we were going, how we got the money to be able to travel, how did we find these so-called elders, why would we want to visit them, was this for school, where did we live, how were we going to get back home, how did we get connected to these so-called black feminists, how did we know there were black feminists in the southern and western states we were planning to travel, and who are we to each other.

To see the whole article and join the conversation visit:


Sunday, February 06, 2011

Lending and Reference Library! Coming Soon!!!!

Greetings loved ones!!!!

We are in the final stages of opening something called the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind Reference and Lending Library in my community (out of my living room) so that people can have access to great books that can inspire and empower them to think about race and gender and sexuality and politics and everything that they may want to think about more. I'm particularly collecting books that are not in the local libraries and I'll be having library days starting in March in addition to the events I have here at the Inspiration Station when folks can look at the reference books, scan themselves copies of articles and chapters and borrow the lending collection to take home!

I'm really excited about it. Since this summer when I started the process over 700 books have been donated!

You can see the books that I have entered so far (about half) here:

You can see the books that we are still "wishing for" on this amazon wishlist:

Hooray! Maybe you'd like to donate some books that you already have? Email me at brokenbeautifulpress at gmail dot com. OR maybe you'd like to start your own lending and reference library in your community? OR if you live in Durham...maybe you'd like me to show you how you can catalog the books that you can share! Get in touch!

Much much love and booklust to everybody!!!


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Bootcamp Podcast: The Sound of Mothering Ourselves

Loved ones!!!! For those of you who didn't get to participate in the MotherOurselves Bootcamp in Durham NC this January here is a podcast featuring the insights of the participants and some beautiful music!!! Playlist below.


direct link:

Also know that for the next week...if you become an Eternal Summerian (monthly sustainer of the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind) your first gifts will be a mixtape of the meditations of release we did during the bootcamp and the motherourselves manual so that you can bring this work into your life and your community!!!

We can make something out of anything.

Insight from Mariel Eaves and

The Revenge of Ricky Williams "Sweet Wolf Shirt"

We recognize and nurture the creative parts of each other without always understanding what will be created.

"Dear Mom" by Adele Nieves and

Climbing Poetree "I Wonder"

We establish authority over our own definitions.

Affirmations from Miya Binta

Doria Roberts "Dying Man's Wish"

We claim power over who we choose to be, knowing that such power is relative within the realities of our lives.

Estas Mujeres: Covenant by Fabiola Sandoval

Amel Larrieux "All I Got"

We provide an attentive concern and expectation of growth, which is the beginning of that acceptance we came to expect only from our mothers.

"When I Crave Mama" by Fabiola Sandoval

Me'shell Ndegeocello "Solomon"

We affirm our own worth by committing ourselves to our own survival in our selves and in the selves of other black women.

"I Am My Mother's Daughter" by Rashida James-Saadiya

Lauryn Hill "If They Only Knew"

We refuse to settle for anything less than a rigorous pursuit of the possible in ourselves, at the same time making a distinction between what is possible, and what the outside world drives us to do in order to prove that we are human.

"Mother Ourselves" by Julia R. Wallace (JDub)

Santigold "Unstoppable"

We recognize our successes and are tender with ourselves even when we fail.

"My Mother Ourselves Covenant" by Dara Montaque

Res "Bittersweet"

We learn to love what we have given birth to by giving definition to, to be both kind and demanding in the teeth of failure as well as in the face of success without misnaming either.

"Letter of Release to the Next Generation" by Miya Binta

Erykah Badu "My Life"

We lay to rest what is weak, timid and damaged without despisal and we protect and support what is useful for survival. We explore the difference together.

"Mother as Savior" by Miya Binta

Georgia Ann Muldrow "Runway"

We stand toe-to-toe inside rigorous loving and speak what has always seemed like the impossible to each other.

Truth Booth Conversation between Miya Binta and Manju Rajendran

Tata Vega, "Miss Celie's Blues"

As we speak the truth to each other it become unavoidable to ourselves.

ESG "Keep on Moving"

Infinite love,