Death and Dance

Death: A demanding dance partner, easy to ferocious jealousy and vengefulness when ignored. Death deserves the honor and reverence of its central place in the life cycle of the living.  Cultures around the world have historically understood that studied attention to death is essential for the forging of communities in which members can productively negotiate livable lives and well-being.  Ceremonies around death require that song, dance, laughter, drink,  and verbal roasting of the life that has transitioned to that ultimate Other, death.  With death a family, a community,  enters into a full-bodied dance of paradoxical reality and imaginings of the dead’s past, present, and future relationship with, to and in the community.   In between the one-two rock, the moans that sings and screams, whimpers, the wailings and chest beating, hand wringing and twisting,   the dialogue between the death and life is marked by bodies, on bodies, between, in-between and beyond bodies in full embodiment.  Death will dance time and again with the living, and the living will, however reluctantly, dance.

The two writers, Toni Morrison and Paule Marshall, served as beacons in my life. They helped me understand that there was language, and that language can be molded and manipulated, to articulate my experience as an African Diaspora girl/woman moving through multiple spaces of un-belonging. And, my two aunts, separated by a decade in age, kept me in deep belonging, never allowing me to mis-remember family history and my place in it. As this summer 2019 comes to a close, I dance in recognition and honor of the lives of these four amazing women.

Sharing this: Dance: (From Sept. 19, 2018) DTH Founder Arthur Mitchell Dies at 84 — BDBB: The Black Dance and Broadway Blog

(This post was originally posted on my Facebook page to mark the death of DTH Founder Arthur Mitchell on Sept. 19, ,2018) Somewhere back in Chicago at my mom’s house, there is a photo of me in all my little 10-year-old impishness, standing in front of the Dance Theatre of Harlem next to Arthur Mitchell. […]

via Dance: (From Sept. 19, 2018) DTH Founder Arthur Mitchell Dies at 84 — BDBB: The Black Dance and Broadway Blog

A Twisting Journey From the Archives to (hopefully) the Public

Please take some time to read both articles:

Black history is for sale in Chicago.  Whoever owns the culture, controls the narrative
Jenee Osterheldt

Ebony’s Photo Archives Were on the Verge of Being Hidden Away Forever.   Now They Will Be Made Public
Julie Bosman

Black Religion

Among the things I consider urgent in 2019 the re-visioning of the ways in which the Black Religions and Black religious traditions respond to the lives, needs and concerns of of those most vulnerable in their congregations and in society as a whole.  Note: I hadn’t intended this to be my first post of 2019, but I had scheduled the post many weeks ago and quite literally forgot about it.  At the end of 2018 I posted the reflections of my friend Melissa as she journeyed through her annual 30 days of Thanks. Though Melissa had ritually  for years conducted similar journeys, she had always done so privately.  For 2018 she went public, sharing her journey with friends and making suggestions for financial activism.  With her permission I posted her journey, delivering a different type of public sharing than she initially imagined, but one in which she embraced.

Melissa’s journey is thought-provocation and riveting,  challenging notions of faith, religion adherence, and hope in brutally honest ways. In calling out the Black church and Black spirituality in contemporary society, Melissa challenged the Black church while calling on its legacy of resilience and hope in her work to move forward to build a better world for herself, her daughter, and her community of diverse fellows.  Simply put she is demanding a that the legacy that served to make her, serves to make her, and others who are of it, better.

I understand Melissa’s call.  For several years I have been in a spiritual research, learning ,and sharing mode, eking out deep knowledge from the backwaters of spiritual masters in order to help nourish the mammoth of spiritual waves necessary to heal and nurture a people in these times.    I have sat at the feet, tables, and in the pews of those promising to teach more than preach, question more than answer, build more that present.  And, I have attended conferences in which academic knowledge is matched with embodied inquiry and/or seek to explain or examine intersections of spirituality, The church, and Blackness. The March of 2018 Black Religions, Spirituality and Culture Conference at Harvard was one such conference.

In 2019 the challenge of putting the knowledge gained to work is at hand.  Not just for me, but for all those like myself who have been preparing, hoping, praying.  The time is at hand and the need is great.  My hopes of goodwill and kindness goes out to all, especially Melissa.