April 1, 2020

This is the age of Coronavirus/COVID 19. The privilege of breathing is on the forefront of everyone’s mind. The air is cleaners because a force so small it is imperceptible to the human eye has literally put the world on pause, caught between breaths, waiting to exhale.

At this moment I find all language inadequate.  Its inadequacy is both irreverent and irrelevant, for use, however crude and imperfect, must be made of it.  At least this is where I have now landed.  

For weeks (more precisely months) I have fumbled and foiled in my attempts to convert thoughts, feelings, a way of being in this new world of ours into language.  Failure after failure, bumps after bumps, I have been wholly discouraged, disappointed, disheartened, and dispirited by language’s inability and impotency. I have been terrorized with brutal imaginings, fear that ultimately I could write nothing – at least nothing worthy of that which I seek to describe, reflect on, analyze, and deconstruct in order to find a way forward.  NO!!! ways forward/backwards/sideways/upside-down ways to transform this present moment through language (written, oral, and embodied) that speaks into healing, health, resistants, joy!!   I seek language that disentangles from rhetoric of disease, denial, destruction and breaths life into this and the next moment.   And yet…

Today I start here:  

Eric Garner’s “I can’t breathe”echoes through corridors and waiting rooms of hospitals, care centers and homes around the world:  And in a multitude of languages, across times zones, and age-range, the reverberation of  ‘I can’t breathe’ hangs in the air,  haunting the contemporary moment.  This is the age of Coronavirus/COVID 19.  The privilege of breathing is on the forefront of everyone’s mind.  The air is cleaners because a force so small it is imperceptible to the human eye has literally put the world on pause, caught between breaths,  waiting to exhale.  And Garner’s cosmic reckoning is upon us, bring the world’s economy to its knees as everyone fears that next inhalation will be an ill-fated journey to that final gasp “I can’t breathe.”   The weight of the virus is on our necks, we are in the preverbal chokehold, and even atheists are praying that the last time they saw their loved ones will not be the last time of having seen their loved ones;  and if loss must be had, if Garner must die as he did, let it be someone else’s breath that is aborted, let someone else be sacrificed to the ritual fight that ends in a whole bodied “I can’t breathe”. 

Who will we be after millions across the globe (including our own near and far) have succumbed,  when we are all madmen from grief, catastrophic loss,  and survival guilt?  How will we protect innocence (our own and others) when we have already perverted innocence and turned it on itself?  What type of global community will we build from this fear of breathing and from the enormous threat of unchecked hatred and biases embodied in the micro and macro?  What dances will be create to immunize us against external harm and from internal afflictions?  

On Race and Health

Racial discrimination isn’t just harmful as it happens—its effects can linger for years. Tufts researchers recently found that people exposed to racial discrimination during early childhood were more likely to develop cardiovascular health issues compared to those who never experience discrimination, or who experienced discrimination later in life.

One of the most dynamic conversations taking place in and around fields of health and wellbeing is to what extent does racism contribute to the health and wellbeing of an individual across a lifetimes. For African living in the diaspora, and specifically in diaspora spaces largely constructed by colonial paradigms in place to protect and uphold white identity and whiteness through acts of physical and psychic assaults on black and brown bodies.

Researchers are gathering new evidence on the effects of experiences of racism and when along the life course these experiences are most detrimental. Read more below:

By Dominique Ameroso June 13, 2019 

“Racial discrimination isn’t just harmful as it happens—its effects can linger for years. Tufts researchers recently found that people exposed to racial discrimination during early childhood were more likely to develop cardiovascular health issues compared to those who never experience discrimination, or who experienced discrimination later in life.” Click to Read More!

Day 8, 2019

You will be anything, everything, and sometimes all things to hold up the arms of your sister and give her strength.

My Sarong Sisters and The Sacred Sarong Sisterhood 

Author: Melissa Barber

Happy Eighth Day of Thanks Everyone!

Today, I give thanks for my “sarong” sisters and friends around the globe who do the wonderful work of saving the lives of women and babies. 

 If you were part of last year’s journey, you’d remember that on Day 25, I told you about my kick behind sisterhood of women (and men) from the Birthing Project USA, who is building our national and international underground railroad for new life, saving women and their babies. (If you missed it, don’t worry! You can buy the book, which is in the publisher’s hands as I write and will be released soon enough, to catch up.) What I didn’t tell you is that, during our annual conferences our sisterhood has a secret, special ceremony.  (I won’t tell you the details of our ceremony-nosey!- because then it wouldn’t be a secret anymore.)

Close your eye. (Of course, after you read this paragraph.)  Just trust me! Imagine walking into a room that is decorated with a huge circle of chairs. Each chair is filled with one sarong with the most beautiful color patterns that you have ever seen. You are bound to find one with your favorite color or colors in it which perfectly match with an outfit or coat of yours. The sarongs are made of a thin layer of the most fluid cotton material that waves with the ocean breeze. Some of them even have an added finishing touch of frills.  Within the circle of chairs, you see at least two or a maximum of three sarongs that match each other.  You have no idea what to expect because you have no idea what the details of the ceremony are but you just feel a nostalgia of excitement in anticipation of what’s next, hoping that what’s next is that you get to choose which chair (with your favorite sarong) you can sit in.  

 What you don’t know is that you have to choose your chair (and sarong) wisely. When you choose to sit in a seat with a particular sarong, that sarong is choosing your soul SisterFriend for life. Your soul SisterFriend is the soldier with whom you will walk out life. Not only will you save other women and babies together, but you will grow together, pray for each other, and do ministry together. You will give each other advice, wise counsel, and even help raise family together. You will be anything, everything, and sometimes all things to hold up the arms of your sister and give her strength.  The Sarong Sisterhood is a sacred sisterhood whose mission is binding. (So choose wisely!)

I met my first sarong sister (I think over seven years now) and we are exactly like what I have described to each other.  We live in two different time zones and have a great physical distance from each other, but in the business of our lives we make sure that we do life together.  I’m pretty sure we’ll keep doing life together until one of us takes our last breath.  She is superwoman! She holds down full time ministry, her full-time job, her earring making side hustle (she loves big earrings like me!), and her husband and five children, two of which just got sent off to college. She manages to empower women and girls every day while still looking like she is not a day older than twenty five. (She is my inspiration.)  

Every annual conference that I have gone to, without her there, she makes sure (basically, threatens) that I don’t bring our sarong to gift to another SisterFriend (sorry Mama that sarong is on lock!)  During last year’s ceremony, I was so proud of myself. I was able to let go (you all know my issues with letting go already from Day 9 of last year’s journey.  If not, you gotta get the book!) and gift my second favorite sarong to a new international soul SisterFriend. When I explained to her the importance and sacredness of our sarong sisterhood and what that sarong meant to me, she pledged to take good care of our sarong and continue to do the bad-ass work she is doing with her sister, Ms. Zubaida Bai, at the company AYZH. They provide thousands of Safety Birth Kits to women in the most remote places in the world so that they can give birth to healthy babies in non-sterile conditions. A SafeBirth kit is a small pocketbook that contains all the essential medical supplies (a plastic mat, gloves, soap, razor, and clamp) which allow for a clean, safe, childbirth when there may be no hospitals around for miles.(Remember this work is important because every two minutes, 60 women die in childbirth due to unsanitary conditions and infections.)  I know that my new international sarong sister (soul Sisterfriend) is upholding and uplifting the sacredness of our Sarong Sisterhood tradition of loving and saving women and children’s lives wherever she is in the world.  And I’m proud to be her Sarong Sister. Today as I give thanks for my sarong sisters and pay homage to our sacred sarong sisterhood, I’m sure you have already guessed that I am highlighting the Birthing Project USA: The Underground Railroad for Life (Birthing Project USA)
Birthing Project USAWe envision a world in which we have the freedom to define ourselves, birth our babies, and live our healthiest …

I am asking that each of you sponsors at least one SafeBirth Kit for $5 (a cup of coffee) so that a baby somewhere in the world can enjoy a safe, healthy entry into his/her life.

 Love Ya, 

Have  A Great Day of Thanks!

Dancing Life…2

It’s reminded me that religion is not just ideology; it’s culture. So when I visit my grandparents in Jamaica, I could say, “I’m not going to go to church with you on Sunday,” but that feels like it’s against the culture. It’s definitely made me see the importance of spiritual thinking (Kyle Marshall).

Dancing life

The story of the (still unfolding) life of an African-American woman living in the predominantly white worlds of ballet, modern dance, and Broadway, while facing challenges, heartbreaks, and triumphs as she attempts to shatter the stereotypically classical mold and celebrate her evolution into an unapologetic body, (Francesca Harper).

Dormeshia!

THE FRANCESCA HARPER PROJECT

2019 MacArthur Foundation Genius Fellows

There are twenty-six 2019 MacArthur Foundation Genius Fellows, featured below are a select few – two of whom I have had to pleasure to dialogue with at some point in time and one whose work directed me to important discoveries during my PhD research. Please click on their photos to find out more about them. My Congratulations to all of the 2019 MacArthur Fellows!! I believe in one way or another we are all better human being because of your courage and perseverance in sharing your gifts! Thank you.

Sujatha Baliga, 48, attorney and restorative justice practitioner
Walter Hood, 61, landscape and public artist
Kelly Lytle Hernández, 45, historian
Emmanuel Pratt, 42, urban designer, co-founder of Sweet Water Foundation
Saidiya Hartman, 58, literary scholar and cultural historian

“Dancing in Blackness, A Memoir” wins the 2019 Selma Jeanne Cohen Prize in Dance Aesthetics

DIBHO_JODY

The American Society for Aesthetics is pleased to announce the winner of the 2019 Selma Jeanne Cohen Prize in Dance Aesthetics, Dancing in Blackness: A Memoir, by Halifu Osumare, published by the University Press of Florida in 2018.

Dr. Halifu Osumare is Professor Emerita in the Department of African American and African Studies (AAS) at University of California, Davis, and was the Director of AAS from 2011-2014. She has been a dancer, choreographer, arts administrator, and scholar of black popular culture for over forty years. With a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, and an MA in Dance Ethnology from S.F. State University, she is also a protégé of the late renowned dancer-anthropologist Katherine Dunham and a Certified Instructor of Dunham Dance Technique.

She has been recognized as one of the foremost scholars of global hip-hop, publishing The Africanist Aesthetic in Global Hip-Hop: Power Moves in 2007 and, and The Hiplife in Ghana: West African Indigenization of Hip-Hop in 2012, after her 2008 Fulbright Fellowship at the University of Ghana, Legon. She has published numerous journal articles and book chapters on hip-hop, dance, and Katherine Dunham.

The prize was established in 2008 in memory of Selma Jeanne Cohen, and with enormous gratitude for her generous bequest to the ASA. The $1000 prize is awarded every year, for critical articles or books of distinction in dance aesthetics, dance theory, or the history of dance published in English.

Dr. Osumare will be presented with the prize at the 77th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Aesthetics in Phoenix October 9-12, 2019. She also will be honored at the annual Dance Scholars Breakfast at the meeting.

Read more here: https://aesthetics-online.org/news/458801/ASA-Announces-2019-Selma-Jeanne-Cohen-Prize-in-Dance-Aesthetics.htm

Book Release Party – Kenrya Rankin +Akiba Solomon

Information on this page source from Colorlines Magazine, published by RaceForward

Fight WS

“The fact is, White supremacy defines our current reality. It is not merely a belief that to be White is to be better. It is a political, cultural and economic system premised on the subjugation of people who are not White. That subjugation takes on an infinite number of forms and is enforced with varying degrees of physical violence, mental abuse and robbery. White supremacy is the voice in our collective heads that says it makes civilized sense that one group of people gets to annihilate, enslave, incarcerate, brainwash, torture, sterilize, breed and terrorize other people. White supremacy establishes, upholds and normalizes hierarchy based on the premise that the less Black you are the closer you are to God.”

“[T]his is a book about freedom dreams. We’re well aware of the problems we’re buried beneath. We can feel the weight of them on our limbs, the heft of them in our abdomens as our second brains gnaw on the indignity of it all. But what does it look like for Black people to claw our way to fresh air? What does freedom feel like? How does it taste on the tongue? For some folks in this book, it feels like raising kids who gleefully take up space for themselves. For others, it looks like providing the tools we need to triumph over race-based trauma. There’s the pastor who envisions a day when following his radical, dark-skinned Jesus who always sides with the dispossessed will lift us out of this hole, and the organizer who can almost smell the sharp aroma of reforming the nation’s political system. And we can’t forget the professor who dreams of the day when we can bring our full selves to every table.”

Excerpted from “How We Fight White Supremacy: A Field Guide to Black Resistance” by Kenrya Rankin and Akiba Solomon, available now