“A particularly evil thing about racism is its ability to make Black women feel alone.”
“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.
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.
The podcast is here! It’s the Arthur Mitchell, founder of Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH), Tribute aired Wednesday, September 26, 2018 on AfroBeat Radio. Now you can listen to an edited version of the Tribute. Enjoy as DTH’s Artistic Director, Virginia Johnson and former dancers Karen Brown, Dr. Adesola Akinleyke, Dion Wilson, and Lorraine Grave share their life as dancers, students, and mentees pay tribute to the late Arthur Mitchell!
Wuyi Jacobs (host of AfroBeat Radio) and I co-produced this show and podcast: https://www.afrobeatradio.com/arts-entertainment/2018/12/3/arthur-mitchell-mar-27-1934-19-2018-a-tribute
On Monday December 3, 2018 Arthur Mitchell Memorial took place at Riverside Church. In 2019 Dance Theatre of Harlem will Celebrate 50 Years. Join in the Celebration!!
Sunday, January 14, 2018, 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. at Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center
“Conceived by choreographer Camille A. Brown in 2014 and presented in partnership with Dance/NYC, The Gathering serves as an open forum for intergenerational black female artists to support one another and to advocate for greater cultural equity and acknowledgment in the contemporary dance world. ”
I am pleased to have produced the interview with GirlTrek Founders T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison with AfroBeat Radio Host, Wuyi Jacobs as part of the Critical Joy Series. GirlTrek aims to have Black women walkers “1 Million strong by 2020.”
AfroBeat Radio at BROOKLYN COMMONS, 388 ATLANTIC AVENUE, BETWEEN BOND & HOYT STREETS, BROOKLYN, NY 11217
REGISTER at the door. More Information: HERE
Though embodied practices that center on African Diasporic (Black) body technologies of reasoning in and through ecstatic joy, CJ/ER workshop is an exploration and examination of critical joy that is embodied and thereby potentially resurrective. In CJ/ER workshop the body’s abilities are directed to manufacture (real and/or imagined) spaces/place for reconstruction, reconfiguration, and realignment of self-to-self, self-to-community, and self-to-divine. CJ/ER workshop participants will be guided through techniques and experience processes for igniting Critical Joy/Ecstatic Reasoning into daily life, and discovery and re/imagine inner embodied resources for navigating through and making sense of life in a problematic world.
When: 8:30 – 10:00 pm Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Where: BROOKLYN COMMONS, 388 ATLANTIC AVENUE, BETWEEN BOND & HOYT STREETS, NYC 11217
REGISTER at the door. More information HERE
Rest in Peace….
Some years ago (no need to mention how many), I began a journey with the explicit translation of text to movement/dance. If I am being honest, my choreographic process, for as far back as I can remember, always began with the translation of the images in my head and/or sensations in my body to text. I would then, through numerous studio sessions, translate the text to movement/dance and in the process sculpt out the essence of a story. It is for this reason, I have journal loads of choreo-text, some became fully realized dance works, while others await their dance life.
My collaboration with Joanne Kilgour Dowdy began in the latter years of the 1990s when we were both based at Georgia State University. In that first collaboration we translated her PhD dissertation to dance. During subsequent years we collaborated on other projects, one of which was Carmen Montana: a story of literacy on the move. Base on the true story of an adult literacy student’s struggle to gain literacy and self actualize, the making of Carmen Montana took Dowdy and I on our own powerful journey. On this video the then Dr. Dowdy, now Professor of Literacy Studies School of Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Studies at Kent State University, Ohio, interviews me about the rehearsal process of Carmen Montana: a story of literacy on the move.