Black Girls Be Attending Cultural Stuff: DanceAfrica 2012

Just got home from Dance Africa with my bestest friend. (No really we have been friends for 20 years in September and Im not even 25 yet) And because my lovely mother washed my phone in the washing machine the other day I have been phoneless or I would have taken photos to share with yall.

SIDE NOTE:

Being phoneless in a society where we are addicted to the illusion of connectivity and communication shows you just how much of an illusion it really is. Because no matter how many followers I have or “friends” on Twitter this weekend I was alone.  I only spoke to my mother, father, 1 of my brothers, my grandmother and three friends.  Being phoneless shows you who really cares about your life and who just wants to know about your life.  There is a difference.  I have enjoyed the peace and quiet without that ever gnawing feeling that if I dont check my phone I may miss something. Life is happening all around me. I dont want to miss that.

Ok Im back.  So we went to Dance Africa at the Brooklyn Academy of Music otherwise known as BAM.  Its their 150th year of operation and they have this really great marketing campaign “BAM and then it hits you” Here is one of my favorites:

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Im a sucker for dance photos.  But yeah we went and there was a street bazaar around BAM with people selling all of the normal ethnic wares; jewelry, t-shirts, art, body lotions and oils and food. Oh the food!!!  I ended up buying a conch shell ring, a wrap skirt, 3 pairs of earrings and a picture.  Then we went to the dance performance which was in BAM’s big beautiful theatre and it was absolutely amazing.  I love to watch young people do African dance.  Some of those girls were as young as 7 or 8 and all I could think about is in about 15 years that will be my son or daughter.  My ancestors survived the Middle Passage, slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, The 60’s AND Reagan but along the way our native identity was lost.  But when the drumming starts there is something inside me that wakes up like recognizing an old friend. Hey, I know you! So its awesome to watch and be a part of.  Furthermore (comma) they was gettin it!!! Do you hear me!!?!! I mean feet, legs, arms, hair, heads just movin.  It took everything in me to stay in my seat! Powerful.  But the thing that I love most about these types of events is seeing my people and feeling a great sense of community. No fighting, no strife… just good looking men and women out enjoying the weather and each other and life.  Just enjoying life.

I also enjoyed a beef patty and a small fruit salad. Did you think I was gonna pass all that good smelling food and not get nothing?!? Pssht!! You must not know me very well.

Black Girls Be Thinkin: How Trayvon turned me into a Womanist

Its been 78 days since Trayvon Martin lost his life had his life stolen and somewhere in that 78 days I went from being a feminist to a womanist. Im not exactly sure when it happened but somewhere between the outrage, the fear, the questioning and the pontificating, it happened. No. Maybe it was the conversations at work, with family or friends that did it. Nope. I dont think that was it either.  I think it was walking behind my 13 year old brother in his hoodie knowing that some fearful and deranged racist could see him as a menace that did it.  And falling head over heels in love with my then manfriend’s 3 year old son didnt help at all.  Not even a little bit.

Yoko Ono once said that “Woman is the nigger of the world.” To which Pearl Cleage asked, “So what does that make the Black woman?… Double Nigger… Nigger-nigger” This dichtomy, or lack thereof is what informed the creation of womanism.  Alice Walker defined Womanist as:

1. From womanish.  (Opp. of “girlish,” i.e. frivolous, irresponsible, not serious.)  A black feminist or feminist of color.  From the black folk expression of mothers to female children, “you acting womanish,” i.e., like a woman.  Usually referring to outrageous, audacious, courageous or willful behavior.  Wanting to know more and in greater depth than is considered “good” for one.  Interested in grown up doings.  Acting grown up.  Being grown up.  Interchangeable with another black folk expression: “You trying to be grown.”  Responsible.  In charge. Serious.
2. Also: A woman who loves other women, sexually and/or nonsexually.  Appreciates and prefers women’s culture, women’s emotional flexibility (values tears as natural counterbalance of laughter), and women’s strength.  Sometimes loves individual men, sexually and/or nonsexually.  Committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female.  Not a separatist, except periodically, for health.  Traditionally a universalist, as in: “Mama, why are we brown, pink, and yellow, and our cousins are white, beige and black?” Ans. “Well, you know the colored race is just like a flower garden, with every color flower represented.”  Traditionally capable, as in: “Mama, I’m walking to Canada and I’m taking you and a bunch of other slaves with me.” Reply: “It wouldn’t be the first time.”
3. Loves music.  Loves dance.  Loves the moon. Loves the Spirit. Loves love and food and roundness.  Loves struggle. Loves the Folk.  Loves herself. Regardless.
4. Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender.

That is such a beautiful and comprehensive definition to me.  And the more I thought about Trayvon, the more womanism made sense to me.  Feminism caters to white middle and upper class women whose only oppression is that of their sex.  But what about those of us who could compete in multiple events in the “Oppression Olympics”?

Feminism causes one to choose and that is something I simply cannot do.  As much as I support equality for women I wouldnt survive without the Black man.  Even aside from my own personal and sexual preference, any male child that comes through my body will inevitably be one.  So I must stand up for their humanity as well. The lives of my future children depend on it.

So Rest in Power Trayvon. And Thank You.