Wednesday, April 4, 2012
About a month ago, I turned 30.
My birthday was nothing more than a tale of voodoo and mischief and it had been a long while since I'd laughed that hard. It was a very special surprise to have so many people in attendance.
We ambushed my regular birthday joint, Royal Bangledesh, with 20 folks (the early headcount and reservation number), however, they weren't prepapared for us......and their other innumerable Friday night parties. We had to make some guerilla-style endeavors just to get menus, but we managed to fill our bellies and have a fabulous time. And as the festivities grew, and the wine (and whiskey!) were flowing, so did the people. After the restaurant take-over,(and after wine bottles were opened on the front stoop) the party drama parade commenced at a nearby bar, where we got our late night party on. It is apparent that the need for decadence was urgent for most of us that evening. Delicious.
Again my laughter was almost overwhelming (still laughing) and I am warmly and eternally grateful to EVERYONE in attendance.
I am fortunate to have so many special and loving people in my life.
Since then, I have experienced several revelations. Intense identity crises, deep love for myself, and also deep examination of my previous thirty years. It's been tough for me to realize that I have even lived 30 years and also simultaneously humbling. I hope I can remember it all. I probably don't. Somehow I feel responsible for every second within my past three decades. But because certain experiences are over, does not mean that they did not happen and I will not remember them. History does not require history books, it just requires repetition. And after the last 30 years, I think it's safe to say that I am willing to learn from my history. Learning by provoking change instead of repetition. Learning by stepping forward. Learning by speaking up. My life has been comprised of interesting, amazing, harmful, exciting, and liberating people, experiences, and LIVES. And I think that I am within my 13th. Life, that is. The Lucky Number. My rebel heart has brought upon most of the risks, happiness...and suffering...and I wouldn't change a thing. And as outspoken as I am, or claim to be, the truth is, I have been the author of my own silence for 30 years. My tiny hand is on the volume button and hopefully my voice will crescendo louder into all of your ears.
One day, you will hear me. Unless you already have. My voice has a tendency to shout before I can adjust the sound.
Or maybe you will even read what I have to say. Like now.
Nonetheless, I am finding myself at some level of one. This oneness should be almost divorced of a feminist lense, if you will. This exploration is provoking me to explore a separate existence. A concept of oneness that is simultaneously a belief in sisterhood, but also coupled with individuality.
And....suddenly, there was ONE.
These thoughts have led me face to face with Frida. One of her self portraits. Singular Frida. In a suit, surrounded by clippings of her own hair. Self Portrait with Cropped Hair. A piece filled with pain, transition, love, confusion, release, and HAIR. These words I use are thoughts, and also based on my presumptions. Here is another word. Joyful. This should be included.
If I could change the title of this self portrait, I would call it,
Talking to Myself.
drawings and scribbles, scribbles and drawings
Below are my delayed thoughts on Beyond Visibility, feminism, and otra brain matter. Most of which was written a few months prior, therefore pure and exceptionally honest. Please be gentle when examining my axis. Ah, that's what she said.
BEYOND VISIBILITY HAPPENED!!!
Honestly, I glow as I write this and immediately begin to recollect. I spent the afternoon truly humbled by the femme presence. I am so grateful for the opportunity to facilitate. It returned me (fearfully!) to ownership via community organizing and DAMNIT, I liked it. I am ready for more.
We called it "Aligning and Illuminating Femmes"...and it sure did. I felt re-acquainted with a community I didn't realize I needed so much. And could also be so incredibly triggered by. And I LOVED that. My wheels were turning for dayz...
Topics surrounding working class, intersectionality, survivors...
I found that as much as we all wanted to "kick it" in solidarity, there were still some feelings. Processing needed to happen. And of course, may not have been fulfilled in one afternoon. As an individual that "passes", whether I want to or like it, found myself stunned by the feeling of being on display as a facilitator and just being OUT. As queer, as black, as femme-identified. It was powerful. And full disclosure, I boundaried myself and my Erica emotions by not reading my work that afternoon. I had an essay that I had been fine-tuning and was dying to share, but found myself handling my self in enormous ounces that I knew that I would feel diminished post the experience...with minimal opportunity to release or relaxe. I am not sure if this was my objective, but I am able to recognize my own red flags and decided to wave them. In solidarity.
The power in not just identity, but identifying...is incredible. And audacious. Both things that I enjoy staring directly into. The Abyss of understanding, perhaps? Methinks that connection at that point was too connected.
Three of my femme identified youth came and blessed the Femmes of Color Caucus with their brilliance and positivity.
"This is A LOT." Nefertiti Martin
I quote her because I fel that she said so simply what everyone felt. It WAS a lot. And that's okay. I hope we can begin from here.
When I had to dip out for nourishment, Aisha (my AMAZING Women's Task Force intern), coordinated the Caucus by asking femmes to define what makes them "femme" in one word. The feeling of the room changed considerably as I re-entered to give a time check after disappearing for a bit. Perhaps because my hungry melodrama had exited, or more appropriately because we let the youth take the lead.
I am ready for more events like this. I think we can all agree that it was one entire day of 4 events: skillshare/brunch; fishbowl/breakout groups; caucauces; literay salon; and caberet/party. Whew! So femme, so spectacular. I look forward to a weekend of similar programming!
accidental feminist thoughts
I have found myself consistently invoking the musings of my previous sisters leaving me to contemplate educating our brown girls. Such a wanton outcry (a la bell hooks' yearning!), from the youth I work with, but also within myself. Call it over-identifying or just call it detectingtheneedforaDETECTIVE. The fearful feminist is in search of some answers. My outcry for sisterhood grows stronger and my desire to redefine feminism is overwhelming. A movement IS upon us...and now it's up to US to get it poppin.
More specifically, I am seeking the deconstruction of the myth and the truth of the "strong black woman". Been wondering how many black women, girls, trans women and girls, and other gender non-conforming black woman identified folks can relate to its mythical quality. Duty and presumption continue to astound, confuse, and infuriate me. This is a current project. And like most projects, it found me. Mostly because it IS ME.
grad school plans
I have offically begun the doctorate crawl. Officially, as in, I have plugged in some names of schools into my search engine and made some lists. As usual, the omnivore is having trouble deciding. And my search engine consists of google, but also the genuis minds of my colleagues, pals, party goers, acquaintances and new strangers. So, if you you've got any suggestions for a decidedly disoriented artist/thinker interested in anthropology, gender, sociology, education, and ART ART ART....then hit me up.
I complete this post with a pictures of folks that make up my Femme Root Equation. After much processing ...and over-processing...my equation consists of this:
Clorinda Bradford + Denise Huxtable + Annie Hall
Divided by Brandon Boyd,
And multiplied by Sesame Street's own Abby Cadabby.
All equalling good old E DAWGS.