Archive for March, 2010
I first met Toni Cade Bambara in 1989 at the “Parallels and Intersections: Racism and Other Forms of Oppression” conference sponsored by the multi-racial and multi-ethnic Women Against Racism Committee (WAR). I was a 30-year old budding activist, on the scene sharpening my movement building skills and developing myself as a critical thinker at the feet of brilliant feminist women of color.
“Are you sure, sweetheart, that you want to be well? [Salt Eaters]
At the time I met Bambara my loosely formed tresses had not locked in yet. Sistah Bambara approached me at the WAR conference to comment on my locs and to exchange tips for grooming our hair. We agreed that for us locking (her twists) was a meditation not merely a fashion. I was familiar with her literary and activist work but not her physical appearance, therefore I was not aware that I was talking with TONI CADE BAMBARA not until after our conversation and later in the day when she approached the podium to address the conference.
The gentle sistah who approached me introduced herself simply as “Toni”. I recall her as possessing a profoundly LOVING and compassionate vibration. The woman in this photo with her was a community activist from somewhere deep in the mid-west, like me, she was elated to be at the conference, momentarily out of isolation (I’d been living in a semi-rural town) and undoubtedly excited to meet Bambara. To this day, I fondly recall the grace and power of our honorable ancestor Toni Cade Bambara, her life work, her being, and the impact she made on my soul case.
Yes, Sistah Bambara, I am sure I want to be well…and I AM WELL, in large part because of your DIVINE BEING. I place at your feet my offering of baby loc w/cowrie & hematite, white sage and lapis luzili. May the ancestors continue to cool your brow.
Honor and praises.
Hugh Masekela performed at the W.A.R. conference. In tribute to another ancestor Miriam Makeba I offer this musical dedication in celebration of their lives.
Earlier this week I participated on an intergenerational panel of WOC of varying backgrounds and identities. The panelist were invited to participate in a discussion of Audre Lordes’ essay “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power”, in an undergraduate course on Black feminist thought. The class was comprised of young women of color from 18 years old up to 29 years old. My heart was warmed by the sincerity and appreciation these young women showed for Lorde’s powerful essay and the oral stories us elderfolk shared with them. The instructor asked us to speak on whatever passage in the essay that resonated with us.
I chose this excerpt:
The erotic is a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honor and self-respect we can require no less of ourselves.
I then proceeded to recite these words:
Bull dagger, dyke, bull dyke, homosexual, queer, lesbian, lezzie, and so on.
I then shared with the circle my process for getting in touch with the chaos of my strongest feelings and ultimately learning how to walk in my truth and power.
Today I received a voice mail message from the course instructor informing me that a young Black student (18 yrs) mustered the courage to come out to herself and to the class due largely in part to my speaking candidly about my sexual identity. She had never witnessed a Black woman speaking joyously, exuberantly and unapologetically about Black lesbian sexuality, the experience allowed her to step OUT.
Well sistern, I can’t think of a BETTER way to end this week!
Oba ase Audre Lorde
Celebrating Our Past, Present, and Future
March 13-14, 2010 | MLK Student Union | UC Berkeley
Saturday, March 13, 2010
9:30 AM-5:30 PM
Sunday, March 14, 2010
9:30 AM-2:30 PM
The 25th Anniversary Empowering Women of Color Conference (EWOCC) entitled: Intergenerational Wisdom: Celebrating Our Past, Present, & Future, returns on March 13-14, 2010 to the UC Berkeley Campus to honor the legacy of women of color in the U.S., celebrate the struggles of women of all ages, and provides a space for growth, empowerment, and practical tools for everyday life. This year, the nation’s oldest and largest women of color conference will focus on embracing our collective histories, acknowledging our impact on the present, and supporting our lifelong development across generations. The two-day conference will be dedicated to issues affecting women at every stage of their lives with workshops, speakers, panels, performances, networking, and vendors of interest to all age groups.
L.A. jazz heads know ALL about this brother. Bay Area folks don’t miss this performance. Okay…I’ve told you so.
When: March 18
Where: Yoshi’s SF
Listen & watch the Babatunde Lea Quintet