Don’t Follow Black Women…Nourish Us. Please.

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The phrase “follow Black Women” should be modified to “Nourish Black Women”.  Women of African descent were brought to this country to work alongside our men, doing the work of men.

The tradition of African American Women has not been self care…it’s been forced nurturing of others in order to strive to just get the basic needs for our families. Our value, was defined by how well we produced while we were in forced servitude.

The African American community is having a 21st century online renaissance. Black women are at the forefront. For some white liberals, the phrase “Follow Black Women” has become a kind of anthem.

At the same time, Black women are dying young and more often from ailments grounded in constant stress. Now more than ever Black Women need nourishment.  We are not superhuman to be put on pedastals we are not magical. We break. We cry. We die.  (134 Black Women die EVERY DAY of heart disease. Every. Damn. Day.)

We African American women need to choose authentic joy.  Remember your joy, and those of you who are not African American woman also need you to choose authentic joy and focus on not following or depleting us, you need to PLEASE focus on unconditionally nurturing Black Women and Girls.

It can be as easy as saying “hello” in passing.  Saying “Thank you” and “Please”. Even simple actions like making kind eye contact and smiling are actions of unconditional nurturing.

It’s spring and the chakra of the season is called Manipura aka the Solar Plexus Chakra.  I imagine the sun activating the radiance of the Solar Plexus Chakra awakening during spring and growing during summer. What I love about the Sacral Chakra is the warrior energy.  Warm weather encourages vitality and a yearning to achieve and attract.  The other side of spring and summer energy is the servant energy.  Being constantly busy doing wears us out. Folks can possibly deplete themselves attempting to please other people in person AND on social media just for affirmations that we just sometimes can’t seem to give ourselves.

As spring rises on 2018 join the community of sustaining members of VisableBlackwoman productions and welcome art, music, creative writing and theater into your life as a daily personal practice of self-care.   I share recipes, Rhythm Therapy Rooftop video immersion mini sessions and more.  Your support enables me to create productions that make Black Women’s stories visible to preserve our legacies.  Because nobody can tell our stories like we can.

Every month I host a writing for self care 5 day online experience… RT Journal 2.

The focus in May is Joy.
It’s $8.00 for one course which lasts 5 days or you can enjoy once a month if you become a sustaining member of VisABleblackwoman productions.

CLICK HERE for RT Journal 2 Joy

CLICK HERE to join our community and support VisAbleblackwoman Productions.

Ashe.

J9

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Black Women in Service? Well first…

Since the election results in the Alabama race, these mantras are repeated among liberal progressives…”Let Black Women Lead” or “Follow Black Women”

The world of politics is the world of service.

Black Women in Amerikkka are always expected to serve.

Black women make 65 cents to every dollar that white men make. Even with that of that 65 cent to a dollar ratio, Black Women are continually expected by other groups and in our own communities to give money to help others.

I am a single child free single woman, I live in NY city and there are days where the only men who speak to me…are asking me for money.

From the homeless man on the street, to the clean air guy to the guy trying to get me to get my eyebrows threaded… I am seen as a resource.

Well, I am not a work horse to be used up until the stress of a life of services pushes me into an early grave. Hell no.

The way to our black Women first? Support our businesses. Invest in us. If you know a Black Woman who is fabulous; and know she is looking to be in a relationship; and you know eligible single men; don’t assume she isn’t dating; talk to her and see if she’d be interested in a blind date.

Allow Black Women opportunities to practice self care. Acknowledge our presence. Be kind. If a Black Woman is the only Black Women man in a room full of white people and you are white… say hello. Smile.

Wealth is created with community support. Think of ways you can personally support a Black Woman. And don’t ask her how to “support” her. Figure it out by being a friend.

When we invest in women globally, we see how communities thrive. Why not invest in Black Women Locally… and work with us to live the change we wanna se in this country.

Ashe

J9

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When You Believe in the Power of Imagination

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Once a month on Sundays when I’m in NYC, I try to make it to meditation class.   One of my favorite meditation teachers is Kadam Morten Clausen.  Kadam Morten is the  Resident Teacher at KMC-NYC, Eastern US National Spiritual Director for the New Kadampa Tradition.

The current meditation series Kadam Morten is leading is an introduction to Tantra.  Everything begins in the imagination.  Tantra in simple terms uses meditation to imagine the possible.  I’m really super simplyfiying here.

Reality is and always will be challenging.  Yes, we gotta face reality and at the same time allow ourselves time to create the future in our imagination.

For me, theater, dance meditation and music are vehicles I use for transformation on literally, a personal daily basis.

This week has been relentless and I’ve really had to work hard to remember to believe.  Just when my mind was just pounding me with fear, doubt and shame,  Lena Horne popped into my head.  I remembered Lena Horne as Glinda the good in the Wiz, singing to Dorothy…”If you believe”  with all those little babies dangling uncomfortably around her.

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The Wiz is spiritual.  Seriously!!!  Think about it.  Dorthy always looked outside herself to get home when in reality, she had the power all along, it took her friends, her community to help her find her way back to believing in the power of her own imagination.  The world she believed in was the world she was able to create.

It seems really simple, it’s not.  Transformation never is.  A belief can transform a fact into a different reality.  We see this happening every day…why not use that simple logic to create good in our lives.

Bohemoth corporations and systems all began as thoughts in someone’s mind.  Remember the superhero that lives in your imagination who believes.   If you need a little inspiration…. Click Here and experience Miss Diana Ross from the 1978 movie version of The Wiz…sharing the power of belief.

visAbleblackwoman productions officially launches Friday December 1, 2017…BELIEVE!!!

Ashe

J9

 

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The power of Active Silence and Embracing that the Problem…is always Me.

 

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I was a runner.  My Mom has always been a spanker.  Because of my inability to be silent in the face of perceived injustice…as a kid, I got spankings several times a week.  My older brother would come home from high school track practice when I was in elementary school and greet me with, “Hey Jeanine! How many beatin’s did you get today?”   I shared a room with my sister, who was also in high school when I was in elementary school, and she would regularly tell my mother whatever “bad” thing I had done and get her justice immediately.

My Mom would make me go pick a switch from a tree..or fetch my Dad’s thick leather belt and expected me to lay across this round white hassock to receive my spankings.

But I would not stay still and accept my punishment. I was a runner. My mom would chase me…and the rest of my family would laugh, and I’ve always remembered this injustice and a bit of me has always held anger in my heart toward my family for those experiences.

My parents 60’th anniversary was last Saturday. All they asked of me was to come to dinner with my siblings, sister in law and nephews.  the last time we were all together in one roof was about 4 years ago

My family is loud. Particularly the men.  In a world where the voices of black men are silenced, at home…they shout. Usually I debate the men in my family, I challenge them… and my black female voice creates chaos in the entire family system.  A woman with a voice in a conservative Christian family is a dangerous entity.  When I speak up, even defending the women in my family…the women in my family usually side with the men and everyone thinks the problem…is me.

This is an example of how religion provides the perfect platform for the patriarchy to thrive.  Women nurturing, listening,  cooking and cleaning, agreeing, while the menfolk pontificate loudly on the events of the world.

To avoid all of this I usually spend time away from my family of origin.  I go to Friendsgivings where  I go where I feel free.  But in my world, the imprint of my family is strong.  I pontificate passionately, I am loud, can be melodramatic, selfrighteous and in many circumstances have become the one who people run away from.

As I grow older, I see the value of time more clearly.  Each moment on this planet is limited. I’m at the age where my peers are going through their parents dying. I see the years on my parents bodies and I can no longer run.  I’ve lived long enough to be broken down by bad relationships, and when I lost everything, my Mother, Sister and Father were there to help me rebuild.  Now, my father did what men do, when I was at my lowest point, but my Mother and my Sister didn’t kick me when I was down, they raised me up. The women who are closest to me, never said “I told you so.”  During my low time, most of friends I chose in NYC were absent. It was my Mom, Sister, Dad and my mentor in NYC who is also a black woman who I could turn to for help. Black women, did not run when I needed a hand and I will always remember this.

This  non-Thanksgiving, I showed up away from my beloved NYC at my favorite time of year,  to be with my family of origin.  I made a promise to myself to practice mini vippasana meditations (vippasana meditation is a practice of seeing things as they realy are) when conversations occur that will turn into an argument if I choose to use my voice.  I decided to check my right to free speech at the door and find the times to be…quiet.

I did it. I did it, and it sucked for me.  There were times where I literally got out of my seat and left the room.

No one noticed, they all had a great time.

I returned to the room, stayed silent, helped with the cooking, accepted the compliments, cleared the table and washed the dishes while the men talked at each other and over the women.  I listened as they interrupted, laughed at the expense of others, cut off, shouted at the football game.  And as my siblings and their families were leaving, they all commented how great the day was…no arguements.

This was my gift to my family…my silence.    This one day of peace was a good one.

The next morning….

My brother, who is 10 years older than me, stopped by to pick up some left overs his family had left behind.  He works a night shift so my mom made him breakfast and as I was getting dressed I heard them talking.

I said good morning and got ready for the gym.  I procrastinated getting my things together slowly just taking my time.

When my brother was leaving, as he said goodbye  he joked…” I can’t leave without a good arguement with Jeanine!”  and he started to “tease ” me.  I don’t eat before I workout.  And I haddn’t eaten or even brushed my teeth yet, and here my brother was… “teasing” me, poking the tender protected parts that only family can agitate.  I responded and eventually we ended up in a literal yelling match.  All the work I had done to prepare for this trip, to make it through the day with family without a fight evaporated in this moment of anger.  My brother doesn’t fight fair and he said mean things that I will never be able to unhear and I sunk down to his level and did the same.  My mother of course tried to silence me and I heard my father from his easy chair chime in…. “Jeanine’s right!”  I out shouted my brother and this time, he was the one who ran.  COWARD!! I know you hear me COWARD  go ahead…run!!  I shouted at the empty space my brother had just occupied.  I looked at my elderly mother with anger as she looked back at me with disappointment and I thought “this is why I never wanted to have children”

In this house, with this family, I will always be the youngest daughter expected to be cute and quiet while the men are allowed to lead to be big, be bold be charasmatic. Yes, we love each other, but I not longer expect my family to ever understand or know the person I am. In this man run society where the value of a person is judged by how much money they make, until they may not see me excelling at my field in the way they view success…I may never be “big” in their eyes.

Untile I learn co-exist with the patriarcy in my family, anger will make me weak and destroy my relationship with them.  I have to get to the point where I authentically don’t have to prove anything to my family or seek their admiration.

I have to accept that the problem is never them.  The problem is ALWAYS me.

The simple act of my Mom Sister and Dad helping me when I was really down, forced me to appreciate that I have a solid family. No family is ever perfect.  A facet of maturity is knowing the impact of ones actions before reacting and allowing oneself to step back and be mindful, to think before speaking, instead of pushing forward to prove a point.

In hindsight I look back at the situation and say…okay the problem is me… I can see what I could have done instead of grounding in to my anger, taking the bait and getting into a fight.

My plan was to have gone to the 8:30am class at the gym.  If I had gotten my ass up and out the door and been at the gym… instead of procrastinating…you get the idea?  Instead I shot verbal daggers at my brother’s heart and sucuessfully deflated his male ego.

The words I allowed into the world that day,  will leave a lasting negative impact on my entire family of orgin.  I can’t take any of it back.

We live in a time where mean words and bombastic egos are splattered on our consicousness like rotten tomatoes on a clean wall.  Left unchecked it all stinks and rots.

As I work daily to resist this corrupt political system of things, I realize it all starts at home.  The first work to be done for me, is to be able to get along with my family of orgin without running.

I love and respect my family deeply and at the same time disagree with them on many things greatly.  My  ability to control my own mind and my reactions to ideas that piss me off will make me stronger.

What are my tools to live peacefully with my family of origin?
Meditation
Daily Exercise
Mindful Silence
Embracing that the problem is always gonna be me.i

I lay here in bed at 6:00 pm exhausted.  I reflect on what went wrong and think about how I can be better in the future. I celebrate the fact that for one day, my parents were able to see their children, grandchildren, and the spouses of their children, under the same roof sharing a meal in peace.  My silence contributed to the happiness of the moment.  If I can practice patience with myself when dealing with my family… I can practice active mindfulness with my family, I can do it everywhere in my life.

And for better or worse…I did not run.

Ashe

J9

 

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Oxygen Masks…Cutting cords

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135 Black Women die every day of heart disease.

Scores of  black men women and children are shot yearly by police.

Black Women, Men and Children coexist with systemic racism each day of our lives in America.

Our ancestors were brutalized, terrorized, raped, without consequence.

Some of us are forced to go to schools named after Confederate sadists who raped, tortured, terrorized, whipped, lynched our ancestors.

Brilliant Black women create a Black Lives Matter, The movement is called terrorist by a President.

June 2017…. a jury acquits the police officer who murdered Philando Casile and a group of artists decide to organize a March  in Washington for Racial Justice.  Observent Jewish people…protest because..of the date.  The Observant Jewish people rush to protest.

September 30, 1919 was a horrible day. 237 black men, women and children were lynched. The date of the March for Racial Justice was chosen for many reasons one of them was as as a day of reverence to honor the ancestors of these lost souls, these sharecroppers,  were murdered because they spoke up and requested…just requested their fair share.

Since the election the media has been focused on…

jobs in the rust belt

the opioid addiction in the flyover states

how the Democrats lost poor white voters.

And now…since the KKK rally everyone is focused on educating white people on race relations.

I decided a couple of years ago to stop trying to educate white people and focus on the health, wellness and building support networks for Black women and girls.

With this Charlottesville White Liberal racism exists “awakening”  all kinds of white people from my past have been “reaching out”.

Please stop reaching out.

Your former one black friend cannot be your white guilt eradicator.

I don’t have time to, nor do I want to, take care of your white guilt.

As always…black lives are at stake.

Black communities have always taken care of one another.

Mary McLeod Bethune created a University in order to educate black boys and girls.  She said ” The drums of Africa still beat in my heart. They will not let me rest while there is a single Negro boy or girl without a chance to prove his worth.”

Black Lives Matter.  We are in the 21st century and we STILL have to say it.

If a plane is going to crash, you put your oxygen mask on first.

The expectation for people of color… is for us to just be of service, to educate to help.  Our resources are mined, stolen…appropriated while we are left with nothing.

If white people REALLY want to be allies stop being so fragile around race get over your guilt and take action.

I mean white folks are constantly figuring out how to Hack systems to find efficient ways of doing things and appropriating cultures, why not put your creative intelligence towards learning compassion and authentically disrupting systems of whiteness that oppress the black and brown.

When I see a liberal white person posting something like that stupid Tina Fey cake shit…and laughing about it on social media… I unfriend and block that person.  I have no time for that energy.  You can apologize sure. But I am not your mother’s civil rights activist.  And I am not a christian.  So I’m not gonna internalize the trauma you caused me with your ignorance, pray to “black Jesus” eat something fried get cancer and die before I’m 50 because of all the stress.

Hell no.  I see what you post and cut the chord.   Chord cutting is a powerful practice.  And I’m not gonna lie to you…it’s not easy.  I get tempted to just work with and keep the conversation going…but doing that… I’m missing out healing the wounds within black communities that need to be healed to strengthen us.

No no.  Can’t be distracted.

If a liberal white person is intellectualizing about getting rid of “identity politics” and all focusing on the “real issues”… I cast a protective spell around myself and walk away.

I am not here to support white women who have black husbands or boyfriends with bi-racial children who don’t know how to comb their kids hair.  Do not ask me. And NO I cannot recommend a hairdresser.

I am not here to be the expert on race in a room full of white Americans who have lived in this country and benefitted from systemic whiteness their entire lives.

I am not here to nurture your fragile white ego and prove to white liberals that they aren’t racist.  Why? Because Racism is connected to power and privilege. Even the poorest white person has privilege because of the color of their skin. If a white person cannot even admit that fact…I have no space in my realm for that energy.

I am not that black person.  I do not coddle.  My mission…the people who need my nurturing and compassion…are my fellow African Americans.

135 Black women die of heart disease every day.

My goal is to turn that number….to 0.

Seriously.

J9

P.S. Black Americans are SPECTACULAR  we are of the future and we will always be here.  We know how to not only survive…we thrive.

Just Take in some images of our Black Badassary

 

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#getfree Challenge June- Anger

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Last week I went to a yoga workshop.  The title…Race, Trauma & Well Being: times that call for love led by Angel Kyodo Williams, Hala Khouri, and Kerri Kelly.  Hearing the actual level of wealth inequality between black and white people in America (the numbers are staggering even with Oprah, Beyonce sports and entertainment folks in mind) made me angry. Not just angry…livid.

I already knew the impact of slavery…but seeing those numbers written out… I’ve never actually looked at the numbers….seeing those numbers written out pissed me the fuck off big time.  I had to leave the room and take all my anger and tears and hug a tree.  I cried releasing all that shit into that strong oak so big I couldn’t reach my arms around the entire trunk.

I felt better. But, my anger isn’t gone.

Driving back from North Carolina I ruminated on my anger.  This anger has been ever present in my life and is so clever, if I’m not constantly mindful…it flares up and causes havoc in my life every time.

Being the person who “acts happy” in order to hide the anger is a complete mind fuck on people who come into my life expecting this happy go lucky acquaintance to be something I’m not as a friend.  And even though my anger is not directly aimed at them, friends see the possibility of what the impact could be and back away.

Walking down the street in NYC I put on my gladiator face and imagine myself protected in Armor.

Earbuds in, sunglasses on, face determined, fast pace ignoring all the comments… and stride to where I need to be as fast as I can.  Walking angry that, as a woman alone in this world I must have armor to protect myself to just walk down the fucking street and get to my location unharmed.

I kicked and punched my anger. I danced it in classes and outdoor festivals pounding my joints, I stretched it out in the hardest yoga classes, fought it out in capoiera. Now I walk it, run it, train it in HITT classes.

My physical body seems unharmed but after so many years carrying this weight…my soul is weighed down.

Anger is displaced fear.  Anger is disappointed hope. Anger is a delusion.

At the workshop, it became clear, systemic racism will not end in my lifetime.

Love is a disruptive radical act.

Transformation is hard work and takes mindful effort.

Anger causes me to react and push away everyone who loves me to the point that now, the only person who calls me regularly to see how I am doing…is my Mother.

I am a part of GirlTrek, a national black women’s health movement.  During our trekking season, GirlTrek has a specific monthly challenge.  June’s challenge is to Get Free.

This is the challenge:

#GetFree is GirlTrek’s new Juneteenth tradition that encourages Black women to create their best lives by riding themselves of the things that hold them back and to replace it with 100 miles of walking during the month of June.

This month, I need to become an anger alchemist.

After years of self study, I know and have the tools I need to deal with my anger… now is the time to be disciplined. Now is the time to think before action.  Now is the time to reflect.

The seed of negative action is anger.  For the June GirlTrek #getfree challenge, I am identifying, naming, processing, transforming, and eliminating my anger.

There.  I said it. Now is the time…to just do it and embrace my natural state…joy.

Monthly_Challenge

 

Ashe.

J9

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Warning Label…

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I went to see Suzanne Lori Parks play Venus tonight, it’s the story of the South African woman Sarah Baartman who was enslaved by profiteers who exploited her as a side show act because of her, compared to European standards of beauty, large buttocks and genitalia.  The show shines the light on the history of dehumanization, sexualization, medical testing and objectification of the black woman.

It was an intense play.  The audience was beautifully racially mixed.  A white woman sat next to me, perhaps in her 70’s, expensive glasses, tailored clothes, hair slicked back into a severe pony tail hair mostly silver with streaks of black, skin pale, wrinkled.  Sophisticated looking.

She paid no attention as her coat smacked me in the arm as she removed it.  She took over the arm rest.  She stepped on my injured foot  no excuse me or acknowledgement that I was sitting next to her.

I was invisible.

I said nothing moved my body as far away from her as I could,  and I focused on talking to my friend. I let go of all the negative energy that woman brought up in me.  You see, this happens all the time. Many(NOT ALL the friend who came to the show with me is a white woman) white women of all ages in NYC (and other places) just are rude to Black women.  Lacking the basic common courtesy of saying,”hello” or “pardon me”.  They just act as if  black women do not exist.

The first act of the show finishes and it is just brilliant.  Sad.  It shows how white men trick Sarah into the side show and how a white woman who runs the side show takes advantage of Sarah.

The curtain is down, it’s intermission.  I come back with my water and for some reason the older white woman now, wants to talk to me.

She looks down her nose at me through those huge grey round plastic framed glasses, glasses that probably cost $1000 and says,” You know, this is based on a true story.”

“Of course I know it’s a true story.  I read a book about Sara Baartman when I was in High school, many years ago.”

“Well, I was reading the information in the lobby…did you know that…”blah blah blah.  She starts rattling off what she just learned in the lobby as if she’s telling me something I don’t know.  Her tone, so condescending.  Similar to the attitudes of some of the characters we’ve just seen on stage.  I  look straight ahead as she talks.

A plus sized black woman stands up to stretch a few yards down from us.

The white woman sitting next to me says “…and her body was just scientific marvel…  I mean just…well look at that woman you can see …”    I interrupted her  “Don’t.” I said.  I looked right into her eyes beyond those stupid ass glasses. ” Oh well I didn’t mean…”  I turned my head and looked straight ahead. ” Oh well I didn’t mean to offend you.  I’m just saying that that woman’s body is a perfect example of…”   I gave her a look that silenced her immediately.  There was a long pause.  The woman continued, “Well I apologize if I offended you. But I’m simply pointing out the similarity of the woman…”

I turned to her and calmly advised, “It would serve you well to stop talking.  Immediately.”   She looked stunned. I turned my back to her, ending the conversation immediately.  My friend looked at me wanting to say something… I said,” The lighting designer’s use of ….”  I think the woman mumbled something to her husband or friend …I continued my conversation with my friend and then intermission was over and the second act began.

It felt good to not take care of this woman.  You see so often people of color are forced to deal with white people who say offensive things, and we, the people of color are the ones who have to be polite.  Free speech seems to be only for white people and the rest of us, must swallow our free speech in order to make white people comfortable and not hurt their oh so delicate feelings.

Normally I think of the smart thing to say hours or days after something happens.  Tonight, the right words came at the right time and I did not hesitate.  I did not protect this woman, who did not even see me, until she needed someone to soothe her white guilt.  White people in this country are so used to having free speech, and complaining when we the people of color counter their free speech with ours.  Yet they call us “over sensitive”.

For a while now I’ve given no fucks when it comes to my free speech responding to racial bias.  Yes I live in NYC and yes intellectual white liberal racism is huge here.  And I stopped taking care of white people’s feelings and speak my truth.  Let them deal with the consequences.

And it’s not even about me saying anything.  I’ve found the power of dark.  I can give a white person a look that will scare the shit out of them.  If I don’t smile when they make their biased jokes, if I respond to their pretend clueless questions and comments with silence…they become uncomfortable.  When I question their subtle racist comments they have no idea how to deal with conflict.

Ain’t white guilt a bitch?  Well…deal with it.

This black woman is at the point where she has no time to take care of the feelings of fragile white folks.

Grow up and deal with my free speech.

Ashe

J9

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