Poetry in Spaces of Recovery

  I love the photo above because you can’t tell which hand is mine. Just like if I was standing together with these women in the Magdalene house, a safe place for women recovering from addiction and a life in the sex trade, (whether being trafficked or deploying their labor …

The Black Skillet or How To Fund The Arts With Soul Food

On September 16, 2017, from 6pm to 9pm at the Yeyo Arts Collective (2907 S Jefferson Ave, St. Louis, MO 63118), the Black Skillet Funders’ inaugural quarterly dinner happened. We served our favorite African, African-American, Black, and Southern traditional foods to members, artists and the public. Our dinner meal was …

The Birth of The Who Raised You? Podcast (Pt. 1)

I’m launching a podcast with my friend Karen Yang! (Video Below) Here’s a bit more about it: Who Raised You? Podcast is a kitchen table conversation between Karen (Jia Lian) Yang and Treasure Shields Redmond. Karen (she/her/they) is a 26 year-old bisexual 2nd generation Taiwanese American and a trained social …

Why A Black Woman Named Fannie Lou Hamer Matters Now More Than Ever (BONUS: Audio!)

Who was Fannie Lou Hamer? When one thinks of the millions of souls lost during the transatlantic slave trade, the missed potential immediately jumps to mind. All genocide robs us of the few geniuses that each culture produces.  At the beginning of the previous century the pernicious system named Jim …

TFW You Realize You’re In Love With Your Captor

Sometimes I feel as if black folk’s self-worth teeters on the impetuous and hateful razor’s edge of racist white institutions. Like the protagonist in Beauty and the Beast, we’ve fallen in love with our captor, and somehow it has become our responsibility to humanize him. I have now lived through …

The Feminine Pronoun Series: “Black” or “African American”? (No. 35)

As part of a creative diversity and inclusion workshop I facilitated at Lewis University, I asked people one question: "Which do you prefer? "Black" or "African American"?

The responses were alternately surprising and soulful. They served as the centerpiece of the workshop, and they created a jumping off point for one of the most fascinating discussions I've had to date.

Here's a bit more about my business:

I offer two services: 1) I help the college bound teens of busy parents write extraordinary college entrance essays and 2) I provide perceptive leaders with creative diversity and inclusion facilitation. Let's connect at treasure@femininepronoun.com.

Also, Let's partner to bring an incredible, interactive and informative presentation to your group for Black History Month

 

Vlog: The Feminine Pronoun Series: “I Contain Multitudes” (No. 34)

I titled this video "I Contain Multitudes, "as a nod to poet Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself."

I love the poem because it is an expansive celebration of the visceral kingdom, the body, pleasure, our mortal reality, and the justice of seeing everything as part of a converging whole.

I like to think of my life as one part of something bigger that is bending toward justice, and this is a vlog in the truest sense in that it follows me through my justice work that is informal (in the community), and formal (organized through a regional organization).

And of course, there's poetry! I get to judge an incredible student poetry slam organized through UrbanArts, a Missouri non-profit formed for the purpose of promoting arts, education, economics, and social services. Check them out HERE. 

Also, I am once again witness to my the best poet I know.

Hint: He's my Dad:)!<3

In this video I celebrate the way my love of justice and the work I do on its behalf, *and* my love of poetry dovetail to create my crazy beautiful life. Enjoy!

Here's a bit more about my business:

I offer two services: 1) I help the college bound teens of busy parents write extraordinary college entrance essays and 2) I provide perceptive leaders with creative diversity and inclusion facilitation. Let's connect at treasure@femininepronoun.com.

Also, Let's partner to bring an incredible, interactive and informative presentation to your group for Black History Month.
View this whole series HERE. 

5 LESSONS TEACHERS CAN LEARN FROM THE LIFE OF FANNIE LOU HAMER: #5.The Writing Classroom is Uniquely Suited for Finding Undiscovered Gems

In part four of this series – “Our Classrooms Benefit from the Voices of our Most Marginalized Students” — I discussed (partly) how valuable the “marginalized voices” are in our classrooms. But really, I was speaking to the notion that the “marginalized” is the majority. I encourage you to check …

The National Women’s March: Sisters, What Are You Willing To Destroy?

What follows are the remarks and the poem ("Oath: 1957") I delivered on Saturday, January 21, 2017 at the St. Louis arm of the National Women's March.


When I was first asked to participate in the national women's March, I declined because I thought it was just another example in the long line of examples of wrongheaded white feminism.

You see I knew the history, and I knew that the sorority of which I am a member, Delta Sigma Theta, marched with white suffragettes in 1913 as their first political act.

 

No sweeping feminist collaboration followed.

 

I knew that Fannie Lou Hamer, a fellow Mississippian and black woman, helped to found the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1971.

 

No sweeping feminist collaboration followed.

 

So when this march was proposed, the words of genius humorist, Moms Mabley rang in my head:

 

“If you see a fool. Bump his head. If you see a damn fool, bump it twice.”

 

You see, I’ve come to find the white feminist narrative of “equality” increasingly troubling.

When my ancestors walked off of plantations in order to join and the Civil War. They didn't walk off for equality. Slaves did not want to be equal enslavers. They wanted to disrupt a system.

 

So I ask you Sisters, what are you willing to disrupt?

 

When Trans women of color led the charge for our collective humanity at Stonewall, they didn’t want to be equal brutalizers, silencers and disappearers.

 

So I ask you Sisters, what are you willing to disavow?

 

When Native women led the fight for our life aka WATER, they didn’t want to be equal polluters.

So I ask you Sisters, what are you willing to destroy?

 

I’m going to leave you with a vision before I end with a poem:

It's a Monday morning and people are wiping sleep from their eyes. They go to the daycare and there are no women there to keep the babies. They go to the school and there are no teachers on the platform to teach the children. They go to enter a bus. No women are driving. They go to the financial district and no women are bartering and trading. Imagine the policies that we could influence if we withdrew ourselves in this way on a workday week?

 

So I ask you Sisters what are you willing to strike for?


oath:1957

all they saw
were the whites of her heels
winking back at them

her dark elbow
shoulder high

the wrench -- a blur
above her nappy plaits
as she whirled it
as if to wring its neck

as if to sanctify it

as if to show it to the ghosts
as proof of her oath: “i swear
‘fo god”

they say the sound
she made – more like warning
than a scream

slingshot soprano, returning
going away
reappearing
like fingers
moving
from cotton sack to row

they say the sound
was a choctaw vibrato,

undulating
water moccasin
across a clay bottom creek

wail rising
spine through skin
[you can wail here] “i swear ‘fo god”

they say the sound was a tearing/
birthing herself
breech, feet first
pulling the ankle
of her own twin soul
[you can moan here]

they say the sound was birthright/
takeback sound
[you can clap here]

the clap of a generation
righting itself

the sound she made as her yellow legs
carried her out of the screen door

away from the man
she thought she killed

away from the tableau
of 3 terrified colored babies

away from the dazed living room
away from the sound of a system’s head cracking open.

Sisters, what are you willing to destroy?