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. 

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?

The Feminine Pronoun Series No. 32: #WRITERSRESIST

All over the country, writers assembled in vocal resistance to the rhetoric and planned policies of the incoming Trump administration. The movement was named #WRITERSRESIST. (You can find out more about #WRITERSRESIST here.

In this video, my kids and I I travel to Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi (my home state) all the way from the St. Louis metro area to read poetry and hold space for justice.

What transpired was magical and served to embolden everyone involved. 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 trustworthy 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.

The Feminine Pronoun Series No. 31: New Year. New You.

In this video I get a super cute (if I do say so myself:) updated do at Salon Satreice and then I work on an upcoming performance with Rodney Smith, owner of the Palomino Lounge. 2017 is starting off looking AND sounding good!

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 trustworthy 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

The Feminine Pronoun Series: Poetry. Pedagogy. Justice. (No. 30)

poetry-pedagogy-justice

The tagline on my website for Feminine Pronoun Consultants, LLC is "Poetry. Pedagogy. Justice."

Those three powerful terms almost encompass my life/work philosophy. I say "almost" because Parenting is also a major part of my life's work, as it were, and each of the terms inform each other and take turns being the star, while others play the background.

Check this video out as a kind of year end round up and hopeful nod to a successful 2017!

The Feminine Pronoun Series No. 29: Old School #HipHop

90s-throwback-jam
I come to writing very honestly. Not only was my mother (rest in peace) a writer, but my father is a well-known poet and is currently poet laureate of his home town of East St. Louis, Illinois.

The first time my writing truly became public was in the 1990s as a signed hip-hop artist to MC Hammer's label, Bust It Records. My group, originally named the Sonic MC's, was discovered by MC Hammer in our hometown of Meridian, Mississippi. What followed was a brief career as a performing rap artist, and staff writer for acts such B. Angie B., Special Generation, and Oaktown's 357. That was 25 years ago, and I still have a deep and abiding love for hip-hop culture and the music in general.

A few months ago, my former partner, Terrence Davis, invited me to participate in a reunion performance. I tentatively accepted, and then tried to back out, because, for me, that time, brief as it was, doesn't always inspired the most positive feelings.

Like many naïve artists, our recording contract was a one-sided at best and a glorified sharecropper's agreement at worst. If people remember the infamy with which MC Hammer's business dealings tumbled from the top of the pop cultural mountain, then you might guess that there were some work culture issues in the company as well. Namely, a rampant sexism that, when I think back on it, I am surprised there weren't more lawsuits. On top of that, I did not have the most pleasurable recording experience, as we were encouraged to produce music that had a sound very similar to MC Hammer's.

My biggest objection however, was that the music simply didn't do well by industry standards. When the collective mind of hip-hop music lovers returns back to artists who made a impact with regard to innovation, popularity, and cultural zeitgeist, our music does not register.

As you can see, I had several reasons to refuse to participate in the reunion performance, but after some cajoling and realizing that I had tried to back out much too late for it to be fair, I agreed to join everyone of my former group members of the group that was subsequently renamed One Cause One Effect.

This vlog chronicles events directly proceeding, during, and after what turned out to be a fun and heartwarming gathering.

_________________________________________________________________________

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 trustworthy diversity and inclusion facilitation.  Let's connect at treasure@femininepronoun.com.  Also, there is bonus video of me reading "For Trayvon #BlackLivesMatter" at the Old School #HipHop concert here: https://youtu.be/GXYLEcrJ-KY

 

 

The Feminine Pronoun Series N. 27: Teachers Will Save the World

wbst-save-the-world

I work with perceptive school leaders who want their teachers to understand Diversity and Inclusion & seek the confidence and classroom results that knowledge produces.

I was invited to talk with the dynamic faculty at the Times2 STEM Academy in Providence, Rhode Island. My presentation was followed by a fantastic walk through the evolving Federal Hill neighborhood. I was treated to the warmth of the Dominican and Puerto Rican majority community and I got to see what excellent school leadership (that respects the community) looks like up close. Go Dr. Carrie McWilliams!

Check out the video here:

 

The Feminine Pronoun Series #25: Ferguson is Everywhere

In this episode I reflect on the impact of Michael Brown's murder and the Ferguson Uprising on my social justice advocacy, my writing, my teaching and my parenting.

An extra special thanks is owed to the ARTIVISTS and to Reverend Sekou and the Holy Ghost for the incredible song, "We Comin" that appears toward the end of this episode.

ARTIVISTS STL can be followed on twitter at @ArtivistsStl

Reverend Sekou and the Holy Ghost's music can be purchased at http://wearefarfetched.net/album/the-revolution-has-come