Category Archives: #BlackLivesMatter

Learning Liberation: Week 3 – On Abuse

“Hit me and it’ll be the last thing you do.” I saw my father hit my mother one time. I was young, maybe 3 or 4. Previous to that moment, I had watched them fight only verbally. They would spar with words like boxers before a long awaited fight, ducking and dodging each others’ blows, some landing with fierce force and others just glazing and narrowly missing the tender skin of their face or neck. The one time I remember physical blows being exchanged, she went after him with a bat, the cops were called and I remember her saying that if a man or woman ever hit me, I had full permission from God above to beat them to within an inch of their life. They probably don’t remember this moment themselves, or maybe they don’t remember that I remember. It’s funny what sticks in a child’s brain, isn’t it?

How do we, keep ourselves safe in a world marked with active bombs ready to detonate at any minute? Maybe the bigger question, concerning the reality that black womxn are currently being killed at higher rates than anyone else in the United States, is how do I as a part of that targeted group, preserve my mental, physical and spiritual self in the midst of a war?  Today’s topic is on the many forms of abuse that are slowly killing black and brown women in the world and how we maintain our selfhood in the midst of it all.

I didn’t think it would ever happen and so I didn’t think I would ever have anything to worry about. I also didn’t ever think that I would experience any kind of abuse. But as I grew older and first physical, followed by sexual, then on to emotional and secured by verbal abuse arrived into my innocent bubble of comfort, I realized that abuse is insidious and can take many forms. It makes me heartbroken to realize that my truth isn’t singular. So many of my black womxn peers have experienced the same and worse across boundaries of sexual orientation and gender identity. Just as black men are guilty, so are other people. Domestic violence happens so often in queer relationships. Let’s not forget it.

I was in college when I discovered the writing of Pearl Cleage and her essay called “Mad at Miles”. In it, she talks about black men and women who were known abusers, mainly Miles Davis, but also including Bill Withers and even more.  How is it that Pearl Cleage can write about so many forms of domestic abuse in 1975 and it still rings so true in 2017?

The idea for this post came from a bar in New Orleans. I sat and enjoyed the music being played until “Use Me” by Bill Withers was played. I stopped and my blood turned cold. I wondered if he had written the song after beating a fellow sister, or maybe after she left him, refusing to be continually abused by someone who claimed to love her unconditionally.  As “Use Me” played on, I thought about what a cosmic oddity it was that I, a black queer woman could dance and enjoy this tune written by a man that would and could have easily beat me into submission before I could have ever enjoyed the loud and yet lilting sounds brought forth by black struggle. 

In this week of approaching and now waning eclipse energy, I thought a lot about what it is to be a black womxn that is healthy, centered and working. If I don’t have my mental, psychological state in check, I can work all I like and make no headway at all. In order to thrive, I have to first establish my center, my groundedness, my spiritual self, my emotional well-being, etc. How often do fellow black women allow ourselves the space and time to self care? How often do we even get the time to evaluate? It may seem cliche, but it’s necessary. If we don’t put ourselves first, how can we hope to move forward? Black womxn have always been the background of movements here in the United States and elsewhere. Without us, there would be no past, present or future and yet we’re dying at higher rates. Black womxn are the most likely to be sexually assaulted, abducted and  abused starting at younger and younger ages. How do we distinguish foe from friend?

Abuse isn’t always obvious. I do think that it comes in many forms and facets that may actually be difficult to spot and even harder to call out. I do think that it’s easier to approach abuse if I truly love myself. When I truly do care about my own investment in self and security, I can choose to truly engage with the best and worst parts of myself from balance while at the same time, choosing the best that I see in others who only mean me well and not ill. I choose to actively engage in self care and moments that speak to the best parts of my soul and reality.

The narrative isn’t that we’re victims. I don’t wish to bring forth energy that says that we all must pity the black womxn her plight. I want us to mobilize for black womxn like we do for black men. I want us to engage with the problematic and hurtful narrative that keeps vulnerability from entering a conversation honestly and openly. I want to talk openly about toxic masculinity, misogyny, and patriarchy that result in the emotional crippling of both black men and womxn in our communities. We can’t talk uplift until we talk unlearning.

Damali Speaks Xx

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Freedom & Choice, Wisdom & Voice: The Barriers to Break Down of Ancestral Remembrance

Hey Speakerz! It’s Monday again! Wooooooofff!!! I for one am SO glad. This topic has taken me a few weeks of milling around in my head and finally, I’ve chosen to “speak” on it. So let’s get started shall we? This week’s topic is on Ancestral Remembrance regarding the African Diaspora in NYC, the POC millenial presence, apologetic nature and how we can use our voices, bodies and spirits to elevate our village. Put on your seatbelt, cuz we’re going on a ride.

Many people are not aware of the early enslaved African presence in NYC. It isn’t taught in schools. During the colonial period in New York City (circa 1700s), then under Dutch presence, nearly 41% of households owned slaves. That’s a little less than half. Exact numbers would be helpful but alas.  That would mean that nearly 20% of the population was made up of enslaved Africans. Some of the main ports for the slave trade existed along the east coast spanning from Charleston, Richmond, Washington D.C., New York, Providence and Boston. Enslaved human beings built New York City. They built and made up the American Stock Exchange. They built the battery and it’s strongholds. They built the Wall for which Wall Street gets its name. Their presence is everywhere and yet the only memorial to them is a Burial Ground, only made up of 400 or so bones exhumed from a dig gone wrong in the early 2000s. Where are the rest of the THOUSANDS of bodies? Now you may say, well that was so long ago. To that I say that during the years before the Civil War, Central Park was a stronghold of freed black peoples named Seneca Village, proclaimed imminent domain and then turned into central park, then later, the Great Migration, during which freed Black Americans flocked to cities to find jobs and to escape the poverty and racism in the South, New York City once again flourished with black bodies creating and building. They built the trains and their stations. My grandfather ran a train for many years. We built up the education system. My mother was a teacher in the NYC public school system. The list goes on.

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How do we gather a village if we are not aware of who we are? What was one very important thing that the enslaved were forbidden from doing? Reading. The one thing that each generation of black collective has done less and less is apologize for who we are. Much of this unapologetic stance comes with education. By this, I mean that apology has been bred into our DNA with ignorance of self. Those enslaved survived at first because of compromise and apology. Those who fought through it were dubbed rebellious and indeed they were. It takes a spark of rebelliousness to poison one who proclaims to be a “master”, or to run in the dead of night or the light of day. It takes a spark of self love to leave everything that you have ever known to carry yourself and your family to a city that seems foreign. If it takes a spark of those things to do what our foremothers and fathers did, just imagine what a river of those things can do. I notice lately that myself and other “woke” millenials have less and less apology. We are in fact the dream and hope of our foremothers and fathers. We are carefree, spirit-filled and yes, a lil bit magic. This apology oftentimes comes in the present form of making sure that those who are in positions of oppression do not feel threatened. Let’s be real, “feeling threatened” is why so many young and black bodies are dying today. We are continually under attack because we dare to be what we were denied…human. So it’s natural that in situations of possible escalation, we might feel a need to appease. But, we’ve learned from history that appeasing doesn’t work and very often hastens a different kind of death. A death of the spirit. We must remain whole if we are to move forward. How and when do we learn about who it was that we came from and how do we move forward? Must we leave those who wish to remain behind? What then is freedom and choice? 

Freedom. An ideal. A reality. A hope. I wish to be free to make my own choices. That seems like such a small wish and yet as the great grandchild of those enslaved, I can’t help but know that I carry the weight of those not allowed to breathe, to dream. What does remembrance take? It starts with Choice. We must actively choose every day to remember, to elevate, to push for freedom of voice, of self, of collective, of learning and unlearning. The unlearning that we must do will take most of the time. The fight against what the mind “thinks to be true” is one that can be exhausting, while the learning is like a sponge.

Most recently, I had an experience where I had to explain the system of racism and why it was that poc do not have the structural wherewithal to be racist but can indeed be prejudice. As I explained, I felt myself become rageful. Why was I being forced to educate? Why didn’t the school system teach a grown white woman? Why was I dealing with ageism, racism and sexism at the same time?

But then, what about how black and brown bodies hold, comfort, and revere other black and brown bodies? Black and brown men and women are taught from various angles to be weapons to each other. What has stuck since slavery is the tearing apart of the black familial structure and we seem to cling to what we’ve been taught.  To simply exist is an act of defiance. But existing isn’t enough. How do we heal? How and when do we comfort? Most recently, I’ve been experiencing a well of blood memory. Blood memory is the remembrance that comes in our blood, the tapping into of ancient memory.  As an empathic person, it’s something to be aware of, moving through places that can hold a lot of history. In experiencing this, sometimes it is like a tsunami, a huge wave of sorrow and confusion that I feel like I’ll be lost in forever and all I can do is cry and hold on to something, anything that feels familiar. In this, I’ve found a strong wish to be held and surrounded by other black and brown bodies that feel like home. But what if we as black and brown millenials woke or not, don’t know how to comfort, or have become desensitized to the brutality or the normalcy of racism? Where does this leave us? It all goes back to self love. The ability to look deep and uncover my own soul, gives me permission to be unapologetic, to be open and available, to be expansive. The programming is so ingrained and must be broken so that we can reclaim, restore and ultimately rebel. But is it for everyone? Who is the next wave and what will we do with the knowledge that we are acquiring?

It is the human experience to be conflicted, to falter, but also to rise and move forward. The people make up the systems of oppression as well as the systems of love and wholeness. We must hold all accountable. No one is exempt. We must work hard at cultivating a whole self, spirit, mind and body. We do the work of uncovering with art, with the written word, with self care, with science, with archaeology, with conversation and while we do the work, we must be prepared for the healing work that comes with the reveal. So I ask, how do we each choose to use our freedom and choice, wisdom and voice?

 

 

Love Always,

 

Damali Speaks Xx

Talk to the Cat – Woke Diaries: I Am Not Your Negro Review

Hey Speakerz!

Welcome to Talk to the Cat – Woke Diaries! This week’s review is on the documentary “I Am Not Your Negro”. Watch, enjoy, share and let me know how you feel!

Love Always,

Damali Speaks Xx

Meaning-Filled Meditations: On Choices

Hey Speakerz! 

You know it’s our Friday episode time! Today’s episode is about choices! How we make them? Why? When? & all the goodness! 

Enjoy!


Love Always,

Damali Speaks Xx

Depop Shop Up & Running!

Hey Blogosphere!

My Depop is now up and running! Have a look, check it out and maybe purchase something that catches your eye! Also, if you see something and would like to make an order, leave me a message!

https://depop.com/damalispeakz
Love Always,

Damali Speakz

Comparison: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Hey Faithful Blogosphere! I hope that your week was absolutely full of wonder and love! Mine was! The topic this week came at the very end of the week in sort of a shock to my system and wake up call. All of my life, I’ve experienced comparison. I was compared to my older sibling, my friends, etc. Some of the time, the comparison came from my own mind, but most of the time it came from the people around me. This isn’t a singular experience as I’ve come to realize and so in the hopes of rooting out the truth, I figure a blog post dedication is worth it. So the topic of the week is Comparison: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

 

Sometimes I wonder if it’s natural for human beings to compare themselves to others. We do so with weight, looks, abilities, etc. “Well, she has a better butt than me.”, “He has a better car.”, and yet what we fail to see in these comparisons is that they’re completely unnecessary. Does envy help us get what the other person has? Does it make us value what WE HAVE?

 

The Good

The Good in Comparison is that it works to propel us as human beings forward. I personally choose to compare myself to the person I was yesterday. Am I more grateful today? Am I allowing myself to flow more today than I did yesterday? Am I embracing myself more? If the answer is no, then I’m not doing what I need to be doing and it’s my choice of whether or not to stay stuck or to elevate to who I’m meant to be today. I’m meant to elevate every day, not just on days where I feel like it. Every. Day. Be more. More generous. More loving. More hardworking. More in love with myself. More open. More creative. Be More.

 

The Bad

The Bad of Comparison is pretty obvious. It can paralyze. If we as human beings consistently listened to the lower vibrational pull of “what I don’t have” versus “what they have”, we live in a constant state of envy, depression, greed, jealousy, and overall unhappiness. So why do we do it? Why do we choose to stay at the lower vibration of existing? What’s the appeal?

 

The Ugly

The Ugly of Comparison, especially for those of us in the Black Community where these numbers are escalating, is the source of colorism, homophobia, rape and sexual abuse, etc. How is it that hundreds of years later, we as a people are still elevating light skin above dark skin, straighter hair above tight kinks and curls, and young women are still being sexually abused at alarming rates? Where did we learn this behavior and why does it continue? Where does comparison come in?

 

Overrall, we must CHOOSE to elevate above. Comparison, like any other learned behavior is a choice. We choose to take part. How can we twist things that may seem negative so that we can attain positive results? We must choose to believe in our self. Put out sense of self first above all else and refuse to be brought down. We owe it to ourselves, to this plane, to this planet, to this ethereal world that we take part in every day.

 

Love Always,

 

Damali Speaks

Queen Status: Healing the World Within

Hello Blogosphere! This week has been incredibly beautiful and eye opening. The title of today’s post came from this weekend. I was walking down the block in Brooklyn and a young black man simply said “Peace, Queen” and I responded “Peace, King”. The beauty in a simple acknowledgement. But just acknowledging isn’t enough. What does it mean to live up to those titles?

Let’s start at the beginning. “Woke” black people all over America have dubbed themselves Kings and Queens. You’ve probably heard it in Neo-Soul, on the radio, and in films.  This came about in the 60’s and 70’s when black became beautiful, natural hair was a must and James Brown’s “Say it Loud” played freely on the radio. Black American people reclaimed their sense of self with these titles. To acknowledge each other as African Kings and Queens meant that we were more than just stolen people, we were the highest of the high…royalty. Post slavery, reconstruction and the turn of the century, we had been beaten down as a people, both mentally and physically. The 60’s was a time of taking it back. Studying ourselves and our history became paramount to our survival. 

This is beautiful, however, what does this mean now, in the world as we know it today? King and Queen come from the European ideal. We all know what feudal Europe was like  because that’s all the history we learned in school. We learn about European history first because of white privilege and I personally have NO desire to express myself with such terms. I was told recently that “King” and “Queen” come from Asiatic titles, namely “Qing” which has a specific vibrational meaning. That, to me, feels right. Elevation, feels purposeful and very much like home. To acknowledge someone as King or Queen is to adhere to the European standard. The Queen is always less than with no real power to rule, despite the presence of female rulers for millenia. Those titles have been gendered and in many ways bastardized. I prefer Qing in all it’s vibrational, androgynous glory. 

So what does it mean then to have “Qing” status? Is it like being a Queen? Well, what did the young man mean when he called me Queen? I choose to think of it as a sign of respect, but also a sign of “sight”, of acknowledging strength, beauty, wisdom and most of all knowledge of self. When I look in the mirror and say the same to myself, what am I saying? Acknowledge my own greatness first. My own femininity, masculinity, heart, womb, mind, body, soul, essence, ether. This is a Queen. This is a “Qing”. This is wholeness and purity. Being purely who I am, unashamed, unapologetically. 
Many black people are looking for the next step. Where do we go from here? We continue to live in a world that suggests that we look outside. We look to clothes, shoes, material wealth, monetary value and romantic relationships. But what if the next step is to look within, cultivate our divinity and heal ourselves? With our own healing, we can in turn, heal the world. 

Peace Qings,
Damali Speaks Xx

Let Us Not Forget: Meditations on How and When to Slow Down and Live in Truth

Hay Blogosphere! The last time we spoke in this fashion, I was just about to venture to New York City. Well, here I am in NYC, setting up my apartment, working all the time on myself, my elevation, and my art. It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything in a political vein. I think I let that part of myself disappear a little bit because frankly, I’d much rather live with all of my energy intact and too much of my energy was sacrificed in moments of speaking politically and critically. I do realize that being an activist is a deep part of myself and in the wake of the Womens’ March on Washington and other cities and talks of intentional spaces devoted to all women, I found myself sliding back into the thoughts that I once loved so very much. Talking about injustice and working toward the collective human experience go hand in hand in my spirit. So what is the topic today, you ask? The topic of today is about not forgetting the truth, the importance of knowing  your spirit and listening when the universe says to slow down.

In this particular world that we live in, we all hold different identities. While some of us hold fast to these labels, others of us don’t. But society likes to define us human beings in gender, sex, “race”, socioeconomic stature and more. The further breakdown encompasses “what we do”, our hobbies, our bread and butter, our talents, what makes us money. Somewhere thousands of years ago, somehow those designated sexually as male, decided to oppress those sexually designated as female. Through centuries of perfection of the system, we have patriarchy as it exists today. Separated into categories mentioned previously, there developed the hierarchy according to “race” and sex, etc. This applies to the Womens Marches because every time women as an oppressed group gather to voice, somehow, white women are always the loudest voice. Until this changes, where can a movement of womens’ concerns go? Until all women are truly listened to and accepted for the magnificent Goddess deity’s that we are, how can we instill change? The short answer being that we can’t, and that is why very little progress for all women’s rights has truly taken flight across the globe, not just in the United States but elsewhere as well.

Since exploring the self love journey and truly seeing where the rabbit hole goes, I’m learning how to listen when the universe says to slow down. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of work, and very little slow down, with vampire hours of operation. Although this feels good because I love working for myself, this can sometimes facilitate a work into a whole. There are lots of ways in which the universe facilitates a slow down. It always takes me a huge whammy because as my mother says, “A hard head makes a soft behind.” So today while making a smoothie, I cut my finger. I mean, cut into, lots of blood, hand taped up cut. Did I really need any other message for slowing all the way down? Nope! I could say,  woe is me, I can’t draw or write for at least a week, but that’s boring. I can still type, drive and truly exercise my ambidextrous nature!

When the Universe forcefully places things in our path, how well do we adapt? Human beings are natural adaptors. We either adapt or die. We see it all the time in survival films and tv shows. We go back to our natural state of being and adapt, move forward. Meanwhile, as we survive, we forget about how important it is to thrive. On this incredible journey of life, let nothing stop you from your dreams and needs. Constantly challenge yourself to adapt, breathe and move at a pace that you set for yourself.

 

Love always,

Damali Speaks Xx

 

Can Freedom be Found in Collective?: Meditations on Living in a Collective Space

Hey Blogosphere! I have to say that I owe you all a huge apology. My life since moving to Los Angeles has been super cray, super fast. I’ve gotten jobs, quit them, found other jobs and started living in a collective with two other beautifully black individuals who constantly keep me on my toes in more ways than one. As a result, my blog has suffered! BUT! It suffered because I’m focusing a LOT of my energy into a YouTube Channel! My YouTube name is Damali Speaks and moving forward, everything here will be shared there and visa versa. The blogs I start here will be videos answering the questions I pose there, etc. I promise to share all links and also to blog while I establish this new thing. I will not leave you! I promise. I have to say that I really do love writing this blog and I miss it terribly when I’m away. There’s something about typing life’s chronicles that is entirely different from video. The art of writing, old as it is has a certain something that I can’t help but come back to. Let’s dive into the topic of today’s post!

I recently went from living mostly in a single fashion, to living in very close proximity with two other human beings. It’s definitely true that we as human beings learn more about ourselves when we interact with others. Do you ever find yourself in other people? What I mean by that is: What attracts you to other people?. That’s a question that I’ve been asking myself throughout this entire process. The more I get to know about these people, the more I realize that “I am you. You are me. We are one. ” is the truest statement ever.

To simplify it, did you grow up hearing ” Be careful who you keep company with.”? As much as we may dislike to admit it, the people in our lives are simply reflections of us. So if I’m letting people in my life who don’t seem right, it may be a good idea to do some digging and take stock of where I am emotionally, psychologically, physically, etc. Now this isn’t always the case. Sometimes there are people who I like to call “Energy Vampires”. They see my energy and they want some, so they attach themselves to me and now I’m stuck with someone that I didn’t even realize did absolutely nothing to be in my space except charm the pants off me and I’m the one suffering. So I say sayonara and make a swift exit!

How do I know who means well and who means ill? Well, that’s the tricky question isn’t it? In living in collective, I consistently question. I’m always asking if this is real. I’m always waiting for these people to turn on me or make a swift exit themselves. But in reality, when I surround myself with giving people and we’re all focused on giving to each other, we’re not thinking about taking and running, we’re thinking about giving and building off what each of us possess and give to each other. We each have our roles and even though those roles switch, they still stay very much the same. One of my loves likes to say that they “call things into existence”. I’ve called it “Manifestation” for years. I manifested a collective over the course of years. It kept coming and being entirely too messed up for me to truly invest. I manifest my life moving forward. My responsibility is to be ready for the manifestation to appear.

But enough about me. What do you manifest? Where does your collective lie? What is your self love plan? Do you have a plan? Who has your back?

I send you light, love and acceptance. Until next time.

Damali Speaks Xx