Category Archives: History

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

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Stepping Out of the Box: Meditations on Love and Labels

Hey Speakerz! Wow! Some weeks go by quickly, others go by slowly. Really, what difference does it make, if any? Time is relative. Daylight saving. This week’s post is about the different kinds of love we can and do surround ourselves with. Let’s dive in!

We’ve established what it is to identify as Queer, now let’s think even more out of the box. Why? Well, because growth is stepping out of the box, pulling ourselves up and out of our comfort zones. Also, I realize that while the visibility for Queer black women is growing, so  too must the visibility for those of us who love differently in so very many ways. From the time that we as human beings are born, we are taught that there is a Prince Charming. Well, you can imagine the shock when you start being attracted to people and realize that Prince Charming could be either Prince or Princess or none of the above. Beyond that, they’re not actually royalty. There are no grand titles. So, Prince and Princess have the reality of being, a human being, possibly devoid of gender identity. Whoof! Glad we got through that! I get to be comfortable now right? Wrong!

I begin the dating process, and I realize that maybe what’s best is to find myself. I do a lot of self love, I dedicate myself to the movement. “I must be a forward thinker in all aspects.” No, I don’t live as a desexualized being, but I become much more choosy about who, where, why and how. Through this process, I learn that maybe monogamy in it’s traditional sense, isn’t what works for me. The classic, one man, one woman is already thrown out, so why not keep the broad?

I begin to engage with multiple identities with one common thread: Communication & Honesty. While doing this, I may find that there are other people who identify as I do! It’s called Polyamory! But then, I find multiple definitions and settings that only serve to make me more confused. So I defy the label. I live outside of it. I keep the thread of Communication & Honesty and leave the name somewhere in the wind as I run and jump in a meadow of acceptance. This cheesy dreamland is where I find myself.

Most people don’t understand the concept of loving more than one person openly, but it’s what we’re wired for. Why do we choose to live in a world of staunch monogamy? What if the “person of our dreams” is really ourselves and 10 additional people are our companions? They help guide us through life, they facilitate in our romantic development, they aid in communication improvement. Can that be enough?

Maybe the question isn’t if that can be enough, but how do we let love in? Every day, human beings choose to fight the programming and conditioning of thousands of years of expectation. We are expected as Americans in society to do certain things. Going against that reality requires a pioneering spirit. But let’s think critically. How many relationships end yearly because of “cheating”, which is really just code for lying? Too many. So what if the fear of rejection is gone and we’re openly allowed to discuss such taboo things as attraction to another human being? An open stream of communication allows for me to live freely and still have love in my life. It is possible to have my cake and eat it too! It just requires maturity of spirit. Why is this taboo again?

It would seem that fear navigates so much of our movement throughout this world. Unnecessary fear. It’s false. I don’t need or want it. So I simply discard it along with all the negativity and lower vibrational operations that the rest of the world wants me to pick up and carry. But hold on, we’re not finished!

Well, what about the people who are truly monogamous? I’m not saying that everyone should pick up the banner of multiple loving and storm through requiring that we all do the same. But what about just accepting the multiple and monogamous options? We should love, how we love. Be who we are. Wholly. Step out of our comfort zone and establish a being, human or otherwise.

The thing about love is that it’s expansive and never-ending. It doesn’t only filter in romantic or sexual relationships. What about the strong ties of friendship and sisterhood, brotherhood, etc. We have a very narrow scope of what those are and yet the love that they evoke can be so expansive. But without knowledge of self, how can we engage through all the rest? Through all the talk of attraction to others, how do we establish attraction with the self, the spirit absent of the ego? Human development is established in the Ego and the Spirit. The ego, is the truly human part of ourselves. It guards the petty, the self conscious, the prideful, etc. The spirit is the elevated state of ourselves. How can we filter between the two unless we know the two? Here we go with the Self Love mush.

Self love is really the fact that I know myself, I spend time with myself and I love who it is that I’ve found. Do I deserve to be alone and stranded because I’m not perfect? Certainly not! I deserve to be alone and full, complete, whole. Human beings are flawed and will continue to be. Knowing myself, loving myself, means that I can take accountability for myself and my actions. All of this is imperative in loving relationships with others. “Monogamous Heaven” as I like to call the expectation from society, leaves this part out. In “Monogamous Heaven” we wait for someone and we live happily ever after. But it’s a lie. That isn’t life. Life is constant work. Different types of work. We work on ourselves spiritually. We work on our career. We work on our communication. We work on maintaining the balance. The better we embrace it, the more ready we are for a life of adventure, acceptance, and yes…love.

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

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

Hermit Thoughts – Poetry by Damali Rose Zion

To put it mildly, I’ve become THAT person.

The one who ignores texts and doesn’t answer when you call.

The one who doesn’t leave the house for anyone

The one who doesn’t engage unless it holds benefit

The one who cries at how far humanity has to elevate

The one who works hard for self and not for capitalist ventures

The one who masturbates because reclaim is better than transfer

The one who.

The one who.

The one who.

I am finally that person.

Shall we embrace?

You Don’t Look Black (What People Say to Separate)

I had a person say to me this week,

“You don’t look black”.

It was in the heat of bed and I should have known some stupid

shit like that was bound to come out in the midst of hide and seek but I thought

“Nah”.

But yea, it was said and in my head I was ready to shoot out what the old me would have

said.

The fuck you mean?

I don’t look like straight out of Africa? Well then you tell me, what does straight out of Africa look like?