Tag Archives: Art

Flash Forward Friday – Passage Four

“You have to be aware of all your surroundings!” Andrena came at Cora with her walking stick ready to be brought down in a crushing blow. Cora quickly ran and unfurled her wings and let loose an arrow in mid-flight. It flew exactly where she aimed it and yet still, her mother moved away just in time. “I am! Mother!” Cora was out of breath and yet still pressed on. “Again”. 

Andrena was a merciless teacher. She used anything she deemed fair in a fight and for her that meant any and all power she wielded. Her weapon of choice was a huge walking stick, the symbol of her people emblazoned on it. “Feel the current of the energy. Feel your feet on the ground, the wind at your back, the beat of your heart. Hear your breath. Now see what I’m going to do. See it in your mind before it happens and you will stop it. “ Andrena watched her young daughters’ eyes glow a subtle red before she closed them in concentration. “Harness it. Trust it.” The energy around Cora lit up and when her eyes opened again, her whole eyes glowed with blood red light. “Let’s go mother. I’m waiting.” The energy changed her daughters’ voice in a way Andrena hadn’t heard before and she had the lightest bit of hesitation in her movement that not even Cora could’ve picked up on. 
The two squared off. Andrena lunged as Cora ducked and managed to grab Andrena’s walking stick and turn it around to trip her mother in mid-lunge and place the stick above Andrena’s head in what would be a killing blow. Cora’s eyes slowly returned to their usual deep brown with no sign of what they had been only moments ago. Both women stopped for a second, surprised at what just took place before Cora extended her hand to Andrena and helped her up, returning her walking stick to her left hand and standing in conference of the morning battle lesson. 

“How do you feel?” Andrena said. “Like I just tapped into something greater than me.“ Cora turned to sit on a nearby rock. “That’s your power. You’re stronger than you realize. One day, you’ll be stronger than me.” Andrena pushed herself up and sat on a rock opposite her daughter. “I don’t understand. How can I be stronger than you?” Andrena caressed her daughters beautiful brown face with eyes that shown so brightly. The face that looked so much like her own. “You’ll innerstand it one day my love. Now, we need to get moving. We’re getting a visitor for dinner.” Andrena stood, stretched her long limbs and began to move toward their village. “A visitor? Who could possibly be visiting us mother?” Cora said with doubt. They never received anyone in the village. Everyone of importance lived with them. “Martol” Andrena responded, her back turned away from Cora as they walked. 
“My father?! Martol? The man you never even talk about, much less see? What would he be doing here?” Cora was shocked. “I see someone’s been snooping.” Andrena responded. “I know that you’ve known his name. But you’ve yet to meet him. That was my error. I feared that you would see so much of yourself in him.” Cora didn’t quite understand what her mother meant. “So much of myself. Is that…” she trailed off. “You’ll see” Andrena replied. 

Cora had only ever heard her father’s name mentioned once during a convened council that she snuck in on as a young girl when her powers were too great for her to control at times. She had used her abilities of sight to keep watch on her mother and that accidentally led to sneaking in on a council meeting and hearing the name of the man who fathered her. Martol the Warlock. She couldn’t imagine just what her mother was planning, but she knew it came from a place she couldn’t yet grasp. 
Cora woke to the sounds of the pilot exclaiming that they had safely landed at JFK Airport. She felt unsure and confused. What had she just dreamed? It had seemed more memory than dream and she saw her mother clearly. Martol, her father was there as well. There would be more time to think on it later and she slowly brought herself back to her surroundings with slow breath, removed her headphones and waited until the seatbelt sign flashed so that she could remove her seatbelt and retrieve her few belongings. She waited until it was her row’s turn to disembark and she walked as though in a dream off the plane and into the airport. It seemed to take forever for her to grab her bags and find the gate where she told her mother to meet her. Just as she was about to get frustrated about where to find her with a dead cell phone she heard a voice behind her. “Hello my love” Cora turned to see Andrena standing right in front of her, arms open. “Hello mother”. Cora slipped into her mothers’ arms and took in her scent, the feel of her skin and the warm stability that she always emitted. “Let’s get you home, shall we?” Cora simply nodded and smiled and allowed herself the time and space to enjoy her mother and the world of home. 

Flash Forward Friday: Passage Three

*The name of the character of Brenda has been changed to Bridgid*

Cora stood in front of Bridgid, breathing even as they kept eye contact. “What do you see?” she asked. “Your pupils are purple this time.” Cora blinked and laughed as she moved to lean against the kitchen counter. “Pretty purple or bruised and battered purple?” Together they laughed as Bridgid situated herself back in her spot against the doorway. They stood directly across from each other as they spoke. “Pretty purple. Light purple. A little inhuman but not too shocking even if you did catch me off guard.” 

Cora stared into Brigid’s eyes, the purple getting brighter as they played the staring game they often played in the moments like this. “Do me a favor? Look at yourself in the window. Bridgid looked past Cora to the window to see her own pupils looking back at her with not the usual deep dark black but a light brown. “Am I mirroring you?” There was light concern in her voice. “No. You’re cultivating that entirely on your own.” “So, what now? Do we both just stand here?” Cora laughed. “We don’t have to. Or we can. But before we decide the course of action, how about you check that cake?” Bridgid walked over to the oven and opened it.

The smell that wafted up at her was heavenly and there in front of her eyes was a beautiful cake the very same shade as Cora’s eyes. “Done already? Just 4 short minutes. I love when you do that.” Bridgid sighed as she took the cake from the oven and placed the glowing pile of sweetness atop the stove. “Do what?” Cora asked, genuinely curious. “Use your powers to heal. I’ll miss it.” Cora sighed. “ It wasn’t just me working on that cake. You have incredible powers of your own. Just because I’m leaving doesn’t mean that I won’t be with you. It doesn’t make us any more separated. Physicality is a trick. You can be anywhere that you choose to be.” 

Cora walked up to Bridgid’s back and with love and care placed her hands around her waist and moved one hand up to Bridgid’s heart. Speaking right into her ear she said “I love you and that’s never going to change. Trust it. Trust me. Don’t make this harder than it needs to be, baby.” She gently kissed Brigid’s cheek lingering for only a short second before Bridgid turned and lightly placed a kiss on her lips. They hovered for a moment, light purple pupils staring into light brown before Cora cut herself a piece of cake. She carried the piece of cake with her as her eyes returned to their deep dark brown and she walked down the hallway to finish her packing. “I wish you would stay.” Bridgid whispered, cut a piece of cake and turned to look in the window as her pupils slowly faded back to their usual black. 

Cora sat on the plane completely at ease. It was early in the morning, or should we say night. It was 5:55am and her plane took off in two minutes. The sun wasn’t yet up and most of the people on the plane were asleep. She and Bridgid had woken up this morning with a combination of sadness and excitement. It was unclear what would happen next for both of them together and apart. They could only plan so far into the future without time travel. No, time travel doesn’t exist in this particular story…well, at least not yet. They had spent the morning in each other’s arms, talking without speaking words. Cora believed in their abilities and their intimacy. She apologized for seeming cold. It was often in her life that when she was working through her thoughts, her abilities, she could seem detached only because she withdrew deeply into herself. Bridgid didn’t push her. She understood. She did much of the same.
 When Bridgid dropped her off at the airport, they held each other tightly, wanting to somehow keep the other from moving, but time continued and Cora took her bags and left through the boarding gate. Cora hated the way airplanes were stuffy, but loved the idea of flying. She seemed to remember a time, faint in the back of her mind when she could fly. Maybe it was just a dream, a fantasy in her subconscious. With 5 hours to spare, Cora closed her eyes, turned on Solfeggio frequencies on her Walkman and fell asleep. 

Flash Forward Friday – Passage Two

“Mommy!” A little girl screamed with joy as she ran around in the tall grass, woods surrounding her as she was chased by her mother. “I’m gonna get you!” The woman, her mother screamed after her. 

They moved with such grace, the woman and the small child who seemed almost a carbon copy of her mother. Through trees as tall as the sky itself, they ran and ducked and dodged. In this time, no sounds of modern technology surrounded them as they ran and played. No planes or trains. No cars or buses or cellular phones. With no shoes, clothes made of animal skin and the golden and strong look of brown skinned people who spent precious time in the sun, the two looked perfectly at home in a natural scene such as this. Around and around they ran, laughing the whole way. It somehow seemed that the more they laughed, the faster the world whizzed by.

 Finally, in one swoop the mother of the child, let’s call her Andrena, picked up the young girl and down they fell in the tall grass, the sounds of a waterfall thundering close by. They continued to laugh, mother and child until they could laugh no more and together, they rolled and looked up at the sky.
 “Mommy?” the little girl said, inquisitive as ever. “Yes, my love?” Andrena responded. “What’s up there past the sky?” the little girl turned and looked at her mother with such a look of earnestness and curiosity that seemed beyond her young years. “Well, no one truly knows. Some say heaven, some say space, some even say the Gods and Goddesses.” The little girl snorted a laugh. “But what do you say mommy?” Andrena turned and looked at this little girl; her little girl. The only child she had ever truly given birth to. The child’s beautifully coiled braids had come loose during their time of play and her big poofy hair framed her face like a lions’ mane. 

Her pupils were a light green and as Andrena stared into them, she knew very well how interesting life would be for her “new-being” daughter as different as she was. “I say that discovering your own truth is the only way you’ll know. Now come my little Cora. It’s time for us to be going.” 

Andrena held her daughter’s hand, the girl’s eyes returning to their original deep dark brown and together they flew onward. 

Loved in the Light: Meditations on Retreat, Building & the Importance of Sisterhood

Hey Speakerz! THIS WEEK! This week has been incredible, with the highlights of  an even more wonderful weekend and retreat. When I was a little girl, I recall that my mother would go on retreats with her best friends, her sisters. What they would do on this retreat, I have no idea, but they would always come back with shining souls and tired bodies and I couldn’t wait to be old enough to go on my own retreat weekend. This weekend, I returned to a place of home, New England, specifically Rhode Island with my friends and sisters and together we explored retreat, soulwork, racism, solidarity, ancestral remembrance, self and sisterhood.

I’ve been on a self-love adventure for a while now, and with each year that passes, I find myself more and more in tune with the world and all it’s never-ending levels. I’ve always known that my ancestors walk with me. My whole life I’ve felt them talk with me, walk with me, love me, hold me up and sometimes hold me back. One of the reasons why I love art so much is because I feel that I can use it to express those feelings in safety and adventurous exploration.

With the world that we human beings live in, there are so many stressors. The stress that capitalism and greed bring to the world. The hidden truths of the past in the metropolis’ that sprang from the great hurt of oppression and continued active genocide. The stress of growing up and old, etc. However, with all these stressors, it is truly possible to simply tune out of the stress frequency and in to the soul’s truth. Mayhap that’s the reason for the origins of long-standing practices of hermitage, medicine people, active sports, etc. Caring for the body, brain and soul is a mission in this world. I’ve always been interested in the nature, the land, the growth, the act of tuning in and getting the healing. This week, I found myself deep in preparation and solitude. Deep introspection ruled my days and I didn’t know why but I knew that it was so very necessary. This is where my sisters come in.

I have some amazing sisters. No, they’re not biological and yet that makes them no less of my family. Our souls have lived, searched and flown together for millenia and as we continue in this life, it is as though we fall into a routine all our own. All queer women with passion for education and work in the arts, they constantly challenge me to be better and to truly embrace all of myself. How often in the world is there such a strong connection between multiple individuals? We are a force. A sisterhood that endures despite space and time. Spending 2 whole days together meant strength in elevation. We actively challenge each other to love more openly, to speak strongly, to move with more intention and to trust the process. It is so incredibly important to have a team to build with and to establish balance. Just how do we push ourselves to be our best selves?

Healing comes in so many ways. For me, heading back to a place that I experienced profound hurt and joy in, helped me to realize that returning somewhere doesn’t make me any less of the person that I am today. Healing is immeasurable. I can’t really measure how much I’ve healed in a year, but I do know that I’m different and that I know much more of myself today than ever before, except maybe in my childhood. I know that I mentioned it on this blog a while ago, but I did a performance piece last year around 3 enslaved African women. Phyllis, Rose and Fanny. They’re buried in Providence, Rhode Island and going back gave me a chance to visit them once more. I felt so incredibly connected to their spirits, despite the fact that they died 200 years before I was even born.  I laid on their grave in the greenest of grass and as I did, the sun shone on me brighter than ever and I felt warmed with love. They led me to find my own people. My own origins. They held my back as I cried and experienced such pain for the land stolen and the pain that is still palpable today. Ancestors have a hold on us. They guide us and teach us. I truly believe that there is no such thing as coincidence.

I’ve always felt as a sexual violence survivor, that I wasn’t the first in my family. There had to be a narrative of sexual violence, just as there is a narrative of patriarchy and male violence throughout history, thereby giving us the name “his story”. I was right. The strongest of themes from this weekend was love. I have been told repeatedly that I need to be “Loved in the Light”. Myself, along with the women in my family and ancestral bloodlines have been so accepting of being loved in the dark. We take love in the various forms but how often to we demand the level of love that we give, back? We deserve to be loved in the light. We deserve no excuses and action with truth and acceptance. I don’t know that I’m so comfortable talking about all I experienced this weekend with my sisters. Maybe it’s just supposed to stay between us. What I can say is that I’m calling for an Elder to help me discover and understand more of my Native American Ancestry. I’m excited to delve into documentation and artwork that calls upon all the energy I possess and to step into my light as a healer descended from power-filled healers. For the first time in a long time, I am excited for my life. I let the tears fall as they may and the love wrap around me as a warming blanket of comfort and I move on.

 

Love Always,

 

Damali Speaks Xx

Black Radical Women: An Exhibition & A Way of Life

Hey Speakerz! This week, I made my third trip to the Brooklyn Museum in Brooklyn, NY to see Black Radical Women: We Wanted A Revolution 1965-85 Exhibit. Each time that I go, I see more, I feel more, I experience more. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s back up.

As a child, I was always exposed to museums. My mother, a New York City English Teacher prized learning above all. And so, every summer or school break, she would drag me and my brother out to museums. She always tried to find the exhibitions of black men and women so that we could see ourselves mirrored in the subjects and for that, I am eternally grateful. In so many years, I can count on my hand how many times I’ve seen truthful, honest and beautiful exhibitions dedicated to the fullness of black womanhood. So in April, when I heard of the Black Radical Women exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, I actually shouted with glee. A whole exhibition dedicated to black women like me!

The first time I went, I experienced sheer open-mouthed joy. I ran through each portion, barely taking it all in and just reveling in the fact that these women looked like me, created like me and left things for me to find. Most of them are still living and making work. I was astonished. The second trip, found me much more focused. I scrolled through one portion, completely dedicated to the ideal of immersive living and appreciating. I was almost existing in these pieces as much as with them. These women, seemingly ordinary, simply took marked moments of their lives, in their movements, their speech, their questions, their art, their letters, etc. The third trip found myself alongside a partner of mine and I cried. I think visibility, the closeness deep in the skin, the remembrance, the acknowledgement of my own black and radical woman existence realized caused me to cry.


One of the most beautiful things about the Brooklyn Museum is that it’s donation based. I saw this exhibit each time for one dollar. I scoff at capitalism! But really, I found so much more than just defeating capitalism in the “radical” of these repeated visits. I suppose that I’ll go again, a few more times, and whatever reaction comes out of it is what comes. But what is it that all these moments from this exhibit really expose for me? Just what is a Black Radical Woman as I profess myself to be?

In the exhibition is a variety of mediums. There is film, paper, photography, fashion, etc. To move through the exhibit in it’s fullness takes time and attention. What is it to really see each of these women? How do I hold onto Blondell Cummings as she moves effortlessly on screen? How do I take in the fullness in the eyes of Ming Smith as she photographs her own visual? Where do I hold the emotion that wells up when I see Julie Dash’s Daughter of the Dust in screenplay and all her plans for the week in her planner? Black women demand presence and not just a cursory glance.


To be black, radical and woman is to be alive in this world. I think that our very existence in a world that seeks to shatter and annihilate us is resistance. All of these women showed themselves, their lives, their truths. To be a black radical woman artist is to share your truth in all of it’s ugly and beauty. The question that I’m left with is where my work fits in? Where would I like it to fit in? I accept the mantle of black woman and radical and yet there’s the object and how I am carrying it.

Love Always,

Damali Speaks Xx

She Ain’t My Wonder Woman: The Problematics of White Feminism and Film

Hey Speakerz! Another Monday, with more material. Most recently, there’s been tons of buzz around the DC comic turned film “Wonder Woman“. The film is the first in history to feature a woman superhero as a lead role and while some have fallen madly in love with the idea of a sword wielding woman taking no stuff, others have felt once again left out of the narrative. Why? Well because Wonder Woman in her fullness has always been a white feminist ideal, even from her inception. So before we delve in, let’s take off our hats of fragility, look at the facts and remember that equality should not come one gender, race, or social construct at a time. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Where did Wonder Woman begin and how? Her first appearance was in DC All Star Comics #8 in October of 1941. She was created by two white men by the names of William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter. The character modeled after the women suffragists of the turn of the century, namely Margaret Sanger, a white woman who like her peers fought for birth control, the sterilization of black women and refused to see past any other fight than that of white womanhood. Don’t believe me? Ask google. It’s factual. Since her inception, Wonder Woman has been given a more muscular look by yet another male artist, George Perez and declared bi-sexual in an effort to give her a broader span of audience.

Wonder Woman, or Diana Prince, as is her civilian name is an Amazon Princess from Themyscira located on mystical and magical Paradis Island. I’m gonna take a guess and if they call themselves Amazons, then they’re located deep in the Amazon Rainforest which is in South America which has the largest population of Black and Brown people outside of the continent of Africa due to the TransAtlantic Slave Trade, but I suppose that in the world of Comics that’s not so.

The thing that makes me question the most isn’t the factual evidence of Wonder Woman as a problematic source. What makes the question is the reaction to her. Are women, specifically white women,  so hungry for representation that they’ll take anything thrown in their way? This leads me back to a post I made a while ago about Nate Parker’s “Birth of a Nation” and the support given to him despite the fact of the one dimensional rape narrative that he presented in more ways that just the film. Being desperate brings about a terrible reality. We will accept anything presented even at the expense of someone else’s humanity. She ain’t my wonder woman because I don’t see any of myself reflected in her but also because she represents everything oppressive that I as a young, black, queer, lower middle class woman has ever known. Even if she isn’t oppressive to you, the fact that I am oppressed and expressing that reality should make a person think twice. If not…why? Why do you not question? Why do you not stand with me in my hurt, even though you will never understand?

Overwhelmingly, the film industry is still run by the rich, white and male. I could say many things about this, but let’s focus on the reality that the male gaze is still in complete control. So no. The film will not feature a complete adherence to all annihilation of privilege. It will have the male gaze because it is still engineered by and for the male gaze even in it’s seeming progressiveness.  What does it look like to completely band with fellow frustrated sisters? It is as though we are all still attempting to get into the “club” that wasn’t made for us in the first place. The “club” exists because someone is on the inside and the outside. It wouldn’t be the “club” if everyone was accepted. What poison do you wish to consume?

I shouldn’t have to convince you of my worth, even if I am well aware of my own self worth in this world. It isn’t this hard. Embrace all of our humanity. Embrace ALL of the Wonder of Women, not just those engineered to satisfy.

Love Always,

Damali Speaks Xx

For Sea & Sky. For Time Flies By: On the different ways of finding connection and the importance of grounding

Hey Speakerz! Yet another Monday brings with it another post and another look into topics and life lessons. Today’s topic came about mostly because of the 1991 film, Daughters of the Dust written, produced and directed by Julie Dash as well as so many other experiences. So often this week, I found myself questioning the reality in connection, a moment in time. I also found myself breathing into nature and realizing just how important earth and sea are to my very existence.

Just how many ways are there to connect with other human beings? I found myself asking this question so often and this week received SO many answers. I find that in this society where “connection” is often equated to sex in advertising and everyday life, I’m bored. I want more. So I find myself deep in conversations or just eye gazing, creating new work of art and lots of touch with consent and while this may seem strange, it says just as much but requires a different sensitivity. How often do we actually take the time to truly see another human being? I don’t mean just the beautiful parts, I mean the whole person, warts and all.

Connecting on a deeper level is more than just superficial wonderings and ideals. I often think that people fall deeply in love with the idea of a person and not the actual person. We are so bombarded with ideals of who people are, and so often, I watch people place expectations on others that are of those ideals and then are sorely hurt when that person doesn’t live up to what they wanted them to desperately be. But why did we need to make ideals in the first place? Why weren’t we allowed to see everyone as they are from the beginning? Where did these expecations come from in the first place and why were they seemingly necessary?

How is it possible to not second guess? When you’ve found a deep connection, how can we move aside our ego and simply be so present and not over-think and fill the future moments with wonderings of self and season? How much does self love play a part in staying present? Have you ever stared deeply into someone’s eyes and seen their deepest soul in all of its wholeness and somehow there you also see yourself? As scary as it is, it’s invigorating and incredibly awakening. I’ve always loved looking in someones’ eyes, eye gazing as it’s called, but recently I had an experience that left me unsettled in many ways. It left me deconstructing my own sense of self and maybe that’s selfish but maybe it’s also the self love journey in itself.

I’ve always had this deep fear of dark blue water. Strange, considering that I learned to swim at a very early age and would’ve lived in pools and ocean water if my mother had let me, but nonetheless true. I’ve always had this reality or inner knowing that there would come a day when I would walk into the ocean and never walk out. In the film “Daughters of the Dust” by Julie Dash, the setting is the early 1900s on the South Carolina gullah coast of Igbo’s Landing, the site of a time in history when, enslaved Igbo people arrived to that very island and rather than be enslaved, they turned and walked chained into the ocean in mass suicide. I don’t know if maybe that’s me remembering a past life or just an inner knowing of my own, but that story has always lived in my body.

This week, I spent a good amount of time in the ocean. I live about a 20 minute walk from the beach, and the water has always been home to me. But also, parks and greenery. I feel the difference in my sense of self when I surround myself with the world of nature. Although I can appreciate the beauty in social interactions, how often is it that I need the balance of personage and nature dwelling, solitude and aloneness? Most recently, I’ve been called to collect crystals and stones. They all require some sort of charging to cleanse and then incorporate my own personal vibration. Some I’ve cleansed in the ocean with me, some I’ve put lavender oil on and cleansed in the grass to soak up some sun. All of it, goes back to grounding and restoration of that sense of self that I so treasure.

To treasure, sweetness, and more realization,

 

Damali Speaks Xx