Tag Archives: Black Women

Learning Liberation Week 2: The Trauma Response

Week 2 of #BlackWomxnWorkThroughTrauma and we’re met with a world in turmoil, and as a black queer womxn, I can say that my fear and trauma are at the surface of my experience. Let’s dig further into this week and the experiences that shape the current world.

When I was a teenager and obsessed with reading, I read that Yoko Ono once said that “Woman, is Nigger of the World”. I remember putting the book down, getting in bed and sobbing from that one statement. I never knew why I internalized it and in time, I forgot about it until I picked up the book from which this blog gets its name. “In Search of my Mothers’ Gardens” by Alice Walker. In the book, she exclaimed a similar reaction to the words of Yoko Ono, a woman of color herself, dismissing other women of color. You see, I and my fellow black sisters are women and black and we are alive. So, by definition, we are excluded from Yoko’s world of womxnhood and I can take it even further and say  our existence in invalidated by her assessment.

This week, there was a gathering of white supremacists. Lives were lost, and trauma response was brought to the forefront for most of black America. “Trauma Response” is the way in which one responds in a traumatic situation. It may not make sense, it may be hurtful, it may be filled with what seems like anger, rage, etc. In some way it is. I am reacting from a place of primal existence and not necessarily with calm reasoning. All of black America has been surviving with trauma response at the forefront of centuries. How does this manifest in black womxnhood and how do we work through the trauma?

First is to diagnose that there is in fact trauma and a response to that trauma. Many Black womxn have been taught to ignore their feelings, their reactions and to be strong and move through. But what if our move through takes a longer time? How do I admit to feeling helpless, rageful and exhausted without causing someone to want to comfort me? Maybe I don’t want comfort. Maybe I want to instill a sense of moving forward. See my trauma and move with me.

All reactions to the invalidation of black people’s existence from black people, black womxn in particular are valid. I am allowed to yell, to scream, to be rageful, to make a facebook status, etc. We must allow space and time for each of our reactions and then force ourselves to do the work that is moving through.

In this week, we must all take the time that we need. Self care. Self love. How do we establish trust in ourselves while moving through this difficult time? Little acts of trust. Take yourself on a walk, make some cookies, take a shower, wash your hair, lay on the run for 5 minutes. It is the small acts of trust that not only remind you that you are in face alive but that you are worthy of the space and time that you occupy on this plane. Take that time. Make that space. Only you can do that for you.

I send you love and healing and I embark on my own healing journey.

Damali Speakz Xx

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. 

Open-Minded Is Dangerous: Meditations on Un-Learning, Re-Learning & Listening

“You have to be willing to teach men, baby.” My mother said as we delved deeper into both conversation and cheesecake. I looked up at her like “Que?!” This was coming from the woman who raised me and my brother as a single parent, and is now happily tied with my stepfather as they treat each other like beautiful gifts instead of roles to be set and conquered. I sat confused. I sat hurt, not because of anything to do with sexism or patriarchy, but because in some ways I was reaching too high and my wings “needed” to be clipped by a “reality” that I never consented to join in the first place.

Hey Speakerz! Yet another Meaning-Full Monday with yet another blog post! This week was one that seemed to fly by and while time is a social construct, I do think that weeks/days/years/hours/seconds have their own distinct feel. Last week felt like Unlearning to me. “Unlearning” is a term that my friends and I tend to use in conversation regarding discovery of self and the world around us. Most of us are millennials in our mid-late 20’s. Yes, we’re the ones who are constantly shit on for being different. Every generation has their “moment” in which the previous are like “they’re destroying everything”  and we’re no different. “Unlearning” encompasses the act of deconstruction. Taking apart everything that you’ve been taught, evaluating and deciding what to salvage, what to discard and how to move forward. Today’s post is largely concerning “unlearning”, “re-learning” and “open-mindedness” in terms of black queer womxnhood in conjunction with experiencing patriarchy, sexism and misogyny.

The other day, I sat with my mother in Juniors (a magnificent place for Cheesecake in NYC. Like seriously. Go there) and as we sat and talked, she asked me some important questions as she usually does. Black mothers have this uncanny way of making you think about the exact thing that you might have been avoiding in a gentle but firm way. I honestly think it’s genetics. But I digress, my parents who are older than your average Millennial parent have no idea what to do with me or the Millennials in general. Sometimes when I talk with my mother, our views clash because I have no intention of living my life as the generations before lived theirs and I realize that the uncertainty in many ways leaves anxiety for those who are nearing the end of their cycles on this plane.

Explaining my Openness in my sexuality to my mother was something that I never really considered as an anniversary, mark on the calendar moment. I never really had a “coming out” moment. She knows my preferences and has her own reservations and homophobic moments and I establish boundaries. I’ve been attracted to so many various types of people for so long that for me, embracing the fact that a “scale” of attraction is in many ways unnecessary for me. Embracing a label, even Queerness is something that I use for convenience in conversation rather than to define myself. At the same time, as long as I know myself well, and know what it is that I want and need and can communicate that openly and honestly, then that’s all that should matter right?

One topic of conversation that sat so strongly with me all week was the danger in being so open-minded. With all the beautiful, brown, open and openminded womxn that I know and love, all of us have found great love amid great strife. As educated and in many ways privileged as we are, we find ways to filter a space that annihilates ideals of right and wrong, good and bad and ugly and beautiful. We simply exist in our truth as different and in many ways holy as they are. Black and brown womxn in the new generations in specific seem to be unwilling to compromise as we move forward and I honestly believe that is what will change the world for the better.

This idea that womxn have to be gentle with men and their fragile egos is something that I find myself and my sisters pushing back on. If I can dismantle the problematic ideology that I was conditioned with, so should men. The expectation should be present more than anything else. Let’s change the narrative. I’m finding more and more that as we unpack this conditioning of marriage and children being the height of a womxns’ life, we find more equality and stability. I have no intentions of being “equal” with anyone. I have every intention of engaging in humanity. I’m human and so are you, different as we are. I want equity. I want accountability.

So often, I’ve been confronted with conversations that start with “well that’s just how it is”. But don’t “we” as a society make it that way? Therefore, that very same “we” can dismantle it. Taking part in the problematic behavior does nothing to correct it. Blame and shame are games that society toys with, especially with black women. We are shamed for our preferences, for our thoughts, for daring to reach higher than our foremothers did. Yet still, we do so unapologetically. Therein lies the danger. To be black and womxn is dangerous. To be black, womxn and open is another type of danger entirely. To have an open mind in my opinion, which changes every day is to acknowledge that learning is constant. I may think/feel this way today, but tomorrow, I can think/feel something else entirely. I grow with every moment that I spend in this body, time, place, etc. To find all types of people sexy, to want to experience them sexually, intimately, emotionally, and/or otherwise and to be unapologetic about that behavior is in many ways contradictory to society’s goals of sameness and this is again seen as dangerous. It is something to be ashamed of rather than liberated by. Sexual assault is not a coincidence or a random throw of the dice, it’s a tactic. 

Patriarchy and misogyny along with a host of other societal pressures and conditioning prevents human beings from fully experiencing our whole range of capability. Black Queer Womxn have for centuries turned all ideology on it’s head and for that we’ve been assaulted, molested, raped, killed, etc. It may hurt to speak about, but poison bites two ways, on the way in and on the way out. To acknowledge and to move forward is to raise a new generation of womxn. Womxn who are strong and fearless, are human and precious. It’s all a part of the un-learning.

Re-Learning is fun because it’s all a new process. Actively creating a new way of operation is a part of the healing process. We can’t have one without the other. In positions of privilege, how do we as human beings and more specifically as black and brown people, best support one another?

Do we listen? I’ve been reading a lot of articles recently on the importance of knowing how to listen. Last week, I was with two friends, both black males and I just sat and listened. There came a point where they both asked me what I thought about something and while I gathered my thoughts, they talked over and past me and soon the moment was gone. I could’ve pointed out the misogyny, but I decided that all of this was a learning moment for me. I don’t always want to have to teach men, especially black men about their patriarchal tendencies. Be accountable for and to your own self!

Just how do I listen? I enjoy listening to others speak and while I take everything in, I become a sponge. I’m not in a talking mode because I’m fully invested in listening mode. So often we listen to respond and especially for those conditioned as male, the expectation to specifically grasp the idea that deep thought is separate from a moment of deep listening isn’t present. Listen with more than just ears. Listen with your whole self, your entire atomic self and see just how much you pick up. I say this for everyone, all people.

How do we spend our time? In my world, time is my most precious friend, partner and confidante. If I choose to spend my time with you, if you have access to me, then you are probably important to me in this moment. How do you decide who gets that access and why? If someone abuses it, how do you handle the misuse?

How often do we pass the mic and let others speak? It’s not always important to speak. Your experience isn’t the only one that matters. There are different levels of this even among black queer womxn. If the space is for a specific moment, acknowledge that and act accordingly.

Everyone wants to feel and be seen. Just see them. 

As I continue to grow and learn and listen, I hope that I stay open-minded, but I also commit to doing the work to stay that way. Open-mindedness is a choice. A dangerous one. One that can cost life and love, but I like to think that we can all find completion in what we desire with knowledge of self.

Love Always,

Damali Speaks Xx