“…We are the walking embodiment of God consciousness.” – Alexyss K. Tylor (A Black woman who be knowing)
Happy Women’s Herstory Month! For those of you who have been following my blogs, you know that while I hate the cold, I love February and March because I get Black History Month and Women’s History Month back to back. You know who falls into both of those categories?… Black women! Ooowww!
I’ve been reading a lot of posts on social media and people are already over 2019. I don’t know what’s been happening or where all of the negativity is coming from but I have chosen to curate the spaces of my life with joy, light and magic. And you know where you can find all of those things?… In Black women!
Just assume when I ask a positive rhetorical question, the answer is Black women.
Recently, I’ve been bombarded with the confirmation that Black women are not only dope, we are doing shit that continues to prove that we are IN this world but we are not OF this world. We are creating, singing, writing, thinking, speaking in a way that only we can. I’m gonna just talk about the Black women who have been giving me life and showing that Black women are on such a higher level, we got the rest of y’all on blood pressure meds.
Because these Black women are so fierce, I’m gonna have to introduce them in RuPaul’s Drag Race runway style. First up…
Solange serving Black Woman Intergalactic Realness
So I don’t know what y’all were doing on March 1st at midnight but I was sleeping. However, that was the time that Solange came out with her gift of 39:02 worth of artistry, melanin and magic for all of us to unwrap, A.K.A. the album, When I Get Home.
I know that some folks have been throwing a little shade at the album saying that it’s not as strong as A Seat at the Table but the women in my circles were listening to it everyday and quoting it all over social media and have been all month. I think I understand what the issue is for some people- A Seat at the Table centers Blackness but When I Get Home centers Black women- so consider the table shook.
But she did more than just shake the table, she created an earthquake off the Richter scale.
- Let’s talk about the track, “Almeda” right quick.
She gives an amazing tribute to Texas and their particular brand of blackness on this song. For those of you who haven’t listened to the album or paid attention to the lyrics, let me give you a snippet:
Brown liquor, brown liquor
Brown skin, brown face
Brown leather, brown sugar
Brown leaves, brown keys
Brown creepers, brown face
Black skin, black braids
Black waves, black days,
Black baes, black things
These are Black owned things
First of all, I could’ve heard her say the words Brown and Black all damn day. Hell, she had me looking for brown and black shit all over the place like ‘I spy’. I was like brown bag, brown pants, brown wood, Black panther, Black lipstick, Black wigs, Black gums, Black magic, keep going. It was just a celebration of Blackness that I couldn’t ignore. That is my absolute favorite track on the album.
As I told y’all in my first post, I hate Henny but when she kept yelling brown liquor, I felt like I wasn’t Black enough unless I had some. Of course, I didn’t drink it but I have some in my house. She just made me so hype to be Black- as if I’m not hype enough already -but it was the upliftment that I needed to hear to keep my BHM/WHM going strong.
- Can we talk about the interludes?
These interludes were so good. I immediately thought who are all of these people on these tracks? Don’t act like I’m the only one who consulted the Googles. She had everybody on there from the legendary Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashad, the ancestor, lesbian poet, Pat Parker and Crime Mob’s Princess and Diamond.
Yaaaassss to all of this Black girl representation! We are so complex- we are wise, talented, intellectual, sophisticated, ratchet, sophistiratchet and she captures all of our dimensions. She makes that complexity clear on “Grab the mic” when she goes into a spoken-word-type recitation,
I can’t be a singular expression of myself.
There’s too many parts, too many spaces,
Too many manifestations, too many lines
Too many curves, too many troubles,
Too many journeys, too many mountains
Too many rivers, so many
This, this and all of this! This refusal to be one thing. Black women are so much, sometimes too much for people to understand and when people don’t understand us, they reduce us to their basic ass projections.
That was a call for all of us to grab the mic and speak our truth, shut down basic ass people with basic ass ideas about us simply by affirming and acknowledging our complex selves and our humanity. I also loved the many references to nature and our connectedness to that. It’s beautiful to listen to and imagine.
For anyone who listened to the beginning of “We Deal with the Freak’n” and didn’t feel like you were transported to another universe, you must’ve gone deaf. The sounds on the album are just otherworldly and add so much depth to the message of the songs. Pat Parker’s distorted voice on the interlude, “Exit Scott” as she recites “Poem to Ann #2” adds an element of disorientation and sounds as if she is performing mind control. I was entranced the entire time that I listened to the album because the production goes so hard. Love flows from the samples that she chose and the album in its entirety.
Thank you Solange, for sharing your artistry and your love for Black folks, particularly the way you connect with and honor Black women. Who else can love us like us? I am grateful for this project and for your ability to see yourself and to see us.
Next on the runway, we have…
N.K. Jemisin serving Black Woman Futuristic Realness
I’m an avid reader but sci-fi isn’t my go-to genre. However, when you go into the bookstore and see the title, How Long Til Black Future Month?, you don’t just walk past that shit like you ain’t see it. N.K. Jemisin does some pretty dope things in this collection of short stories.
First off, Black women are definitely in the future but we ain’t no props, sidekicks or token friends. We are healers, warriors, spies and all kinds of kick ass shit you don’t get to see Black women do although we do these things everyday. In one of the stories, “The Effluent Engine” Jemisin revisits the past by reimagining some historical events. Jessaline, a spy, is seeking an engineer who can take the gas from rum and create fuel that can be used for weapons. But the dopest part- she is the illegitimate daughter of the revolutionary, Toussaint Louverture.
You know what’s even better? She’s a lesbian. Yes, LGBTQ folks existed in the past and they’ll be in the future. Jessaline has to choose between love and war which is a familiar theme in texts and movies. Again, Black women are not one thing and the way she writes about intersectionality is really special. I love that Jemisin captures these multiple identities without it sounding like she had to create a forced, exotic character.
Why else is the book on the radar?
In the story, “The Narcomancer,” the society prays to a GODDESS. Yes, god is a woman in this story and I am here for Her. I think of the Almighty as female/feminine anyway but to read it.
In a book.
With male characters.
And the male priest is referred to as Sister.
Is fucking amazing.
Only a Black woman would write about some shit like that and make it sound totally believable. That’s ultimate power but there are so many instances where Black women are put in positions where they must grapple with their power, their morals and their humanity. I am an educator and while I’m a neophyte to the Sci-fi arena, I saw so many teaching opportunities. We can all wrap our heads around freedom, community, redemption and power. And while I tried not to bring up White folks in this post, we all know White men and power don’t go together cause white folks ain’t shit but Black women show us another way. This is an amazing book where we get to see Black women run shit and really shape things in the future.
Bops to Beyonce’s “Who Run the World (Girls)” in my head.
Last year, I read Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death which is insane in all of the right ways. There is a lot of sex in that book so it automatically got an A review from me and Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone centers a Black girl warrior and I believe the book will be hitting the big screen. These authors are having so much success because Black women are not only in the future; we make sure the rest of y’all have a future. It just re-emphasizes that Black women have always been the backbone of humanity. We do more than survive- we thrive hunty.
Our final queen to grace the stage…Y’all ain’t ready for this one. We’re bringing her back. Play dramatic music and show exaggerated surprised faces.
Nikki Giovanni serving O.G. Black Woman Divinity Realness
Recently, Nikki Giovanni has resurfaced/ been introduced to some young people when a video of her in conversation with James Baldwin went viral. One of my first memories encountering Nikki Giovanni was through her poetry on season 5 of the best show to ever be on television- A Different World.
A Different World needs a whole other post from me or maybe even a podcast but I’ll stay on topic. The episode, “Mammy Dearest,” conjures up the issues of colorism, stereotypes and reappropriation. This is an important episode and the characters’ relationship to these issues are handled masterfully. One of the main characters, Kim talks about her struggle with loving her dark skin and she reclaims her love for herself through a performance of a poem by Nikki Giovanni that is regal, powerful and DIVINE.
The classic poem, “Ego-Tripping (there may be a reason)” is laced with Black woman divinity because again, we are not of this world. The beginning goes,
I was born in the Congo
I walked to the Fertile Crescent and built the Sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
That only glows every one hundred years falls
Into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad
I didn’t understand the poem when I first heard it because I was only about 7 years old when the episode aired but I knew that the poem had power. Looking at that first stanza, I am overwhelmed by the way her words serve as salve to all of my Black girl wounds. This is about Black women in the past, traveling sacred, historical lands creating greatness- building mythical creatures, creating pyramids. And that last line of the stanza.
I AM BAD!
Talk about an affirmation right from the beginning. We gotta stroke our own egos because when you’ve experienced and accomplished what we have, there’s no room for modesty.
She goes on to say,
I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended except by my permission
This goes back to Solange’s “Grab the Mic” interlude. We are so amazing, we are incomprehensible to everyone else and you can only understand us if we allow it. This is POWER. This is empowerment. Giovanni gets Black women right with this poem. Read the whole thing to yourself every morning as an affirmation. I printed it out and it hangs on my bulletin board at home.
As I mentioned in my last blog, I had the pleasure of hearing Nikki Giovanni give one of the keynotes at a conference last month. Let’s just say, when Dr. Giovanni speaks, you not only listen, yo ass takes notes. One of the things she said that just caused a reflective, reflexive Yaaaassss was her adamant feeling that Black women need to be and will be in space. Black women need to be scientists so that we can ensure that we’ll be represented on another planet.
She says (and I’m paraphrasing) that people are concerned about alien life forms but Black women have endured White people on Earth and there’s nothing scarier than that. If we do end up in outer space, we’ll survive because Black women have endured violence and rape. Out of rape, sometimes come children. And Black women will do what we have always done with those children: name them and love them. Things won’t be any different on Mars- so we are more than prepared for life beyond this planet.
We live through violence and hatred by loving ourselves through our pain and we will bring that love into the future and onto another planet because that is what we’ve always done. We won’t just make it to the future, we will remake the future because as Dr. Chris Emdin said, “Some of y’all are operating in place but we operate in space.”
Drop your comments about the Black women you are celebrating this month and everyday. Who is or has been on some otherworldly shit? Shout out the known heroes and the unsung women in your lives who are giving you life because…
Black women are the past.
Black women are the present.
And we definitely are the future.
And if you don’t know, now you be knowing.