“…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.

Worshipping women.

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.

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5 Comments

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  1. Thank you Khalya for highlighting these amazing woman! N.K Jermisin for serving “Futuristic Realness”… for seeing beyound and into the right now and into the future of our majesty. For Nikki Giovanni” O.G.Black Woman Divinity Realness “with her intutive ability to share the stories of our past mothers, of our right now mothers and of ourselves. And for sharing Sonlange’s” Intergalactic Realness” !
    Many years ago I embarked on a Solonge “Study”. At that time I found myself confused by her artistic choices. There was certainly and appreciation but confusion nonetheless.
    In an effort to connect to her story… her expression, I decideded to study her…to seek to understand. I cant lie, there were many occasions where my response was like ” WTF” especially at many of her early song recordings. However, what I eventually discovered and began to respect and admire, was a woman who wanted to carve a path of her own weather it was through her fashion, her DJing, her song writing she needed to do it her way. Finally, when I heard songs from Seat At The Table, I better understood. As depicted in her lastest albumns she has a vigorous love for herself and for blackness…. for those who have come before her ,for those who stand with her and for those who will come after her. Vivdly portrayed in video, I Decided ,2009 is her unapologetic love and pride for blackness which continues to echoe in
    songs F.U.B.U from A Seat at the Table, 2016 and ,my favorite from her current release, Down With The Clique from When I Get Home. I’ve simply fallen in love with her expression and her willingness, to be, at times misunderstood for the sake of her own clarity. But what is clear…is her sense of black womanhood and love for the people. Khalya please continue to share your wisdom and timely information with us! The journey of all black woman is real…we can do more together than we can do apart. Keep it coming ’cause…Black Woman Be Knowing!

  2. First of all great read as ALWAYS!!! Definitely loved Solange’s album and “Almeda”is my favorite song but the whole album has been on repeat the past two weeks. I’m not sure if it will get the same praise as “A seat at the table” but I think it definitely deserves it. The interludes were dope and I had to do some research on who was actually speaking because I had no clue. I loved that I learned something new while listening to the album as well. And I’m not hating but I am hating that you got to be in the same room as Nikki Giovanni. I remember asking you if you watched the entire interview with her and James Baldwin. I thoroughly enjoyed watching two generations speak on different issues pertaining to the Black experience especially issues that are prevalent today. Thank you for constantly being the woke individual that you are. You continue to open our eyes, minds and our hearts. Love you UGLY!!

  3. Awe! Thanks for this friend. I’m def going to check out N.K. Jimisin’s book. I love that Creative Soul Photography shot the dope picture on the cover. So, to answer your call, I’m saluting Kahran, the dynamic feminine half of Creative Soul Photography. I love the work she and her husband do to promote black imagery that is editorial with all its glow and glam but also real black beauty. I’ve been plotting a photo shoot with my fictious melanin rich babies for some time now since I’ve become familiar with their work, hehehee! Love that this art is now literally a representation of our Black future!
    🙂

  4. First of all I LOVE that image, I low-key thought that was one of my relatives lol. There’s so much about this post that I can say. I am so grateful for the timing of this post. Given that I (and the earth) am in a period of transition (as we have discussed), I felt that this post that incorporates the natural and the supernatural was spot on. You were able to communicate that we are magical, powerful, pioneers. It really resonated with me and affirmed my power.

    I have quite a few favorite lines from this post, grab a snack:

    “…We are the walking embodiment of God consciousness.” – Alexyss K. Tylor (A Black woman who be knowing) – YES! Just YES! This is exactly who we are. We are love, strength, gentle, nurturing and so much more.

    “I have chosen to curate the spaces of my life with joy, light and magic.” – this is absolutely beautiful, and above that, commendable! You live your life on purpose. You design it in a way where you cultivate an environment of growth, love and service. You serve us all with your creativity, talent and sincerity. We are better after we encounter you. <3

    "…you can find all of those things?… In Black women!" – Yes!

    "…we are IN this world but we are not OF this world." – I agree. As someone who is in her mid-twenties, edifying her identity, I have to consciously decide to be different and not follow the ways of this world. They are futile and empty. Being of the world would be a betrayal to myself. I choose to exist as me, even when it is discouraged.

    "We do more than survive- we thrive hunty." – This is deadass the theme of my life. This resilience to not only persevere, but excel, comes from my fav black woman ever, my Mami. Her response to opposition, that for others would have been insurmountable, is my reservoir of strength. I look to her when I am weak. She lives her life with such joy, in spite of her past experiences.

    "…her words serve as salve to all of my Black girl wounds." – This makes me happy for you, and you expressed it so beautifully.

    "We gotta stroke our own egos because when you’ve experienced and accomplished what we have, there’s no room for modesty." – I struggle with this. I think part of me is used to "doing what I gotta do" that I forget to celebrate the wins, but also many of my wins have come after ongoing hardships, and by the time I accomplish them I have felt "it took me too long." I commit to being more celebratory about the wins I earn. <3 I'ma be on my Snoop Dogg when he got his hollywood walk of fame star, "I want to thank me for believing in me. I want to thank me for doing all this hard work. I want to thank me for having no days off. I want to thank me for never quitting. I want to thank me for always being a giver, and trying to give more than I receive. I want to thank me for trying to do more right than wrong. I want to thank me for just being me at all times." Gang!

    "I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal." Yes.

    "I cannot be comprehended except by my permission…. 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." I love this. I feel my power.

    "Black women have endured White people on Earth and there’s nothing scarier than that." AWL FAX!

    "We live through violence and hatred by loving ourselves through our pain and we will bring that love into the future…" – So this is something that I want to discuss with you, the concept of surviving pain and the men who harm us… Cashmeoutside

    I love you. I love your work. I love what your bring to my life. Keep teaching me and keep inspiring me. <3

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