1. Vision and Purpose

Posted in Uncategorized on October 4, 2008 by alexis

Click here for a pdf of this activity created by Julia Wallace, Griffin HY and Alexis Pauline Gumbs:

View this document on Scribd

A visioning page for organizations, crews and projects.   Can your group answer these questions?
In 1977 the Combahee River Collective said “The most general statement of our politics at the present time would be that we are actively committed to struggling against racial, sexual, heterosexual and class oppression and see as our particular task the development of integrate systems of analysis and practice based upon the fact that the major systems of oppression are interlocking.”

How would you answer these questions about a project or group that you are involved in?

“The most general statement of our politics at the present time would be….”

_______________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________

“and (we) see as our particular task….”

_____________________________________________

____________________________________________________

For example:

soft_launch_julia

Julia Wallace,  founding director of Queer Renaissance responds this way:

“The most general statement of our politics at the present time would be….

Queer Renaissance works to end poverty and oppression within the local communities it inhabits through alternative & cooperative economics; education; and multimedia & new media technology.

“and (we) see as our particular task….”

Queer Renaissance creates media and local social networks that galvanize a progressive community to create change. There are four divisions of QRR that work to this end – Media Arts & Entertainment, News & Education, Community & Event Promotion, and the Marketplace. QRR seeks to awaken an appreciation for arts & artists, activists & educators, entrepreneurs & revolutionaries, meaning & media-makers by supporting  existing and creating physical and virtual communities.

It’s really all in the name.

When I use the term Queer I am speaking not only of people who identify as Transgender, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Gender Queer, Same or Both Gender Loving, MSM (Men who have Sex with Men), etc. but also to all people for whom the rigid binary gender and sexuality constructs are not life giving.

When I use the term Renaissance I am talking about a myriad of ways that I envision the reconnection of people to themselves and the gifts of life, love, and creation that are seemingly stripped at birth by cultural norms, gifts that I see being recovered. This return includes but is not limited to:

1. The revival of sexuality that is non-normative and/or fluid; revived for the full expression and exploration of a responsible and life giving boundless human sexuality.

2. The reawakening of the ability to and reality that people exist in all kinds of romantic and familial relationships from monogamous to polyamorous, from co-parenting to surrogate family creations, from single individuals to serial monogamists; and so on.

3. The resurrection of the fact that people are born with a range of genitalia, physiology, chromosomes, biology, spirits, body parts, and abilities. We want to affirm that all bodies are right, good, and normal. We want to assert that all bodies should be appreciated and allowed to participate and flourish in freedom love and live responsibly in the world.

Queer Renaissance seeks to recognize & revitalize these realities in our society, local communities, and artistic & cultural products through the creation and sharing of products, services, media and information.

To watch a video of Julia Wallace explaining the HotSpot technology that she is developing for Queer Renaissance see below!

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How would you describe the vision and purpose of your group!?

Send us your visions at brokenbeautifulpress@gmail.com, or leave a comment here!

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2. Spy Poetry

Posted in Uncategorized on October 4, 2008 by alexis

finding the truth is a poetic act of faith

finding the truth is a poetic act of faith

An old espionage trick was taking a message and hiding it in another message and using a special decoder to figure out the secret message. Cut out the shape below and place it on the paragraph above. We believe that finding the poetry, the queer push of words towards a vision of change hidden in the dominant narrative is a radical act.  Find the hidden line from the Combahee river collective.  (Or scroll down and cheat.)

Use this decoder (or create your own) to create your own secret message of hope and transformation. Where would you use spy poetry as a tool for social justice?

Remember how we used to ride bikes everywhere? I find myself reflecting on our youth these days.  Dreaming about the origins of that dinosaur game we used to play because in the way my memories replay in mind i think you weren’t really into historical stuff. That may not have been the reality. But i’ve been thinking of going back home to where those afro-american folks used to live across the street from us. Remember how they had women’s clubs meetings and they’d give us left over sandwiches? What continuous good times then. Who knew that life and death would come to mark our future so. We’ve seen a struggle or two right? For instance how we were worried about the survival of our garden that summer of the drought? And what about that harsh winter and our liberation that spring when the skies opened up.

(use your highlighter)

Remember how we used to ride bikes everywhere? I find myself reflecting on our youth these days.  Dreaming about the origins of that dinosaur game we used to play because in the way my memories replay in mind i think you weren’t really into historical stuff. That may not have been the reality. But i’ve been thinking of going back home to where those afro-american folks used to live across the street from us. Remember how they had women’s clubs meetings and they’d give us left over sandwiches? What continuous good times then. Who knew that life and death would come to mark our future so. We’ve seen a struggle or two right? For instance how we were worried about the survival of our garden that summer of the drought? And what about that harsh winter and our liberation that spring when the skies opened up.

highlight again below:


“We find

our origins

in the historical

reality

of Afro-American

women’s continuous

life-and-death

struggle

for survival

and liberation.”

Get the idea? Now make your own spy poetry!  Can you make a narrative the holds the words of the Combahee River Collective or some other words that you cherish deep on it’s inside?  Use it as an activity in your community, classroom or home…and let us know how it goes!

brokenbeautifulpress@gmail.com

3. Always

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 4, 2008 by alexis
slips in meaning

slips in meaning

Always. Like the word between love and your name in a love letter. Always. Like the pastel plastic promise that your period can become cute. Always. Like an ahistorical historicization. Like the production of eternity without witnesses. Like a recurring nightmare of hoping you exist.

The word “always” can be used to create a history where there was nothing but disbelief. It can also be used to make it seem like something is natural, just because it happens to have been going on for a long time. The Combahee River Collective Statement uses the word “always” to establish a tradition of black feminism that predates the work of the women in the collective, AND some folks have found fault with these statements about what black women have “always” been doing, because it seems to suggest that there is some sort of natural standard for black women’s behavior.

How do you (want to) use the word “always” in your movement work?
Use the space below to make 5 sentences that use the word “always” (or don’t) to describe the tradition and vision of your work as honestly as you can. You may notice that the word “always” has different meaning every time.

see http://thatlittleblackbook.blogspot.com/2006/07/always-queerness-of-reproductive-frame.html

for more!

A Reflection from Noah Blose:

Pauli Murray is from Durham North Carolina

Pauli Murray is from Durham North Carolina

Michelle L. told me that Pauli Murray was trans.  S/he was a founder of
the National Organization for Women.  How do we know when to name/claim
our own, and why do we or don’t we do it?  How and why do we rewrite
histories to see ourselves there?

Download this activity as a (double-sided) worksheet here!

4. Contemporary Black Feminism

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on October 4, 2008 by alexis

“Contemporary Black feminism is the outgrowth of countless generations of personal sacrifice, militancy and work by our mother’s and sisters.”

What does this look like?  Here’s what we think:

Here is an example from Lenelle Moise:

ffsmoise

Here is a collage by Lex

Send us your visions and illustrations as .jpgs at brokenbeautifulpress@gmail.com.

5. Obscure

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on October 4, 2008 by alexis
Who is at the table?

Who is (not) at the table?

“Both outside reactionary forces and racism and elitism within the movement itself have served to obscure our participation.”

The Combahee River Collective made space for black feminists to describe the ways their work in a larger movement was hidden and disrespected. What are some of the things that “obscure” (literally darken) or hide the labor of certain groups within our contemporary movements for social justice and transformation?

For example:

Sister Warrior Fabiola Sandoval who works with LA INCITE among other radical collaborations says:

Who is missing from many of the social justice organizing tables in the communities I belong in:
Older monolingual immigrant women, young mothers, young women of color from local high schools, and young children. For the most part it is those of us that are very well versed in social justice circles and predominantly college educated are the actively present attempting to make changes, dialogue, and in community heal when we do gather. Then, those of us that do what we do for the love of change and healing and are privileged to be equipped with the language navigating these communities pretty comfortably are doing so tired from over extending ourselves collaborating in many other projects. And I wonder and ask myself how can we bring light these obscure communities we don’t reach thriving from our own obscure exhaustion?

Silent collaborations:
At the SisterFire L.A. event Amaya and I sat in the crowd observing the artists at Mount St. Mary’s College, my alma mater. A Catholic women’s college that did not allow for queer groups to form and also didn’t dispense birth control information when I was student over five years ago. It was powerful and reaffirming to be among many queer women of color artists gulping the fierceness surrounding our sexuality and autonomy at my traditional alma mater, with Amaya by my side.   Filmmakers, poets, spoken word artists, comedians and singers beheld that tiny auditorium.

Around that corner is my day job and many immigrant women that live in the Figueroa Corridor community that could never even make the time to gather around the arts in the way I was.  Yet, in my bag were my own writings that are mostly for my own sanity and not to showcase to the world, not the face-to-face world at least.  The few writings that have had the privilege to be brought to life in writing.  Most words ferment getting stuck in my mind and tongue never making life because of insecurity, day-to-day full-time work, motherhood, and activism.

As I swallowed the energy around me, Amaya decided to take off her overall dress and remain with her undertights and blouse walking around even more confidently.  She brought smiles to many faces around us. Her fearlessness juxtaposed by my inhibitions with my own words was humbling. A couple women around me shared their admiration for Amaya’s “outrageous” prancing in undertights. The youngest person in that room did a grandiose thing, that only a couple of us captured. Unintentional inquisitiveness sparked a giggle, a lesson for me, and admiration. In this very safe and healing circle, beauty is embedded in each corner, child, and surrounding communities. We have to look with such keeness to capture these obscurities.

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Noemi Martinez founder of Hermana Resist offers the following guidelines for creating inclusive community:

Noemi Martinez is a writer, and organizer and a single mom.

Noemi Martinez is a writer, and organizer and a single mom.

How to Build a Community

that involves single parents, or steps to take so that I won’t be part of your community

first, what is your definition of a community?

  • realize that parents are people. Realize that parents are people. Realize that parents are the same people you knew before.
  • realize that parents can be activists, but they are also parents. They have different things on their mind. Single parents often have things such as food, rent, money, health on their mind. Unlike the single person, they are usually thinking of their child(ren) when they think about these things. Sometimes a single parent (take me for example) cannot concentrate on the latest protest, though important as it may be, because I may be thinking of what will my next job be, and the addition of subtraction of money in my head.
  • to build a community, parents and children should be welcome and not feel they can’t attend a meeting/event because of their baby(ies).
  • don’t roll your eyes when someone brings up childcare.
  • realize the different situations of a single parent and a family that has 2 parents. If you don’t realize the difference, start asking questions.
  • since when does your community involvement only concern the childless, or those that can leave their kids with someone else, the other parent, a spouse/ or friend. Yes, in theory, the children can be left with babysitters. Who need to be paid.
  • ever think why parents stop being involved in community events and meetings?
  • if single parents don’t feel you or the community cares about what it means to be a parent, a single parent, they won’t seek you out for help. This is not community. This is not a welcomed community.
  • parenting and being a role model to kids in your community is important because they will be the activists of tomorrow.
  • ask yourself why access to cultural events, planning and meetings for single parents is not important enough for you to have thought of before.
  • why is motherhood and heavens forbid, single parenthood a step back in the eyes of activists and feminists? If the choice to terminate a pregnancy is radical, why isn’t the choice in being a mother radical?
  • why don’t single parents attend your conferences, trainings, meetings, skill shares? Do you care that single parents don’t attend your events? Are you really thankful that snotty, bratty kids are not around to ruin your Utopian experience?
  • don’t you want the next generation to care about the same things you care about? When will this happen?
  • radical SINGLE parenting, heck, single parenting is so so fucking DIFFERENT than a family with 2 parents. SO SO DIFFERENT.
  • racism almost always comes into play for single mothers of color.
  • what new skills and influences will single parents give their children if the community doesn’t think it’s important for them to be involved? Luckily for me, I am awesome in all respects and will/am teaching my kids all about alternative media; non gendered play; violence in cartoons; baking vegan goodies; single mom awesomeness who uses a hammer are always the hero; that we will survive; writing; sewing; crafts… and so forth.

These questions and concerns, I believe, will never be resolved. But these are some of the reasons the single parents in your communities might not be receptive to your call for actions. Retreat, re-access, prioritize is the common measures taken by single parents when they see the resistance to others caring about their concerns.
Noemi Martinez
http://www.hermanaresist.com

Stacey Milbern is a poet and a disability rights organizer.

Stacey Milbern is a poet and a disability rights organizer.

Stacey Milbern responded to this prompt with an open letter:

Hey sister,

Thank you for your letter. I am in constant amazement of how every word that drips from your pen is poetically prophetic and so real to your experience… but you already knew I was a fangirl, right? : )

Dancing is a central part of how you see the world and interact with your body. Since I didn’t think I interacted with my body in the way that you do with yours, I was really curious to how movement/dance related to your experience as a disabled queer woman of color, let alone all the other stories, identities, communities that shape you…like how did you take something we are told everyday is ugly and shameful and reclaim it as yours, let alone get in a place where you can be so unabashedly beautiful?

It has been quite an experience to learn to love my body in a way that’s not just political, but on the personal level, too. It’s so hard talking about this because I feel like mainstream media has branded any kind of conversation like this to be about white teenage girls’ self-esteem…it sucks out experiences of colonization and oppression, it turns conversations about community liberation into ones about just liking yourself, and completely ignores their [dominant culture media] role in all this. Talking about bodies also makes me angry, because like you said, there are whole disciplines, campaigns and movements that are supposed to be about us but then completely miss how our bodies are central to our experiences. If they only knew how much my body plays a role in the way I navigate the world, in my activism, in my love…but maybe they never can? The fact that they can even overlook or completely miss something so powerful as the body is evidence of how our movements and our studies mirror mainstream society and not the experiences of people living on/at the intersections of complex identities and experiences with various overlapping, intersecting –isms?

Part of me is glad though. Maybe this is meant for only us to know. Maybe this is too powerful for them. Maybe it would lose its value if everyone knew it, if dominant culture or assimilationist social movements had the opportunity to co-opt and appropriate it. Right now the way we interact with our bodies is a secret to be shared in letters, between the flexes of arms, legs, and spins in your dances, and in deep connection to the foremothers. What do you think?

Anyways. I love you so much. So thankful to be connected to you.

With you always.

Stacey Milbern

So how do we make sure our events, meetings, gatherings are accessible to everyone we are accountable to?  Click here to see an ongoing list of strategies for accessibility.


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What about you? Who is missing from the table you are dismantling?

What are some of the forces within and outside of our movements that make this happen?

6. Craziness, Conscious, Concepts: Sexual Politics and Feminism

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 4, 2008 by alexis

“Black feminists often talk about their feelings of craziness before becoming conscious of the concepts of sexual politics, patriarchal rule and most importantly, feminism, the political analysis and practice that we women use to struggle against our oppression.”

What do we think about these concepts of craziness and consciousness in our movements?  Do we move from craziness to consciousness?  Does our consciousness lead us to to new levels of crazy? Is the point of our organizing to feel un-crazy?  Who says what crazy means anyway?  How did you feel before gaining some of the tools and words that we use as organizers?  How do you feel inside your movement(s)?  What are some of the political analyses and practices that you use to struggle against oppression and create clarity in your organizing?

Check out I Wanna Live the radical self-care site created by women of color in Washington DC (including the brilliant Kismet who commented below)!  I wanna live features visual meditations on what self-care means for women of color, sparked by a redefined relationship to anger members of INCITE: Women of Color Against Violence in DC created during the Summer of Our Lorde.   Reflect on the image above in honor of the young, gifted, queer and black Lorraine Hansberry.

Add your comment here or send us a response at brokenbeautifulpress@gmail.com

7. Drawn Together

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 4, 2008 by alexis

“A combined anti-racist and anti-sexist position drew us together initially, and as we developed politically we addressed ourselves to heterosexism and economic oppression under capitalism.”

What draws your group together? OR What draws you to to the people you organize with?
What are some of the main issues and audiences you address yourselves to?  Use the space below to start a love letter to the movement or movements you are committed to building.  Be sure to let us know who your letter is addressed to!!!

For example queer black New Jersey based scholar, educator and community organizer Darnell Moore says:

to my beloved community of radical radicals: [those who have been colored by race, kept bound by sex/gender normativity, trapped in systems of economic inequality, rendered alien]:

i scribble my judgments/my feelings/my love/my rage/my life: on paper.

i locate my “self” in the dis-located spaces that seek to confine me: on paper

i refuse to be bound, i’m a refugee on a journey constantly scuffling with violent metonyms (it’s hard being a “faggot”) and authoritarian ideals: on paper

if i don’t, then those behind me won’t feel the residual heat of my incensed voice: on paper.

so i write.

i write to produce a perpetual fire that will set ablaze new understandings.

my desire: to watch racist/sexist/classist/ethno-centrist/neo-imperialist/capitalist ideologies and apparatuses go up in flames as if they were hit by a smart bomb, a moronic product of the military state’s own design

i write words that are arbiters and catalysts; they are birthed to produce action, resistance and confrontation.

they are attentively designed to raze structures of power that consign hes, shes, hirs and zhes to marginalized interstices.

so, i write

to demolish inequities and disharmony.

i write to hearten and galvanize a community on the verge of revolution.

i chose not to write for you as if I have perfected the art of masculinist story telling (and I don’t want to), so i write in solidarity with you.

yet, i chose to not only write with you, but also:

to stand beside you…

to be your co-conspirator in the struggle for justice…

to carry you when your have been weakened by rhetoric, invectives and state-sanctioned regulations…

and if your blood is spilled by war/abuse,

body destroyed by poverty/neglect

or if your voice is silent because of fear/laws then i will write ever the more.

i will stand until my black knees begin to weaken,

fight injustice, beside you, until humanity’s sin is banished to the background of a new global agenda

and i will be: existing in unity so that we may disrupt “power.”

darnell l. moore

Post your letters as comments here or send them to us at brokenbeautifulpress@gmail.com!