Archive for history

12. Testify

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


“Even our Black women’s style of talking/testifying in Black language about what we have experienced has a resonance that is both cultural and political.”

Is there such a thing as Black language? Or Black women’s style? Maybe there are many non-normative language practices and many manifestations of black femininity. In this passage, the authors of the Combahee River Collective Statement draw on a tradition of “testifying” most commonly remembered as statements of faith spoken by members of black churches, and black southern churches in particular. We say that testifying can also be used outside of churches when people express the profound and sometimes difficult truths of their own experiences. We have seen breakthroughs in analysis, relationships and action when people speak deeply about where their faith in movement and their energy for organizing comes from.

What are 3 things you can testify to as important experiences that have built your faith in the world you want to create?
Check out the piece from Ashon below:

Ashon Crawley

Ashon Crawley

Leave your 3 testimonies as comments here or email us at brokenbeautifulpress@gmail.com!

16. Victory and Failure

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

“During our years together as a Black feminist collective we have experienced success and defeat, joy and pain, victory and failure.”

What are some of the contrasting experiences that you have had with the folks you are organizing with right now and the past? What have you learned individually and collectively from those experiences?

Leave a comment here or email us at brokenbeautifulpress@gmail.com

17. Being Difficult: Questions

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

“We have found that it is very difficult to organize around Black feminist issues, difficult even to announce in certain contexts that we are Black feminists.”

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What desire, anxiety, hope and love do you feel towards fellow members of your oppressed group?

What’s a time when you could not speak your political stance out loud? What caused that? What would it take to make your vision more speakable?

Send us your reflections about these questions at brokenbeautifulpress@gmail.com or leave a comment here!

18. MORE DIFFICULTY

“The major source of difficulty in our political work is that we are not just trying to fight oppression on one front or even two, but instead to address a whole range of oppressions. We do not have racial, sexual, heterosexual or class privilege to rely upon, nor do we have even the minimal access to resources and power that groups who possess any one of these types of privilege have.”

One of the biggest ways that the Combahee River Collective has impacted the world is the development of what some call an “intersectional” political practice. This is a belief that all forms of oppression are linked and that in order to rebuild the world in the image of our own miraculousness we need to work together to work at the place where different oppressions meet.

The “major source of difficulty” that the collective members point out remains today. Those of us working to transform the world often lack many privileges and don’t have access to power because of who we are and the work that we do. And, even within our movement we have different levels of privilege of power.

Use the space below to imagine some ways that we can use our privileges creatively? (from driving a car, access to education, technological skills, connections to people with wealth, to citizenship, race, class and gendered privilege) What are ways that we can build power without access to the rewards of the society we are intending to replace with our radical vision?

Alba Onfrio is a Queer Radical Southern Missionary

Alba Onfrio is a Queer Radical Southern Missionary

For example Alba Onfrio of Southerners on New Ground says,

Use the space below to imagine some ways that we can use our privileges creatively? (from driving a car, access to education, technological skills, connections to people with wealth, to citizenship, race, class and gendered privilege) What are ways that we can build power without access to the rewards of the society we are intending to replace with our radical vision?

Sitting at the feet of an amazing elder, Pat Hussain, she once told me that the thing about privilege is that “you can either spend it or you can waste it, but ya’ can’t give it away.”

Growing up with a coal miner’s daughter, I learned real fast that you use what you got, that’s how you get what you need to get by, and as the youngest of eight, growing up as a sickly child in an Appalachian family, what she had was manipulation, and she taught me it well. In those sweet, Southern arms she had the power to control life and death. Protocol and gentility never wavered in our home, and it is there that I learned that the power to inflict the most pain did not, in fact, lie with the one who has the biggest stick, but with she who truly knows your soul and can crush your spirit with a word.  Let them do for you and pay for you and carry the heavy stuff and call you darlin’, not because you can’t carry the load yourself(that’s beside the point) or because you like it(even if you do), you let them do it because it makes them feel important and needed, but you’d better be paying close attention because if you ever have to do for yourself(which you will), you damn well better know how to do it without asking for help. That’s where the power lies—in your survival, and that’s what they can never know… until it’s too late. The secret truth that we are all we need, and we can make it.

Now I’m a thrifty shopper, but I like to spend my privilege strategically, subversively, and when it’s done to perfection, well, my, it is delicious! I don’t know if she knew it or not, I think maybe she did, but as they were correcting the “fer” in my accented speech, and making me set that 10-piece place setting for dinner, and that tea party for my tenth birthday, and read Miss Manners with my feet crossed at the ankles… those were all the lessons I could never learn in school. Did she really want me to aspire to that? or did she know that the propriety I learned would inevitably mix with the mental agility and femininity I was honing? Those grammar rules and that proper English… I use them to teach our beautiful, struggling “illegals” how to use those words to survive, and those dresses and stockings and heels… I wear them proudly as I get on my knees to give my lovers pleasure, to enjoy my own lust as it runs down my thigh to greet them. And those manners for that fancy dinner party? Why, yes, thank you for asking, I use those too and that $120K piece of paper from Duke; I use them to infiltrate space they would never let us in if they knew who I really was, and while I sip that expensive wine; I listen; I study; I learn, and as I thank them for the wonderful evening, I strategize how best to use it in their demise. The revolution is not coming, my dear, it is here, and while I fight for its swift collapse, I have to disclose that this system of oppression does well by me, in so many ways, and then I remember that even though the promised land is intimidating because I can’t always see it, these moments I feel so connected to you make me willing to spend every ounce I’ve got for the chance of getting us to freedom.  And as I’m sitting in that pew, calling on those verses I learned so long ago and asking God for the faculty and opportunity to convince them of our worthiness to exist, as queers, as women, as people of color, as refugees, I am also asking for strength to keep spending this privilege and thanking God every day for letting me find you along the way.

song_logo_2-Alba Onofrio, January 16, 2009

21. To be free

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

“If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.”

What does freedom look like to you? How are freedom and justice connected?

Complete the sentence

If I were free, it would mean______________________________________________________________ since my freedom __________________________________________________________.

Feel free to make an illustration of what freedom looks like to you.

High school english teacher Emily Chavez shared this exercise with her students

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Click here genres-of-freedom-english-ii-to-be-free-responses to download example responses from Hillside High School students in Durham.

Kriti Sharma is a community based biologist, supporting and affirming life.

Kriti Sharma is a community based biologist, supporting and affirming life.

Kriti Sharma of UBUNTU and the UBUNTU Grows community garden writes:

If my dadima was free, she would have land to whom she could give generously, and who would give her back a humbling abundance of vegetables and spices, fruit trees, birds.  She would have land that would meet her, dance with her, offer her countless gifts for every measure of effort so lovingly given.  She would invite whomever she wanted to come visit her there, and even that at times of her own choosing.  Yet she was married at the age of 13, giving generously for decades to the rocky land of a marriage that grew so little of what sustained her.

If my nanima was free, she would tend to her own body with devotion, her skull-splitting migraines and gnawing anxiety subsiding to the peace of knowing there was nothing to do, nothing more important than her endlessly generous body healing, piece by piece.  By the grace of turmeric, aloe, amla, and some heavy doses of aspirin and Tiger Balm for good measure, she would love herself to health as fervently as she’d love her family to full bellies and healed wounds.  She would know her body as an end unto itself.

If I were free, I would stop the machine that keeps churning desi women out to gratefully give our very lives up, as moths die ecstatically in flame.  I would notice when I find myself acting in ways that compromise my health and well-being, and add to the suffering of other women of color.  I would be lucid about my confusion, acknowledging the force of patterns set into motion from the time of my birth, from the time of parents’ birth, from a time almost beyond memory.  I would uncover my inheritance, like heavy, buried treasure.

If my daughters were free, they would be born awake, their third eyes open.  Being born, they would know, immediately, where they were born: into oppression, which is like a wheel that was spun long ago and that we spin again and again and again through our lives and collective actions, giving it momentum.  With clear insight into the sources of their suffering, and the skills to end that suffering, they would act with a vigilance and power such as the world has never seen, slowing, slowing, slowing the wheel down.

My dadima is free.  She gives life to basil and marigolds, neighbors and children.  She laughs hard at good jokes, is good company to herself, and is learning against all odds to read.

My nanima is free.  She’s born now into another body, one that she’ll have every opportunity to use for good, one that she’ll love fully and well.

I am free.  I hold my life precious and brief, and diligently sow the seeds of liberation while I can, not a moment to lose.

My daughters will be free.  They will face the world bravely.  They will finish their own stories.

for more by Kriti Sharma download a free copy  her zine Moral Revolution below!

Kriti condensed Sarah Hoaglands Lesbian Ethics into Zine form!

Kriti condensed Sarah Hoagland's Lesbian Ethics into Zine form!

Email us your completed sentences and/or illustrations at brokenbeautifulpress@gmail.com!

23. Found Each Other: An Illustration

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

“The overwhelming feeling that we had is that after years and years we had finally found each other.”

Have you ever felt this way?  What might this look like? Make a drawing or a collage or a painting or anything.

Quirky Black Girl Leah made this video playlist in honor of finding you!!!

Leah is the official DJ of the Quirky Black Girl Movement!

Leah is the official DJ of the Quirky Black Girl Movement!

This playlist is dedicated to those those she who have recently reunited with her self, her soul, that which completes her, her purpose…her joy.
xo,
Leah
Alice Smith, “Dream” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8nWkii2wwo
Bob Marley, “Natural Mystic” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_r8HEJojWBs
NIna Simone, “Here Comes the Sun” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSSIlx9hiu8
Santogold, “L.E.S. Artistes” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCeZzW54a2o
Anthony David, “The Water/ The Fire” http://music.yahoo.com/track/44436202
Bilal, “Somethin to Hold On to” http://www.imeem.com/people/w7vIJa//music/-urrkRD5/something_to_hold_on_to/
Breaks Co-Op, “Question of Freedom” http://www.last.fm/music/Breaks+Co-op/_/Question+of+Freedom

The Cinematic Orchestra, “To Build a Home” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhHKfSFGdUI

Coldplay, “Sparks” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ar48yzjn1PE

D’Angelo, “Found My Smile Again” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aP7nlYZN1fA

Jill Scott, ” Do You Remember” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z97o_rCDuPc

Maxwell, “Whenever, Whereever, Whatever” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RW_L69tyj0M

Jaimie Lidell, “Wait For Me” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djB9cJW5Gs4

Marvin Gaye, “You’re a Wonderful One” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_eB_-ia0I4

Goldfrapp, “Little Bird” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4l4PkcX8UEM

Maxwell, “Silently” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYRGbjNfJ94

Nat King Cole, “Orange Colored Sky” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdi97HHYJew

Quincy Jones, “Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister)” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVxyiL9vWk0

Santogold, “I’m a Lady” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQ94krsqFHg

Emiliana Torrini, “Big Jumps” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CF7sER73TY

Neneh Cherry, “Woman” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0W212af1uk

Jill Scott, “I Keep/Still Here” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVH-WvSBx-8

D’Angelo, “Africa” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgtjSPkuJ-E

Send us your celebration at brokenbeautifulpress@gmail.com!