Rocking and Whipping into 2011

Last year, or the year that ended yesterday, I crossed paths with so many remarkable sisters either on a personal level, virtually, or through their craft. The gift of these women was ever more awe-inspiring when I got to meet many of them in person and form authentic, enduring connections. These women and their voices have empowered me in my work moving into this New Year, new decade. Their voices honor community, invoke a spirit of self-love, and celebrate the power we all have in common. I salute them all and share their gifts with you so you too can connect to your purpose in 2011.

Divine Purpose…
Surprisingly, my most profound moments of 2010 came for me at the very beginning and end of the year. Both are testaments of how divine spirit navigates our lives and fulfills our wildest visions. Going into 2010 when I was called to lead the Chicago/Windy City Cares Mentoring Circle of the National Cares Mentoring Movement, I gave only a fleeting thought to the possibility that I’d get to meet, let alone become a true comrade with its national founder, Susan Taylor. You know who she is, but if not get your history lesson on. While I’d dreamed all my life of writing for Essence Magazine, this current work is beyond anything I imagined myself bold enough to take up. But Susan has proven to be committed to work that touches and saves the lives of our children, thereby saving our community. And her solution to our most alarming plights is all so simple, mentoring our youth. To that end, Susan’s work ethic and passion for our people is selfless and sets a standard for what we owe our community. Her motto, ‘Not on our watch.” Find out more about NCMM or connect with a mentor opportunity in your community.

A New Way Forward…

Then in early December I attended the inaugural healing retreat and release of A New Way Forward: Healing What’s Hurting Black America. Side note: ANWF manual was also edited by Susan Taylor. That’s just a minor detail when you take into account the power of this weekend. The experience awakened something in my spirit that had been shut down since the violent and senseless murder of my good friend/brother in March 2010. After that tragedy, I closed off unconditional love for my community, for my people. But sharing in the trainings, hearing the testimonies, and seeing the abundance of love from others who have been wounded while giving to others allowed me to open my heart. Adding to that were the numerous powerful sisters I met like Dereca Blackmon , Oakland Bay Area spiritual/community activist and member of Oakland Cares Mentoring Circle; Tracey Bell Borden, who moved fashion forward in the fight for justice in the Oscar Grant murder, using fashion to amplify the message during demonstrations you could spot her designs of Grants endearing face and freedom phrases on T-shirts and art; then there was funny lady Meshelle Shields who is not only a comedienne, but SWB (Sister with a brain) She’s on leave from her doctoral studies in Psychology at Temple University. The chance to reconnect with the wonderful Asha Bandele was also a highlight of the weekend further cemented by the simple fact that she understood the relevance of the date we all convened to begin a historical healing. It was also the anniversary of the assassination of Chairman Fred Hampton, Sr father to our mutual friend Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr.

Dereca Blackmon fighting for justice in Oscar Grant murder

Funny sister, Meshelle Shields, the Indie-Mom of Comedy

But here is some more sister goodness!

I have to be honest and put it out there. Tracy Taylor is my best friend, my closest confidante outside of my hubby for the past 13 years. It is because I am privy to her personal struggles and challenges that I am so in awe of her ambition and tenacity. Tracy moves against all odds and creates the reality she dreams of and subsequently dreams of creating the best visions of Blacks on screen. This year she took her web-series, The New 20s, to new heights. From major screenings including Writer’s Guild Of America Web Series Screening, LA Web Fest; and featured in film festivals such as Mid Atlantic and the Texas Black Film Festivals; not to mention the awards and commendations. Still, the web can’t hold her, The New 20s made its television debut in New York during the series’ run at the New York Television Festival’s Spotlight Series. Major moves indeed. Be sure to check out The New 20s and look for the next season coming Spring 2011. So yeah, I am her unofficial publicist and president of the Tracy Taylor fan club.

Digital sisterhood
You’ll probably see a common theme in this write-up and that is “connections.” Ananda Leeke is definitely connecting sisters through her research for her memoir coming Dec. 2011. I love how she defines digital sisterhood and how she helps other women stand in their own power. I can’t wait until the book is published. But then again, I don’t have to because I’m following her on Twitter.

I have never had the pleasure of meeting nor virtually connecting to these ladies, but their work has touched me deeply. Check them out…

When I heard Majora Carter’s feature on Democracy Now back in the spring, she reaffirmed my vision of changing the vacant lot a few doors from my house into a community garden. Because of her, I marched into my Alderman’s office with a plan for transformation. Proud to say we are building the blocks to have the garden started in spring 2011.

Watch her TED Talk on Greening the Ghetto

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf


Turning the page…
I’d taken my kids to the bookstore to browse, see what new books they wanted. My daughter spotted a new novel by Jewel Parker Rhodes. I surprised her with it for Christmas. It’s about a girl living in Ninth Ward-NOLA and how she pulls from the best of her to survive Katrina. Powerful story. Needless to say I fell in love with it myself.

It was purely accidental that I came upon Alisa Valdez Rodriguez’s acclaimed Dirty Girls Club which has a pretty robust cult following. I admire her fight with big media corporations to keep the integrity of her work and above all for her commitment in honoring the historical context of the African Diaspora, especially as it relates to the connection Blacks and Latinos. I love a Latino sister that celebrates her roots from the Motherland for sure!

Keepers of the culture

It was a bittersweet year for black art and culture, especially here in Chicago when we lost the mother of Black Art, Dr. Margaret Burroughs, who founded the Dusable Museum of African American History. Though she passed at the age of 95, she lived a full and giving life. The saving grace is that her legacy is being carried forth by Dr. Carol Adams whose leadership of Dusable Museum is fortifying the collection of works birthed by the African Diaspora. community If you visit Chicago, be sure to Du-something for history!

Let’s Move

FLOTUS Michelle Obama kick started the campaign that put America’s big problem front and center with her Let’s Move campaign, the fight against childhood obesity. Not that I’m biased (wink wink) but this sure beats “Just say No” and “Stay in School campaigns.” I’m most proud that she is bringing much needed resources to communities that are dealing with food deserts and how her work helped get the Healthy, Hunger Free Act passed.

Whip it real good!
Willow Smith. With just three words this pint sized girl made whipping your hair the coolest thing to do in 2010. I Whip My Hair is the anthem for her peers, and heck even pushed the confidence level of grown women off the charts.

Black Girls Rock

There was so much buzz following BET’s special programming, Black Girls Rock. The vibe was contagious and seemed to be an extension of the pervasive spirit evident of 2010. The founder of the organization and executive producer of the special programming Beverly Bond is a visionary and is filling an indomitable void in the media’s display of how awesome Black women are.

There was no other moment this year that shored up my definitive faith that I can step out and devote my entire lifestyle to the development of all black girls growing up in Urban America.

But of all the honorees, one voice rang with clarity, a trumpet call for the life work we are charged with doing as human beings. Mrs. Ruby Dee gave us this precious gem in her acceptance speech:
http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:media:video:bet.com:1429791

I was a lucky, lucky little kid because I was engaged very early with words and ideas. One of the jobs of an artist is to try to make real that force that you don’t really see it except when you look in the mirror. You don’t really see it until you look at somebody else…All through the dark ages of racism in America you will find women in the forefront of so much. When I think of Fannie Lou Hamer, Mary McCleod Bethune, Ida Wells Barnett, and the white sisters who joined them and helped in their struggle…all of those human beings, were just doing what they were supposed to do. They were clearing the path for the people who were to come after them. That’s what we supposed to do as human beings…we make it better.

I’m not where I’m supposed to be, then always becoming!”

And with those words, I enter into 2011!

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4 Comments »

  1. ACZ Said:

    Happy New Year!

  2. Toussaint Werner Said:

    Now I’m all about the sisters but inquiring minds want to know, are there any inspirational brothers out there that motivate you to write? Imjustsaying

    • Very good question, Toussaint. There are so many brothers who inspire my writing. James Baldwin and even you are one of them. However, this was not about my work as a writer. This wrap up was specifically about the experiences that have impacted me in my mission to officially move my community work focusing on girls growing up in Urban America.

  3. drea s Said:

    Lovely and inspirational, as always. I wish I have known you were not aware of Alisa Valdez Rodriguez, she’s one of my favorites, I would have introduced you to her work years ago. Well now I know better, I can do better. Have a great day, lil sis. Love you.


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