Tag Archive for 'BOLD'

black band

i am going to begin wearing a black armband on my left arm, closest to my heart, to indicate that i am a warrior in mourning.
that #blacklivesmatter to me.
that i recognize i am of a targeted nation inside a violence-addicted nation.

i am so moved by and so grateful for the work of #blacklivesmatter, the blackout collective, BYP100, black organizing for leadership and dignity (BOLD) and so many others working to generate actions for our liberation. (give money to each of those groups if you are at a loss of what to do. redistribute a portion of your salary to their work. for serious.)

and…we can’t hope that these currently under resourced formations will just do all the work for everyone. we all need to act. we need a tipping point of brave people willing to move out of complicit silence into action. (yes, i am saying that the resistance in your head or even in righteous conversation between you and a few friends is not enough – honey i wish it were. no one wants to feel all of this and do all of this. but we are in a moment of genocide and anthropocene and we must take ourselves seriously.)

we need all kinds of action – direct action, organizing, healing, strategizing, redistribution. grieving is an action. feeling is an action.

and solidarity. not “ally” solidarity, but solidarity and action by non-black people who recognize we are in one struggle for humanity.

one action is actually being public and open about our resistance, to say we see what is happening and we say no more, not today, never again, stop. we see beyond what is happening and we know love must win.

so. i want to wear what i need – a black circle, a wholeness.

as i cut up a pair of black leggings to make my armband i felt all the things i am longing for. this isn’t what everyone who wears the armband may mean, but i wanted to share.

mervyn marcano posted #blaxit the other night and i thought – ‘yes!!’ and then, ‘but seriously how do we divest from this system of genocide?’

i want to stop paying the percentage of taxes that goes to police, ICE and military forces – to defund this perversion of justice and invest in community models, mediation and healing spaces.
i want to pull all the babies out of schools that teach them they are more than or less than anyone else – either with sloppy histories or preferential treatment and funding of education.
i want a landless workers movement to secure farmland. i want my hands in some dirt – i want octavia butler’s acorn and earthseed.
i want all my money to go to people who love me, love us.
i want the precious earth to be a shared precedent that unifies our decision making.

i want all white people to catch up to the white people i hold close to me, who show me what is possible – those who never make me wonder about our equality, who never say all lives matter, who never ask me to carry the weight of their learning and unlearning.
i want to banish any white people who don’t get it, and who aren’t working on unlearning racism, from my life and the lives of everyone i love (you don’t have the range).

i want significant work stoppage across the country every time our lives are stolen because someone imagined we were dangerous to them. our money matters, our labor matters.

i want people to know when they see me that i am to be treated like a griever and like a warrior and like a healer and nothing less. i want us to come out in our grief and radical commitment to liberation.

this is bigger than police killing of black people – this band is my public declaration of war on white supremacy in all it’s manifestations, including racialized capitalism, colonialism, difference-phobia, gun fetishes, violence as a way of resolving conflict – all of it.

it is also my public vulnerability – i grieve every time i see humanity turned against itself, i feel it. and i believe it is part of my life’s work to feel it and turn others towards feeling it, to un-numb us so that we realize we are on fire. i am not going to keep adjusting and maintaining the social status quo. i am angry and numb and overwhelmed and terrified. i am mourning and trying to step into the shoes of all my newborn ancestors. i need it to be known. i need the world to interact with me with more awareness.

in studying public signs of mourning this one seems most appropriate and accessible. it has also been a sign of protest and political affiliation at times. i think we need it to be both for grief and for resistance. i also know i would feel safer in a world where those who stood against the genocide of my people were visible to me.

i recognize i may be wearing this armband for the rest of my life. i keep thinking of the length of slavery, how not being the property of a white person seemed equal parts necessary and impossible for generations and generations. not being the target of police, ending white supremacy and racialized capitalism feels impossible to me now…but it feels absolutely necessary.

all the love i walk with only lets me move in one direction, towards our liberation.

join me.

#blacklivesmatter #blackband #blaxit

blackband

(and yes, join in all my non-black and international beloveds, especially those being targeted too – this week i have cried for so many people and places all over and i feel our togetherness in our resistance even if we start from different locations. i wear this band with love for palestine, syria, bangladesh, turkey, brazil, iraq – and that’s just this week. together we are the future.)

i cannot run to freedom/interdependence by any means necessary

feb 26:

tonight i was walking home across a space that was once a plantation, once had a whipping tree, once had a school, once was a major source of cotton, once was a lot of things i cannot see in the soil. the stars are bright and everywhere.

today i got to watch barbara ransby, linda burnham, n’tanya lee and kali akuno share stories of their years in black radical/revolutionary movements – the choices they made in terms of where to place their distinct offerings. they were facilitated by my north star, denise perry. they are each, all five, young with commitment.

and i feel too old. i shouldn’t be walking. my leg is in a brace, because of grief or weight+time or just because i have done something yucky to my left knee. all of the above? i have acupuncture and chiropractic and orthopedic doctor appointments behind me and in front of me, and lots of loving caring people around me who are supporting me to rest and heal.

but sometimes i want and need to be alone under the stars, the so-clear-and-familiar stars that always make me feel both smaller and more at home in the universe. tonight was such a night, my heart full and tender with black love and black grief.

my gait is different these days, painful as i hitch along, one leg always straight, the other overused, my hips tilting. having to sit, prop my leg up, ice, rest, wait, get rides, depend depend depend, accept advice from anyone who sees me, watch others dance…i do get to feeling self-pity.

then, here on this land where black organizers gather to contemplate all the paths to freedom, i think of slaves. i walk the sucking mud and crackling leaves, struck again by how loud everything is in the dark. how did anyone ever get free when just breathing is such a thunder?

tonight i was moved to tears by my current state, my vulnerability. if i time travel back, in my mind, exploring what my magic witchy wild self would have done on this land, i hope i would have rebelled and run away. but i cannot feel it in this body. i cannot run to freedom. i cannot even dance the way i want to.

these days it feels like all i can do is ask for help. this doesn’t come easy, but i do it, i practice, i forget and get reminded, i practice some more. i resist, and then practice some more.

i am changing through this injury, my perception widening. there are so many others like me. as i am wheeled through airports i suddenly notice there is a whole society of people being wheeled around, in various states of temporary or permanent disability. occasionally there is camaraderie or curiosity, but it’s not a given. in me, a certain amount of being either ignored or body shamed produces a turning inward.

my own internalized ableism is so big right now, i don’t want to be noticed in this difference, in this need. i don’t even want to have to transform this pain into magic. i just want to howl and run fast and dance low and be wild.

feb 29:

as black history/futures month comes to a close i am feeling tender and ecstatic. the gathering of Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity filled me up, overflowed me with a sense of wonder and possibility for black people.

i also loved the concurrent celebrations of blackness that were happening, any of which i feel sure would have nourished me:

in LA my loves in the octavia e butler legacy network gathered to honor the ten year anniversary of the transition of my heart-study octavia butler.

in jackson mississippi, black sci fi heads gathered for planet deep south.

there was also a gathering of the echoing ida team.

it was black girl genius week and before that black tech week.

and this was a week after i got to facilitate the foundational meeting of the ida b wells society for black investigative journalism.

and all of it at the end of a month full of escalating direct actions and black musical explosions (i have been reveling in beyonce and kanye and rihanna and chance the rapper and others), music dancing with messages that got everyone twirling and meming and conversing.

we’re feeling the reverberations of movement thinkers and organizers who are continuously dreaming for black people. that is what flowed out of stevie wonder’s mouth as he dressed down governor snyder in the culmination of the magnificent #justiceforflint event last night, where $130,000 was raised for babies who have already learned, too young, that lead can poison.

(i think in the history books, stevie’s truths will resound louder than chris rock’s shameful attempt at whatever he was simultaneously doing out west)

and me? i landed home feeling stronger, more self-compassionate and loving. i went to the orthopedic doctor and got the next steps lined up for my healing journey. the last few days, and these past few months, feeling how many people were/are loving me and wanting to care for me, wanting to support my health and my body as it is right now, and wanting to see me slow down and land inside my health…all of you are helping me to turn and face some truths.

i cannot run right now. i cannot even imagine future running right now. but i can imagine dancing.
and i can imagine nurturing those who run, cooking and plotting and strategizing, dreaming and singing to the moon, quilting maps, and building such deep ties with those who can run that they would always come back for those who cannot, we would always be part of one liberation. i can see as far as 2050. i can see black emergent strategy, radical black interdependence, landing and proliferating inside revolutionaries like dandelions.

i have to offer and receive interdependence. that is the most strategic thing i can do in my black body right now, let myself be quilted deeply into the pattern.

i am sitting in three intersecting commitments for my somatic work – to authentic intimacy and generative boundaries, to teaching more with less words, and to resilient movements that sustain relationship through change and difference.

i am turning towards my body and asking what i need to do to sustain relationship with myself through change and difference. offering myself less story and more feeling. really listening to my truths and to the boundaries i need in order to fly.

and all i can hear is black love.

nanowrimo, BOLD, and other grown folks business

i am writing my second novel this month!!!, so i won’t be blogging much, but wanted to come on here to share a few things:

1. the novel i am writing has a serious and intriguing situation at the center, but no real plot. i am having the time of my life writing it. i hope someone out there is interested in reading racialized parallel universe snapshots.

2. i was just at BOLD in north carolina – black organizing for leadership and dignity. it’s one of the places i go to restore my soul and spirit, my cool, my belief that the living liberation i long for is possible. it’s one of those things that is difficult to explain when you aren’t there, being with black people intentionally cultivating our dignity, our right to feel loved and safe in our black bodies. we move, dance, sing, struggle, change. all of that is everything, but the thing that is blowing my whole mind right now is that one of the participants, an amazing starlight named kesi, said i was cool. me!?!? and then, another southern starlight named aaron wrote a poem for me !!! and he said it out loud. and then he posted it. the poem actually captures the collective experience of BOLD, this is what we do for and with and to each other. if you love black people you should be supporting this organization.

3. i finally set up a payment plan with a certain entity which has been chasing, hounding and disrupting my peace for several years. it is the lowest i can possibly give because i am still politically at odds with the priorities this entity stands for, and at some point i am sure there will be some other solution that makes the need for this payment plan go away. but right now i feel grown and exhaling at having gotten it solid.

4. i am a month into not smoking. so. !!!

5. i am 20 days into a sugar shift and have managed to hold my head up and my sense of decision making power throughout travel – even through the sweet tea pie shaped dessert fried fish wonderland of the deep south. i am doing this and my novel writing challenge in community, and i feel immensely supported, seen and powerful.

6. i have bitmoji now. now i can finally express myself in text messages and elsewhere.

7. santigold gave me this. and sam smith put this on spotify. and i spent most of the month listening to alabama shakes sing joe.

*update: and then erykah gave us THIS!! timely pleasure activist mantra.

8. i took a day off today, which meant i read volume 5 of saga, my birthday gift from my sister autumn. it was INCREDIBLE and inspiring. and then i found this article, and i read it, and i felt – astounded. astounded. imagination goals – this man used his imagination to survive being stranded at sea for 14 months. here is a taste:

“Alvarenga let his imagination run wild in order to keep sane. He imagined an alternative reality so believable that he could later say with total honesty that alone at sea he tasted the greatest meals of his life and experienced the most delicious sex. He was mastering the art of turning his solitude into a Fantasia-like world. He started his mornings with a long walk. “I would stroll back and forth on the boat and imagine that I was wandering the world. By doing this I could make myself believe that I was actually doing something. Not just sitting there, thinking about dying.” With this lively entourage of family, friends and lovers, Alvarenga insulated himself from bleak reality.”

ok that’s all for now. if you miss me, write me a poem, or a story, or a love note, or a anything. besos til december (unless i desperately need to procrastinate, like this, with you)

my #blackaugust575 haikus

This was my third year participating in Black August 5-7-5, a black liberation spiritual practice month. Here’s what I created:

Aug 2

Sun all up and close
Warm your broken heart on us
We are all black love

Moon when night has come
Let the violent tide roll out
We reflect all life

.

Aug 6

Took my black out wild
Set her free on the mountain
She won’t stop howling

Bare black and cold sea
Before and after scorched sun
She can’t stop howling

Rode waves and forgot
To be cautious or withheld
She howls with laughter

The universe knows
My name, my gifts, my shadows
She has been calling

I’m naked, again
Beginning it all, again
First: my life matters

Then: our lives matter
Our failure and forgiveness
Opens the future

Then: our time matters
Go wilder, go in on joy
Massive black love joy

– #blackaugust575
From British Columbia

.

Aug 7

We grieve babies
Braid their names into our hair
Sing them new stories

Memories don’t sleep
We tell our grief to the moon
She gives us ocean

.

Aug 8

Always Anyanwu
Telling Doro ‘be gentle
You’re killing your heart’

We swallow the years
We learn to heal from within
Our children will win

.

Aug 9

We wish you were here
We wish you were a stranger
August always child

We love you so much
We remember your story
We send you on home

– for Mike Brown

.

Aug 12

Arrested black girl
Head high, hands high, deep center
Walks with dignity

– for Ferguson

.

Aug 13

Sitting in silence
And then sun salutations
Now I am ready

.

Aug 14

Stand in the circle
Let your dignity shine bright
You have that blackness

Stand in the circle
Cast yourself wide as ocean
You of these people

Stand in the circle
Place yourself in the lineage
You are right on time

Stand in the circle
Tell me what you came to do
With your black body

Now move, change, center
Change change change change change change change
With brilliant blackness

– towards a Black Somatics
#blackaugust575 #blacklivesmatter #blackbodiesmatter

.

Aug 16

Now Julian Bond
Becoming ancestor now
Get that deep rest now

.

Aug 18

Black love remembers
Outside of this time and place
Our miracle selves

.

Aug 21

Black girls in the woods
Naked again in daylight
Sun and tree love us

That hippy ass shit
Will get us all the way free
The berries are sweet

Don’t forget the earth
When you have a prayer to lift
Press all the way down

Don’t forget your skin
When you have to carry dreams
Cast them into black

.

Aug 29

Swamp heat knows our names
Trees remember our black weight
The water our taste

.

Aug 29

Let go with the moon
She moves oceans, she’ll move you
She’ll lift your burden

report back: loving on st louis

“we need this. we have needed this.”

spannaltaderrek

that is what we heard over and over from the people who showed up to saint john’s church on grand avenue in st. louis this past week. i am now reflecting at home after an incredible and intense week as part of a healing justice team from generative somatics and BOLD who flew in from detroit, new york, cali, hawaii, miami.

lisaalta

deniseprentis

we were invited and anchored by patrisse marie cullors-brignac, cofounder of #blacklivesmatter, founder/co-director of dignity and power now, and general sister goddess extraordinaire. she collaborated with the brilliant ashley yates, one of the first st. louis activists to call the nation to attention. it’s something else to be in either of these women’s presence. both at the same time? black girl magic.

patrissestarsky

ashleystarsky

our host at saint john’s UCC was reverend starsky, who really does give me andre 3000 pulpit edition, and president marco, who gives hugs that feel like rearrangements. they are flanked by uncle/brother cornelius and kara, who took care of everything we could need, and camielle, who hung in with every single thing we did the whole week.

these blessed people have been offering up a space and structure for healing, gathering, song, prayer and growth for a long time. seven months ago their church became one respite in the war that the st. louis police department is waging against the people. so that’s where we went.

i tried to write y’all while we were there, but i couldn’t. the place is both too beautiful and too heavy. and i actually wasn’t even alone to write or reflect the whole week, except for a few ten minute showers. those who know me well will know how incredible the week was, because i didn’t notice not being alone, i just felt love, love and purpose, the whole time.

adaku

octavia butler reminded us that ‘god is change'; st. louis is a city overflowing with god. the conditions and mood change constantly, and each person we met showed that same ever mercurial energy, along and under the surface. they had other jobs, and loves, lives and grief, often very fresh grief, when they were called on to become the front line of a defensive battle.

that is, when mike brown was murdered.

mikebrown1

i have to share with y’all about where mike died. not anything new, but something deeply felt. it is different to see something on the news, and then to touch and breathe it.

on our last night in town, after days of healing and loving up on st. louis, we went to the place where he was gunned down. i always knew it was out in the open, i’ve seen the pictures and film. but there are so many windows looking at the street he ghosts. there it is…on a major street in a housing complex where a thousand eyes of all ages were able to easily look out from their living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens.

as we pulled up, a young boy walked across the street. as he stepped off the curb i wanted to build a fortress around him, knowing it’s impossible, knowing there are so many boys like him. one of the grown men we did healing work with wept as he spoke of being young, large, awkward and black – feeling the fear people had of him in the face of his innocence.

mike was murdered in a neighborhood ringed by three story apartment buildings, many of which now stand empty. he was murdered on a road folks speed down, between a busy parking lot and a slew of yards and balconies. there are two monuments where he died, one long and slender in the middle of the street, the other a mountain around the base of a streetlamp nearby. they are primarily constructed of stuffed animals – teddy bears, toy elephants, soft floppy birds, pink puppies. mixed into this pyre of toys are candles, letters, protest signs, sandals and shoes, v for vendetta masks, flyers, folded banners, cardinals hats, jerseys, photographs.

mikebrown2

mike’s face looks out from the pile, his beautiful young face. his familiar stranger face.

the fur of the toys gives the effect of a muted rainbow in the yellow lamplight, pressed upon by time, slumped, tainted. these teddy bears have been through the first winter mike missed. toys. it’s so sad, so devastating, so enraging.

rage. there is no other way to speak of it. i can’t find anything beautiful in it.

when i stepped from the sidewalk onto the street, my gut started shaking and didn’t stop until we drove away. it’s a stained tar middle passage – the body knows when it crosses a place of hate.

“we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”

after the memorial we went to the ferguson police department, one night after the police chief stepped down and two officers were shot. there were black activists holding the center – ‘if we don’t get it, shut it down’ – white activists, clergy, politicians.

i have been many places where we yelled ‘no justice, no peace’, and then, for a million reasons, we went home. but in st. louis right now, the truth of those words is so palpable – i feel it in my bones. this is the gift st. louis has given the nation. this small, tight knit, intimate, imperfect place has been showing us, for 216 days now, what it means to deny any myth of peace in the absence of justice.

brittanycamielleprentis

being black and loving black people in an armed and militarized police nation infected with unchecked institutionalized racism is traumatizing. the shivers that journeyed my body standing across from the ferguson police department felt like intelligence. i could see the fear, the desperate longing for control on the police faces before me. armed and dangerous humans, and they are in a war against people who are…living and black. some of us are flagrantly and radically living, resisting and calling out the truth.

but the ones getting killed in this war…there’s so much innocence in the murdered ones.

and in the survivors.

“it’s so much scarier when it’s just in your head.”

the people who came to sit with us each day are the heart of this local movement that has captured international attention. they are warriors, comrades, beloveds and people of faith. many of them are young in that way that feels lit from within. several older folks came to check us out and it was humbling to see them look the younger activists in their eyes and say ‘you changed me’.

wiwo

every single person who came through our doors had trauma before, after, inside and outside of the moment on august 9 when they learned mike brown’s name and story, when they drove to ferguson and wouldn’t go home.

spannprentis

our team was led by lisa thomas-adeyemo and included alta starr, denise perry, prentis hemphill, adaku utah and myself. we centered, taught, did one on one sessions and story circles, sang, saged, practiced, listened and held everyone we could reach. we worked with people as individuals and groups to move trauma out of their bodies, and to give them practices for bringing what they care about to the center of their lives and decision making.

theteam

each day was emergent, and each day we learned more about each other’s capacity and the place we had come to. there was a lot of awe, wonder, resilience and love.

adakulisa

denisepatrisse

the work we came to do, somatics, is not about healing for the sake of individual wellness, though that is a radical act for any people slated for extinction. it is about healing trauma such that individuals and communities are not operating in reaction to oppression, and not relinquishing control over and over again because of changes outside their power. it is about organizing our lives, ourselves, around what we most care about and long for. and then living positive, generative, whole lives from that place.

ambandprentis

there is always going to be so much devastation to react to, especially for those of us on the wrong side of racism. the trauma won’t stop. if we hope to advance, we have to find ways to move through and out of the vice grip of trauma that so drastically limits our choices.

it felt like a beginning. so much more is needed.

lisa led us in a song the last day that keeps rolling through me:

‘we gonna rise with the fire of freedom
truth is the fire that will burn our chains
stop the fire of destruction
healing is the fire running through our veins’

#blacklivesmatter freedom song

a couple of months ago i was on a piece of special and haunted land in north carolina with BOLD. i was facilitating our national gathering, where we had a lot to look back on and look forward to – #blacklivesmatter was born of three BOLD participants and as we vision the future there is not only the terror of the ongoing and escalating violence against black and brown communities, but in this moment the joy of movement, of having thousands in the streets together, of feeling like justice is possible.

that saturday morning i woke up from a dream in which i was in a massive crowd marching, dancing, singing and blowing brass band horns to a song i had never heard before. i sang it into my phone, and then i couldn’t stop singing and humming it as i got ready. freedom song, freedom song, i got to sing my freedom song – i love my people oh i love us so. i got my freedom and i won’t let go.

then i went into the morning session where sister-doctor alexis pauline gumbs led us in a practice of chanting in small groups using the words of brilliant black feminist ancestors. my group worked with the words of harriet tubman, ‘my people are free’. as with many of the words passed down from tubman, this declaration is futuristic, complex. but as we chanted it, it became – oh – so tender, so simple, so clear that that was the truth that everything tries to make us forget. we wept and rocked and laughed together, and i can still the way each of the women in my circle co-created the opening we felt.

that evening the rest of the song came – black lives matter. black lives matter. black lives matter to me. your life matters, my life matters, black lives matter to me!

i recorded the whole thing wearing my #blacklivesmatter hoodie, my uniform for the latter half of 2014. i sent it to the BLM team for feedback and they posted it. one of the people who saw it, another brilliant black woman in the lineage of harriet tubman, is phaedra ellis-lamkins. because of her, with the help of the black lives matter team (patrisse, alicia, opal and damon), and the recording support of invincible – the song now has an incredible video full of the moments that inspired this song.

here is the video.

my next dream to sing it at a march with a brass band, dancing.

black love as a radical commitment

i am writing to you from a plantation, but it might also be the future.

this space, the franklinton center at bricks, was once a place that slaves were sent to be broken in. for centuries.

and then it was a christian school in the same white charitable tradition that led to many of our historical black colleges and universities. for decades.

now it is a retreat center and, if prayers are responded to, in the most tangible manifestations, the future home of BOLD – black organizing for leadership and dignity.

reparations, soil up.

i donate facilitation time to BOLD each year because i believe it is our best chance at liberation. not just black liberation, though that would be enough. but i believe that the liberation of black people represents a realization of the human experiment, the resolution of a tension born out of our distance from the sacred truth of who we are. stardust.

we are sentient miraculous beings. on a magnificent planet, possibly the most biologically diverse planet in an apparently infinite universe, or multiverse. at least so far. who knows – as far as we have seen, we are unique.

and within this unique species, there are so many oppressed peoples.

and within that, the primary sustaining hierarchy of our planet has been that of dark skin to light skin. to be a black person on this experimental rock hurtling through space, obsessed with the sun, is a dangerous thing. in some parts of the world our children are armed soldiers. in most parts of the world our children are the hungriest of the youth. in our part of the world, we are being publicly lynched at a higher rate than ever before in our history.

all of the systems are exposing themselves as built on shaky sand, at minimum obselete. iphone 3. we developed so quickly, so quickly we gained the cultural center, and the white house. but of course we needed, as a nation, to spend a few centuries healing, holding each other, getting our breath back from how this specific nation began just yesterday. genocide and slavery are stones woven into our skirts, bruising our calves as we run, trying to escape the weight.

we need healing.

we need to stop and reconcile ourselves with existence, though nothing ever pauses in evolution. but..i am 36, and i can walk on a piece of ground where the soil still shows bloodstains from my ancestors being broken, and breaking in. slavery is a visceral presence. cotton whisps in my hair, i walk through a school house here that feels thick, like i had to push my way through spirits; young, black, hopeful spirits.

and all of that is done in this place, BOLD, where we are celebrating and cultivating black love as an organizing strategy. the three women who birthed #blacklivesmatter are of this community, not accidentally. they were not created by this community, but gathered, noticed, honored. gathered by denise perry and others, because they, we, are not interested in short tem reactionary responses to systemic violence. because we want to keep our hands on the root of the problem – the solution: black lives matter.

our black love is what teaches us that we matter.

i can’t tell you how nourishing and restorative it is to be in this space, at this time. i cannot count how many of the people said they traveled long and far because they needed to fill up at the well with black love.

because we are lovable, as lovable as anything else on this incredible and utterly unique planet. and even though our recent history includes generations of self-negating branding, physical and psychological, we have begun to love ourselves again.

some people are terrified by this, just by black people saying ‘enough’ and ‘it stops today’. they will try to suffocate us all, put bullets in us all.

but!

we outnumber the ones who feel this way. black people and those who can see us for who we are, we are the ‘overwhelming majority of planet earth’.

bold is the black power movement of our generation. the medicine we claim will heal anyone who swallows it – black lives matter.

we know black love is a radical commitment. an aspirational and healing commitment. you think you are not us, but we know you are. black love means looking in the mirror and remembering who you, and we, are.

we danced in cotton fields, we danced in the darkness of ships, we danced on the biggest continent on this magical rock.

we dance now, screaming “i can hear my brother saying i can’t breathe/now i’m in the struggle saying i can’t leave/calling out the violence of these racist police/we won’t stop the struggle til our people are free,” in new york.

dying-in in small towns.

shutting down highways from the twin cities to l.a.

and singing our ancestors’ words in north carolina.

today i was part of a circle of black women evoking harriet tubman under the guidance of sister doctor alexis pauline gumbs. she had us chant harriet’s words, ‘my people are free. my people are free.’ we chanted until we were swaying, rocking, giggling, glowing, weeping, laughing out loud.

try it. chant it till your body believes.

or june jordan’s words, ‘we are the onces we’ve been waiting for.’

or fannie lou hamer’s words, ‘nobody’s free until everybody’s free.’

or audre lorde’s words, ‘i am who i am, doing what i came to do.’

or ella baker’s words, ‘give light and the people will find the way.’

or anna julia cooper, ‘the world needs to hear her voice.’

alexis had us chanting these words, in a space where folks were contemplating emergent strategy, black love, somatics and resilience.

and what we know for sure at this point is we need each other, and we as black people need to give other black people space to be themselves completely. we have to love ourselves so no one can be confused about our dignity, our preciousness, our brilliance, our lovability.

we keep turning inwards, and back out. breath, ocean, orbits, we are the fundamental rhythm, in flesh. and as we master ourselves, it becomes impossible to serve any other master.

our numbers are massive with ghosts. we are cultivating the liberated state. we know every person killed is a fallen soldier in the greatest war ever fought – and we grieve with parents and community, and we blow on fires of fearlessness growing deep in our bellies, to take action in and through grief.

it won’t be easy, but we will find every pleasure, every sacred instance.

we know we are on the right side of history.

we choose to be the light.

principles of emergent processes in facilitation

just spent several days facilitating the BOLD gathering with a team of brilliant people. i used emergent process to move us through the time together, and got great feedback. i have been identifying tools and principles for practicing emergent strategy in groups for some time. i am writing this to share the thinking, learning i am doing in my facilitation practice.

to reiterate from earlier posts, emergent strategy is strategy (a plan towards a goal) based in the science of emergence – the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. last year in a workshop at the allied media conference, we generated ideas with a working definition of emergent strategy as: intentional, fractal (the same at the largest scale as it is at the smallest scale, toxic, healthy, joyful, stressed, etc), strong because it is decentralized, adaptive, interdependent, and creating more possibilities.

rather than laying out big strategic plans for work, the invitation of emergent strategy is to come together in community, build authentic relationships, and see what emerges from the conversations, connections, visions and needs. it feels like more and more of my communities are growing comfortable experimenting with, testing, and learning emergent strategies.

i don’t see this as creating something from scratch, but rather innovating from need – lots of people have been doing this for a long time, calling it a variety of things. and of course nature has always been on it.

here are some of the principles i have identified in as clear a way as i can articulate them:

– lao tzu says ‘if you don’t trust the people, they become untrustworthy.’ the first principle is a positive flip of this statement – if you trust the people, they become trustworthy. trust is a seed that grows with attention and space. the facilitator can be a gardener, or the sun, the water.

– there is a conversation in the room that wants and needs to be had. don’t force it, don’t deny it. let it come forth.

– the connection between the individuals is what makes the whole group/community strong.

– passion is a more valuable force for action and accountability than obligation.

– develop a strategic direction based on the horizon you can see. move in it with awareness. develop strategic bodies and minds to adapt intelligently as the horizon changes.

i am also playing with fleshing these principles out into practice. for example:

in agenda development, look for places where you can open people to each other, and get their whole selves in the room. i am learning an immense amount about this opening, getting present, and connecting in my somatics studies. it changes what is possible when people take the time to acknowledge they are whole selves in the room. and changes what is possible when there is space for deepening one-on-one relationships as a way to build the strength of the whole room, early and often. even a one minute pairing exercise can increase the possibility of the room.

another tool i am working with, which i picked up from the very brilliant allen gunn at aspiration tech, is generating topics for necessary conversation individually, and then finding the priorities amongst those conversations together. this allows the work people are truly most passionate about to be articulated in their own words. it moves the group beyond obligatory conversations to what they really want to talk about and ultimately do.

good ideas become great movement growth strategies with the touch of passionate hands and work. ideas that emerge from obligation tend to go stagnate waiting for water.

so…work in progress. what do you think? what would you add?