uh huh: enduring affirmations from the Spill Webinar participants

26 10 2014


Last week’s Brilliance Remastered Webinar (the Spill Intensive) was miraculous.   We investigated our long-held narratives, decisions we had outgrown, and systems of oppression we had internalized and addressed them on intellectual, creative, and on the deep level of what Audre Lorde calls the “non-european consciousness” (sometimes also known as the subconscious).  We also found enduring affirmations, core sources of inspiration and boundless power in our spiritual and community-activated practices and beliefs.  I am so excited about the intellectual lives these brave visionaries are living and I am honored beyond words to be part of what sustains their work!   Really I don’t want this intensive to be over, but the praise dance of what it felt like is staying with me always!  This last collective poem of the Spill Intensive outflow includes the realness we are taking with us into the future and the ancestral chorus says uh huh!!!

uh huh

enduring affirmations from the Spill Webinar Participants

daily practicing of heart attunement

(uh huh)  (uh huh)  (uh huh)

listening to what love demands

(be still)  (be still)  (and know)

my heart is open and speaking

(yes) (yes) (yes)

gardenias in the hands of my grandma

(alright) (uh huh) (enough)

our boundless creative life force

(uh huh) (amen) (ashe)

i am enough. we are enough

(amen) (ashe) (say that!)

sistering is on purpose!

(mmhmm) (uh huh) (oh yeah)

directed by desire!

(amen) (ashe) (all the way)

water and wishes everywhere

(uh huh) (that’s right) (that’s right)

dancing the freedom into being

(mmhmm) (uh huh)  (ooowee)

soul stirring songs in my heart

(uh huh)  (that’s right) (amen)

full belly breathing

(uh huh) (uh huh) (at last)

when we laugh we laugh all over

(oh yes) (oh yes) (oh yes)

alive all the way through my cheekbones

(YASS!) (uh huh) (that’s right)

Fannie Lou’s courage in my mouth

(uh huh) (amen) (amen)

joy in my hair follicles, bliss in my pinky toe

(that’s right) (that’s right) (uh huh)

letting this animal body loves what it loves

(mmhmm)  (uh huh)  (all day)

remembering that we are stardust and using that magic moment by moment

(again) (again) (again)

conspiring with the ancestors to let the writing flow

(amen)  (ashe)  (do that!)

the embers of houses built on fear burned to the ground

(yup) (yup) (yup)

miracles and magic in the mundane

(uh huh) (alright) (okay)

love is the ultimate lifeforce

(amen) (uh huh) (ashe)

How I Got Ovah: Future Memoirs from the Spill Webinar Participants

23 10 2014

Screen shot 2014-09-02 at 10.04.22 AMLast night the Spill Webinar participants, shared dreams, got embodied, mapped strategic decisions (and others) and stomped three times hard enough to unshackle somebody.  This poem is made up of the titles of memoirs that we will be able to write based on the changes we are making in our lives right now.   Brilliance Remastered. Forthcoming :)

How I Got Ovah

Future Memoirs of the Spill Webinar Participants

(with gratitude to Carolyn Rodgers, Melvin Dixon, Essex Hemphill, Joseph Beamand more!)

How I Turned Excellence Into Excess

How I Said Yes When the Universe Asked Me to Dance

How I Got My Life in the Life

How I Stopped Proving My Genius to White People (co-authored with Phillis Wheatley)

How I Started an Organization to Save My Own Life and Yours

How I Made Family Through Radical Intellectual Conversation

How I Made a House a Queer Home

How I Let the Ancestors Dance Forever

How I Brought Mindfulness to Writing

How I Created Space for Intergenerational Healing

How I Let a Love Blossoming Through Tumblr Change My Life

How I Learned to Sing Like Fannie Lou Hamer

How I Learned to Be the Value of My Time

How I Became Present for the Broadness of My Vision

How I Got Ovah

Turning Paper Into Food: Alchemy from the Brilliance Remastered Spill Webinar Participants

22 10 2014

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 6.39.59 AMLast night Brilliance Remastered‘s Spill Webinar for sustainable strategies to build an intellectual life that exceeds the boundaries of the academic industrial complex continued. We worked with our dreams (as in intentions) and our dreams (as in the layered picture show that happens while we are asleep) as resources informing each other.  We looked at what is at stake ancestrally in the way we structure our intellectual lives.  We claimed our power as alchemists to turn what we have into what we need by bringing our transformative questions to the table.   This is the poem that we created together to describe the changes we are here to see through to reality.

turning paper into food

by the participants in the Spill Webinar


how do we turn fear into love?

how do we turn worry into wishes?

how do we turn attention into attunement?

how do we turn hope into happiness?

how do we turn concern into courage?

how do we turn care into creativity?

how do we turn today into a portal?

how do we turn our bodies into magic?

how do we turn shame into a wholehearted embrace?

how do we turn walls into bridges?

how do we turn thought into action?

how do we turn caterpillars into butterflies?

how do we turn promises into pages?

how do we turn bravery into blessings?

how do we turn fixity into movement?

how do we turn jobs into journeys?

how do we turn one into we?

how do we turn the ocean into words?

how do we turn words into the ocean?

how do we turn markets into communities of accountability?

how do we turn gatekeepers into prophets?

how do we turn training into underground railroad stations?

how do we turn survival into a promise?

how do we turn proof into possibility?

how do we turn righting into writing?

how do we turn teaching into truth telling?

how do we turn interventions into invitations?

how do we turn novelty into knowing?

how do we turn talking into drumcall beating hearts?

how do we turn boxes into breathing?

how do we turn birth into being?

*note: if you be asking yourself these same questions…you must be a Brilliance Remastered kindred spirit.  Put yourself on the email list right here.

My Best Idea Yet: Quirky Conceptions from the Spill Webinar Participants

21 10 2014

Screen shot 2014-10-21 at 6.32.22 AMLast night was the first session of Brilliance Remastered’s newest and most experimental webinar intensive: SPILL.  We experimented with sinking in, visualizing what we are immersed in, releasing, remembering the ground, examining lit candles that have already burned out on altars to our fears and more!   The participants in the Spill webinar are going deep together and designing alternative intellectual projects and they are bringing along what Audre Lorde calls “the non-european consciousness” (some other people call it the subconscious mind) to transform everything.   All of the activities in the Spill Webinar are based on an oracle text of freedom scenes I wrote, drawn from Hortense Spillers’ asides in the crucial literary critical text Black, White and In Color.  Our closing group poem last night draws on the phrase “quirkiness of conception” from her introduction to her enduring book of essays.   What if you were having your best idea yet all day long?

quirkiness of conception

(excerpt from Spill by Alexis Pauline Gumbs)

the first time i thought of you, you were swimming, towards you, through me.  first time i thought i was drowning in a world that needed you in it or it would disappear. first time i knew you existed the rest of the history of the world popped like a bubble unready unworthy and my body wanted only future, only you.   the first time i felt you move we were deep underwater under something built to keep us under and i couldn’t see anything but i understood there was something above everything.  above everything despite everything i would find fresh air and breathe again.  above everything despite everything i would free you.  my best idea yet.

my best idea yet

by the participants in the Spill Webinar

waking up when i wake up, my best idea yet

letting happiness lead, my best idea yet

daring to hope, my best idea yet

curious my best idea yet

seeking spirit guidance, my best idea yet

believing in believing, my best idea yet

experimenting with being present, my best idea yet

loving this being, my best idea yet

appreciating being alive and in this body, my best idea yet

listening to my body, my best idea yet

full belly breathing, my best idea yet

being well, my best idea yet

sitting on the floor, my best idea yet

dancing, my best idea yet

praying before responding to emails about money, my best idea yet

listening to the whispers of ancestors, my best idea yet

choosing, my best idea yet

touching the water, my best idea yet

hugging my loved ones, my best idea yet

nurturing intimacy, my best idea yet

allowing myself to be understood or mysterious my best idea yet

honoring my brilliance and everyone else’s my best idea yet

surrendering to the creative processes, my best idea yet

writing what I want to write, my best idea yet

teaching who I want to teach, my best idea yet

learning, still, my best idea yet

cultivating my ability to stay if i want to, my best idea yet

leaving if I want to, my best idea yet

making time for pleasure, my best idea yet

going to sleep when I am tired, my best idea yet

Quality of Light Informational Webinar: The Poetics of Entering Graduate School

20 10 2014

Photo 80

“The quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives has direct bearing upon the product which we live, and upon the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives.”

― Audre Lorde

7pm Weds Oct 29th

This is an informational webinar with Alexis Pauline Gumbs especially for people who are applying or considering applying to graduate school THIS WINTER.   Our conversation will include the crucial aspects of:

  • remembering your purpose for going to graduate school and your accountability to the communities you love
  • distinguishing YOUR application from the record number of applications graduate schools are receiving this cycle
  • the steps to identifying an intellectual community you WANT to be part of for the next phase of your life

Reserve your spot for free or with a donation here:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/quality-of-light-webinar-the-poetics-of-entering-graduate-school-tickets-13783497813

Sista Docta Alexis Pauline Gumbs was admitted to several of the best graduate programs in her field with full funding.   She chose to get her PhD in English with certificates in African and African American Studies and Women and Gender Studies from Duke University.  She was able to deepen her relationship to the intellectual traditions that informed her and the communities that created her during her time in graduate school by fostering meaningful and supportive relationships with her faculty mentors, student colleagues and local community.   Today, she balances writing influential  intellectual work on black feminism and Caribbean women’s writing with public scholarship and the ongoing creation of her own intergenerational and intergalactic educational initiatives Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind and The Mobile Homecoming Project.

The Spill Intensive: Sustainable Strategies for Exceeding the Boundaries of the Academic Industrial Complex (Webinar October 20th-24th 9pm EST)

7 10 2014

from Brilliance Remastered

The Spill Intensive: Sustainable Strategies for Exceeding the Boundaries of the Academic Industrial Complex   Webinar October 20th-24th 9pm EST

Rodney Ewing, My Country Needs Me by Hortense Spillers
Rodney Ewing, My Country Needs Me by Hortense Spillers

Coming out of the insights of the recent Shape of My Impact back to school webinar, The Spill Intensive is an experimental space for those visionaries who want to honor the ways their inspiration, spiritual imperatives and accountability to oppressed communities EXCEED the boundaries of the University system.

Using an innovative curriculum based on Sista Docta Alexis Pauline’s decade of work on the brilliant excess of the language practice of black feminist literary critic Hortense Spillers, the Spill Intensive invites 9 webinar participants to

  • inhabit scenes of stolen freedom
  • interrogate internalized capitalist default practices
  • and activate practices that make tangible space in our lives and in the world for the unruly brilliance that our ancestors and our communities demand!

The intensive will meet online every night for 1 hour and 30 minutes at 9pm EST Oct 20th-24th. Fee: $200  Reserve your spot with an email to brillianceremastered@gmail.com explaining what you hope to get out of the course and your $50 deposit:

Register Now for the Juneteenth Freedom Academy for Facilitators: Nov 1-2 in Durham, NC

29 09 2014

299912_10100694112040707_269167204_nWe are the facilitators.  Compact, anachronistic speakeasies of the justice movement.  We make it smooth, entertaining, energizing and cool to do the impossible in a t
wo hour workshop.  In an all day training, though a weekly series, at a weekend retreat.

How can we achieve more than the packaging of oppression and the production of cute funding digestible deliverables? What is the spiritual work of holding space for visionary encounters, those sacred spaces where what it is possible imagine shifts, where we become real to each other and spoken into history?

As June Jordan developed the Poetry for the People curriculum she and her community of poet-facilitators practiced the technology of what they called an experimental and hopeful community” that was “safe enough” for the transformative process of the truth to happen.   Jamaican theorist Sylvia Wynter teaches that after humanism “the ceremony must be found” for how we human/dehumanized beings relate to each other as we dismantle the oppressive logics that have been holding us back.

The Juneteenth Freedom Academy for Facilitators offers the proposition that we, the facilitators are the experimental hopeful people, making ceremony for a love that has not been spoken yet and for a triumph that is not supposed to exist.

And since we are designing the rituals to reclaim our lives, since we are continually creating site specific breathing installation invitations for ancestors and future to speak, since we are accountable to the anarchic potential of what it will mean when this particular, irreplaceable set of beings in this particular space, on this particular day, face the possibility of our collective freedom, the Juneteenth Freedom Academy for Facilitators is a space to support the work of facilitation as spiritual and creative work and to provide the necessary forms of sacred sustenance that makes the practices of


opening our hearts

being present

being transformed

and activating infinite love for our communities

possible and likely on a regular basis, and not just in the space of  the programmed events that we are “facilitating.”


The Juneteenth Freedom Academy for Facilitators is dedicated to facilitating the possibility of freedom in all of our interactions and relationships and in the matrix of our daily lives.

We believe that powerful facilitation is not based on charisma, mirco-management, fancy machines or a dazzling show.  We believe that the power of facilitation and the accountability of the facilitator is to:

1. do what it takes to be fully present to the moment and the people

2. co-create a context where the people can be fully present to the moment, themselves and each other

3. co-create and activate a context where everyone can be present to spirit, ancestors and possibility


If you are looking for a space to recenter your facilitation as a sacred practice with a cohort of transformative visionaries join us in Durham, NC Nov 1st-2nd for a two-day retreat/transformative training.


If you are available to participate in the weekend training:

Register here:


Offer your $75 deposit here (and be sure to include the note Juneteenth Deposit):

Your registration is considered complete once you have completed all required questions on the registration form and offered your deposit.


If you are NOT available for the training you can register as an individual auditor and get the workbook/reader that participants will be using in November and sign up for a 45 minute session with Alexis Pauline Gumbs about taking your facilitation to the next level:

Offer your $75 here (and be sure to include the note Juneteenth Auditor):


If your organization would like to bring Alexis to lead a transformative facilitation workshop customized to the mission and needs of your organization email alexispauline@gmail.com to schedule a training.


Testimonials from some of my favorite collaborators!!!:


Alexis P. Gumbs is the facilitator you’ve been waiting for. Her generosity of spirit, thought, and action creates a circle around you which allows you to grow into your own potential as a leader and visionary. If you believe another world is possible,  but you wish someone would take you by the hand and help you get to the threshold, Alexis is the person who can help guide you to the place where your own feet will begin to take hold. I have been fortunate enough to watch Alexis facilitate hundreds of meetings, workshops, and groups over the last fifteen years and with each passing year I am aware that she grows more into herself and more into connection with all of us. I wish that everyone would have the opportunity to sit in a room with Alexis and have her reflect their light back to them. I can think of no better gift you can give yourself or your team than to spend some time learning and growing with her!

-Elizabeth Anderson, Charis Circle Executive Director, co-facilitator with Alexis since high school!
Sister Dr. Alexis is the most insightful, creative, and compassionate workshop facilitator I have ever witnessed, and collaborating with her was soul inspiring, joy filled, and transformative for me in so many ways. Alexis gives herself so fully to the responsibility of transformative facilitating that her every action within it is a meditation; a master class in the practice and rewards of pedagogies of presence, love, truth and justice, elevating every one and every thing around her to higher ground.
-Dr. Eric Pritchard, co-facilitator of Guardian Dead: Ancestor Accountable Intellectual Practice
What a profound experience it has been for me to have access to the unique and inspirited works of Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs!  Through her imaginative, thoughtful, loving, critical and layered facilitation ; Dr. Gumbs is able to : spark, engage, replenish and centralize  black genius audiences by honoring a well of multi- disciplined black genius innovators/creative’s.  Black on Black Love! It is an ancestral reunion and a shapeshiffting love praxis to participate in any of her workshops.  You will be changed and will be charged to share the love work! Go and get it!
-Soraya Jean-Louis McElroy, Ancestral Alchemist and guest facilitator and participant in the Black Feminist Breathing Retreat
Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs teaches from—and with—her heart. She uses space, sound, movement, and meditation(s) to create liberative learning spaces that inspire creativity and social change. Her love for black people and her commitment to love-filled queer black feminist politics have inspired the ways I think about, and practice, liberation work. Any opportunity to co-learn with Dr. Gumbs is definitely a privilege and a blessing. I wholeheartedly recommend the Juneteenth Freedom Academy for Facilitators!
-Emerson Zora Hamsa, Theological Educator, Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind Participant, Laurel Maryland
I recently began to look at facilitation as an arts practice. There’s a aesthetic in moving people to action and reflection. Facilitators are vessels, magicians, coaches and mirrors, sometimes all at once. I have been fortunate enough to not only have been facilitated through processes by Dr. Gumbs but I have also felt the ripples of her work in my direct communitiy in Washington, DC. Just this past weekend at a board meeting I attended in New York City, we opened the meeting with a black feminist breathing meditation recording by Dr. Gumbs. Her recorded words facilitated a rich conversation about voice and sense of agency in black girls.
Dr. Gumbs’ practice is deliberate love-filled and tested. Anyone looking to deepen their practice and praxis should be a part of Juneteenth Freedom Academy for Facilitators!-Jessica Solomon, director of Art in Praxis, participant in Indigo Days
Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a gifted educator and healer, with a contagious belief in the possibility of other ways to be.  Her capacity for unconditional love is an inspiration, and she is truly a pillar of transformation both within and outside of the academic community. Sista Docta Lex is an alchemist who turns fear into faith through her exceptional workshops and one-on-one offerings. Alexis has been an incredibly generous friend and mentor in my life, and her divine example has helped me learn how to activate my own magic. 
-Analena Hope, scholar, creative community collaborator and participant in the Juneteenth Freedom Academy for Educators
Alexis Pauline Gumbs is brilliant and magical. She enriches, inspires, and changes lives every day. Her love-filled transformative facilitation is a gift to any community that receives it. If you work with an organization or community that wants to create change, her work can bring whatever you do up to a higher level. 
-Jordan Flaherty, New Orleans based journalist and community organizer, author of Floodlines:Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena 6 and co-organizer of the Grassroots Media Justice Tour
I always feel more grounded when I leave a space that Alexis has facilitated. She has an ability to tap into my deepest creativity; I emerge having tapped into my own wisdom and knowing. I am very excited about this opportunity for our community.

 -Tema Okun, Durham based educator and activist, author of The Emperor Has No Clothes: Teaching About Race and Racism to People Who Don’t Want to Know and participant in the Finding Poems Retreats

Working in a small group of survivors with Alexis on Lucille Clifton’s Shape Shifter poems changed my life: I stepped into the name “poet” with a trust in my own authority that was part me, part Clifton, and a large part Alexis’ faith in my authority to transform the materials of my life. I know Alexis approached the work with our group with great intentionality. A couple of years later, when I wanted to learn more about working as a poet, but wanted to learn in community, rather than in a traditional one-on-one mentorship, after speaking with me and others and after reflecting upon her own creative work, Alexis designed a six-session series, “Finding Poetry,” which influences me half a year after the last session. In that series, as always with Alexis’ work, I grew both as a poet and as a community member.

-Faith Holseart, poet, activist and former member of SNCC, participant in Finding Poems, ShapeShifter Survival School and School of Our Lorde


When preparing to lead or co-lead a workshop I often find myself wondering, ‘How can I be as calm, generous, and dynamic as Lex is when she’s facilitating?’ No joke. I really think this to myself. Regularly. That Dr. Gumbs is finding a way to actually share this practice with others is a great opportunity for all of us who seek to be transformative facilitators.

-R.J. Maccani, community organizer, co-founder of Regeneracion Childcare Collective, co-facilitator of Embodying Abolition at the Allied Media Conference

Alexis Pauline Gumbs facilitates by formulating questions that invite groups to think deeply about ways to live into their values and connect personal commitment to social action. The activities and exercises she designs reflect her belief that our inner brilliance will show us the way when we open to its voice.

 -Barbara Lau, director Pauli Murray Project (where Alexis recently co-facilitated a workshop series for the leadership team)

A few years ago, I had the blessing of sitting in a circle of changemakers and creative workers at the Critical Ethnic Studies Conference  – we gathered to celebrate the work of novelist Octavia Butler. i expected a lively, enriching conversation, but got so much more! Alexis conjured a space of transformative sharing and collective creativity. From drawing images of our girlhoods, to experiencing live performances and writing poetry of our own, that conference ‘workshop’ became a sacred space. Sista Docta Lex is more than a facilitator – she is a bonafide Healer.

-Savannah Shange, educator, board member at June Jordan School for Equity, co-facilitator of All Black Everything: A Workshop on Afro-Pessimism at the Allied Media Conference

I have been a part of many meetings, workshops, and gatherings facilitated by Alexis Pauline Gumbs; she also designed and facilitated a one-of-a-kind after school program for my daughter and other girls her age.  Alexis brings, above everything else, love to the spaces she creates for people to learn.  She shapes interactions that deeply connect people.  She shares the wisdom, art, and guidance of those who came before, and insodoing, offers a context in which we can place ourselves and our work now.  In a sense, Alexis holds up an ancestral mirror and allows us to see ourselves more clearly. Through careful listening, she validates her participants’ experiences and truths.  The activities Alexis facilitates allow people to acknowledge what they are bringing into the room, manifest creativity, and learn from one another.  I have learned so much and watched my daughter grow so much as a result of Alexis’ facilitation practices, and without hesitation I would recommend to anyone that they take the opportunity to engage in one of Alexis’ workshops.

-Emily Chavez, writer, activist, parent of an afterschool participant in the Indigo Genius Afterschool Program


Born from the Brilliance Remastered arm of Alexis’ Black feminist (well)spring of sustenance, “Need: Cyber Performance Ritual,” was a webinar named after the performance-prompting poetry of Audre Lorde in which I was fortunate to participate in early 2013. Whether embodying what love feels like or co-creating a group poem speaking to what we need or our own kind of open, in that online space I felt whole, held, safe, and soul-nourished. Under Alexis’ guidance, I learned about the plethora of possibility that can sprout from the seeds of Black feminist truth, both in- and outside the dance studio. In just a week’s time, a handful of brilliant individuals from all over the continent had come together to carve out a little piece of community on my computer screen, wrapped up in only the finest of radical love.

-Cantrice Penn, choreographer, guest facilitator for the Indigo Afterschool program, participant in the Need Webinar

Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs moderated a panel on April 21,2012 at the Durham County Library as part of the Humanities Programming Series. The program was called “Coming Out In the South.” Dr. Gumbs was brilliant in her wisdom and sensitivities, beginning the program with a moment of silence–which had never happened at a library—to remind all that this was a topic that could be painful and to encourage the space to become a safe one for all.  She kept that spirit present during the entire hour and half long program. The evaluations of the program mentioned time and again how much they appreciated Dr. Gumbs skillful handling of the people and topics involved.  Dr. Gumbs is moderating and helping to organize a panel of young organizers for our largest program of the year, Durham Reads Together. Her panel will be called  “We Who Believe in Freedom: The Next Civil Rights Generation”. She is bringing together youth to talk about their work and lives. Dr. Gumbs is a joy to work with and  the Durham County Library is always honored when she brings her gifts to one of our programs.

-Joanne Abel, Humanities and Adult Programming Durham Public Library

Alexis Gumbs values everybody and takes mess off of nobody, creating spaces for all to participate, and none to dominate.  She listens carefully and skillfully and synthesizes sentiments where others lack the diction.  Alexis’s presence looms large in a room, though she always uses that space to open and help people get where they need to go.

-Bryan Proffit, community organizer and history teacher at Hillside High School (Durham’s last remaining historically black high school), presenter for Juneteenth Freedom Academy on Palestine

Excellent facilitators are a rarity. They must be supremely knowledgeable, possessing keen insight and emotional mastery- enough to carry any room. Most importantly, one must be facile in a shamanic role – to move into uncertainty, take inspired risks and create magic.  Quite simply, Alexis has the gift. 

-Lisa Powell, Co-Founder Black Lesbians United (BLU)

Alexis Pauline Gumbs has given birth to an oracle which mandates the immediate summons and awakening of freedom within the black soul.  We are blessed that the oracle has visited upon us. 

-Queen Hollins, Principal Steward, Earthlodge Center for Transformation / Nu Legacy Project Long Beach, California, Co-facilitator of The Fullness: Erotic Power, Spiritual Wellness and Sexual Liberation and participant in The Lorde Concordance 
Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs conjures the sweet and the storm; the wind and the fire in her work.  To study and learn with her is to honor the brilliance of a thousand moons.
-ebony noelle golden, CEO Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative, LLC and co-point person on the UBUNTU Artistic Response Committee




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,561 other followers