Queer Blood Relations: The Thickness of Witness

2 11 2015


Last month in Detroit I had the honor and pleasure of co-facilitating a workshop with Sangodare (aka Julia Roxanne Wallace) and Alexis De Veaux called “Queer Blood Relations: The Thickness of Witness” a tthe historic Fire and Ink IV celebration.  During the course of our workshop the 20 participants

*found the ways that we were related to each other in the room

*learned the song “Mojuba” in the context of Sangodare’s explication of a bapticostal, queer visionary, Yoruba Ifa-Orisha spiritual calling

*witnessed Alexis De Veaux’s family tree of literary precedents that made her book YABO possible

*engaged my black feminist breathing collages as examples of creating visual sacred space for our work in the context of our literary ancestors

*and created Mojuba prayers to honor the lineage of their own creativity as black queer literary geniuses which they are now using to create sacred space every time they write.

We closed the workshop with a ritual group poem based on the concept of YABO-the unbreakable thread, binding our intergenerational circle with intention laughter and affirmation.  After you read a line that resonates with you, you can shout YABO! like we did to affirm the unbreakable thread and if you are anything like our interconnected group of queer black geniuses at the end you will laugh and rejoice.

The Unbreakable Thread (YABO)

spoken by the participants in the Queer Blood Relations Workshop at Fire and Ink 2015 in Detroit, MI

I bind myself to you with joy and revelation.


I bind myself to you with the truth of who we are: divine one.


I bind myself to you with the spirit and energy of freedom.


I bind myself to you with purity and with wisdom.


I bind myself to you with the magic of wildness and the sweetness of nature.


I bind myself to you with the magic of who were, who we are and who we will be.


I bind myself to you with electric positivity and reverence.


I bind myself to you with spirit, energy, freedom and love.


I bind myself to you with the power of our history and the potential of our future.

I bind myself to you with the unbroken thread of love.


I bind myself to you with patience and dance.


I bind myself to you with healing and love as we build in afrofuturism.


I bind myself to you with dignity and respect.


I bind myself to you with fearlessness and confidence.


I bind myself to you with determination and legacy.


I bind myself to you with the roots of all the hairs that we’ve ever had.


I bind myself to you with the miracle that is playfulness and laughter.


I bind myself to you with unbound creativity.


I bind myself to you with the hope for liberation.


I bind myself to you with an erotic life and the joy that having an erotic life brings to us.


Who’s Going to Sing a Black Girl’s Song: A Conversation on Black Girlhood (NYC)

29 10 2015

WGSBS“Who’s going to sing a black girl’s song?”: A Conversation on Black Girlhood


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Featuring Asali Solomon ’95 and Alexis Pauline Gumbs ’04
6:30 PM

Distinguished Barnard alumnae Asali Solomon and Alexis Pauline Gumbs read from their novels, stories, and poems as prelude to a discussion about the pleasures and dangers of black girlhood. Asali Solomon is the author of the recently published, critically acclaimed

In 2007, Asali Solomon was named one of the National Book Foundation's "5 Under 35." Her previous book, Get Down, is a collection of short stories. She teaches English literature and creative writing at Haverford College.

In 2007, Asali Solomon was named one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35.” Her previous book, Get Down, is a collection of short stories. She teaches English literature and creative writing at Haverford College.

novel Disgruntled—a comingof-age story centering on Kenya, a daughter of black nationalists who finds herself navigating both radical politics and elite white educational institutions on her way to adulthood—and Get Down!, a collection of short stories. Alexis Gumbs, queer black troublemaker, black feminist love evangelist, time traveller and space cadet, is a poet, independent scholar, and activist. She is the co-editor of the forthcoming anthology Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines and the author of a forthcoming work of narrative black feminist theory called Spill. She is the founder of the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind intergalactic community school, and was recently named one of “6 Scholars Currently Reimaging Black Politics” by The Nation.


Dreambook Oracles: A POC Workshop on Dreams, Poetry and the Deep Dark Future

27 10 2015
Dreambook Oracles: A Workshop for People of Color on Dreams, Poetry and the Deep Dark Future!
2pm-4:30 pm on Saturday, November 7th
Libre Wellness Collective

2642 Banks St, New Orleans, Louisiana 70119

This workshop is for people of color and it is about our sleeping dreams as resources for the evolution of the species and the transformation of our collective relationship with the planet.    This workshop is about our beautiful unstoppable existence as the nightmare of capitalism and the fantastic victory of our ancestors.   We will be working with dreams as survival technology and evolutionary oracles together and individually using poetry, interactive engagement and the darkest parts of our love.

We will be using Alexis’s poetic dream memoir After Brightest Star to prompt, ground and excite us during the workshop.  It is not necessary to read the memoir in advance, but if you want a digital copy when you register choose that ticket option.

Space is limited.  Get your ticket here.  (To attend this workshop individually, the cost is $10-15 sliding scale.): http://www.eventbrite.com/e/dreambook-oracles-a-workshop-for-people-of-color-on-dreams-poetry-and-the-deep-dark-future-tickets-19258748435


Under any circumstances should people who do not self-identify as people of color attend this event?


Is it possible to pay for the workshop the day of?

Yes. If there are spots remaining, you can pay in advance (non-refundable) or in cash at the workshop.

Is it possible to get a digital copy of After Brightest Star at the event?


Create the World Anew: Science Fiction Direct Action Training: Durham

27 10 2015
“Create the World Anew”:  Science Fiction Direct Action Training
3pm-6pm Ella Baker Conference Room, American Tobacco Campus 

American Tobacco Campus

318 Blackwell St, Durham, North Carolina 27701
What kind of direct action would you create if you were in the world of Star Trek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or Harry Potter?
On Election Day in Durham we will continue the visionary action of doing what Grace Lee Boggs called “creating the world anew” in the Ella Baker room at American Tobacco.   Please join Adrienne Brown (co-editor of Octavia’s Brood and former director of the Ruckus Project), Alexis Pauline Gumbs (contributor to Octavia’s Brood and founder of Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind) and the SpiritHouse family for a 3 hour training in direct action strategies based on our wildest dreams.  We know that for Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer and many others our participation in elections was visionary fiction that they helped achieve through brave direct actions.  We also know that we have quite a ways to go to fulfill their vision of justice.  Drawing on the work of Octavia’s Brood and our own nerd-obsessions, we will draw on the sci-fi and fantasy worlds that inspire us and work together to glean insights for how we can create lasting change here in Durham.
Sponsored by Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories by Social Justice Activists,  SpiritHouse and Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind

(what we know, don’t know, pretend to know, wish we knew and where): 125 Sites of Knowledges from Maroon Studies Session 2

24 07 2015


Last week Maroon Studies Session 2: Necessary as Water confronted what we know, what we cannot know, our desires around knowledge and how place and relationship transform the possibility of knowledge.  Jacqui Alexander and Chandra Mohanty in particular challenged us to produce alternative sites of knowledge and to knowledge how the knowledge we know gets made.  Here are 125 affirmations, desires, questions, places, and possible and impossible knowings we remembered, found and articulated together.

things I know

I know I am loved.

I know my ancestors are with me.

I know I am loved by my ancestors.

I know that I am loved and loving.

I know how my lover takes their coffee.

I know love.

I know that my name is a prayer that carries love.

I know loving on the land.

I know how I’m not supposed to love.

I know refusal.

I know that it was not always this way and that this too shall pass.

I know contradiction.

I know loss.

I know that plants are medicine.

I know swimming in water is good for my soul

I know that every living thing and being is connected.

I know my own little secrets.

I know the power of prayer

I know that dreaming holds me.

I know what I am here to be.

I know how to change a flat.

I know how to build a fire.

I know survival.

I know very little about most things and infinite amounts about a thing or two.

I know that somehow this is enough.


 things I don’t know


I don’t know my grandmother, my father’s mother.

I don’ t know the stories of my grandmothers.

I don’t know my great great grandmother’s story.

I don’t know pathways.

I don’t know survival.

I don’t know who in the hell set things up like this.

I don’t know what childbirth feels like.

I don’t know what giving birth will feel like.

I don’t know exodus.

I don’t know what happened to the journal I lost so long ago but still miss

I don’t know what of what we planted will grow, and what will just not.

I don’t know if the rain will come.

I don’t know how deep the deepest point of Seneca Lake is (even though Wikipedia says it is 618 feet).

I don’t know utopia.

I don’t know how to fly a plane.

I don’t know edges.

I don’t know what kind of spider bit me or why.

I don’t know how to talk back to harassers.

I don’t know what my face will do.

I don’t know what I can and cannot accomplish in any given day.

I don’t know when and how long.

I don’t know what day I will die.

Or the days that everyone I love will die either.

I don’t know how the story ends.

I don’t know how to make it right.

things I pretend to know


I pretend to know that the sun will keep rising, even though I am sometimes surprised.

I pretend to know my own enoughness.

I pretend to know who I am.

I pretend to know why I am pretending to know who I am.

I pretend to know why I am doing what I’m doing.

I pretend to know where I’m going.

I pretend to know directions in general.

I pretend to know how to handle difficult situations, right in the midst of them.

I pretend to know what’s wrong and how to fix it.

I pretend to know ethicality.

I pretend to know how to make choices that impact my children.

I pretend to know how to cook.

I pretend to know how to garden.

I pretend to know that I am hungry when it’s eating time.

I pretend to know the meaning of heart murmurs.

I pretend to know community.

I pretend to know people whose names I cannot remember.

I pretend to know what all the initials stand for.

I pretend to know militancy.

I pretend to know who my congress people are.

I pretend to know how to write academic papers.

I pretend to know how to act at an academic conference, and other approximations of upper-middle class professional environments.

I pretend to know survival.

I pretend to know loss.

I pretend to know why it hurts.

locations that challenge what I know



my lower back

my left knee, which challenges what i think i know about healing

western medicine

my left big toe.  (people always step on it.)

places where i feel small, insignificant, unworthy, and un-belonging

boxes, corners, squares

my mother’s bed

1321 Highland Ave.



colonial spaces

classrooms–sometimes more and sometimes less

meetings with my supervisor



my Beloved and our partnership, in more ways than i can count

the Rothko chapel


the airport, which challenges what i know about human goodness, and the essential kindness and decency of humanity

Tel Aviv Airport

5 Edgegrove Street.

Anguilla BWI (emphasis on the BWI)

my altar


things I wish I knew

I wish I knew my Uncle Fred better, he’s hardly ever around.

I wish I knew how Malcolm felt approaching Mecca.  Do I?

I wish I knew that I would finish my dissertation.

I wish I knew that the decisions I am making now will be the best ones for my three children and myself.

I wish I knew how to grow tomatoes.

I wish I knew how to say no with more ease, less guilt, and with a forgiving heart

I wish I knew what it felt like to be deliberate and afraid of nothing.  Do I?

I wish I knew how to best be of service in any number of moments

I wish I knew the undercommons.

I wish I knew how to give without taking.

I wish I knew forgiveness.

I wish I knew how to unburden my mother.

I wish I knew survival.

Where does being a granddaughter go, when your grandparents leave this world?

I wish I knew the stories of my Indigenous grandmother and grandfather.

I wish I knew how to pray right.

I wish I knew how to access my dream knowing inside of my bone, and sinew

I wish I knew what my great great great great great grandmother felt like when she was dancing.  Maybe I do.

I wish I knew how to relax into sleep when it is time for these things.

I wish I knew that this too shall pass, that that possibility is a given.

I wish I knew mourning.

I wish I knew why lovely loss rises up in moments least expected.

I wish I knew love in exactly the moments I forget it.

I wish I knew how to make my love work in the world.

I wish I knew love.

Maybe I do.  Maybe I do.


Now is the time to sign up for August’s Maroon Studies Session #3

Intensive #3: Blood, Water and Land August 10-12, 2015 (12pm to 2pm Eastern)

This webinar is for ride or die radicals who live to love the people. Drawing on the legacy of Sisters in Support of Sisters in South Africa, the solidarity journalism of Alexis DeVeaux, the blood ecologies of Jewelle Gomez and Audre Lorde and the salience of spit, saltwater and sangre, we will explore connections, contradictions and discursive possibilities across imperial divisions towards tangible outcomes.

8 spots are available. $175-225 sliding scale (payment plans available).

You can reserve your spot by offering a $50 non-refundable deposit here (please include the name of the webinar in the notes):

When We Free World Premiere: Full Frame Theater, Durham NC

22 07 2015

When We Free: A Meditation on Faith and Liberation

Saturday August 1, 2015 4pm-7pm

Full Frame Theater, Durham, NC

When We Free – Film Teaser from J. Roxanne on Vimeo.

When We Free is a fiction film about a recently freed black community’s first camp meeting after emancipation. This revival takes place on a camp site and draws people from near and far all searching for one thing or another. In particular, they search for balance between the spiritual traditions they have brought across the Atlantic and those learned in the New World while in bondage.

Donate at: http://www.gofundme.com/ba5bqg#
More Info at: http://whenwefree.jroxmedia.com/current-projects/when-we-free-the-film/

We are proud to present the world premiere of When We Free a meditation on faith and liberation written and directed by Julia Sangodare Roxanne Wallace and produced by Black Feminist Film School and our whole community!!!
For more information about the film visit: http://www.whenwefree.com

What is through the door?: Inspiration from the Sci Fi Storytelling workshop at YOI’s Freedom School in Raleigh

20 07 2015

10646939_984543608245257_1879098766665614261_nLast Thursday I had the JOY of facilitating a workshop on dreams and sci-fi storytelling with the brilliant participants in the Youth Organizing Institute’s Summer Freedom School in Raleigh.  We shared about people in our lives who have shifted our ideas of what is possible, we wrote poems based on each other’s dreams and we imagined sci-fi worlds with internal voids, external incubation, superheroes, supervillians and lots of love.

This is a sci-fi story poem inspired by Davante,  Juliet, Ife,  Babette, Evelyn, Hylan, Alicia, KK, Marki, Jalil, Nia, Carly and Alex

what is through the door?

everything was great

all peace, no problems, great, great

the world was great, great

she dreamt of dream catchers

hoping to find gold or candy

work up to nothing

she had a dream

about her mom

it filled her with joy

the second loan

it wouldn’t stop changin

she was dreamin’

then she had a dream

she got pregnant by her babe

she was very upset

please don’t cut my hair

my hair is beautiful

death is your reward

jumanji nightmares

with your royal parents there

shielding you from fears

fairly odd parents

earthquakes are worries you have

eight tornadoes tears

dinosaurs are here

dinosaurs crushed your things

dinosaurs are rude

sherlock holmes is rude

but you are strong and fight back

you are the hero

working with children

endless playtime and peeling

the six is shattered

getting sexy with the rock

in a shopping cart

is much harder than it looks

nothing but walking

then slowly opened a door

what is through the door?


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