Wednesdays in December: Juneteenth Freedom Academy on LOVE POEM

23 11 2010

Because love poems make the best presents…come to the Juneteenth Freedom Academy on Revolutionary Love poems Wednesdays at 6pm at the Inspiration Station!  Come to any of these three session…or all three!

The Messiness of Love: Wednesday, December 1st, 6pm

“In your love I am sometimes redeemed

a stranger

to myself.”

Since love cannot actually be described, the best we have is poetry.  June Jordan wrote a whole volume of poems about one break-up, wrote poems about affairs, and awkwardness, and long-distance longing and late mornings and diligently tracked the direction of her own desire with poems like Leaves Blow Backwards, Romance in Irony, Poem Number Two on Bell’s Theorem or The New Physciality of Long Distance Love and more 🙂

Join us to explore Jordan’s poetry, write our own poetry and play delicious fill in the blank games about the uncontainable complexity of LOVE gone right side up upside down, up and away and everywhere all at once.

The Queerness of Love: Wednesday, December 8th, 6pm

“last time I got married was

yesterday (in


Jordan used the incisiveness her her poetic voice to critique the dominant institutions (especially marriage) that are used to understand, mold, shape, kill, or keep love, and to make new spaces for love to grow and move. Come over and queer your ideas of love syllable by syllable!

Love Against Genocide: Wednesday, December 15th, 6pm

Like Jordan our small scale love and our large scale love are intimately connected.  And as June Jordan says “Love is lifeforce.”  We will explore Jordan’s love poem to Fannie Lou Hamer against the, her love poem to Joy Harjo against genocide of African Americans in the southeast US, against the genocide of the Creek nation in North America and explore the love poem as a method of combatting the language and the fact of genocide in our lifetimes.


If you love this idea, feel free to make a love offering

and email to RSVP!!!!!!


Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind 2011: Intention and Interdependence

4 11 2010

Loved ones!

This week’s emphasis on vision and purpose (see the Combahee Survival activity here: has me very inspired.   After some crucial and helpful conversations with participants in the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind process and some wisdom from elders who are part of the MobileHomecoming Project (especially Barbara Smith, Imani Rashid, Nadya Lawson and Cessie Alfonso) I am excited to share a vision for Eternal Summer in 2011 that will celebrate and amplify the way that BLACK FEMINISM LIVES in our community as an intention and as a catalyst for us to honor our interdependence.

Thanks Barbara!!! ❤

As many of you already know, the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind happens locally and portably through in person gatherings in Durham, North Carolina, workshops around the countries and internet engagement around the world.   Those levels of participation have been very symbiotic or helpful to each other.   All the different people who have supported the project and interact with the educational materials in different ways have been spreading the good news (that BLACK FEMINISM LIVES!) fortifying their own revolutionary spirits, and creating inspiration in the different and overlapping communities that they love.   The work that happens at the Inspiration Station in Durham gets uploaded as Inspiration to people elsewhere.  Folks as far as Berlin make donations to receive publications and help pay the energy bill at the Inspiration Station.  And this is only one energy cycle.  More importantly everyone is participating in an energy field where we get more and more excited and inspired, more grassroots, low-overhead projects are popping off in Durham, queer Yoga, free healing clinics, community supported food justice sources and every day I am inspired by the initiatives that women of color are creating online (the Revolutionary Petunias Reading Group, the Crunk Feminist Collective, the Divine Survivors free online reiki clinic) and in person gatherings where folks draw on creative genius from within their communities and the communities they politically align with are sprouting up too as organizations like the Detroit Summer mural tour, the amazing Pachamama Skillshare and more sustainable beautiful spiritual, ritualized, intellectual and politicized initiatives to align our movements with the transformative messages of the universe.   Eternal Summer is part of this energetic field and shift, all of this is interconnected and interdependent.  We are benefiting from a shared ecology where inspiration, as a process, is circulating. I love it.

There have also been some lessons learned in terms of intentionality this past year that have clarified what it takes to continue abundantly participating in the flow.  One major lesson was that while it is important to document and share the brilliance and inspiration that happens here in Durham with our wider community, and our local community who just didn’t have time to stop by….it does not work to facilitate the same curriculum simultaneously in person and online.  There are major benefits to letting the very jazz influenced, improvisatory and spiritually transformative work we do in person inform the development of shareable curriculum.  Doing it at the same time seems scattered and rushes both processes.  So in the name of INTENTIONALITY and to support the continued interdependence between the local and planetary impact of Eternal Summer it has been important to be very PRESENT to the local programming and the amazing energy that people bring as a major life source that everyone benefits from more when there is less pressure to produce a “product” for wider consumption immediately.  In other words the clarity is that keeping the in person project somewhat blurry is good! Look at these beautiful blurry people.

Similarly the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind ecology acknowledges that while Black Feminism centers the role of black women and black queer folks in transforming the world, the transformation that we are participating and the critiques and practices created in that process are necessary for all who would live holistically in a loving world.  This is why the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind has and will continue to create spaces specifically inspired by and focused on the brilliance of black women and black queer people that are open as a space of study and worship for everyone who is ready to be inspired and transformed.   I am especially excited about the merging of two favorite activities…the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist mind monthly potlucks and the Black Girls Rock series.  In the first six months of the new year every monthly potluck will be a listening party and discussion about the brilliance of artists from Abbey Lincoln to Lauryn Hill.    Also as a contination of the Lucille Clifton ShapeShifter Survival School there will be biweekly poetic activities specifically for survivors of child abuse and parents intending to break cycles of violence in their families.  The work of Nadya Lawson with Holding Our Own an initiative that is intentionally 60 percent women of color and 60 percent queer reflects my vision for diverse participation in the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind.

In addition to these ongoing programs that acknowledge the pricelessness of a Black Feminist approach for all people, there will be at least two programs that honor the intentionality and value of space that is more specifically and intentionally aligned.   Based on the belief and the historical reality that spaces where black women and gender-defiant  folks engage each other deeply and specifically open a space for radical healing and invite a powerful spirit of transformation into our communities.  The historical example of the Black Feminist Retreats, which we learned more about last week from Barbara Smith and Cessie Alfonso and the contemporary brilliance of the Gumbo Yaya 12 week session on Sistering, Mothering and Daughtering here in Durham are more than proof of the value of intentional loving spaces for Black women as a gift for our whole communities.   In that spirit I am excited to announce, far in advance  Indigo Days a week of healing, building and visioning for black women (trans and cis) and genderqueer black healers to share their magic and affirm each other which will take place May 20-26th here in Durham.   All of our diverse allies here in Durham are exuberantly invited to offer food, childcare and housing to make this event happen!

Another specific priority of Black feminism historically and need for our communities in the contemporary moment is space for diverse women and genderqueer people of color to build relationships with each other across shared oppression and important differences.  This was the energy behind last year’s Love Harder session and is part of the reason that this January’s MotherOurselves Bootcamp (January 7-9), based on Audre Lorde’s theory of learning to mother ourselves by addressing internalized oppression as it impacts our own spiritual expression and our relationships to other oppressed people, will be specifically for women (trans and cis) and genderqueer people of color.  Again we will need and want the support of our diverse community in making sure we can have accessible space, food, childcare and housing so that all the women and genderqueer people of color who want to participate will be able to feel fully supported to attend.

And of course you are ALWAYS ALWAYS welcome to donate towards these experiences being free and freedom-producing for everyone!

Donate one time:

or become an Eternal Summerian by donating monthly!

I am so excited about the coming year and the ongoing ETERNAL energy of transformation that we get to participate in together in this little piece of the world we want to see.

Infinite love and inspiration,


p.s. so this is my clarified vision…what’s yours?  Participate in the activity here:

Reports from the Living Room: Letters Home

2 11 2010

Last week at the Juneteenth Freedom Academy session on Palestine we started to write letters inspired by June Jordan’s “Letter to My Friend” (available in this packet:  Juneteenth Palestine Essays).  Here is my letter.  Looking forward to seeing you all at any of these upcoming Juneteenth Palestine events at the Inspiration Station. Feel free to post your own letters in the comments or email them to

Wednesday, November 3rd: STORYTIME FOR PALESTINE! Bring the whole family for an evening with Ellen O’Grady’s picture book “Outside the Ark“

Thursday, Nov. 4th: Session 2: Journeys Towards Solidarity (featuring Jodeen Olguin-Taylor and Bryan Proffit on their trip to Gaza)

Friday, Nov. 5th: Movie night: SLINGSHOT HIP HOP

Thursday Nov. 11th: Session 3: Because We Still Are Here (with possible telecast from Mai’a Williams in Cairo)




Dear Maya,

You were my best friend at Sundance preschool.  I remember going to your house.  I remember your going away party where most of the friends were from temple and my family was very visibly Black and my parents didn’t stay too long, but I insisted on staying with you, and the kids from temple and the parents who had a world that like all adult worlds was incomprehensible to me.

You taught me some words which I’m sure I forgot and then relearned from other jewish friends at other private liberal schools.  But you were first.  And you left to move “back” to Israel.  I would not have known to call you a settler.  But I could tell that you were on an adventure.  You sent a letter once, with pictures in it, I think.  I sent a letter too, all the way to a place I couldn’t imagine, and would never have known was only the age of my grandparents.  It wouldn’t have registered.  I thought places, like grandparents, were forever.

Nobody said that there was water poisoning and olive tree removal and armed forcing of people out of their homes that was happening to make room for families like yours to go “back.”  Nobody in no private liberal school even to this day ever mentioned that there was a war the year after we were born where 60,000 people, some of them preschoolers like we were when we knew each other,  were forced to leave where they lived so that families like yours could live there and feel safe and at home.   I felt safe and at home when I was in preschool.  I felt safe at your home in New Jersey.

I got the feeling that you were leaving because you would feel much more at home in Israel than you did in New Jersey with me.  I didn’t know back then that there were some people who were not allowed to feel at home.  I didn’t know about all the people, some of them my indigenous ancestors who had been pushed out of New Jersey.  I didn’t know that the both the Caribbean islands that more of my ancestors came from used to be full of indigenous people who were made to disappear by the same ways and means that my ancestors were forced to live there.

I knew we had something in common.  You were my friend.  I didn’t know how much. Sometime later I learned in a young adult fiction book about the kibbutz.  Collective work and living.  It seemed very socialist, very Kwanzaa.  I didn’t know back then either that the man who invented Kwanzaa had tied up some outspoken women in his organization to pipes in his basement and tortured them for being exactly the type of person I am, for speaking their minds.

I learned about the Kibbutz and it resonated and I thought not about pipes or poisoned water or smallpox blankets.  I thought about you my friend Maya with deep eyes like mine.  I imagined you peaceful and working and growing up and like me and working and responsible.  I never thought of you when I heard people say “peace in the middle east” to mean goodbye on Arsenio Hall.  It never occurred to me that you were part of a war.

I learned about driedls and latkas in elementary school.  I played Hannukah games every year.  In middle school I found the ofikomen at my friend Jessica’s family passover.  I went with my almost completely Jewish seventh grade class to the Holocaust Museum in DC and cried.  I saw a boy named Jared, the same name as my brother lose it on the bus and slam his hand against the window when we saw a man with a poster saying the holocaust was not real.   How can people deny genocide, I thought.  I was in Washington DC getting ready to visit the White House.  How can people deny genocide, I thought.  I knew that I was far from Aryan, I knew that many people of color and people who were any kind of different were murdered by the Nazi state.  How can people deny genocide, I thought.  I was looking at a big white house that I didn’t know was designed and built by enslaved people.  I was not thinking about that.  How can people deny genocide? I was not thinking about indigenous people from the land that I stood on at all.

I learned more and more Hebrew words in high school.  I identified with a people who remembered that they had been enslaved and who remembered that God wanted them to be free.   At the Passover services that I went to, there were quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.   And my first year in college, my roommate Alyssa and I made the most beautiful blue and white hannukah decorations for our all-girls Ivy League dorm hallway where June Jordan used to go to school.  Where Edward Said was teaching at the time.   Lanterned dreidles, stars and candles.

I never heard Palestine mentioned in a classroom, but I saw orthodox Jewish men and younger students shouting at each other, deep in argument in the middle of campus one day the most passionate verbal arguing I had ever seen, right in the middle.  I had no idea what they could be arguing about.  I didn’t know that a Palestinian student would call my school the Zionist University of the United States.  I didn’t know that years later, my friends and loved ones would be in a shouting match with men and women our age who believed that Israeli military forces could do whatever they wanted to people in Gaza and to anyone who dared to help them.  I only knew about Zion as a place in the bible, and in the matrix and in a love song that Lauryn Hill wrote for her son.  And then I saw an email about protesting the occupation of Palestine, and then right away, right right away an email that said there was no such place as Palestine and that if you looked in any atlas you would never find such a country.

I was shocked.   I had assumed that Palestine was in eastern Europe because those were the countries that my middle school geography class no longer described correctly.  I had no idea that Palestine was a place living in the hearts of thousands of displaced people.  I had no idea that Palestine was a place denied so that a place called Israel could tell Jewish people that they had finally arrived home.  Years of liberal education had given me no clue that there was such a place as Palestine.  No literature class taught me that Mamoud Darwish, a Palestinian poet had said that possibly Palestine was a metaphor.  I had no sense of Palestine as a history, as a critique or as a possibility as a secret and suppressed name for dignity and freedom.   I had no idea, Maya, that you lived in Palestine.

I was yet to cry hearing Suheir Hammad, with a distinct Brooklyn June Jordan cadence read her poetry at the Poetry is Not a Luxury event in honor of Audre Lorde.  I had not met my beloved sister comrades Nadia, a Palestinian woman from Detroit or Mai’a barred from Israel and living in Cairo.  So now I am writing a letter, 24 years later to you, my best friend Maya, who moved to Palestine when we were little kids, in honor of you and of friendship and of the place, Palestine, where I could never address a letter to you.  I don’t know where you live now, or what you call it.  I don’t know if you are an Israeli peace activist, or if you have already served in the military and if you are one of the people who was proud when Israeli marines spoke out against the attacks on a flotilla sending aid to Gaza.  I don’t know if you came back to the states to go to college or if you are in love or if you have lost someone or if you are a parent.  I don’t know who you grew up to be or where you are now or what you believe.

I want you to know though, wherever you are, something important about who I have grown up to be.   Like June Jordan who says she was born a black woman, “now I am become a Palestinian.”   I always felt very peaceful around you, very loved and accepted, very much myself.   I hope that we can be friends again soon.





The Lesson of the Falling Leaves: Lucille Clifton Rebirth Broadcast #19

2 11 2010
[vimeo 16388137]

Loved ones!!!! This is the final video in the Lucille Clifton Rebirth Broadcast Series…on letting go. I love you each and look out for some new reason for me to make you love videos on a regular basis.
Soon! I promise!