I’m all into birthing stories. Not just physical, human babies, but stories of folks giving birth to ideas, projects, visions, empires, love…etc.
Dec 31, 2015 I sent my sista-friends a text asking them to be my focus group. Okay, I didn’t ask. I told them, “You be my focus group.” I wanted, maybe even needed, their input. Not for validation, but these sistas are my angels here on earth and even when they don’t know it, they make me stronger, and strength gives me courage. I also knew they would keep it real with me. Really real!
I sent them a list and asked which resonated with them. The list included: Being she…being seen, Black Girl Visibility and She blooms Black. In all of their realness, they responded quickly, frankly and several asked, “Girl, what you up to, now?” I told them, “I’ll keep you posted on y I asked!”
I didn’t want to tell them about the blog cos once I told them, I would be less likely to change my mind. Doubt, which was also my ego, was in my ear telling me no—was I seriously committing to regularly, at least once a week, posting on a blog? And once again, would anyone read it. This isn’t a book. It isn’t a play on stage. It’s a blog. And it’s not as simple as me putting it out there, I want people to read it and comment.
She blooms Black resonated most with them, so I checked my bank account, did some creative math, cos it was a sacrifice, but I trusted the Universe to support me in this effort. It felt right. I’d been reading up on how to start a blog for awhile. Yes, I knew about signing up for a free wordpress or blogspot page, but I also knew it was security measures to think about and I thought about the long haul, so I didn’t want to do free and was steadfast in locking in a domain name and a host.
I started pushing this, She blooms Black, baby out. While in labor I inhaled the mantra I’d envisioned for the year:
As I’d told my sista-friends, “twenty-sixteen, we ain’t hiding. We’re gon’ step out and be/do/have all of our hearts desire while telling our stories. We coming thru in twenty-sixteen”
But wait, what about conception? How did She blooms Black come to be before sending that text to my sista-friends? Like with most things that I birth, it was a “gut thing.” I tried the blog thing before, but it didn’t stick, I would just post on FB regardless of the length of the post. Ha! However, I wanted to do more, and the time felt right as a response to the climate—(not in chronological order) Marissa Alexander, Rekia Boyd, Sandra Bland, Mike Brown, Eric Gardner…Freddie Gray.
It also felt right to practice what I knew about the power of our thoughts! For instance, when Eric Gardner was killed and Black communities around the world began chanting “I can’t breathe,” I was concerned about how the Universe would receive our words. Eric Gardner could not breathe, but we are still here! We are breathing! We can speak out and take action to address injustices.
I saw Samuel L. Jackson’s video of the “I Can’t Breathe Challenge” and it just came over me, ancestors placed on my heart a counternarrative that fearlessly centered Black gyrls and womyn:
we are breathin’
we are breathin’
calling out the violence against gyrls and womyn
freeing our people and not being silent
When all of this was happening, I was in the midst of putting the finishing touches on my play, Standin’n tha Gap, that was scheduled to premiere in January, at the 2015 Rhino Fest. I put the chant that I’d created in the play, it was a perfect fit. So, She blooms Black, is apart of the what’s next after my play.
“Standin’n the Gap explores issues facing black women today, including body image, sex, racism, and violence. The performers are energetic and skilled, and the writing is powerful. Many of the scenes made me uncomfortable in a way that also made me pay attention. Toward the beginning of the play, one of the
women says, “If you’re judging, you’re not bearing witness.” Standin’n the Gap is a show that invites us to set aside what we think we know about race, sex, and societal norms, and to bear witness.” Review by Charlotte Hamilton, Chicago Arts Journal
She blooms Black is also, the what’s next after my MFAW thesis, “Unapologetic Womon/Black,” May 2015, and the soft launch of my card line, “being she . . . ,” July 2015.
She blooms Black is my reaction after seeing the mothers of Michael Brown (Lesley McSpadden), Trayvon Martin (Sybrina Fulton) and Sean Bell (Valerie Bell) together.
She blooms Black is on the continuum of #sayhername #BlackGirlMagic #CarefreeBlackGirl.
I wanted to delve deeper into the nuances and gray area of Black girlness and womonness. To continue in a tradition of being unsilenced and telling our stories of not only pain, but of joy, happiness, love, sexiness, quirkiness, laughter, vulnerability, transgression and progression.
Today, on this 2016 MLK Day, I was reminded that we must document and archive our her/history. We must collectively be the keepers of our truths. In this spirit, I wrote this conception/birthing story of She blooms Black.