#WomanWriterWednesday: Lady Silk

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#WomenWritersWednesday is a docu-series that explores the inner lives of women writers. Writers discuss everything from inspiration to writing processes to inherited gifts.

Lady Silk is a writer deeply influenced by Hip-Hop. I spoke with her about the importance of telling the truth, living in order to write, and how she likens her writing to an MC rapping.

 

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How Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’ Took Us Home

“She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see” – Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

My grandmother often tells the story of her mother’s frequent returns home to Mississippi after getting married at 13. She would have her first three children in tow as she repeatedly left her marriage home in Alabama—the place she ran off to marry the 19 year old with the sweet voice. The most infamous story is how my great-grandmother stuffed her clothes in the suitcase of her sister who was visiting. When her sister returned home she was shocked to find my great-grandmother’s clothes and even more shocked when she appeared on her door-step a short while later. But however long my great-grandmother stayed away, eventually her husband would always come for her and she’d leave with him. I never met my great-grandmother, so I can’t ask her what kind of pain drove her frequent attempts to run away, neither can I ask her about the kind of resolution that drove her to return.

What I am more curious of is the type of refuge she received at her mother’s home—that mother who had a husband in St. Louis who never returned—what kind of strength and salvation was conjured between two generations of hurt women in that space? What did my great-great grandmother teach her daughter about love and forgiveness and making lemonade from the lemons life had given her?

Returning home is a theme explored everywhere from the Bible to 21st century art. It is a tradition with particular significance in the cannon of black female art and literature. Coming home isn’t a destination, it’s a pilgrimage back to the place that either defined or broke you or both. Returning to that place is not only where black women have come to rest, but to confront the things they were unable to out in the world. The thing that they are often confronting is themselves. Home is never a place to quit, but to restore and figure out how to go on from their current state. Most recently, Annalise Keating  showed us the kind of refuge home serves a black woman when the world is threatening to break our bodies and our spirits.

How to Get Away with Murder, S02E15

At home Annalise  is not able to simply rest, she must confront the pain of her father leaving and the confusion of how her mother forgave him. There is a lesson she is meant to learn no matter how reluctant she is. The sweet is never without the bitter.

 Zora Neale Hurston blessed the cannon with her pioneering pilgrimage tale, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Beyoncé offered her own tale of returning home in Lemonade. As I watched the Queen Bey deliver her most vulnerable work to date I was struck by the similarities I found between the woman she portrays and Janie Crawford in Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Read More Here: How Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’ Took Us Home

#WomenWriterWednesdays: Cynthia Amoah

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#WomenWritersWednesday is a docu-series that explores the inner lives of women writers. Writers discuss everything from inspiration to writing processes to inherited gifts.

Cynthia Amoah is a spoken word artist originally from Ghana. Her powerfully articulated poems have taken her around the world. She tackles subjects like race and gender as she fuses her experiences as an African and American Woman into a voice that is uniquely her own. I spoke with her about her performance style, the oratorical power of her ancestors, and the responsibility to tell her story.

 

#WomanWriterWednesday: Anisa Gandevivala

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#WomenWritersWednesday is a docu-series that explores the inner lives of women writers. Writers discuss everything from inspiration to writing processes to inherited gifts.

Anisa Gandevivala is a writer, poet, and artist. Her work focuses on intimacy, meditation practices, and nature. We sat down and discussed her definition of intuitive action, doing what she’s gotta do, and not having to be the good guy.

 

Elsewherewithinhere: Daphne, AL

 

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ElsewhereWithinHere

ElsewhereWithinHere is an online collection of places that have inspired, made, or broken the writers who wrote about them.

I wrote a piece on the time I travelled to my father’s childhood home in Daphne, Alabama.

Click here to read it.

13 Women Writers on Self-Reliance

Self-reliance is an understanding of one’s ability to define and determine the self. That understanding is a difficult one to reach as a black woman. Often times our paths are obstructed by the looming presence of a society whose existence seems rooted in keeping us down. But, as Maya Angelou reminded us, we still shall rise. See what these 13 writers have to say about the matter of self-love and self-reliance.

Read more of my latest offering for Blavity 

‘Underground’ is a must-see new series

If you’ve haven’t already been convinced that ‘Underground’ is the show you should be watching, I gave Blavity 5 reasons you should catch up before the next episode tomorrow!

Read more Here

Dinner with Aunt Gladys

An overriding theme in my documentary work is family. I am specifically interested in the oratorical act of passing down family history; as a young girl I sat at the feet of my elders absorbing the stories of family members who had long passed, but whose actions led to my own existence. Recently I travelled, with the women of my maternal family, to Michigan for dinner with our eldest living matriarch, Gladys.

At 97 years old my aunt is able to call all the way back to her childhood in Columbus, Mississippi and share stories with us about growing up, going to school, and the lives of her parents and siblings. Born in 1919 my aunt Gladys was the child of sharecroppers who worked to send their seven children to school. What I found most remarkable is that my aunt looks back at a time we all find to be full of sacrifice and strife and pain with joy. “Those were some good ol’ days,” she laughs, “we had a lot of fun.” That’s not to erase the obvious difficulty of growing up at a time of racial segregation and extreme poverty, but it calls me back to a quote from Nikki Giovanni’s poem, Nikki Rosa, who spoke of her fears of a white biographer taking hold of her story:

“I really hope no white person ever has cause  to write about me because they never understand Black love is Black wealth and they’ll probably talk about my hard childhood and never understand that all the while I was quite happy.”

It’s important that we tell our stories, especially the stories of our ancestors.

WGN’s ‘Underground’ is Revolutionizing History

I’m from Ohio, a prominent state in the Underground Railroad and trek to freedom for many courageous runaway slaves. When WGN announced it’s new show, ‘Underground,’ about a group of individuals determined not to be bound by slavery, and the individuals committed to the abolitionist movement, I vowed to watch. Now, I am an avid fan.

I wrote a piece for Superselected on how Underground is revolutionizing the depiction of slavery due to its focus on resistance.

You can read up on it HERE.