As Alice Walker says in this book title, “Hard Times Require Furious Dancing” – that is how I feel now. I wrote the introduction, did the illustrations and painted the cover for this book of poetry over 15 years ago. I have loved living into the combination of art forms, like dancing, painting, protesting, as a way to be with fury and challenge. To bring it through our bodies and let it be released.
The original image was inspired by a church in Oakland where I served alongside a Black woman and White woman as pastors – the First Congregational Church of Oakland. And wow would we dance!! Yes, we would dance our fury as we learned about Jesus, the Movement Founder.
A revolution is happening now in so many creative, and destructive ways – but changes are taking place and voices are being heard. It may require furious dancing and this is a good thing… Sometimes it takes getting mad enough, for a woman to say to herself, “I matter”.
I have dedicated my life to making sure women matter since my early twenties. Claiming to matter is part of what is needed. We have to speak it out. By saying out loud that Black Lives Matter we are all acknowledging THAT BLACK LIVES MATTER. We are making it a declaration and giving it true focus and presence. This isn’t just some catchy phrase to be inclusive – it is CHANGING THE VERY FABRIC OF THE CULTURE RIGHT NOW.
If we can feel that collective change in our own bodies, we can move forward in ways that the Black community sees as relevant for progress in ways THEY CHOOSE to define. Black people have a clear view of the agenda of Whiteness. Most white people can’t see it or haven’t learned enough about it – and that is also by design. I hope we can begin to listen, learn, and allow this to become more clear.
This morning I woke up and wanted to write another Black Lives Matter message, but what came up was this – Black Lives Matter TO ME. It feels so personal to say it this way. YOU matter to me. I walk beside you. I want you in my life. I am doing my own work, and it is stretching me. But this stretch is feeling GOOOOOOD even if I ache in my heart and body.
To my Black friends – my life just doesn’t work without you. When you aren’t with me, I miss you. When I am not with you, I miss you. My life has always been better with you in it. And I know some of you feel the same about me. We have enriched each other’s lives and I hope that never stops. I don’t want to do this life, without you. And I am glad to be part of this revolution you are leading. I honor the need for culturally-specific circles right now. I have agreed, and I have my eye on my hope – our togetherness when we are ready.
I am glad that my Black friends are choosing to honor themselves and their emotional wellness by not fielding the education of white people right now – which can feel like hitting your head on a brick wall over and over. Being in the life path of waking women, I do know, the fatigue that can come from trying to get eyes to open. We can’t see what we don’t see, but I see it happening…the eyes opening.
I have grown up with Black people in church, in school, in my family, in our circles. My very fabric of being is woven with your presence and your incredible gifts. This is not a new awareness for me, yet my focus has increased along with many of us who care and know the oppression and racism in our country.
I have long been ‘fighting’ the impacts of white supremacy (meaning thinking white is above all other colors), being raised with women who were hip to the oppressive construct. They could see and taught me, as you also taught me, that sexism, racism and selfish capitalism are functions of power-over systems.
I will continue to learn. I will study with other white people. We will overcome the veils that block our sight and emerge more whole. And then, I hope, we can dance again. You will know the time, and I will be RIGHT HERE ready to take your hand when you ask to dance with me. I will give you as much space as you need to not have to be appropriate to me and others as we learn. I will honor every time we do weave together. No more dancing around the truth and not speaking to it directly.
For education, our community is studying this man’s work https://www.resmaa.com/
All women friends, join us for our second Re-Membering Circle with a focus on Native American women in the US: https://musea.org/remembering/
This project is being guided by women of color and Musea : Intentional Creativity is supporting and sponsoring.
When my mom was married to a Black man, I experienced the racism of white people first hand. I wanted to run to the safety of the Black community, and I did. I will tell that story another day.
I am also aware of the energy of ‘divide and conquer’. When my teacher Sue Hoya Sellars and Alice Walker would teach me, they taught me that there will come a time when the white women and black women will be divided. This will be a sign of deep patriarchy that wants us to divide and conquer because when we are distracted with fighting each other, we won’t see what they are doing. I don’t want this to happen. I am consciously holding a space here of collaboration and continued connection as we work to heal in our separate groups together.
I am tracking what the ‘system’ is putting in place while I am so focused on me and you and us right now. To show up in the best way I know how right now for my community, I am organizing 6 months of circles on mending racialized trauma guided by women of color in our Intentional Creativity community.
This letter may not be the most politically correct lingo – but today I am dancing fiercely with my love and praying that we wake up and keep our eyes open. If I am corrected, I will learn and fix it. I can’t see what I am not seeing if I don’t risk – saying out into the quantum space between us. Black LIVES MATTER TO ME!!!!!
I believe, we have reached a tipping point of awareness. A ratio of awakening. Changes are coming. It is no longer culturally acceptable in any way in the United States to not address racism the way it is being addressed today. WE ARE REQUIRED TO RESPOND. YES. This is progress. More is coming. Let’s keep dancing. Yes there is a evidence of the fury and pain worldwide as protests continue to rage, both peaceful and painful.
Next, let’s take on the Constitution and the Declaration of Human Rights. Let’s make sure that women and people of all colors are treated as human beings in the language of this country and this world. Women and people of color have been treated as less than for thousands of years. We share a common wound – not being seen as valued or human. ENOUGH!
When I went to the United Nations for the 5th year, I brought up the topic that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written in the masculine, and did not include women and girls. I also shared that it is the most printed document in the world. They told me it will NEVER change, that is a historical document. They said let’s keep our eyes on a more relevant topic. To that, I said – the historical documents must change to reflect the reality of today – that if girls read this they will not feel included and the violence will continue. It matters. This matters to me.
When I made this petition – https://secure.avaaz.org/…/The_United_Nations_and_the_Peopl… I thought instantly hundreds of thousands of people would sign it – it is so logical, right? Wrong. Even though I have mailed it and placed ads and put it in front of over 50,0000 people, I have less than 1,000 signatures. That shocked me – how slow is progress? Snail pace. I gave up.
When women of all colors have access to equal power, oppressive systems will begin to unravel. Because the mama will not want her babies to suffer.
George Floyd called on his Mama and the collective Mama was reached. We heard him – women who have ached for their rights, heard him. I did. When he said “everything hurts”, I hurt. It is not the same as what a Black-boded person will feel. But I have compassion, which means to ‘suffer with’. I can feel this.
I hope you feel it because this pours forth in this post and my hope for transformation, For those who want to correct my language or offer suggestions, I will listen. For those of you offended, I encourage you to do the ART – writing your own letter to your Black community and see what comes up. This letter, however imperfect, is my act of furious dancing. This is my art.
As I type the keyboard is on fire, my fingers pound the keys, the birds sing, and then I dance.
Gloria Steinem quotes Jesus when she says – “The Truth Will Set You Free”, but, she adds, “first, it will piss you off”. That’s all right.
When we go to the United Nations with Native American women, led by Carmen Baraka, we always smudge the member flags. Well it is time to smudge our nation to clear it of years of oppressive systems. Clearly, whatever we have been doing, isn’t working.
We at Intentional Creativity have worked with women of color since the beginning in a conscious, creative, caring, collaborative manner. Not because it was the right thing, not to look good to others, but because the community of color IS our community.
I am acutely aware that those who are called to our circles are still largely white and European descent. We have been tracking this intentionally for ten years. If I was a woman of color, I would want to study with women of color. I might try to find a teacher from my own culture. It is not suprising to me that this is needed now. I am also aware of many many women in our community who are women of culture whose faces don’t reflect their heritage visibly. Our efforts to be more consciously inclusive continue to be a priority for me as we lift up even more women’s voices within our work.
My focus towards everything is through the framework of art – how do creative women respond to the world? How do we create the image of the future feminine that reflects who we are, instead of what the media defines for us? We paint her. We write her. We tell her story. I can’t tell the Black Women’s stories, only they can. So I am here with a brush in hand inviting her/you/us and women of all colors to the canvas. A new story is arising and women will define their own pallette.
Change is hard, it may require furious dancing for a time.
Black Lives Matter To Me,
A few links:
SMUDGING the UNITED NATIONS
Women’s Rights are Human RIghts
Interviews with a few women in our community https://musea.org/interviews