Category Archives: Self imaage

SPIRIT DAY: Fifty Shades of Purple

Thursday, October 17, 2013 is “SPIRIT Day.”  The observance began in response to a rash of widely publicized bullying-related suicides of gay school students in 2010.

Since 2010, each year on “Spirit Day” people have been encouraged to wear the color purple, and post purple themed/bannered messages on Facebook, Twitter and other social media to show support for LGBTQ youth who are victims of bullying.

After posting photos/graphics from GLAAD and the Transgender Law Center on my Facebook page, I donned my three shades of purple outfit and headed to work.

I work with a diverse group of people. They are good people but we are different. They tend to be more conservative to my liberal. They are more Christian to my spiritual. They are more suburban to my urban. I know for a fact that I’m the only one with tattoos, piercings other than on the ears, sporting Afrocentric natural hair and openly gay. So I was not surprised that no one else wore purple or knew why I did today.

We live in different worlds, come from different backgrounds but every day I recognize I have an opportunity, a responsibility maybe not to change but to touch hearts and minds.

It’s all part of living an authentic life, of being out and finding those areas of intersectionality that help us move the boundaries of inclusion towards equality.

So I wore my three shades of purple ensemble, and when the opportunity arose I told them why I was wearing purple and talked about the damage bullying does to young lives, especially young LGBTQ lives.

We talked as women. We talked as mothers. We talked as concerned community members. And in the end, we discovered we aren’t so different after all.

There’s a classical Latin phrase carpe diem—usually translated as “seize the day” or “act now.” Occasions, like “SPIRIT Day,” gives each of us the opportunity to act, to touch hearts, minds and be the agents of the change we want to be.

Posted in bullying, hate crime, lgbt, Self imaage, youth | Leave a comment

The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers “Storytelling Slam”

And the winner is – ME!!!! The theme was “Stand Your Ground” and I told a story about standing my ground in support of the city I love Detroit, MI, in support of building community by supporting local businesses and in standing your ground for respect as a consumer. An eclectic field of ten storytellers, but in the end there could be only one -winner that is – and I am so honored to be that winner.

The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers (TSSOTS) was created by award-winning performer and actor Satori Shakoor. TSSOTS has a global mission and purpose to connect humanity, heal and transform community and provide an uplifting, thought-provoking, soul-cleansing entertainment experience that is unique through the art and craft of storytelling. In Detroit on the third Friday of the month? Come experience TSSOTS at the Museum of African Am erican History.

 

 

Posted in Black identity, Black women, literature, Self imaage | Leave a comment

Back to My Future (a poem by Michelle E. Brown)

I don’t want to go back for my future

But every time I try to move forward

I run into the same old lies

The same old games

Flirtation, seduction, titillation

Words that promise

Touch that thrills

Brand new smiles

Telling same old lies

Detours, road blocks, hazards

Turning me around

Impeding all progress

And in my rearview mirror

There’s you

You fit like a comfortable old shoe

Like that big comfy sweater

With patches on each elbow

 

The cottage in the country

Porch swing rocking gently in the wind

Quiet, stable, solid, you.

But I don’t want to go back to that future

Thoughts, ideas, dreams stunted

Smothered in your all inclusive love

I died a little each day in that past

Back there with you.

After you, I took a deep breath

Awoke from the coma

Returned to my life

Picking up the pieces

Moving forward

Moving on

I don’t want to go back for my future

But every time I try to move forward

I find only darkness, only despair

The futility of today’s transience

Broken spirits, empty promises

Chance encounters on hot summer nights

Evening spent drinking as the bar gets ready to close

Damaged goods, excess baggage

Others trying to move forward

Weighed down by their past.

I want to go back to that promise

That promise of the past

Those quiet romantic evenings

Candle lit dinners, champagne and bubble baths

Deep thoughtful, heated conversations

The art of making love

I guess I want to go back to that future

To move forward, to start anew

And there you are in my rearview mirror

Quiet, stable, solid you.

Reminding that with the bad times

We’d shared a few good too

Rays of light amidst all that gray.

Maybe I can go back for my future

To move forward, to start anew

I want to go back to that promise

I want to go back to that future

I just don’t want to go back there

With you.

Posted in literature, Love, Self imaage, Women | Leave a comment

That Afro puff story got my hair all twisted – Rantings of an Afro Puff Warrior

Afro Puff Warrior Woman

Afro Puff Warrior Woman

Like many African American women I have had a love/hate/love history with my hair. I have worn it long, short, straight, braided, twisted and natural. I have covered it with wigs and had it dyed every shade of red imaginable and even a few shades of blonde. We, my hair and I, have traveled a long way to get to the place of love we share today.

You see I was born that middle child. I was supposed to be the long awaited son but instead they got me. Unlike my older sister with her fine curly “good” hair, I came into the world with a head full of thick, unruly, ‘had a mind of its own’ hair.

If my mother braided it in pig tails, it didn’t lay flat like my sisters. After a few hours of play, it would work its way free from the rubber bands and rise up, so my mother and aunties would say, like “someone had sprinkled baking powder on it.”

When appearance really mattered I would sit between my mother’s or aunt’s knees, my head in a knee-lock vice grip, and have it braided so tight my head would hurt. I’d cry “Take it easy” but my hair was a beast and taming it could not be done by “taking it easy.”

One year there was a big wedding. Relatives came from far and wide. When time came for hair combing I started to cry before my mother even touched me because I knew she was going to pull those braids so tight my toes were going to curl.

Aunt Helen who was in from North Carolina asked me what was wrong to which my sister answered “She doesn’t have ‘good’ hair like me. Mommy has to really comb it hard to make it look nice and it’s going to hurt.” She probably giggled (yes she was that kind of big sister.)

Well Aunt Helen looked at me and said “Come here baby. There’s nothing wrong with this child’s hair. You just have to work with it.” She took the comb and brush from my mother, worked a little hair magic and when she was done I was rocking my first set of Afro Puffs.

When I saw the photo on face book of the smiling little girl with her Afro Puffs above the headline that an Ohio School was banning Afro Puffs and braids I felt a pang in my heart.

Horizon Science Academy in Ohio sent a letter to parents including a ban on some Natural hair styles including Puffs as not in keeping with their dress code.

Seriously in 2013 natural hair banned, lumped in with other personal appearance bans like Mohawks, hair dye and body piercings!!!

Ironically I read this post on the same day my city Detroit, Michigan celebrated the 50th anniversary of the March in Detroit where Dr. King first gave his I have a dream speech in 1963.  We all remember his dream for his four little children (two were little girls) that they would “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

I’m sure if he were alive today; Dr. King would look at that photo of that beautiful child with her puffs and see his own daughters Yolanda and Bernice.

Maybe he’d remember seeing their heads locked in that knee vice grip, remember hearing them cry as their mother or auntie braided or pressed their hair so it would be acceptable to a world where little black girls were repeatedly told they weren’t good enough, weren’t pretty enough.

I’m thinking he’d feel more than a pang in his heart that in 2013 the quintessential pretty black child look, the Afro Puff, along with braids and natural hair would be banned as unacceptable to Horizon Science Academy’s dress code. .

I believe he would see that speaking out against this ban and talking about instilling self-love in our children was part and partial of not being judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character if the dream is to ever be fulfilled.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not pointing the finger solely at Horizon, this decision did not come in a vacuum. We need only look at the community in the mirror with our penchant for assimilation, each generation getting further and further away from being black as we become more multi-racial, people of color to see how any school board could so blindly see this as just a matter of personal appearance on the same level of body piercing.

I bet Dr. King would be mad as hell, not just at Horizon but at us as community for still allowing our beautiful black children to be seen through a lens of beauty that denies our history, culture and inherent African American beauty

When I saw the photo on face book of the smiling little girl with her Afro Puffs, I remembered all those years I thought I was not pretty and some of the questionable choices I’ve made (like the blond hair) trying to fit someone else’s idea of pretty.

I think of all those dollars I spent on hair products trying to tame my hair so I would look “more professional” when trying to get a job, knowing my black skin was already a strike against me.

I think about how it still stung a little, just recently when someone asked me if I combed my beautiful natural hair and how appalled I am that people still ask if they can touch my hair (yes my hair, part of me  not IT).

Although my first thought was to twist up my Afro puffs, gas up the car and head down to OHIO, instead I twisted up the puffs, gassed up the car and went over to visit my nieces. The youngest was wearing her puffs too. I told her “I love your puffs.” I gave her a big hug and said YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!

 

Posted in Black hair, Black identity, Black women, lgbt, Self imaage, Uncategorized, Women, youth | Leave a comment