Connecting The Dots: #ImAWalkingProtest

 

When I awoke on the morning of July 6th and from my smartphone watched the cold-blooded murder of Alton Sterling I was moved to tears. I remember lying in the bed with my face buried in a pillow, weeping. I wept not only for Alton, but for the countless other names dwindled down to hash tags. My sorrow poured out not just for modern day martyrs but also for all of the ancestors whose lives were taken because of injustice. For what felt like 20 minutes I wept, and let my tears pour out libations to the ancestors. But like many others my sorrow couldn’t stop me from fulfilling my obligations at home and at work, so I sucked it up and made it happen, as best I could.

I must admit I was on high alert. My Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome (PTSS) was in action and I was experiencing all sorts of symptoms. By the time the day ended I was ready for a new day, a new start and a better future. Unfortunately when July 7th rolled around, yet another life had been turned into a hash tag. This time Philando Castile’s life had been taken by systematic racism. Even though I had been advised against it, I watched the video.

I watched the strength and the despair of the black woman, live and direct. I watched this woman deal with the harsh reality of the war on black people. I watched this woman report facts, ask questions, state truth in the face of lies, and restrict her emotions for the safety of herself and her child. It was in her restraint that I felt our connection to the women of our past. In her restraint I felt the mothers whose sons and fathers were abducted and shipped away, never to be seen again. In her restraint I felt the women who were swallowed up by the sea in the middle passage. In her restraint I felt the enslaved women with full wombs who watched their men be castrated, torn apart by horses, whipped, lynched, and burned. In her restraint I felt the women forced to carry babies created by hate and rape, just to have them torn from their arms. In her I felt the pain of countless mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives who had to restrain their natural emotion to preserve their life. And so more libations had to be paid.

As I soaked my pillow and muted my moans my PTSS kicked in again. Thoughts of my husband on public transportation and the idea of letting my two young daughters go on their summer camp hike with the SFPD intensely frightened me. Imaging my brothers commuting to and from work, my nephews driving while black, my students catching the bus, anybody breathing while black brought me extreme anxiety and fear. I even called my husband requesting he check in throughout the day so I knew he was safe. I was once again on high alert. But just as the woman in the video I had to restrain my natural emotion to preserve my life. But there was no way I would continue with business as usual. I would not remain silent, I needed to proclaim that Black Lives Matter.

As I got ready for work I put on my Black Lives Matter t-shirt and began to put on my makeup. I applied the concealer around my eyes and thought to myself “Oh no, if I cry again my face will be ruined.” At that moment I made a mental note to shed no tears. But as I applied my eyeliner, I again felt the pain of the black women whom had come and gone before me. Again I told myself, shed no tears. Looking deeply into my own eyes I was compelled to apply a solitary black dot underneath my right eye.

This dot reminded me of the teardrops that are often used to represent life taken by your own hands. But my black dot was representative of the black lives taken by the hands of the oppressor. My black dot was representing the tears I must hold back to survive. But that one dot was not enough to express the loss suffered by the black community. That one dot was just a drop in the sea of lost souls. So I began to apply black dots all around my eyes, each dot representing one thousand tears I held back for all the stolen lives. My grief was now visible, and as I completed the frame around my eyes I no longer had to hold back my tears.

The black dots in formation created the mask I needed to face the world. They were a visual representation of my disapproval of the senseless killings. The black dots in formation created a frame for the truth colored glasses I must wear. They were my authentic true self. The black dots in formation created a reminder that we are more than black, we are African. They proclaim that you don’t value black life because you never valued the African.

And with that I took to FaceBook and posted this selfie and these words:

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“Just in case y’all forgot #BlackLivesMatter We are who we been waiting for.

#ImAWalkingProtest

Each black dots represents one thousand tears I clench back for those slaughtered in the streets. We as the Mothers Daughters Sisters and Wives carry the sorrow and fear day by day. But these black dots in unity and formation represent the strength and the fight.

I got on my #WarPaint Don’t give up the fight!”

 

At first I told myself I would only wear my war paint on the day a black person was killed. This way if I was unable to participate in a march or an organized protest I could still stage my own walking protest. But as fate would have it, two more deaths were brought to my attention. That meant two more days of war paint, two more days of my personal protest.

As the days of violence continued, I continued with my peaceful, personal, protest. In painting my face I was connecting the dots. I was announcing to the world that I am awake, I see the world clearly, and I have an obligation to choose justice. I was connecting the dots of the current struggle to the struggle of our history. Connecting the dots of our current black life to the original African life. Making visible my connection to the struggle, and my awareness of the war. Connecting the dots between myself and other warrior women who deal with the burdens of war everyday. It was connecting me to the people.

People would see me and frown, or smile, or stare. They would make comments like “Oh that’s cute, though” or “I like your little African thing.” They would question, “What you got going on with your face?” or “So, you gonna wear these dots everyday?” These questions and comments provided an opportunity to make connections. Not just verbally, but intellectually and emotionally. This was my opportunity to bring awareness to the oppression. To help people connect the dots between systematic racism/global white supremacy and the killing of my people. This was the opportunity to help people connect the dots between the dehumanization of an entire people and the projected fear of the white psyche. This simple act of dotting my face with war paint was the key for connecting the dots of the struggle to my everyday life.

On July 21st after two weeks of wearing war paint everyday, posting daily on social media and dozens of conversations, I decided to challenge my network to join in my personal protest. I took to FaceBook and posted this public post:

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“I see people liking the #WarPaint pics but hardly anyone has answered the question:

What’s your #PersonalProtest?

So I CHALLENGE my sistah’s of the diaspora to join me in MY personal protest by adorning the makeup of our origin. You don’t have to wear it everyday. But take at least one day to wear the dots of your choosing. And be mindful of the struggle, the victories, the martyrs, the history, the glory and the honor of our people. And be intentionally Afrikan! Because there wouldn’t be any #BlackLivesMatter if they hadn’t devalued the life of the Afrikan first. Ya dig?

If you are down then take a pic and tag me. I wanna see my #WarriorWomen It is truly A Love Supreme!”

It has now been 20 days, and the intrigue and vainglory have worn off. There are days I wake up and think, “I am really still doing these dots?” Yes! This is what a protest feels like. This is just a fraction of what the 13-month Montgomery Bus Boycott felt like. It is a sacrifice, it is a commitment, and it is a tool for change. It is an intentional act in support of a desired goal. I’m A Walking Protest; I’m steady in my personal protest – war paint everyday. I stand for justice everywhere I go. It’s not a game, it’s our lives.

Take the CHALLENGE: Start #ConnectingTheDots! Post a pic of yourself in #WarPaint and stage a #PersonalProtest and declare #BlackLivesMatter

#WarPaint Collage #1

#ImAWalkingProtest #WarPaint everyday!

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Coltrane, Yoga, & Restoration

 

Sound Healing for Mind, Body, and Soul: The Music of John Coltrane How do the sounds of John Coltrane and the practice of Iyengar yoga overlap? What is sound healing?

Come be restored and uplifted!

Before the sound bath experience guided by Marlee-I, Renee will teach a short series of balancing and quieting postures. The sequence is aimed at creating space – vertical extension and horizontal expansion – in the body and mind in order to prepare for the sound healing experience. Suitable for all levels.

Space is limited be sure to reserve your spot: https://clients.mindbodyonline.com/ASP/main_enroll.asp?studioid=10212&tg=&vt=&lvl=&stype=-105&view=day&trn=100000232&page=&catid=&prodid=&date=8%2f5%2f2017&classid=0&prodGroupId=&sSU=&optForwardingLink=&qParam=&justloggedin=&nLgIn=&pMode=0&loc=1

About our Yoga Instructor: Renee Razzano has practiced Iyengar yoga since 2002 and is a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher. She believes in the power of a yoga practice to transform individuals and communities, and the power of music to awaken emotion and contribute to healing. Renee is looking forward to leading the group through a series of simple poses to soothe mind and body. While being surrounded by healing vibrations.

 

http://www.reneerazzano.com

About our Sound Practitioner: As a life long member and minister in the St. John Coltrane Church, Marlee-I embraces and acknowledges the ability of music to heal, transcend all borders, inspire action and elevate the consciousness of the planet. Marlee-I is looking forward to holding the group in the sacred sound of John Coltrane as they move through the restorative poses and creating a sound bath experience for balancing mind, body, and spirit.

http://www.marleeimystic.com

 

 

 

I #PaintPEACE

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4 months of #ConnectingTheDots
I’ve had so many interactions and conversations about culture and equality and micro acts of justice. I am thankful for all the encouragement, acknowledgement, and positive responses. Some people tell me they don’t even see the protest, the just see the beauty. Others say it’s a powerful protest to see you walking into every space with that statement on your face. Others say don’t you think you should give it a break? Some say justice will never come so I better be ready to wear this #WarPaint to the grave. They got so much things to say… But regardless of the positive or negative feedback #ImAWalkingProtest and no its not easy. You are looking at a woman who before July 7th would only wear makeup for special occasions, and that meant some eyeshadow and some lipstick. But this #WarPaint4Change is a serious commitment, and I’m fully committed. It’s not about being cute (although I think it’s beautiful) it’s about stirring up the world. It’s about getting people to think about more than what’s on the surface. It’s about connecting myself and you to the roots of this struggle. It’s about changing presumptions and reaching understanding. It’s about being authentic. It’s about #BlackLivesMatter #BlackUNITY #JusticeOrElse
It’s about #Love and #Empowerment for my people and for myself.
And I pray that other women, men, and children will embrace their traditions and bring them to their everyday. Not just special occasions or events. But everyday stage a #PersonalProtest

No Enemy

Know your enemy

Know yourself

No enemy

No blue

No face

No color

No race

Yet you can’t erase

The oppression we face

From a faceless criminal

Him who shall not be named

And therefore never tamed

Yet shall remain

A stain on the human strain

Bringing forth death and destruction

Breeding greed and corruption

Jumping to the assumption

That he is righteous in what he does

Know your enemy

Know yourself

No enemy

No self

For the enemy is not me or you

Unless you stand in silent approve

And nod in silence to injustice

And allow the corrupt to bury the truth

But even then you are no enemy

No face

No color

No race

No self

You have given over to Satan himself

Your mind is so far off and adrift

That you can’t make the conscious shift

So you stand by silently approving

Visibly choosing to be silent

On what matters

Because it doesn’t matter to you

Look At Me

When you look at me
What do you see?
An earthy brown complexion
Hair that inspires questions
Lips: full, round and wide
Nose: full, round and wide
Eyes deep, dark with pride
When you look at me do you see
Black
Brown
African American
Colored
Negro
Nigger
When you see me
Does it make you wanna pull the trigger
Does my presence inspire fear
Does it cause you to sneer
When you look at me
I want you to see
The face of History
I want you to see the African in me
Why not call me what I am
African in America
Now don’t get me wrong
Black is beautiful
Black is strong
Black is origin
But Africa is where Black began
So when you look at me
See 54 countries
See the oldest recorded history
See 11.7 million square miles
See every shade of man, woman, and child
See the first of the first
See the caretakers of the Earth
See balance of nature, spirit, and flesh
See the origin of man
Humanity at its best
See me now
And remember me then
See me now
And remember where I’ve been
And what I been through
Look at me and see Black unity
For I am a walking protest
The very inhabitation of this black skin
Is a protest that never ends
And when I dot my face
You can’t erase
The connection to my origin
Where my story began
And where it shall return again

We Got The Vibe

Do you wanna take a dip?

Do you wanna take a dip?

Do you wanna take a dip?

Celestial waters we can flip

Do you wanna take a dip?

Do you wanna take a trip

On this Sun Ship?

Do you wanna take a dip?

Do you wanna take a trip?

Come let’s dip

Sound, Music, Vibration and Healing

Permeating sounds rise to the ceiling

Blessings coming down as we levitate

Moving through these celestial gates

We got the vibe

We got the vibration

We got the vibe

To heal the whole nation

We go from earth to water

Fire and Air

End in the Ethers

And go anywhere

We just all made from one

Made in one, too

So don’t you know we got the same groove

We got the vibe

We got the vibration

We got that vibe

To heal the whole nation

Storytelling

Drugs they selling

We got the cure

But ain’t nobody telling

Got that sound

So please don’t get it twisted

Come jump in and get uplifted

Vibe so lit

And you can get with it

We got the vibe

We got the vibration

We got the vibe

To heal the whole nation

We got that sound

Anointed in truth

Thought pattern

Changing sound

We are the living proof

We got that vibe

We got that vibration

We got that vibe

To heal the whole nation

This vibe will set you free

Just tune in to the frequency

We got that vibe

We got the vibration

We got that vibe

To heal the whole nation

Feeling Good

Feeling so good surrounded by this anointed sound of Saint John Coltrane
Feeling the frequencies of sacred crystals
Immersed in sacred text
Revealing life beyond the flesh
Life beyond what’s next
Life with no beginning and no end
Everlasting vibrating frequency
Empty space
Full spirit
Manifesting existence without retreat
Celestial being whole and complete
Control of mind, thoughts, body, and soul
Existing on this plane and dimension
While elevating to the fourth and fifth
Definitive in purpose
Never drift
In atonement with the creative force
In alignment with universal laws
At peace when still
Enlivened by nature and beauty
In gratitude in every mood
Feeling abundance even in a world of lack
Focused intention manifesting blessing after blessing
Trusting in the fact
Jah will provide
Third eye on the goal at all times
Chakras balanced and activated
I am
I feel
I do
I love
I speak
I see
I overstand
Aura shining so pure and clear
Navigating this realm with no fear
Force the creative force moves in me
So free
So gently
It is I and I am she
Nadies filled with positive vibrations
Center
Focus
Faith
And collective production
Feeling so good in communion with the ancestors
The spirits
The angels
The orishas
The light bodies
Kindred spirits manifested in separate times
Yet united in energy, light and vibration
Visiting those able to manifest a new nation
One of overstanding
Love and peace
Where the focus is co-creation
Not greed
But the need to feed the spirit
Positive vibrations for all to feel it
Consciousness transformation for the healing
The healing of our soul
Our environment
Our earthly bodies
And our mindset
Evolution
Transcendence
Ascension
A Love Supreme
Feeling so good surrounded by these sacred frequencies
Daily immersion in vibration
For my souls convergence
With the all in all