Sunday in Harlem. The streets are full as we bustle to get to temples built by man. Pimps hustle a gospel of greed and sacrifice(to their dreams). Prophets preaching truth and justice go unheeded and unhonored by the masses. A cathedral is built by money, a storefront is built by courage and a tabernacle is built by the hammering of silence- this tabernacle is your inner spirit and you are its’ only architect.
I am currently reading War of Art by Steven Pressfield a wonderful book that challenges the reader to bind and block any resistance to creating. I am attempting to recapture the creative dreams I had as a girl by taking baby steps towards creating. In Junior High and High School I would journal, write stories and plays but gave up my creativity along the way. God has been urging me to pick this back up but it is unnerving because I don’t feel like a “writer” or “artist”, but sometimes you have to step onto the water even when you don’t know how or if you can walk on it.
Yesterday I attended the NYC Theater of the Oppressed book release of Street Poetry by the Concrete Justice company. I was extremely inspired by all who read and the artist who designed the book’s cover discovered he was an visual artist only 2 years ago!! He showed me his portfolio and he was work was breathtaking yet all of his life he did not know he had this talent within him. The ability to paint was always there by dormant until a friend urged him to pursue it. His story encouraged me to step out even if I am a late bloomer.
So today is the first day of my 30 day poetry challenge, I hope you will join me in creating everyday if your spirit urges you to.
Lights out baby… Where did your spirit get buried? Why did you abort that dream. Your womb is the seat of your soul your creativity tomb and without purpose it will cave in on itself. We wonder why our light won’t shine, we wonder where our laughter has gone, we look to the east, west, him, her and that for happiness not realizing that a child much greater than happiness is within us and that child is joy which will be our strength-a dola urging us to push and give birth like Sarah who also bloomed late and Hager who was seen though she dared not dream.
I dabble in photography as a hobby and the photos below were taken by me and all represent the journey I am on. The first are my art supplies, the second is a picture at the lake in Chicago reminding me to step out of my boat of comfort and walk on the water of uncertain creativity and the last is of Guadalupe which reminds me of the miracle of creativity because when we create we give birth and imitate God. Be blessed!
The ancestors are dancing in Harlem… I feel them, I see them, they are calling to us to make right what they left wrong and to manifest their destiny in this great city within a city. They are calling to us to drum, dance and defund even when all seems dark, because the sun will always rise in the east and set in the west. The ancestors are dancing in Harlem and their dancing shoes are love & joy.
- The Harlem Arts Festival is Looking for Volunteers (mmviverito.com)
On Tuesday June 19th the Southern Baptist Convention made history when 7,700 ministers unanimously supported the vote for Rev. Fred Luter, Jr. to become the first Black president of the predominately White denomination. The Southern Baptist Convention is the world’s largest protestant denomination and some would say the whitest. The vote is extremely historic in light of church history, because the Southern Baptist denomination became a separate denomination in 1845 after a regional split with northern Baptist over the issues of slavery. After the Civil War a second split occurred when most Black Baptists in the South separated from white churches and set up their own congregations.
A few years ago I completed a year of service with AmeriCorps Public Allies New York and the year of service really changed my life and put me on a path to working for social justice on a full time basis. A few weeks ago I was interviewed for the Public Allies Alumni podcast Catching up with… In this short interview I was able to talk about my work, shout out some of my fellow Public Allies Alumni and reflect on non-profit work, enjoy!
A few months ago a grave spectacle of so-called art took place in Sweden where a cake of an African-American woman’s body (created by a biracial man) was cut by the Swedish minister of “culture”, while those in the room cheered and laughed. What is shocking about this is that the cake was created to look like a black face caricature of a Black woman and the cake was cut where the reproductive organs would be. This cake is known as the “Venus Hottentot Cake”. Sarah “Saartjie” Baartman a slave became known as “Venus Hottentot” and was taken to Europe to have her body exhibited, she was sometimes kept as an animal in a zoo and the cake looked like a caricature of her likeness. This was not art but a barbaric reenactment of female genital mutilation and yet another example of how the Black woman’s womb is under attack. I have written about the high incidents of fibroids among Black women and though diet plays a great role in this health crisis stress, psycho-social and spiritual issues also play a role in reproductive heath. Though we may feel that all is well and that we are seen as fully human a quick look around in the media, music and now contemporary art shows that the Black woman’s sexuality is still being used to sell everything and her womb is still being exploited. Sadly this art was created by an African-Swedish man who has made weak attempts to address the criticism of this art “exhibit” Dr. Claudette Carr wrote an Open Letter from African Women to the Minister of Culture: The Venus Hottentot Caketo address this travesty.
Though I still love Kandinsky I have to show some love to Vincent van Gogh. Many may not know that he was a missionary early in life and tried to become a minister but failed in theology school and was fired from his missionary post for actually following in Christ foot steps and living among the poor miners he ministered to; he actually slept on the floor and lived in poverty by choice. The church felt his choice demeaned the office of minister-wow what spiritual ignorance. What many may not know is that Van Gogh’s most well known work Starry Night is a powerful indictment on the church because all the buildings in the painting have lights that are turned on except–the church. Starry Night always challenges me to consider about my role as a faith-based organizer and spiritual person-is the light of Christ turned on in my life? On one hand I have always wondered (with indignation) what the church lost because Van Gogh was not allowed to minister, but the Holy Spirit allowed me to see that by being kicked out of the church Van Gogh’s purpose was able to expand so that generations are able to benefit from his art. Sometimes our anointing and gifts are too expansion for the church, but I don’t want to start preaching so I will let you all meditate on that! “Van Gogh aspired to become an artist in God’s service, stating: “…to try to understand the real significance of what the great artists, the serious masters, tell us in their masterpieces, that leads to God; one man wrote or told it in a book; another in a picture.” Van Gogh can teach us much about what true ministry is and the role of depression in the lives of many artist and clergy(yes many clergy suffer with depression even Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King faced bouts of depression).
Personally, I have struggled with depression and though I am healed from the darkest bouts, to stay in that healing I have to lean on God’s grace, seek out help and make choices each day to live in joy.
What can the life and work of Van Gogh teach us about the role of depression in the lives of ministers and artist?
Note: as I understand Van Gogh my have lost his faith after being rejected by a woman he was pursuing and her family, but anyone who walks this path of faith knows that there are ups and downs and so we can not judge the final destination his journey.
So on Wednesday I started a cleanse for Candida (Yeast) because in February I was diagnosed with allergies to yeast, mold, mold producing foods, dried and fermented foods (yes this includes wine and beer):
I found a great ebook called Yeast No Morewhich outlines a plan for healing from Candida but this includes eating raw foods, which I have been considering since I have heard so many positive things about eating this way. On Saturday I stumbled upon Vegan Hood TV which features brothers from East NY who eat healthy and teach others in the community to do the same. See their YouTube episode which features Raw Star a raw soul food restaurant that was originally in Brooklyn but is now in NJ (damn you gentrification!).
So far so good as far as the candida cleanse goes. I have had some cravings and miss meat but I am really trying to heal myself of these allergies, gain more energy and try something new!
As I migrate my old blog to Wholeness4Love I am encouraged to see that certain injustices I have written about have been changed or are in the process of improving. Today at yet another City Hall Rally I commented to a co-worker that you know times are bad when you are at City Hall rallies every other week. Sometimes as a organizer I can get discouraged because each day it appears that our rights are being eroded more and more, but as I read past blog post I see God is faithful and that justice will prevail! For instance Domestic Workers United(DWU) helped to get a Domestic Worker Bill of Rights passed in 2010, through the organizing efforts of United Workers members and organizers the ESPN Zone workers are in a class action lawsuit and Smithfield Farms had to change their labor practices after a successful campaign for worker justice (see the blog post below). Though times are hard we have to remember that as Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached: “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”