Culture, Life, New York City, Personal Liberation, Politics/World Issues, Technology

The Helesian Renaissance: 2011-Present (Why I Chose Media as a Means of Re-Birth)

renaissance –

ren·ais·sance (r n -säns , -zäns , r n -säns , -zäns , r -n s ns). n. 1. A rebirth or revival.

The Helesian Renaissance: Manifesting Goddesshood through Rebirth

On the heels of a snap decision to move to a small “hippie town” called Yellow Springs, Ohio (I’ve been wanting to leave New York for a while now, updates on that coming soon), I’m really excited about the opportunity to totally emerge myself in a culture wehre I feel free to explore it and find my own niche within it. When I visited 7 years ago, I was relieved by the fact that there, you don’t have to look good, you just have to BE good. I’ve always wanted to be admired for my mind, not just my face and body and face. They are equally important to me as a being, but, my face and body have gotten alot of attention in recent years. Now it’s time for people to hear and feel my words. I call this the my Renaissance because I truly feel a shift, a huge transformation in my perspective on the events that happen in my life and where I choose to put my energy.

I have recently decided that I want to be great and make a huge impact on society. I like to do this simply by living, but I want it to be publicized and I wish for it to generate money, material things, wonderful friendships, and “first-time” experiences. I see myself starting trends and calling attention to ones that have already been started, (such as my T.I.T.S. Movement concerning topfreedom).

I would like to to be the first person to have ever done something, and I may have already broken barriers being a Black woman who chronicles her experiences of going topfree shamelessly in a fear based society and getting interviewed for it, and while I am still able to use the high I got from that experience, (especially having the support and presence of those near and dear to me) to laugh through moments as akward and downright creepy as an episode of Awkward Black Girl or The Office a few days later, this accomplishment is still not enough for me.

Not enough people know about the subsection of the American black female population who are intelligent, delicate, sexual, spiritual, articulate, and close to the Earth. Not enough people know about me! When I began studying media and becoming really interesting in filmmaking, I was in high school and took an intro to film class in high school, I remember being bored out of my mind but also disappointed in that we were forced to watch Birth of a Nation by D.W. Griffith. It had nothing to do with my present experience, (or anyone’s if you take the film’s interpretation of reality literally) nor my desired experience,  and the filmmaker probably had never considered that a young precocious Black woman like me would have to analyze this film. It was about the slave trade and showed slaves to be less than human, “unintelligent and sexually aggressive towards white women,” and portrayed “the Ku Klux Klan (whose original founding is dramatized) as a heroic force.” (Source: Wikipedia. Don’t judge me. I actually DO  research. More of that to come.) I knew not then what had to be done about this type of propaganda that perpetuates self hatred among  even worse, a self denial among Blacks and unnecessary and counterproductive white guilt. I had much earlier mentally checked out of the public “fool” system altogether as early as 5th grade anyway, so I didn’t expect much at that point, but still, I was disenchanted.

Fast forward to college to when I took another film class. We watched movies like Amelie and Nanook of the North, which were more relatable: Amelie’s cuteness on screen and her adventurous nature I could relate too. It wasn’t as heavy. I’ve always felt a connection with the Native Americans too, as my lineage is strewn with them.

I’m not saying the point of every movie is to be relatable. But I am emphasizing the importance of people, especially children, seeing representations of themselves of what they desire to be, on film.

Films are programs, and these images and sounds are downloaded into the brain when one views them. They become ingested by the soul, encrypted in the spirit. The research is there, but I know from personal experience–besides an artful martial arts film, I can’t stand violence, horror, gore, and blood. When I’m sick, it actually makes me feel WORSE! Everything you hear and see affects your health.

I saw many problems in the self image of Black women who were very close to me, and this was only examining my own self hatred. I dealt with my hair and went natural in 2003, I dealt with my fear and fascination of Black men, and started the process of digging up layers of sedimentary hurt and trauma caused by situations with my father and other Black men who I felt harmed me.

I decided I want to undo some of the negative stereotypes of Black women in the media by producing media that showed who some of us truly are, and while we are unique, I hope I’m representing even a bit of you… and I hope the rest of you will give me a pat on the bottom for giving it the old college try.

Speaking of college: I’m going back.

It’s something that will change my life forever and now is the perfect time for me to do it.

“I just decided that I want to be great.”

The above quote was my Facebook status just a few days ago. I was looking at a Youtube video of Oprah speaking about Maya Angelou and her influence on her life. I embody a few characteristics of both. Despite all of the the conspiracy theories I’ve entertained about Oprah and how she got and keeps her position in the media, and Maya Angelou, who’s greatness over the years has been damn near forgotten by many in my generation, I have come to my senses: the positive impact of these women on people’s lives, especially black women who have the added effect of them being someone who looks like them, who they can see themselves, in is undeniable.

They made me see that even though my method of getting attention may never be theirs, I want to impact people’s lives the same way, especially young black women.

Sept. 11th, 2012–Two more high school young women came up to me to inquire why I was topfree. I took pictures at their request, and encouraged them to look at the blog pertaining to my movement. It’s one small thing I could do to inform them that there’s more to this than just what you see, even in my actions.

That is exactly what I want the world to see about them, that you can’t judge them by their looks, or even their actions that you see for a few seconds on a news clip. You certainly shouldn’t take any of the caricatures you see of them on film seriously without doing some reflection on the industry as a whole. And more importantly I would like for them to see this about themselves. This is the reason for the shift: as I give birth to a new me and manifest Goddesshood, they birth a new image of themselves as well. They will realize their dynamism, their potential, the Goddess in themselves. May they have their own re-birth and be inspired to have a Renaissance of their own.

Culture, International Relations, Life, Politics/World Issues, Race Relations

Dark Girls- A Film Review

As I sat in the legendary Apollo Theatre, which I had just performed at in September, I knew that I was experiencing an event that was truly epic. As the dark girls the moviebeginning credits of the premiering film began to roll, the song playing in the background made my heart smile because the singer spoke true words about black women: there aren’t many songs written about our beauty.

I wanted to hear something positive. I didn’t know what I was in for. I wanted something that would make me feel warm inside. I expected the unexpected from the movie Dark Girls. But then in one swoop I was disappointed. I heard the words “enslavement” and talk of trauma passed down to us through our cells, post traumatic stress disorder and such, and I took out my pen and made a note to myself, “Got-damnit!” When are we gonna stop talking about this same bull-”

…I guess I became like a lot of white people in that way, I was just sick of hearing Black people talk about the history and presence of racism and it’s very real affects on Black people’s lives in general, and Black women’s in particular, self image. I wanted to hear something I hadn’t heard. And I didn’t wanna hear about me being oppressed. I’m living my dream right now. I’m in my bubble. Ain’t nothin’ oppressing me.

I guess it’s because when I first became “conscious” as a Black woman, meaning I studied some of the history of my people, (some hidden, some public) I really came into my own. It started when my sister gave me her copy of The Auto Biography of Malcolm X. I indulged myself in so called self-righteousness. I read Roots, I hated white people for a while, and I was a Black supremacist for a while. I think that’s what can happen when a person is well read on a certain topic. They get “over-zealous.” Instead of letting the highs and lows of life (which is a really good teacher), sound wisdom passed down through generations, and a really good book that has been banned from the library (just to spice it up for good measure) teach them some universal truths, we tend to get one-sided with the information that we obtain. So at that point in my life I was pretty unbalanced.

When I really started to be real with myself, my life began to open up in new ways.

I felt a knot in my stomach, like I was leading a double life, when I said that white people were the devil. I knew it wasn’t true. I knew it couldn’t be that simple, because if it were there’d be no need for me to continue living, because they simply cannot be escaped. And neither can my skin. One time on Facebook I posted “sometimes I wish I could forget my skin.” Not because I felt less than beautiful. It was because identifying with it too much made me feel less than spiritual. And in a way, less than connected to other humans. Less alive.

Basically, I didn’t wanna be sad for the rest of my life because I have melanin. In fact, it’s a reason to praise God.

I still remember riding in my Mom’s red station wagon pretending my skin was lighter and that I had long brown curly hair, and that my sister was light skinned too. But by the time I was in 5th grade, my sister told me I needed to get more Black friends, “dress Black” and start reading about my culture. I still love her for that, because it was important for me to interact with other children who were experiencing some of the same things that I would. It was just good to have one more thing in common with them.

Honestly, I don’t live inside a white supremacist framework anymore. That framework can only exist in your experience if it exists in your mind. I never said I was color blind. It’s not that I don’t see the difference in race in the wider context, but when dealing with individuals, I must feel their vibe first. (I’m sooo New Age in that way.)

So, I actually thought I had this whole movie Dark Girls wrapped up. But about 20 minutes into the movie, I realized I was wrong. That’s when I put my pen down and stopped writing. I realized that on this road of colorism there were some twists and turns I hadn’t yet seen, and I wanted to take my shades off and really take it all in.

What I realized about colorism, is that when you look at it through the many lenses that the movie does, you see that the rabbit hole goes as deep as one can imagine. I felt literal visceral responses to what was being said, good and bad. It would have been ideal if I could have paused the movie and had discussion upon discussion about almost every scene. Some of it made me angry, but maybe not for the reasons that one may think. Others just made me, more importantly, want to ask more questions to everyone around me, including the people in the film. The filmmakers, the characters in the film, and the person sitting behind me. This film will make you want to TALK. I have to give it to Bill and Chann (the co-directors/producers of the film), they threw me for a loop. Talking heads and oft reused b-roll can be powerful if the words spoken are from the heart. The real stories and accounts from real women who had once lived their life in skin that made them feel less than enough took me for a ride. But who knew the journey would be so rich, nuanced, so bumpy, disgusting, sad, disheartening, riveting, exciting, and beautiful? It made me feel a little guilty for not going out of my way to support more media that focuses solely on this issue…but then, I had to not beat up on myself for being where I am in my life.

There was once a time where if it wasn’t Black media, I wasn’t buying it. And I criticized and nitpicked every mainstream piece of media I saw. I thought my world was going crazy, my friends were watching Friends DVD’s and not bothered by the fact that there was only one Black woman in the whole series, when the show is set in New York City, the melting pot of the world. But now I’m just into what makes me laugh. And now that I’ve truly accepted the fact that regardless of all the scientifically proven superiority of melanin versus lack of melanin, spiritually, we all have a chance to live our dreams. Dark Girls burst my bubble. But tonight, as I close my laptop, I will go back into it, my crazy world in my head, where everyone forgets their skin, and doesn’t see a Dark Girl, they just see me.