Friday, July 15, 2011

The Temple of My Familiar: Feminism Fridays Part Deux

The Buddha said,"If you meet the Buddha in the road, kill him."

Now, this is no call to murder, but a recipe against hero/god-worship. Meaning, seek your own understanding in this world. You can respect the perspective of those you admire,but reach your own conclusions, trust where your own experience has led you.

I've been on this "murdering your gods" vibe lately. I have been taking apart a lot of the women,who loom large in my experience and imagination.

It's not about disrespect,but a quest for a deeper understanding of our society's current power structure and where we land in in it all.

I got the idea to compile this list, from a blog post, "The Twelve Mothers of Kola Boof" by Kola Boof. Its truly amazing to see where her "genealogy" overlaps with my own. It's a stone cold fact that no matter our disagreements, women touched by the grace of Feminism and/or Womanism in their lives share a common "ancestry".

I do think that a critical approach to reality is a necessary tool. It is the only way to keep cultural and artistic voices sharp and non-complacent. So, I have questions for all these women, places where I disagree with them all. However,equally as valuable to the critical approach, is paying homage to those that walk the path ahead of me...


The 12 Sister-Mothers of "Gypsy"

1. Sojourner Truth When I was in the eigth grade my friend Cherelle, who would die later that summer, delivered Truth's "Aint I a Woman" speech for our Black History Program. Complete with a Carribean accent, I will never forget Cherelle's performance or the chill bumps I got when we locked eyes. Sojourner Truth was the first woman in history I looked up to, all of who I am is because of people like her. The embodiment of a mind that reaches out beyond the confines of her times.

2.Alice Walker Her gift to me and the world is Womanism. Finally words for what I had been feeling my whole life. Womanism adresses the crucial and necessary equality of women in our society, specifically in regard to the unique and divergent [from white] experience of women of color.From Alice Walker I learned to treasure who I was and the unique and sacred knowledge, passed on through mothers.

3.Lisa Bonet I love Lisa, Lilakoyi, whatever she wants me to call her, like really. Growing up I saw the kind of woman, I knew, and hoped I'd have the courage to be. Eccentric, talented,sexy,dynamic, the kind of woman you can't resist but not because she plays by the rules. Lisa showed that the way to be noticed wasn't by denying your eccentricty but embracing it.

4. Sister Souljah This is the lady that showed me how not to be intimidated, patronized, condescended by anybody who sought to belittle the power of my mind. The worst nightmare of those people who see me as inferior is such a woman who can outsmart, outtalk, and outlast their attacks.

5.Zitkala Sa indigenous mother that connects me back to another bloodline and through an experience that is carried in many of our bones. Much has been stolen by way of divide and conquer. She is the woman who taught me not to quiver at the words, "I am not a Christian". She gave me the confidence to trust the Creator and my ancestors with the fate of my soul.

6.Toni Morrisson If you want to know what a master is, hold true, unadulturated literary genius in your hand, pick up a copy of The Bluest Eye and pay some homage. Toni is not for the faint of heart, ask me how many times it took to read Beloved all the way through, but she is for the hungry.

7. Audre Lorde Poet beyond description. The first time I read, "Coal", I was changed. This mother gave me the secure knowledge that if being called a dyke was the consequence of being a feminist, than I was in very good company indeed.

8.Foxy Brown (Inga Marchand) This may seem odd, given the women that have preceeded in her on this list. But I have always been a die-hard Foxy fan. She was all listened to in my middle school days. She definitely contributed to my writing imagination by teaching me the slang of a state far away.

"Hotter than acid and don't even practice". She sure is, just wish she had been in better control of her emotions, had a better work ethic and niggas were more loyal.

9. Erykah Badu My soul sister, my babymama, a true free-spirit with artistic integrity to back up her skills. The rasta style flower child O.G. I think Mama's Gun is still my favorite. She poured her heart into those tracks. The emotion in "Green Eyes" alone tells a million love stories.

10.Nadal el Sadaawi Feirce Arab woman, who spoke to me through Fatima Mernissi's, Dreams of Trespass. She took to the Middle East, gave me more vocabulary to describe the struggle I saw across the world for women's equality. She showed me what being rebellious really means.

11. Frida Kahlo There is beauty in, to, through, before and after pain. Somethings in life occur, an accident, a death, a broken-heart for which there is no cure. Pain becomes the constant but what we create is our redemption. Thank you, Frida.

12. Kola Boof she has been called many things, but one thing she hasn't been called enough is the excellent writer that she is. Womanist, African woman. I discovered her "urban legend" back in the days of Black Planet and have been intrigued ever since. I have only recently really been able to immerse myself in her words. Fuck Osama and read her books.

To all of you, my first loves... I love you...Thank you.




  1. We have wildly different lineages in terms of how we came to feminism/womanism and which women lit our paths, but reading this emphasized to me that the feelings, the inspiration and the call, are the same. Thank you for showing me other voices I can learn from and be inspired by :)

    And I have to second your Toni Morrison entry, because you're so right. "Toni is not for the faint of heart, [...], but she is for the hungry." - This sentence especially rang true to me, like you've encapsulated exactly how I feel about her work.

  2. You are so right about the call being the same!There are so many women to draw from, thanks for reading me! (new orleans speak LOL)