I’m honored to be among these great folks #blacklight is lit 🙌🏾! #iamnotyournegro discussion panel following the showing this evening @zoetropolis art house! #jamesbaldwin #blackvintage #girlrillavintage #tag #movement #afrikanhistory
One time for my LA sisters One time for my LA hoes Lame niggas can’t tell the difference One time for a nigga who knows J Cole’s catchy chant in “No Role Modelz” reminds us that there’s a differenc…
Being #alivewhileblack, female and queer is often a multilayered experience that compromises our mental and physical health moment by moment. It’s as if people of Afrikan descent have an instinctual ability to sense when white people are uncomfortable around us or when they’re being racially insensitive even when they’re not blatant about it. In fact their negative behavior is often a reflection of the irrational fear they feel about us. And it down right sucks to always be aware of the elephant in the room on some level.
I remember the first time I heard the racial slur “cotton pickin” used in a professional setting by a white person. I was working as a mental health professional in a hospital. My new clinical director at the time summoned me to her office to discuss my annual employee evaluation. Keep in mind that she perpetuated racist stereotypes toward me since meeting her. She would wait until no other staff member was around and began speaking “urban” colloquialisms for instance “yo” or “what up homegirl”. She used swear words in my vicinity in excess as if (looking for my approval) on some #DrivingMrsDaisy shit and how she categorized me in racially biased stereotypes projected onto black people like “you know how it is growing up in the hood” or “y’all blacks got they rhythm”. The instant I entered her office she told me to “wait a cotton pickin’ minute” while she went to the bathroom. I was like no this bitch didn’t just say that to me. I regressed to less than favorable memories of my first human examples cautioning me about white people. How my gram, aunts and uncles told me to never say much in their presence and if we did speak, to do so “white” like them. I learned to speak in my best speaking voice to avoid any dialogue that would make me a target-to not give them a reason to cast me out and to never give a white person a reason to disrespect me. And while I know now that wearing suits or Sundays best will never prevent racism from targeting me I was sorely mistaken back then.
I felt emotionally raped by my supervisor because I never gave her an invitation or any permission to access me. I would remain mute on purpose anytime she came around and never shared anything about me with her. After she came back I told her that I was offended by something she said-in fact that I had an entire list of things that offended me about my encounters with her. She was visibly shaken and in a tone less than condescending she said really…what could that be? I asked if she was familiar with the historical etymology of the term “cotton pickin”, she told me no. I gave her a brief lesson on diction about how #cottonpickin was a derogatory term used to slander people of Afrikan descent that picked cotton in America. How cotton fueled the racist genocide of black bodies in America. Cotton that generated much of this countries wealth. Cotton that systematically benefits european Americans to this day. She chuckled and said shit! Then told me how she didn’t mean anything by it. I gave her a copy of the list of complaints about our encounters. After making a series of excuses justifying her behavior toward me she gave me a half ass apology. The moral of the story is that American lexicon is filled with many slang terms, slang terms that are often rooted in racism. And that some colloquialisms are best avoided by anyone with a modicum of racial sensitivity.
The Healing Feel of Cotton: I was raised hearing stories about how my Afrikan ancestors picked cotton during the days of American slavery. How bone breaking. How humiliating. How exhausting. How unforgiving it was to them. How they worked from sunup to sundown with guns trained on them. My partner and I were driving along a back road in Alabama and came upon fields that looked heavily sprinkled with snow, but there being no way in hell it was snow since it was 69 degrees outside. I witnessed for the first time in person a field of white cotton. We pulled over on the side of the road. I got out of the car and walked across the field. The best way I can describe the feeling is to imagine all of the blackness between the stars embodying my my body. #Melaninmatter aligned ALL of my chakras that instant. I wept. I kneeled. I was humbled to my knees. I couldn’t conceive of what I was experiencing. I kneeled, taking in what felt like endless breaths, endless landscape-like a deep abyss of land surrounding me. My spirit hovered over my body like Sankfoa. I could hear and see all types of painful things. Pain. I couldn’t feel the triumph-there was no triumph. My sneakers sank into the damp, red clay-mud beneath me. I could feel an increase in pain in my back and legs. My head hurt as I kneeled underneath overcast skies.
It was surreal! Then I remembered GirlrillaVintage and how our legacy didn’t start with cotton picking. How powerful we were. How beautiful our hands. How we were hunters and gatherers of our own land. How spiritual our steez. How we set trends that made the world follow. How loving our families and traditions. How we worshipped deity’s and ancestors. How we are still suffering from the voyage. How damming the residual effects are today. How we never fully recovered. The fear of white people killing us off. How we never gave ourselves permission to heal. I cried for our black bodies all torn to pieces and for the moments of our lives. And yes, I took some cotton. I took cotton to commemorate my ancestors experience. I took cotton to share with the black children in my life. I took cotton to tell stories of our people to all of the black babies I love.
I got back in the passenger seat of the car and we drove off. I began what seemed like the most tedious task. I picked out the seeds with no EN(GIN)E. It took me a little over 25-minutes to pick 12 seeds from the tiny bit of cotton I gathered. I prayed internally to my ancestors right then. I begged for their forgiveness. I insisted that they rest in eternal peace. I asked them to dwell inside of my soul. I promised to always work with them and to honor them. I sent them gifts of strength and power. I conjured the spirit of the Nagas-the Nubians. I asked them to heal us INSIDE OUT all the days of our lives.
-Thee Amazing Grace
Looking through old yahoo emails and came across an account I had of being profiled when #drivingwhileblack when I lived in Savannah. It’s scary to think that the same events that lead to #SandraBlands unlawful arrest and untimely death was the same manor in which I was treated. I remember asking the officer who was white why I had to get out of my car for a speeding violation and him ignoring me. He kept ignoring me. I asked was he going to shoot me and he responded are you going to give me a reason? I thought I would die on some back rd in Georgia, but I’m alive and able to share this story and I wrote a poem about it #blacklivesmatter.
On Monday, February 6, 2006 6:00 PM, Gracie Berry <email@example.com> wrote:
At approximately 4:15pm, on Monday February 6, 2006 I was traveling to Savannah, GA on Interstate I-16 from Atlanta, GA. I spent the weekend in Atlanta searching checking out employment oppurtunities, and life in Atlanta, GA. I began my journey to Atlanta, GA, on Friday February 3, 2006. While traveling on I-16 to Savannah, GA a cop followed me without any lights for approximately 15-20 seconds. He finally put the vehicle lights on and I immediately pulled over on the left side of the road. I pulled over on the left side of the road because I was not aware that he wanted to stop me. As I put my car in Park officers Sewyer, badge number 982 stepped out of his vehicle, told me to pull of the road atleast. I pulled over more to the left, and he told me tp put my car in park. He commenced to peer in my vehicle as if looking for something. He said I waas going 91 miles per hour in a 70 mile per hour zone. Prier to officer Sewyer pulling me over I had music on loud, andwas traveling to Savannah, GA. I was not aware of the decrease in speed of 21 miles per hour over the speed limit. I quickly told him honestly that I did not realize I was going 21 miles per hour over the speed limit. He stated thats what alot of people say. He commenced to ask me a series of questions inlcuding questions about my drivers license, the year and make of my vehicle, and where I was traveling from. I was not sure why he asked me several questions. Instead of taking my drivers license to his vehicle and checking for validity he told me to step out of my car.
Upon him demanding me to get out of my vehicle I remained calm, and orderly. I immediately became physically and verbally defensive by placing my hands in my pocket for comfort, and asking why do I have to get out of my vehicle. He did not choose to answer the question I asked. I wondered in my mind if I was being pulled over for a speeding violation why would I need to step out of my vehicle. He commenced to tell me to follow him to the back of my vehicle. I thought that something was wrong with my vehicle by the paculiar tone in which he coaxed me. As I followed him to the rear of my vehicle he asked me what was I doing? I had my wallet in my hand, and was trying to find my insurance card. I then put my wallet in one hand, and my other hand in my pocket for comfort. He asked me to take my hand out of my pocket, and I did immediately. He said what are you trying to hide. I said nothing, and that I did not feel comfortabale with what was happening. I asked him again why I had to get out of my vehicle. He refused to answer my question. He commenced to tell me to put my hand on the vehicle after I complied with removing my hand from my pocket. I stated that I was very scared, and for him to explain what is going on. He refused to tell me what was going on. At this point I was not calm and I began to cry, and I told him that I was very scared. He asked me if I was going to comply and I said no because I already complied with what he asked of me. He grabbed my arm firmly and commenced to put hand cuffs on me stating that he needed to check what was in my pockets.
Gracie “Thee Amazing Grace” Berry
I can’t escape encounters with birds-they poop on me and my things and sing about it lol! This evening a #BlueJay flew on the patio and landed on the table. The cats went bazerk and scared her off. That didn’t stop her. She kept flying into the yard getting as close as she could to me. As a child I remember the Blue Jay being important. Come to find out the Cherokee people believe that Blue Jays mean royalty, energy, and enthusiasm. And that when Blue Jay medicine grabs your attention it is asking you to embrace your God-given assets. Blue Jay reminds you that when you walk into a room, you do not have to call attention to yourself because you already have the worlds attention, all you have to do is respond to it. Wow, That was spot on! I didn’t capture her face good lol! -Thee Amazing Grace #theeamazinggrace #gracieberry
In my youth I needed closure from everyone I felt hurt by. It was so intense that I would spend countless hours drafting letters trying to convince them that the “only” way I could “move on” was through the many ways they could give me closure. In my aged wisdom I realize that those things were excuses to keep them around and to get their attention in hopes of changing the hurt. I’m learning that closure is mine-really. This is not to say that I don’t experience hurt feelings from unresolved issues, but I’m aware now that it is not their responsibility to give me closure. Also that #discomfort is normal and #we choose how we move on which is priceless in our healing. One ❤ #theeamazinggrace #gracieberry