I attended a yoga retreat designed for women of color in 2010 and the experience was spectacular. To date, I am in contact with several of the sisters from that magical weekend in the Georgia mountains in Dahlonegna. Ba-by, the Great Mother was working wonders.
As I’m in the throws of transition not unlike the process of transition that women experience when in labor, I was reacquainted with this wonderful poem gifted to me by one of the sisters from the retreat, Octavia. I have yet to meet a woman graced with the name Octavia that is not powerful beyond measure.
She wrote the following on the back of the poem,
“I keep this poem close to me–
I just wanted to share it with you–“
I am extending the gift, passing the blessings on to those that stop by
The Passionate Fruit:
won’t you celebrate with me
By: Lucille Clifton
won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into a kind of life?
i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my one hand;
come celebrate with me
that everyday something
has tried to kill me
and has failed.
bell hooks takes her reader on a remarkable journey of writing, love, and sexuality from her first contact with this awareness growing up in rural Georgia through her Professorship and beyond. While all along the way demonstrating for us how one might navigate, negotiate, translate and deconstruct engagements with love. Not only love of another but also love of self, community, and journey.
Sisters have consistently since slavery managed both their individual and gendered sexuality. I would argue that since slavery Black women have experienced the need to navigate a socially constructed defining spectrum that spans from hypersexualized, with a beast like insatiable appetite for sex through the “clean good girl”. Her legacy unfolds as a pathway for the lineage of the African slave to thrive. Black women are the masters of “taking one for the team” meaning, sacrificing her mind and body so that the collective might reach beyond survival to thrive. I will say that the Mission is accomplished, yes there still exists various vulnerable and both inequitable issues among the community; however, when compared to our Ancestral beginnings in America…we are thrivers.
The American Black woman has spent her existence in a metaphorical hard hat and work boots deconstructing this mythicized sexual identity, to create an identity that Grandmothers often framed, “stepping out of the gutter smelling like a rose” once again as a collective this time sacrificing her individual sexual identity and her womb power.
I see a new opportunity on the horizon with the young warrior princess as she demonstrates what it can look like to unleash sexual individuality, a love and uninhibited sense with body. However, I believe in order to engage in this sexual identity, there must be some sort of intergenerational conversation among Sisters. A discussion that intersects a reprieve from the historicity of sexuality defined for Black women with the sacred power of the womb and the freedom to embrace an individual sexual identity.
The fuck I care about having the body of a model…
that’s not my purpose, I walk a different path.
I required a vessel with the capacity to birth 6 warriors into this world.
with the strength to transform their socially constructed blackness given to them at birth,
back to their inherent greatness given at conception,
To over-stand their situatedness
to fulfill their Order,
Orders, to lead the next 7 generations of the King
and 2 of the 6 beings are daughters who shared the Womb together, and one of whom entered this world with a veil over her eyes…power
during the gestation of these future Queens,
I created my grandchildren’s children, my legacy, hence
I Am the Matriarch…
Bow down when I or my Sisters sway through,
with hips and thighs,
that only the King in the man is given keys to unlock,
a force of power to bear down and squat,
I Am the Matriarch.