Black Girl Homework | Episode 3: I Am Serena

 

I (ebonyjanice) have been having a lot of conversations about Serena Williams because of the racist umpire in her US Open match and the racist comic that exaggerated Serena’s features and made her look like a big baby. This episode of “Black Girl Homework” is a conversation about black women’s body ownership. About the ways that we are harmed on a daily basis - in the same way that Serena is aggressed against on a daily basis, about taking up space.

For this homework, please consider the ways that you are Serena Williams. What are some the ways that your body is aggressed against, daily, and how does that show up for you. Make a post on social media at tag @blackgirlmixtape so we can see your homework assignment.

In Eloquent Rage, Dr. Brittney Cooper says, “White fears rest on the presumption that they are rooted in fact. Everyone who is nonwhite is treated as tho their fears are the stuff of fantasy.” I point this out, here, because it’s important for us to collectively talk about our experiences so that we can force society to acknowledge our shared trauma around the ways our bodies are aggressed against. White fears are presume true. Black women’s fears and hurts are treated so other. Black bodies can’t be victimized if you don’t see them as equal|human.


Supplemental Reading Material:

Read Eloquent Rage by Dr. Brittney Cooper
Read “Citizen” by Claudia Rankine
Read “Too Heavy A Yoke” by Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes

Here are a few other videos to watch to dig deeper into this discussion:

Come back to the website (www.blackgirlmixtape.com) or the Instagram page: @blackgirlmixtape on Friday to check-in on your homework assignment. Feel free to email us at the link in the @blackgirlmixtape bio with any questions about your Black Girl Homework. We will post new assignments every other Monday and your follow up will be due the following Friday.

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Black Girl Mixtape is a live lecture series and digital directory amplifying and celebrating the voices of black women as the authority on all issues pertaining to blackness and womanhood. To donate to BGM’s platform visit www.gofundme.com/blackgirlmixtapetour or give at paypal.me/blackgirlmixtape

*If you are a nonBlack woman and would like to support our work because you know you learn, for free, in this space and from black women's never-ending intellectual and emotional labor - feel free to visit www.blackgirlmixtape.com/voluntary-reparations/ to give a one time reparation or to subscribe to ongoing reparations giving option that supports our tour, our staff, and our ability to continue to serve in this way.

 

Black Girl Homework | Episode 2: "What's The Real Story?" (or) Ancestral Healing pt 2

Welcome to Episode 2
of "Black Girl Homework"

 
 

 

 

This weeks lesson is pt 2 of Ancestral Healing (or) "What's the Real Story?"

Too often, our elders and our ancestors stories are mythical or wrapped up in the hegemony of white mens imaginations. Its important for us to do the work to interrogate the "Why" and go deeper with our questions of how/what/when/where our stories took on the lives they took on. 

Watch the whole video on the Black Girl Mixtape Instagram page @blackgirlmixtape - then do your homework. Your assignment for the week is to: 

1. Think of a story (doesn't have to be a super complex story) from your family's history.
2. Ask your elders to tell you the story origin.
3. Consider the story behind the story. If the story is exactly as you always heard it, interrogate the who, what, when, where, why, and how so that you can expand on the story further. For example, if your story is, "Great Auntie was a virgin until she was 34 and had children in her late 30's because she wanted to travel the world before she had children." Ask some questions like, "Was she dating at all during that time?" "Who does the story of Great Auntie being celibate (or a virgin) into her 30's benefit?" "Why do we bring up Auntie's virginity every time we talk about her?" "Do we share the story of Great Auntie's celibacy with the men in this family as often as we share it with the young women?" 

*If you did not read this for Episode 1 homework read it now:
- Read "Sites of Memory: Taken from Inventing the Truth" by Toni Morrison
https://public.wsu.edu/~hughesc/morrison_memory.htm

- Listen to Episode 12 of @ebonyjanice's podcast - "Rap Theology: Ancestral Healing and Andre 3000 Lyrics"  https://soundcloud.com/raptheology/rap-theology-episode-12-ancestral-healing-andre-3000-lyrics

- Use this link ( https://mailchi.mp/2f0ecf40a344/alshmasterteacher ) to sign up for the Black Girl Mixtape newsletter and get a free download of a track off of @ebonyjanice's #aLittleSelfHelp affirmation mixtape "Master Teacher" (which is an affirmation that is affirming your black girl authority because of your ancestors)

Lesson themes: Ancestry, Story Telling, Patriarchy, Women's Body Ownership, Sites of Memory

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Come back to the website (www.blackgirlmixtape.com) or the Instagram page: @blackgirlmixtape on Friday to check-in on your homework assignment. Feel free to email us at the link in the @blackgirlmixtape bio with any questions about your Black Girl Homework. We will post new assignments every Monday and your follow up will be due every Friday.

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Black Girl Mixtape is a live lecture series and digital directory amplifying and celebrating the voices of black women as the authority on all issues pertaining to blackness and womanhood. To donate to BGM’s platform visit www.gofundme.com/blackgirlmixtapetour or give at paypal.me/blackgirlmixtape

*If you are a nonBlack woman and would like to support our work because you know you learn, for free, in this space and from black women's never-ending intellectual and emotional labor - feel free to visit www.blackgirlmixtape.com/voluntary-reparations/ to give a one time reparation or to subscribe to ongoing reparations giving option that supports our tour, our staff, and our ability to continue to serve in this way.

Black Girl Homework DUE | "Say Her Name" (or) "Ancestral Healing" (Ep 1)

Today your "Say Her Name" (or) "Ancestral Healing" Black Girl Homework is due. I've been so happy to see so many comments and DM's about how important and necessary you've found this assignment to be. For my Black Girl Homework - I'm sharing the photo of my grandmother, that I just added to my altar prayer space. Additionally, you can read the story I wrote about my grandmother. I used, what Toni Morrison calls, "Inventing the truth." What we understand is that, as people on this continent by force, we have a certain amount of history that was "lost." As a result, many (most) of those stories were not documented in a way that is tangible - similar to other groups of people (because learning a second language, reading in that second language, and writing in that second language was close to impossible and -> illegal). So we use our "sites of memory" to recall the story of our elders and our ancestors. We trust that the spirit will guide our imagination to places that are, in fact, the truth. If we will know the stories of our grandmothers and their mothers' - we may have to invent them. We have that power - and we have that permission.

Here is my Black Girl Homework - a story about "My Grandmother & My Altar."

IMG_8602.jpg

My sister says she is glad I added my grandmother, Bernice, to my altar. She wanted to feel some kind of way when I first put her there because my altar had previously been a place solely belonging to Jesus, a laughing Buddha, candles for Oludumare, Obatala, Shango, Oshun, Yemeya, and a photo of my guiding ancestor, Emma Jane. She felt confident that Emma Jane belonged amongst these names –but she wasn’t 100% convinced that “Bernice” was a name befitting a space on this altar. She was just getting use to the fact that I had an altar in the first place – let alone an altar with the face of a woman that neither of us really knew.

I mean we knew her. We had met her several times. But we didn’t know her know her. Not like we knew Emma Jane. We could recite her favorite prayers and sing her favorite song with the exact adlibs she always used and the vibrato she added to specific notes each time. We could place our fingers on our cornbread and sop our greens in an exact reenactment of her eating her Sunday dinner. We knew the way she danced through the living room in her towel after getting out of the shower singing “boop boop boop” as a way to say, “Excuse me. Don’t look this way,” which always only made us giggle and watch her shimmy through the house in her favorite thick, double lined shower caps and her huge faded bath towels.

We knew her. We know her.

But Bernice, we did not know. We still do not know. Or at the very least – not for sure.

I recently heard that my Aunt has seen a picture of her as a young girl sitting at a bar in a club. My grandmother, who never spoke and sang her requests in a low slurred voice… at a bar – at a club. I can not imagine. But I can. I am now imagining her sitting there grinning and laughing and knowing, in her heart, that she didn’t have any business being there but too excited for the chance. Her and her cousin – I do not know her name… I just know she is Etta’s mother. Etta owned this photograph. My aunt begged her for years to let her make a copy of it. Etta refused to let the photograph out of her grasp. Etta lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. All these years later and Katrina is still taking from us.

But in my mind, in my imagination, my grandmother will keep this night a secret. She will hold onto this moment in her memory on her worst days. She will go into her bedroom, close the door, sit in the dark, and remember that night. She did not dance. She was not a dancer. I don’t think. I can’t imagine her dancing. Even as I imagine what she was doing there – I somehow know she was not dancing. She was grinning. Yes. I’m certain there was a whole lot of grinning. And she was trying to get her cousin, Etta’s mother, to take her home. Because my grandmother was shy. I don’t know this about her – but I know this about her. If she really was at that bar at that club it was Etta’s mother’s idea. Not her own. Their mother’s, who I imagine were also cousins, close like sisters, would probably be outraged if they saw them there. For the most part, their mothers were both “appropriate women.” My grandmother would become an “appropriate” woman. Etta’s mother would too. But not as appropriate as my grandmother.

I imagine Etta’s mother would kill someone if they tried to hurt her or her children. She would curse a man under her tongue. She would carry his name on a slip of paper in her shoes. She would walk all over him – day and night. She would close her eyes and envision him crying. Then she would open her eyes and smile. Etta’s mom would never be beat. She would never be emotionally abused. She would cuss a mothafka out if he tried it.

But my grandmother, Bernice, she would be quiet. She would try. Too hard. For too long. She would love. Too hard. For too long. She would stay. For too long. She would not curse. She wouldn’t even cuss. She would not remember the scripture in Psalms that Etta’s mother taught her to recite over a candle while setting flame to the hair of the man that dared put his hands and his harm on her. She would not spit in his water like Celie. She would not poison his food. She would never even think of this power, the potion, her inherent black girl magic.

But my grandmother, Bernice, will grieve his death like she means it – and for the most part she will mean it. She will sit next to his bed as he slinks closer and closer to death. She will act surprised when he asks will she forgive him. She will mumble a slurred, “I do” and even shed a tear. She will tell him he can rest in peace. She will promise him that she will be ok. She may even hold his hand as he transitions. She will let her children see her cry. She will shed a few, appropriate tears at his funeral. She will sit on the front row at his gravesite. She will see the woman that cursed her years earlier out of the corner of her eyes sitting in the back sobbing and she will feel sorry for her. She will not hate her. Hate is too much energy and this woman certainly doesn’t deserve her hate. But she will feel pity because pity is very shady and now that he is gone she is available, at the very least, for a little bit of shade. She will sit quietly at the repast. She will ride home with her daughter, quietly after the service. She will go to her room, undress, bathe herself in luke warm water – because for some reason I imagine my grandmother never bathed in water too hot or too cold… always luke warm. She will put on her night gown, wrap her hair, shut the blinds – because it will still be light outside - lay in the bed, close her eyes – and just as she is about to fall asleep… she will smile. And she will mean it. And she will think, “I won.” And she will allow herself to believe that and refuse to feel any kind of way other than victory.

I do not know these things about her. But I know these things about her.

So I finally added her photo to my altar and I imagine her giggling from heaven. I never saw my grandmother laugh – let alone giggle. But, somehow, I know she is the kind of woman that, when set free, giggles all over the place. Can you even handle that?

- ebonyjanice


Did you complete your Black Girl Homework? We would love to share portions of your assignment on the Black Girl Mixtape Instagram Stories and the Black Girl Mixtape Facebook Page. Please send us an email at blackgirlmixtape@gmail.com. Include your name, your social media handles, and one (or all) of the following:
-The story you created for your grandmother and her mother and her mother. (2 or less paragraphs)
-A short 60 second or less video discussing your homework
-A photo of your grandmother + 2 or less paragraphs

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Come back to the website (www.blackgirlmixtape.com) or the Instagram page: @blackgirlmixtape on Monday for a new Black Girl Homework assignment. Feel free to email us at the link in the @blackgirlmixtape bio with any questions about your Black Girl Homework. We will post new assignments every Monday and your follow up will be due every Friday.

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Black Girl Mixtape is a live lecture series and digital directory amplifying and celebrating the voices of black women as the authority on all issues pertaining to blackness and womanhood. To donate to BGM’s platform visit www.gofundme.com/blackgirlmixtapetour or give at paypal.me/blackgirlmixtape

*If you are a nonBlack woman and would like to support our work because you know you learn, for free, in this space and from black women's never-ending intellectual and emotional labor - feel free to visit www.blackgirlmixtape.com/voluntary-reparations/ to give a one time reparation or to subscribe to ongoing reparations giving option that supports our tour, our staff, and our ability to continue to serve in this way.

 

 

 

Black Girl Homework | Episode 1: "Say Her Name" (or) Ancestral Healing

Welcome to Episode 1 of
"Black Girl Homework." 

 
 

This weeks lesson is on Ancestral Healing (or) "Say Her Name."

Watch the whole video on the Black Girl Mixtape instagram page @blackgirlmixtape - then do your homework. Your assignment for the week is to: 

1. Write down your grandmother's name.
2. Write down your grandmother's mother's name. (Great grandmother)
3. Write down your grandmother's mother's mother's name. (Great great grandmother)
*This may require you doing a bit of research. Ask family members. Call an elder in your family and ask questions. Your ancestors need you to say their names. YOU need you to say their names. 
4. Say all of their names out loud.
5. Write one brief anecdote about each of them that has nothing to do with trauma. This could simply be one sentence (or more). "My grandmother loved humming as she made breakfast." THIS is a story I love to tell about my grandmother that has NOTHING to do with trauma. It seems small, but it is significant.

*Additionally, this may require your imagination.
- Read "Sites of Memory: Taken from Inventing the Truth" by Toni Morrison
https://public.wsu.edu/~hughesc/morrison_memory.htm

- Listen to Episode 12 of @ebonyjanice's podcast - "Rap Theology: Ancestral Healing and Andre 3000 Lyrics"  https://soundcloud.com/raptheology/rap-theology-episode-12-ancestral-healing-andre-3000-lyrics

- Use this link ( https://mailchi.mp/2f0ecf40a344/alshmasterteacher ) to sign up for the Black Girl Mixtape newsletter and get a free download of a track off of @ebonyjanice's #aLittleSelfHelp affirmation mixtape "Master Teacher" (which is an affirmation that is affirming your black girl authority because of your ancestors)

 

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Come back to the website (www.blackgirlmixtape.com) or the Instagram page: @blackgirlmixtape on Friday to check-in on your homework assignment. Feel free to email us at the link in the @blackgirlmixtape bio with any questions about your Black Girl Homework. We will post new assignments every Monday and your follow up will be due every Friday.

----

Black Girl Mixtape is a live lecture series and digital directory amplifying and celebrating the voices of black women as the authority on all issues pertaining to blackness and womanhood. To donate to BGM’s platform visit www.gofundme.com/blackgirlmixtapetour or give at paypal.me/blackgirlmixtape

*If you are a nonBlack woman and would like to support our work because you know you learn, for free, in this space and from black women's never-ending intellectual and emotional labor - feel free to visit www.blackgirlmixtape.com/voluntary-reparations/ to give a one time reparation or to subscribe to ongoing reparations giving option that supports our tour, our staff, and our ability to continue to serve in this way.