Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Get Into the Writing Groove Workshop

I'm teaching a writing workshop! I'm so excited to be hosting my Get Into the Writer's Groove workshop on Saturday Sept. 10th at Liminal. The workshop is for writers, new and experienced, who are struggling with writer's block or in a creative rut. I have been there. And thankfully I was able to pull myself out. The workshop I created is what I needed when my creative juices weren't flowing. 

This daylong workshop will be filled with discussion, activities and writing exercises to help you get back into the writing groove. Learn more here or sign up here

Space is limited. This will be a very intimate workshop. There will be NO onsite registration the day of the workshop so make sure to sign up early. I look forward to helping you get into the WRITING GROOVE! 

I'm Talking Mental Health and Self-Care on Hard Knock Radio with Davey D

Listen to the interview here

While taking in the beauty of The Black Woman is God exhibit, I ran into longtime media personality and Hard Knock Radio host Davey D. We got to talking to and he invited me and my friend to be guests on his 94.1 KPFA show to talk about mental health during these violent times. It airs at 4pm.  Below are links to resources. I also have a short video that you can watch here where I talk about wellness tools.

One thing I forgot to mention in my interview is for people to see a therapist. And that when you go seek out a therapist you can ask for someone who is of your culture, race, sexual orientation, sex, gender, etc.

Black People Take Care of Yourselves
This is the short Periscope video I made after the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Whether you're Black or not, I think you can benefit from some of the wellness suggestions I made. I did mention that I had to drink 1 glass of wine to take the edge off. I'm not condoning being dependent on alcohol. For me I just needed a little something to bring me down. Sometimes it's lavender tea, and that day it was chardonnay. But I strongly suggest not isolating yourself and checking with friends.

JFK University in Oakland
I've never been but I know of people who have. They say the counselors, who are grad students, are great. Counseling rates are lower because these are grad students. When I was in grad school, my counselor was a grad student and she helped me get through a tough year.

Mental Health Association of Alameda County
This link has a ton of resources in Alameda County

Call 211 or visit 211BayArea.org
This is a resource when you need info on shelter, counseling, food programs, health programs etc. You can also call for information in case of a disaster. It's a 24/hour line in more than 150 languages.

East Bay Meditation Center
This is a diverse, social justice Buddhist community that hosts daylong retreats and meditative spaces. Their services are donation based. Give what you can. Many of their daylong retreats are for people of color, LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, etc. They've hosted retreats to help people dealing with depression and anxiety.  I'm not Buddhist but I love coming here for the friendly environment and to quiet my mind.

Beats, Rhymes and Life
BRL is a nonprofit that uses hip hop therapy to empower youth dealing with mental health issues. Trauma is one of those challenges and many of us are living with post trauma in light of what's happening in our communities.

Mental Health Podcast 
I hosted a podcast on mental health for a former employer. I have a ton of great interviews, and uplifting stories on mental health for people to listen to.

I wish us all peace and healing. I pray the violence stops. Until then, take care of yourselves.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Why Colin Kaepernick's Anthem Protest Doesn't Surprise Me

Source: Instagram
Colin Kaepernick shocked football fans when he refused to stand for the National Anthem during a preseason game. Kaepernick explained to the press:

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

I've been following Kap on Instagram for over a year. He has been very open about his disappointment with the unjust police killings of unarmed Black AMERICANS. If you go on his Instagram there are quotes from Malcolm X and  Dr. King. You'll see images of the Black Panther Party and comments about the death of Sandra Bland. This sentiment is nothing new. And he has taken a lot of crap from people on social media before this sit down protest for speaking out against racial injustice. 

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, many white people are caught up in what he did and not WHY he did it. Here are a few thoughts: 

  • For the record I have friends and family who are veterans and work/worked in law enforcement. So I'm coming from different angles in my opinion.
  • I understand if people don't agree with his tactic, but it's sad and sickening that they're not recognizing why he sat down. They're not talking about him standing up for racially motivated killings by bad cops. Which shows how little importance Black lives are to some people. 
  • An argument that I keep reading is that he is disrespecting the lives of veterans who fought for his freedom. But he has the freedom and the right to not stand. That's allowed in this country. 
  • People are saying he's disrespecting veterans. There are Black veterans concerned about these killings. There are Black veterans who have been racially profiled by police. The flag isn't protecting their freedom from racism. Who is standing up for them? Also do some research on racism in the military. Research how Black veterans were treated after coming home from World War II and Vietnam. 
  • People are calling Kaepernick unpatriotic but how we mistreat our veterans is unpatriotic. I know saluting the flag is a way of showing our appreciation to our veterans, but the flag is not providing them housing, healthcare and jobs. We need to do more than salute a flag for our veterans. 
  • He's putting his reputation, football career and endorsements on the line. The comments are so hateful. Which is another reason why I think he is doing this out of sincerity. This may end his career. 
  • His wealth, being adopted by white parents and being half-white are not reasons why he shouldn't silently and peacefully protest. He sees something is wrong and is saying something about it. His race and income shouldn't matter that he cares about innocent lives being lost to hatred. 
  • Racist cops getting away with murder doesn't help the Black community, nor good cops. The Black community continues to live in fear. While good cops are not trusted by civilians. The silence from non-Black people only makes it worse. 
  • I've seen more anger over Colin Kaepernick peacefully sitting down than over Ryan Lochte acting like a fool and a thug in Brasil, then lying about it. Ryan Lochte gets called a "kid" and Colin Kaepernick is called all kinds of nasty names for sitting down. 
  • Don't say you love and admire Muhammad Ali and Jackie Robinson, but take issue with Colin Kaepernick. They also did something similar. Same goes for the Black Olympians in the 1968.
  • An American can still criticize injustice in this country, call for our nation to do better and still appreciate the service of our veterans. As I said, we need to do more for our veterans than stand up for the National Anthem and flag. 

Colin Kaepernick is taking a lot of heat and hatred for this. Disagree with the tactic all you want, but he's making people talk about the issue. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sterling K. Brown on The Emmy's and the Cuba Gooding Jr. Turn Up

Sterling K. Brown on Entertainment Tonight
Emmy-nominated actor Sterling K. Brown has been all over the media lately as we closer to the Emmy's.

Brown played my father, attorney Christopher Darden on the mega-hit miniseries The People v. O.J. Simpson.  After all of the drama and madness during the trial, I had no interest in watching this series. But I watched and read interviews with Sterling K. Brown and he seemed like a good guy. So I gave him a chance. I'm so happy I did!

Sometimes we see the same actors in Hollywood over and over again. I'm glad to see when other talented people get big opportunities. And Sterling seems like a nice and humble guy. He has the cutest family. So if anyone is going to benefit from playing my father, I'm glad it's Sterling.

Here's his "exclusive" with Entertainment Tonight. The reporter asked him who from the cast will party the hardest on Emmy night. And of course he said Cuba Gooding Jr. Cuba is known for partying hard. Cuba gets lit. Nobody is ready for the Cuba Gooding turn up. LOL

Watch the short interview here.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

My Reading at Books Inc. Is Canceled

My apologies. I will not be reading tonight. I have a stomach virus and for the sake of the public I'm staying home. Sorry I couldn't bring the "heat" tonight.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

‘The Black Woman Is God’ is a Beautiful, Spiritual Experience

Sistas I met at the exhibit posing in front of
Karen Seneferu's work. 
Black women, we need to celebrate ourselves as much as possible. Black women, we need to celebrate ourselves as much as possible. Black women, we need to celebrate ourselves as much as possible.

I NEEDED to take BART, then MUNI then walk 20 minutes to the SOMARts gallery for The Black Woman isGod exhibit. I made it there on the last day. Karen Seneferu and Melorra Green curated this vivid, glorious, woman-made heaven of artwork by more than 60 Black female artists.

I NEEDED to be there because of the Black community’s silence after the killing of Korryn Gaines and so many other Black female victims of police brutality. I needed to be in a space free of cultural appropriation. I needed to be in a space where Black women of ALL shades and sizes are the stars because Black women are so often invisibilized. I need to be in a space of love while dealing with my own heart. With Black women athletes shining in the Olympics and Black Girl Magic all around me, I wanted to celebrate the beauty, strength, magic, color, vulnerability and power of Black women. 

Honoring ourselves in this way is a spiritual experience.  I felt it in the main hall. I felt energy. I felt the ancestors. I felt the Black women who were enslaved, maids, scientists, artists cooks and writers. I felt the spirits of women who were ignored, brutalized or not able to live their potential. I felt the spirits of women who had pride in their culture and womanhood. I felt the spirits of women who wanted the Black women there to know there is so much more to us than our struggle. I felt peace. I felt a sense of refuge. That’s the power of art.

Here are a few of my favorite pieces.

"Zeluma" by Shona McDaniels
photo by Jenee Darden

 If I were a rich woman, this painting would be coming home with me. Zeluma by Shona McDaniels captured me. I love the colors the woman’s rich, dark brown skin and hairstyle reminded me of myself and some of my dear sista friends. I have friends who look like this woman. I see the beauty in them just as I see it in this extraordinary piece.

"Ancestral Womb Portal" by Sage Stargate
Photo by Jenee Darden

 Sage Stargate’s Ancestral Womb Portal Mural shook my soul. I believe the Sage Stargate is only 21. This chalk mural is so powerful. Humankind came to Earth through that womb portal. The mural conveys the Black woman is the galaxy, Goddess and the beginning.  Stargate honors the Black vagina and menstruation – the flow of life and our own creation.  And that glorious, cosmic pink Afro of energy gives off more energy. I see womanism. I see the Black woman as the past, the present, the future and the original. I looked at this work the longest. I feel blessed to be able to see something like that. Seriously. It was a blessing to behold something that magnificent.

"Mammy, Mammy" by Yetunde Olagbaju
Photo by Jenee Darden

This was the display I’ve been waiting to see since I realized Black women suffer from oppression inside and outside our community.  Yetunde Olagbaju’s Mammy. Mammy portraits are DEEP.  Zora Neale Hurston once said that Black woman is the mule of the world. Patriarchy on all levels sucks the life out of us. I see a woman who puts others before herself.  I see a woman who has to put others before herself. Black women are expected to solve and save everyone. Even in 2016 folks are still suckling off us.

 Some of us voluntarily whip out our breasts. How many sistas out there are still supporting and allowing grown men to suckle from them—financially, emotionally and spiritually? She’s providing so much to these “men” who rely on her, but they weigh her down. DEEEEEEPPPPP.

"Mission Accomplished" by Latisha Baker
photo by Jenee Darden

Black Girl Magic came to life through so many textures in the exhibit. Latisha Baker created Mission Accomplished on wood. I’m amazed at how artists are able to turn something simple as wood, into a complex and dynamic art piece. I love images of little Black girls because there’s something special about Black girlhood. I was blessed to have a good childhood and I loved being a girl. Little Black girls have their own style and energy in the world. Her innocence in picking flowers with her doll is so girly. I’m all about Black women celebrating the feminine. If you look close, notice the girl’s hair is braided. Amazing!  I would buy this one too. It reminds me of one of my favorite pieces by Brenda Joysmith called Barefoot Dreams.

I met co-curator Karen Seneferu and she said the exhibit will return next year. I’ll keep you posted. Until then, let’s continue to celebrate ourselves.


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