“Black women are divine. I think Black women are the closest that there is on this earth to God.”
Taken from The Good Ally, Nova Reid
“Black women are divine. I think Black women are the closest that there is on this earth to God.”
Taken from The Good Ally, Nova Reid
When light drips from the moon, I wonder what she sees in me.
As her light stalks through cracks, does she feel the longing threaded through the hairs of my arm, and slicing through the rim of my smile?
When light bulges from the moon, thrumming the water of my weight, does she sense my hunger for a lover’s hips touching my inner thighs, for a breath down my neck, in caress?
When the moon’s light fingers me from sleep, to wind circles over my skin, moth light, white light, does she taste
the salt in my bones
the sugar in my sweat
the howl in my throat?
If I allowed curiosity and love to seep through the wounds, I wouldn’t be here now at the page trying to make sense of it.
A black girl walks through the meadow, enters the dark woods and forfeits her life. And I can’t but think if she was white …
Trust. Always difficult for me to hold, like light on burnt leaves. Like the coming of winter any day now.
The race talk, an accumulation of cautionary tales told through time, she, with earth in her voice, filled the void of rage with what was right for her soul. Joy.
I’m merging myself, self-portraiture, with nature. Self assimilated with nature. I’m exploring my connection with nature through photography( for now!).
I’m exploring the environment and the visibility of Blackwomen within the landscape. Using the photographic image to tell a story. In the process reclaiming the narrative of Blackwomen and nature and photography.
I’m exploring the Blackwoman’s space and visibility in love and in relationship with nature. My audience is the Blackwoman. I want her to enter the space I create through my practice and recognise herself there. I want her feel that she belongs, feel the joy and all the lushness created in that space.
This will be a multidisciplinary experience. This will be a celebration of mixness, hybridity and our bodies in love with nature.
A recent addition to my portfolio has been details about my Trace Mentorship opportunity. This was an applied for opportunity to experience the time and space to focus on my photography through a structured programme with other women over 35 years old.
Through a series of talks, presentations, peer and professional reviews, the aim is to gain confidence, knowledge, exposure and further opportunities to develop our skills and establish our practice.
I haven’t really been able to devote the required time and attention to this programme due to immersing myself within the BALTIC commission, it feels like for most of 2022. With this being complete and installed, back from Washington State, now I have the time to really get to grips with this opportunity.
It started with a portfolio review with three experts. I had the great pleasure and honour of talking one on one with Hettie Judah, Cindy Sissokho and Bindi Vora. And what a tremendous opportunity this was to sit down with them (virtually) and talk about my work, my vision, my mission etc.
Not only were they very positive and supportive about my work, but they also offered inspiration, encouragement, reassurance and permission. Yes from talking to these people within the know, my practice, what I’m doing, or trying to do was recognised and appreciated.
I was given back permission and the confidence to keep doing me. To keep pushing the boundaries, to not place limitations on myself, my practice, or what a photograph can be/ can do.
I’m in a much better place now to expand my way of being, seeing and doing, and continue to bring my mixness, hybridity to what I do. I’m excited to see where this takes me.
I’m enjoying the process as usual and not worrying about the end product. And I’m taking my time, embracing the slow. This feels nourishing and good for my soul.
I’ve been missing in action. I’ve been going through the motions of getting up each day and doing what needs to be done. But I’ve been tired. Put it down to the 9 hour drive home Saturday/ Sunday from Cornwall.
So maybe because of this lack of energy, then my skin is thinner. My patience is none existent. Or I’ve just plain sensitive.
But some ways people are behaving and treating me is unacceptable and maddening and upsetting. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not accepting this treatment lying down. I’m pushing back and letting them know what they’re doing or not doing and how this is coming across for me/ affecting me. But that doesn’t lessen the sting. Doesn’t lessen the questioning that seems almost like a ritual I do through afterwards.
Why are they doing that? Why did they say that or not? Why did they not acknowledging my contributions? Why did they not thank me? Are they treating everyone else like that? Did they just do it to me? Are they doing this because I’m Black?
Yes. You might say, it’s not all/always about race. And I agree with you. But if we live in a white supremacy culture where we are indoctrinated into believing, thinking and behaving as if white people are superior to Black people then it’s second nature to dismiss, ignore, overrule, disregard what the Black person is saying or doing in the room. We are not seen as of value, of worth or even present. We don’t register on your radar.
So I won’t ask for forgiveness or apologise for bringing it up because for me these are daily microaggressions which depending on my current state of mind body and soul, cut deep or can be rolled off my back like water.
But this week. Today. Now. No way. I’m not accepting them. I’m not going to remain silent about them. As I’m here and I matter and I deserve to be recognised. Not because I’ve done or said something amazing or impression. Because, I am a human being, and I have a right to be here.
Here ends today’s rant and getting things off my chest as basically I was getting tired carrying them all ant
There are times when I have so much I want to say but don’t know how. Ideas come and go and those moments of connection, when something clicks and I light up. And then flounder in how to communicate it. How to express what lies within.
There are plenty of times I have something to say but doubts and fears get in the way of expressing them. I long to be more courageous and bold in my expression without fear of percussions or judgements.
I know what I think and feel goes against the grain and to express these things in public would invite the gaze, backlash and cancel culture.
For example, we’ve just had a four day bank holiday, where there were parades and street parties and celebrations for Queen Elizabeth being on the throne for 70 years. But really what is there to celebrate? For me it angers as for these 70 years, people have paid for the royal family upkeep. But more infuriating is that the Queen is a figurehead of colonialism; the subjugation and exploration of Black and brown bodies around the world for centuries. And as a Black person I’m expected to shut up, celebrate this and be grateful.
But to say these things to anyone, I’d be the one with the issue, unpatriotic with a chip on my shoulder as someone recently threw at me when I described a racist incident I’d experienced which was tried to explained away as something else.
Just how it bugs me, when the term ‘women’ is used there is a silent, hidden (white) before it. That the default setting for woman is white and anything else such as Black woman is the ‘other’. To point this out would invite the comment that I always have to play the race card, or not everything is about race? Not that when someone uses (white) woman or (white) women that they do not see me included.
A few years ago, I started reading Burning Woman by Lucy H. Pearce. I felt the rallying cry for women to take back their power. To not hide from or be scared of the fire burning within. “She who dares. She who does what they say cannot be done, must not be done. She who tries and fails. She who does it her way.”
But coming back to it today, the words jar. I identify with the burning passion and rage inside of me that I need to express and enact upon, but I don’t feel my whole being/ experience/ body is contained within this book or within the term ‘woman’. I know that if I dare and do what I want to do, succeed or fail, the repercussion as so much more dangerous, dire for me as a Black woman. Not even acknowledging this within this book, or other books I’m reading excludes my experience as well as makes me feel as if I have the problem, and not that white supremacy culture is the issue.
Reading Five Nights in Paris by John Baxter to reconnect with the place, I’m having to turn part of myself off because there are certain things he says that I could find offensive. Throw away comments about African-America jazz musicians, artist or writers who made their home in Paris are not given their proper respect/ admiration/ regard as fellow human beings. Some points I feel their talent or success is not theirs alone but down to the white people they were befriended by or associated with.
I think what these reading experiences are illustrating for me, except for stoking my internal fires, is how much my lens/ gaze/ perception has been readjusted, changed and re-educated. How I’m no longer duped by white supremacy culture and how I now see behind the veil, the workings and manipulations. I no longer accept them or toil under them in silence.
Yes I feel that fire in my belly, and I’m using it to fuel what I’m doing outside of me. I may still have some fear of being burnt by it, my passion, my voice, my expressions but my greatest fear is remaining silent about the fires burning outside of me which are denied, overlooked or dismissed. And I’m ready to challenge whoever is lighting them and keeping them burning.
Writing my mixmoir on my terms is my way of allowing free rein for all the things I need to express and share in order to not be consumed from within by my fire and rage. The writing process is taking the flames and creating something beautiful and scorching.
Solvitur ambulando – “it is solved by walking.” Coined by the 4th-century-B.C. Greek philosopher Diogenes while attempting to response to the question of whether motion is real. Diogenes got up and started moving. He walked to try and solve the problem.
“It is solved by walking.”
I read yesterday that there are no new beginnings. No beginnings because when we start something, we are already coming at it from the middle. We’ve already been in the thick of it, knee deep in the things that are important to our lives. The issues that hold our attentions and hearts. So when we start working on them, we’re already in the middle of the experience for us.
When we finish the project it’s not the end it’s just a marker on the journey. The journey will continue beyond this or that point. We keep on trying to make sense of our lives. To experience what is in our bodies, hearts and souls as long as we live. Is this not the whole point of our human existence? Of our creativity?
To get clear on our view of the world, or even our experience of the world as we move through the world and share these asides, moments and realisations with others through our creativity?
There is nothing that cannot be solved through walking. There is a latin quote that says this phrase in just two words but who am I to know latin or even to hold this knowledge in my head. It is a foreign language, a foreign culture to me, living in my Black body but it is still passed off as something I should know. As an educated person in Western society that I should know. Not that it is alien to me and is not mine.
My heritage and culture, is denied to me, or is hidden, or re-constructed on a pile of lies. It takes my time and effort to unearth it all, for me and for others. Still through all that effort, to unearth and bring to light, fact and fiction, it’s not recognised. It’s not valued and is dismissed as not being good enough.
White Supremacy Culture is alive and kicking, And I keep kicking up against it no matter what I do or be. Try to do or try to be. I’ll always be found wanting.
I’ve mentioned before how I’ve been granted a scholarship to participate in Susannah Conway’s Journal Love Club for a whole year.
It’s a gift that just keeps on giving. I get a prompt everyday, a growing community on Mighty Networks, people sharing practice and a live zoom call once a month.
Usually, I start my day with my visual journal practice as above and then by the time I’ve done that the prompt from Journal Love Club has come through so I can continue and respond to that.
In the past, I’d be on my case for using so many different journals. I would also get confused by what went where and then lose stuff, not knowing where to find the gems. Now, I’m much more of a mind that if I’m showing up to the page, at all or once or twice or more, it’s all a win.
The common denominator between all these different journals is me. And this practice helps me along on this journey of getting back to me. The core me. The authentic me.
After today’s prompt which asked me to look over my recent journal entries to pull out themes; what’s been grabbing my attention, this entry came out:
“Nothing is a surprise when I look back and see what issues and ideas keep circulating the journal pages.
Identity, fear, never being good enough.
But then I started to switch things up in response to this prompt.
I’ll never to good enough in a system which is stacked against me.
In a system wired for us to aim for perfection even when we know it doesn’t exist.
But more so, if it did exist it wouldn’t be available to me anyway.
So knowing this I surrender. I let go. Not give up, but surrender means not allowing time and energy to strive for this, to even fight it.
But to use this energy and channel it into the things that are important to me. Not even taking into account the system, the white gaze but making my audience that little Black girl inside and the one in my house now.
And maybe through this I can heal as well as be a better mother to myself and my daughter.
That feels good, that feels better.”