Ebony Nicole Golden’s “A Manifesta for Black Feminism is a powerfully written document. It’s mandatory reading for all Black women and girls. Seeing ourselves through our own eyes with clarity, thereby acknowledging our individual and collective beauty, power, purpose, brillance, strength and creativity. Like the past historically we continue to be demonized. Her manifesta is empowering and affirming and resonated with me. There’s a welcomed individual and collective validation of Black women and girls. This is seen in a herstorical and contemporary context. Daily Black women and girls navigate a society, and media which attacks our very existence, the way we love, speak, dress, our hair and move throughout the world. We reclaim
ourselves. Ebony Nicole Golden’s “A Manifesta for Black Feminism supports and affirms our speaking in our voices, as only we can.
At the end of her manifesta Ebony Nicole Golden writes of who she is.
It begins with I am. I invite you to do the same. Excerpt used with Ebony Nicole Golden’s permission. Lorraine Currelley
A Manifesta: Black Feminism(s) and the Poetics of Now!
What does it mean to be a Black girl or woman in this contemporary moment? From Beyoncé to bell hooks, our identities, sexualities, scholarship, wardrobes, genders, you name it, seem to be open for discussion by a host of individuals and institutions that think they know better than we do about what it takes to be a fully actualized Black girl or woman today. We are not verbally, intellectually, or artistically incapacitated. We are right here and we know what we want and how to communicate our desires.
These impositions, ideals, and policies fuel global, multi-billion dollar industries that thrive on their ability to convince us that our hair, skin, hips, asses, reproductive organs, eyes, noses, smells, thoughts, creations, indeed our very existence is a problem that needs to be fixed, perfumed, or prettied up. Can we live? When these systems function at peak performance, it becomes extremely difficult to pursue full agency in our bodies and full citizenship on this planet.
Just listen to the radio, take a walk down the street, sit in a classroom, scroll through a social media site, attend a play, talk to a child, or check in with your own ideas about Black girls and women and it will become crystal clear that it is time to re-invigorate a rigorous and multi-faceted conversation about Black women and girls’ lives. One that pushes our communities to have the hard dialogues that go past the surface of whatever current trend, celebrity interview, or backlash that happens to permeate the airwaves. It is time to dig into the nuanced and intersecting systems invested in the deterioration of our spirits and well-being. It is time to analyze the unhealthy fear of our ability to fly to our freedom. It is time to blow apart binaries about who is the “right” or “wrong” type of Black girl or woman. It is time to rattle the collective chains of elitism, exclusivity, classism, and beauty politics that seek to confine us. We need to disrupt the dominate discourse and infuse the current playlist with new, re-claimed, emergent, and messy ideas of what it means to be a Black girl or woman in the time of now!
Forget what you heard! Black girls and women are futuristic! We are more than the reductive stock images spinning, on heavy repeat, megaphone blasting out of every media outlet, ricocheting and reverberating throughout the solar system.
Now is the time to activate some collective genius to dig into the current conjurations of a visionary Black feminist project. One that introduces new developments in art, culture, traditional medicine, healing, and other sectors as we collectively unshackle our girls and women from the chains of dominant stereotypes, disregard, and disease. Now is the time to swap stories, interventions, lesson plans, and recipes for our own revolution. It is time to immerse ourselves in the language of our liberation, to fan the flames of a Black feminist future that makes this world hear our names in our mothers’ tongues. It is time to come back to the kitchen table and figure out how to snatch back our images and our destinies from the claws of capitalism, patriarchy, institutional oppression, defeatism, and individualism. It is time for strategic engagement and strategic action.
We are not a problem.
We are not a disease.
We are not an issue.
We are not a half-truth.
We are not pathological.
We are not specimens.
We are not tools of our own oppression.
We are determiners of our destinies.
The power of Black women and girls is much bigger than the destructive tropes forcefully mapped onto our experiences. Our vision and collective power hydrated by our spirits, innate strengths, creative capacity, and intuitive talents can tilt this planet in favor of, discourse, policies, and practices that positively govern our lives. Yes! Black women and girls have participated in the movements for social justice and cultural activism, since the beginning of time that have freed our families, our communities, and nations all over this globe. Our DNA is encoded with technologies for liberation and we know how to get free!
Take a moment to consider what will be fly, funky, fresh, and phenomenal about being a Black girl or woman in three hundred years. What do you see when you walk down the street? Who is the president of the country in which you reside? Where do you shop? How do we treat the planet? What are the most pressing issues in your communities? Whose artistic work is hanging on the walls of your favorite museum? What music are you bumping as you astroproject to work? Who has the authority to legislate how you build a family, your reproductive rights, or how you make a living?
More importantly where are you Black girl, Black woman? Are you thriving? How are you creating your community, your viability, your wellness, your art, your identity, your liberation?
This is not just an exercise for Black girls and women, however. No one is off the hook when it comes to envisioning a better world for Black girls and women. I want everybody to dream this brilliant future with us. How are you making a world that is more livable for Black girls and women, regardless of your race, gender, religion, class, or location? What is your role as a co-conspirator in creating a world where all human beings work for the overall badassness of Black girls and women all over this planet and beyond? It may make you uncomfortable to consider; but know this, visioning a Black feminist future is an investment in your own liberation. Don’t you want to release all the baggage attached to oppressing thriving communities of girls and women? Don’t you want to be free?
These are not rhetorical prompts. I want you to riff on all these ideas and share them with the world because now is the time to flood the stratosphere with our collective vision; a vision of a world that places the vitality and liberation of Black women and girls at the center of the universe. Indeed, this vision ensures that each element that creates this universe shines a little bit brighter. Hyperbolic? Not at all! This is a call to action. Our vision is the precursor for our reality.
Triple Consciousness: Black Feminism(s) in the Time of Now marks a new day in the ever growing, every spinning cosmology of Black feminist praxis, creativity, spirituality, and aesthetics. Triple Consciousness is built on the radical realness that we are experts in our own lives, that we determine the trajectory of our future, that we define what it means to be freely, completely, and fully actualized. We will not be denied our humanity!
This is an exciting moment in the evolution of Black feminism(s). Here are some reasons why:
Black feminism is off the hinges, unboxed and unafraid. It is as robust and varied as the diaspora.
Black feminism births a liberation cosmology. It is an intricate system of pathways, railroads, and technologies that demand every Black girl and woman negotiate the challenges and triumphs of being in this world on her own terms.
Black feminism is a series of emergent, interdisciplinary, radical practices for reclaiming reinventing, and charting new and experimental methods for living in this world.
Black feminism is a ritual for the amplification of our human rights and honoring and remembering of what it means to be reborn, grow wings, and fly.
Black feminism disrupts and disturbs contemporary norms of femininity.
Black feminism is more than a reaction, response, or reflection of trauma, lack, despondency.
Black feminism is a living and breathing organism.
Black feminism is not a destination it is a forward moving journey.
Black feminism is a framework a theory a pedagogy a methodology for transgression, transformation, and holistic wellness for every organism on this planet.
Black feminism is the bold act of remembering our connection to the bottom of the ocean, the center of the earth, and the far reaches of the cosmos.
Black feminism is home.
I am Ebony Noelle Golden. Daughter of Dr. Betty Ann Sims. Grand daughter of Bertha “Candy” Sims. Great grand daughter of Pearl Glover. God daughter of Cheryle “Strawberry” Chevalier. God daughter of Mama Dr. Nana Anoa Nantambu. Big sister to Heather Autumn Hicks. God sister to Meagan Salters. Auntie to Jayla, Joi and Jaynah Dancy. Auntie to Audrina Marie Hicks. Auntie to Helaina Ava Hicks. Auntie to Brooklynn Catherine Hicks. My best friend is Angela Spencer. Her daughters Kennady and Krystal are my nieces. I write this manifesta, this love song, this imperative to them and my extended tribe of younger and elder sisters. Because of them I am.
651 ARTS, MAPP International, an arts organization with its home in Brooklyn and The Brooklyn Museum is presenting Triple Consciousness, a three part series of public dialogues exploring Black female identity. Triple Consciousness is curated by Ebony Nicole Golden.
This amazing and needed series is at the Brooklyn Museum until November 15th, 2014.