Grief as Love & Memoir: Healing as a Multiracial Woman of Color through Remembrance of the Deaths of Women in My Family

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By Annie Alexandrian

“We must leave evidence. Evidence that we were here, that we existed, that we survived and loved and ached. Evidence of the wholeness we never felt and the immense sense of fullness we gave to each other. Evidence of who we were, who we thought we were, who we never should have been. Evidence for each other that there are other ways to live—past survival; past isolation.”

-Mia Mingus

This piece is dedicated in recognition of the 5-year anniversary of my mother’s passing on January 8th, 2010. I am shocked at how much time has passed, as the shock and unimaginable grief I experienced that day still deeply echoes in my soul and causes pain across my body. Each day that passes may bring me further away from the last day I held you, but everyday I am living in honor of you and Alexis.

—————-

As I sit on the BART, I hear the noises of people talking and the train as it moves through the underwater tunnel from San Francisco to the East Bay. The sounds vibrate and join together producing an echo like a prolonged, far away mix of deep weeping and screams similar to my own crying. These sounds while they might be discomforting to others, both comfort and unsettle me. They remind me of the sounds inside a shell that I would put to my ear when younger. My Mom would tell my siblings, cousins and I that the shell captures and holds within it the sounds of the ocean. Amazed at this, I have grown to love the sound of the ocean. The ocean represents many things to me.

Whenever I go back to where I grew up, I am in awe of the ocean and the way the light dances upon it. I often regret not “appreciating” it enough. However, I realize how home to me was not a place, location, but it was people, my family.

No matter where my family lived: in a house in Palmdale, trailer at Cachuma Lake, various motels or in multiple apartments/houses rented throughout Santa Barbara; I have never felt without a home, and for that I feel privileged and grateful. My family has always been my home. The ocean serves as both a place of deep happiness with memories of summer beach trips with laughter and the company of my family, making flutes out of driftwood, and walks along the beach with my siblings to witness colorful sunsets that moved us. The ocean has also been a place of agonizing grief, sun-drenched tears at my mother’s and sister’s funerals, their final resting places, a place of release and goodbyes. A reminder of what my family has endured, both the love and great loss.

The deep sounds of the ocean on the BART train also reminds me of the pain in my mom’s hospital room when I was 19 years old as my cousin Sarah held me as I wept. I called to any higher powers that this cannot be happening and that this was not my mother’s time. After my Mother was removed from life support, I stood across from my older sister Alexis while our mother lay lifeless on the hospital bed between us. As we said our final goodbyes, my sister Alexis and I each unraveled one of my mother’s two braids. I remember the feeling of my mother’s coarse, long, and beautiful black hair in my hands. I told myself to remember that feeling and to not let it be lost. My mother’s hair is similar to mine, and I carry her death and her hopes for my life in my own self. I was in the second quarter of my freshman year of college, and the idea I would drop out was not an option, as graduating from college was a shared dream between my mother and I that she helped me pursue.

My mother lost her life at the age of fifty after suddenly having a heart attack and going into a coma from which she never recovered consciousness. At the time my mother had been hospitalized for a minor pinched nerve in her left leg. The doctors decided to medicate her heavily rather than perform the surgery, which I believe would have been the better option. She was overmedicated to the point where her words slurred and she would go in and out of consciousness. Had my mother been covered by health insurance, she would have had a wider range of treatment options. The sudden death of my mother shocked and forever changed my family. We were still not healed from the wounds of losing Momo (my Grandmother) and my Great-Grandma Eunice, just four years priors. The doctors could not provide a conclusive answer to my family as to why this happened other than that potential causes could be related to her being “obese, having an ‘enlarged heart’, and a history of smoking.” My mother’s heart had been tested before and showed no signs of heart disease. There were numerous times where my mother was treated poorly by hospital staff, for being beyond what they considered a “cooperative patient”, for constantly asking questions, understandably cautious about the information and medication she was being prescribed. Historically, women of color and low-income communities have been marginalized by the medical system and been subject to discrimination.  Various feminist and women of color scholars have examined the intersectional experiences, stigmatization, and policies’ impact on low-income women and/or women of color and their organizing against the medical industrial complex.[1] My Mom faced discrimination and it infuriates me to this day that we could not afford to advocate more to have better answers.

After losing our Mom, my sister Alexis and I both often ached and cried together. And we both felt anger. But my sister’s anger and sadness was something she could not conceal. I tried to contain it all in, tried to stay strong for us both. Because I did not want to lose Alexis too. The relationship between my sister and I struggled after we lost our Mom. The pain was too much, and I was hurt when I felt Alexis was distancing herself from me and my family at times. I knew it was because she did not want us to see her falling apart. But this had hurt and angered me because Alexis, you know I would have tried to pick up the pieces for you and helped you rebuild. My sister, you were like a mother to me as well, and I am sorry if I ever put too much pressure on you to be strong for me, because you were also trying to be strong for yourself. With time my family started to pick up our pieces and rebuild from the loss of our mother, but soon after we would experience another major loss.

In 2012, a short two years after my mother’s death, I was rushed home from a trip with my friends in Arizona due to the deep kindness of loved ones who paid for my flight home, to the devastating news that my beautiful 28-year-old sister had passed away from deep vein thrombosis [which is the formation of a blood clot within a deep vein, in my sister’s case it was in her lung]. My sister had trouble breathing days before this happened, and had planned to see her therapist that morning to see if it was a side-effect associated with her anxiety medication. During this time, over 49 million people including my family lived without health insurance. While that is changing now with the Affordable Care Act, universal health care still does not exist in the United States. Medical coverage and care continues to be stratified by various social factors such as income and documentation status, thereby structuring what type of services and care folks are eligible to receive. As a low-income woman of color without health insurance, my sister was unable to go to the E.R. earlier due to the high costs associated with emergency care. My sister had fallen down that morning at her boyfriend’s house and an ambulance arrived soon after. My father was not allowed to accompany my sister to the hospital and be there with her. The medical staff performed a tracheostomy, which is “a surgical procedure to create an opening through the neck into the trachea (windpipe). A tube is usually placed through this opening to provide an airway and to remove secretions from the lungs.” [2] The procedure was meant to help her breathe, but it was too late and the staff did not know she had a blood clot that was passing from her lung to her heart, leading to my sister’s death.

My sister’s death is still very recent and shocks me every day I wake up and realize I cannot speak with or see her. Why the fuck did this happen is what I ask myself every morning I wake up and when I go to bed at night. I now truly feel the depth of the pain my sister felt. And it is unbearable.  I began to experience constant anxiety and pain in my chest over the next few months of her loss, and a doctor urged me to take several tests after I told him about my sister’s and my mother’s early and unexpected deaths. Tests indicated that I have a hereditary blood-clotting disorder referred to as “Factor V Leiden.” From this I learned that neither my sister nor I should have been taking hormonal contraception that is not progestin-only due to the increased risk of blood clots. My sister did not know this and had recently begun using the nuvaring in the months prior to her death.

I am stunned by the depth of the losses I experienced in the span of only two years. Over the years, I have come to realize my mother and sister’s experiences were intimately informed by multiple structural and social forces such as poverty and discrimination. Being in graduate school for public health I have also learned about toxic stress, and how experiences of intergenerational trauma and injustice become embodied and deeply impact our health. As a multiracial woman of color, historical roots of trauma deeply inform my identity. I think of my Armenian ancestors who are survivors and victims of genocide; my Creole origins that are traced from the island of Martinique to Louisiana, which are a product of rape, colonialism, and slavery. I am reminded of my Japanese ancestry connected to the adversity of being an immigrant and facing forced displacement during World World II through the Japanese internment camps in Los Angeles. As someone who identifies with these various aspects of my racial identity, I cannot claim those experiences as my own. But I do believe the impact of historical trauma, disenfranchisement, and marginalization intersect and have influenced and shaped my family’s lives and deaths, our health, how we grieve, how we cope, and how we move in this world. I cannot help but think about how the various struggles and stressors my family has faced– particularly my mother and sister Alexis–, has also contributed to their lives ending so soon.

Grief surfaces in various ways that must be honored and respected; rather than scrutinized or demeaned. Each of us deals with grief in different and similar ways. I personally have struggled when people have responded to me with statements such as “ I don’t know how you are doing so well?” and express their amazement at my ability to be  “resilient” by staying in school and graduating. I know many of my loved ones who made these comments to me truly care about me and were not trying to be harmful. However, unintentional and maybe sometimes intentional harm takes place when people make assumptions about how one grieves, which only further traumatizes and challenges the healing process. These statements also trivialize and invalidate the way our grieving feels authentically, and further applies pressure on us to perform a hegemonic idea of what grieving should be.  It is incredibly harmful and invasive to expect people to perform a particular presentation of grieving thought to be representative of what grieving should look like. These pressures have made me question myself and stress over the idea that people think I am not grieving and that I have fully moved on, when that is further from the truth. Each day I am reminded of the immense gaps my life now has without my mother Leslie and my sister Alexis. I mourn them each day, especially right before I go to sleep at night and when I wake up each morning. Those moments are the most painful, because I am no longer able to distract myself. The quietness and stillness of those moments are interrupted by a rush of pain that hits me hard without delay and overwhelms me like a fire in my throat to a point where I cannot stop crying and my chest heaves. There have been countless times that my partner will wake up to comfort and hold me as I try to steady my breathing.

A part of my grieving process is being open about how loss has defined and forever changed my life. I will never stop speaking to the impact and importance of how both my mothers’ and sisters’ lives, as well as the circumstances of their deaths, have been central to my purpose in life and formative of who I am today. I speak their names and lives into existence through my every breath. I have come to learn and grapple with the fact that my grieving process is different from how my father or brothers grieve, as well as the rest of my family. In particular, I feel deep regret for scrutinizing my own sister’s grieving process, and now understand more clearly how crucial it is for me and others to be compassionate and understanding about how people grieve. Grief must not be viewed through a negative lens or as a sign that one is unable to heal. I once read on an anonymous post that grief is, “The last act of love we have to give to those we loved. Where there is deep grief, there was great love.” To me, this means grief is an act of resistance and a recognition of how much those we have lost mean to us. Grief can surface both in tears of remembrance, but also in a smile and laughter in reminiscing about moments shared. My grieving process is fueled by a lot of love, but also by a lot of rage, and deep pain at knowing my mother and sister had so many more years and memories to share with our family. I use that deep anger and love to fuel the beating of my heart, my healing, my survival, and my resistance each day against the social forces that have shaped my family’s lives. So, yes while I do find comfort in identifying as being resilient, resilience does not mean one is no longer grieving and that they have moved on. My grieving is my own, and that should be both honored and respected. And so should yours.

To my mother Leslie and sister Alexis,

Each day, in the corner of my eye, I search long and deeply for you both. I can sense your presence and I speak with you everyday. Remembrance of times we had so vividly set my heart afire. I reach for these memories each day, squeezing them in the palm of my hand, never letting them go. Hoping to stay within moments already long past, but within seconds I’m shaken back into the present, to a place without you both. I know you are here and that you are carrying me as I move through this world without you both. I especially want to thank you for ensuring that my place in Berkeley is not far from the ocean and is just a short bike-ride to the marina.  I deeply treasure the picture that captured all three of us on the rocks of Faria Beach in Ventura. On a home a video of that moment, I remember I had said something like “My heart feels beautiful”. Those words still resonate and ring true many years later and truly capture how I feel when I am near the ocean or when I hear sounds like the ocean and feel that deep love. A beautiful reminder of what was, what remains, and why I must continue on.

[1] Roberts, 1999; Davis, 2008; Solinger, 2013; May, 2010; Rousseau, 2009; Ehrenreich & English, 2005; Silliman, Fried, Briggs, 2002; Ross, Gutierrez, 2004; Nelson, 2003; Gutierrez, 2008

[2] http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002955.htm

*****

Annie is a compassionate, generous, and radiant spirit. She is a resilient multi-racial womyn of color, of Armenian, Creole, and Japanese descent. Annie is invested in creating spaces within which women and femme folks can exhale and breathe in ways that are affirming to us and reflect on our intrinsic sacredness. She is continually healing from the unimaginable grief and the losses of her Mother and sister Alexis. Defined by their absence, she attempts to fill the gaps with her future and a drive to address the structural and social conditions that allowed for such losses to occur. She carries their spirits and words through moments of silence and laughter. They are and always will be what fuels her activism, her education, and why she is able to wake each day and brave this world in which they are no longer physically here.She is personally and academically passionate about intersectionality and the social determinants of health, community-based work, the impact of toxic stress and trauma on intergenerational health, and equitable access to quality reproductive health and postpartum services in low-income communities of color. She loves writing poetry and fiction, going to spoken word performances and concerts, watching horror movies, and biking to the Berkeley Marina. Annie is intentional with her words and the relationships she cultivates.  As a graduate student, Annie seeks to decolonize and challenge the hegemonic ideas and frameworks within the field of public health. Annie is a womanist, full-spectrum doula-in-training, and a writer. Living each day in remembrance of her roots. Working in search of justice and love. She is one of the Co-Founders of This Bridge Called Our Health.

Photo: Courtesy of Annie Alexandrian

The Police Killed More Than 100 People In March

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In total, 290 people have been killed during police encounters since the beginning of 2015. The tally kept by the website Killed By Police is much higher than the vastly incomplete FBI statistics. For comparison, the UK has only seen 52 police killings since 1900, reports Shaun King. Yes, since 1900.

 

h/t Think Progress and Killed By Police

 

Photo: Ferguson, Missouri/Wikimedia Commons

Black Boi Fly: Blake Brockington, #BlackOut, & Ways of Seeing

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By Lauren G. Parker

 for blakey blake

 

The filter was black and white. Blake was laying in his bed, obviously tired, but too excited to sleep. Through giggles and that brilliant smile, pressing his face against a pillow bashfully, he said, “I’m trying to go to bed, but everybody’s SO cute! Make it staaaaaawp!”

We sent each other videos like this back and forth all night via Snapchat during the first Tumblr #BlackOut.

Beforehand, we prepped.

“I’m gonna queue all your pics; do mine, too! Don’t let my selfies flop!”

“I got you!”

Each time either of us dropped new selfies, the other would receive a text something like: “Who gave you permission to look this good!?”

We were, like most others, excited about the Blackout. Started on Tumblr, it is a monthly event during which black Tumblr users post selfies using the hashtag #blackout and reblog each other all day.

Today marks the second Blackout, and Blake is no longer alive.

In the week since his passing, many of us who knew him in any capacity have had to turn away from social media. There’s the violence of people deliberately misgendering him, erasing who he was, the risk of ignorant comments about his suicide, identity, depression, about why a boi who seemed (& was) so smart, had so much potential, would end his life.

What annoyed me most, oddly, was seeing all the sudden reblogs of his pictures, the articles that celebrated him, how absent our celebration of him must have seemed to him when he was here. Some of it seemed to be false, toxic celebration that was intended just to capitalize on the moment, capture the tragic story so a viewer could clutch his or her pearls dramatically for an Academy Award then move forward. It’s like, to them, he was always a dead boi; he didn’t exist until he was dead. To those who knew him, however, each picture brings with it another realization of loss, a memory, its fleeting departure.

This sort of misrepresentation of him, even in death, is in a sense a way of killing him again and again, simply by refusing to see him as he wanted to be seen, as who he was.

Those who knew him know that Blake was brilliant, hilarious, had a beautiful smile, a healing spirit, and was someone who gave love as if he had never been hurt, as if his pain were not as paralyzing as it was.

None of this is about Tumblr, really, but about our ways of seeing. Who do you see? In what ways do you see them? How are we so comfortable with reblogging images of those who have passed on, been murdered, and pat ourselves on the back as having “spread the word,” but we cannot celebrate the living? How do we walk past hurt people daily, and not empathize until we see their story from afar online? Who do we erase to preserve toxic ideas of self, whose idea of self do we destruct in order to keep our own self-image in tact? What does it cost, and who pays for it?

This is just to say that the boi was beautiful before he was dead;

let’s start seeing each other.

 

—–

Lauren G. Parker is a writer based in Richmond, Virginia

 

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Consider donating to the “Remember Me For Me Or Not At All” fund in memory of and in service to Blake Brockington’s last wishes.

This Tweet Sums Up Why We Need #BlackGirlsRock

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Cosmopolitan has come under fire after this poorly executed beauty list reemerged online. The magazine used black celebrities and models to demonstrate what styles were out of fashion in 2015.

This tweet sums up why affirmations like #blackgirlsrock are still necessary:

Photo: Cosmopolitan/Screenshot

The Color of Violence: A Space Where People at the Margins Are Centered

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By Dominique Hazzard

 

My small group, one of my best friends and three folks I had just met, was charged with creating a world together. We decided on an an Earthlike planet with an underwater, communal society that was recently colonized by corporate, oligarchical land dwellers who instituted a carceral system and hijacked oceanic portals to the ancestors for commercial use. This world we wrote during the science fiction workshop, hosted by Octavia’s Brood, was a fantasy.

The Color of Violence 4 conference — where melanin, queerness, and femininity were the norm- sometimes felt fantastical itself, like the Hyatt Regency was hosting an delightful, imaginary world. But, luckily, it was all real. COV 4 was a space where people at the margins were centered, and where alternate realities were spoken into existence. It was a space where dreams — a world without prisons, queer family structures without patriarchy, social movements that heal the spirit — were articulated with a certain firmness and determination.

Even with all the beautiful people milling about, with all the healing and affirmation, there was a sense of urgency and danger in the building, as there should have been. Indigenous women are missing. Trans people are dying. Black women are being criminalized. Families are being torn apart by the state in so many ways. And there were questions in the air that have no easy answers — how can we develop strategies to deal with the violence we enact upon each other, even in a space like COV 4? How do we center trans people in our work? What does it look like to ally ourselves with indigenous communities, even as we live on their occupied land? How do we call out anti-blackness in POC spaces? What should accountability look like when organizations make mistakes?

But my weekend in Chicago made me believe that we can answers these questions, and renewed my faith in this declaration: I believe that we will win.

—–

Dominique Hazzard laughs in the face of the white heteropatriarchy while skipping merrily through the District, creating interfaith tools to address poverty, and eating bacon.

 

Photo: Color of Violence

Noose Found Hanging From Tree on Duke Campus

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A noose was found hanging from a tree on the Duke campus Wednesday morning.

A picture of the noose and statement was posted to the Duke People of Color Caucus Tumblr:

“To all black students, staff, faculty, and/or Durhamites on campus and in the area: Please take care of yourselves and each other. This campus is not a safe space, and has proven beyond any doubt that it is a hostile environment for any and all black people.”

This incident follows a case of racist chanting just two weeks ago, writes the Duke Chronicle. In that case, a black student claimed that white students chanted the same lynching song as the Oklahoma University SAE chapter at her while she was walking on campus.

Photo: Duke People of Color Caucus

 

Afro-Mexicans Tell Their Story In Short Documentary

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A new documentary is collecting the stories of the oft-overlooked Afro-Mexican community.

From Remezcla:

One young filmmaker and anthropology student of Afro-Salvadoran descent, feeling sympathy for the plight of invisible Afro-Mexicans, took it upon himself to make a very independent documentary exploring Afro-Mexican identity in the coastal communities of La Costa Chica — a region spanning the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca that has the highest concentration of Afro-descendants in Mexico. Titled Así Somos: Afro Identities in the Coast, the short doc admittedly features an extremely raw and unpolished style, but director Andy Amaya does a fairly good job of letting his subjects speak for themselves as they reflect on experiences with discrimination, their Afro-linguistic heritage and labels like ‘negro’ vs. ‘afromexicano’.

 

h/t Remezcla

13 Queer Creative Influencers That Are the Black Future

By Candice Iloh

At the same time every year it seems the whole country focuses in on the same extraordinary black trailblazers of the past. They are the ones that have made the cut into your history books and who have managed to remain on the tongues of even the youngest black kids coming up in 2015. But what about the future? What about the many black pioneers who are creating and continuing to build as we speak? There are actually entirely too many to include all on one list given the limitless nature of the diaspora. Even further, black excellence is commensurate with black queer excellence. These 13 writers, creators, and activists are pioneering ways of affecting change that impact the lives of those in either category, but moreover, for the oft-overlooked persons who check both designations.

 

Darnell Moore 

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Darnell Moore does it all. He is a writer, cultural worker, critic, and educator based in Brooklyn, NY. An ever-present voice in the queer black community, Moore has held several leadership positions in national LGBTQ organizations, including YOU Belong, a social good organization he recently co-founded alongside NFL player Wade Davis II. YOU Belong is the nation’s first ever LGBTQ summer camp that pairs queer youth NFL players. He is largely known for his work as national speaker and diversity trainer advocating for a myriad of LGBTQ concerns largely centered on black experiences. (Photo: Courtesy of Darnell Moore)

 

Tiona McClodden 

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Tiona McClodden is an award-winning filmmaker and visual artist residing in Philadelphia, PA. She is also the Executive Producer and Director of the Harriet’s Gun Media, a company that aims to produce and distribute multi-genre art that “critiques issues at the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality.” At HGM McClodden also facilitates the HGM Black Queer + Women + Trans Artist Booking & Management program in which emerging and and established artists are guided through the process of creating and getting their art out into the world. (Photo: Courtesy of Allison McDaniel)

 

Hadaiyah Bey 

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Hadaiyah “Yaya” Bey is writer, educator, and community organizer who resides in Washington, DC but hails from Queens, NY. She is the curator of the Sanaa Project a creative initiative that operates as a growing guerrilla community organizing mechanism facilitated through house parties and arts festivals throughout the East Coast. An educator by day and an artist by night, Bey is one third of an up and coming band by the name of Gully Waters and the author of The Adventures of Trill Yeezy, a biographical collection of poems about love and childhood. When not organizing an event, teaching, writing, or performing, she donates her time protesting anti-black police violence. (Photo: Courtesy of Hadaiyah Bey)

 

Morgen Bromell 

morgenbromell

Morgen Bromell looked into a space that carried nothing that welcomed her and created it. She is the Founder of Thrust, a new dating app created for those who are want to explore the world of online dating but couldn’t relate to the internet’s staple offers. Frustrated with the white-washed and heteronormative structures of these online romantic spaces, Bromell generated this new app for the young and single who has suffered tirelessly at the hands of limited and fetishized dating websites that continuously lock people like herself out of the opportunity to meet future partners. (Photo: Courtesy of Morgan Bromell)

Shantell Martin 

shantellmartin

Shantell Martin is New York-based visual artist who literally draws on everything. Her recent exhibit “Are You You” at the MoCada museum in Brooklyn displays her genius with many of her musings drawn on the walls and, in some cases, on guests of the museum. Seen often throughout New York, Martin’s forte is creating thought-provoking visual messages centered on identity with the simple and skilled use of a black wide-tip sharpie marker and white space. Her hand-drawn illustrations can be found in several public spaces and she regularly facilitates live digital drawings at musical performances and conferences. (Photo: Courtesy of Shantell Martin)

Kai M. Green 

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Writer, scholar, and filmmaker Kai M. Green is actively examining those awkward instances in which racialized violence and gender expression collide. In his film It Gets Messy in Here specifically takes a look at what often occurs with transgender men and masculine presenting women of color in spaces such as the bathroom. Beyond this, Green serves as a member of the Community Coalition to End Sheriff on Inmate Violence in LA County Jails and also the community advisory board for the In the Meantime Men’s Group, an organization that advocates for the health and wellness of black gay men. (Photo: Courtesy of Kai M. Green)

 

BOOMscat

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Formally known as the Peace and Bodyroll Duo, Boomscat is a musical experience. Made up of Asha Santee (BOOM), keyboardist-drummer-producer, and Jennifer Patience Rowe, singer-songwriter, the two are relatively new to the music scene as a duo but young veteran musicians in their own right. Their latest project, No Life Jackets, shot into the top 20 on iTunes on the first day of its release. BOOMscat opened for Kindred the Family Soul shortly after. (Photo: Courtesy of Boomscat)

 

King Texas 

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King Texas is a photographer based born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Known widely throughout queer communities on the East Coast, he has spent a significant number of years capturing the downtown NYC nightlife while also honing his skill as a photographer that reels in on the vast spectrum of gender within the black diaspora. Texas is currently working on his ongoing black and white portrait series BLACKNESS. (Photo: Courtesy of King Texas)

 

Crissle & Kid Fury of The Read 

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Writer and co-host, Crissle West, and self-proclaimed media-mouthpiece and co-host, Kid Fury, together are the highly-opinionated, poignant, and hilarious voices of the the infamous podcast, The Read. Together, the duo produce are refreshingly honest weekly show featuring recaps of the previous week in news and pop culture while also jam-packing the time with social commentary and the always highly-anticipated letters submitted by listeners with questions ranging everywhere from the dynamics of LGBTQ relationships to the qualms of navigating awkward moments with white romantic partners. The show periodically features a black excellence segment, as well as celebrity guests, and is liable to have you cry-laughing and shouting amen in public on your morning commute to work. (Photo: Courtesy of The Read)

 

Tiq Milan

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Tiq Milan is a trans activist, author and the Senior Media Strategist of National News at GLAAD. Featured in several national LGBTQ campaigns, he is often responsible for training national trans activists, such as Cece McDonald, in best practices to ensure maximum impact when speaking to the media. He also works directly with several of these news media outlets to strategize on the most accurate and fair ways to report on transgender people. He has published articles on LGBTQ issues with The New York Times, Rolling Stone, VIBE Magazine, and is requested for workshops, panels, and trainings across the nation. (Photo: Courtesy of Tiq Milan)

 

THEESatisfaction 

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Stas Irons and Cat Harris-White are THEESatisfaction. The musical pair, solely responsible for the writing, production, and performance of their own material describe their soulful tracks as funk-psychedelic feminista sci-fi epics and have been known to rock several memorable parties and events, such as Black Weirdo, a magical black party experience put on in major cities the couple hosts together that aims to celebrate blackness in all of its facets. THEESatisfaction’s latest project, EarthEE, was released this month featuring their single, Recognition. (Photo: Courtesy of TheeSatisfaction)

 

Danez Smith 

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Danez Smith is a blazing example of what poetry can be and who it can represent. Poet and Minnesota native, Smith writes transparently about his experiences as a black man; as a young black man; as a young black gay man and resists the urge to wince away when it gets too painful and real. His vivid citations of even the most seemingly minute components of this existence in his first full-length project, [Insert] Boy, are a colorful exploration of the beautiful and often times murky waters of everything from violence against black bodies to gay sex to partying to depression. (Photo: Courtesy of Danez Smith)

 

Allison “Alice Wonder” McDaniel 

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Allison McDaniel is the co-founder and special projects director of Mambu Badu, a black female photographer collective, as well as the producer & graphic designer at Harriet’s Gun Media. Specifically invested in work that investigates and explores the idea of identity construction in marginalized communities, her work often focuses in on the lifestyle of queer black creatives in social environments. McDaniel’s keen sense of movement and eye for raw beauty in often over-looked spaces where black and brown bodies inhabit themselves freely will cement her for years to come as a bonafide documentarian of thriving black life. (Photo: Courtesy of Danielle Scruggs)

 

—-

Candice Iloh is a poet, creative writer, and educator residing in Brooklyn NY whose work has appeared in Insight Magazine, Blackberry Magazine, and Fjords Review. She is a Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation Alum and the Managing Editor of Quiet Lunch Magazine. She can be contacted at www.becomher.com.

Comedy Central Stands Behind Trevor Noah

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Comedy Central reiterated its support of Trevor Noah who has been chosen as the new host of The Daily Show.

“Like many comedians, Trevor Noah pushes boundaries; he is provocative and spares no one, himself included,” Comedy Central said in the statement. “To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair. Trevor is a talented comedian with a bright future at Comedy Central,” the network said in a statement.

Trevor responded to criticism with this tweet:

 

h/t The Guardian

 

Photo: The Daily Show/IMDB