Remembering Jose

On this day one year ago Jose Hernandez-Rossy was murdered by police officer Tedesco. Jose in death was crucified by media outlets whose platform feed the city lies about who he was and the actions leading to his untimely death. Jose was driving home enjoying the final break in our temper mental Buffalo seasons when he was stopped by the police. The traffic stopped turned violent when one officer reached into Jose’s car causing him to hit a street pole. Jose attempted to leave the scene by getting out of his car to run when he was shot and killed by officer Tedesco. That day and the ones that followed the media reported that he shot a police officer (which was false), that he had a criminal record, that he was smoking weed. The local media’s stance to discredit Jose, the victim of a heinous crime, that by 2017 had played out once in this city before in the case of Meech and dozens of time across this country was an eerie reminder of how American society treats the death of men of color as criminals first before human.

I saw him as human. I saw him in the face of his daughter who still didn’t understand why her father was not returning home as he always did. I saw him as a family man in videos that his cousins’ shared on their social media as they mourned their loss of him. I hear his humanity and his loving kindness in the stories from his brother- in- law of how he helped support him and his sister’s family. I see the strength of him live on in his sister and mother as they fight through a crooked judicial system with lawyers that have other agendas yet they still hold true to their convictions for justice. I have had my heart and soul break open with his family at the place of this death, as we held direct actions and in frustrating meetings.

One particular moment that stays burned in my mind and body’s memory was the day of his memorial at the site of where he was killed. I felt my body shake with sadness, anger, and grief and overwhelmed with hurt when I looked down to see my son crying beside me. Zaire cried because he too felt the overwhelming emotion of when the immediate family came to the pole on the corner of the street where Jose’s car initially crashed and the ground felt radiant of Jose’ blood that was still visible on parts of the street. There was a sad chaos in the street when his mother cried terribly before her body gave way and the male family members had to hold on to her. When the fire department and ambulance pulled up and Zaire began to cry more I decided that it was time for us to go. He asked me why he died and who killed him in the car ride home, I told him because of the color of his skin and by officers that said they were scared of him. My voice trembled as I said this as I felt guilt for exposing this harsh reality to my children. I let it hurt just enough before remembering that taking him and Kelila to Jose’s memorial did not make me a bad parent opening my children up to trauma. I am a parent that is exposing my children to their reality before they grapple with the horrors of it on their own but now with the tool to heal from it.

Now today a year later we will come together once again to remember the life of Jose. We still hold the rage from the not guilty verdict from the AG case in our bones as we reclaim this memorial site. Our emotions are raw on this day and we honor the unspoken power of them that has fueled us this far in our collective journey. My heart is still full despite the pain and I am sending out love in these words, in prayer, and in healing vibes to the survivors of state sanctioned violence.

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How Audre Lorde’s Uses of the Erotic Improved how I Masterbate

After returning home from BOLD’s National Gathering I spent the following week feeling deeply into the amazing power and joy of black people. BOLD, Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity, is a network of Black Organizers from across the country that bases it training in political education, somatic practices, and building conections across the country. Among the most cherished experiences that I had was the lunch conversation with Adrienne Maree Brown on Pleasure Activism. “Adrienne Maree Brown is author of Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds and the co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements. She is a writer, social justice facilitator, pleasure activist, healer and doula living in Detroit.”(brief bio, Adrienne Maree Brown) . Being committed in healing journey and bridging the gap of what I desire to actually embodying in my activism drew me to Adrienne and also just me wanting to fangirl over one of my favorite black femmes in this movement.Adrienne suggested, and I suggest to y’all listening to the youtube video of Audre Lordre’s Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as power. In this speech and released publication Audre speaks to a deeply powerful energy that lies within femmes that has been demonized by patriarchal society. This has been done through suppression of our erotic selves within our oppression in a dominate male world and gaze, denying us power that in many ways and times while manipulate us for men to be on the receivingof it.Audre goes on to define eroticism as “the measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos and power of our deepest feelings, it is our internal sense of satisfaction that once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire … this depth of feeling and recognizing its power and self-respect we can require no less from ourselves”.(Audre Lorde, Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic I listened to this daily at work on my break as I took brisk laps around my school. I listened to her words to inspire and affirm my commitment to growing black folks through the resources of education for our collective liberation before returning to work. I feel the importance from the students I work with of my presence mattering, but struggle within feelings of obligation of service to other areas of my job. By feeling more into those areas of discomfort while looking for the pleasure of being in the current moment has improved my sense of fulfillment. With each passing day I felt that fullness deeper, amazed by it I wondered what that pleasure would feel like sexually in relation to myself . “the erotic offers a well of replenishing and provocative force to any woman that .. Hasn’t succumbed to the belief that sensation is enough”- Audre Lorde, Uses of th Erotic: The Erotic as Power.Until this past week I used masturbation just to get myself off when experiencing sexual tension or frustration but, then I realized I had denied myself touch in a way that truly fulfills my needs. My sexual performance with partners has been more passionate in using ways that I know will best pique my own arousal in relation to heighten my partner’s experience.

Last month for the first time I used those same tricks and techniques in service of me: I played the music I like to hear, moved at the pace, rhythm that felt best to me and switched to the positions I wanted when needed accurately. I loved on myself in a way that up until then I still struggled with due to its taboo nature that was projected on to me. I still battled with shame attached to it from growing up in a conservative Christian household that ruled by sexual ignorance in hopes that would deaden any sexual exploration. For the first time I committed to being in the fullness of eroticism for me. I orgasmed from myself for the first time and felt love for myself differently, from the tender and caring lover that I had been complimented as by partners but never knew personally. I know now that this feeling was never given to me through any other person than me- that is empowering. It felt empowering to carry that joy of self into my job performance, into my creative writing process and embracing being in love with me. I felt a rare level of intimacy with myself that was both intoxicating and healing. The uses of eroticism in connection to self-love is radical AF and yet so necessary to femmes and folx across the gender spectrum just do to for ourselves, to discover more of our identity and seeing ourselves in our full dignity.

Black Girl in Om: Healing the woman I am within

I wanted to create space to speak a mini testimony of what has been a successful practice for me to manifest greatness and appreciate the greatness in my life : listening and being inspired by black women/ femmes.

Last January I was struggling to find my voice as writer, how to become an active part of the change I wanted to see in my City, and finding, loving me. For each challenge that I stumbled through somewhat blindly there was a black woman there to help guide me back on to my path.

My Writing

My dear friend and talented poet, Eve routinely sent me invites to poetry events, readings, her featured shows until I began to show. Listening to her truth spoken boldly and feeling that connection to her spiritual left me in tears many of time and inspired to honor my own truth through my voice. As our relationship grows she challenges me to improve my writing in ways I didn’t know were possible. Im so grateful of having that experience of someone in my same medium. Some months into 2017, one of my closest friends, Taylor suggested me to a mutual friend that owns a site called FlagrantCity that was looking for bloggers, which led me to Rhonda. Rhonda has provided me the creative freedom to express on a platform while also giving me advise on how to build my own brand,and I deeply grateful for this. From this experience had led me to my most recent accomplishment of being hired as a freelance writer for Vocally!

Organizing & Self Awareness

I was in awe of Shaketa’s leadership and Natasha’s strategy: their combined efforts is black girl magic to me. As I continued working with them and growing closer to them; the experience of their patience, their love, their ability to see me in my fullness in a way I had yet to see in myself was affirming for me which led me to BOLD Praxis .BOLD was an experience that shifted my inner narrative of my life. This past Friendsgiving I shared the experience of how BOLD affirmed my worth, dignity, abilities. How, in the future, I wanted to carry healing our traumas and self care through words/ art into my organizing when Linda asked if I had listened to Black Girls in Om, it was a Chicago based podcast run by black women, that centered self care – she strongly suggested that I listen to it.

Black Girls In Om

From their first episode Lauren’s soft voice over subtle instrumentals speaking BGIO’s mission: “To promote holistic wellness and inner beauty for women of color, encouraging self care, self love, and self empowerment for communities of color” was an affirmation of the exact mission I have been envisioning. To the present with the episode number 30: “Intentional living with Roe of Brown Kids” .

There were several things that Roe said that resonated deeply with me. On creating a capsule wardrobe, a wardrobe that can be carried throughout the year and importance of buying quality clothing . Coming home from my experience at both Bold and Just Resisting retreat, I have come to terms within myself that I did not feel up until then worth period – Let alone luxuries of expensive clothing . After twenty four years of living in Buffalo, NY I did not own a down coat or bought good winter boots in at least five years, because I did not think I was worthy of those new things. I realized that stemmed from conditioning: my parents treated shopping as a reward and growing up in generational poverty. As an adult when I did splurge on anything self indulgent it was lingerie, something super sexy, maybe a casual thing – but never my essentials that would actually care for my body.

What Roe and Lauren spoke to about living in a limbo state is something I have been struggling within my own space. Since my breakup a year ago with my daughter’s father, I struggled financially that constantly left me questioning where my family will be each month. Now as I gain stability I’m adjusting to how to have a functional and comfortable space for a toddler and school aged child. This episode like the previous connect with me on levels that I am actively trying to unlock within myself that leaves me amazed each time. Lauren’s work with partynoire as a yoga instructor grounded in spiritual awareness and Deun’s creative works rooted deeply in spiritual gratitude strengthens me daily to continue on with my current collaborative projects with H.E.A.L and Black Magnolias.

If you have not listened to Black Girls in Om, I very much suggest that you give them a listen!

*The top two that I have on repeat currently are episode #29 and #18 (Five Challenges in Creative Entrepreneurship) and strongly advise all black women and femmes listen to #1, #13, #27 and of course the latest #30 .

BOLD Journey to Durham: lessons on Black Love & Healing for Liberation

This November I celebrate my one year anniversary of organizing with Just Resisting! (Just Resisting is a black and brown community organization that focuses on social justice issues- primarily on injustices involving the local Buffalo Police Department/ Strike Force.) As I celebrate this accomplishment, I sit with the experience of attending BOLD,Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity Amandla – Praxis. The combination of the timing of both events is not only emotional, but monumental.

For five days I had the privilege of being able to share space with beautiful black organizers and folks from all over this country. We endured twelve hours of intense somatic, embodied leadership training, political education and on the ground practice with the local organization, 10K for Durham. As I write this I’m still unpacking a wealth of emotions ranging from raw newness to frustration.

I was under the impression going into the training that I would be learning practices for my organizing and that some somatic would be practiced.( I still didn’t know or understand the premise of somatic and what it entailed beyond centering). I did not know the small exposure to somatic practice would affect me on the level that it did. As one of the co-director to JR said so perfectly “ it’s like constantly being ripped open layer by layer exposing yourself in your bare humanity” all while maintaining everyone’s dignity in the space- it was amazing. Each practice forced me to acknowledge pieces of my trauma that I tried to deny- things I had buried within myself, beliefs that I thought were long ago debunked.  I discovered the power in living in the truth of my story, living centered in purpose.

This painfully culminated during a practice on the fourth day, where we were instructed to write commitments that we would carry with us back home beyond this training.

My OG commitment went like:  “I am a commitment to being a source of love and strength in connection to myself, my children, and my community for our liberation.”  When I shared this with my team that I had been working with for the past week, they all responded that they had seen me doing that – the way I cared for Zaire and Kelila, in the way I talked about folks back home. I said without a thought “yea, but not myself.”

It was then when one of the lead facilitators that was on our team challenged me to cross everyone else out leaving myself, then try reading it aloud. I did, read it, and burst into tears. I was forced to face the truth that I did not know how to care for myself or felt I was worthy of that.

This triggered memories of my mother- her telling me that I am so strong and have endured much in this life, her trying to reaffirm my worth. I understood that to mean that strength was resource- something I could draw from, tap into in moments of weakness- not gift. Until then I believed that my purpose was to give of myself as a sacrifice for still having life in this body.

I was able to see the life that mattered in my children, in Jose, in Meech, in Aj, in my community- but not mine. I cried because I felt like that suicidal sixteen year old girl I once was all over  again, plagued with PTSD from being sexual abuse that left me feeling worthless. The memory of waking up the day after my first suicide attempt in a hospital room came to mind vividly. I remember thinking that I was not physically supposed to be there but, also knowing this must’ve meant that I still had a purpose to fulfill on this earth. Since that moment, I was willing to live as a martyr for that purpose once I found it.

I first thought that Zaire was the fulfillment of that purpose once I met him and nurtured him as such, the same with Kelila, the same with my organizing work.

As I poured the love and strength in me into them and my projects I felt the pressure of life closing in around me, I felt depleted. In that moment when I acknowledged that my life mattered, and despite my traumas I will always have worth, a shift occurred within me. I spoke my commitment again; tears flowed as I said the words firmly. I️ am a commitment to being a source of love and strength in connection to my own liberation.I strive to live in that commitment since then by honoring myself slowly in small ways. Reaffirming that I do have worth and being gentle with myself has become a daily practice.

I allow myself to feel deeper in my interactions with folks: the boundaries that are born from it and the relationships I challenge to feel deeper in. I feel the frustration in my social media feeds seeing how much of society has feed us bullshit that has shrunk us down and isolated us as black folks.

When we collectively acknowledge our trauma and pain that healing process can begin. The acceptance of how our stories shift and shape us is the source of our power.

I understand the fear to go deeper. It’s not always safe to engage deeply in all interactions- it requires a level of trust in a time in our history where so much distrust has breed between all relationships. It’s also scary to face what lies in wait below the surface- what memories have been denied to revisit, what stories do we tell ourselves daily that are not true- things that sit in our depth that must be sorted through, and unpacked to heal in our full  dignity.

This movement for Black Liberation exceeds breaking systems that were created to oppress us but, it’s for our collective healing as black folks. It is for the moments of freedom we are rarely granted to be extended.

This liberation is for the empowerment that we will always have our dignity- Despite what the society we live in feeds us through media influence and experiences. Connecting from that place of healing will create a people that I can only imagine our ancestors dreamed we would become.

The Phoenix Identity Group Noiz3 Vlog Series w/ Tiffany Winter [Coming Soon]!

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The Phoenix Company is blessing the community with Alcohol Industry insiders courtesy of Tiffany Winter. Winters, known as part of Black Ink Crew, is teaming up with The Phoenix Company to present all you need to begin or amp up your business. From new brands to market to tips from entrepreneurs and lifestyle ambassadors already in the game, the vlog will feature major keys to flourishing in the industry. They’re even sharing signature mixed cocktails! So if you love to drink, love to get people drunk, or want to get paid to do both be sure to check them out!

You can follow The Phoenix Company on IG to keep tabs on the vlog and be sure to follow Tiffany to see what other insiders she shares.

Last but never least… take a shot for the homies! ❤

BuffaLowe Wants to Know: Where the Haters At? [Opinion Piece]

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  In order for a candidate to become president they must have an overwhelming support of the citizens, right? They would at least need more people who want to see them in power than those who would rather they fail. I mean… isn’t that the whole reason why we’re urged to vote? Told our voices matter and all the other propaganda? The 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama (yes, girl I said President present tense because he’s still my President FOH) had an attendance record of more than 1.8 million according to CNN politics.

    So where are all the self-hating bigots who voted for Captain Cheezit? They have no problem sitting behind a camera and spewing messages of hate, or even attacking defenseless POC for no justifiable reason, but very few showed up to support the man THEY deemed fit to be in power. When listening to Trump’s inauguration speech the reason becomes a bit clearer. At least to me. His speech was littered with the uses of ‘i’ and ‘me’ as opposed to ‘us’ and ‘we’. ‘I can fix these problems’ and ‘I am the answer’.

    So maybe Trump’s followers didn’t show because their lazy asses felt their task was done. They screamed hate to the heavens and their Gods have responded. So all that’s left for them to do is sit back and let havoc wreck itself. Even so, We the People should see this as an opening. Our support of love is far greater than their message of hate. The power rests in our hands and it’s up to us to use it to rectify the problems that have plagued America since it’s founding. Let’s make it right one step at a time! This is our call to action.

    In the mean time in-between time, check out this article with more photos showing the recent inauguration’s lack of attendees.

#AroundBuffaLowe: Drea D’Nur – Spirit of Nina [FEB 24]

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Visual Artists. Jewelers. Sculptors. Illustrators. Now is your chance to showcase your talent. Drea Dnur is looking for new and possibly undiscovered artists to showcase their skills for the Spirit of Nina Art Exhibition at Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo, New York. Don’t waste time doubting yourself and miss this opportunity. Show the world what you have to offer and make a change for the better. Let your creativity flow! Want in? E-mail Drea at DreaDnur@me.com for more information. And may the odds ever be in your favor.

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Join Drea D’Nur in celebrating Nina’s Birthday 2 days before the Kleinhans Show! She will have a special 1-day exhibit and Drea will be screening ‘The Spirit of Nina In Buffalo’ Mini-Documentary as well!  FREE and open to the public! Special thanks to Burchfield Penney Art Center and Buff State’s EOP for sponsoring this celebration!

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