so tell me can you feel iiiiiiiiiit!?

Ladies and Gents 

i have just returned from the smiling coast of Gambia. i spent two luscious weeks being treated like a queen! the trip was nothing short of awesome…

one of the things that struck me was the ease that i felt while there.  i prayed before i left that my natural shyness wouldn’t be a barrier to me experiencing my journey to the fullest.  i thought that i might feel uncomfortable because my knowledge of the most commonly used language (mandinka) is limited to about three words.

but i didn’t feel any of that…i won’t like…my natural shyness did crop up in some places but it didn’t stop me from diggin’ my spoon into the communal bowl of yassa when it was dinner time…it didn’t stop me from dancing all around the compound with the children.  it didn’t stop me from flitting around the markets and haggling.  it didn’t stop me from somehow enjoying my 8 hour layover in senegal.  

anytime i felt a lil bit harried or not quite at ease…i reminded myself that i was having an ADVENTURE! a real life bonafide adventure…and i would dive back fully into it and do my best to experience every corner of it.

i danced to reggae in an open field under the full moon.  i saw jaliba kuyateh LIVE in that same field.  i snuck back into the compound with the other women because we forgot to take permission from “poppa”.  and the FOOD!!!! i miss the food like i’d miss a man!  

i flirted with every pretty thang on two legs in the airport in dakar, and even though i didn’t speak a lick of french or wolof…”makin’ eyes” translates just fine.  

i am convinced that:  senegalese and gambian women are the flyest broads on the planet.  senegalese men have a monopoly on “FOINENESS”.  many of the things that we think of as “hood” are simply deeply west afrikan.  i.e. the extremely plush overstuffed furniture stuffed into a tiny house…that lamp that everybody’s auntie has that curves over the couch in 5 different directions…the supa dupa fly phones with the illest ringtones (and your house might be quite humble)…there’s never a time that is too early in the day for sequins and rhinestones or gold lame’…lil girls playin’ handgames in the street…

several folks thought that i was fulani because THERE i’m lightskinned with “good hair”…WHO KNEW??? when i told them that here i’m considered darkskinned…there was a collective look of puzzlement and partial horror…

i just found something to love around every corner.  it was a blessing in the truest sense of the word. and i hope and pray that EVERYBODY gets to go home.

Osunyoyin a.k.a. Mariama Jobe

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How Far the Honey Flows

I find myself considering the perspective from which I will write.  I am an observerof the experience that is the Southern Honey Pilgrimage.  I will watch as my SistArtists, have personal experiences or come to revelations that are unique to themselves, and are uniquely connected to their participation in this journey.  I am also a participant in this journey.  The things I do and say, become part of the collective experience, to be responded to or simply witnessed.  Ultimately, I am looking at the whole, while I am also a part of the whole – observer and participant

This clarity of perspective is necessary for me as a Black woman, who will sit in intimate circles of other Black women, and will then later share my overall experience in this blog format.  Safe circles for dialog are sacred, and generally what happens in those circles remains in that moment, or at least within the network of people participating in the moment.  It is always my goal to maintain that group confidentiality.  How do I reconcile confidentiality with my sense strong pressing rightness in talking about this pilgrimage?  How then can I make the blog a part of the network?  Is that necessary or the best thing to do?  Perhaps it is enough for the people we visit to know that SistArtists taking the Southern Honey Pilgrimage are writing about our experience, and invite those we visit to follow us on the Pilgrimage.

And what to make of all those who participate in the Southern Honey Pilgrimage solely as viewersof the blog?  Some viewers will have participated in the Pilgrimage by hosting or spending time or hearing the good word.  As an SHP member, I will also view the experience of the other co-travelers on the blog.  There may be viewers who have no personal connection to us.  Then there will be viewers who are connected to the experience because of their intimate connection to a person participating in the SHP, yet did not themselves attend the Pilgrimage.  How far our might those circles of people reach?

Black women work, nurture and create together all the time.  The more we see our own cooperative and creative economics at work, the easier it is for us to move forward into the next vision, and the easier it may be for other Black women to do something similar.  Perhaps through finding the line between outing myself or the people we interact with on the Pilgrimage and respectfully sharing the essence and power of an experience;  I am creating the style and ethic with which I will continue to write. 

 

Cynthia C Harris

ART|HEALTH|LIBERATION

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Oak Trees and Spanish Moss

During the first portion of the Southern Honey Pilgrimage, our stop in Tallahassee was beautiful and powerful.  I love a good road trip, as I was a distinguished graduate of my father’s road trip survival course.  This means I can pack the mess out of a trunk, van, truck bed, or uhaul.  It also means I am likely to have snacks, extra games, blankets and other things one might need in the car.  Fortunately for us,  OlaOmi’s new chariot was spacious and had a DVD player, which made the ride even sweeter. 

We chose the route down I-75 down Georgia, to Highway 319, as an attempt to avoid the heavy rain covering the route down I-65 through Alabama to Highway 231.  We stopped just before we reached Atlanta to stretch our legs and eat some yummy Cuban food at Papi’s.  We got on the road again and rode straight into Tallahassee.  Even in the dark I could make out the signs that sell off plots of plantation property for newly constructed homes. I could see the shadowy shapes of the oak trees leaning  in to the road and dripping Spanish moss.  I knew we were passing cotton fields  in the long stretches of uninterrupted black.  You can feel the energy of the land change as you get closer to the city. 

Our first stop was to campus, to let Kamilah know that we safely made it and to do a happy dance about her new life at FAMU.  To my surprise I remember the twists and turns around campus, or just enough to not feel lost.  I remember that feeling of campus right before school starts, so much energy and excitement, so many possibilities, all the people waiting to meet you, wondering who your new friends will be, and will you like your major.  Returning to witness that freshman experience as an adult, was different, as it should be.  I have memories now in place of those questions.

We were graciously hosted by two of my friends from FAMU.  I began my study of west african dance in the contemporary dance company, Orchesis, during which time I met Kendra.  Through Kendra,  I later met the fabulous Jew’el.  These ladies visited Dia and I in Atlanta during a crucial period. We all may have been in varying levels of transition, and were miraculously able to love and affirm each other into walking our paths a lil while longer.  I know that they get me, they understand me without a lot of explaining and justifying.  Although external validation can be a distraction in some ways, or perhaps that longing for validation,  to know that you are connected to other people who see you fully and love you, well that’s just spectacular.  In short, visiting Kendra and Jew’el makes my soul right.  It starts with the home they share with yet another talented SistArtist, Oni.  You can easily tell that juicy, free women live there.  There is the well loved coffee table, sofa and chairs selected equally for style and the ability to facilitate a particular type of lounging; the type of lounging that goes from night into the early hours of morning.  A place that sets all its inhabitants, old friends and new, at ease, so that the magic of spending unscheduled time can be shared.  We laughed, ate, and danced together.  We created impromptu songs.  We played and had fun.  We even had those pull to the side home girl chats; the ones where we mirror each other’s goodness; the chats that get us back on course, and help us through those obstacles that fear hurls in front of our feet. 

I felt so welcome.  I felt like I was right on time. I felt free to show my excitement about seeing old friends and making new ones.  I felt like I had come up on a secret vein of gold or quartz, in a long forgotten place.  I know how lucky I am to know these beautiful, brilliant, and amazingly talented women. 

This high level of intimacy and support we create with each other is not optional.  We must have community.  We must have family.  We must be reminded that our presence is important to each other.  We must remember that our unconditional love and attention is invaluable to our SistArtists. 

Cynthia C Harris

ART|HEALTH|LIBERATION

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Visible- C in the place to be

I understand the power and necessity of Black women telling their stories, but for me there is always a bit of hesitancy.  It is as though the internalized oppressive beliefs about visibility and appropriateness get kicked up and suck breath and words from my mouth.  I feel the need to stay quiet, so as not to draw attention to myself.  I feel that though, I am speaking my truth, and know that I am having a common experience, I am not supposed to speak about it, and if the expreience is to be spoken about, then there must be someone more appropriate to tell the story than I.  So in these fearful moments, I remember the truth.  I know that I am the best and only person to tell the stories I know.  In order to thrive Black women must be able to speak openly about life as we know it.

Cynthia C Harris

ART|HEALTH|LIBERATION

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well y’all…

just came back from tallahassee florida
got there late monday nite and stayed til yesterday afternoon

we were getting my niece ready for school
and so many amazing things happened

me and one of the sistas that we stayed with debriefed FINALLY 10 years later about this dude that we were dating at the SAME time
that was hilarious and fabulous in so many different ways
for some reason…i was then surprised that we had SUCH similar tastes in men
i mean down to the fact that the last brothas that we’ve had major crushes on
were around 400 or so pounds…
she pronounced that we might have some “save a ho” tendencies

i can’t say that i entirely disagree
but i will say that i make a really conscious effort to not be in relationships with men who would be better suited as CLIENTS than companions…
i prolly do a better job at it some days than others…
she and i made a resolution tho “no more handicapped boos”
emotionally/mentally/physically
we got ta do betta…

cyn volunteered to get a shirt made that says no more handicapped boos and wear it periodically to remind us of our commitment to excellent boo-dom
she said “i ain’t even gone say nothin…i’mma just put it on and wear it around sometimes”

then i found out that one of the other women (Oni) is a jewelry maker like myself!
she makes these outstanding assed feather earrings
i’m gonna help her pull together a webspace to sell on
building with her was exciting and inspirational
cause she had info for me and i had some for her too…it was just regular ole GOOD to talk to her…

anotha one of the divine trio (jew’EL) is one of the funkiest broads eva…she makes the banginest blueberry pancakes and she told us how to twist our locs into a fabulous 50s looking flip!  she has a twin sista who stopped by and joined in our discussion on religion and faith traditions and such…

there was a number dance each morning performed by my godson and the illustrious kendra

and as i said there were blueberry pancakes and coffee
really REALLY good eggs
coffee

we went to an african dance class
got there too late to REALLY participate
but i was able to recognize the song for sorsornet played on the balafon (THANKS HADIYAH) and THAT is the rhythm that they played at the end!!!

my niece got up and did an extra fly solo

THEN 

we went and met a 78 year old priestess of OSHUN!!!!
*swoon*
SHE was so fresh!
golden from head to TOE! i kid you not!
with incense billowing out of her home…
and a shrine room that was simply WONDERFUL!
i’ve been encouraged to go on and put together my first book
on group facilitation
 i now know how i’m gonna fund one of my major life undertakings!
 
i got to eat a guthries chicken finger box

AND all of the sistas got to talkin about our religious experiences in the south
we are all more or less Orisha worshippers now
but we were church folks to begin with
and all the richness of the black church experience
the commonalities
and the differences between the denominations
and there was really good lemonade and apple juice
AND
oh my GODDESS
we went to this pita spot!
and they made what they called “greek fries”
dude
they FRIED the pita
and made this garlicy cottge cheesey dipping sauce

AAAAAAAAAAND i got to introduce my niece to pokey sticks from gumby’s pizza
cynthia and i had spoken of them for years
and yeah
she got to taste their greasy cheesy goodness
NO ONE was disappointed
i took a pick of her and my godson eating them

i journaled just about everyday
we went to the pool before we left
worked on our tans and played in the water
floridian sun is AMAZING

kickin it with the sistas was AMAZING
they were as excited about us as we were about them!

the journey home was filled with debriefing
grown lady talk about healing the world
and what we can do about it on a concrete level
creative potty using for the little people
snacks
and about two minutes from my house…an honest to God COYOTE!
the trickster welcoming us home…

the biggest lesson for me on this trip was in letting go and relaxing into the experience…holding on too tight to some supposed tos will only cause pain and distress…

it was truly a wonder FULL experience

and a blessing for my spirit…

creating new bonds of sisterhood
reconfirming old ones
sending a young woman off to begin a new phrase of womanhood

pancakes and coffee
affirmations and love
swimming pools
singing stars
feather earrings and fly shoes
A NEW CAR (c) bob barker
Baptism and Black Womanhood
50s hairdos and platform shoes
number dances
rattlerhood
Oshun and the honeypots

relax into your blessings y’all
they’re layin all around you waiting for you to notice ’em
be grateful (c) my momma

 
Osunyoyin

“Be concentrated and leonine in the hunt for what is your true nourishment.” -Rumi

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Women’s Day

I grew up attending Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville, TN.  It is the church my mother and her sisters have attended, since before my birth over 30 years ago.  Friendship is in a sense, where I began to develop a sense of myself as a spiritual person as well as a creative person.  The weekend’s Women’s Day events reminded me too that, my idea of powerful women setting their collective intention on a thing, and that thing manifesting comes from my experience with outstanding sisters at Friendship.   

Saturday was the Prayer Breakfast, an event I don’t recall attending during my childhood, though I know my appreciation as an adult could only be much richer.  After we ate, several different women stood to pray for their church, love and understanding, the elderly,the  ill, parents, the nation’s leaders, and our children.  Between the prayers we sang together.  All the participants were invited to write their prayers on bright yellow notes, which were then stuck to the podium in the front of the room.  After their prayers, and a moving round of testimonies, we joined hands, encirlced the written prayers and prayed as a group for the manifestation of our needs.  It was awesome to feel that energy, that presence, and to remember that I grew up knowing this was part of my power source.    As my religious views have expanded over the years, I have never lost the part of my self that knows when I set my intention and put my spirit into a desire, it always manifests. 

…”somebody prayed for me,
had me on their mind,
took the time and prayed for me.
I’m so glad they prayed
I’m so glad they prayed
I’m so glad they prayed for me…”

Sunday Morning’s early service featured my Aunt Mildred as the guest speaker.  Her theme, as was the theme for the event, was Women with a Message and a Mission.  She reminded us that we all have gifts, a call to answer, and we have everything we need to answer that call.  All we have to do is be willing to trust and move forward.  Then she reminded us, that in order to go on a mission, you have to GO.  You must act, moving away from what might be predictable and familiar, to move forward.  She also had us repeat with her many times “I have a mission and I cannot fail” and ” I know the message and I cannot fail.” 

As I prepare to take a journey with other powerful SistArtists, I know that everything is already taken care of.  Wherever we stop, are the only and best places to stop.  The people that come to see us or invite us into their homes and communities, are the best ones to do so.  We have an exciting opportunity to travel with full spirits, to love and support the women in our lives by sharing our talents and our loving attention. 

I feel so fortunate to have been able to see my aunt speak this morning.  It affirmed for me that the Southern Honey Pilgrimage is right on time.  Next to Tallahassee, to support a beautiful young woman as she transitions into college life.

ART|HEALTH|LIBERATION

-Cynthia C Harris

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hey y’all…

This is the blog of the southern honey pilgrimage. Stop on by whenever you take a notion to catch up on all of the latest and greatest with the southern honeys…

We’ve only just begun… so make sure you stay tuned so you’ll know when the honey’s are flowing in YOUR direction!

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