Category Archives: Poetry

Saddi Khali in Ottawa Neo-Negritude Expressions: Reclaiming Our Sexualities

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InSol: Womyn of Colour Collective, Agitate: Queer People of Colour, 3 Dreads and a Baldhead and Black Caucus presents…

Neo-Negritude poster-3

Neo-Negritude Expressions: Reclaiming Our Sexualities

Renowned artist Saddi Khali in Ottawa!!!!

“Let’s see ourselves beautiful again” Saddi Khali

The ultimate mix-master, Saddi Khali is a nationally respected New Orleans-born poet, performance artist, and photographer. He has worked for the last 20 years to blend the most effective mix of art and activism. Khali’s emergence on the field of photography has been groundbreaking. His images have been featured in ESSENCE Magazine and on the cover of the Random House book, Triksta and the instruction book, The Naked and The Lens.

Events Breakdown:

Friday 18th Nov
After Hours Party with Saddi Khali!!
Venue: The Legion
359 Kent Street (Kent and Gilmour)
Doors open at 9:00pm
dj yalla!yalla! and DJ Prufrock
Erotica readings, Bar and Refreshments available
Sliding scale $5-$10 at door

Saturday 19th Nov
Day- Reclaiming Our Sexualities workshop
Venue: Bruce House
251 Bank Street
Time: 1pm – 4pm
Donations at the door

Ottawa premiere of ‘Red Lips’ by Kyisha Williams.

Kyisha Williams is a vibrant, radical, black, queer, high femme, sex positive, activist, survivor, fighter and writer. She is a community organizer and support worker within black/queer/trans/racialized/criminalized /HIV+/HCV+ communities. She directed “Red Lips” [cages for black girls] her debut short film which explores black/racialized/criminalized/queer/trans identity and its relationship with the prison-industrial complex. It attempts to articulate links between interpersonal and systemic violence, while celebrating the ways in which we survive and celebrate ourselves.
Venue: Venus Envy
320 Lisgar
Time: 7pm
Donations at the door

Sunday 20th Nov
Black Sexualities Workshop with screening of documentary ‘Still Black’
Please note that our events are taking place during the Trans Day of Remembrance and the organizers of TDOR will be hosting a few events as well.

Directed by Kortney Ryan Ziegler, Still Black is a feature-length documentary that explores the lives of six black transgender men living in the United States. Through the intimate stories of their lives as artists, students, husbands, fathers, lawyers, and teachers, the film offers viewers a complex and multi-faceted image of race, sexuality and trans identity.

Here is the Official Website: Still Black

Venue: Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC)
233 Gilmour Street
Time: 1pm to 4pm
Donations at the door

From Friday 18th folks will be able to book and do private or group photoshoots with Saddi.

Check out his amazing work here: http://www.saddikhaliphoto.com/

*Bus tickets and childcare (advanced notice required) can be made available*

Print the pamphlet: Neo-Negritude pamphlet

THANK YOUUUU to our sponsors:
Womyn’s Centre (Carleton University)
Venus Envy
Pride Centre (University of Ottawa)
Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre (ORCC)
Sexualities Department (Carleton University)
OPIRG-GRIPO, University of Ottawa
OPIRG Carleton University

Why Did You Make Me Black?

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I struggle sometimes with this notion of identity and how it may limit or free us to be or not be.

I love the notion of ‘threshold’ people…those whom exist on the outskirts and do not necessarily fit into one category. I love how Audre Lorde refused to be categorized and labeled as that versus this. In fact, I am constantly questioning, challenging and tweaking who I am…as a person…as a womyn….as a citizen of this global world. But one thing that I cannot and will not deny…something though which I may not always explicitly show, but that I am in fact undeniably proud of…is that I am a black womyn.

Hence I would like to share one of my favourite poems with you (since we all seem to be in a poetic type of mood :)) This poem, I came across when I was much younger and though my thoughts towards it have changed to an extent, it was still a defining moment in my life when I started to really appreciate parts of me and my ever changing and layered identy(ies).

Caveat: There is mention of God and one may argue that the inclusion of this traditional deity takes away from the essence of the piece but I challenge that. Regardless of your religious and/or spiritual beliefs, I think that this poem serves a purpose that should be recognized.
Also, though this poem may seem a bit distraught, it is the sad reality of many and should not be reduced to simply being a defeatist analysis on race.
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Why Did You Make Me Black Lord ….

Lord …. Why did you make me black?
Why did you make someone
the world would hold back?
Black is the color of dirty clothes,
of grimy hands and feet…
Black is the color of darkness,
of tired beaten streets…
Why did you give me thick lips,
a broad nose and kinky hair?
Why did you create someone
who receives the hated stare?

Black is the color of the bruised eye
when someone gets hurt…
Black is the color of darkness,
black is the color of dirt.

Why is my bone structure so thick,
my hips and cheeks so high?
Why are my eyes brown,
and not the color of the sky?

Why do people think I’m useless?
How come I feel so used?
Why do people see my skin
and think I should be abused?

Lord, I just don’t understand…
What is it about my skin?
Why is it some people want to hate me
and not know the person within?

Black is what people are “Labeled”
when others want to keep them away…
Black is the color of shadows cast…
Black is the end of the day.

Lord you know my own people mistreat me,
and you know this just ain’t right…
They don’t like my hair, they don’t like my
skin, as they say I’m too dark or too light!

Lord, don’t you think
it’s time to make a change?
Why don’t you redo creation
and make everyone the same?

GOD’s Reply:
Why did I make you black?
Why did I make you black?

I made you in the color of coal
from which beautiful diamonds are formed…
I made you in the color of oil,
the black gold which keeps people warm.

Your color is the same as the rich dark soil
that grows the food you need…
Your color is the same as the black stallion and
panther, Oh what majestic creatures indeed!

All colors of the heavenly rainbow
can be found throughout every nation…
When all these colors are blended,
you become my greatest creation!

Your hair is the texture of lamb’s wool,
such a beauti! ful creature is he…
I am the shepherd who watches them,
I will ALWAYS watch over thee!

You are the color of the midnight sky,
I put star glitter in your eyes…
There’s a beautiful smile hidden behind your pain…
That’s why your cheeks are so high!

You are the color of dark clouds
from the hurricanes I create in September…
I made your lips so full and thick,
so when you kiss…they will remember!

Your stature is strong,
your bone structure thick to withstand the
burden of time…
The reflection you see in the mirror,
that image that looks back,..that is MINE!

So get off your knees,
look in the mirror and tell me what you see?
I didn’t make you in the image of darkness…
I made you in the image of ME!

Women who own their souls are an endangered species..

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Just some thoughts me ladies… always with love

Women who own their souls are an endangered species

Women

Women who love their souls are an endangered species

because we are told

love this man

for he is good, and the question whether he is good,  good for you

never comes.

Makes you remember the time when

you knew your real name, that time when you were striding

warrior empress

amidst the green

and red

that time alive, both the beginning and the end

and in between

when you danced

and lived with all beings unseen

It doesn”t come.

Instead

you are told to think of

morgages

healthcare

and weddings where the only things that are white and pure

are the lies that you tell each other…

because of that

you curtail your flight

restrain your bite

quell your desire

and the fire in your eyes

and blood.

And your soul forever embodies

thet numbness that comes from

formalized uncertainties

And so you give your soul

not even as a prize but as collateral to this existance

and it becomes

– even if it may have started as a venture in freedom-

the very consolidation of your boundedness.

I tell you women with souls have become an endangered species.

He was not a soul eater, a heart breaker,

a malevolent man,

but still this cannot be the best you

can be

soul free.

Your soul bound,

curtailed

wings chopped in flight

Instead, you question the very purpose of this flight

but since when did you question this movement of the Gods?

I tell you women with souls these days

have become an endangered species.

Love how your body moves, how it feels

do not keep it under the heel of a man

kind or otherwise

especially kind

for you shall never leave

for you shall never leave or live

with your soul again

I tell you women who own their souls these days

are becoming an endangered species……

I Love Me Some Maya

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So I was watching Beauty Shop the other day starring Queen Latifah and Alfre Woodard. Mostly for the part where Djimon Hounsou takes off his shirt- and also because of my inexplicable deep-seated love for Alicia Silverstone from Clueless. Queen, Djimon, Alicia- random bouts of dancing, 90s hip hop and theorizing about the state of Black femininity and manhood, I was in guileless pop culture heaven. And to top it all off there was a lil’ bit of a Maya recitation of one of my all time favourite poems. No not Phenomenal women but the somewhat less known Still I Rise.Womyn… enjoy!!!!!!

Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.
Maya Angelou