Black women are negotiating the different stages of menopause along with their ever evolving identifies, relationships, careers, responsibilities and societal tropes. This is a curated intergenerational exchange, a space for exploration, mentorship, intimacy and vulnerability around life, identity and change. It’s the excavation of the things that you need to know, but were never told. It’s the guide we wish we all had access to no matter our age.
" we would never leave you. we would never leave you here. we would never leave the world like this. that's why we put you here. you hear us? we put maps behind your eyes and over the entire sky. we put stories everywhere you stepped. but child services would have called it neglect."
Dub : Finding Ceremony, Alexis Pauline Gumbs
We all carry stories. Some of us like loose change absentmindedly left in a coat pocket. Others like an obedient acolyte carrying the sacred text of our grandmothers. Oftentimes, the stories we carry don't even belong to us. They belong to a lost relative, an old lover, or a dear friend. We declare fealty to the stories handed down to us through our lineage. The stories shared in the kitchen, at the family reunion or the hushed tones of a death bed. They are precious, they are specters that haunt, they are us. As we are transformed by age and time, our stories are invited to evolve. New perspective and sometimes new information changes the tenor of what happened. We get to turn the story over in our hands and touch the backing---see the work that went into it. No matter how we see it or how we treat it, it belongs to us and we are the star.
In this episode of The Black Girl's Guide to Surviving Menopause, we talk with Courtney Reid-Eaton about stories. Her story, the stories of her parents and her immigrant grandparents and the ways in which narratives shift and morph without loosing integrity as we age. Courtney is a culture worker, creative engine, spouse, mother, and Black Feminist. She has been the exhibitions director at the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) since 2001, overseeing the selection, scheduling, curation, design, and installation of exhibits in all of the Center’s galleries and organizing related public programs; she also serves as the creative director of CDS’s pilot Documentary Diversity Project. In 2013, after attending her first anti-oppression workshop, she committed to pursuing an activist curatorial practice that primarily centers the work of people of color and women.
Courtney is also a visual artist, rooted in documentary expression, striving for an emancipatory practice that upends white supremacist frameworks. Her journey so far has taken her through theatre studies, work in magazine production, two children (now adults), a nonprofit community gallery, a documentary photography collective, a Montessori school, a transformative concentration at the Penland School of Crafts, to CDS, which continues to stretch and challenge her.
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Many of us who follow astrology recall our first Saturn Return in our late 20's. Some people refer to your Saturn Return as a "cosmic rites of passage", a time period that happens between your 27th and 29th year of life and can last about 3 years (what fun). It is during that time that the planet Saturn returns to the the sign it was in the moment you were born. When it returns, Saturn brings with it adulthood rites, lessons, questions, decisions and relationships. Saturn is the planet of life lessons that can break you down to show you what you are made of to build you back up into who you can be. This planet is not only about hard work, it is about mastery. This returning to core of your nature, the stuff you are made of, is no cake walk, however it is what you make of it. As with most things in the cosmic world, Saturn returns on a cycle and about 27-29 years after it's first visit, Saturn returns again (Oh hello there.....).
Our second Saturn Return is a bit like a looking glass into the first. What do you see? What lessons did we learn there about identity, choices, relationships, career, etc.? How are those lessons resurfacing in both a retrospective as well as with new choices as to who we are while also being initiated into eldership? What will this planetary transit offer us this time in our late 50's and will we be open to those lessons?
In this episode of the Black Girls' Guide to Surviving Menopause, I had the distinct pleasure to speak with Barbara Jessie-Black who is entering her second Saturn Return. We talked about the lessons and gifts of this moment and how they connect to her feelings around identity, relationships, openness and change. Barbara was in Berlin, West Germany and lived overseas until the age of 16, when her father’s last military tour brought the family to Ft. Gordon, GA. She received her BBA from Augusta University in Augusta, GA, before moving to North Carolina where she has lived since.
During her 15 year career as a retail manager with a national retail chain, Barbara received her MBA from Meredith College, in Raleigh, NC and became co-founder of a not for profit organization whose mission it is to search for innovative ways to achieve socio-economic equalities in communities through holistic and entrepreneurship based education, to include education in “21st Century Jobs” technology and the STEM model.
Currently, Barbara is the President/CEO of CommunityWorx, a 68-year old organization, whose mission it is to enrich lives by building collaborative partnerships and transforming charitable donations into educational and community investments. Barbara considers herself a “life-long student” of all things holistic and spiritual, with emphasis on how those concepts influence ones activism. She is fluent in German, a yoga enthusiast, and includes in her spiritual practice.
" I found god in myself
& I loved her/I loved her fiercely”-- Ntozake Shange
“There she is. . . the “too much” woman. The one who loves too hard, feels too deeply, asks too often, desires too much.
There she is taking up too much space, with her laughter, her curves, her honesty, her sexuality. Her presence is as tall as a tree, as wide as a mountain. Her energy occupies every crevice of the room. Too much space she takes.
There she is causing a ruckus with her persistent wanting, too much wanting. She desires a lot, wants everything—too much happiness, too much alone time, too much pleasure. She’ll go through brimstone, murky river, and hellfire to get it. She’ll risk all to quell the longings of her heart and body. This makes her dangerous.
She is dangerous.
And there she goes, that “too much” woman, making people think too much, feel too much, swoon too much. She with her authentic prose and a self-assuredness in the way she carries herself. She with her belly laughs and her insatiable appetite and her proneness to fiery passion. All eyes on her, thinking she’s hot shit.
Oh, that “too much” woman. . . too loud, too vibrant, too honest, too emotional, too smart, too intense, too pretty, too difficult, too sensitive, too wild, too intimidating, too successful, too fat, too strong, too political, too joyous, too needy—too much.
She should simmer down a bit, be taken down a couple notches. Someone should put her back in a more respectable place. Someone should tell her."
Mainstream white culture does not like rule breakers. Specifically, mainstream culture mocks, invisibilizes and punishes people who consistently live their truths out loud and challenge notions of white supremacy, patriarchy and misogyny. This is especially so for Black women and as we age, the politics of gender, race and identity are amplified by ageism. In this episode, we explore what it takes to live a full and healthy life, out loud, with Nia Wilson.
Nia Wilson is a Sagittarius, child of the Orisa Oya, cultural organizer, healer and all around bad ass. She is also the Co-Director of SpiritHouse, a Black women-led Healing Justice organization that utilizes the framework of CPR (culture, practice and ritual) to work with communities impacted by systemic oppression to heal and identify community derived ways to keep each other safe. She is also learning (unlearning in some cases) what is means to be well, whole, happy, soft and cared for by her family and community.
For more information about SpiritHouse, click the link: https://www.spirithouse-nc.org/
Harlem, NY March 19th Tea and Toddies Event Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bgg2sm-and-bdac-presents-tea-and-toddies-tickets-95543191257
Ayanna Pressley video reference: https://theglowup.theroot.com/exclusive-rep-ayanna-pressley-reveals-beautiful-bald-1841039847
SpiritHouse Tribe Member Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs Black Feminist Breathing Meditation:
Nap Ministry: IG @Thenapministry Blog https://thenapministry.wordpress.com/
You've been on my mind
Sister, we're two of a kind
I'm keepin' my eyes on you
I betcha think
I don't know nothin'
But singin' the blues
Oh sister, have I got news for you
I hope you think
That you're somethin' too..."
Miss Celie's Blues, The Color Purple
WHAT DO OUR COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS SOUND LIKE?
A laugh, greetings from old friends, sighs of understanding, tears of release and so much joy. Check out this clip from our very first intergenerational event in Washington, DC held at Calabash Tea and Tonics last fall. We co-hosted the event with DC native and community organizer/advocate Aja Taylor to a sold out room of Black women and femmes who were ready to talk to each other! 2020 will be the year we bring more intergenerational healing circle conversations to you where we talk about the same topics we explore on the podcast including change, pleasure, intimacy, vulnerability, love and life. We are kicking off 2020 with our first event in Harlem, NY on March 19th right in time for the vernal equinox!
Our co-host for this event is our movement and creative sister of the hear, Ebony Noelle Golden who is the founder of Betty's Daughter Arts Collaborative. Check the link! https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bgg2sm-and-bdac-presents-tea-a…
This is a BIPOC Space Only! See you March 19th Uptown!
What if we fully embraced the changes that comes with passing of time? Changes in our bodies, intimate relationships, friendships, career paths, etc. What if we didn't view these changes as a bad thing to be feared? What if we shifted the narrative to explore the liberation and joy in this process of becoming something new? What if menopause is more than hot flashes and gray chin hairs? What if we are more than fluctuations in weight and our moods?
What if.... We are sexy
We are creative
We are lush
We are powerful
We are reimagining
We are reinventing
We are vulnerable
We are wise
We are divine
What if perimenopause or menopause wasn’t an ending, but a portal to the next sacred iteration of you? What if?
North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green drops blessings like ripe mango into our laps. Walls breathe a heavy sighs of relief as she shreds the puny narratives we have about who we are and our power to reanimate and reclaim our medicine... our magic. She calls forth specters who resemble our own shadows and reminds us that we can, that we have no choice but to reknit ourselves back together with the medicine that never left us. It sits at the back of our throats waiting for release. It burns. It illuminates.
“Medicine is dark and thick like blood”
“Where does your creative medicine intertwine with your work?”
“How do you court your muse?”
“An anorexic muse is a dying muse”
“Medicine informs the muse, the muse informs the medicine. It is a sacred symbiotic relationship”
Thank you Mama Jaki. I feel like I left my body several times during our conversation. Thank you for spoon feeding me back myself when I was 5 years old, wise and believed in my own magic..
And so it is on the dark side of the moon.
Lionsgate Stardate 080819
Sovereignty, Awakening, Creativity, Power, Prosperity, Portal, Stargate ... Infinity.
It's Leo season and in this episode of The Black Girls Guide to Surviving Menopause, we are honored to share our interview with Leo Lana Garland with you!
Lana Garland IS aperture.
She is the portal through which our diverse narratives as Black folx can come through safe and intact. She uses her film camera and feline eyes to capture the shapes and stories that honors all of who we are, to honor our divinity. She bears witness to our sacred personhood with passion, integrity and care. She invites us to bear witness too. To view and experience what our divinity looks like when it is exalted and smooth or illegible and rough. She reminds us that our stories are worthy of being told and seen. She reminds us that we are worthy of love.
Lana is a native of Philadelphia, Pa and has worked as a Creative Director, Director, and Writer/Producer in television and film in the US and Europe, creating content for HBO, BET, and ESPN in America, and TV2 in Denmark. In documentary film, Lana has freelanced on films such as Bowling For Columbine and HBO’s Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives. She is an NATPE Fellow, a Gordon Parks IFP screenwriting finalist, a Telly Award winner, and an Emerging Artists Award winner from the Durham Arts Council. Lana is Fulbright Specialist, having taught film at Makerere University in Uganda, and the film curator of the Hayti Heritage Film Festival @Hayti heritagefilmfestival and SummerStage @goldenbeltcampus Golden Belt in Durham, NC. Her documentary shorts series, The Reservoir, collects stories of Black people surviving and overcoming different types of trauma. Currently, she is working on a sci-fi webseries and is one of the producers on The Land of Fish & Grits @landoffishngrits .
Join us on the dark side of the moon....
Delores Sanky “Mama Dee” Eaton was born June 30, 1930 in Montgomery, Alabama. My mother, Mary Kinsey Mcconner Burney, Ibaiye, was born 16 days later on July 16th that same year in Pitt County, North Carolina. Though born under different circumstances and realities in the American south, their paths in life were oddly similar. If you know anything about Cancerian women, you know they are fiercely protective of their loved ones, nurturing, emotional, affectionate, funny, trustworthy and steadfast. Having been raised by two Cancers as a fire sign, you would think I would have had an adverse reaction to all that watery moon mutability. But tell me what child doesn’t want to feel that their parents, especially their mother, thinks that they are the most special being in the world while reminding you that you have to move the furniture when you vacuum or the house isn’t really clean?
What l also know about these two women is that they always rose above their circumstances and realities their entire lives to know more, to do better and to make a way for their children. They rose above Jim Crow south to attend college seeking to be educated to whole new worlds. They rose above gender norms and roles to boldly chart their own path in the world leaving the South behind for a period of time to experience the world on the west coast and in New York. They rose above conventional wisdom around marriage and partnership to autonomously choose their partners in love and life with their eyes wide open seeking radical love based on mutual trust, bold communication, respect and intelligence disregarding age or station. The same year my mother left this earthly realm, Delores "Mama Dee" Eaton became Che's teacher at her African-centered Sankofa Children's House. That year, she not only deprogrammed him from a terrible first year in public school, she pressed her loving wisdom and belief of his Black Genius into his 6 year old body. He is 27 years old now and that time, care and belief carried him all the way through to graduate from Howard University 4 years ago.
Mama Dee not only bears witness to the truth of our brilliance and trauma, she speaks on it with white heat precision and eloquence. She has used her Cancerian magic to massage the poison of white supremacy out of the skin and spirit of our children and she replaced it with fierce protection and audacious joy. She is nurturer. She is warrior. She is teacher. She is love. I give thanks to have her in our lives and I continue to follow her amazing blueprint for always believing in and loving our people she has shared with me all those years ago. I’m honored that she agreed to be my first Crone interview.
Hey Folks! The response to The Black Girls’ Guide to Surviving Menopause has been amazing! Thank you to all our new listeners and subscribers. We want to hear from you! Send us a listener letter to decolonizingthecrone@gmail and in the subject line put “LISTENER LETTER”. Your letters can be questions or thoughts that we can discuss with our guest host or they can be offerings the guide we will be creating. Either way, we want to share questions, thoughts and collective wisdom from you! We look forward to hearing from you on the dark side of the moon!
This is a new place. 52, divorced, one adult child, one preteen about to start middle school, parents gone, and reimagining what my work identity will be after 25 years of social justice work. It feels so foreign, exciting and scary. When did I arrive on the dark side of the moon? Am I alone here?
There is so much ritual around your first period as a girl. Within in your family circle, culture and circle of friends, it seems like everyone is waiting the arrival of this marker-- the portal to womanhood. There are books like “Are you there God it’s me Margaret” and “Our Bodies, Ourselves. There is the painful 6th grade sex education class, training bras and the highly inaccurate information around what it is and what it will feel and look like from our peer group. There are no such things for women as they enter the white water of perimenopause to show you how to journey through to the end, to the other side of your cycle into cronehood. No dialogue about sex drive, weight gain, gray chin hairs (or any place else) ageing parents or parenting adult children, death, life, joy, life or learning. No reassurances that you are not crazy and there should be.
This episode shares my personal journey and exploration around aging, menopause, the manifestation of Decolonizing the Crone and what people can expect in future episodes of The Black Girls’ Guide to Surviving Menopause. Our guest host is Angel Dozier of Be Connected Durham.
What is the Black Girls Guide to Surviving Menopause? Who is Omisade Burney-Scott and why does she want to curate spaces and dialogues which Black women over 50 that cultivates open conversations about "the change", shapeshifting, menopause, love, life, white supremacy, patriarchy, moon phases and the crone identities? There is no guide, book, journal or courses and what many of us experience culturally in cloistered way. We are lighting the path for those who are walking in their cronedom now and for those who will come after us. Welcome to the dark side of the moon.