Your link text

UnFamous & The #CouchTour | Sitting on your couch (or pew, or dais, or pulpit soon...)

The first "famous" person I can remember meeting was Sam Cassell. He use to play for the Houston Rockets and now is an assistant coach for the LA Clippers. I was a preteen in Baltimore, Maryland at the Harbor eating with my family and he was two tables away, eating with his family. To be honest - I didn't know who he was, for real. My uncle and my dad were fanboying in hushed tones and I decided I was going to go over and introduce myself to him. I got up - without my parents permission (fass) and walked over and said,

"Mr. Cassell, my name is Ebony. It's so nice to meet you. Can I have your autograph?"

He and his wife smiled and he gave me his autograph on a napkit from the table and I walked away smiling.

But something in me knew that was weird. This man was sitting at the table just mind his business and up walks a stranger, interrupting his meal, for an autograph on a napkin that I couldn't tell you where it is or what happened to it after that day.

This was my first time considering celebrities as human beings. 0_0

-----

I had a semi-viral youtube video in 2012. It was called, "Stuff Super Saved People Say."

I was at the tire shop a few months later and this man starts staring at me and says, "Are you EbonyJanice?"

I know for a fact that I do NOT know him, so I hesitate, "Y...yes?"

He jumps up and comes over to me, "Oh my God it is you!"

Now everyone in the tire shop is looking at us as this grown man goes apesh*t over a woman who filmed an entire youtube video on her macbook. It was weird. I didn't like it.

A few months later, I was in El Paso, Texas at my aunts church waiting for her to finish praying so that she could give me the keys to get into her house. This group of (early 20's) young people come over and they push their elected leader forward to ask me, "Are you EbonyJanice?"

My eyes get wide and I say, "No. No. Nope. Don't do this." I'm giggling b/c I just KNOW this ain't about to be what I think it's about to be.

And yes, it turns out to be exactly what I know it don't need to be. These people recognized me from this ridiculous video and were fangirling all up and down and through.

"I can't believe it's you."

"You're so nice."

"I can't believe you're really taking pictures with us."

0_0 "Stop this. I'm just a girl that made a video on my macbook. This too murch!"

----

By no means am I suggesting that I am famous. NOT. Nope. Uh un. Noap! Quite the opposite. I just be "chillin."

However, I have noticed that the age of iconizing people that we love or admire makes us other ourselves from them. We make ourselves believe that they are inaccessible and have a real life GENUINE surprise when they, like regular humans tend to do, are actually (more often than not) kind and available for engaging on a regular human to human level.

This email is to let you know that you can invite me over any time. I'd love to bring my #CouchTour series to your city.
It's really not that hard to have me over for tea/coffee and a chat about the many things that there are for homies to chat about.

The #CouchTour is called, The Couch Tour - because it does not have to be formal, at all. As long as you have 25-30 people willing to come hang out with us, you're able to secure the location (could be an intimate room for a 25-30 person group, a sanctuary, or a lecture hall that can hold hundreds), we can absolutely work together to secure community support and funding to assist in the additional financial cost to bring me to your city (and maybe even to your couch).

I use this connection about "fame" and the way we "other" people that we love because I have had so many experiences with many people from my social media family that proved to me you thought I was something more than a girl with a macbook just trying to get free (and stay free) by sharing my stories, my wisdom, and my God -- one post at a time. The reality is... I want nothing more than to really KNOW you and your story.

So invite me over, today. Send me an email invite to freepeople@thefreepeopleproject.com and we'll send over some specifics about what it might look like for us to be hanging out on your couch together soon.

-ebonyjanice
#TheFreePeopleProject



*Looking for a list of topics that we might be able to chat about on your couch? HERE is a great place to start. Just note - I also offer custom workshops and lectures upon request.

White Supremacy is a Black Girl Bully: and all the radical ways we're just not going to deal with it anymore

*I wrote this for and originally posted on my LinkedIn page.

----------- 

I was talking to my Aunt the other day about "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz, which I find to be such a profound 138 pages that I recommend it on a regular basis to all of my clients and I give it away, consistently, to my closest friends. The book is four basic agreements we make with the world that shapes our existence, and how making some new agreements can radically change our lives.

The Four Agreements are: (1) Be impeccable with your word (2) Don't take anything personal (3) Don't make assumptions, and (4) Always do your best.

The conversation I was having the other day brought me back to the profound ways that the Second Agreement changed my life when I first read this book several years ago.

Do not take anything personal.

Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world.

This particular excerpt got me to thinking about the way that words have created unsafe worlds for black women, both online and IRL (in real life). The way that cis-hetero-able bodied-patriarchal white supremacy centers itself, its body, its needs, and even its language in everything is the main reason that black women's person, black women's needs, and black women's language is aggressed against on a daily basis. The "dream," that Ruiz is talking about as he describes The Second Agreement, of being superior causes the system of white supremacy to create language that others marginalized groups of people and we are taught to "trust" these systems - so we have taken these words and ideas personally.

This is the reason black women "believe" their natural hair can be "unprofessional" so they relax it with harsh chemicals or press it with hard heat. We have taken "straight hair is professional" personally.

This is the reason black women "believe" their bodies can be "wrong" so they attempt to exercise their shapeliness away or even to dress in a way that they hope will make them look less "wrong" and more accepted. We have taken "slender bodies that take up less space" personally.

This is the reason black women "believe" their voices are too "aggressive" so they code switch in certain spaces by changing their tone to sound more "white safe" and less in their authentic timbre. We have taken "soft" or "sing songy voices are safer" personally.

And guess what - the system of white supremacy has solidified its stand on the words it has created to "Other" black women - so much so that, for the most part, these (sometimes unspoken - often so audacious that they ARE spoken) words have so much "power over" that a whole word had to be made up to acknowledge this particular form of racism and misogyyn: (misogynoir) a phrase coined by Moya Bailey, who created the term to address misogyny directed toward black women in American visual and popular culture - which acknowledges the specific forms of racism and misogyny directed towards black women where both their race and their gender are being targeted. Get that for your self; a whole new word had to be created to acknowledge the ways this othering system harms black women.

This got me to thinking about BULLYING BLACK WOMEN.

White Supremacy is A Bully to Black Women and we have to do the intentional work of not taking white supremacy, personally, so that we can shift our own narratives and the future of our being.

Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds…Taking things personally makes you easy prey for these predators, the black magicians. They can hook you easily with one little opinion and feed you whatever poison they want, and because you take it personally, you eat it up….

How do we not take a system serious that is so historically ingrained in the fiber of our existence that even WE participate in the perpetuation of this bullying language on a daily basis? I will acknowledge, up front, that I realize the powerful hold of a system that is already against black women, from jump. With that, it makes sense that we would "take personally" the language and realities that were created to "other" us because outside of that system there is not much for us to own. When the bully is the government, the police, the hiring manager, the education system, the church, the entertainment industry - every institution in existence... how can a black woman NOT take anything personal?

I believe this with all my heart:

  1. Know, without a shadow of a doubt that the othering language created against black women is not about us - it is about the impotence of those that created and uphold these systems. Know this. We do not have to take personally what an entire institution says. We do not have to make the agreement about our bodies, our voices, our language being wrong. We can know, with certainty, that the stakeholders in ensuring we remain small are living in a dream world that is just not true. We do NOT have to take their words personally on an intellectual or spiritual level - to the point that we perpetuate those realities within our own families and for ourselves. Let's refuse to agree with these stories any longer. When these ideas attempt to belittle us, let's quote my cousin Jay Z, "We don't believe you - you need more people."
  2. We can stop taking this bullying language personal by supporting each other in all the ways there are to support each other. I am basically saying we can refuse to take these systems and the folk that benefit in these systems (or what they think about/say about us) personally - by "creating societies within society." Yes. That's another Jay Z quote. I want us to support the work of our sister to the right and to the left soooo passionately that the "need" for approval, inclusion, or validation from these bullying systems is lessened. This seems so basic but it could be so powerful. If I shift my focus to removing myself from a codependence on these systems (which considers where I spend my money, where I spend my time, where I give my focus) and shift all of that to supporting, centering, and lifting the work of other black women - then I get to create more powerful and affirming language that we CAN make agreements with -- and that will put us in a better position to not be forced to "take personal" what white supremacy is attempting to say about us.
  3. When we create counter language and culture - we lessen the impact of the bullies voice and we increase the power of our own voices. So, I am offering that we continue to create spaces for ourselves where we center and celebrate our own authority as a result of our lived experiences, our ancestors, and the intellectual knowledge production that we have co-created. I am clear that white supremacy has, so strategically, created a "dream world" where we have previously had to remain dependent -- but what if continuing to create counter language and culture is our way to no longer take their systems of dependency personal that we have no other alternatives?

For someone reading this - these three suggestions may seem very basic. It may seem like, "Ok girl. Duh!" But for someone, perhaps this is your first time considering what it would look like for us to stop taking the words of our bullies personally and to really begin to shift our energy in more empowering directions. What could be more empowering than seeing a bully having an impact on your sister and instead of corroborating the bullies lies by "agreeing" with (perpetuating, emphasizing, enforcing) the standard -- you supported her with the fact that (1) what they're saying isn't true, (2) remind her that we support each other so here is xyz space/person/resource that you can connect with to make that happen instead of having to be beholden to that system, and (3) offer her some counter language to replace that harm done. "Sis you are amazing." "You are wonderful." "You are perfect." "You are vital." "You are necessary."

If we could take these very basic ideas and expand them into more complex realities for ourselves and our community - imagine where we could be.

Black Girls 1 - Bullies Zero

 

*While this was written with black women in mind - consider this language and these ideas for bullying in general. Instead of taking bullying personal - instead of believing the language that bullies use to harm - instead of making the agreement that whatever the bully is saying is truth - what if people, collectively, agreed that what they were saying (1) is not true, (2) supported each other in those moments by simply standing up for one another, and (3) created counter culture in those spaces that isolates bullying behavior and either forces them to join in on the new narrative or move on.

*Thinking about white supremacy as a bully was easy for me because white supremacy tricks us into believing it has more leverage than it really has when "whiteness" as an idea is artificial. It only holds power if we agree with it. There are, in fact, far more of us in marginalized positions than those in so-called "White privileged" positions - so if we (the marginalized) joined together and agreed to stop agreeing with the bully, we could be so powerful. The same goes for regular old school, every-day-life bullies. There is usually only 1 or 2 of them. Imagine if when the big bully got started trying to enforce their dream world as the truth, everyone in the school (or on the job) disagreed, refused to take it personal, and created new realities for what it would look like to share power "with" instead of power "over."

*Considering this topic from a social media perspective is simple as well. We do not have assume that the "society within society" that I'm speaking of is some physical, geographical location. We do NOT have to go to "Wakanda" to have "Wakanda." Even stepping in for each other, supporting each other, and creating counter narratives online is possible. We just have to make some new agreements and disagree with the trolls and bullies that currently run rampant. My favorite way to disempower an online bully is to |Block|Delete|Refuse to engage|Continue being black, nappy, and perfection|Repeat.

---------

EbonyJanice Moore is a womanist scholar and activist doing community-organizing work, most specifically around black women’s body ownership as a justice issue, and equal access to education and pay for women of color in the U.S. and in several African countries. She has created curriculum for leadership development for high school aged girls in Kenya and South Africa, developed programming for teenagers in housing projects in Decatur, Georgia giving them exposure to culture, STEM programs and the arts, and she teaches a bimonthly workshop on issues involving interrupting racism, individual civic responsibilities, and intersectional advocacy.

Her research interests include issues pertaining to blackness, woman-ness, and spirituality - most specifically black women's use of spirit, conjure, and/or the supernatural as a tool to impact social justice, and the pluralism of Black Christianity and the interconnectedness of the Southern Black Christian experience with Indigenous African religions and African Spirituality. EbonyJanice has a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and Political Science, and a Master of Arts in Social Change with a concentration in Spiritual Leadership, Womanist Theology, and Racial Justice. She is also a certified Body Justice Advocate and Holistic Healer. 

Find her online @ebonyjanice on Instagram, www.ebonyjanice.com, and by searching the hashtags: #TheFreePeopleProject #PreachEb #BlackGirlMixtape

P.S. I just launched an online school that is centering the intellectual authority of black women and doing the work of decolonizing authority and education called BGM Institute. It is an online education center for POC that is making education more accessible in language and in cost. The idea is that marginalized minds should be taught with us in mine. You can learn more about it at www.blackgirlmixtape.com/institute/

What I Have In Common With Jay Z & Drake: On Losing & Making a Memorable Come Back

I love Hip Hop. As a result of my love for Hip Hop - I LOVE rap beef. No matter how low emcees go - I live for it because I feel like it forces rap to upgrade itself and evolve again. Rap FREQUENTLY goes through seasons of being really lazy and boring - and emcees put little to NO effort into being great, or being witty, or really writing good rhymes. I have found that a good rap beef will force innovation. Because when somebody starts talking about what they did to your baby mama or announces to the world that "YOU ARE HIDING A SON" - you have to either kidnap their childhood pet and snapchat yourself sitting at their mama's house with it - or you have to level up so hard that it makes your opponent seem silly at the end of the day.

One of my favorite rappers of all times is Jay Z. I've never said this out loud but - Jay Z lost that rap beef with Nas years ago. He did "Takeover" (which we all know was a classic) but then Nas did "Ether" and... well... THEN END! Jay Z responded with "Super Ugly" and that was just - wrong. It was sad, actually. BUT - in the end, that loss made Jay Z better because he stopped talking about the beef / like legit just went silent / and reemerged as a better rapper, a better businessman, signed Nas a few years later to his label, and basically solidified himself as the best rapper alive over and over again with every album he has released in the last several years. Debate your mom on this fact - not me. Bye.

Then there's the recent rap beef between Pusha T and Drake. I have no energy to even recount the horror of what has happened in this rap battle but Pusha T called Drake out in a song on his latest album, Drake responded in normal, "I'm so tired of y'all coming for me as a way to sell records" Drake fashion - then Pusha T basically tore all of our "Innocent/Corny Drake" dreams to smithereens when he told the world that Drake was hiding a child in his follow up to Drake's response.

So what did Drake do, in response to this major upset?

Nothing.

He did not talk about the fact that Pusha T has had that same forever protective style that does not seem to have grown at all since "Grinding" came out when we were in high school.
He did not call Kanye out for being a petty, messy, gossiping auntie.
He did not report the drug stash that Pusha T is always rapping about to the FBI.

He just stayed silent. For weeks. As a Drake fan - as a rap fan - as a battle rap fan... It was painful to experience. But he was silent and, to be honest, I stopped holding my breath hoping for a response - which in turn, caused me to stop thinking about how bad Pusha T did that boy a few weeks earlier. Drake. Just. Stayed. Silent. And we all (for the most part) let it go.

Then yesterday, he dropped a new video to a song on his upcoming album, that was the Degrassi Reunion that everyone that loved the show Degrassi had been wanting forever. And what we are talking about is that reunion. We aren't talking about his beef anymore. We aren't even talking about Pusha T's album anymore.  

What we can learn from both Jay Z and Drake is that sometimes when you take a loss, it's better to just be quiet, take that L, regroup, create/release something new, and change the narrative.

This is what me, Drake, and Jay Z all have in common. When I take a loss I know how to take my loss with dignity. I get quiet for a minute, I regroup, I create something new, and I come back better than ever - to the point that you might forget that I just took that L a minute ago. 

Losing does not always have to be a bad thing. If you are willing to learn the lesson that the loss came to teach you, remain gracious in your loss, regroup, and start again - you have the ability to turn your loss into a huge win! We do a lot of talk about winning but we don't do enough talking about what it looks like to lose and still win. Especially for those of us that believe that ALL THINGS work together for the good... even a humbling moment of losing.

I'm interested in knowing what loss you've experienced that you learned something from in the end. Or - what loss have you experienced that you wish you would have handled differently? Send me an email to freepeople (at) thefreepeopleproject.com and share your story with me. It's actually not too late. You can still turn any "loss" into a win. 

Looking forward to hearing from you.

-ebonyjanice

------

EbonyJanice Moore is a womanist scholar and activist doing community-organizing work, most specifically around black women’s body ownership as a justice issue, and equal access to education and pay for women of color in the U.S. and in several African countries. Her research interests include issues pertaining to blackness, woman-ness, and spirituality - most specifically black women's use of spirit, conjure, and/or the supernatural as a tool to impact social justice, and the pluralism of Black Christianity and the interconnectedness of the Southern Black Christian experience with Indigenous African religions and African Spirituality. EbonyJanice has a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and Political Science, and a Master of Arts in Social Change with a concentration in Spiritual Leadership, Womanist Theology, and Racial Justice. Plus she is a Hip Hop Womanist and knows all the words to "Thuggish Ruggish Bone" and mostly wants you to be impressed by that.

For A Hip Hop Womanist That Stayed Too Long Cause She Hoped Nas Was Enough: On Storytelling & Blk Women's Body Ownership

After watching Kelis' interview, where she goes into detail about violence, drugs, and narcissism in her relationship with her ex-husband, Nasir Jones (aka Nas), I genuinely found myself weary. We have been dealing, all week, with the revelation that Kanye West isn't actually "spiraling since his mother transitioned several years ago" - this is just who he is - so the revelation that hip-hop legend and proBlack anthologist, Nas, use to get black-out drunk and fight with Kelis until she got to the point where she regularly feared for her safety - just made me feel... sad.

"There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you." - Zora Neale Hurston

Scholars such as Johnetta B. Cole and Beverly Guy-Sheftall suggest that the stories women tell bring us into the deep structure of the culture and the texture and quality of daily life. Bettina Aptheker's explanation of the central role of storytelling in every woman's life is that "women use stories in their everyday lives... as a way to do emotional work." This "emotional work" is what we saw Kelis' doing as she told a story we've never heard before. We saw her wince at certain parts. We saw her in pain at certain parts. We saw her cry at certain parts. We saw her using her words to grab hold of herself, as if telling the truth about him was actually physically causing her pain. Kelis wasn't just giving an interview. Kelis was doing the "emotional work" of telling her story.

I was always under the impression that Kelis and Nas got divorced because he had cheated on her. After watching her interview, I went back and did a search of all the interviews where Nas mentioned Kelis' name, spoke about their break up, even recalling how he put the green slip from her wedding dress on the cover of the album he released right after their divorce and I realized that Nas has been creating a narrative for years while the only mentions of Nas from Kelis in past interviews was when someone else brought him up. But her communication about him was always gracious, at the very least - so this story, though it seems to be from out of nowhere, I believe. You know why I believe this story? Because this is my story and the story of so many of my girlfriends. I recognize gaslighting and narcissism when I see it.

When my last relationship ended, my ex strung a bunch of words together about what happened and commenced to tell that story over and over again until he made everyone we knew, including himself, believe his version of our breakup story. Meanwhile, every time someone would ask me about him - about us - I would never give any details because I was so busy trying to remain gracious and protect the image that he was beholden to that I never wanted to publicly say, "That nigga basically just decided to lean into his trashness and stay there." I wanted to protect him, for some reason. I knew if I were to ever tell the truth about everything, he wouldn't recover. It was years later before I was able to finally, publicly articulate that his actions really hurt me - and my silence for all those years wasn't an admission of guilt it was what many women do... we protect someone that would throw us under the bus and put that thing in neutral, then in park, then in drive, if it meant saving their image.

This is a lesson in telling the truth. No... scratch that. This is a lesson in FINALLY telling the truth. In this case - this isn't even necessarily about Nas and Kelis or about EbonyJanice and Ole Boy. This is about cis-hetero patriarchy and stories women have stammered through, avoided, and ignored because we had hope for the sons that came from our bodies. This is about hip hop and the stories black women have stammered through, avoided, and ignored because we had hope for this culture we helped create with our bodies.

So much of our work as black feminists and womanists, particularly that of a hip hop womanist, is about black love. This belief that our lives as black people are dependent on our ability to really care for one another - and particularly for "our men" to love and protect us the way we love and protect them. Joan Morgan says, "Rap music is essential to the (black love) story because it takes us straight to the battlefield." But how you gonna be in a battlefield with a whole bunch of broken boys believing they're going to be able to manifest in whole, healthy ways? "In the interest of our emotional health and overall sanity, black women have got to learn to love brothers realistically, and that means differentiating between who they are and who we'd like them to be." - Joan Morgan

As a hip hop womanist, when I listen to rap music, despite my intense love for this culture - at times I'm frightened. I wonder, "Do these men hate women?" And then I think about the history of black women's bodies in America as property, production, reproduction, and the unique spaces of sexual violence we have endured, and I realize the implications of a group of people, who since their introduction to this soil, have never belonged to themselves - and despite my not wanting this to be the case... I really get it.

Nas can stand to be this duplicitous - hell, hip hop can stand to be this duplicitous because, despite our critical contribution to this cultural and intellectual construction - black women are not people, black women are products. Kelis was not a people. Kelis was a product. I was not a people. I was a product. If humanity, in a white supremacist society is equal to European Maleness then (and I have said this so many times before) a black woman hasn't a chance for maleness to give her any space of power over, and no chance at all for whiteness to give her any chance for power over.

In Enfleshing Freedom, M. Shawn Copeland, asks "what might it look like for black women to grapple with themselves as human subjects doing the work of liberation?" I simply wonder if that liberative work of humanizing black women might make us walk away, sooner? Love from a distance, sooner? Tell the whole story, sooner? 

O my body, make of me one who always questions. - Franz Fanon

The work of liberation was done on Kelis' behalf today when the ancestors gave her the strength to push through her fear of telling the truth. Her fear of bringing down a black man - a man that she loved dearly for too long to quantify. Her fear of being a tool of oppression. All the fears that keep us beholden to relationships that don't heal us, lift us, celebrate us, cover us, or mean us well. I know what it's like to hold on to a story for too long. I know what it's like to endure abusive behavior because you love this song too much to really listen to the words. 

"There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you."  - Zora Neale Hurston

Hip Hop. And it don't stop... But until y'all niggas get some therapy - maybe it should!

Black Women And The Absence of A Benefit Of The Doubt: I Ain't A Woman, Still?

A Black Women in Saraland, Alabama, identified as Chikesia Clemons, was wrestled to the ground by 3 white police officers, breast exposed, threatened to have her arm broken - and white people can be seen in the background of the video still eating their food. No one appears to be outraged that this is happening in this Saraland Waffle House, with the exception of Chikesia's friend who is taping the entire encounter. Even as her breast are being exposed on the filthy Waffle House floor, and as she asks repeatedly, "What did I do?" "You're not telling me what I have done wrong," none of the police officers make a point to answer her question, tell her why she is being arrested, or even, at the very least, consider her humanity and do the basic work of getting this woman off the floor in a way that is respectable and humane.

A thing I notice very often when there are viral videos of black women and girls being harmed is that someone will inevitably find a way to say, “There has to be more to this story.” There is an assumption of black women's guilt above all else. "She must have said something before the cameras started rolling." "She must have done something to deserve this treatment." We see these kinds of discussions about black women and violence in a way that we do not experience it with any group of people. There is a history to this intentional creation of black women as "angry," as "aggressors," or as "able to endure more pain than white women".

In "Black Feminist Thought," Patricia Hill Collins refers to racial and gender stereotypes of this nature as "controlling images." She writes:

As part of a generalized ideology of domination, stereotypical images of Black womanhood take on special meaning. Because the authority to define societal values is a major instrument of power, elite groups, in exercising power, manipulate ideas about Black womanhood. They do so by exploiting already existing symbols or creating new ones... These controlling images are designed to make racism, sexism, poverty, and other forms of social injustice appear to be natural, normal, and inevitable parts of everyday life.

So seeing a black woman wrestled to the ground can appear "natural," "normal," and "inevitable parts of everyday life" proven by the way white folk are in the background continuing their meals like nothing is happening. 

Melissa Harris-Perry writes that this kind of narrative is essentially a "silencing technique." She writes that "The angry black woman myth renders sisters both invisible and mute." In "Too Heavy A Yoke: Black Women and the Burden of Strength," Dr. Chanequa Walker Barnes says, (these silencing techniques) "obfuscates the real, structural causes of the economic, health, and interpersonal struggles of African American women by displacing blame onto Black women themselves."

This is abuse.

This is essentially equivalent to saying that a battered woman must have done something to deserve the abuse she received from her partner. But isn't that a product of cis-hetero patriarchal white supremacy? If we know that women's voices are silenced, in general, then just imagine the ways that a sexist AND a racist society impacts the reality of black women from day to day. Rapper, MuMu Fresh once rapped, "Being a (black) women is like being black twice." There is no maleness to protect black women the way that patriarchy affords black men some form of power over. There is no whiteness to protect black women the way whiteness affords white women some form of power over.

I think about Sojourner Truth, who was an educated woman with a great handle on language, so she likely never said these words - but of black women's inability to be treated, at the very least, with the kind of gentle handling that white women, historically receive from the world - even that of the just being offered the benefit of the doubt, I wonder "...Aint I a woman, yet?" 

 

------

EbonyJanice Moore is a womanist scholar and activist doing community-organizing work, most specifically around black women’s body ownership as a justice issue, and equal access to education and pay for women of color in the U.S. and in several African countries. Her research interests include issues pertaining to blackness, woman-ness, and spirituality - most specifically black women's use of spirit, conjure, and/or the supernatural as a tool to impact social justice, and the pluralism of Black Christianity and the interconnectedness of the Southern Black Christian experience with Indigenous African religions and African Spirituality. EbonyJanice has a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and Political Science, and a Master of Arts in Social Change with a concentration in Spiritual Leadership, Womanist Theology, and Racial Justice. Plus she knows all the words to "Thuggish Ruggish Bone" and mostly wants you to be impressed by that.

 

Who Authorized the Authorizer?

Have I mentioned that my Life/Dream Coach is a Kung Fu master - a black man from Brooklyn?
That doesn't all the way have anything to do with this post but I feel like I can't ever talk about him without acknowledging that because I feel like it's a little glimpse into who this maniacal person really is on a deeper level.

Recently I was having a conversation with my coach about how excited I was to be on the same panel and platform as Ericka Alexander (Max from Living Single) and Michaela Angela Davis. Additionally, on the same platform as Cicely Tyson and Jenifer Lewis. I told my coach that while celebrating this incredible opportunity, a friend said to me, "EbonyJanice - you deserve this. You've worked so hard. This is just the fruits of your labor." 

  Pictured: EbonyJanice, Ericka Alexander, Michaela Angela Davis

Pictured: EbonyJanice, Ericka Alexander, Michaela Angela Davis

Right then my coach interrupted me and said, "This isn't about how hard you've worked. This just belonged to you. This was preordained. It is part of your destiny." He went on to say, "Before the creation of the world, your spirit was in the eternal with the Creator(s) and you said, "I'm going to earth at this time, to do this work, in this body." And the Creator(s) said, "Ok. Just don't forget." And you said, "I won't forget." And the Creator(s) said, "Just don't forget." And you said, "I won't forget." But then you got to earth and you forgot. The reason these incredible opportunities are coming to you in such a swift abundance now is that you're finally remembering."

By this time a young thug is sobbing. "You are telling the truth. I KNOW I said that. I KNOW I said send me in this body, at this time, to do this work. I know the Most High called me to this."

What I got for myself in that conversation is no one is coming to make me more credible than I already am. Period. Before the beginning of time when the Most High spoke me into existence, They said, "Go." But I forgot. So now this portion of my life is about realizing that I am called, at this time, in this body, to do this work - because God said. The End.

So who authorizes the authorizer? I am an authority. God said it. I believe it. There is no one more qualified to call me than God - so that's settled.

---------------

My name is EbonyJanice. I create tools, inspire confidence, and provide the platform for black women to be the authority. There are so many ways for us to work together: whether it is writing and publishing a book, creating curriculum, launching a project or a product, or even creating messaging that gets you on stage to BE the authority - possibly even the Black Girl Mixtape stage during our 2018 Tour... I am here to work with you on the strategies and the campaigns that will take you from dream to manifest. Visit www.alittleselfhelpcompany.com "A Little Self Help Co" Tab to learn more about how we might be able to work together. Or use the CONTACT form to schedule a consultation. Go!

A Word on Astrology and The Christian Demonic Filter

I grew up very very Christian.

I grew up so Christian that I am the creator of the term "Christian Demonic Filter™️." <- Because that is a thing.

I grew up in the kind of Christian experience that I simultaneously appreciate (try to Bible Study battle me if you think you can out scripture me - debate your Pastor, your grandmother, and your Sunday School superintendent... not mines) and also side-eye every now and then ... (cause Ninja Turtles were NOT actually demons coming up out the sewers).

One thing that I grew up secretly believing in, despite my Christian Demonic Filter™️, was my personal astrological identity. I didn't broadcast it. I didn't talk about it publicly. But my nigga, I BEEN a Capricorn. Have you met me and my Cousin Rocky McKinney? We are Capricorns to the point that we will make you tired. Literally we will annoy you with our organization, our borderline obsession with perfection, our working ourselves too hard (and you too), and our super Red (in charge) personalities. We not tryna judge you - we just don't understand why you're not working harder (that's no shade... its real life). LOL!

 Photo is artwork by Jean Louise Pierre

Photo is artwork by Jean Louise Pierre

Just entirely too much alike.

You couldn't tell me that wasn't a thing.

Cause Cuzz... right now you reading this and thinking about me and Rocky... and you realizing... (insert Webay "realize" meme) It's a thing!

Now that I'm older and have shed a good deal of my Christian Demonic Filter™️ - I know even more about my fellow Caps and son... (smh) (heavy sigh).

Because I consider the Bible my sacred text, I'd also like to deal with the fact that denying the intentional workings of the cosmos actually seems kind of "anti-God" to me. Like really... y'all niggas honestly believe that God just tossed the stars, the moon, the sun, the planets, all those misc other galaxies and what not into the sky - knows them junks by name - and they don't have NOTHING to do with NOTHING?

Y'all gonna forget that the story of the saviors birth involved some cats following a prophecy that encouraged them to look up in the sky for a star? Or that Jesus' birthday (clearly not December 25th b/c no) is celebrated on that particular day because... "Winter. Solstice." [an astronomical phenomenon marking the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year].

All of that to say - the more I shed my CDF™️, the more I am able to consider God as much bigger and much more thoughtful (intelligent) than me (in my flesh). My "higher self" isn't learning anything new... just remembering (unlearning). The greatest lesson I have gotten from my unlearning is that God is so big. And making the assumption that I have exclusive knowing of the Most High is arrogant and (I would say) sinful. It's raining diamonds on Uranus. ITS RAINING DIAMONDS ON URANUS.

Lol!

God is so big. We don't even have a clue. It would serve us to ask for the mysteries to be revealed and to stop demonizing EVERYTHING we don't understand... b/c it's raining diamonds on Uranus. I don't even know how to close this other than saying... God is so big. Cause God is so big.

2017 Was a LITuation: A Recap & A 2018 Declaration

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 4.25.25 PM.png

I am not the kind of person that counters people's claims with my own claims as a way of minimizing other people's experiences as credible. So when y'all say, "2017 was a really sucky year" I'm over here like, "Dang. Word? I'm sorry to hear that, Cousins." In addition to my head scratching about why 2017 was so horrible for so many people, I feel a great deal of compassion and empathy because y'alls 2017 sounds like my 2011. For those of you that have been following me for any number of years, months, weeks, minutes... you know I talk often about how BOOTY WACK 2011 was. So I get it. If you say your 2017 sucked... I believe you.

However, while I genuinely and sincerely hate that 2017 was trash for so many of you - my 2017 was LITerally a whole come up. Here I will share with you the highlights of my year and at the end I will tell you what I KNOW for sure about 2018!

January 2017: I moved back to the Bay Area for a second semester in high residency in grad school. It was a super faith move because I didn't have any money and hadn't secured a place. I was going to be staying with a girlfriend of mine for a few weeks but I needed to come up on a place to live fast.

In the meantime, I turned 34 on the 16th of the month. My birthday was incredible. And despite the fact that I was 27 seconds away from homelessness... all was good.

 EbonyJanice (me) in San Francisco on my 34th Birthday! Had JUST left the spa. Good good times! (Photo by Danee Black)

EbonyJanice (me) in San Francisco on my 34th Birthday! Had JUST left the spa.
Good good times! (Photo by Danee Black)

February 2017: I emailed someone that I had randomly been put in contact with a few months earlier about housing and was informed that they did have a one bedroom available for a Bay Area steal. I say Bay Area steal because $1317 for a one bedroom is not a steal in most places on the planet... but my fully furnished 1 bedroom apartment DIRECTLY next door to my school (where I also worked) and 1 block away from my gym, UC Berkeley's campus, and a bunch of shops and restaurants... Steal!

March 2017: I moved into my new apartment and only slept there for a few days before I traveled to Southern California (with a travel scholarship from the American Academy of Religion Western Region) to present my paper on "Beyonce's Lemonade as An Old School Testimony Service." This was HUGE for me. Not only was it an incredible honor - this opportunity also confirmed for me that my academic career isn't a fluke and I'm not a fraud (this is a thing that many black women in academia struggle through - I'm not making this up). From the AAR Wester Region paper presentation I flew out to DC to participate in another week long education experience and got to see my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins for a day before I headed back to class in Berkeley, California.

April 2017: I started getting coaching from a new coach. Its the most I've ever paid for coaching but when I say my coach has forced me to LEVEL UP... the following months turn up is going to prove my point!

May 2017: I launched my What Would Erykah Badu project. The reality is, I had this idea for 4 years just sitting in a file on my desktop. Chilling. I was scared to do anything with so many of my ideas but I knew I just needed to leap. So I did. I'll share another blog later this week about how I launched this project with less than $20 and 6 presale orders.

June 2017: Erykah Badu liked 3 of my #WhatWouldErykahBadu posts. The bodysuit was still in presale status at that point. Then she commented on two more posts a few minutes later. That night I went to sleep excited that Erkyah had seen my post and was excited about them. When I woke up at 3am to go to the restroom I had received 78 orders, 250+ new followers on Instagram, and 100's of likes and tags in a post (that I thought was my post because it was my picture) but it turns out it was Erykah Badu that had reposted my photo and my friends (SQUAAAD) were tagging me under all the comments of people asking where they could get my bodysuit.

image1.png

July 2017: It was time to deliver on my product. I had over 150 orders (preorder status) so I decided to expand the project from just the red bodysuit to a maroon, white, and blue bodysuit. There were MANY technical difficulties (which I'll talk more about in a later blog post as well) but I was so committed to integrity and exceptional customer service that I was able to pull off getting all of my orders out, with several reorders when the new colors dropped. 

August 2017: I released a tshirt and tank dress version of the What Would Erykah Badu project and the sales continued to come in. I mean, we did great numbers with the #BeyonceKnows project but Erkyah posting the bodysuit affirmed this project on a whole new level. 

Another really dope thing that I did was ghost wrote a book for a dear friend. I love helping people write books. I think it is part of my ministry to make book writing and book publishing less scary and tedious. You have a story - you have a book! But I especially loved helping this particular person write a book because he NEVER imagined himself being an author. Now look at him. His ideas, thoughts, and encouragements are a whole book. That's pretty dope.

August was kind of book heavy for me because I also collaborated with this incredible ministry to publish a curriculum for their nonprofit. As I type this, in this very moment, I can agree with you - I be doing TOO much. But the workbook is incredible and I'd be very honored if you'd take a moment to learn more about FAILSAFE-ERA.

I returned to the Bay Area (I was in the SouthEast for the summer), moved back into my apartment (the rent went up to $1385) and began to prepare for a full courseload PLUS my first teaching job, as I was going to be teaching "Black Girl Magic: An Introduction to the African Spirit Religions, Southern Black Christianity, and Black Spirit Themes in Beyonce's Lemonade" course that I created for a teaching fellowship opportunity I got through my school.

September 2017: My class was going AMAZING. You can search the #BeyonceSpiritJustice hashtag on Twitter to follow the class discussion from week to week between myself and my students. Additionally, I released a long sleeve What Would Erykah Badu tshirt and y'all loved that jawn too! Growing my business while being in school full time and teaching became much easier as I increased my meditation practice. Nameste and ish.

October 2017: I realized that I wanted to release more merch so I dropped the Marcus Garvey Was Right sweatshirt and the Protect Black Women sweatshirt. A percentage of all proceeds of all sales goes towards the tuition of high school aged girls in Nyahururu, Kenya. We did so much in 2017, at this point, that the school administrator reached out to me and asked if I would consider allowing them to allocate some of those funds to building a fence to secure the entire school's property. (Of note: THIS might be the thing that makes me most proud because I know first hand how unsafe that property can be).

One thing I'm MOST proud of is that I launched my dream project, Black Girl Mixtape. It was a dream. I wrote the vision. I gathered a small team of brilliant black women. We came up with a plan. Black Girl Mixtape Bay Area was a HUGE success. You can learn more about Black Girl Mixtape HERE.

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 5.11.01 PM.png

November 2017: I learned that my paper proposal for American Academy of Religion Western Region was accepted for the second year in a row and that I would be presenting in the Spring of 2018 on the topic of Hip Hop Womanism from the perspective of Black Girl Rituals. Son! My dream of talking about hip hop in a serious way and eventually getting paid for it is getting closer and closer.

Also, November 2017 I went to AfroTech! INCREDIBLE. You'll hear MUCH more about this experience in blog posts, podcasts, youtube videos, and with the launch of an INCREDIBLE new business venture in 2018. But in the meantime... shoutout to the really dope black techies that I met in San Francisco. I will never be the same.

Additionally, in November of 2017 I was the keynote speaker at a conference for Boys and Girl Club of San Francisco. I got to talk about hip hop, social justice work, and the bible and they paid me to come cut up like that. THIS IS THE LIFE! Afterwards I met some incredible people and randomly got to facetime with Kimmie G - one of Beyonce's lead dancers. I'm a stan. Deal.

And in November of 2017 I hosted a really dope music ethnography workshop on Hip Hop Womanism. This workshop is coming to your heart and your city soon. So stay alert!

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 5.16.57 PM.png

December 2017: I finished my coursework for my Masters of Art in Social Change degree, received incredible affirmation from my grad school advisor, Dr. Gabriella Lettini, regarding the work that I am doing and the work that I want to do. 

I launched my Tweet Sway campaign - which is where I tweet @realSway every single day a #PreachEb in an attempt to gain the attention of people documenting hip hop in a serious way so that we can discuss Hip Hop womanism in a serious way. Sway and I haven't talked yet but I KNOW 2018 is the year that #PreachEb becomes everything she was created to be. 2017 was all about getting this consistent, credible content prepped for such a time as this.

My dad flew to the Bay and drove back with me to the east. We stopped at the Grand Canyon. SON! There are no words. This was on my bucket list. To drive across country and see the Grand Canyon. I am so proud of myself for making this happen. The Grand Canyon is too much. My heart almost exploded when I first saw her. Just wow!

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 5.21.16 PM.png

After the Grand Canyon we stopped in Dallas and spent a day with my Uncle. I love him so much. I'm so glad we got to see him. The stories him and my dad told me about my grandmother also gave my heart so much joy. When we left Dallas, we stopped for about an hour in Meridian, Mississippi (which is where my dad is from - also this is where Big KRIT is from LOL). No one knew we were coming we were just hoping that we'd see my Uncle. As we were pulling up to park my uncle was pulling up to park. PERFECT TIMING. It was incredible seeing him. Talking to him about my grandfather and my grandmother also made my heart smile.

Also in December of 2017 I launched an entirely new brand: Belle Noire Everything. Well actually - it existed and has existed in various iterations for years but its back and I'm excited about creating some fun projects with that brand in 2018 as well. This is a highlight because I had some insecurity about launching a brand totally separate from the work I do with The Free People Project but then I thought about it and did the work to come to the conclusion that I Am A Mogul! Period. And I'm excited about creating from that place instead of the low vibrational spaces of, "Is this okay?" "Are people going to accept this?" Nah... I'm a Mogul! This is dope. Selah! 

So yeah... I'm missing some stuff. Everything wasn't perfection but I came, I saw, I conquered. More than anything I'm looking to ESTABLISH a thing in 2018. Between the work I do with The Free People Project (A Little Self Help Company, Hip Hop Womanist, Black Girl Mixtape) and my mission to become a mogul... I also intend to do the work to manifest my best love in 2018. <- That work is a whole other blog post for a whole other day.

But now you have so much to look forward to. In this one blog post I have promised you 3 other blog posts. I'm committed to sharing the most high-quality content with you in 2018 onward. I want you to know how I maneuvered the awkward solar energy shifts of 2017 and still came out victorious, despite and inspite of myself and the calamities that certainly tried to take me under. The relaunch of my youtube channel and the launch of my podcast: "RAP THEOLOGY" along with the release of my book with Nikki Blak, "Halos on Afros: Radical Black Feminist and Womanist Thoughts on the Divine" and my new book, "Aint I A Hip Hop Womanist Too" - plus Black Girl Mixtape is going on tour... likely to a city near you! Ayyyyyye!

2018. The Year To Establish. See you in the glory. 

Your link text