The room was brimming with black women;
Each one buzzing slightly in her place.
Karen Seneferu began the meeting by providing the women with a context on The Black Woman Is God project and exhibit, which is to create space in institutions for Black women artists, bring the community into the institutions as forms of healing, and bring the institutions into the community as cultural exchange.
“This could be a global platform for us.” - Zakiya Harris
Karen introduced some of her main co-coordinators in this project, each of whom made their own individual pitch for participants to join their team, which included fundraising, documentation, marketing, design, and community partnerships, to name a few.
“I am one of the project documentarians responsible for creating a mini-documentary of the process and the exhibition. I am also working on a feature, radio feature. That will be for Women’s Month on KPFA radio.” - Idris Hassan
After the co-coordinators spoke, the artists went around in a circle introducing themselves briefly. However, in a room full of black women, they quickly realized this was not naturally feasible. They laughed as they decided the need to have a timekeeper to enforce a one-minute speaking rule. Still, amongst and despite this humor, enormous amounts of respect was given to elders, allowing them to speak at length because their breath was valued. Young voices and spirits quickly expressed their excitement and honor to be a part of the project as well as their aspirations. It was divine that many of their dreams and goals reflected the life paths these elders had already taken, and so they were all in this room for the same reason.
Here is a sampling of just a few introductions:
“I’m here to do all the things I could never do at the university.”
- Tahora Pitman
“Mama Karen has been very influential on my journey to womanhood. [I’m working to] really reaffirming in these young girls, most of which will be African-American and Latina women of color, that the Black Woman and that women are God. We are born with all our eggs. We have everything we need from the gate.” - Jazz Monique Hudson
“Right now I’ve been thinking a lot about cosmic mirroring and mirroring people who are the same path as you. I’m figuring out ways in which that can help us inform what we should be doing with our own lives, talents and expressions. Specifically for people of color and talking about their interactions with Spirit, capturing Spirit, visualizing the Spirit, seeing the Spirit.” - Yetunde
“I’ve been thinking a lot about imagination.I’m really excited to hear what Black Women will say when the have the freedom to say what is deep in their hearts and not feel censored.” - Kris Evans
“I’ve been collecting Black Women’s stories for about a year and a half related work. Speaking of spirit, that is the only reason why I am here, no doubt about it. For all obstructions in my path, I shouldn’t be in this room. So thank you.” - Precious Stroud
“I am a messenger of the African Diaspora. I know there was a time when our ancestors came together and they prayed for us to be right here.” - Collette Helluja
These introductions affected me greatly. I practiced how I would introduce myself at least three times and when my turn finally came I forgot everything I intended on saying. Rather, I explained that this project would be a part of my thesis and my aspirations as a writer, educator and healer. I called for elders and queer or trans* identified people to reach out to me as I wanted to represent them and share their intersectional stories.
The meeting ended with a prayer. Sister Zakiya led us all as we held hands and lowered our gaze. She manifested the future of our efforts as a coalition working to represent The Black Woman As God and reminded us why we had all come to this gathering, what had brought us here.
“Everybody take a deep breath in. Exhale out. Again. Exhale out. Last time, breathe in. Exhale out with a sigh. Ahhhh. Releasing. Knowing that the first being that walked on this planet came in each and every one of our image. We are the absolute beginning; there will be no end that we are not a part of. We are standing on the shoulder of all of our ancestors who have prayed this exact moment into existence. We know just by the fact we are touching and agreeing that this project is already done; this project is already blessed. Yes. Not only have our ancestors blessed this, the orishas have blessed this, the spirit guides have blessed this, the fire has blessed this, the wind has blessed this, the water has blessed this, the plant-animals, our star brothers and sisters, each and every part of the cosmos.
We are holding this creative power in our wombs, as black women, understanding that we are in the midst of the greatest shift that we have ever realized on the planet. The healing, it will be ushered in by black women, but not black women that are shouldering the burdens of humanity but heal them as we heal ourselves, by holding one another and looking each other in the eye, bringing our gifts together like never before, in complete, unapologetic, boldness. So we seal this knowing that it is already done, knowing that there is no way all of these women could not gather in this room and there not be ripples that will be felt throughout the area, this country, throughout the world. Mhmm! Our sisters all around the world are feeling our presence. We are heading a call that came from deep within our wombs; each and every one of us was called forward and we looked up and found each other. We will continue to find our sisters and our brothers; knowing that we are the ones we have been waiting for. Ase!”
The room burst into cheers and hoots. Someone screamed “Who is the Black Woman?” and the crowd responded vibrantly “GOD”, three times in row and we laughed it to a close.