Friday, April 7, 2017

A Daily Dose of Black Love & Black Resiliency






A Daily Dose of Black Love & Black Resiliency 

On Wednesday, one of my father’s dearest friends, a man I have known my entire life, made his transition and became an ancestor. I have been reflecting on what 'Mr. Papsy' as we all called him meant to me, my family and my community. He was a part of every special childhood moment. He was one of our family Sunday stops.


Daddy and Mr. Papsy were members of the Banda de Bomberos de Colon. This space was not only a space of pride for my father and Mr. Papsy but also for my entire family. When they marched through the streets of Colon, they were a visual of grace and pride for the entire city. We stood with pride, our hearts full while we marched along to that special drum beat. You heard that beat and you dropped everything you were doing to take this moment in. Oh, how I miss those days. 

Mr. Papsy's transition also took me down another reflective path of the good that came from growing up in a segregated Black community, Rainbow City and a majority Black community, the Province of Colon. I saw a daily dose of men and women like Mr. Papsy.  It started with my immediate family. Every time I walked out of my home, I saw an extension of that love, that resiliency and that pride. We did not feel we were missing anything and we moved in that way. With all that was coming at us, we thought and moved like we were the Sh…..:)

Recently when I was home I sat with Mr. Reece, another man I have known my entire life. He is also a visual of strength and pride. He is a retired Fire Fighter. When Mr. Reece and the Fire Department came to do Sparky presentations at school, you could not tell me anything. I knew all these men personally either through my parents or my friends. Sitting with Mr. Reece, hearing his stories about segregation, about the things these elders went through and the things that I will continue shedding light on, was a reminder of the depth of that daily dose of Black Love and Black Resiliency.

When elders in my community, who have been friends of my family, and pillars in our community pass away, it affects all of us. This is not extended family as I have had to explain in the US. This is family. Mr. Patsy is familia. 

Visuals of my father's face when he sees folks from his segregated community of Gatun are present today. Visuals of seeing elders who I have known my entire life like Mrs. Yearwood are present today. How that visual makes you heart full is what I am sitting with as I share this reflection. Visuals of my people in Colon, walking in the streets with pep in their step after years of being knocked down yet they keep getting up, fills me with joy.

I have always said that I knew I could be anything, do anything I set my mind to because I saw it done by these men and women who I now have come to learn went through way more than I thought. It is for that reason that I have begun building a Reparations case on behalf of this very community.

Segregation in Panama prepared me to rise up Black and proud every day. I give thanks to Mr. Papsy for being there for me, for my family and for my community. May the ancestors receive him with an extra special drum beat.  I give thanks to all who were a part of that daily dose of Black Love and Black Resiliency. I sit writing with a smile honoring the many visuals, sounds and feelings that come to mind. I hope you can see and feel some of it through my words. If you do, you will know why I will forever call this place Home. Home is where the heart is and today it is in the nurturing waters, the joyous sounds, the vibrant colors, the delicious smells and the beautiful faces of Colon. 

May Mr. Papsy rest in light and peace. I send an extra tight hug to Daddy for I know this one will land hard on him. That was his buddy, his Hermano. I send a tight hug to his family and to all the Bomberos de Colon. 

May we continue rising on the side of that daily dose of Black Love and Black Resiliency. May we never forget it.  May we lean on it every day as a reminder that, Si se Puede/Yes We Can. 
I rise up today thankful for that daily dose of black love and black resiliency. Feeling blessed that I sat before these elders, I move with this unconditional love that I was born into.  I rise up today wanting to hug those who are on the receiving end of this unbreakable love that hugs me. This love is the definition of, I got your back. This is how we roll, this is how I roll.

Ready for another day, I rise up as a proud Rainbow City girl, a Colonense full of Love. Forever C3!


In love and light,
Yvette 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

More Sweetness In Life




More Sweetness In Life

I closed out 2016 doing things I love, sharing space with people I love. I fell asleep on the New Year smiling at this unplanned joy that showed up bright and full of, I am ready, let's do this. 

New Year means a new you but I arrived at a few places in 2016 that allowed the full me to show up and I am taking that person with me into 2017. That person is unapologetically African, Black, Pan African and in love with that light.

That clarity will show up in the continued work of Encuentro Diaspora Afro. We will keep doing it our way which is, embracing our Africanness. That clarity will allow us to keep finding new ways to share that love with our community.  We will share this sweetness in life in more intentional ways with the hope of bringing those along who still ask the question, Am I Black? Am I an Afro descendant?

The clarity I stand with today in the knowing my strengths and my weaknesses grounds me in the light of keep growing, keep learning  and keep loving with the intention of bringing more sweetness in life. 

This is not absent of struggle. It is in the absolute knowing that struggle will be present yet placing the intention of an outcome that allows us, me, to keep moving forward.

This also takes courage. Courage to say, I know it’s coming but I will find a way out or through. This will translate for Encuentro Diaspora Afro as we will keep rising by any means necessary. For me, I refuse to feel defeated. 

The work we do, I do, and the work I have dedicated my life to do is built on love. I don't want to ever forget that. I look to this New Year to show it, speak it, write it, dance it, cry with it, feel with it and share it with you in an unapologetic way. This is who we are! This is who I am and in the righteous light I stand with today and this is who you will see in 2017. So Happy New Year familia! Let the sweetness begin! 


Here is the song we are singing as we welcome more sweetness in 2017


Peace, Love and Light,

Yvette 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

SINGING HIS SONG



As we close out another Women’s history month I am going to do what I have done for years in writing this blog, speaking from the heart and making the deeper connection to how it has shaped my identity as a Black Woman.

Grounding myself in the wisdom that I continue to gather on this journey, I have found a deeper understanding of the messages I received in my home and in my community and the lasting impact it has had on me.

One the strongest voices and presence in my life is my father who I still call ‘Daddy.’ Daddy recently fell ill and it took me down this thought process of the role he plays in my life and the fact that I am the woman I am today because of my mother and all the women in my family and my community who shaped me but all along the way the consistence presence to be who I am in the way I feel best, has been this loving man.
I have been thinking about a few of things that stand out in thinking about the woman, the activist the poet I am today and how he has supported and loved me unconditionally throughout.

Michele, Felix and I heard ‘I love you’ in our home and he showed us every chance he had. I realize that that simple act helps me recognize what it looks like and sounds like and when it does not come in that way, however late I take to listen to the whispers, I will get up and walk away.

Daddy allowed me to make mistakes and learn from them without judgment. I can always go back to him to process and speak of the lessons learned. The comfort I have engaging him as a male is the comfort I take with me in my relationships with other men in my life. I was blessed to have this kind of relationship with my uncles and my coach. My motto has been, ‘if I can say it to him then I can say it to you.’
He gave me room to be free and to explore. I drove him crazy as a child because I always had the why question. As an adult he has done the same as he supports my commitment to this journey and has joined me.

Reflecting on my love for my father I arrived at two major points. Daddy kept his promise. He made a promise to my mother when she passed that we would continue being a priority and he did every step of the way. They say behind every man there is a strong woman. Today I stand with great clarity and pride and say, next to this woman is this amazing man whose love has been a guiding force to her grounding identity as a Black Woman. 

Daddy has joined me on this journey by sharing stories that we can take in and understand better today. It brings up a level of pain and resiliency that builds more admiration for this man that became a widower in his early 40’s and raised three kids. It is in these moments that I realize I am telling my families story, my father’s story. We have taken trips to locations where specific incidents happened. This makes speaking truth bigger than me. 

He now calls me when he sees racism or discrimination and tells me about it. He opens by saying, I have a Black Folks story J

I know he is proud of me which has given me the space to say, Daddy is here with me, every step of the way.  I move with a Fearless light when I sing that song. 

I love my skin, my hair, my community, and my people because my father celebrated and loved All unconditionally. 

I write this blog with profound love saying, I am a Daddy’s girl. My sister can also sing the same song.  I share with no reservation that the man that stands close to me, the man I lean on the most on this journey of Blackness is my father.

Today I celebrate all the women warriors who keep doing it their way, much Love and Admiration. 

Today I celebrate the man who supports me doing it my way. Today I dedicate this song to you. Thank you Daddy for all you have done and continue to do. Thank you for validating these words for me, Our Black Is Beautiful.  

Peace and Light,
Yvette


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Mirroring a Grounding Light






Mirroring a Grounding Light

Happy New Year familia!!

Moving with the energy of the recent 125th birthday of Zora Neale Hurston, I went back to read her words and to reflect back on my guiding word of 2015, Fearless. Encuentro Diaspora Afro and I mirrored each other throughout the year and began this New Year with a new word, Grounded.

As I sit here to write my first reflection of the year, I also look back at my posting from last year. I wrote less. Not because I did not have things to say but because I had so much to say and it was not enough to write about it. I had to act on it. I needed movement, like marching in the streets. I needed dance to release the fear and the pain. I needed singing to regain the joy.  

Encuentro Diaspora Afro and I entered many spaces that brought us closer to synchronizing the voice and the light that has guided us diligently on this journey. 

I came out the gate (the track athlete still lives within) of 2016 saying, this is who we are and this is what we bring to the table. We have learned so much and look forward to learning more. We stand here today comfortable in our position and in our skin. We felt pain and love simultaneously throughout and know that this is inevitable in the world we are currently living in. 

We are still on the search to have us; people of African descent, see each other with our crowns, hoping that we can make the deeper connection. That connection would bring us to say, no matter where we landed, we are still connected and many of the things that we hold on to so tightly to create separation were imposed on us and we need to look beyond.

I have learned through the spaces that Encuentro Diaspora Afro continues to create and through the spaces that I have entered, that clarity of our identity is Key to our survival and our movement in this chaotic world that keeps showing us that Black Lives does not Matter.

When we embrace the song, WE DO MATTER, then with clarity, dignity and the righteousness that guides us we say even louder, BLACK LIVES MATTER. 

Throughout the year Encuentro Diaspora Afro raised its voice saying we are people of African descent and Black Lives Matter.

Yvette raised her voice to say, I am proud to move in this skin and determined to let it shine above all the hate. I am a black woman and that comes with a lot and I say to you, Black girls/ Black Women Matter. You can talk about our body in degrading ways but we hold strong knowing, OUR BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL.

Pain teaches you resiliency, Love teaches hope and simplicity. Encuentro Diaspora Afro will not apologize for being Afro descendant centered and Yvette will not apologize for being African centered. 
We have both gotten older and wiser and know that we still have more to learn yet being rooted in this message keeps us reaching for more. 

Someone asked me recently how do you separate EDA and Yvette? I have learned that I can in some ways but in many ways I cannot because it started from the pain and love that was seen externally and felt internally and it is that pain and love that has kept us standing. Love has won the battle. Love for my people, my community and a deeper understanding of love for myself as a Black Panamanian Immigrant woman. 

In the spirit of Queen Zora Neal Hurston we will not apologize for this righteousness that has arrived at our door step. Being honest with ourselves we reach a place of acceptance.

We stand looking in the mirror, grounded in that light that has guided us, smiling at each other saying, We are going to be All right!

Peace, Light and Love,
Yvette