Born day month. It is all about celebrating another run around the sun. I do this in one of my favorite places, the Inkwell, Martha’s Vineyard. For the past five years, I retreat in the space surrounded by water and be. I love it!
I was still on my Nubian Butterfly high in June. It was a regrouping time yet holding on to that light that showers me when I am home.
July 25th is the anniversary of my mother´s transition. It is also the Afro Latin American Diaspora Women’s Day. A day to celebrate women of African descent that came about in 1992 at the first gathering of the Red de Mujeres Afrolatinoamericanas, Afrocaribeñas y de la Diaspora of which I am the Diaspora Coordinator.
The day is always with emotion. I feel my mothers presence in the most loving way on this day. It’s like she intentionally shows up for us to celebrate her with funny stories and wonderful memories. It’s funny that my sister, brother I rarely share the same story.
Celebrating women of African descent feels right on this day because I start with the one that birthed me.
For the 4th time in Boston we celebrated the day with a Boston City Council resolution. It is a day of acknowledgement, truth and love. The first one was done by Chuck. The second one was led by then City Councilor Tito Jackson with full Council support. The third was led by Councilor Janey and this year was Council President Andrea Campbell. Every year keeps getting better and better. Wilnelia Rivera was our keynote this year. Hermana nailed it!
The day started in Boston years back when no one knew the term or what it meant. I was showing up everywhere speaking on it. I was ignored, dismissed, isolated on many ways for speaking this truth then and still to some extent today.
This year one of our speakers was now elected City Councilor at Large Julia Mejia who is the first Latina, Afro Latina on the council. How far we have come! Now the term is known, feared and less and seen more. It has become fashionable to many and those of us who don’t have the option to come in and out, it is our daily affirmation.
It is deeply appropriate that my Loc anniversary lands on this same day.
Check out my reflection, My Antenna: Loc journey. It has been a journey of grounding self, spirit, thought and movement. It speaks to me, guides and me and even disrupts my own missteps.
Those who know me know that everything feels complete when I am home. My Panamanian spirit is always present. I move with that light, I think with that light, I love with that light. To go home and share the adult that I am today, the poet, the activist, the storyteller, the woman I am made for some soul tapping moments.
I was invited to be a part of the Etnia Negra, Africa en America events. My poetry book, Nubian Butterfly: The Transformation of a Soulful Heart was released. My book is dedicated to my dad and although he could not make the events, he was with me every step of the way. All my soul kept saying was, they see me at home!
Another high and grounding moment was my alone time in Portobelo. This space lifts it all. To share with my Portobelo family grounds me in a love that is difficult to describe. This has become a must when I am home. This is my #SacredSpace
I don’t think I can find the words to describe what it felt like to share with students at the university, to share space with those who I admire and who inspire. In a short space of time, I shared the Unapologetic Black woman I have become with the love and guidance and those in Boston and those around the country with those who feed and inspire my every move. The journey and all the sacrifices that came with it, felt complete.
Here are a few of my journal entries throughout the trip.
May 30th- The official day at home. I closed out this special time at home walking in the streets of my home town, the city that shaped, the city that taught me Black resiliency. To do holding the Rastafari flag with the Rastafari community was extra, extra special.
May 28th - Sharing my #poetry with students, listening to their poems and spending time with the future generations of #poets and #activist was a highlight during this special trip. The future is in good hands. 🙂
May 26- My love affair with these streets, these beautiful #Africans, #BlackLoving people, runs deep. Every moment about today is why I will continue raising its name up high. It’s not the visual that makes it, it’s the heartbeat of an unbreakable soul. Thank you to Tío Nini, Sistren Fyah Love and the Rastafarian community for making this day extra special. Proud to walk with you.
I will return to Boston with a reminder of what keeps me Rising Up above it all and the deep love that I come from. I am and will continue to be because they Are. One Love
May 21st- On the eve of the release of this project of #love and #transformation, I give thanks to those whose shoulders I stand on. Thanks to my father, sister and brother for their ongoing support. Gracias, to Sr. Luis for believing in my words and putting this together. Marlon, for the beautiful cover. Gracias to Gustavo for the back cover. To my mentor, the man who fought for Black History Month, Gracias Sr. Claral Richards. To Mr. Winston, thank you for believing in me. To Usha Mayani and David Cabrera, this could not have finished without your support. To my friends and supportive circle, thank you.
My soulful heartbeat is in these pages. I look forward to sharing more about this journey tomorrow. I can’t find the word that best describes what it means to have it released at home. #love #light #transformation
MAY 21st - Her support and patience made this possible. This is our first in person meeting. She is everything she has been throughout this process, a true genuinely kind spirit. Gracias Zinnia! The book is beautiful! #journey #transformation #poetry #poesia #expression
On my return on May 28th I wrote this - On my way back to Boston. I will do my best to hold on to the loving and uplifting energy of my family, this sisterhood that feeds the spirit while leaning on the supportive energy of those who join me on this journey. Corazón contento! #MiTierra #heartbeat
Miren esta belleza! #Panama- Memoria: Festival Africa en America. Felicidades Alexandra Schjelderup por los cuatro años del festival y por esta bella memoria. Gracias por incluirme, no solo en el libro, pero también mi voz como activista y poeta Panameña. Link para ver el libro completo. https://issuu.com/jehanshanel/docs/maea_ff__interactive_
was an uplifting month. Hanging out in Harlem with two of my favorite people in
the world was priceless. Paola, Lidice and I walked around and took it all the
black love in the space. We spent time at the Schoomburg Library and had a
delicious southern meal for lunch. We were in NY for the 63rd
Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.
would be another collaborating year with Sistren Imani who always includes the
voice of black women from Latin America and the Caribbean. Our panel was
called, Reckoning: The Visible Invisibility of Global African Women.
year we had our new RMAAD General Coordinator my dear hermana Paola, our
Central American coordinator, my dear hermana Lidice and our fearless Brazilian
coordinator who on the main floor the day before called out the Brazilian
government for having a role in the murder of Marielle Franco. It was powerful!
We shared our truth which left folks in awe of a truth they did not know of.
also placed in my space that always confirms the importance of our work. For
the past few years I do an ‘Unmasking identity’ training with the young women
of the CHICA project. We always laugh, cry and leave grounded in the freedom to
embrace our full identity. It keeps getting better! Looking forward to next
was a month of balance. The first event of the month was about love and arts.
Bunker Hill Community College had an event celebrating my poetic mentor, Baba
have been blessed to follow Baba Askia around, sit with him and learn about his
scholar activist and poetic journey. He has shaped the way I approach poetry. I
was honored to share this out loud with others as we celebrated him. It was
truly a treat to read to him and to share the impact he has had on me that goes
you Baba Askia for all that you do and for taking the time to share your wisdom
month ended with what I am calling, ‘Renaming the Narrative’ moment. I was
invited to be the Keynote speaker at Harvard University’s Afro Dominican
Association Inaugural event, “Afro-Latinidad: Exploring African Heritage in
the first time with great intention I spoke publicly or distancing myself from
using the term, Afro-Latina. I have arrived at this place after many years
wanting to be seen in a space that would never see me because it leans on
whiteness and highlights white supremacy. I know why I will use it politically
and when I will use it but it is not the term that best describes my journey or
who I am as an individual. I posed it as a question and a challenge to other
speakers, How many of you can say, Black, Negro, African and not hyphenate it? Many
had to pause and reflect on the question. By posing the question and thinking
about it, then you can move closer to answering the question, what table am I
working to be invited to and why?
was wonderful to share the space with many of the younger voices of the
movement. I left grounded in my ‘unapologetically black’ light and hopeful for
the future of the movement.
is a wonderful piece written by one of the presenters at the conference and one
of the reasons I am very hopeful that our truth will be told. Gracias Janel!