Friday, September 10, 2021

To Be Seen

Blackness Rising! Greetings familia, hope everyone is well and in good spirits. 

I have been keeping my reflections close to the heart but in these times of many uncertainties, I felt that this reflection was one to share. 

To Be Seen may sound simple. I have been meditating on that statement for weeks. Part of the reason for sharing this reflection is, my spirit needing to extend the vibration of what happens when you are in that moment. The definition I am moving with, ‘The feeling that the person is fully present in your exchange and nothing will distract that vibe.’

During my recent time home, I was reminded of this soulful act. That feeling that you are, as a friend says, ‘tapped into’ the person in front of you. That feeling that you are not alone and your light is being received.

While speaking to an elder, I thought he was staring. I quickly checked myself when I realized he was not.  What he was doing was being fully present.  His eyes said, I hear you, I see you and I am here with you. That grounding act is not the norm in today’s society. I felt my soul exhale. It felt familiar in the most joyous way. 

The invisibility in Babylon is real. We are in a perpetual state of fighting for our lives. I fight to be seen as a black woman, a Panamanian, a ‘Latina’, a smart and capable black woman, an educated black woman, an engaging Immigrant, a dedicated worker, an athlete, an artist, a dancer, a loyal lover, a committed activist. This is just a short list. The fight becomes, as Maman Joyce put it, “being accepted and seen as a Being.”

My time at home served many purposes. It gave me what I needed and more. It mirrored back to me what I know best and how my soul moves when everything, body, soul, mind, spirit, heart, and movement is synchronized. 

I walked away marinating in this thought, ‘What a beautiful thing when our minds are not distracted and we can be fully present.’ When it happened the second time I said to myself, I want to do that more often. I understand and know love because of that truth. I give thanks for the reminder. 

Another exhaling moment came while spending time in Portobelo with my dear friends Soledad, Tattu and Gustavo, I shared my new HairStory Project initiative, #MyCrownSpeaks. While painting with Gustavo, Tattu went to create this painting that speaks to his interpretation of My Crown and the project. Once again, I felt seen and heard in the most loving way. To be seen on canvas, landed on the heart. The painting will now be the logo for the project. 

The other truth in this reflection is, A few weeks of not having to explain why I am black and speak Spanish is good for EVERYTHING. Oh Colon, you are my spirit's sacred place. This is one of the many reasons I call you home.

I know I have had these moments with my intimate circle, my family, my Black Soulful village and I didn’t appreciate it enough. I am glad that these reminders allow me to pause and reflect. To all those who stand with me and hold me up I say, thank you. I appreciate you.

Multitasking is a must in today’s world. Yet, my wish is to practice this act of being fully present both in my personal life and professional spaces every chance I get, with the hope of creating more moments for my soul to exhale. 

The sweetest truth of this vibration while we continue to wear masks to protect ourselves and our community is, the eyes tell a beautiful story. 

With this soulful reminder comes a reenergized spirit, a grounding soul and an awareness to hold onto my light as best I can. The other is to pause more often to see all of you.

I think all our souls need that moment, that moment when you are seen and you see the fullness of others.

To all who have taken the time to read this short reflection, I see you.

in light and love,



Monday, January 18, 2021

How Will We Emerge? What will We Create?: Leading with Love

How will we Emerge? 
What will We create? 
Art is Art
I use my pen to paint a different picture 
Can we Emerge with Love?
Genuine, unconditional Love
Will we extend a hand without needing to receive?
Just give because the heart says so. 
How will we emerge? 
What will we create? 
Will it spark the revolution that our soul searches for? 
Will we use what we already have to keep winning on this journey we call Life? 
How will we emerge? 
I want to love the way I want to love, 
To be free in my want to Be, 
No judgement,
Just me Rising in my birth given light,
Loving Blackness
Being Blackness 
Shining Blackness 
How will we Emerge? 
Life is short, Will we stop playing the ‘game’? 
Say what you wanna say, 
Do it with good intentions.
How will we Emerge? 
What will we create? 
Will we stop finding excuses that carry no moral gain? 
My pen will regain comfort in its fearless cry. 
My heart will slow down to feel the words.
How will we emerge? 
What will the new normal in our community look like? 
Less exclusion, 
More truth, 
More from the inside, 
Less from what you show through materialistic eyes.
Will we see each other? 
How will we emerge? 
What will we create? 
Creative healing, 
Living spaces, where we address conflict as a place of growth. 
How will we emerge in this world with fear at a high pitch? 
Racism on full blast.
How will we emerge? 
What do you believe in? 
Can we find a common ground? 
Strengthen self 
Teachable moment 
Show up! 
Will we be healthier spiritually and mentally? 
Will we move with more heart? 
Will we listen to spirit? 
Our ancestors prepared us for this,
Will we hold each other up? 
Will we begin to stand in our truth fearlessly? 
We already know why. Now the question is, what will we do about it? 
How will we emerge?
 What will we create? 
How will we Rise in these unpredictable times? 
What will we learn? 
My spirit needs movement,
My skin needs the sun.
How will we emerge? 
What will we create? 
Will we touch gently? 
I want to smell the scent in the air,
I want to walk barefooted on the grass.
 Con movimiento,
I am going to hug you tight,
I will love hard and Unapologetically.
I love you.
Te quiero.
How will we emerge? 
What will we create? 
Will Babylon win? 
Standing in light with the vibration of the ancestors 
We will create a just society 
We will rise up in our Jah given light.
We will emerge champions of our future.
We will create everything that rhymes with Love.
How will we emerge? 
What will we create? 
Many questions,
Now is Our time to answer collectively.
What is your answer? 
How will WE emerge? 
Today I am emerging with you in heart and mind Creating a space for us to build a world that sees us Together. March 17, 2020

I began writing this poem at the beginning of the pandemic because I immediately started to realize that we as a people and a society did not have a road map, a plan for what we were about to experience. I was flooded with internal and external questions. Two key questions, How will we Emerge? What will We Create? showed up with ease. I found myself posing the questions and answering the questions as the shelter in place was extended. Living in these unprecedented times and as we closed out the year and welcomed 2021, I went back to it with the hope that the disturbance of 2020 would be somewhat lifted and that 2021 would be a healing time for all.

One of the greatest lessons learned in 2020 was to Trust the Process. Trust the pain that you are feeling and that it will move through you. Trust the joy. Embrace it. Trust the love. Trust the resiliency. All of it, with the hope that you will land on the side of the light.

I have new answers that I will use to guide me, a Black woman in this world, in 2021. I learned ‘A Lot’ in 2020 and look to continue on this journey in 2021.

Here is 2021, How will I Emerge? What Will We Create? Remix 

I am emerging stronger in Self

More clarity

More focus and dedication to my Blackness, to the Black women I love, to the Black men I love.

I am emerging more committed to my purpose.

I am emerging with an understanding of what it means to deeply love and be selfless in that love.

I am emerging seeking, searching, learning and growing.

I am emerging with a greater understanding that we are one with nature and we need to care for it. This truth highlighted my loc journey.

The importance of movement. My athletic discipline has been a part of my movement since I was 8 years old when I joined the Colon Track Team and continues to be a part of what keeps my mind, body and spirit healthy. It also grounds me and clears my mind. 

I have created something dear to me. I have a created a sense of safety and rituals that lift and ground me

I am emerging with an understanding of why it was so easy for me to loc my hair with the knowledge that my journey was to land saying, Jah Rastafari, that moves beyond my locs.

I am emerging not wanting to follow what people do and embracing my revolutionary spirit in doing it the way my ancestors would want me to. In a way of fearless freedom that shows up in that doing.

I am emerging loving my parents and being in love with my parents for now I have a greater understanding that what they showed me, what they gave me, what they fed me, what they told me is what sustains me.

I am emerging giving thanks to the man, my father, that took that baton, did it his way and we turned out ok. :)

Loving him in all his perfection and imperfections, I emerge seeing how Melsa has cared for my father that keeps him Rising up. Gracias Melsa!

I am emerging doing the work because it is not work, it’s purpose. It’s an extension of why I get up, Blackness Rising, helping me on days when it was a struggle to do so. I learned that it is bigger than me and they placed me on this road because they see something in me. The light that they shine upon me as Yvette Marie Modestin Durant,Lepolata Aduke Apoukisi, Empress Modest-I is the light that I will lean into you in this new year. Love is at the center of it all. It is my guiding force.

I look forward to you joining me on this journey.

I share with you my first painting of 2021, One with Nature. 

Also, my storypoem  'An Ode to Mi Corona' for our new project The HairStory Project. 



Love, peace and light


Saturday, September 26, 2020

To Be a Black Woman in Babylon

To be a Black Woman in Babylon 

Bless Up!

Part of not blogging as much as I did in the past is because there is so much going on. Everyday there is a new fight to face. The issue is not new, the response is not new, yet facing it today in these times, pushes you to figure out a new way to keep rising when your skin and your humanity is under attack.

Breonna Taylor landed heavy because we know when we step outside we have to be vigilant because nothing feels safe right now. To be in your home, inside you sanctuary, safe space and be killed tells us, we are not safe anywhere. Just like Treyvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Eric Gardner and Jacob Blake to name a few, we find something derogatory about the victim and we re-victimize them to justify our inability to name the depth of the racism and anti-blackness before us.    

However you want to justify your inability to see us in our human light, we know Babylon has never made amends with the damage done to those who look like me.

To be a Black Woman in Babylon has meant to be overly sexualized and stigmatized in such negative ways that makes your heart hurt. Knowing this truth prepares you, sadly, to not be surprised at the outcome of Breonna’s case. Knowing that truth tells me, that my life’s mission and purpose is to prove you wrong.

As much as that truth hurts, we are still rising believing in our strength and resiliency. We are still pushing back on all the negative stigmas that you dump on us. We are still smiling and dancing with joy because that is within itself, a form a resistance.

Yes, dancing, singing and creating is my way to tell you, I will not take living for granted and I will not give you the power to stop me from living a joyous and fulfilling life.   

Blackness Rising is not just a hashtag. It is my daily reminder to love up on my people because I am not waiting for you to do it.

As I dance and write through the pain of the injustice in the decision of Breonna’s case, I will keep saying her name and repeating over and over again, Black Lives Matter. Doing that is not a lack of recognition of other lives. Doing that is putting out into the universe and the world that you have not made amends, you have not repaired the damage done to those who rise up in Blackness. Until then, Black Lives Matter. Las Vidas Negras Importan. 

Rest in peace Queen. I will keep Saying your name, Breonna Taylor.

In light and peace,
Empress Modest-I 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

My Unforgettable Moments on the Tennis Court

Grand rising! Giving thanks to Saturday mornings on the tennis court in Rainbow City. #thebegining

It’s US Open time so I am leaning into my tennis light as I share this reflection. I was 8 years old running around the neighborhood that rooted me in my Black and Proud identity, Colon, Rainbow City. I learned to play tennis  from one of the best tennis players in Panama, Mr. Loney.

Mr. Loney was this bright, dark skin, Jamaican descendant man. He loved the game. We loved the game because we were on the receiving end of that love. Saturday’s at the Rainbow City’s tennis court was the best. So many of us in that uplifting neighborhood learned from Mr. Loney. This was a family affair. My father, sister and brother also played tennis.

I went on to play in high school. I made the Jr. Sr. High School team my freshman year.  I was coached by one of the women who taught me that sports teaches you life’s lessons, Coach Rankin. I then had Mrs. Shank. (In the picture) I was part of a team with some of the best female athletes at CHS. Vannia Evans and Traci Kramer, may she Rest In Peace, are two women who pushed me to be a better all around athlete.

Tennis then turned into something different when I came to the US. When I made the tennis team in college, the racism I faced messed with my game. I was not prepared to defend myself as a tennis player and a racially profiled black woman on the court.

After my freshman year, I went home that summer to clear my mind and reconnect with my style. The style that made me fall in love with the game. Mr. Loney was still around. That summer, before I went back to school I spent hours on the court, playing with folks I grew up with in Rainbow City. It was hard work, fun and love all wrapped up on this tennis court full of beautiful black faces.

I went back sophomore year and had my best season for many reasons. One reason, Mr. Loney’s trust in me and my game. He knew I would find my way back. Second, I now knew  that being a black immigrant woman in this country will be a daily struggle and it shows its ugly head on the tennis court.

On the tennis court you are there on your own pushing through every shot. So yes, these are some crazy times and yes, I will keep pushing through, leaning into Mr. Loney’s light reminding me, you got this.

And yes, every black woman on a tennis court faces that duality every time she steps on that court. The expectations to be a good tennis player and all the negative stereotypes placed on the black woman that show up. This is why the incident where Serena fought hard when the umpire called her a liar, I completely understood her anger. This is why Naomi wearing her mask with Breonna Taylor’s name makes absolutely sense. #SayHerName And let’s not forget the policing of our bodies. The fight to be who you want to be, to be seen in your human light, extends onto the tennis court.

So today, Hats off to all, from Althea Gibson, to Vannia Evans, to Serena, to Naomi who show up, Black and Proud. Way to go Queens! #TennisPlayerForLife #ColonGirl #C3 #Love #light #UnapologeticallyBlack

in light and peace,
Yvette Lepolata 

In the struggle for justice is the hope,
Loretta J. Williams