PHOTOS: CODE RED Women’s Circles

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The members of CODE RED for Gender Justice at the UWI Cave Hill Campus have been hosting weekly women’s circles (on and off campus) from October 2013. The circles provide a safe space for women [of all sexual orientations] to have heart to heart discussions on intimate topics such as relationships, love, and family, as well as current gender issues. The members also use tools, such as the peace line activity, to encourage introspection at the circles.

Women have shared tears, laughter, fears, secrets, and love at these circles. Guided by rules to ensure everyone feels respected and receives a chance to be heard, all members that attend enjoy the moments shared in the spaces. Members have used the following words to describe the circles: “Enlightening, empowering, safe, inclusive, comforting and important.”

If you are a woman attending UWI Cave Hill Campus or residing in Barbados and would feel comfortable sharing a space with women of all different sexual orientations, we encourage you to join our circles. Contact damarlieantoine [at] gmail [dot] com, or m.hutchinson1988 [at] @gmail [dot] com to be added to the mailing list. 

Below are some photos from our activities:Image

 

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Ultimate Soca Love Songs Playlist

i crowdsourced the list below in response to Georgia Popplewell’s assertion that  soca artists would

have to dig deep into their repertoires to find a song extolling the kind of values Valentine’s Day represents.

 

While she may have been speaking specifically of this year’s carnival tunes, there’s still a perception that soca artists don’t sing about love.  Caribbean music man, Stefan Walcott, had this to say:

Well there are not many due to a space and function of the music. How many Bajan folk songs speak about snow?

 

Janine Mendes-Franco produced her own list of carnival love songs but it was too short a list.  

Below is what my amazing facebook friends were able to come up with (thanks to Patrice & Kerryann who has an encyclopedic knowledge of soca).

Passion by Militant

 

All Is Yours by Onika Bostic

 

Dance With You by Machel and Mr. Vegas

 

Always Be by Patrice Roberts featuring Zan

 

Only You by Krosfyah featuring Tony Bailey

 

All Night Long by Donella Weekes

 

My Girl by Lil Rick

Kerryann also pointed me to other songs not available on youtube: Sweetest Thing by Coppa Dan, Sugary by Keann, Only You by Omar McQuilkin of Electrik.

The ways in which love and romance are scripted can often appear contrary to feminist ideals.  I had to exclude one of the suggestions due to its homophobic lyrics.  So after you’ve grooved to this playlist you may also want to check out Creative Commess’ feminist soca playlist which got a well-deserved shout out on Global Voices.

Caribbean music is all-occasions music.  Enjoy!

The Revolution Will Not Be Theorised

There will be no pictures of you and smiling African children
In the village where you did a semester abroad
As a global citizen.
No cutting-edge electronic journals will be created
To recycle the same ethno-centric ideas
The revolution will not be PDFed.

There will be no videos of you offering back-handed compliments
About how surprisingly well-read the sister from the Caribbean is
There will be no videos of you offering back-handed compliments
About how surprisingly smart the sister from the Caribbean is
There will be no blog post about post modernism vs. post structuralism
Or post-humanism or post-anythingism
For the isms and schisms would have seen their final day.
The revolution will not be digitized

There will be no conference reports
And promises to stay in touch via open source electronic platforms
No email messages clarifying if Fanon is a dancehall artist
No lazy invocations of intersectionality
And positionality at the centre of the universe
The revolution will not be digitized

The revolution will not take a break for coffee (fair trade, of course)
Dirty paper cups left on the table for some Other woman to clean
The revolution will not feature a seizure-inducing Prezi
No one will complain about the indignity of going from Mac to PC
Or mistake themselves for every other living being on the planet
The real feminist will not stand up
And pat herself or himself or hirself on the back
The revolution will remove the mic from your hand and the ground from your feet.

The revolution will not be theorised, the revolution will not be problematised
The revolution will not be workshopped, will not be workgrouped
The revolution will be no conference, sister, brother, Man.2
The revolution will be…?

© Tonya Haynes, 2011

#DearCaribbean Blog Carnival Guide & Review

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De customs man at Piarco tell me dat de only ting dey does tek from Guyana is pineapple an’ plantain. — Thoughts of a Minibus Traveller

Mas. Jouvayists from Guyana, St. Kitts & Nevis, Antigua & Barbuda, Trinidad & Tobago, The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Haiti, Curacao, Canada, the diaspora and Nigeria. Making multi-directional crossings from and to Venezuela, India, Nigeria, Flatbush and Crown Heights, T&T, Grenada, Harlem, these repeating islands of the Caribbean.

Some sweet sweet love letters to the region. Dear Caribbean: Thank you for my big headOn being the daughter discovering the home of her descendants. Love note to the Caribbean.

Meditations on Caribbean feminisms. Feminists that don’t yet know they are feminists. The risky location of being an Indian feminist in the Caribbean. The liberatory potential of Vodou.

Ruminations on Caribbean Identity. Pineapple an’ plantain only. I am Your Daughter Too.

Home. Always Home. Again and Again.

Ukranian Lessons on Regional Integration (one of the most shared e-mas submissions published on the CODE RED blog).

Ol Mas meets Queer Caribbean Sexuality. Leslie, the lesbian doll.

The art of play. Play yaself!

Meet a Caribbean woman from Haiti, Guyana or the Bahamas. Listen to the voices of Caribbean men from St. Kitts and Nevis and Guyana.

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Poetry. Trujillonomics. Caribbean Crossings, In Motion. Basseterre Woman.

Writing. Like fine wine. Exquisite.

Art. Photography. Images.

e-mas is LOVE: radical, political, Caribbean, queer, poetic, renewing. 

Like true Caribbean people many of the jouvayists turn up on Caribbean time so quite a few entries just came in.  Giving thanks to Carla Moore and Feministing for using their wide reach to give the e-mas a boost.

If this guide was a bit too dizzying you can visit the e-mas page where you can read/watch/listen/view all the posts in the order in which they were submitted.

Use #dearCaribbean on twitter to keep the vibes flowing.

One Love.

Photo credit: amina. olayiwola

Crossings

We need to make solidarity communities with the sources of our power, not our victimisation.  M. Jacqui Alexander, Barbados, 2013.

#dearCaribbean contributor, Gabrielle Hosein,  wrote that being an Indian and a feminist in the region is a “risky location” i.e a site of multiple negotiations with “Indianness”, “feminism”, Caribbean belonging and Caribbean feminisms. One member of a thriving Caribbean online feminist community appeared to question just how risky a location this could possibly be given the growing perception that Indo-Caribbean women’s voices were dominating Caribbean feminism. Dominance.  A weighty word, especially for a feminist to throw around.

One brief comment that served to question the legitimacy of Indo-Caribbean feminisms.  I am writing this to understand why some black Caribbean feminists feel threatened by and resentful of Indo-Caribbean women’s exploration of “Indianness” and their claims to both “Caribbean” and “feminism”.  I am not alone in perceiving a need to meditate on these questions. Another black feminist friend messaged me privately to express surprise at the responses to Gabrielle’s article, especially in a space where she expected that we should know better.*  These issues, of course, go beyond a facebook comment. I have also had a student ask, in response to a discussion on the CRGS Special Issue on Indo-Caribbean feminisms why I was not hosting one on black Caribbean feminisms as well. I attended a graduate seminar where a student questioned the equation of Caribbeanness with blackness and as I resisted going on the defensive I understood exactly what she meant when she challenged us to avoid thinking ourselves into tiny boxes.

African-American feminist scholar Jennifer C. Nash questions the construction of black women as the prototypical intersectional subject even as she recognises that intersectionality is a key contribution of Black Feminist Thought developed out of an analysis of black women’s lives:

In painting black women, for example, as wholly oppressed and marginalized, intersectional theory can not attend to variations within black women’s experiences that afford some black women greater privilege, autonomy, and freedom. In troubling the monolithism of ‘black womanhood’, intersectionality could be strategically disloyal to dominant conceptions of black women as ‘the mules of the world’, exploding the tendency of radical projects to elide critical differences within ostensibly marginalized subject positions.

Her analysis resonated with me as I questioned what I saw, in the conversation that unfolded,  as an invocation of  black womanhood as an always already the-most-oppressed-status deployed in this instance to dismiss the experiences of others and retreat from accountability for such a dismissal.  Black women emerge as innocent.

Both Rosanne Kanhai and Rhoda Reddock have very accessible pieces in the Caribbean Review of Gender Studies which historicize and contextualize Caribbean feminist attempts to work across difference in Trinidad. Andaiye of Red Thread talks extensively about their work across race/ethnicity in Guyana in an engaging interview with Kamala Kempadoo. As Gabrielle Hosein noted in the facebook exchange, there are parallels between the male marginalisation discourse which claims that women are illegitimately taking over spaces that rightfully belong to men and the framing of Indo-Caribbean feminism as “dominant”, hypervisible and ultimately usurping both Caribbeanness and feminism.

Beverley Bain argues that Indo-Caribbean feminisms open up spaces for black women too:

A challenge to discourses that have historically positioned Indo-Caribbean women as passive thereby juxtaposing black woman as its aggressive opposite. I think it opens up a space for us as black Caribbean feminists to begin a dialogue around slavery and indentureship and how women in these processes experienced particular forms of violence but resisted, exercised autonomy and how that was usurped under patriarchy, religion and heteronormativity.

Shona Jackson’s Creole Indigeneity demonstrates the ways in which the claims to belonging in the Caribbean of both persons of African and Indian descent are often complicit with Indigenous erasure in the region.  For me, Shona’s observations here provide an opening for black Caribbean feminists to disabuse ourselves of claims to innocence.  It is an invitation to move beyond historically sedimented racialized polarizations.  There are lessons there for all Caribbean feminists. Shona’s work indicates another area where consciousness-raising is necessary, another opportunity to think ourselves out of the tiny boxes that not only stifle us but also oppress others.

Another contributor to what became a rather heated online discussion mentioned, “the dishonest way that we have often dealt with underlying feelings.” This post is an invitation to deal with those underlying feelings in an honest manner.

An opportunity to acknowledge missed understandings.

An invitation to listen again.

As Jacqui Alexander notes, crossings are not undertaken all at once and once and for all.  There are multiple crossings we make as feminists away from and back to defensiveness, across intersecting lines of race, ethnicity, class, privilege, dis/ability, sexuality.  It is important that we commit to make those crossings as many times as we need to and that our communities are there to make those crossings with us. Time and time again.

***

Giving thanks for the sisters who were willing to engage with me even as they disagreed with what i said, how i said it and feared their own words were misunderstood. Thank for making that crossing.

* There were also others who felt the way the post was framed was neutral, represented a matter-of-fact stating that other people perceived Indo-Caribbean feminist voices to be dominant and that the way the post was framed had no bearing on the way in which the discussion unfolded.