Selfie Revolution….What Are u Afraid Of?

Big ups to Kim Katrin Crosby, The People Project, for staying on top of the selfie struggle. I am actually floored but not surprised that people are openly; violently opposed to POC; Indigenous people; differently abled; Two-Spirited; Trans gendered…selfie images flooding the World Wide Web. Seriously??? Let me say this, since the selfie I have had the incredible opportunity to visually engage with so many beautiful; unique; diverse; inspiring individuals from around the world. Images of people which never graced the print magazines; or television shows of the 80’s and 90’s. I have always been mad self-conscious about being photographed and even throughout the years as I became more involved with the arts and entertainment industry; I still cringed at the thought of getting my picture taken. Like many of us I had physical insecurities compounded by systemic racism…leading to self-hatred and identity challenges: Too skinny; Too fat; Too exotic; Not black enuff; Not native enuff; Funny nose; Gap tooth smile; Too Flat chested; Too much ass……anyway the selfie is my photo flash record therapy these days. I feel a lot different about my kinda beauty now…which is “my kinda beauty”…I see it shinning inside and out and when social media friends, fans and complete strangers identify positively with my kinda beauty…that’s a validation that speaks volumes to why I selfie and why many of us selfie. When I hashtag #nativepride #afronative under a selfie, I have sent out a beacon to others who self identify in a way that we couldn’t in school or in the work place or even in our own families…communities. I am not completely comfortable with the term “role model”, but I do know a lot of POC and Indigenous youth look up to me so my selfies indirectly encourage healthy positive self-expression; knowledge of self and the decolonization of Western European standards of beauty; and I’m down wit that. I have an inherent right to b “myself”; express “myself”; luv “myself”!! I am more than a serial number! More than a bar code! More than a box to b checked on a census form! I am visually iconic so deal with it!

U can’t box me in cuz I’m wearing my own skin!!!</blockquote>

So to all those selfie haters who claim, “POC and Indigenous people are saturating social media with visual egocentric pollution”
#unplugandstoptrollingus
!!

20140320-220558.jpg

Advertisements

Still I Rize #4: Reclaiming Konoronhkwa

It’s been said many times; many ways….so much so that for many it has lost it’s essence and we choose to no longer believe in the power of Konoronhkwa…love. And yet next to laughter it is the greatest healing emotional energy in the universe. It is so sad that this cold world has corrupted it’s purity and therefore has left most of us repulsed by the very notion of it. So where will I begin….how will I reclaim Konoronhkwa in order to stimulate the re calibration of my emotional balance?? The first thing I needed to do wuz admit that I came up with both a lot of luv but also an equal amount of fuckery…dysfunction. And no matter how many times I bumped Mary J’s “Real Love” back in the day…I just couldn’t seem to get it right.
I needed to let go of past hurts; disappointments and pain from childhood and adolescence….grieve; forgive and let go. Love is one of the 7 Grandfather Teachings and sits in the Western Direction. Which is also the Adult Stages of Life. As an adult I must re embrace love and relearn love. I must harness the healing properties of love so I can offer those to others. I don’t want to spend my adulthood twisted up in knots….repelling potential opportunities; friendships and partners because I am incapable of Konoronhkwa. Our teachings tell us love brings us peace; harmony with our creator and creation; absolute kindness; freedom; self-acceptance.
To overstand Konoronhkwa is to overstand that it cannot be demanded; it is earned and once earned should flo freely without conditions. To overstand Konoronhkwa is to overstand that I will never be able to love u if I don’t love myself.

Konoronhkwa has taught me so many valuable lessons over the years. These lessons have enabled me to love without judgement and urgency and devotion when it comes to my art; community and seedlings. Today I am now attempting to love courageously…I am allowing my heart to b handled once again after four relationships had my heart battered; bruised; confused and barely beating.

Abandonment after giving initiates a decree of, “I’ll never give my heart away again.”
My true nature however is to love…cause I long for happiness and desire to make my self whole. So for almost six months I have opened up my heart to someone…we both are very strong and yet fragile and we both want to heal emotionally. As I let go of fear…my belief in the possibilities of Konoronhkwa is allowing me to experience the simple joys that a loving relationship should bring. These simple things make me smile; feel giddy and have me demonstrating “random acts” of affection in both private and public spaces. The key to emotional well being lies in the power of my love….<3

20140313-033709.jpg

Still I Rize #3: Ebb & Flo

Three months into my “nu me” movement and I still have many rivers to cross. My Eastern Direction shifts to healthier eating and regular exercise are slowly maintaining a rhythm of consistency. However as I begin integrating emotional health awareness into my life I will again
need to revisit aspects of my eating habits which actually contribute negatively to my emotional well being.

I will need to reduce sugar, fat, meat and dairy; I have already started looking for healthier substitutes. Starting this month I am also switching to eating only fish with high omega’s. No more chicken; pork or beef…with the exception of liver for my anemia. If I’m eating red meat or fowl it has to be game meat exclusively now.

What is emotional health? It encompasses mental health issues like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, addiction, and other conditions. But being emotionally healthy also means managing day-to-day issues like stress, making and keeping friendships, changing bad habits, and using your creativity, all of which can have an impact on your physical health. Understanding emotional health means paying attention to your overall happiness and well-being. Being emotionally healthy also involves maintaining control of your thoughts and feelings. People with good emotional health are resilient in the face of challenges, find ways to express their creativity, and understand the importance of social connections. They also recognize the power of spirituality and the value of staying positive. One of my challenges is I’m somewhat of an empath; which means not only am I sensitive to the feelings of others, but I have a tendency to carry the emotions of others with me; which includes both positive feelings and negative. If I don’t release these emotions through smudging, drumming, meditation, forrest bathing, writing, exercising…. They can build up and cause me to become moody; overly emotional and can trigger other emotions associated with my own past hurts, which can cause anger, frustration, deep sadness, withdrawal….so I need to maintain those healthy emotional outlets. And keep up open communication with people close to me so misunderstandings can be avoided. This is also a challenge for me cause despite being a performer, I’m actually extremely shy and guarded about my feelings…especially where relationships are concerned.
I am working on letting go of insecurities within areas of my emotional life. Having a lack of confidence is stopping me from growing and blooming. So I am surrounding myself with individuals who show me why I should be feeling better about myself, they shine light on accomplishments that barely register when they should have. I have done more and come so much farther than I give myself credit for. Emotions are like waves. They come and go, ebb and flo….keeping my head above water; while embracing the tidal waves of life….I swim.

20140312-222549.jpg

Still I Rize Entry #2: My Body is My Totem

Since my first entry I have been seeking support from local herbalists; naturopaths; a family doctor; nutritionist to explore how to heal my physical state of being. My general physical health on a scale of 1-10 apparently currently sits at about an 8 but is on the decline, despite good eating habits and exercise….so I needed to dig deeper. After a physical and blood work it comes down to the bitter truth I’m getting “older” so my body needs different things in order to maintain optimal health. In my first entry I spoke about “tremors, triggers and traumas”….the physical naggings I have been experiencing lately like joint pain; muscle aches and headaches are tremors or signals that my body is changing and I need to make changes NOW!!! Lol…on the real though…yep gotta do it. I have already stopped excessive drinking and burning irresponsibly and I haven’t drunk coffee in almost 8 years; which will make the next level of lifestyle changes for my physical a little easier according to my support team. So what’s the plan? How is it gonna go down?

Top 5 Steps of the Eastern Direction Detox:

1. 20-40 min of physical activity a day to increase heart rate. I have re- enlisted my Jamaican personal trainer from 2008 days she makes a fitness boot camp look like Primary School Recess. I also need to integrate more daily stretching/yoga.

2. Breathing deeply 2-4 times a day
(4-6-8-10) I will be doing this first thing in the morning at least once in the middle of the day and again before bed. Inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.

3. Regular sleep routine….easier said than done when you are an artist that gigs….the key will be consistency and being relaxed before sleep through specific herbal tea relaxants; aroma therapy; meditation; music. And no back to back late nights…. Body needs time to re-energize.

4. Diet (this is going to be huge…I gotta remove toxins…balance hormones….increase my iron, calcium, zinc, Omega- 3’s, and Melatonin….had to invest in a app to help me define all this new vocab. For this overhaul I need the combination of my herbalist; naturopath; and nutritionist…damn it’s like puberty all over again except twisted… Lol…here is a snap shop of the key dietary needs my body has now:

Kale, Dark Chocolate, Fatty Fish Oils, walnuts, eggs, apples, alfalfa, barley, baker’s yeast, beets, cherries, chickpeas, carrots, celery, cucumbers, dates, fennel, oats, olives and olive oil, papaya, peas, plums, pomegranates, potatoes, beans, rhubarb, rice, tomatoes, wheat and yams. Seeds such as sesame seeds, flaxseed and sunflower seeds. My herbalist wants more: anise seed, parsley, red clover, licorice, thyme, turmeric, verbena, sage and hops, black kosh kosh and tart cherry juice.

5. Heat: I need to start spending my winters in warmer climates as much as possible and in the meantime regular hot baths and visits to the Sauna at my gym.

As I begin the physical healing journey I will be posting updates on my Instagram Mahlikah. My next entry will focus on the emotional healing which will require major trust and commitment…..Ona:kii for now.

M

20140123-203308.jpg

Aboriginal Education in Tdot….Can we break the cycle??

As an educator and artist of First Nations heritage who has been working in communities and classrooms in Toronto, ON for over 12 years the inclusion of contemporary imaging and historical contributions of Aboriginal Peoples as the First Peoples of Turtle Island has slowly through mighty determination become more visible in our schools, which is encouraging students of Native heritage to self-identify and proudly embrace their roots; instead of being a invisible majority in the classrooms of our Toronto schools.

The Cycle that I am interested in breaking is our kids dropping out because they do not feel any validation and therefore their self-worth is low. I agree as many do that the nightmarish legacy of Residential Schools and the 60’s Scoop and the Child Service System is at the heart of the blame…

Please find the article:

Closing the ‘achievement gap’ for Toronto’s aboriginal students

Many people I respect in the community share their stories in this one.

Also if you are a parent or teacher native or non-native and you would like an Aboriginal Artist to work with your students or your kids during the 2012-2013 school year and you are based in Ontario please check out the OAC Aboriginal Artists in the Schools Roster which I am also listed in:

2012-2013
ABORIGINAL ARTISTS IN SCHOOLS ROSTER

Finally if your in Toronto and your interested in the Red Slam 4 Directions Urban Community Arts Workshops check out our links on the Neighbourhood Arts Network which is supported by the Toronto Arts Foundation.

http://www.neighbourhoodartsnetwork.org/members/red-slam-collective

http://www.neighbourhoodartsnetwork.org/members/mahlikah-aweri

Image

Red Slam Collective @ Alignment

Red Slam is bringing sum heavy hitters to Haudenosaunee Territory John Waaseyahbin Hupfield aka 7th Son Anishinaabe from Wasauksing First Nations; MC Miles T Mohawk Six Nations; Mahlikah Aweri aka MC AngelHeart Mohawk (Kahnawá:ke) & Mi’kmaw (Bear River) First Nations; Beat Boxer Skratch Won Cree/Dene (Alberta); B-Boy Dizine Izm (Rawn Razer) Cree (Saskatchewan); William Charbonneau (Bass) and Fumu Jamez (Percussions).

2012 is becoming a monumental year for the little Collective that grew and grew up from humble beginnings at the NCCT youth program office to showcasing at the 2011 NXNE, Manifesto and the 2010 CFSW. This year started with performances in Vancouver, New Mexico and in June Red Slam will showcase at NXNE 2012 and Pride 2012. The Hip Hop Fusion Movement S.L.A.M. (Spoken Lyricism Arranges Meaning) is unstoppable with the anticipated release of their full length studio album on the horizon for 2013!!

Red Slam Collective

 

A multi-disciplinary event brought to you by Nationless Minds, Burlington Slam Project, and PENTA

On Saturday, May 12th, we converge on 2 floors of Hamilton’s beautiful Pearl Company to bring you Alignment. Hosted by the dynamic Greg “Ritallin” Frankson.

You won’t believe our stellar line-up of performers and artists… exploring where various artistic expressions intersect and align with spoken word.

Missing Lynx (Urban Legends 2011 team)
Red Slam Collective
Amanda Hiebert
Electric Jon
P.O.E.
Poetic Speed
Cathy Petch
the 2011 Burlington Slam Project team
Hyf & PrufRock
Kevin Sutton
Fire Flower Revue

and… as if that line-up isn’t more than enough to blow your minds… we also have one more dynamic duo… Brad Morden & Ian Keteku as Atomic Wednesday.

PLUS…
A Bboy-Bgirl showcase. Progressive Movement representing a downtown Hamilton youth centre known as ‘The New Globe’.
Live artists Komi Olafimihan & ZS Cheetham will be creating on the scene.
And a gallery including previous works by the above, plus photography & videography by Michelle Darby and Ruzanna Shortstuffyan.

$15
tickets will be available in advance at various spoken word events throughout April in southern Ontario, or
contact us at we.are.PENTA@gmail.com for online purchase.

Doors open and the magic starts happening promptly at 7pm and we party until late in to the night…

Red Slam Collective’s Mahlikah Awe:ri is a member of PENTA for more info about the artist collective check out the web site:

PENTA

 

It’s 2012 We Are Not Chief Wahoo!!

When I was a teacher candidate @ York U I had a placement at a suburban elementary school in the affluent Lawrence and Yonge area. The school lacked the visual diversity I was accustomed to during my middle school and HS years in Scar-Town. The minority group in this school were Jewish students. The majority group were Anglo-Saxon students. I was placed in a grade 5 class of 20 students, only two were of colour. With few teachers of colour on staff it was clear non-white cultural and historical identities were not being showcased or learned about. I soon changed that. One of the curricular focuses my classroom teacher asked me to examine with the kids was Media English. She knew I already had a BA from Ryerson in Radio & Television Arts. The first thing I taught the kids was how to write for radio. And specifically how to create editorials. I don’t think however the school administration was quite ready for the subject matter nor the method of delivery. I spent several sessions on exploring contemporary issues affecting First People’s. One of great interest to the students, especially the boys was the use of Native imaging in American sports teams. Yea those white kids woke up…they created an editorial segment on the use of these images and why it is inappropriate by reading their pieces during the morning announcements. This was the first time student voices were heard on the morning announcements at this school.

Fast forward ahead I’m starting Living Through the Arts Workshops for the RCM at Food Share. The focus is Anti-Oppression through Spoken Word. I was specifically brought in because youth in a summer internship program were regularly exchanging racial slurs and stereotyping each other to the point where things were escalating to physical violence and youth were starting to drop out.

In one of the first sessions we examined the top 10 most oppressive visual symbols in history. Amongst that top 10 were images such as the burning cross, confederate flag and the swastika. Also making this list was Chief Wahoo….I asked the youth participants to give me the first words that came to mind when they saw that image. Some of the words included:
Stupid, red skinned, foolish, disrespect to Native Americans….nobody said, “That’s an honorable Native Chief”….

Nevertheless the youth who was sporting the cap the first class didn’t want to sport it after that.

As a member of the Hip Hop community I see Chief Wahoo often on caps, jerseys and T’s. Everyone has a reason for wearing an “Indian Sambo”…whether their white, black, brown, yellow or red….

I’m still not down with Wahoo and maybe after reading this you’ll know why: Four Decades of Chief Wahoo!!

20120421-184348.jpg