Friday, May 7, 2010

II Annual Freedom Weekend

I was recently in Austin, TX, AKA ATX for the II Annual Freedom Weekend held April 29to May 2, 2010. While I helped out in different venues my primary role (besides supporting my daughter, Kaleema Haider Al-Nur) was as one of the guest speakers for the Interfaith Worship Service held on Sunday, May 2. Each of the four clergy delivered ten minute mini-sermons:

Rev. Dr. Joseph Parker, Senior Pastor, David Chapel Missionary Baptist, Austin, TX
sermon - Rebooting Justice

Cardinal Aswad Walker, Shrine of the Black Madonna, Houston, TX
sermon - Why Do You Cry to Me So? Tell the Children of Israel to March On. Exodus 14:15

Rev. Dr. Qiyamah A. Rahman, Director of Contextual Ministry and Senior Lecturer at Meadville Lombard Theological School, Chicago, IL
sermon - On the Road to Beloved Community

Robert Muhammad, Nation of Islam, Austin Study Group, Austin, TX
sermon - The Science of Freedom

BLACK FREEDOM WEEKEND 2010 featured 4-days of discussions, Films, performances and trainings!

Annual Black Freedom Weekend featured a gathering of individuals and community groups and organizations, convened by Community and University organizers and partners to confront major issues that impact Black communities in Austin [and throughout Texas] as human rights issues. The Weekend included some exciting venues featuring: a film festival, community forums with keynote speaker, Ajamu Baraka, Executive Director of the U.S. Human Rights Network. His presentation was titled, From Civil Rights Back to Human Rights: Recapturing the Spirit of Revolutionary Change. Freedom Weekend Kickoff Night featured an elder activist, African Martial Arts (stick fighting and a version of Capoeira) and slamming guest poets delivering spoken word. The largest gathering occured on the last day when white allies convened to talk about gentrification in Austin.

FW fosters practical strategy-making, community building, truth-telling, critical dialogue, and creative collaborations and coalitions by inviting a variety of voices to the table during activities held at different locations throughout the Community. Freedom Weekend is:
* Community Art Show & Performances
* ‘Bringing Human Rights Home’ Community Forum
* Sunday Sermon
* ‘People Get Ready’ Community Workshops

Annual Freedom Weekend is Housed at: the Warfield Center for African and African American Studies and the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas.

[2010] II Annual Freedom Weekend: This year’s Freedom Weekend focused on naming the collection of Systems, policies and practices that work in concert to produce a Push-Out/Pull-Out effect of Black communities or Black Community Displacement. As the size of the Black community in Austin continues to shrink, we ask: WHERE ARE BLACK PEOPLE GOING AND WHAT’S GOING ON WITH BLACK PEOPLE!? Last years focus and theme was
"Bringing Human Rights Home."

Question: What are you doing in your community to bring together segments of people that do not usually communicate such as the residential community and academia; grass roots activist and policy makers/legislators and politicians?

If you are currently not doing anything what can you begin to do? Who do you need to collaborate with? Who are the existing players?
Blessings! Rev. Rock (Rahman)

Get in Where You Fit In!

This post features a potpourri of events that you may or may not be able to relate to. Hence, the title, get in where you fit in.
Rev. Qiyamah

Politics of Black Women's Hair

At the risk of setting off a deluge of comments (good for the blog - bad for my peace of mine), I have a confession to make. I recently put a light relaxer in my otherwise natural hair. Given that I have worn my hair natural since I was 18 years old and I am now turning 62 I think I can exercise the freedom to explore my hair options without having the the hair police called down on me. The fact that I am very embarrassed to admit this simple fact (Hey! I'm a grown ass woman!) is a sad commentary on the politics of black women's hair. But I reserve the right to be in relationship with my hair however I choose. Besides, I have demonstrated my commitment to natural hair and the polics of natural hair at almost 62. And I have earned the right to make my own decisions about my hair. For those of who that do not know the roots from whence this conversation flows then you have not been paying attention! I do not have the time or patience to school you. Google something like "politics of black women's hair" or "natural vs straightened hair debate."

Here is a picture of the culprit. I chose this product because it does not contain lye. It went on easily, had no odor and did what it said it would do - relaxed my hair. I left it on for 15 minutes. If I had known that my hair texture did not require 15 I would have probably left it in for less time. What I noticed after I rinsed it out is that the "curl/kink" that I slightly straightened also provided body and once I did not have the curl/kink I had less body and my hair was not as full and able to form a natural crown but lay down like a domesticated dog. Did I take all the fight and umph out of my hair. lol I am on the verge of cutting it all off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On a More Serious Note

I said it was not all that serious! And I have just the picture to prove it. This is a dog walker in downtown Chi Town doing his thing!

Ordination: Celebrating a Unitarian Universalist Ministerial Milestone

L-R Rev. David Bumbaugh, Rev. Beverly Bumbaugh, Rev.Rudra, Rev. Ed Searles, Rev. Jim Hobart (back to camera), Rev. Nan Hobart and Rev. Emmy Lou Belcher.

Two of my favorite Unitarian Universalist ceremonies are installations and ordinations. This is a picture of Lynn Garner's recent ordination held April 24 at
3rd Unitarian Church. The ordination marks the congregation's naming and blessing of a UU seminarian that has usually completed a Masters of Divinity and has been fellowshipped by the denominational credentialing body, the Ministerial Fellowship Committee.

Ministers and students in candidate status can process (march)in at the beginning of the ceremony and at the conclusion of the ceremony. Several will also participate in the service. An ordination usually features the following: hymns, readings, meditation, homily, charge to congregation, charge to minister and right hand of fellowship. The ordinee is usually gifted with a stole. The ordaining congregation and ordinee participate in a responsive covenant and the benediction is given and everyone convenes to a reception to indulge in food, drink and conversation.

L-R Rev. David Bumbaugh, Rev. Beverly Bumbaugh and Rev. Rudra

Theatre Gains Another Gifted Playwright

L-R unidentified staff person with Crossroads Theatre, Stephanie Berry and Artistic Director of Crossroads.

Sunday, April 18 I had the pleasure to travel to support my friend Stephanie Berry's endeavors in New Brunswick, New Jersey to witness an important milestone in a friends career. I was privy to the transition of Stephanie's craft from actor to playwright. The Court Theatre premiered Stephanie's play, the Last Fall. It is a love story between two individuals in the senior years of their life. Watching the play I realized an irony, that is, many of the same dynamics and challenges in love attachments are present across generations. Issues of trust, commitment, adjustments to one another and clarity about the relationship and common agreement about same are all similar across generations. The unique factors that aging partners appear to face is the recognition that one might have to settle because advanced age may preclude other options. Also, partners, usually the woman face having to compete with much younger rivals for love interests is another unique dynamic associated with aging love. Sexually active seniors also face more health concerns as they seek sexual pleasures with aging bodies and all the accompanying challenges.

The two protagonists, Lizan Mitchell (Rhea) and Roscoe Orman (Neville) meet and become enmeshed in a verbally combative relationship that is sometimes as toxic as it is loving. The couple treat the audience to their unique blend of intimacy moving back and forth between loving reminising of shared moments of playfulness and lusty sex to sharp and biting verbal exchanges punctuated by Neville's silences or ominous warnings, "you don't want to go there."

The play put me in touch with my own reflections and vulnerabilities about growing old and attempts to claim love and romance. How that process changes is not as obvious as how I have changed and what it means to seek a mature love in a changing world. Rhea and Neville overcome the biggest obstacle, how to meet potential partners, through their accidental meeting one night when Rhea is attempting to catch a cab. They are not going in the same direction. This might very well be the theme of the relationship. Rhea wants commitment and Neville is not sure whether he wants it although iot is obsious he craved love as much as Rhea. Rhea was more willing to take risks to secure it than Neville was. An ironic twist, Neville is an "emotional coward" and Rhea the warrior. Some of the basic differences between men and women are explored in this complex play. Differences about how men and women pursue love interests differently and how men often equate it as more about sex than romance. Rhea defies all those stereotypes and is at times portrayed as a card waving feminist/womanist who clearly will not let any man take advantage of her. She is quick witted and intelligent and feisty!

My regards to the playwright Stephanie Berry for a job well done! I suspect we will be hearing from her in the future and her career as a playwright looks more than a little promising!

L-R Stephanie Berry, John Martin and unidentified theatre goer.