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fyah links- weed, reparations, genderbending & saying no

Regionally there are a couple big discussions go on that have somewhat piqued my interest.

  1. An increasing push towards decriminalising marijuana. The Prime Minister in St. Vincent has spoken in favour and so as the Chief Justice in Trinidad. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I’m less interested I think the CJ’s endorsement is particularlydecriminalise marijuana relevant when one thinks of the people* are put in jail for possession with intent to sell for what are typically quite small amounts. I fully support the decriminalisation of marijuana, jails do not need to be full of recreational users and those with addiction issues should be supported outside of a jail setting. I’m much less concerned about the marketing opportunities. But it took talking dollars and cents for the enslavement of Caribbean people to end, maybe if they can prove the region will make a lot of money from export governments will look more favourably upon the matter. So sad that quality of life, unnecessary imprisonment and mental health aren’t seen as great priorities.
  2. We now have a Caribbean Reparations Committee, “to seek compensation from Europe for native genocide reparationsand enslavement of Africans during colonisation”. I’m very curious to see how the process progresses. Hopefully as it moves forward ways to get involved and give input will be made available to the general public. If/ when that information becomes available I’ll definitely be posting it. The question for me as always, is what do we think reparations should look like? It’ll be interesting to see if there will be any women on the committee, any young people, any… I hope the committee will not be all be straight middle aged men of high academic standing from middle and upper middle class back grounds.

Have you seen this interacive genderbread person? This person is wonderful. It’s certainly not a cut and try formula on how to understand genderbreadgender and sex but it’s eye-opening when you consider how many manifestations of being there are for our various gendered performances. I highly recommend playing around with it!

Fatimah Best-Jackson breaks down the difficulty of saying no. And she’s not talking about sex or drugs.

I have always had a tendency to say yes. No matter how many responsibilities there were at work or how tired I felt, I would agree to that one extra thing someone asked me to do. Sometimes it resulted in staying up all night proofreading a friend’s essay or being at an event when I really would have rather been in bed. At keep calm and say nothe time, I thought it was worth it because I did something for someone else that made them happy, but I rarely stopped to think about how I felt.

Saying no is a real challenge for me but I try to make and effort to recognise the limits of my own boundaries. It is very easy to fall into the people-pleasing effort/ superwoman trap. But I will say, that I’ve been most inspired to say no when a friend tells me s/he can’t. It’s a reminder from someone who loves me, someone who cares that they can’t be there all the time. So be a friend… tell someone you can’t today. ūüôā

*read: young, poor and working class men

loving old(er) people (part II) – repost

It’s just past the 2 year anniversary of my granny’s passing. In honour of that, I’m reposting a piece I shared last year to mark the anniversary.

granny helen is the grandparent i miss the most – she’s the one who i had the longest time with as an adult, and probably the one i’m most like (kind of prophetic of my parents to give me the middle name helen). ¬†in honour of my granny, i’m sharing something i wrote the night she passed.

It’s 4am and I still can’t sleep. I’m sure if I told one of my more spiritual friends they’d tell me it’s because I’ve sensed her spirit leave or something.. I’m not quite as sensitive to other worldliness – even though¬†now that I think about it, Granny kind of was (I always remember Mommy telling us about her smelling¬†where someone had died in a room). It got even more acute when she was older, the last few years she’d¬†been complaining about¬†

Granny was 92 and I’d never heard her talk about death. Despite health that hadn’t been great for the¬†past 10 years and hadn’t been good for at least the past 4, I don’t think I’d heard my Granny talk about the¬†possibility of dying. My sister and I joked that her childhood dream was to turn 100 and she was determined¬†to fulfill it come hell or high water. I don’t know what was holding her with us, but I’m glad it held her this¬†long.

all the people in the room even when it’s just me there. I always figured that washer 6th sense gaining another dimension. Maybe I’ll get that gift in old age.

Now I’m up and I know that people say you should celebrate a passing like this, better places and all that¬†but I’m torn. Because I’m not sure that as unhappy as my Granny may have been, that she was the type¬†to want us to celebrate her being gone. My Granny, like me in family spaces, loved the attention. So I’ll¬†straddle a fairly thin line – I won’t celebrate her being “free”, I’ll celebrate her life. And I’ll miss her – I think¬†Granny would love to be missed.

Celebrating my Granny means remembering how much she loved to laugh. I remember being young and showing her ridiculous gyrating dance moves and trying to get them to do them too just so I could make her laugh till she was unable to catch her breath for a few moments.

It means remembering her style. My Granny loved her red-haired updos, her red lipstick, brightly coloured¬†clothes and her big necklaces. I will always remember whenever “company” came over she would¬†demand that she be changed into a proper outfit, or dressing gown, put on her lipstick and a necklace so¬†nobody could say she wasn’t stunning .

It means remembering that life doesn’t always go as we plan. Sometimes our bodies don’t work the¬†way we want. Sometimes our mouths can’t say what our strong minds want them to. And so we have¬†to take joy in things like random new food items we find at the supermarket, the scent of the perfume¬†that someone gave us years ago, and the memories of an 80 year old granny trying to wuk up like her¬†granddaughter when she can barely breathe through laughter.

in the words of derevolushunwidin “she was my granny and she was fierce”.

makes the ppl come together- summer soca round up

A long overdue summer soca round up.

keep calm and love small island soca

I watched Antigua’s Soca Monarch competition after a semi-satisfying day masquerading in Toronto. Let me tell you that competition was SWEET. Wadadli doing big big things. I disagreed with the judges as I disagree with most judges in queen, calypso and soca shows. The man who brought real vibes to the competition- Hard Knaxx, and not just b/c he said, S”t. Kitts gyal like to party hard, party hard.” (@2:53)

Spice Mas… I really had every intention of going this year. But intentions are not plans, and even so, plans are not realities. I cannot miss what is supposed to be the region’s most glorious j’ouvert many more years. Mr. Killa, showing some love for the plus sized women. Interesting how showing love and objectifying often look familiar on stage…

After two Cropovers in a row this year I bid the festival adieu. I did not however turn my back on the music. This song had me CRACKING up. No one would ever ask me this question as my bottom is not big, broad or firm. But I love it, “girl, how you bumpa get so big and so broad and round and so firm?” But Alison answer priceless… “Caribbean girls was born with it”.

fyah spots- we’re back!

These posters are so hype. CARICAN i.e. CARICOM can take a stand against homophobia. Support the site b/c really, CARICOM can, and only canCARICOM flags if we ourselves take a stand.

This page is part of a collective response to recent mob-killings of gay and transgender Caribbean citizens in Haiti and Jamaica. Using Rosie the Riveter as a theme, the tagline “We Can Do It”, is an attempt to lobby CARICOM governments to take a clear position on homophobic and transphobic violence. Contributors are asked to wear their flags as a head tie and pump their muscles for peace.


This link kinda plugs us… but have you seen it? Top 10 Caribbean Feminist Blogs you should follow? If it were in order the blog that put out this list should be number one! Big up to all my Caribbean feminists out there, those who write, those who act, those who think, those who are slowly crossing over. Our fyah makes things that much sweeter in the region. I’ve even missed a few of these over the years. But if I had to pick my favourite favourite, I’d have to give it to Creative Commess, and you should definitely follow her on facebook.

Speaking of Caribbean feminists… Fatimah Jackson-Best has been representing Caribbean Muslim faithwomen over at aquila style superbly for the last few months. Check out her latest post on mental health and illness in Muslim communities. Her piece offers advice that is relevant to all communities religious or not. It’s crucial that we talk about mental health, support people when they seek help, and individually that we not see it as a weakness in our faith or sense of self.

skin care productsI’ve been sleeping on Black Girl in the Ring and I missed this great post on dealing with acne naturally. As I head into my 30s with this acne still following me I think (read: hope) that maybe this Wadadli (Antiguan) remedy for acne may be the answer.

In my hat tip and final good bye to Toronto, I remember Sammy Yatim who was killed seemingly senselessly by a Toronto police justice for Sammyofficer. I share the reflection of a friend of pieces2peace prompted by his witnessing of a protest for Sammy Yatim in downtown Toronto. I remember my own confusion when I heard to story, and increased confusion when I saw the video. I remember my own outrage that this young man had been killed. My own disappointment with myself for not showing up for the protests.

yoga matAnd because I’ve been gone for so long I’m giving you 6 links instead of 3. Here are 23 problems only yoga people understand. I related 100% to numbers 2, 7, 9, 13, 15, 22 and 23. I have a hard hard life.

The Self Care Pledge Pt III


“writing is dangerous b/c we are afraid of what the writing reveals: the fears, the angers, the strengths of a womon under a triple or quadruple oppression. Yet in that very act lies our survival b/c a womon who writes has power. And a womon with power is feared.” – gloria andzaldua

After months of avoiding writing, when I finally emailed my cousinsisters¬†about being ready to come out of my creative coma. My sister replies to the email and as usual, the above quote was included in her email signature.It’s prefaced by some slightly delusional/wishful reimaginings of gloria anzaldua telling her this directly as though in conversation, but that’s beside the point.¬†This time it spoke to me even more loudly than it usually does.

Writing for me means revisiting a relationship that was easy and beautiful in my revisionist retellings, and even worse it means revisiting the particularly painful breakup. It means unpacking the multitude of microaggressions that I encounter on a daily & weekly visit in a white hipster town and white hipster grad program. It means unpacking my privileges. It means work which means acknowledging that I’m not at my best and even at my mythical best that I will not be perfect. But as Ms Anzaldua ‘told’ my sister and is telling me, that means power. It also means healing. It’s a vital part of my self-care.

I’ve written about my self-care¬†pledges¬†in past posts. As I’ve just begun a new school year, this is a perfect time for me to once again sit down and commit to a/n (at least partial) self-care plan and to encourage you, fabulous fyah stirrers, to do the same.

1. I pledge to eat well daily.¬†Good food is an essential part of my life. I’ve realised that often the only thing to get me through long days and boring classes is the thought that there is a tasty snack/lunch/dinner awaiting in my bag or the departmental fridge. Being prepared with food also lessens the chance of me being tempted to eat anything with gluten in it or spend money. So this commitment contributes to my emotional, academic and physical health. Nothing like actions that meet multiple objectives ūüôā

2. I pledge to be creative weekly. This can be anything from writing, to making earrings, to painting. I’m not ready to commit to creative writing on a weekly basis (I’ve learned the key to successful pledges is baby steps!) but I am committed to working on re-claiming/building/discovering myself creatively.

3. I pledge to have a ‘me’ day monthly. I often underestimate the idea of being by myself. I am rarely not in conversation with someone whether in person, over gchat, on whatsapp or through text messages. I would like to practice being by myself. And unpacking. Similar to my monthly dates of the last pledge, this time allows for deeper unpacking.

Fyah stirrers, it’s good to be back as difficult as it can be sometimes. What can you promise yourself?

makes the ppl come together- summer soca season part 1

svgIt’s the summer soca season. I know some people abhor the use of the word summer in Caribbean. I could easily be one of those people if I didn’t grow up calling July-August summer. So bite it! #thatsglobalisationforyou

First stop. Vincy mas! I’ve never been, but I’m thinking I’ll make it for 2014 or maybe 2015.

I haven’t always been a fan of Skinny Fabulous but I *love* this song. Maybe it’s b/c he sounds like Bunji, maybe it’s b/c it’s one the first new soca songs I’ve heard in awhile. Either way, I’m building stamina to go non-stop.

I’m always happy to see women get their songs out during carnival. Listening to Denyse, Destra and Fay-Ann it’s not an easy road. Here is Fya Empress. New soca… ah ketch it in truth… ūüôā

Some songs make fete-ing sound a family affair. Calling everybody that’s around, we fete-ing when the sun goes down… If I had lots of disposable income I really would have a feting problem.

fyah fridays- feminist activism, children’s lit & pole dancing

Girls Globe writer Camaro West blogs from the Women Deliver conference in Malaysia reminding us of the power of social media in bringing about meaningful change. #WDlive and #WD2013 

feminist buttons“As a collective of individuals, organizations and governments gathering together at Women Deliver and mobilizing all of this non-traditional currency, we can work to ensure that when money is thrown at a problem, it is thrown in a direction that will best get at the root causes and lead to lasting changes.”

A friend introduced me to the beauty of children’s literature. Looking for a gift for a child in your life? Check out this book, by lgbt activit Sherlina Nageer out of Guyana.

“This story takes place in an Amerindian village by the majestic Kanuku Mountains of the Rupununi children's literatureregion of Guyana. A lonely little girl finds friendship in the unlikeliest of places. Showcasing daily life and culture of the indigenous people of Guyana, this story will be enjoyed by Guyanese and non-Guyanese of all ages.”

It’s getting to be summer time in Toronto and the fitness pressure is on. I’m constantly thinking to myself, I pole dancingshould exercise more, eat less rubbish and be healthier, bur really it’s only b/c I will now I fewer layers to hide under. This article on pole dancing reminded me of another fitness phase at another point in my life. The author says she took a class and liked it. I took a few classes and didn’t hate it. I liked working the pole, doing the twirls and marvelling at what I could do with body. What I couldn’t stand about it was the pressure to be sensual. Sensual and sexy don’t come natural to me. If you know me, you would not be surprised by this. But nothing made me feel less sexy than being in room with 8 other women who are also looking into a mirror as they work their pole/chair. I was pretty sure that if I put any effort into the sensuality I’d end up looking like Carrie:

All that to say, our bodies are capable of incredible things, we should treat them well.

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