Many Voices

A note from the talented and dedicated Katina Parker: “In honor of National Coming Out Day, a video series that I’ve created on behalf of Many Voices, a Black Church Movement for Gay & Transgender Justice. Thank you for sharing your story, Bishop Tonyia Rawls. Laila Nur, thank you for creating such beautiful music to support the video. Thanks also to Julia Roxanne Wallace, Leslie Esih Oliver and Ai Elo for production support.”

Katina tells me this is 1 of 6 videos being released in the next few weeks. In honor of this day, give yourself the gift of listening to Bishop Tonyia Rawls speak truth to power. And the music by Laila Nur will roll you over.

A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism


We are proud to present a collective statement that is, to our knowledge (and we would love to be wrong about this) the first of its kind.  In this post you’ll find a statement of feminist solidarity with trans* rights, signed by feminists/womanists from all over the world.  It is currently signed by 790 individuals and 60 organizations from 41 countries.

The statement can be found here in English. It is also available in French, Hungarian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian and Serbo-Croatian.

The complete list of individual signatories is available here, or alphabetically or by country. The signatory list of organisations and groups is available here. We would love it if you signed it too. You can either use this form, or email us, or post a comment on this post or on the statement.

Our continued thanks to everyone for your support.

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fourI had the great fortune of meeting June Sadler this past summer (2013) in the South Carolina Sea Islands. We met at the Penn Center on St. Helena Island. The Penn Center, the site of one of the first schools for newly freed slaves, has evolved into a gathering place for community organizing, retreats, and renewal. Gantt Cottage, where Martin Luther King, Jr. worked on his “I Have a Dream Speech,” sits just a few yards from Arnett House where we stayed. DowIMG_5162n another path, past a cemetery, down by a dock near water with a view so beautiful it breaks your heart, is a house that was built for Dr. King that he never got to spend time in. You can feel all of this history when you walk on the grounds of the Penn Center, amidst the hundred  year old trees, moss hanging from their branches—all the life and death and  hope.

We were at the Penn Center for a reason. The wonderful and brilliant Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Julia Wallace organized a gathering of twenty-one “self-identified queer, LGBTQ or queer affirming Black people who are committed to fulfilling our freedom legacies in our daily lives and our communities” to honor and celebrate thCombahee_River_Collective_Book_Jackete 150th anniversary of Harriett Tubman’s successful raid on the Combahee River, a raid in which “750 enslaved Africans freed themselves and each other.” The Combahee River Collective, a Black feminist lesbian collective, also takes its name from this uprising.

It was in this transformative liberating space,  on the porch of Arnett House that June told me about her ebook, Dada’s Return–Scorpion: Sting. We talked about Black female superheroes, or the lack thereof. My knowledge of fantasy, sci-fi, comics, and horror is severely limited, but in talking with June I realized just hIMG_4862ow much. I could name maybe one Black female superhero. “There are super powered people in our real history that did good deeds,” says June. “Our legacy is rich with people that stood up for what is right. Harriet Tubman’s story and so many others like her, showed me that everyday people are capable of uncommon feats.”

This brings us to Dada’s Return. June says Dada’s Return has been described as a combination of “Charlie’s Angels, Mission Impossible and the A-Team.” I don’t remember any relationship between two Black women in any of those things, but you can find it in Dada’s Return, along with a woman who’s equipped with scorpion-like skills.  June hopes to eventually turn the series into a graphic novel. It’s a fun read, but it’s also, as June says, necessary: “We have to write our own stories. Why wait for anyone else to do so?”

So meet Dada:  “not your average superhero. Though known to don a pair of lightly tinted glasses, she doesn’t wear a mask or a cape, though she would stand out for having the latest runway look. Dada uses her intuition, her chi strength, and the capabilities of her team to fight crime. She can’t tolerate injustice of any kind, but especially to animals and children. She’s a warrior.”

Who better to interview June about Dada’s Return then Dada her own self. (Interview by June Sadler)

DADA code name Scorpion is head of a trio of rogue outcasts in a clandestine organization known as the Consortium. After years of being sequestered in a sub-dwelling within the confines of Consortium headquartersJune the author1 unfairly punished for a case gone wrong her time has been spent creating the Burrow. Dada once thought she worked for a group that maintains the balance of good in the world, until she was set up as a scapegoat. A secret mentor on the inside has been steadily supplying her with equipment, gadgets and tools for the Burrow where Dada soon discovers multiple enemies in cahoots against her utilizing Consortium resources to destroy her once and for all.

DADA: Who am I?

JUNE: You are me. At least all of the good things and my interests amplified. You are a conglomeration of African queen, warrior princess and timeless goddess. You are an amalgamation of a zeitgeist of cool class, grand clothing, sleek cars, gotta be there places, exotic food & drinks and million dollar homes. You are a female James Bond. You have the same style and sophistication with a dollop of hip hop. Dada knows the streets and the board room. Like the other members of her team, she is also a genius. You were born to represent a new cultural lifestyle of goodness for the empowered masses.

candace pryor as DadaDADA: Why did you create Dada’s Return?

JUNE: I created this story because I wanted to read a story with an African-American woman that tells the truth of us. I also wanted her to be very unique as an action “shero.” Dada is a double goddess made to reflect our her-story,autonomy, and female sovereignty. I created the story so my nieces and nephews had a story that illustrates the goodness of African-American women as a real legacy. DADA masters kundalini energy/chi, meditation, and anthropomorphism via the scorpion. The story highlights aspects of tales told by griots who illustrated that we are not only part of the Earth and its rhythms, but have the capacity to use that vibration to empower ourselves. In simple terms, its the super hero lying dormant within each of us awoken.

DADA: Who exactly is The Consortium? What do they do and why do I work for them?  candace pryor as Dada2

JUNE: THE CONSORTIUM is a group of wealthy, smart, “do-gooders” that work behind the scene on the world stage to bring justice to criminals way too rich and above the law to ever be punished by conventional courts. They’re economists that have studied capitalism and figured out its weaknesses. They then redistribute wealth so the playing field is evened. They identified you as a student when you attended DIRT ACADEMY. At that time you led a group of teenagers to get back your suite mate’s father, a Pakhan in the Russian mafia that was kidnapped by his own elite group for money and status.

DADA: Yeah, that was a scam called the Trade N Raid. It worked because everyone teamed up. Why did you choose the team I have now?

JUNE: I wanted to showcase knowledge of mind, body and the gifts of spirit. CYPHER represents mastery of communication. She speaks about nine languages and that doesn’t include the computer codes and languages she uses that allow her to open any door or digital lock. Kham is the guru of illusions, infiltrations and cultural immersions. He also trains the team in multiple degrees of mixed martial arts. Once CYPHER opens the door, he tells the team how to blend in. He embodies the character in The Spook Who Sat By The Door. Together, you use intuition, technological skill and disguise to infiltrate nefarious crime organizations.

DADA: Where will we go next?

JUNE: Dada’s Return is the first in a trilogy. The next story, Scorpion: Strike, has the team taking down a human trafficking ring that makes young women fight for sport. It’s the team versus She-Gladiators. Get ready for a lot more action and fighting.

paperback stack

June SadlerJune Sadler is a writer with vision. Inside the creative mind of June Sadler is a place she has designated the BLASH! Universe. BLASH is an acronym standing for Be Like A Super HER(o). In that space, her imagination fuels an expanding star enveloping interactive media. The universe includes documentary films, uplifting imagery, and rhythmic verse bundled in melodies wandering the musical galaxies between soul and hip hop. Laden with memories of childhood cartoons of super-powered characters, June is heavily influenced in her writing by the hero’s pledge to do good. The Scorpion Series is her second internet publication. The premiere e-novella of the series entitled Dada’s Return – Scorpion: Sting is an introduction to Dada’s life of intrigue as a rogue African-American undercover spy. Dada’s clever antics coupled with her teams almost prank like precision is the adventure from your dreams. @iblashu

This Friday, September 13, in Greensboro, NC, June will close out the QPOCC’s (Queer People of Color Collective) Pride Event. As a featured performer, she’ll be performing songs from the soundtrack of Dada’s Return.

above photos: June Sadler; Candace Pryor as Dada

“Justice for Black Life is Justice for Humanity”

So heartened to read this. Thanks to Steve Biko (@BIKOINC) for posting. Please visit The Black Youth Project’s site to read the rest of the necessary, powerful statement:

100 Young Black Activists
The work of The Black Youth Project (BYP) is based on three basic concepts: knowledge, voice, and action.

KNOWLEDGE: We are committed to producing research about the ideas, attitudes, decision making, and lived experiences of black youth, especially as it relates to their political and civic engagement.

VOICE: Unlike any other organization, we amplify the perspectives of young black people daily without censorship or control. We have built a space on the Internet where black youth can speak for themselves about the issues that concern them.

ACTION: Informed with culturally-specific knowledge, we will work to mobilize black youth and their allies to make positive change and build the world within which they want to live. is a diverse online resource, divided into three main subsites: BYP BLOG, BYP RESEARCH, and BYP ACTION.

Nothing about this Verdict Says Justice, Honor, or Peace

Poem about Police Violence by June Jordan

Tell me something
what you think would happen if
everytime they kill a black boy
then we kill a cop
everytime they kill a black man
then we kill a cop

you think the accident rate would lower subsequently?
sometimes the feeling like amaze me baby
comes back to my mouth and I am quiet
like Olympian pools from the running
mountainous snows under the sun

sometimes thinking about the 12th House of the Cosmos
or the way your ear ensnares the tip
of my tongue or signs that I have never seen

I lose consciousness of ugly bestial rapid
and repetitive affront as when they tell me
18 cops in order to subdue one man
18 strangled him to death in the ensuing scuffle
(don’t you idolize the diction of the powerful: subdue
and scuffle my oh my) and that the murder
that the killing of Arthur Miller on a Brooklyn
street was just a “justifiable accident” again

People been having accidents all over the globe
so long like that I reckon that the only
suitable insurance is a gun
I’m saying war is not to understand or rerun
war is to be fought and won

sometimes the feeling like amaze me baby
blots it out/the bestial but
not too often tell me something
what you think would happen if
everytime they kill a black boy
then we kill a cop

everytime they kill a black man
then we kill a cop

you think the accident rate would lower subsequently


Happy Birthday June Jordan!

My first poetry class was with June Jordan back when she had just started her Poetry for the People program at Berkeley. I was a terrified wannabe poet. Her class, her poetry, her activism, her teaching was everything.  The world is a lesser place without her light, but thankfully it lives on in her writing, and in the writing and work of so many of us.
“I am not wrong: Wrong is not my name
My name is my own my own my own”






Rough and Stuff/Don’t Mess With Our Hair

Note to administrators at Horizon Science Academy in Lorain, Ohio: Banning “Afro-puffs and small twisted braids with or without rubber bands” is not culturally sustaining pedagogy.


Note to all Black girls in Lorain, Ohio (Toni Morrison’s hometown!) and everywhere else: We got you.

And it’s understandable why the Afro Puff is being compared to the ponytail in terms of helping people understand, but the Afro-puff is the Afro-puff. There’s no comparison. Let it reign supreme.


The pic above is from Black Girl Long Hair where you can read all about this, including letters from the school. And thanks to  Cynthia Marie (@cynmarieMBA) who tweeted this.







Screen shot 2013-05-30 at 11.05.05 AM






from “Beyond the Peacock: The Reconstruction of Flannery O’Connor” by Alice Walker










Sonia Sanchez: “The Artist as Creator of Social Values”

For southern Cali folks, you won’t want to miss this event tonight: Sonia Sanchez, award-winning poet and activist, will present “The Artist as Creator of Social Values,” part of the Loma Linda University School of Religion’s Art That Health Arts and Lectures series 6:00 p.m., Thursday, May 23, 2013.

Founded by Dr. Ramona L. Hyman, the lecture series highlights  the integration of all of the arts and healthcare.


Ms. Sanchez has published over 20 books, most recently “Morning Haiku” (2010), and has received numerous awards for her work, including a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a PEW Fellowship in the Arts, and the Langston Hughes Poetry Award, as well as the Poetry Society of America’s Robert Frost Medal. She was appointed the first poet laureate of Philadelphia in 2011. In addition to her writing, Ms. Sanchez has lectured at universities and colleges around the world, retiring in 2012 as professor emeritus from Temple University where she held the Laura Carnell Chair in English.


Sonia Sanchez’s presentation will be held in the Randall Amphitheater at 6 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.

Here’s a clip of Sonia Sanchez talking about her beginnings, what happened when she went to her first job, and her first intro to the Schomburg Center and Zora Neale Hurston: