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Tag Archives: black women

the power of my (moving) hips

Whenever I offer an honest and sexy peek into the life of an African American woman – on stage or for the screen – responses from early audiences are largely, emphatically positive, grateful and welcoming.

“Thank you. We don’t often get to see ourselves portrayed in these ways.”

And especially for women over 40, as we find in my latest (9th, in development) stageplay, Wild + Free. Thewild and free fa profile image bronzed woman in this story is Sydney Augustine, a Creole shop owner in the fictional south Georgia town of Prairie Hills. The second half of life was supposed to be a smooth journey to retirement for her. However, after five years in this resort town, during the summer after 45’s election, smooth becomes bumpy. Sydney finds herself caught between an old flame and her current boyfriend – while the town’s white residents vehemently resist her plans of expanding her business, preferring to keep some historical secrets buried.

While I love feedback that lets us know we are doing valuable work, I am still trying to figure out why these kinds of stories are so rare. What is it about openly positive stories about sex (women’s sex) that causes such an uproar? And Wild + Free is not actually about sex! It’s about Sydney’s pursuit of what she wants in life. Sex happens to be just as integral in her life as it is in ours – and we do not make a big deal out of it – which can cause it to become a big deal.

What in the world???

I am excited about one of the takeaways from the recent hit movie, Girls Trip. HuffPost writer, Zeba Blay, celebrates that this movie allows black women to be raunchy and hilarious, creating an “exhilarating” experience that apparently resonates deeply with audiences.

“Black female sexuality has always been such a loaded concept,” Blay writes. “With Girls Trip, for the first time in a long time (perhaps not since 1995′s Waiting To Exhale), we’ve gotten a comedy that focuses entirely on its black female leads, that features black women talking frankly and openly about what kind of dicks they like, the hypnotizing power of their bodies, the healing powers of getting “your back blown out,” the occasional necessity of some good no-strings-attached sex. It’s not that no-strings-attached sex is inherently empowering. The depiction of black women over the age of 40 having agency over their own bodies, however, is.”

I am so here for that! (Read Blay’s entire article.)

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Table read cast + crew for Wild + Free, 30 July 2017

And I invite you to be here for Wild + Free as well. Like us on Facebook, learn more, consider making a donation to our 1st reading in the fall, and if you’re in/around Atlanta, check it out – let us know what you think!

“I will not be another flower, picked for my beauty and left to die. I will be wild, difficult to find, and impossible to forget.” ~Author Unknown/Sydney’s Life Mantra

(c) 2017 candi dugas, llc

love un-conditioned, part 2

love un-conditioned, part 2

You know you’re free. So, now what? How do you live as a free woman of faith, reclaiming your sexual and spiritual goodness in the context of un-conditioned love?

Simply, but not easily, we remove the conditions of love – conditions which tend to reflect our fears.

Many of our fears about our romantic relationships are rooted in two places – past hurts and social/religious ideals. We may move on after a break-up, but often, we carry with us its baggage. Once we engage with someone new, we hope our current lover will redeem all that the former ones screwed up. When we perceive that he’s showing signs of veering into that potentially hurtful lane, we react, usually before anything actually happens. So, we impose all kinds of conditions (i.e., rules and regulations) that we believe will keep him in the safe lane – safe for us, not him. This kind of feminine safety net feeds into the prescriptive rhetoric which society and religion promulgate to women. We women buy into their recipes (i.e., laws, doctrine and dogma) for virtue, respect and goodness because we believe doing so will garner the kinds of affirmation, esteem and status we seek. This belief has a public value for which we look to a private situation, our romantic relationships, to provide. Seeking public validation from something quite private is inherently problematic, setting up a condition in which true love (i.e., orthoeros) will never flow. (Orthoeros is great erotic love. To read more, please see “we gotta cum 2! feminine orgasm doesn’t think like a lady … or act like a man (nsfw).”)

Removing the conditions of love means that we truly know who we are as women in this moment. We name and own what we want and why we want it. (e.g., We do not look for a man to provide that which should come from ourselves or G~d.) We create mutually safe space in communication with and connection to our lovers for orthoeros to flow. In this kind of space, our bliss can thrive and there is no need for conditions because there is no fear. Un-conditioned love can operate from an inner freedom and a fearlessness (See “love un-conditioned, part 1.”) that allows a great, magnanimous love to abound between lovers, almost effortlessly.

love is unconditional quote from love is facebook page

“love is . . . unconditional!” Image source: Love Is Facebook Page

But these rules and regulations have kept us safe and secure all this time, right? Yes and no. Let’s consider a couple of realities about rules and regulations. One reality is that even with conditions we sometimes still get hurt, because with pleasure comes pain. No law, doctrine or dogma can prevent pain. They don’t necessarily minimize the risk either. So, therefore if the fruitless avoidance of pain is our goal with the use of conditions, then, there must be a better way to love and be loved. We must seek a more authentic, lasting path to emotional and psychological security than the logic of pre-determined, cookie-cutter boundaries that break when pushed too far like weak levees in a hurricane.

Another reality about what we believe has kept us safe is that what works for one season of our lives doesn’t necessarily work for or is even required in another. Once we heal from an injury, do we still need the crutches to help us walk without falling? Are training wheels still necessary to keep us on our bicycles? Do we still need safety latches for ourselves in our adult homes to prevent us from getting into something that we don’t know how to use properly? As we heal and as we grow and mature, we need fewer and fewer conditions to keep us safe. Healed and whole, grown and mature – we now have agency, autonomy and an increase in our authority to love and be loved in ways that work for us – even if these ways work for no one else but ourselves and our lovers.

usa's declaration of independence

USA’s Declaration of Independence. Image source: founding.com

Un-conditioned love requires a kind of independence that, unfortunately, is deemed radical. Perhaps this is why I’ve chosen this post to be our 4th of July offering. (albeit 20 days after the holiday) Radicals dared to tell a world superpower, as their right, that they were no longer required to act according to the institution’s authority because the institution had become unjust. The Declaration of Independence proclaimed this right, explained why and listed the institution’s violations of justice. (Simultaneously, these radicals oppressed our ancestors, but that’s a path of discussion for another post.)

If you were to pen your own declaration of independence, what would you proclaim, justify and charge?

Mine would be something like:

As I live I realize the necessity to sever ties with social and religious ideals and to accept my agency, autonomy and authority as a daughter of this world, completely equal to every other creation in worthiness to assert my needs and desires to live a blissful life, full of sexual and spiritual goodness. … The history of my people, and therefore of me, is one of incessant afflictions and abductions, all with the clear disdain for and connected goal of solidifying a control over my body and its activities. To prove this, let the record show to an unbiased universe: (in my Claire Hanks Huxtable voice)

– Failure to allow me to be anything other than a stereotyped myth as evidenced by the percentage of black women in leadership positions and the roles available to black actors. I am profiled either a Jezebel (sexually immoral), a Mammy (asexual and familial) or a Sapphire (perpetually angry).

– Refusal to appreciate, learn and maintain the knowledge about my aesthetic as evidenced by the incessant questions about my hair length and texture, ridicule of the beauty processes and products I use, lack of faces and bodies that look like me to be  upheld as an epitome of beauty and lack of fashionista clothing that easily fit my body types.

– Annihilation of the vitality of my black brothers as evidenced by the disproportionately low high school graduation rates, high incarceration rates and low percentages of black males in leadership positions. Most of us want romantic relationships with our brothers, but without their freedom and vitality this desire becomes impossible to realize, leaving us without the good lovin’ that every human needs to thrive.

Declaring independence invites some sort of risk. However, “I prefer a dangerous freedom over peaceful

slavery.” (~Jada Pinkett Smith’s Facebook Page) Are those our only two options – dangerous freedom or peaceful slavery? As a proponent of “the third way,” I declare that there is another option – being somewhere in between the two extremes. However, I find this 3rd option to be unacceptable; I liken it to Yeshua’s description of what it means to be lukewarm. (Revelation 3:15-16) I also believe in balance and continua, but regarding the foundational aspects of who we are and how we live our lives, we must make definitive choices in order to live with vitality and relevance, hallmarks of sexual and spiritual goodness.

The greatest risk yields the greatest return on our investment. And it is ours to make, from a sense of inner freedom. Reliance on outer freedom is often illusory, focusing on others – namely our lovers – to provide the kind of return we seek (e.g., emotional and psychological security). This focus is actually counterproductive as it strangles our inner freedom and clogs our romantic flow, preventing us from being fully present in our romantic relationships. We must come to a point of relying less on another person for our inner senses of security so that we can love unconditionally.

“[Y]ou cannot depend upon anybody. There is only you – your relationship with others and with the world. . . . When you realise this, it either brings great despair, from which comes cynicism and bitterness, or, in facing the fact that you and nobody else are responsible for the world and for yourself, for what you think, what you feel, how you act, all self-pity goes. Normally we thrive on blaming others, which is a form of self-pity.” (Jiddu Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known, p. 15)

Is this post sucking the rose colored tint from your glasses? Actually, I hope it is … and replacing it with an organic appreciation of reality that includes the beauty of social- and religious-deemed imperfections that only clear glasses can bring. You know, we kinda get off on bragging about the trustworthiness of our partners, setting them on high pedestals as if such loftiness is a badge of honor for ourselves. We become great because another finds us so worthy and special that their love for us overrides any human frailty within their being. Has this badge of honor become our love-goal in relationships? I hope not. I hope that we’re brave enough to love radically as I’ve described because on the other side will be a freer love than we’ve ever known. On the other side of this incredible risk, with our lovers, we will be present, supportive, caring – we will love fully, not out of obligation, but out of choice.

beauty of fearless love quote from candidugas.com

“The beauty of fearless love is in allowing it to unfold . . . & to become its unique essence, just for these lovers, just for right now.”
© 2013 candidugas.com

Love is the absence of fear, conditions and obligation.

 Love is the presence of confidence, requests and choice.

When we love freely by letting go of our fear, conditions and obligations – we experience the tremendous energy of un-conditioned love.

“We look to someone to tell us what is right or wrong behaviour, what is right or wrong thought, and in following this pattern our conduct and our thinking become mechanical, our responses automatic.” (Jiddu Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known, pp. 9-10)

Don’t we owe more to the beauty and mystery of love and sexuality than mechanics and automation?

Inspiring Quotes:

  • “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • “Abandonment. In my search for emotional peace [after experiencing abandonment], I have learned that many choices we make are based on our capacity. I came to the conclusion that my stepfather cut ties with me, not because he was a bad man or that I was unloveable, it just meant he was limited. He made a choice that fit his capacity. This experience taught me how love MUST take weight, and love is about working with the complexities relationships sometimes deliver. … People may be limited, but we are still…lovable. ~Jada Pinkett Smith’s Facebook Post, 19 June 2013
  • “She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go. She let go of the fear.  . . .  She didn’t ask anyone for advice.  . . .  She didn’t promise to let go.  . . .  She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.  . . .  No one was around when it happened.  . . .  There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that. In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.” ~Rev. Safire Rose

To Read More:

(c) 2013 candi dugas, llc

when will a black woman be free enough 2 love whomever she chooses?

when will a black woman be free enough 2 love whomever she chooses?

“Is Olivia Pope the New Sally Hemings?” Stacia L. Brown’s question as penned in a recent article in Clutch Magazine has gained little traction. Most responses to her question have been a resounding “NO.” Online commenters tend to think the comparison is a huge stretch for a number of reasons including a few listed here:

  • Olivia and television’s “Scandal’s” President Fitzgerald Grant (Fitz) are fictional characters. Sarah “Sally” Hemings and her slave-owning lover, President Thomas Jefferson, were actual people.
actors tony goldwyn and kerry washington in abc's scandal, created by shonda rhimes

actors tony goldwyn (president grant) and kerry washington (ms. pope) in abc’s “scandal,’ created by shonda rhimes. image from http://hiphopwired.com.

  • Olivia is not a slave; she’s a powerfully influential business owner. Ms. Hemings lived her entire life literally owned by other people. (While she died in 1835 residing with her two sons, historians report that neither President Jefferson nor his heirs ever officially granted her freedom.)
  • Olivia, a fully grown and educated professional woman, consents to her relationship with Fitz. Historians attest that Ms. Hemings was about 14 years old when she began her romantic relationship with President Jefferson. Even accounting for women marrying at younger ages in past eras, Ms. Hemings’ age and slave status call to serious question her ability to consent to such a relationship.

While Ms. Brown’s comparison does not receive much support for the sake of online debates, it does raise a critical question.

Olivia may be independent, but is she free?

olivia pope of abc's scandal, created by shonda rhimes and an artist's rendering of sally hemings for barbara chase-riboud's novel

olivia pope of abc’s scandal, created by shonda rhimes and an artist’s rendering of sally hemings for barbara chase-riboud’s novel

Are any of us black women, descendants of slaves, free if we cannot love any man we choose (adultery and other betrayals of commitment aside) without attracting comments and inquiries regarding our choices? The attraction of these comments and inquiries indicate that we don’t choose, no matter how tangibly successful we are, on a level playing field. This conversation is certainly a reality check; black women are still connected to the vestiges of American slavery.

When will a black woman be free enough to love whomever she chooses?

Perhaps creative work like “Scandal” and Shonda Rhimes’ other shows (Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice) advance us toward true freedom. Ms. Rhimes’ characters and storylines never hinge upon race. Whenever race happens to be a factor in a story, it isn’t magnified and is done as one feature in a larger picture. We know from history that music, arts in general, and sports help connect us across boundaries like race. These connections assist in reducing and eventually dissipating the issue of color lines forever.

Bravo, kudos, and AMEN to Olivia Pope, the cast of Scandal, Shonda Rhimes and all others associated with this fabulous show! Olivia is not today’s Ms. Hemings, but because Sally Hemings was, we are.

SIDEBAR:

Ms. Brown’s article was written prior to Scandal’s season finale, so she didn’t have an opportunity to take into account the final scenes. In these scenes Ms. Rhimes seems to hint that President Grant’s wife is aware of and supports her husband’s relationship with Olivia. When Grant’s presidency is threatened, she tells Olivia something like, “Because you didn’t do your job, now, I have to take my husband back.”

Scandal FLOTUS’ support of the extramarital relationship reminds me of another complex trio – Hagar, Sarah, and Abraham from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Again, in this story, the dark-skinned mistress is a slave and without full citizens’ rights. And just like what may be happening in the Scandal world, Sarah not only approved of the affair, she orchestrated it.

What do you think about that?

LINKS for your consideration:

© 2012 candi dugas, llc

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