The Ego, The Activist & The Universe

From the Vault: This piece originally appeared in Aquarius Magazine.

The ego always tells us that what we have done is not enough. It always finds a way to creep into our minds, reciting mantras of inferiority and ill willed actions.  With the ego, all of the work we have done is easily forgotten.  All of the things we have done to raise awareness, foster love & healing, cry for justice or balance; all these things are lost in the ever pressing urge to do more. Do MORE. DO MORE.

Yet after the frenzie has ended and all of the rallies have demonstrated, after the papers have been presented, the poem recited, the song sung, the art released and the language expressed, the ego makes us forget that we  have done anything at all.  It presses down upon us and says, “But what good was any of that?”

In response to this we rush out, or rush inward, ready to beat up on ourselves for all the trees we couldn’t save, all the young people we couldn’t reach, all the legislation we are unable to petition, all the strangers we couldn’t help, all the times we had to sit down, stop, rest and say “no”, because we couldn’t, didn’t, wouldn’t bring ourselves to do anymore. Whether it’s because our resources were extinguished, our spirit or body needed rest, or simply because we made a different decision we beat up on ourselves.  This can and often does go on forever.

What we must remember is that every act towards healing oneself or others is an act of healing that proliferates throughout the soul of the universe. If we truly believe in the concept of inter-being, which suggests that all life, energy and beings are interconnected, then the love, healing and education we bring to one person one group or more, has a rippling affect.  It moves beyond us and into the unseen.  It may manifest as a flower growing through concrete. It may manifest as someone else across the world being compelled to give a hug, a kiss, a dollar, a dime, a hand, or laughter. It may manifest as a spark of an idea being awakened in someone a world away, but it matters.  Everything we do matters. 

Whether it’s break a smile or breakthrough a facade, these acts, no matter how tiny, actually continue to recycle throughout the galaxy and planet to create more of the same. Our acts of arrogance, ignorance, snobiness, aggression, and elitist attitudes multiply. Our acts of anger, secretiveness, and dishonesty triplicate each time without exception. Just as these less desirable energies spread, so to do our acts of loving-kindness. So do all the times we were non-judgemental and loving.  All the times we reached beyond ourselves to share something with someone outside of our comfort zone to connect, this to was spread over the universe.  Let me make this clear: this is in no way an attempt to suggest that we should not have our emotions or feelings, but to be clear that our emotions are different from our actions. Have the feeling of anger is wonderful. It is apart of being human. 

Acting or hurting someone because of that anger is the challenge. It creates more pain for others and expands this energy across the cosmos. We all of course have done such things at one time in our lives, and have had no or little idea of the consequence on others and ourselves. We also often have to make choices that create pain-such is a part of life. We can work on forgiving ourselves for those actions and in the process heal that energy in order to redirect it. We are all having human experiences here, and no matter with what tools we are equipped with we will still make mistakes and blunders. (if so we would not learn.) Thus forgive yourself and make the wisest choice you can.

The gist of this message is this:  That one, we must acknowledge our deeds and work no matter how small or insignificant for how they affect others and the community. And two: the results of our work and things we do are not always readily seen or perceived by us. This should bring us to both a place of celebration and of caution.  Act mindfully. Move lovingly.  When you are unable to do so, forgive yourself and redirect that energy towards compassion.  And when the ego says, “But what good was that?”  Know and trust that  the after effects of the love and authenticity you have engendered is in action.

-Yolo

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A Book Interview on “Dear Universe” With Moya Bailey of the Crunk Feminist Collective!

Recently I sat down with Moya Bailey from the Crunk Feminist Collective to talk about my new book “Dear Universe”. Check out the interview below!

1. What made you want to write a book with this format of affirmations?

My love of affirmation books made me want to put it in this format. I grew up reading books by Iyanla Vanzant, Susan Taylor, Wayne Dyer, Pema Chodron and many more. I love  those books and some of them have similar formats as “Dear Universe.” But one thing I realize with them, and the new age movement in general, is that they are sorely lacking in structural analysis and social context. In fact, the new age movement at large has been built upon the exploitation of indigenous and people of color’s beliefs. This has helped to fuel conversations on things like  “creating your reality” that completely miss the “realities” of sexism, racism and other forms of oppression.  All those things to me seem to be big omissions.  So I wanted to create “Dear Universe” in this format so that it could be used  as a tool to build upon those conversations. It’s really the first step in a broader dialogue about self/community care, spirituality and emotional wellness that I feel is a large part of my life’s work. That’s why I wanted it to be accessible so that it could not only appeal to progressive communities, but also to the mainstream as well-people of all faiths and political perspectives. It’s small and cute, but packs a lot of power and can catch you off guard at times (Kinda like me I’d like to think! lol)

2. What does the Universe mean to you?

The universe means community. The universe to me cites us as the place where spiritual power lies. When we call on the universe for support or guidance, we are not calling on some externalized far away force. We are calling on ourselves, our families, our communities.

I believe the universe as a theoretical concept can push back against spiritual belief systems that say “God/spirit power is out there somewhere.” This idea has always been troubling to me. It makes me think of the elder christian women I have met throughout my life, who are amazing healers. However, they always said that the power to heal was not them. They didn’t think they had spirit power, but that “Jesus” or someone else only gave it to them at intervals. I often wonder for many of them what their lives would have been like if they believed that power came from within them, not from a man, or anyone else. I always wonder, what more would they have done? How much more could they have healed if they had been able to embody their power differently?  This is why I think the Universe as a term can maybe get people thinking differently. Because if you have the power, and if you are the power, then what else is possible?Dear Universe Book Cover

 

 

3. How did you feel while writing the book? Do you practice these affirmations in your own life

When I wrote the book I was depressed. Honestly. I was in the middle of my Saturn return, and most of my life had fallen down around me, along with my idea of who I thought I  was.  Writing those affirmations was a way to pull myself out of it. I didn’t even consciously realize that was what I was doing, but that’s That’s what Dear Universe did for me. I wrote those affirmations because they were what I needed to hear. They were what I needed to remember to find the strength to pull myself together. People always quote Toni Morrison as saying “ Write the books you want to read” well with Dear Universe, I wrote the book I needed to write to survive. I wrote the book that contained the magic and love that I felt was missing from my life at that time.

And yes, I absolutely practice these affirmations in my own life. I work hard to inscribe them into my everyday way of being. I don’t just read them in the morning; I take them to heart and try to consider them in how I am in the world. This is why writing them down became so necessary to me. I needed them in physical form. I needed them as reminders when the world tries to get me not to trust myself.

Read the Rest HERE:

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Why I Love The Universe More Than I love God

I love the Universe more than I love God.

I love identifying the divine source as the “Universe” because it implicates you and me, inherently.

It does not conjure thoughts of one person or entity. It does not invoke a man, a prophet or a hierarchy. It invokes us, and by calling on it we affirm that we are a part of the power that answers our own prayers and wishes — not an external source or an all mighty white man.

Because the Universe is you … and yo mama. You both are the universe. We all are the divine power.

Many beliefs strongly suggest otherwise. And a consequence of these beliefs is that many a community has been held hostage or destroyed, because they have been waiting on an external savior to exercise the spiritual energy that only they themselves possess.

This is of course, not new. Throughout history spiritual power, which is nothing more than concentrated consciousness, has been projected on and through deities. But by calling on the Universe we invite that power back into us. We invite it back into our bodies, our hands, our bellies and our hearts. We share it with our friends, brothers, mothers, cousins and sisters. We harness it collectively and individually to challenge and transform systems that seek to sabotage our self worth.

In this frame there is no need to argue with agnostics or atheist bullys about “proving” the universe. Because we are “it” and we are the proof that it exists.

We are a part of the power that brings it into being. And as that power, we have to take accountability for creation around us. We have to take responsibility for what we create. We have to recognize how we are complicit in the violence of the world and make our own decisions about how we will, through our everyday choices and ongoing acts of resistance, contribute something else to the pot. 

 (Read the rest at the Huffington Post by clicking here) 

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Black, Female & SuperPowered: An Interview with Grace Gipson on Black Comic Book Superheroines

Cover Art By Olivier Coipel, Courtesy Marvel Comics

 My latest interview for Huffington Post:

When it comes to female comic book superheroes of any race, Wonder Woman and Supergirl are by far the world’s most recognized. Yet even with their international popularity, both have failed commercially in major films and television adaptations. This failure has historically been attributed to the white, male-dominated comic book industry and media, which is often accused of being largely inept in writing, crafting and celebrating complex female superheroines. It has also been attributed to our sexist culture, which struggles psychologically with the concept of women and power.

This difficulty to write white female superheroines (or, depending on who you talk to, Kryptonian and Greek superheroines who look white) has fallen down even more so on black female superheroines, who not only become victims to the white male sexist imagination, but, among other things, it’s racist stereotypes. In fact, with the exception of the X-men’s Storm, there are not any other widely recognized black superheroines in American culture.

Well, the work of Grace Gipson just may help to change all that. Gipson, a graduate student at Georgia State University, is researching the interpretations and history of black superheroines. Her work has centered on answering the question “What are comic books communicating about black women to younger male and female readers who participate in the cultural universe of superheroes?”.

I caught up with Gipson to learn more about the black female superheroines that are out there, why we need to read their stories and why we should support black women and girls in being the heroes in their own lives.

Can you tell us more about your research on black female superheroines? Why did you choose to research this?

I chose this research because I wanted to provide a voice from a black woman’s perspective regarding comics, especially the black female characters.

Also the comic book genre has primarily been discussed from the perspective and viewpoints of white males. There is very little research that specifically discusses the black female character in comics, so this was a great way to open this door even further.

Read the Rest at the Huffington Post by clicking here. 

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My article for Huff Post Black Voices: Two Narratives The Black Community Needs To Give Up In The New Year

2013 is here, and it’s time folks.

It’s time to leave behind the tired stories and unhealthy narratives that hurt our communities.

It’s time to re-commit our focus to the brilliance, beauty and resilience we possess, so that these things can grow exponentially and overshadow the death, gloom and despair that the media and many of us have focused on.

This is not about delusion. It is not about pretending that problems do not exist. This is about re-adjusting our gaze. It’s about getting as motivated about the things people are doing to help our communities as we are when a celebrity says something racist, or when a white film maker produces a film that distorts or minimizes our historical experiences. This is about getting excited and celebrating what we have going for ourselves as a community.

This is about finding a new lens on life.

So in honor of the new year, I’d like to offer you (and me) an opportunity to abandon two narratives in particular that have done a grave disservice to black communities. They are the “Ain’t No Good Black Men” and the ” Black People are Deficit in Every Damn Thing” narratives. Leaving them behind may not be easy, but by questioning these narratives and our commitment to them, we may come to some fairly surprising conclusions.

(Read the Rest at the Huffington Post by Clicking Here)

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