Wednesday, July 22, 2015

When We Free World Premiere: August 1st at Full Frame Theater in Durham, NC

When We Free: A Meditation on Faith and Liberation
Saturday August 1, 2015 4pm-7pm
Full Frame Theater, Durham, NC

We are proud to present the world premiere of When We Free a meditation on faith and liberation written and directed by Julia Sangodare Roxanne Wallace and produced by Black Feminist Film School and our whole community!!! I can't wait to see you all at the world premiere of When We Free at the Full Frame Theater in Durham, NC on August 1st. Reserve your FREE tickets here:

Sunday, December 7, 2014

C(h)ant. Breathe: Coming Back to Breath in Honor of Eric Garner and Many More

Yesterday I had the honor of bringing Black Feminist Breathing to the BOLD National Gathering which took place on a reclaimed plantation here in North Carolina.  Sister-Comrade Genius Facilitator Adrienne Maree Brown describes BOLD as the current Black Power Movement and beautifully contextualizes yesterday's miracles here:
In preparation for the paradoxical and necessary task of bringing Black Feminist Breathing into a moment where as Black folks we are collectively remembering and struggling with Eric Garner's last words "I can't breathe," I offered myself and the participants this meditation.  Maybe it can be a healing part of your journey back to breath.

C(h)ant.   Breathe.

Dedicated to Eric Garner
*take a deep breath everywhere you see a star 
return to the place
where you learned
how to breathe
where night washed itself
into your dreams
to the place
where you learned
breathing was bigger
than you
or your fears of
dogs bats and sea creatures
and would continue
all night long
without you trying
to keep it going
human freedom is like that
as the ocean at night
sometimes the crashing is just louder
like right now
we are feeling it in our chests
right now
the underwater knowing
of upside down justice
that has to right itself
that hasn’t righted itself
the sinking feeling
that the chokehold of the state
is more persistent than the ocean
it is not
if I could
I would bring all our people
right next to the ocean
to just sit
and breathe with the ancestors
just listen
knowing all this sand
was bone
and the stars
are just us
across the black history
of the universe

i want every last breath
to be a tide going out
so we can imagine
some baby somewhere
gasping into time
with an unbroken custody
of air
i don’t want the choking struggle
the staccato of bullets
shattering the song
of what we know
but sometimes
even as the ocean
slaps the sand
it sounds shocked to me
shoreline shaping impact
this is happening

I imagine
Eric Garner
becoming the ocean
like Margaret Garner’s baby
awakening stream
how all blood flows back
to the salt in this water
how something

Friday, December 5, 2014

It Will Not Always Be This Way: Prophecy Poem or Impermanence After Phillis

"Frontispiece Remastered" Collage by Alexis Pauline Gumbs
Last night after laying our bodies in the street in protest, while advocating and praying for our comrades who had been arrested, while grieving and grieving the loss of black lives, the audacity of state violence, while remembering the police murder of Fred Hampton and honoring the resilience of our beautiful communities, 5 black women gathered in the name of Phillis Wheatley.  230 years ago today Phillis Wheatley/Peters the first Black person to publish a collection of poems in the United States, witness to the American Revolution, acquaintance of a Queen and a President, died free, cold and poor somewhere in Boston.
Our conversation, blessed by the literary and historical expertise of Dr. Tara Bynum, ranged from the possibility of "ordinary" Black life in a context where just being a live and Black is framed as not just extraordinary but abnormal, to speculations of the layered and syncretic spiritual cosmologies present in Wheatley's work and her correspondence with her friend Obour Tanner, to Morissonian (as in Toni) reflections on the normalcy of evil, to raw honesty about slave-funded academic institutions that continue to enslave black scholars, to just wondering where our friends are and if they are okay.
Inspired by Wheatley's invocation of the sacred nine in her poetry, we mused a while and generated resources of laughter, love, epic realness, star-knowledge, movement, history, tragedy, song and hymns to share with each other as a reminder that the institutions that harm us are not our only sources of power, we are resources for each other.   Finally we created this poem together out of our outrage at this moment and our faith that our lives and our world can be different.  This is a prophecy poem offering on the date of Phillis Wheatley's ascension.  May all of our ancestors receive it and join us in transforming life on earth.
Prophecy Poem (impermanence after Phillis)
by the participants in Bright Black Broadcast #3: Phillis Wheatley

black bodies disappearing into death, state-sanctioned choke-holds.
it will not always be this way

the impossibility of breathing.
it will not always be this way.

I listen to my ancestors when they say
it will not always be this way

to steady my steps I have to pray
it will not always be this way

it cannot always be this way
it will not always be this way

it will not always be this way,
i will continue to say

it will not always be this way,
as I smile remembering what's gone is for yesterday

liberation is possible - perhaps not today.
it will not always be this way

hasten the change, no more lives should pay.
it will not always be this way.

y’all must got me f—d up
it will not always be this way

you must not know who taught me to pray
it will not always be this way

trickster teacher chaos clay
it will not always be this way

i’m gonna be here anyway
it will not always be this way

it will not always be this way
there is more than one way

gather the children and tell them
it will not always be this way

remind each other that
it will not always be this way

name your babies
it will not always be this way

the ancestors promise
it will not always be this way

baptize in the name of
it will not always be this way

we make joy
because it will not always be this way

i was born to love and play
It will not always be this way

we will dance into the black light of a brand new day,
it will not always be this way


If you want your own limited edition print of the "Frontispiece Remastered" collage of Phillis Wheatley you can get on with your next $35 donation to Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind.   Be sure to include "Wheatley Print" and your current address with your donation:  

Friday, November 14, 2014

the vessel: freedom dimensions after Benjamin Banneker

Last night was the first Brilliance Remastered Bright Black Broadcast and it was miraculous.   Guided by the brilliance of Benjamin Banneker, and some of his enduring texts we engaged the rhetoric of our integrity, the equations of our freedom, the core beliefs that inform our problem solving, the locations of the planets and the trajectories of our own orbits in relationship to creativity, freedom, institutions, work, family and everything else.   At the end of our time together we created our own three part group poem in response to Benjamin Banneker's "A Mathematical Problem in Verse" a beautiful poem about some drunk people who have plenty of confidence and specificity (take that respectability politics!) as a way of reflecting on the dimensions of our freedom. 
the vessel
by the participants in Bright Black Broadcast #1: Benjamin Banneker
(after Benjamin Banneker’s “A Mathematical Problem in Verse”)

i. the diametrical proportions of freedom

seven answers for every one question
three loves for every one life
one breath for every thousand years
one thousand heartbeats for every one connection
one circle for one change
one thousand stars for every one night sky

ii. the depth of freedom

deep enough to fill sound
deep enough to dance in technicolor
deep enough to invite the whole family and community in
deep enough to get baptized  in every single day
deep enough to hold our energy

iii. freedom capacity

it can hold my imperfections
it can hold our pain
it can hold our hands
it can hold our dreams
it can hold the past and the future at the same time
it can hold heart
it can hold space
it can hold light

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Spill Intensive: Sustainable Strategies for Exceeding the Boundaries of the Academic Industrial Complex (Webinar October 20th-24th 9pm EST)

The Spill Intensive: Sustainable Strategies for Exceeding the Boundaries of the Academic Industrial Complex   Webinar October 20th-24th 9pm EST
Rodney Ewing, My Country Needs Me by Hortense Spillers
Rodney Ewing, My Country Needs Me by Hortense Spillers
Coming out of the insights of the recent Shape of My Impact back to school webinar, The Spill Intensive is an experimental space for those visionaries who want to honor the ways their inspiration, spiritual imperatives and accountability to oppressed communities EXCEED the boundaries of the University system.
Using an innovative curriculum based on Sista Docta Alexis Pauline's decade of work on the brilliant excess of the language practice of black feminist literary critic Hortense Spillers, the Spill Intensive invites 9 webinar participants to
  • inhabit scenes of stolen freedom
  • interrogate internalized capitalist default practices
  • and activate practices that make tangible space in our lives and in the world for the unruly brilliance that our ancestors and our communities demand!
The intensive will meet online every night for 1 hour and 30 minutes at 9pm EST Oct 20th-24th. Fee: $200  Reserve your spot with an email to explaining what you hope to get out of the course and your $50 deposit:

Monday, September 29, 2014

Register Now for the Juneteenth Freedom Academy for Facilitators, Nov. 1-2 in Durham, NC

299912_10100694112040707_269167204_nWe are the facilitators.  Compact, anachronistic speakeasies of the justice movement.  We make it smooth, entertaining, energizing and cool to do the impossible in a t
wo hour workshop.  In an all day training, though a weekly series, at a weekend retreat.
How can we achieve more than the packaging of oppression and the production of cute funding digestible deliverables? What is the spiritual work of holding space for visionary encounters, those sacred spaces where what it is possible imagine shifts, where we become real to each other and spoken into history?
As June Jordan developed the Poetry for the People curriculum she and her community of poet-facilitators practiced the technology of what they called an "experimental and hopeful community" that was "safe enough" for the transformative process of the truth to happen.   Jamaican theorist Sylvia Wynter teaches that after humanism "the ceremony must be found" for how we human/dehumanized beings relate to each other as we dismantle the oppressive logics that have been holding us back.
The Juneteenth Freedom Academy for Facilitators offers the proposition that we, the facilitators are the experimental hopeful people, making ceremony for a love that has not been spoken yet and for a triumph that is not supposed to exist.
And since we are designing the rituals to reclaim our lives, since we are continually creating site specific breathing installation invitations for ancestors and future to speak, since we are accountable to the anarchic potential of what it will mean when this particular, irreplaceable set of beings in this particular space, on this particular day, face the possibility of our collective freedom, the Juneteenth Freedom Academy for Facilitators is a space to support the work of facilitation as spiritual and creative work and to provide the necessary forms of sacred sustenance that makes the practices of
opening our hearts
being present
being transformed
and activating infinite love for our communities
possible and likely on a regular basis, and not just in the space of  the programmed events that we are "facilitating."

The Juneteenth Freedom Academy for Facilitators is dedicated to facilitating the possibility of freedom in all of our interactions and relationships and in the matrix of our daily lives.
We believe that powerful facilitation is not based on charisma, mirco-management, fancy machines or a dazzling show.  We believe that the power of facilitation and the accountability of the facilitator is to:
1. do what it takes to be fully present to the moment and the people
2. co-create a context where the people can be fully present to the moment, themselves and each other
3. co-create and activate a context where everyone can be present to spirit, ancestors and possibility

If you are looking for a space to recenter your facilitation as a sacred practice with a cohort of transformative visionaries join us in Durham, NC Nov 1st-2nd for a two-day retreat/transformative training.

If you are available to participate in the weekend training:
Register here:
Offer your $75 deposit here (and be sure to include the note Juneteenth Deposit):
Your registration is considered complete once you have completed all required questions on the registration form and offered your deposit.
If you are NOT available for the training you can register as an individual auditor and get the workbook/reader that participants will be using in November and sign up for a 45 minute session with Alexis Pauline Gumbs about taking your facilitation to the next level:
Offer your $75 here (and be sure to include the note Juneteenth Auditor):
If your organization would like to bring Alexis to lead a transformative facilitation workshop customized to the mission and needs of your organization email to schedule a training.

Testimonials from some of my favorite collaborators!!!:

Alexis P. Gumbs is the facilitator you've been waiting for. Her generosity of spirit, thought, and action creates a circle around you which allows you to grow into your own potential as a leader and visionary. If you believe another world is possible,  but you wish someone would take you by the hand and help you get to the threshold, Alexis is the person who can help guide you to the place where your own feet will begin to take hold. I have been fortunate enough to watch Alexis facilitate hundreds of meetings, workshops, and groups over the last fifteen years and with each passing year I am aware that she grows more into herself and more into connection with all of us. I wish that everyone would have the opportunity to sit in a room with Alexis and have her reflect their light back to them. I can think of no better gift you can give yourself or your team than to spend some time learning and growing with her!
-Elizabeth Anderson, Charis Circle Executive Director, co-facilitator with Alexis since high school!

Sister Dr. Alexis is the most insightful, creative, and compassionate workshop facilitator I have ever witnessed, and collaborating with her was soul inspiring, joy filled, and transformative for me in so many ways. Alexis gives herself so fully to the responsibility of transformative facilitating that her every action within it is a meditation; a master class in the practice and rewards of pedagogies of presence, love, truth and justice, elevating every one and every thing around her to higher ground.

-Dr. Eric Pritchard, co-facilitator of Guardian Dead: Ancestor Accountable Intellectual Practice

What a profound experience it has been for me to have access to the unique and inspirited works of Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs!  Through her imaginative, thoughtful, loving, critical and layered facilitation ; Dr. Gumbs is able to : spark, engage, replenish and centralize  black genius audiences by honoring a well of multi- disciplined black genius innovators/creative's.  Black on Black Love! It is an ancestral reunion and a shapeshiffting love praxis to participate in any of her workshops.  You will be changed and will be charged to share the love work! Go and get it!

-Soraya Jean-Louis McElroy, Ancestral Alchemist and guest facilitator and participant in the Black Feminist Breathing Retreat

Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs teaches from—and with—her heart. She uses space, sound, movement, and meditation(s) to create liberative learning spaces that inspire creativity and social change. Her love for black people and her commitment to love-filled queer black feminist politics have inspired the ways I think about, and practice, liberation work. Any opportunity to co-learn with Dr. Gumbs is definitely a privilege and a blessing. I wholeheartedly recommend the Juneteenth Freedom Academy for Facilitators!
-Emerson Zora Hamsa, Theological Educator, Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind Participant, Laurel Maryland

I recently began to look at facilitation as an arts practice. There's a aesthetic in moving people to action and reflection. Facilitators are vessels, magicians, coaches and mirrors, sometimes all at once. I have been fortunate enough to not only have been facilitated through processes by Dr. Gumbs but I have also felt the ripples of her work in my direct communitiy in Washington, DC. Just this past weekend at a board meeting I attended in New York City, we opened the meeting with a black feminist breathing meditation recording by Dr. Gumbs. Her recorded words facilitated a rich conversation about voice and sense of agency in black girls.
Dr. Gumbs' practice is deliberate love-filled and tested. Anyone looking to deepen their practice and praxis should be a part of Juneteenth Freedom Academy for Facilitators!-Jessica Solomon, director of Art in Praxis, participant in Indigo Days

Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a gifted educator and healer, with a contagious belief in the possibility of other ways to be.  Her capacity for unconditional love is an inspiration, and she is truly a pillar of transformation both within and outside of the academic community. Sista Docta Lex is an alchemist who turns fear into faith through her exceptional workshops and one-on-one offerings. Alexis has been an incredibly generous friend and mentor in my life, and her divine example has helped me learn how to activate my own magic. 

-Analena Hope, scholar, creative community collaborator and participant in the Juneteenth Freedom Academy for Educators

Alexis Pauline Gumbs is brilliant and magical. She enriches, inspires, and changes lives every day. Her love-filled transformative facilitation is a gift to any community that receives it. If you work with an organization or community that wants to create change, her work can bring whatever you do up to a higher level. 

-Jordan Flaherty, New Orleans based journalist and community organizer, author of Floodlines:Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena 6 and co-organizer of the Grassroots Media Justice Tour

I always feel more grounded when I leave a space that Alexis has facilitated. She has an ability to tap into my deepest creativity; I emerge having tapped into my own wisdom and knowing. I am very excited about this opportunity for our community.
 -Tema Okun, Durham based educator and activist, author of The Emperor Has No Clothes: Teaching About Race and Racism to People Who Don't Want to Know and participant in the Finding Poems Retreats
Working in a small group of survivors with Alexis on Lucille Clifton's Shape Shifter poems changed my life: I stepped into the name "poet" with a trust in my own authority that was part me, part Clifton, and a large part Alexis' faith in my authority to transform the materials of my life. I know Alexis approached the work with our group with great intentionality. A couple of years later, when I wanted to learn more about working as a poet, but wanted to learn in community, rather than in a traditional one-on-one mentorship, after speaking with me and others and after reflecting upon her own creative work, Alexis designed a six-session series, "Finding Poetry," which influences me half a year after the last session. In that series, as always with Alexis' work, I grew both as a poet and as a community member.
-Faith Holseart, poet, activist and former member of SNCC, participant in Finding Poems, ShapeShifter Survival School and School of Our Lorde
When preparing to lead or co-lead a workshop I often find myself wondering, 'How can I be as calm, generous, and dynamic as Lex is when she's facilitating?' No joke. I really think this to myself. Regularly. That Dr. Gumbs is finding a way to actually share this practice with others is a great opportunity for all of us who seek to be transformative facilitators.
-R.J. Maccani, community organizer, co-founder of Regeneracion Childcare Collective, co-facilitator of Embodying Abolition at the Allied Media Conference
Alexis Pauline Gumbs facilitates by formulating questions that invite groups to think deeply about ways to live into their values and connect personal commitment to social action. The activities and exercises she designs reflect her belief that our inner brilliance will show us the way when we open to its voice.
 -Barbara Lau, director Pauli Murray Project (where Alexis recently co-facilitated a workshop series for the leadership team)
A few years ago, I had the blessing of sitting in a circle of changemakers and creative workers at the Critical Ethnic Studies Conference  - we gathered to celebrate the work of novelist Octavia Butler. i expected a lively, enriching conversation, but got so much more! Alexis conjured a space of transformative sharing and collective creativity. From drawing images of our girlhoods, to experiencing live performances and writing poetry of our own, that conference 'workshop' became a sacred space. Sista Docta Lex is more than a facilitator - she is a bonafide Healer.
-Savannah Shange, educator, board member at June Jordan School for Equity, co-facilitator of All Black Everything: A Workshop on Afro-Pessimism at the Allied Media Conference
I have been a part of many meetings, workshops, and gatherings facilitated by Alexis Pauline Gumbs; she also designed and facilitated a one-of-a-kind after school program for my daughter and other girls her age.  Alexis brings, above everything else, love to the spaces she creates for people to learn.  She shapes interactions that deeply connect people.  She shares the wisdom, art, and guidance of those who came before, and insodoing, offers a context in which we can place ourselves and our work now.  In a sense, Alexis holds up an ancestral mirror and allows us to see ourselves more clearly. Through careful listening, she validates her participants' experiences and truths.  The activities Alexis facilitates allow people to acknowledge what they are bringing into the room, manifest creativity, and learn from one another.  I have learned so much and watched my daughter grow so much as a result of Alexis' facilitation practices, and without hesitation I would recommend to anyone that they take the opportunity to engage in one of Alexis' workshops.
-Emily Chavez, writer, activist, parent of an afterschool participant in the Indigo Genius Afterschool Program
Born from the Brilliance Remastered arm of Alexis' Black feminist (well)spring of sustenance, "Need: Cyber Performance Ritual," was a webinar named after the performance-prompting poetry of Audre Lorde in which I was fortunate to participate in early 2013. Whether embodying what love feels like or co-creating a group poem speaking to what we need or our own kind of open, in that online space I felt whole, held, safe, and soul-nourished. Under Alexis' guidance, I learned about the plethora of possibility that can sprout from the seeds of Black feminist truth, both in- and outside the dance studio. In just a week's time, a handful of brilliant individuals from all over the continent had come together to carve out a little piece of community on my computer screen, wrapped up in only the finest of radical love.
-Cantrice Penn, choreographer, guest facilitator for the Indigo Afterschool program, participant in the Need Webinar
Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs moderated a panel on April 21,2012 at the Durham County Library as part of the Humanities Programming Series. The program was called “Coming Out In the South.” Dr. Gumbs was brilliant in her wisdom and sensitivities, beginning the program with a moment of silence--which had never happened at a library—to remind all that this was a topic that could be painful and to encourage the space to become a safe one for all.  She kept that spirit present during the entire hour and half long program. The evaluations of the program mentioned time and again how much they appreciated Dr. Gumbs skillful handling of the people and topics involved.  Dr. Gumbs is moderating and helping to organize a panel of young organizers for our largest program of the year, Durham Reads Together. Her panel will be called  “We Who Believe in Freedom: The Next Civil Rights Generation”. She is bringing together youth to talk about their work and lives. Dr. Gumbs is a joy to work with and  the Durham County Library is always honored when she brings her gifts to one of our programs.
-Joanne Abel, Humanities and Adult Programming Durham Public Library
Alexis Gumbs values everybody and takes mess off of nobody, creating spaces for all to participate, and none to dominate.  She listens carefully and skillfully and synthesizes sentiments where others lack the diction.  Alexis's presence looms large in a room, though she always uses that space to open and help people get where they need to go.
-Bryan Proffit, community organizer and history teacher at Hillside High School (Durham's last remaining historically black high school), presenter for Juneteenth Freedom Academy on Palestine
Excellent facilitators are a rarity. They must be supremely knowledgeable, possessing keen insight and emotional mastery- enough to carry any room. Most importantly, one must be facile in a shamanic role – to move into uncertainty, take inspired risks and create magic.  Quite simply, Alexis has the gift. 
-Lisa Powell, Co-Founder Black Lesbians United (BLU)
Alexis Pauline Gumbs has given birth to an oracle which mandates the immediate summons and awakening of freedom within the black soul.  We are blessed that the oracle has visited upon us. 
-Queen Hollins, Principal Steward, Earthlodge Center for Transformation / Nu Legacy Project Long Beach, California, Co-facilitator of The Fullness: Erotic Power, Spiritual Wellness and Sexual Liberation and participant in The Lorde Concordance 

Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs conjures the sweet and the storm; the wind and the fire in her work.  To study and learn with her is to honor the brilliance of a thousand moons.

-ebony noelle golden, CEO Betty's Daughter Arts Collaborative, LLC and co-point person on the UBUNTU Artistic Response Committee