Teach the Youth: “Goddess Lessons 101″

I didn’t choose to be a single parent but I also didn’t wallow in the perceived sorrow of it. I stood up to the challenge and though everyday is a mini struggle, my daughter and I are fine. She is a goddess in training and I am the guidance that lights her way daily. I became a mother at the end of a relationship. And I have never regretted this decision.

Absent parent: A parent who does not live with their child but has financial responsibility for them. Also known as the non-custodial parent.

I recently finished a 10-month ordeal within the walls of Family Court. Interestingly, I began these proceedings when my daughter was 2yrs old. I opened the case of joint custody and visitation rights at a time when rose-colored glasses were still in. I know, it sounds crazy. On the one hand, I actually went through the effort to do this and on the other hand, he ignored my effort and forgot about us for the next decade.

Breath training is a basic tool with many uses, and children age four and up can learn and use breath effectively. Start by practicing these techniques through exercises yourself. When you’ve experienced the benefits and feel confident, it’s time to teach the children.

Once the actual court proceedings started, deep inside I was hopeful that in his absence he actually grew up and wanted to be a part of her life. I was elated and surprisingly, relieved. I was running out of excuses for him as my child aged and her questions became harder to answer. Unfortunately, on the first day of court I realized that he had not grown and was in fact trying to teach me a lesson by dragging us through embarrassing legal motions that I could never directly answer because of how he set it up.

Keeping children safe is a powerful primal urge. Our concern tinges every parting, just as our gratitude infuses every reunion. Fear’s presence is subtle but constant: the pause at their bedroom door to hear gentle breathing, the quick inventory of new friends’ homes for hazards.

Over the last year, I’ve watched him get overnight visits and then lose these privileges. I’ve watched him argue custody, citing that I’ve been blocking and then him not able to define blocking since that implies being present in our lives. I’ve watched him show up in court wearing brown suits with different women on his arm and then follow this up by contesting child support payments wearing old sweats and a backpack. All the while, I’ve listened to him regurgitate the same story from our daughter’s toddler days, not acknowledging the blooming woman who stood before him.

Take a walk after the rain and splash in puddles. Find a running gutter or tiny stream and float leaves or twigs out to sea. Water to clean and Water to feed.

Our last day in court found me on the stand articulating truth that only a parent who has been present the entire time could. With no hate, no ulterior motive, only the health of my daughter foremost in my brain. And when judgment fell in my favor, it felt like an enormous weight lifted off my back. All these months of confusion, depression, increased blood pressure, evaporated.  But even as I left, his shame couldn’t stop his hateful tongue to lash out at me. He shared no blessings to the one human that has poured unconditional love around his child. No apology. No head bowed.  No thank you escaped from his lips.

No ritual can do as much to teach children to love nature as a friendship with a real tree. Nature teaches a wonderful lesson about the mystery of life: that everything changes and everything stays the same.

I share this to help in the healing process of many single parents. It is not acceptable to be Missing In Action. It is not okay to be a deadbeat.  If your ‘adult’ decision is that you will not step up to the plate, then step off. It doesn’t make it easier on the tribe to have you reappear when you think you’re ready. That reasoning is not only selfish but a disservice to your child.

I am thankful that the men that I’ve chosen to surround her with have earned her respect. Words are powerful and I believe in their mana. I also believe that action speaks louder than words and that our children are always watching…

“Coit Tower” by TuffGyal 808

Mini Interview with DJ Santero

SANTERO “Luka Lounge” by Tuffgyal808

Q#1: Are you a Bay Area Native? and if not, how long have you lived in the Bay? Erick: No. I traveled a lot before I settled here. I’ve lived in Bay Area for 17+ years now.

Q#2: When did you start on the creative path you are currently on? Erick: My father was a musician. I’ve been surrounded by music all my life. I don’t remember a time where music wasn’t a central part of my existence.

Q#3: Where do you find your inspiration? Erick: I find inspiration everywhere. Sometimes the smallest, simplest things affect me profoundly. I feel like my music is more channelled than created. There are larger forces at work. I’m just playing my part as best I can.

Q#4: What was the first piece of vinyl you ever purchased? Erick: Bad Brains. Rock for Light. I still have it.

Q#5: Anything else you’d like to share? a joke/quote? Erick: “All spiritualists who have really sounded the depths of spiritualism have realized that there is no better means of attracting the spirits from their plane of freedom to the outer plane than by music.” -Hazrat Inayat Khan


Penelope Adibe: Clothing Designer

Nneka by PennyBackstage by Tuffgyal808

Q#1: Are you a Bay Area Native? and if not, how long have you lived in the Bay? Penelope: I have been in the Bay Area on and off now for 20 yrs. Originally from London: my mum German and dad Nigerian. I originally came over here for school and ended up staying. Lived also in NY and LA but kept coming back to the Bay Area. Oakland feels like home, its always such a relief to come back to Oakland from traveling or even coming back from SF to have people smile and say hello to you……I heart u Oakland

Q#2: When did you start on the creative path you are currently on? Penelope: It started when I was in a dance troupe when I was young.. my mum put me in a dance school at 4 and we would have to do these shows. The teacher would give the mums sketches of the costumes she wanted and my mum would have to make the costumes so I would sit around and watch her put them together. Then in high school I started making my own clothes and people would ask me to make stuff for them.

Q#3: Where do you find your inspiration? Penelope: I find inspiration all around me, whether it be people watching in Oakland (the kids coming out of the Art school in Downtown are always fashionistas), the web, watching what my favorite designers are doing or shopping vintage stores and watching movies.

Q#4: What was the first piece of vinyl you ever purchased? Penelope: First piece of vinyl was probably something cheesy like the The Muppet Show Volume 1: one of the tracks I remember was “Half way down the Stairs” By Kermit the Frog (lol!) I can even remember the words.

I would nick (steal)my brother’s vinyl, who is 9 yrs older than me, and I can still hear him complaining to my mum “Pennys nicked my bla bla album”. I can remember playing the Sylvesters “You make me feel” and Chaka Khan and Rufus’s Pink album cover (can’t remember the name) and that hair, I always wanted her hair.

Q#5: Anything else you’d like to share? a joke/quote? Penelope: hmmmm joke or quote? I’m not good at remembering either but this is what comes to mind…
Keep growing, learning and giving and don’t forget to smile 🙂

Mini Interview with DJ Leydis


photo by Tuffgyal808

Q#1: Are you a Bay Area Native? and if not, how long have you lived in the Bay? Leydis: No. Originally from Cuba but I have lived in the Bay since 2006…  it feels like home.

Q#2: When did you start on the creative path you are currently on? Leydis: I grew up with a record player in my house… That was the favorite sound system of my mother to listen to music and we were listening to all types of music. I was in my first Hip Hop dance group when I was 10 years old and after that I kept it for all my life ” I Love Music”

Q#3: Where do you find your inspiration? Leydis: Like I said first, from my mom in many different ways… Growing up with a strong Black Woman, hardworking/willing to support me in all my dreams, she never stopped me and always said “yes you can.” After her I can say that I’m inspired every day and from so many people!

Q#4: What was the first piece of vinyl you ever purchased? Leydis: 🙂  one of my favorites as a child was “Menudo” but we did not have many options to purchase records in Cuba as here in the US but when I moved and got taken to “Rasputin” in Berkeley, that was the trip .

Q#5: Anything else you’d like to share? a joke/quote? Leydis: There’s something I would love to share you…

“A Message To my Sista ”
At this time I’d like to say a few words especially to my sisters: SISTERS. BLACK PEOPLE WILL NEVER BE FREE UNLESS BLACK WOMEN PARTICIPATE
IN EVERY ASPECT OF OUR STRUGGLE, ON EVERY LEVEL OF OUR STRUGGLE.I think that Black women, more than anybody on the face of the earth, recognize the urgency of our situation. Because it is We who come face to face daily with the institutions of our oppression. And because it is We who have borne the major responsibility of raising our children. And it is We who have to deal with the welfare systems that do not care about the welfare of our children. And it is We who have to deal with the school systems that do not educate our children. It is We who have to deal with the racist teachers who teach our children to hate themselves. It is We who have seen the terrible effects of racism on our children. I JUST WANT TO TAKE A MOMENT OUT TO EXPRESS MY LOVE TO ALL OF YOU WHO RISK YOUR LIVES DAILY STRUGGLING OUT HERE ON THE FRONT LINES. We who have watched our young grow too old, too soon. We who have watched our children come home angry and frustrated and seen them grow more bitter, more disillusioned with the passing of each day. And We who have seen the sick, trapped look on the faces of our children when they come to fully realize what it means to be Black in Amerikkka. And we know what deprivation is. How many times have We run out of bus fare, rent money, food money and how many times have our children gone to school in hand-me-down clothes, with holes in their shoes. We know what a hell-hole Amerikkka is. We’re afraid to let our children go out and play. We’re afraid to walk the streets at night. We sisters, We have seen our young, the babies that We brought into this world with such great hopes for, We have seen their bodies bloated and aching from drugs, scarred and deformed by bullet holes. We know what oppression is. We have been abused in every way imaginable. We have been abused economically, politically. We have been abused physically, and We have been abused sexually. And sisters, We have a long and glorious history of struggle on this land/planet. Afrikan women were strong and courageous warriors long before We came to this country in chains. And here in Amerikkka, our sisters have been on the front lines. Sister Harriet Tubman led the underground railroad. And sisters like Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hammer, Sandra Pratt and our Queen Mother Moore have carried it on. Sisters, We have been the backbone of our communities, and We have got to be the backbone of our nation. We have got to build strong family units, based on love and struggle. We don’t have no time to play around.

Assata Shakur~

Mama Ayanna: Activist, Healer


“Mama” by TuffGyal 808

Q#1: Are you a Bay Area Native? and if not, how long have you lived in the Bay? Mama Ayanna: No i’m not a Bay Area Native although i had a spiritual affinity with the Bay Area and i knew i was going to live here since i was a child. i have lived here in the Bay Area for most of my life, for over 40 years. My family has lived in the Bay Area since about 1860 or before.

Q#2: When did you start on the creative path you are currently on? Mama Ayanna: My current creative path began as long as I can remember. As a child i would talk and walk with the Ancestars. i was also able to talk to animals and considered myself their protector, going around destroying traps and leaving food for animals in the wild.

i and my sistars used to play in the woods, by the streams and ponds where I grew up, so i developed a relationship with the natural world at an early age as well. i was raised in a family with organic gardeners and farmers and grew up a an ecologist.

i began writing poetry when I was nine years old, but didn’t step out with the spoken word until I was about 23 or 24. i entered my life as an activist at the age of 18 and joined the Pan African Student Union when I attended San Francisco State. I became a member of the National Black Human Rights Coalition shortly afterward and was a founding member of Black August in 1979. I began producing at KPFA in 1985. i was also a founding member of the Oakland Chapter of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement in 1993. i have worked with and formed several women’s organizations including New Afrikan Women for Self Determination and the Conscious New Afrikan Women’s Healing Collective which created the Black Women’s Retreats and the Black Women’s Health and Healing Conferences. i find no separation between the political and the spiritual life. It is all life. As a mother of 7 children (6 sons and 1 daughter) it was important to me to work for the betterment of my community in to try to leave the world a better place for them and for the generations to come.

My level of spiritual leadership began to evolve when i (along with Rashidah Tutashinda) put the call out for a sistar’s healing circle and our first circle brought together about 60 women. i have been leading spiritual ceremony and participating in healing and talking circles since then. It was also during that time period that I began my spiritual study starting with Babalawo Fagbemi Ogundele and other spiritual teachers. Shortly after that I began to practice as a medicine woman. I was initiated into leading the “Sweat Lodge” or what I the “Purification Lodge/Ceremony” was part of my spiritual path.

My path really intensified when i (and Shaka At-Thinnin) opened our business “The Flowing Gourd”. It was one of Oakland’s first “green” businesses. i began practicing herbalism and aromatherapy. From that point on, my practice evolved as my knowledge evolved and Ayanna’s Magic Garden evolved from “The Flowing Gourd”. i received my Masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine in 2007. i am currently natural and Holistic Health Practitioner, Herbalist, Aromatherapist, Nutritionist, Massage and Tui Na Therapist, Doula and Spiritual Life Path Consultant.

Q#3: Where do you find your inspiration? Mama Ayanna: i find my inspiration in nature, especially from the ocean, the Bay, the rivers and mountains of California. i also get my inspiration through daily meditation, from the love of my man, the love of my family, and from my wonderful community.

i am especially inspired by how much creativity and genius i see and experience among the young people in the Bay Area.

Q#4: What was the first piece of vinyl you ever purchased? Mama Ayanna: i believe my first 45 was Dionne Warwick’s ”Walk On By” (i still think i can sing like Dionne Warwick, lol). My first 33 was Wes Montgomery “Bumpin On Sunset”, such a nice piece.

I’ve been listening to Jazz and Blues since i was a child. i remember singing Billie Holliday’s “Motherless Child” when I was 4 or 5 years old.

Q#5: Anything else you’d like to share? a joke/quote?

Mama Ayanna: “i believe in living.
i believe in the spectrum
of Beta days and Gamma people.
i believe in sunshine.
In windmills and waterfalls,
tricycles and rocking chairs;
And i believe that seeds grow into sprouts.
And sprouts grow into trees.
i believe in the magic of the hands.
And in the wisdom of the eyes.
i believe in rain and tears.
And in the blood of infinity…

i believe in living
i believe in birth.
i believe in the sweat of love
and in the fire of truth.”

– Assata Shakur
From her poem “i believe”

Dedan Anderson: Turntablist

Dedan“occupy Oakland” by Tuffgyal808

Q#1: Are you a Bay Area Native? and if not, how long have you lived in the Bay? Dedan: I’ve been in the Bay since 1988, i’m originally from Harlem, NYC and I came out here to go to UC Berkeley.

Q#2: When did you start on the creative path you are currently on? Dedan: I’ve been enamored by the night life probably since I was about 16 back in NY. Before I DJ’d I was a dancer and a heavy club goer. My love of dancing and battling took me all over NY at that time and to all different types of parties and night clubs including YMCA (on 135th), Rooftop, Union Square, Latin Quarters and later the Choice, Sound Factory, Red Zone, Save The Robots, Nells, the World, Mars (RIP Beasley!), the Tunnel, House Nation and many more… It would probably take a whole book to describe the influence these clubs had on me, some of these clubs were mainly hip hop, some were mixed and some played what is now called house music – so my music palate was very broad by the time I came to Berkeley.

I was probably a bit spoiled lol. The musical diversity I missed and eventually I started buying music to make up for it, which ultimately lead to me sharing this music with other folks as a DJ.

Q#3: Where do you find your inspiration? Dedan: As mentioned in Q#2 major early inspiration came from the clubs and the dj’s that molded my music taste; djs such as ez-rock (Yes rob base’s dj was brutal!), clark kent, red alert, brucie b, dj duke of denmark, mixmaster miriam, franky knuckles, tony humphries (who preaches the gospel of breaking records – amen!) plus many more that had me groovin’ so much i never bothered to know who they were.

Nowadays my greatest inspirations are from the creators of today’s underground dance music (AKA HOUSE!) and dj’s such as David Harness, Patrick Wilson, Dj Rob Rhythm, Wazir, Cecil and Cali, DJ Hanif, Spinna, Osunlade, and Frankie Feliciano.. the list goes on and on and I’m sure I missed some folks!

And ultimately I’m inspired by my original Brothers & Sisters dj partner Dj Daniela, my current partner Dj Emancipacion and the dancers and music lovers that react positively (or negatively) to the music we share.

Q#4: What was the first piece of vinyl you ever purchased? Dedan: So long ago, I’m sure I bought some new york, new york song (that one that goes “start spreading the news” lol!) when I was a kid, as well as ohio player’s fire for some reason but I’d say my first REAL purchase was eric b and rakim paid in full import mix, the one that goes “this is a jounery into time.” (I think that was by coldcut) Being an import it was pricey, I bought it at Rock and Soul with my school buddy and we split the cost. I think he still got the record though (hmm how’d that happen!?).

Q#5: Anything else you’d like to share? a joke/quote?
Dedan: Peace to Dori & the Great Nandini! And… we will be starting Brothers & Sisters back up so keep an eye out for us. Join our group at: http://www.facebook.com/groups/clubbrothersandsisters/