Tag Archives: Trinidad

The M(N)STRY: Words of Wisdom from “The Jumbies”


baptiste_jumbies_jkt_pbk_rgb_hr_2mbRecently I’ve been reading Tracey Baptiste’s YA book, The Jumbies, which is a supernatural fantasy book that takes place on the island of Trinidad. I won’t give away what the book is about; instead I suggest for you to go read it, but I will tell you that one of my favorite characters is the witch because she is truth teller. Here is a poignant passage I resonated with and that I believe is relevant for now:

“Everybody thinks they need magic. Everybody wants answers. Get rid of this boil. Help me find money. She doesn’t love me anymore. Why won’t my cane stalks grow tall as my neighbors? Everybody wants a fast, easy solution. Maybe if you took care of you’re skin, you wouldn’t have gotten the boil in the first place. Maybe if you worked harder you would make more money. Maybe that person isn’t the right one for you. Maybe if you found a better way to farm, your crop would come up better. But nobody wants to hear those things. They want a bottle. Instant success! Something to drink, or sprinkle, or spill on the ground. They want magic from nothing. Magic doesn’t come from nothing. It comes from somewhere. And it isn’t so extraordinary. It’s just work. It’s just using your head and your heart.”

In many ways, the indoctrination of an instant gratification culture obsessed with instant power, wealth and fame is part of the blame to how we got to this point. Let us learn, as Baptiste teaches us in The Jumbies, that to create true change and to fight back, we must trust our true instincts, understand our connection to the earth and that doing real magic takes work.

 

 

 

 

 

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Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth: Elizabeth Nunez ‘s Books of Caribbean Magic


Next week, Elizabeth Nunez will be read from her memoir, Not for Everyday Use, at the fifth annual ringShout event, which will be the Brooklyn Book Festival Bookend event. The event will take place September 16 at 7pm at the Franklin Park Bar and Beer Garden in Brooklyn, and also features Bridgett M. Davis (Into the Go-Slow), Saeed Jones (Prelude to Bruise), and Lauren Francis-Sharma (‘Til the Well Runs Dry). By coincidence, i randomly picked up two of Nunez’s works at the library a couple of months ago, Beyond the Limbo Silence, and When the Rocks Dance, and they were great introductions to her mythic and magic-filled writing. As I continue to look for Caribbean works that can be analyzed from an afrofuturist lens, I was fortunate to stumble across her work.

Born in Trinidad, Nunez combines Trinidadian and Caribbean culture with magic realist, mytho-spiritual and mystical elements. The first work of hers I read was Beyond the Limbo Silence, an alternate historical fiction set in 1960s Trinidad and America during the Civil Rights Era that infuses water myths, dreams, Voudou ritual and Obeah magic. The story follows Sara Edgehill, a young woman who feels like an outcast in her native land of Trinidad, Continue reading Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth: Elizabeth Nunez ‘s Books of Caribbean Magic

The My-Stery: Honoring Black Women’s Voices, Bodies and Supernaturalness


Robert Pruitt - "Dreaming Celestial" (Reminded me of Harriet Tubman)
Robert Pruitt – “Dreaming Celestial” (Reminded me of Harriet Tubman)

“The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling.” – Audre Lorde

Quite a number of people within the past couple of weeks have basically told black women (and other women of color in general) that our voices, our bodies and any power we have –present, past or future — is not to be respected or honored. On several fronts we are attacked, from our erasure from mainstream feminism (#solidarityisforwhitewomen) to our erasure from racial discourse (#blackpowerisforblackmen). Even women who expect to be revered are treated trivially. Last week, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons released a Harriet Tubman “sex tape” that he thought was suppose to be funny. Afrofuturists know Tubman as an icon in our spaces, just look at Chronicles of Harriet, Sanford Biggers, , and Cauleen Smith. Yes, he took the video down, after he was quickly called out on it, and his apology was basically all bull, implying that we were too sensitive, and not the critique of the racially misogynist (or misogynoir) aspects of the video. For example, having Tubman seduce a white master matches the jezebel stereotype and reinforces notions of black women’s incapability of being raped. Additionally, it was the inaccuracy of the video to Tubman’s story and the reduction of a woman to degrading, pornographic sex. Now he wants to do a movie about Tubman. C’mon, please! Rather than waiting for that half-assed sorry that will be that film, below are some works that show greater respect for us. For the past few weeks, I have read and viewed works that spoke to me as a Black woman about us reclaiming our power in different situations.

The three works — two from Caribbean writers, Nalo Hopinkson’s Midnight Robber and Marie-Elena John’s Unburnable, and the other, a Cameroonian film, Jean-Pierre Bekolo’s Les Saignantes (The Bloodettes) — all explore stories of women who fight to overcome sexual oppression, sometimes even at the hands of other women, through a re-imagining of themselves and a reclaiming of feminine ancestral wisdom and bodies. One of the most striking parts that is similar in all three is the reliance of ancestral feminine wisdom and ritual, and ancestral women by the main characters, much like what we should do with Harriet Tubman. (*warning: spoilers coming*)

Continue reading The My-Stery: Honoring Black Women’s Voices, Bodies and Supernaturalness

Otherworldy Videos: Captain T and T


Captain T and T

Written, directed and produced by married duo Christopher and Leizell Guiness, this short film is about a Trinidadian man who recalls his younger days as six-year-old “Thin Foot” when he experimented to find what kind of superhero powers he had. Learning through these trials gives him a  chance to “become” who he truly is and realize that you don’t need superpowers to be a superhero.