One of the key components of the Gumbo Yaya process is the creation of narratives that reflect the experiences of individual and diverse experiences of Black women.  Gumbo YaYa elevates the voices of Black women to create visibility through voice and healing through poetry.  Please take a look at the questionnaire and answer in your own creative way.  Send them to us at bettysdaughterarts@gmail.com and they will be included in our performance process. 

2008-2009

Black Woman Theater. by: Fable Fearrington/ North Carolina

In this theater, I run the show. I am the owner, all your secrets I know. Now my game is running, simultaneously, all of life is my stage, my actors are many.
I donned the mask of duality, behind the mask I’m watching and I know that you watch me.
I’ve honed and mastered these skills for almost 400 years, when I first played your mistress and shed my tears.
Now I’m the director no longer the victim, the shots you think you call, are from the script I’ve written.
Some may call me a schizophrenic, but most good actors are. With a range of characters and voices included in my repertoire.
We’re bilingualists of sorts, ebonics and white talk. My languages allow passage into foreign lands as I fool you with my walk.
From da projects to office project I travel, there are few places I can not go, then I take my leave and you can not follow.
In the 60s and 70s, I played the maid. My costume was a uniform gray smock, white top. And to keep you at ease, I barely talked.
I witness the weakness of the great man. Self appointed ruler of the world whom I can’t stand

2007-2008

J. S./ letter poem

To beautiful baby Joy.
Know that you are beautiful.
Know that you are beautiful no matter what anybody tells you.
Keep dancing.  Keep smiling.  Keep laughing.
Keep dancing.  Keep dancing.
Know that mommy and daddy love you, even though they’re always busy.
They are working hard for you.  For you to lead the life they never did.
They love you so much.  They love you more than anything.
Know that he will tell you he loves you and then leave you.
Know that he will make you cry, more than he makes you smile.
Know the times were beautiful and know the times were few and far between.
Know that he will lie to you.
Know that he will make you afraid of him.
Know that he will give you a child.
Know that he will take it away.
Know he made you wish you were dead.
Know he made you wish he was dead.
Know he made you.
And knowing this, love him..
and leave him.
..for knowing you were better than that shit anyway.
Dear beautiful sweet, innocent, baby Joy.
Know that you are a blessing.
Know that you will do great things.
Know that you are strong.
And Know that you Know.
Move to New York.
Follow your dreams.
“Black Butterfly..
You can do most anything your heart desires..
freedom comes with understanding who you are..
its time to spread your wings and fly..”

An Anyonymous Sista wrote this…

Talking to Myself(A List) 

You

a hybrid

in a black and white world. 

You

an Independent. 

You

Irish, Anglo, African,

Native American. 

You

a daughter

of Ruby Dee,

Cicely Tyson,

Phylicia Rashad. 

You

global girl. 

You love

African movement—

dance,

music. 

You live

moment

to

moment

poem

to

poem. 

You believe in

the blues, jazz, and rock and roll. 

You evolve.

ebony golden-variations on the same riff

you knew
         when you placed that light inside me
when you licked this gold mine like you knew x marked the spot
when you stole my eyes
when you said rest here  and waited three seasons
for peace to dwell in my pulse
when you measured my laughs in teaspoons of rain and breath
when you wrapped my hair in your skin
               and carved an ankh on my lips
                and softened the span of my hips
and charmed my neck roll
and said rest here   and waited for the tides to subside in my step

you knew  you knew
your face would be infinitely written on any future-brotha
your thumb print could never be washed from the inside of my left thigh
your scent would mingle in my every folicle
          you knew
i would pass someone in a city you never visit and look twice and think its you
although you never visit

you knew
          i would say hello hello twice like that
              and wait for the sax in your voice to be revealed

hello      hello

you knew  how much i believe in god

and that even if i carved myself into some distant unthinkable corner of this earth
even if i went underground cause of some extraordinary revolutionary shit i got hooked up with

even if i forgot my own name  cause my memory decided to swim away from me

i would never forget you

Camille Evans

It means darkness, blackness

Curves, dark hills of flesh

Connecting thick thighs, broad

Back, backs that stand

Tall withstand all, bountiful

Breasts that suckle hungry

Dark mouths that want

To be fed freedom a sense

Of self a sense of who

I be in this place that

Tells me it is not okay

To be me, strong hands

That work to take care

Of everyone around me

But often neglects the

 Body that sustain them

Big black and bold

Even when scared, even when

Unsure, insecure

Hopeful when weak

Revolutionary even when

Faced with no likelihood

Of immediate change

What did she think 400

Years ago, how did she

Know who she was, how

Did she have the audacity

To persist

Through those thick lips

Came songs of freedom

Through those thick hips

Came the generations

Through which I am able

To stand here today

 

This is me  this is

Who I be

Black woman

 

i try to imagine her

recreate her in melody

resemble her in song

she played the guitar

we’ve never met

i feel you falling

down the stairs

but to live in the house

is to carry er in my throat

do you doubt me?

i love you

do you doubt me?

i love you

you ask me to try a second time

i don’t know if i can

i only know i love you

i love you

-anonymous

 

mama, what does it feel like to love?

i mean when the skin gives out and

the mind looses its ability to wrinkle

and the words do not curl out like

lillies or daffodils—how does love happen?

did you ever love like you teach?

do you love like you cook?

do you love like you write?

do you love like you cry?

do yo love like you sleep?

or is love some other place?

do you loose yourself to love?

have you ever lost yourself in love?

what is the love’s soundtrack?

do you have a soundtrack?

have you ever?

or are there only tunes that back track to stillnesses that ease into moans?

– ebony golden

 

i did a talking for 3 minutes in the theater of the

oppressed workshop

i was paired with a white guy named adam

interesting when you are forced to talk for 3 min

how much you divulge

i told him about my concerns about being

the only black person in the class

we created a forum piece in the class

the piece was about institutional racism

a girl was bused into a white school

was forced to take remedial geometry

and there was a racist principal

and this other character in the play,

the white girl, pushes another girl

taunting her and the teacher walks in

the teacher was the protagonist

and comes and mediates the situation

-anonymous

 

so yeah

i tired and

looking forward

wretched hallway

under cover

pealing each layer

i watch celebrity block

melissa smiles

really dont know what to do

look forward

stentch of subway

people staring

to myself i ride alone

for a week would be great

fabric softner clean smells

dont have more to say

-from an interview with geneva s. thomas

 

means placing the black women’s voice or female of color voice at the center

what des this voice say

waht are the particular interests

desires

or concerns

that characterize the way she shapes herself in the world

the question i ask my mother

the question i ask my daughter

black womens art

similar to the question i ask myself

i am an artist because i don’t know how to be anything else

-anonymous

 

black to me means pan-africanism

wholly

simulation

saturation

every color

a full spectrum

of vibration that simultaneously

color that is light

wavelength

artist is being free to use blackness

womanism is no longer being lonely

missing you

feeling blue

locks

having the roots of my hair in your hands

falling feels like this

what?

-anonymous

 

no one understands you so they give you pills

no one hears you so they give you pills

no one hears you so they give you pills

more pills

more doctors

more shit

know that you will spend too many nights taking pills

wondering if he is coming home

plotting to put sugar in his baby mama’s gas tank

i need

know that you are strong

-anonymous

 

To the Diaspora

you did not know youwere Afrika

When you set out for Afrika

you did not know you were going

because

you did not know you wre Afrika

youdid not know the Black continent

that had to be reached

was you.

 

I could not have told you then that some sun

would come

somewer over the road

would come evoking the diamonds

of you the Black continent

somewhere over the road

you would not have believed my mouth

 

When I told you meeting you somewhere close

to the heat and youth ofthe road

liking my loyalty liking belief

you smiled and you thanked me but very little believe me

 

here is some sun some

now off into the places rough to reach

though dry though drowsy all unwillingly a-wobble

into the dissonant and dangerous crescendo

your work that was done to be done to be done to be done

-anonymous