“My God, I come to seek what seems to be impossible. My words are not new. I am not a new thing. I mother a Black man, and I am not the first. But, I come just the same. In hopes that my son’s wrists, should only feel the weight of Gold or Jeweled Metallics”.–A Prayer For Our Sons, Collective Sun: Reshape the Mo(u)rning (SpiritHouse)
I have been on a journey for the past few years to embrace and heal all of me–all my parts–Divine and mundane, to stand firmly in my beliefs even if they are illegible or confusing to others, to reëxamine my passion (secret and made known) and to the holistic and loving integration of my multiple avatars so that they are in alignment with my heavenly destiny. Along this journey, I keep running into a few different types of people–some observers and some who are walking this journey with me, who provide me with opportunities to claim my shape shifting out loud and unapologetically.
There are folks who have known me more than 20, 30 or 40 years who reflect back to me that the person I am today, has always been there in some shape or form. My inclinations, my physical presentation, my manner of speech–what I call myself or how I pray has shape shifted to be more in alignment of who I was destined to be (though I was often mimicking or pretending to be with SO much panache). It is powerful to hear these folks, the ones who knew me as a girl pigtails flying and as a young woman– pre- Che and Taj full of fire, vinegar and honey . They knew me in all my manifestations in P.G. County, at West Craven High School, Peace College and UNC and when they encounter me now, they remind me that there are some thing(s) at the core of who I am that have always been there. Those the seeds planted by my ancestors and the Most High showed up when I was 5, 10, 18…21, when I was Billie–Mary, Willie George and Charlie’s girl . Passion for my people, a determination to be different and do things my way (not always with positive outcomes), funny—yeah, always funny, loquacious and of course, the hair. There is always some comment or musing about my hair and all her transformative moments. Apparently “She” was there then too, waiting and watching.Then there are are folks who I have recent history with. They, too, have observed and sometimes journeyed with me.
The folks who “know” Omisade are an interesting lot. There are those who met me in transition to Omi. They met me when I was transitioning from Billie to Omisade and at the age of 27 or 28, much of that transition seemed to be based on having the right uniform. The newly natural hair/locs–damn, there she is again, the mile high gele, the thrift store clothes (all you can shove in a bag for a DOLLAR), the make-shift altars, the neo-soul, elekes and lapas, one-trick pony vegetarianism, and hot sticky “Black Love” moments… all-a-dat. They met me when my siren song sounded like Erykah Badu, Fela and Jill Scott as I was being turned on to the light that was trying to illuminate my path and was feeling new and an emboldened in all my blackness and afrocentricity. They met me when Jesus moved over and made room in my heart from my ancestors and the Orisa. They met me when my parents were in transition to the ancestral realm and I became a motherless child.
Of course, there are some folks who met Omi recently and again, in close proximity to transition. They have watched the journey over the past few years of a post-40 Omisade. Many of these folks now put a handle on my name—Sister Omi or Mama Omi and that means something. These folks, who come to me, work with me, play with me and fight for justice with me, have been gently guiding me into the role of an elder. Not an “elder elder”, but someone who clearly is not as young as she think she is (OUCH! who knows about that feeling…dang). This kind of blows my mind right, because there are brothers and sisters who I look to as elders who are 10, 15, 20 years older than me and I don’t see myself as having that same wisdom–opinions and perspective, yeah, but that gracious wisdom, I don’t know about that—maybe. Because my shape shifting has made me feel quite unstable at times, like all my avatar and doing a dance battle while looking for the perfect beat, I am often surprised by the folks—peers, the youngins elders who tap my shoulder for a word— for my opinion and seem to value it.
And then…..there are new folk. Hmmm, what to say? Some of this newness exist in people who were present when I was 16, 25, 35 or 40, but missed part of my Technicolor journey. They marvel or are weirded out by their tangential observations and muse, “where did this all come from”, “when did you change your name” “wow, you are so Earth Mother Goddess”. Ughh, Jesus build a fence (yes, Palestinian Jesus and I talk ALL the time). Others don’t know me–at.all., but are present in this seemly tightly knitted social-justice-progressively-radical-OrisaIFA-artist activist-Naturalista communities with a “Who the Hell is You?” energy. They sniff, side-eye and inquire about my name, my pedigree, my deal and my journey. That got me thinking about remixes.
See, I am not a new thing. Am I transforming? Yeah, like a remix.
Remix: a variant of an original recording made by rearranging or adding to the original
So, for the purposes of clarity and with the use of MY blog—I would like to share the following:
1. Yes, I believe in God. And thank Goddess, she never stopped believing in me. I call God by a name that is West African in nature—most likely like I am, Olodumare.
2. No, I don’t sing, spit poetry, sell incense, soaps, clothes, oils, etc. I do, however, give these folks LOTS of my black dollars and support all the local brothers and sisters who blew my mind with their artistry. I have been known to write a poem errry now and then, but very rarely for public consumption.
3. I gave birth at 25 and 41. I gave birth as a single woman and as a married woman who now finds herself single again. I have, in fact, 2 “baby daddies” who bust every stereotype known to man about Black men who don’t love, protect and cherish their children. They show up for my children and me in the most powerfully respectful and loving ways. They show up choosing to recognize that what didn’t work for “us” in a romantic partnered way, was still fated before our arrival this lifetime to produce two of the most amazing human beings we know and therefore dictate an “all in” mentality. Oh yeah, we blend our collective family together better than all the beauty vlogger on youtube. Take that @ShamelessMaya—just kidding, I like her. #BeShameless
4. I didn’t do a “big chop” it was more like a slow easing out of a bad relationship with lye (a lie). I don’t have one clue what my curl pattern is. I do, however know my hair is kinky, curly, coarse, straight, Mary, Bill, Annie, Jacob, John and Irma. From a shortly cropped Cesar . to not one (1),but two (2) sets of locs, they have stood up on my crown and glory and created the tapestry that can’t possibly be all mine (“is that your hair”?). I guess I can’t buy that at Beauty World.
5. I don’t play at justice. I live into it because I am wonderfully wrapped in black skin. Because I have a womb. Because I pushed two human beings out of my body who are black boys. Because they kill OUR babies and say it was our babies’ fault. Because this world is mine too and has been going back to antiquity. When challenged by folks who “intellectually” understand what the trauma of systematically and generationally oppressed and brutalized does to your psyche/spirit/DNA come at me about realness of my commitment to my people? hmmm, I wouldn’t recommend that. ever. #youmadtho
6. Because I was a cheerleader (yeah, whatever man), a dancer and have tested my hand at yoga, boxing, pilates, capoeira, african dance, really bad running, tae bo, MMA, step aerobics and some plain old basic Jack Lalane calisthenics, my body holds memory. I know when I am not moving what she does and what she feels like when I sweat. So, no.. I am not a novice to re-calibration or re-tuning.
7. I believe in destiny and reincarnation. I can feel the lived lives of my ancestors vibrating through me and my children. I believe I made a cosmic choice to be here this lifetime with you.
8. I believe in love. Love for your family, by choice or by blood. Love for your friends and all the complexity of loving people you don’t always like or understand, but choose to love anyway. Deliciously real Black love—-yes, both erotic and communal. I believe that shit is real and not the thing of legend. I seent it and I knowd der is a Gawd!
9. Lastly, I am a spirit in motion in this body. I have fought against myself—my varying avatars. I have questioned my right to be here, to be strong, gentle, brown, loving, cranky, vulnerable, funny, scared, smart, thick, weak, happy and loved. I have recently emerged from yet another transition—and isn’t that what our lives are? A series of conscious or unconscious phases of
transition TRANSFORMATION (thank you Nia!) from one shape to the next and what I am more clear about today than I was yesterday, is that this new shape is for me. I own this remix because I own the master–the original.
Omisade aka Omi aka Billie aka Wilhelmina aka Willy Bill aka Willy aka BillyJoJimBob aka Iyawo Osun