Last week I received a note from one of my girls who
was going through a lot of crap and feeling very defeated and depressed.
At the end of her note, she hadnt any resolutions, instead she was
left asking herself (and me): What do goddesses do when they get lonely?
At first I didnt really think about it seriously because the question
itself sounds like something said at an open mic, spoken word soiree. But
once I got past that, I started thinking about the number of women Ive
seen, in both my professional and personal journeys, who struggle with feelings
of inadequacy and lonelinessmyself included. And it seems like its
always the strongest, fiercest, most live sisters that are unhappy or unsatisfied
with the current direction of their lives. Even as I read this note I was
so surprised because I was just hanging out with this same lonely
sister and she was rocking the scene wickedly in her Italian 4-inch heels,
with everyone trying to be up in her mix. But alas no amount of shoes, handbags
or Mac LipGlass can make up for the bliss of self-love and determination.
I recently read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (read it, if you
havent already!) and it has completely changed how I live my life.
What Coelho makes clear is that whatever we think we need, chances are we
already have. The point is we must take the journey in order to not only
discover what were made of, but also to better appreciate ourselvesour
limitations and our gifts.
In this issue I hung-out with Cree Summer who was one of the dopest artists
to grace the roster of Epic Records Group. But of course as things seem
to go in the music industry she was dropped a few weeks after her record
was released. Having gotten through what she considers one of the saddest
and darkest times in her life, Cree now has a ton of stuff brewing in her
kitchen. So whats a goddess to do when things get rough? Hopefully
we create, we rest, we love and above all, we continue.
by Nicole Moore
shes Honey Brown, the Seductress of the Seven Seas. Sporting a gray
baby tee and low-rider jeans, Honey Brown is sitting on the ledge of her
windowsill waiting for my arrival. Good morning sister, she
shouts with her Jolly Roger flag waving in the warm LA breeze overhead.
Last time I saw Honey Brown was back in 1999 at Jones Beach and on that
particular day she was promoting her WORK Group release, Street
Fairie, opening for her fellow friend and producer Lenny
Kravitz. Officially she was Cree Summer, but when she grabbed the skull
and crossbone encroached microphone singing, I need to slide deliciously
down to where I hurt the least, those in the know saw glimpses of
Honey Brown shine through. Fast forward one month, the WORK Group closes
and the Toronto native is left without a record deal. Depressed, she drops
out of sight and doesnt return phone calls, not even to Lenny. Fast
forward again 3 years and suddenly the sister who grew up on a Indian
reserve in Saskatchewan-- who we knew well as Freddie from A Different
World, is coming out of hiding. Not that we see her anywhere, but we hear
her voice everywhere. From her characterization of Suzie Carmichael on
the Rugrats to being the voice of Princess Kida in Disneys Atlantis,
Cree at 33 is still bringing home the bacon big time. Sitting in her sunny
dining area sipping lemon tea and looking out onto the backyard that resembles
a Brazilian rainforest, Honey Brown shares with me her blues and her revelations.
Coming full circle professionally and personally, shes completing
voiceover work for two movie characters and just recently shot a pilot
for a new television show and is even writing songs for a new album. Cree
Summer is back and Honey Brown, her pirate alter ego, has a lot to say.
theHotness: Whats the story
behind your Pirate Movement?
Cree Summer: A movement?
tH: Yeah, girl its a movement
CS: You know it is a movement. Well
I came here when I was 18 from Toronto, Canada. And Ive been very,
very blessed. I always meet lovely females. Just one of those charmed
things in my life. I have great friends. So Ive always had at least
two wonderful sisters in my life at all times. And when I moved here I
met Lisa Bonet and we fell instantly in love and started a very, productive,
creative friendship. First we wanted to have a poetry circle because we
write poetry and we going around to these little fuckin coffee shops
where they have poetry nightsopen mic nights. And we noticed there
wasnt a lot of listening going on. It was like everybody is waiting
for their turn. And it was like who can be better then the next poet.
And I always thought poetry was supposed to be about listening and appreciating
that someones sharing their deep moments.
tH: I know what you mean!
CS: So we said fuck this, were
going have to start our own circle.
tH: Right cause clearly it wasnt
about the rhyme.
CS: So we started a circle where we
allowed no applause and no set order. It was strictly based on vibe and
love. We all sat on the floor in a circle and if in some way you had a
poem related to the last poem read, then it was your turn next.
tH: Ooooh thats hot!
CS: So you had to listen. We did that
for years and started meeting incredible women poets and musicians and
dancers. We took that another step further, got more exclusive and started
a womens group. And we meet on the full moons and we meet when someone
has a baby and we meet when we miss each other madly. And what we do is
just reflect back to each other our beauty and artistry. We call ourselves
pirates because we do consider ourselves outlaws and pariahs
and alternative livers. You know what I mean?
tH: Absolutely. Is there a sense of
CS: Well definitely. Rebellion in
the sense that we believe that you get two choices every millisecond this
lifefear or love. And we chose to diligently pick love. And with
each other its a lot easier cause you got someone who is powerful,
beautiful reflecting back to you. How lovely it is to come from your highest
tH: How many pirates are there?
CS: At least 30.
tH: Get outta here!
CS: no kidding!
tH: Are they all women of color?
CS: Majority are women of color, but
not all. Sophisticated Yoni, one of the Pirates, has a great saying for
us. She says, with weapons of mass seduction the pirates will make
love to the world.
tH: I like that.
CS: Thats kinda like our credo.
And I wrote a little womanifesto.
tH: I know I read that. Thats
why I said movement. Youre trying to act like its just a fried
chicken gathering! (laughter)
CS: And its one of the best
movements because it wasnt planned. And another really important
thing. I think it was born out of a general lack of mothering that I think
I can assume a lot of women suffer from. You know its what your
grandmommas grandmomma didnt tell her and what your grandmomma
didnt tell your momma, so what youre momma didnt tell
you. Theres generation after generationsheirlooms of shame
and insecurity being passed down to women.
tH: Yeah especially about their sexual,
sensual parts of their being. Youd be surprised how many sisters
dont even know what their yoni is. And thats because no one
talks about it. Maybe youll here about some cootchie in a rap song
CS: (laughing) When youre just
someones homey, never sophisticated yoni!
tH: So theres no pride or respect
for ones yoni. So many women dont appreciate their own sensuality.
CS: So many women dont respect other women. When Im
confronted with animosity from another woman, because Im spoiled
rotten with my friends, Im always so shocked. I cant believe
that we would have anything to possibly compete about. Women fighting
each other. I mean who could possibly win? Were creators. Just yesterday
Im out in the garden looking at these brand new flowers that sprouted
out and said look no one makes colors like the Mother. And in those moments
I think how could I ever be sad to be born Woman.
tH: Its something to think about.
CS: Its hard to be diligent.
Everyday you have to ask yourself whats my choice? Love or
fear. Its so easy to forget because so many people connect
on negatives. It takes a much a higher being to connect on something lovely,
positive and deep. And thats how we have to do this work. The pirates
are here to obliterate womb amnesia. We want everyone to know where the
fuck they come fromThe Mother.
tH:Street Fairie, a record
that you put a great deal of energy into, only to be dropped from the
label a few weeks after its release. How did that experience affect you?
And how did your experiences as a Pirate help you through it?
CS: Well in all honesty. We docked
ship and jumped overboard. (laughs) This was my second experience. I was
in a rock band for years called Subject To Change and we were on
Capitol Records and I lost my deal there. I was a child and I had put
in work, baby! I mean following Fishbone in a van to open for them. I
mean playing up and down Sunset Strip for 2 years before we even signed
a deal. You know, hard rock-n-roll dudes. And I lost that deal and went
into a massive depression. Massive! And it was maybe two years before
I even wanted to write again. Well I wanted to write the whole time, but
I was in pain. But by the grace of God and the simple fact I have no fuckin
choice. I have to make music. Its no longer a choice in my life.
So I started again and got that WORK deal. And when that deal fell though
I was ridin very, very high. I was happy with the work I created.
I had a beautiful, beautiful band that I love and adore anyway. And so
when that deal feel through I got very, very quiet. There was not very
much music in the house. Not much music in the car. There wasnt
much music in my spirit. And I felt victimized
which is all a sham
and an illusion cause there is no such thing. I got to get really dark.
I got to drink a lot and just went into heavy indulgence for about a year.
tH: You were having a Billie Holiday,
Jimi Hendrix moment.
CS: Yeah, well mostly the oh
woe is me. I was having a pity party, dressed to depress. But the
best part about the sadness was I met my shadow side which does feel victimized,
which does say, oh poor me. If I was white only and doing rock-n-roll
this would be easy, wah, wah, wah. But the truth of the matter is
you have to go through many deaths to become who you are. Lots a little
parts of you have to die. Theres a darkness inside of us that were
all going to have to make friends with one day.
tH: And we might run into it again
CS: Oh Id say She comes back
around many, many times this dark sister. And now I know this Geechee.
We party together! So now I feel gratitude for loss. It was the best thing
to happen to me. I got time to be blue and to really indulge and time
to meet a part of myself that I probably would not have looked at if I
hadnt experienced that loss.
tH: So it was a really good thing
for you both personally and professionally.
CS: Oh definitely. I do believe that
the music born out of thisnot outta the painout of the gratitude,
will be powerful and better than ever.
TO THE TOP
to the most recent NCAA data, as reported in Northeastern University's
Racial and Gender Report Card (Center for the Study of Sport in Society),
among the 312 NCAA Div. I schools in 1997-98, African-American women represented
13.9% of all female student-athletes.
They were concentrated in basketball at 35% and track and field at 28.6%.
In all other sports combined, African-American women were a mere 5.3%
of the total of women student-athletes while Latinas made up 2.9%, Asians
2.3% and Native Americans 0.5%. Those percentages have all been growing,
Place that in contrast to the fact that, excluding the Historically Black
Colleges and Universities, there is not a single African-American, Latina,
Asian-American or Native American woman as an athletics directors in Div.
I at present. In Division II there are two African-American women and
one Asian-American woman in AD positions. There are two women of color
who are ADs in Div. III.
TO THE TOP
by Christa Bell
am becoming more and more disheartened by the apparent lack of self-esteem
in African-Americans criticism of popular culture. From the protests
over HBOs non-diverse casting in Sex and the City to
our overjoyed reaction at the Academys recent gesture of benevolent
tokenism, it seems like our main concern is being included in, and validated
by, white supremacist expressions of creativity.
Whoa, wait a minute! That phrase is so alienating you say? Only radical
feminist scholars and Black-liberation types exiled to Cuba are still
publicly denouncing the institution of Hollywood as the bastion of white
supremacy that it is. Unfortunately as "progressive" people
of color, we somehow have been lulled into believing that we have indeed
overcome American-style apartheid in Hollywood. At our best, we pretend
to fight against it as we attempt to claw our way into the consciousness
and onto the screens of the dominant culture.
Recently, in Michael Moore's book, "Stupid White Men," Moore
comments that in the real "Sex and the City" world there are
no Black, Puerto Rican, or Asian people. We are invisible in shows like
that because, in the lives of women like Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and
Samantha, we are invisible. In the lives of the producers and writers
who create their worlds we are invisible. In the minds of the advertising
sponsors, we are invisible. In the eyes of the viewing public, who incidentally
have not protested to death such unrealistic and blatantly segregated
portrayals of America, we are invisible. My question is then, why are
we still expending our energy attempting to persuade Hollywood that we
exist in blazingly beautiful theatrical color?
It would seem more efficient to first convince OURSELVES that we exist.
While one may argue that media has the power to define and project our
identities, and therefore we should continue on our mission to make the
blind see, I would answer differently. Imagine what would happen if we
became as blind to their reality as they are to ours. What if we disconnected
our cable, turned off the television, boycotted Hollywood produced movies,
cancelled our subscriptions to white supremacist magazines and newspapers
that only recognize us as afterthoughts? Like the Montgomery Bus Boycott
of the 50's, our acknowledgement of our own humanity and complete withdrawal
from the systems that don't recognize it, would be much more effective
in the long run than trying to get the dominate culture to acknowledge
us on their own.
The only way we will see real progress is when we stop looking to the
dominant culture for its nod of acceptance. When we stop weeping and wailing
and begging and bootlicking in hopes that they will recognize and include
us in their creative projects, will we then be exercising real power.
Black people, people of color, and our allies, together have both the
creative and economic power to create and disseminate loving, honest and
self-reflective images of ourselves that aren't based on white supremist
value systems and experiences (or non-experiences) of us. The question
is, do we have the will and self-confidence needed to promote our own
~ Christa Bell is a writer repping for the sub-dominant
culture in Seattle.
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