Dialogue 4: Radical Healing

Intro Div


"If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution." Emma Goldman (1869-1940)

A world in crisis requires radical healing. Art and music are the sweet medicine that gets us through hard times, soothes our pain, opens our hearts, brings us together, and inspires us in this long beautiful struggle to transform the world. 

Radical healing awakens our creativity and dreams. 

Radical healing is revolutionary.

Radical healing is collective. 

Radical healing liberates our hearts, minds and bodies 

Radical healing honors ancient wisdom while radically reimagining the future.

Radical healing allows us to be fully human and together.

Radical healing is essential for feminist movement-building. 

For the fourth dialogue in our series, Women Radically Transforming a World in Crisis,” JASS has teamed up with Nubian QUEENX (Quantum, Unique, Evolving, Essence of Nubian Sistas Black Womanhood and Divinity) to offer a musical celebration dedicated to radical healing. 

Led by Multimedia and Funk-Rock legend Nona Hendryx, QUEENX is a multigenerational, multidisciplinary mashup of sound design, spoken word, beats and bits, quasi hip-hop, rock, and avant-garde. Joined by indigenous and global artists from Mexico, Guatemala, Canada, Philippines, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, this event will free your mind and rock your body.  

We lift the long invisible role of Black and indigenous women in mending and transforming our communities and world in the face of violence and destruction. This musical celebration centers the healing power of their art in leading us toward wholeness. 

Join us as we unleash the power and wisdom of womxn, sing our liberation, and conjure a transformed future together.

Why Radical Healing

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." Audre Lorde (1934-1992)

This moment of crisis has separated us and exposed the brokenness of our world – the violence and inequities already suffocating us laid bare. But it has also inspired extraordinary outpourings of community care, solidarity, and uprisings for Black and Indigenous lives and for freedom from violence. It is a time of pain but also one of tremendous possibility. It is a time that calls for renewal, bold imagination and, of course, dancing! Healing for our bodies and souls.

Radical Healing—A Musical Celebration of Women’s Power for a World in Crisis

Radical healing awakens our creativity and dreams.
Radical healing is revolutionary. Radical healing is collective.
Radical healing liberates our hearts, minds and bodies
Radical healing honors ancient wisdom while radically reimagining the future.
Radical healing allows us to be fully human and together.
Radical healing is essential for feminist movement-building. 

For the fourth installment in our monthly dialogue series, Women Radically Transforming a World in Crisis, we offered something to inspire and support activists everywhere in these challenging times. The unique event, co-organized by JASS and the Nubian Queenx – a multigenerational, multidisciplinary collaboration led by legendary funk-rock artist Nona Hendryx – focused on Radical Healing. Feminist poets, musicians and organizers described what radical healing means to them, as they gathered from across the globe to share the virtual stage, and bring their words and music to thousands of viewers: “Forgiveness, transformation, memory, love, change, collective power, freedom, connectedness, dignity, kindness…” The concert offered up a dizzying diversity of performances that brimmed with the kind of cut-loose energy and feel-good spirit we all crave right now, and in the tradition of many movements, connected art and activism as interdependent.

“Across time, women have had the distinct ability to combine popular culture and feminism to convey visons of transformation and create wellbeing for our communities and our planet…  through music and words, to find the collective courage to continue to take action against injustice.” Words of greeting by Shereen Essof, JASS

In a little over two hours, the show presented artists from the United States, Guatemala, the Philippines, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Canada; Indigenous, Black, Latinx and queer womxn, with intersecting identities and origins, and boundary-leaping bonds between them. And interspersed among the performances were short videos of activists with whom JASS works in Southeast Asia, Mesoamerica and Southern Africa.

The initial seed for the event was the need to nourish ourselves in times of hardship, when confinement and illness have made our hearts ache, when the uncertainties and challenges we face seem greater every day, when fatigue and fear crowd out the joys of daily life. It was nourished by women artists and activists and by women’s visions and resistances in many countries and languages. And it grew in a climate of transformation, where the grounding of the familiar has given way to winds of change.

“It’s not gonna be the politicians, y’all…We’re the ones that make the world go round, we gotta take our power back. We are what we’ve been waiting for. Put your hands in the sky and reach for the stars” Song by Divinity Roxx, based on a poem by June Jordan

This mash-up of culture and politics, across genres and borders, turned the usual dialogue format into a feminist extravaganza. Although the big issues are still there—racism, homophobia, patriarchy – they’re sung and played and chanted, rather than discussed and debated. Denouncements of oppression took a back seat to a celebration of liberation and resistance.

That your body not become your prison. That guilt not become your religion. That compassion for yourself not become self-pity. That the voice of fear never be the answer.” Rosa Chavez, Mayan Kich’é-Kaqchikel poet and activist

The artists tapped into and channeled that which makes us stronger, freer, bolder. Like the ancestral invocations in the poetry of indigenous artist Rosa Chavez and the song Ixoqui by Sara Curruchich. Or the women who inspire us, as in Lebo Mashile’s “Requiem to Winnie” and the names and images of historic figures presented in the Nubian Queenx reel. Hope Masike’s joyous Mbira music from Zimbabwe joins a solemn homage to indigenous resistance by Iskwe, native Canadian Cree and Metis of Canada. Be Steadwell’s mischievous rebellion in her song “Gay Sex” plays off her haunting tribute-in-song to Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Philippine vocalist Monique Wilson, offered her song We Rise as a call for a new phase of the international movement One Billion Rising against gender violence.

Each unique voice was a powerful, accomplished expression of women’s simultaneous quest for beauty and freedom. The variety emphasizes the shared struggle, and reminds us that every voice makes every other voice stronger.

And that every telling is a healing.

“Tell your story. Let it nourish you, sustain you, and claim you. Tell your story. Let it feed you, heal you, and release you. Tell your story. Let it twist and remix your shattered heart. Tell your story. Until your past stops tearing your present apart.” From Lebo Mashile (South Africa) reading her poem “Tell Your Story”

The women performers combined modern technology and tradition to help heal bodies and spirits and open new forums of expression, creativity, and joy during the pandemic.

The result was an urgent call to action at a critical time, and a reminder that healing and honoring our hearts, minds and bodies is central to the transformation we seek.

“…this is the year when ALL things, ALL people, ALL intentions are being revealed. This is the great reckoning, the great Third Eye Awakening. 2020 means you have perfect vision. Well, what year is it grasshoppah?!” Liza Jessie Peterson, poet, playwright, actor, United States.

We heard from philosopher and longtime activist Angela Davis, a beacon for radical feminist change, speak about the role of the classic blues women in confronting male violence. Sophia Ramos, a New York-Puerto Rican rock singer, shows her versatility and soul with the classic Mexican huapango, Cucurrucucú Paloma.

There’s more than one unifying thread among this wide range of artists. The theme of connectedness ran throughout the show.

“We are all wanderers right now, wandering and wondering, and we´re all doing it together even though we may appear to be alone in the boxes of our houses. We are, literally, the earth.” Joy Harjo, Muscogee, U.S. Poet Laureate, introducing her poem “For Calling the Spirit Back From Wandering the Earth in its Human Feet”

The artists affirmed connectedness as political and part of the natural order.

“He wept for the Feminine Divine, thinking he’d lost her. She was here, still, in the songs of the lark, and the cooing of the dove, soaring above the seas, whispering in the wind.” Sophia Ramos, introduction to the song “Cucurrucucú Paloma”

“Every step I take, brings me closer to my sisters. To the equality we dream of, deserve, and have worked for.” Sara Curruchich, Maya Kich’é, in her song “Ixoqui/Women”

That connectedness, not just in suffering, but in joy and resistance, is sustenance for hard times. “We recognize that we can’t build and sustain strong movements for the long haul with broken people who bear the brunt of crises and violence. We need moments of shared joy and connections as much as information and strategy,” Nona Hendryx explains.

At the end of the live concert, JASS’ Shereen Essof concluded: “We are moved, we are soothed, heart-mind-and-body, as we continue our work around the world for the liberation of us all.”

If you didn’t catch the show, or want to see it again, you can find the complete English version here, and the complete Spanish version here.

Panelists

Nona Hendryx (US) – multimedia and funk-rock legend with a career spanning six decades of sound and style evolution. Fans know her as a founding member of the girl group, Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles, (with Sarah Dash, Cindy Birdsong and Patti LaBelle,) known as “the Sweethearts of the Apollo Theatre” and inducted into the R&B Hall of Fame in 1999. https://www.nonahendryx.com/

Liza Jesse Peterson (US) – an artivist: an actress, playwright, poet, author, and youth advocate who has been steadfast in her commitment to incarcerated populations both professionally and artistically for over two decades. https://www.lizajessiep.com/

Monique Wilson (Philippines): one of Philippine’s veteran theatre and film actresses, Monique started acting professionally at the age of nine. A member of JASS ally, GABRIELA, Monique has received numerous awards as an actress including the ALIW Award for Best actress for “Cabaret” the musical, and the URIAN best supporting actress for the film “Kapag Iginuhit Ang Hatol ng Puso”. https://www.onebillionrising.org/171/monique-wilson-one-billion-rising-director/

 

Rosa Chávez (Guatemala): JASS’ Guatemala Program Coordinator, Rosa is a Mayan K’iche’ Kaqchiquel woman, poet, artist, and educator. Rosa contributes to collective building of methodologies from art and Mayan spirituality for training, healing, and decolonization. https://justassociates.org/en/bio/rosa-chavez

Sara Curruchich (Guatemala): a Mayan Kaqchikel woman and singer-songwriter. Her voice and her message of love, conscience, respect, and defense for life in all its forms, have made it a bearer of light and hope for many women and men. https://saracurruchich.com/

Divinity Roxx (US): a base-player, Divinity is inspirational and genuine, and has earned the reputation as irrefutable front woman of her own genre-bursting, honest, and compelling musical journey. https://divinityroxx.com/

 

Hope Masike (Zimbabwe): one of Zimbabwe's music jewels, Hope’s music is a tasty hybrid of many music styles tied together by her signature sublime Mbira playing, sultry voice, and highly-charged performances.  https://worldmusiccentral.org/2019/06/20/artist-profiles-hope-masike/

Lebo Mashile (South Africa): a celebrated South African poet, author, performer, and producer. A sought-after speaker and social commentator, Mashile has shared her creative work in 28 countries to date. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-05-08-friday-activist-lebo-mashile/

 

Iskwe (Canada): an artist, a creator and communicator of music and of movement, of pictures, poetry, and prose. And through it all, she is a teller of stories that have impacted our past and will inform our future. https://iskwe.com

Sophia Ramos (US): a rock singer/songwriter, Sophia has mastered her craft in many genres: R&B, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Latin, and Pop, allowing her musical insight, enormous range and personal charisma to blend in an infectious, compelling voice. www.sophiaramos.com

 

Be Steadwell (US): a singer songwriter, Be calls her music QUEER POP – a blend of soul, acapella and folk. In her live performances, she utilizes looping, vocal layering and beat boxing to compose her songs on stage.  Be's original music features earnest lyricism and Affirming LGBTQ content.  https://www.besteadwell.com/