Global Feminist Funk Underground Club: Fire-Bellied Feminist Forum

Our Fire-Bellied Feminist Forum series celebrates the folks who gather at the #GloFFUC (Global Feminist Funk Underground Club).

June 7, 2019

Today, we launch our #FireBelliedFeministForum series of folks who gather at the #GloFFUC (Global Feminist Funk Underground Club) by celebrating Janice BadMoccasin.
Here is how she describes herself: “I am Dakota, my spirit name is Cetanskan (chay tah ska n) White Hawk Woman Dancing. I am a Cultural Bearer, Healer, Knowledge Keeper and Muay Thai combat athlete warrior.”

Janice Bad Moccasin is a tribal member of Dakota Nation, Oceti Sakowin. She attended the Dakota Wesleyan University to study Human Development. However, she felt called to return to her traditional grassroots traditions of healing and restoring her spirit away from mainstream society and refocused her study inside indigenous communities. Mentored by elders and spiritual leaders, she now serves as a traditional healing liaison for her tribal communities. She works in various healing modalities of conducting transformational healing with horse medicine and ceremonial healing work with her family, women and communities. Her unique metaphoric and ceremonial healing proceeds through bridging Horse and Human relationship in the path of “Mitakuye Oyasin,” becoming one in spirit as relatives. This healing embodies the shifting away trauma and horses restoring with breath, energy medicine and old knowledge of presence. 

Additionally, she is an an intergenerational caregiver of granddaughter and mother. She is currently employed by a successful tribal government in the role of cultural bearer/keeper. 

Here is how she describes her work:
“Transforming my life from the death of trauma impacts, I didn’t plan to become a healer. Rebirthed of gratitude, humility and fierce compassion has torched in my spirit to carry forward the mission of restoring the spirit. Counting coup on the pains and anger forced upon our families and nation. What drives my dedication of healing work to community is the greatest need for culturally specific healing and my unique approach of believing in miraculous wonders of a healing gift. The quiet leadership and healer within me has been summoned by my family, women, and families. It is my spiritual ethics and values that I strongly adhere to being a good relative, healer and quiet leader as I have learned compassion and humbleness are the language of spirit and the natural world. Feeling empowered and supported by the universe and natural world of horse medicine healing, I carry forth healing for the people, what is healing is “restoring the spirit” by facilitating the aligning of a person’s life with the spiritual law with healing horses, ceremonial transformation, magnifying and reflecting their greatest strengths to overcome the trauma impacts. The ability to listen and communicate to the pains and healing aspects is when the greatest need miraculously shows up as good medicine with unsaid and unseen as if it were always present.” It is with great honor and love that I contribute to help transform our world. Ihun.”
Design: Laichee Dorothy

June 14, 2019

SHARON M. DAY, Ojibwe, is a leader in many circles of community, a visionary, and a change-maker.
**She is the Executive Director and one of the founder’s of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force (IPTF), formerly known as the Minnesota American Indian AIDS Task Force.  
**She leads IPTF’s flagship program, Ikidowin Youth Theater Ensemble, and mentors youth via theatrical expressivity. Ikidowin young artists have performed several plays written by her. 
**She is an artist, musician, and writer.  
**An environmental activist, she has led 19 Water Walks from 2011, to draw attention to the devastation of natural water resources and to offer prayers for these rivers. These extended ceremonies have happened along the Mississippi River, the Ohio River, the St. Louis River, the James River in Virginia, the Missouri River, Cuyahoga River in Ohio, Seneca Lake in New York, and Pokegama Lake in Minnesota.

Of her environmental work she says, “As indigenous people, we’re fairly close to the land. And we have something to share with the environmental movement. …It’s really understanding that the earth is our mother, we are the water…So, how do you make an offering, how do you have a connection?…This is what we bring to the environmental movement. And justice and healing…And in 1998, for the first time, we took that kind of spiritual work out of our ceremonial work and placed it into a geo-political setting. It was necessary because of the crisis we’re in right now..North America is on fire.” 

Sharon’s many awards include the Resourceful Woman Award, the Gisela Knopka Award, BIHA’s Women of Color Award, The National Native American AIDS Prevention Resource Center’s Red Ribbon Award, the Alston Bannerman Sabbatical Award, and most recently, the Spirit Aligned Leadership Fellowship. The Governor of the State of Minnesota, and the mayors of both St. Paul and Minneapolis named November 10, 1998 after her: Sharon M. Day, Day.  

She is an editor of the anthology, Sing! Whisper! Shout! Pray! Feminist Visions for a Just World: Edgework Books, 2000. She is also one of two contributors to Drink of the Winds, Let the Waters Flow Free, Johnson Institute, 1978. Design: Laichee Dorothy

June 21, 2019

Today, celebrating CHERISH SONJA GIBSON for our #FBFF series! Cherish Sonja Gibson is a spoken word poetry artist and healthcare worker. A former Givens Foundation Fellow, her poetry piece “Dominant Traits” reflects on motherhood as much more than “what might be prescribed to me as a black woman, as a black African woman.” As a healthcare data abstractor, she wonders, “How can I bring justice there?” She envisions a future of reassessing treatment for cancer patients, to change lives in ways that think outside the gender binary. Gibson intends to leave a legacy that upholds the histories of Liberian, Black African, women-identifying people of color: “The ghosts are the things I need to conquer, work through, and acknowledge honestly. The ghosts of ancestors are like a calm coming over me. That’s a bit of presence—things that have built up that I did not ask for, that I did not fortify, that I am blessed to have—I am haunted, in a good way.” Design: Laichee Dorothy

June 28, 2019

Today, on our Fire-Bellied Feminist Forum, we honor SUZANNE THAO, who learned the power of needle and thread from her paternal grandmother and mother at the age of six. Through her practice of Paj Ntaub, Suzanne experienced the importance of intergenerational relationships within making and learning a craft. She once asked her grandmother, “Why don’t we just make a plain shirt?” Her Grandmother pointed to the embroidered patch on her back and responded, “Hmong knowledge and skills are sewn there. That is how you know you are Hmong.” Suzanne has carried this lesson with her throughout her life, when her refugee experience landed her family in France and many years later in America. She believes that it is through intergenerational learning, that one can attain the long embodied experience and knowledge of materials, processes, and histories of Hmoob Paj Ntaub. 

For the past 3 years, Suzanne has worked with Hmong Museum, to hold space for intergenerational exchange through free paj ntaub workshops called Project Paj Ntaub. With her passion for the creative process and love and support for Hmong youth, Suzanne donates her time, knowledge, materials, and a colorful array of paj ntaub examples she cares for from diasporic Hmong communities across the world. Suzanne’s generosity and leadership stems from her desire to share the importance of learning the long embodied experience and knowledge of materials, processes, and histories of the women that have come before her. Design: Laichee Dorothy

July 9, 2019

Today, on our Fire-Bellied Feminist Forum, we honor the indomitable Laurie Carlos (1949-2016).

A native of New York City’s Lower East Side, Carlos became a seminal American theater artist and original player in NYC’s avant-garde performance scene, and developed new characters and aesthetics for the stage for more than 40 years. A powerful artist-advocate for women and communities of color, Carlos pushed the field forward through her innovative, feminist creations, teaching, mentorship, and visioning. 

A gifted writer, her oft-anthologized pieces, including “White Chocolate,” “The Cooking Show,” and “Organdy Falsetto,” represented daring and successful forays into abstract aesthetics. She received an OBIE Award for Lady In Blue, the role she created in Ntozake Shange’s “for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf.” She won two New York Dance and Performance Awards (Bessie Awards) as choreographer of “White Chocolate” and “Heat.” Carlos’ work as a collaborating poet, dramaturg, and performer with the Urban Bush Women, Movin’ Spirits Dance Company, Ananya Dance Theatre, and with artists Sharon Bridgforth, Carl Hancock Rux, Lourdes Perez, Sue Lori Parks, Zell Miller III, and Daniel Alexander Jones is the stuff of performance legend. Carlos, along with Robbie McCauley and Jessica Hagedorn, formed the performance group Thought Music in the mid-1980s, producing the revolutionary performance work “Teenytown.” With Ananya Chatterjea and Marilyn Amaral, Carlos created a dance poem, “Marion’s Terrible Time of Joy,” in 2003.

Here is an artist statement Laurie wrote for Ananya Dance Theatre’s program in 2012: 

I AM ALWAYS WORKING TO REVEAL IN THE CREATION OF MY DANCE-DRIVEN TEXT THE MULTIVOCALITY Of WOMEN’S STORIES AND DIASPORAS. THESE STORIES PROVOKED BY COMMUNITY GATHERINGS OF EXCAVATED DIALOGUES, FAMILY MYTHS, SECRETS, UNREVEALED DIALECTS, MOANS AND KICKS, INFUSE THE RECIPE OF SCRIPTED LANGUAGE.

I WORK IN A JAZZ- AESTHETIC ROOTED IN CLASSICAL RAGAS, FIELD HOLLARTS, URBAN BREATHS AND IMPROVISATIONS OF MELODY.
I AM ALWAYS NEW IN THE ROOM.

Photo: Paul Virtucio (ADT, Moreechika, 2012). Design: Laichee Dorothy

July 12, 2019

Nia & Ness are a black, lesbian, dancer-poet performance art duo based in Brooklyn, NY. The duo met in 2013 making art together, founding their company in 2016. They have performed at multiple venues nationwide, sharing their work that aims at a deeper understanding of their co-reality through intense investigation of their individual identities. Their work invites audiences to enter their world as observers, listening in on their intimate, strong, and loving conversations about and influenced by their identities.They have been keynote speakers at Brown University and City College, and performed their work at schools such as the University of California Riverside, New York University, Sarah Lawrence College, Harvard College, Bard College, and more. They have also performed at Brooklyn Pride 2017 and Harlem Pride 2018; were recipients of the BAX Summer 2017 Space Grant; inaugural nominees for the Virginia Giordano Memorial Fund, and were the winners of the 2017 National Women’s Music Festival Emerging Artist Contest. Together, these artists are fire! Their love for each other womanifests what they create and share in the world together. 
Design: Laichee Dorothy