dbiyounganitafrika dbiyounganitafrika

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D'bi.young Anitafrika  AfricanJamaican/DubPoet/Playwright PerformanceArtist/FeministEducator IndependentScholar MA Theatre & Performance 2019 Goldsmiths University of London

It’s way past midnite in Edmonton and I am handwashing my garments. Did you hand-wash as a child growing up? I did. I grew up learning how to hand-wash, iron, clean & cook. As well as how to dance, write poetry, perform, tell stories & debate as well as how to understand human biology, physics, math & physical education. Remember PE 😂. Some of the social/survival/thrival skills I learnt were gendered norms & as a child/teenager/young adult I resisted being conditioned into learning them; knowing they were considered ‘girls work’ which was seriously undervalued. This work was specifically for me & my ‘kind’ because I was identified as a cis-gendered female. Growing up, there were clear differences of expectations for me & my cis-gendered male cousins. So I rebelled against the conditioning. Now I am so thankful that I was taught these multiple skills. I still rebel against gender norms & the social conditioning but for different reasons. Being able to cook for my children, being able to clean my space as a part of self-care, being able to prepare myself on the road for talks allows me a level of independence & self-empowerment that I truly value; in retrospect I realize that I was essentially taught by the womxn, how to take care of myself. Finding ways to empower people through teaching & learning thrival life skills is not just for some genders or some bodies or some social classes or some spiritualities or some ethnicities. Having the skills to self-care is crucial for revolutionary change. So is it a reframing that we need to do? Is it a revaluing of the skills that need to happen? Can we take a look at our practices of shaming genders who dare to learn skills outside of what they have been socially conditioned to do? Can we continue the work around true equity & true self-empowerment so that all can have access to learning how to survive & thrive? Back to washing my garments ✊🏾 #learninglifeskillsisforall

Just landed in Toronto, waiting for my connecting flight to Edmonton where I am teaching an Anitafrika Method Masterclass to arts practitioners. On the way here I was thinking about the personal risk involved in speaking up. I look around me, at all my comrades, colleagues, friends & family, who everyday, choose, over & over & over again to speak up against injustice. I don’t always think about the fact that there is grave personal risk involved in embodying one’s courage. Speaking up can affect one’s employment, one’s one’s health, one’s reputation. It can even lead to the loss of one’s life or the loss of the lives of the people you love. That is an incredible amount to risk in the name of change. And yet there are people, all over the world embodying acts of tremendous courage daily. I think of the different chapters of Black Lives Matter. I think of the founders of Black Lives Matter. I think of the Black Panthers. All the members who were assassinated or jailed for life. Their lives given to the struggle so we can have a more just world. I think of all the womxn & people who have spoke up & out re abusive relationships. All the Indigenous land defenders & water protectors putting their bodies on the line so that we, who are nature, can be protected too. All the teachers who speak out against abuse in schools. All the artists who make radical art & risk being ostracized or silenced. When I reflect on all these examples of what it means to live life with purpose, it makes me weep. I weep a lot. I weep from gratitude. If these people did not exist, I literally could not enjoy the freedoms that I do. So then what is my role? I must try to live my life with purpose. I must also find my courage. I must also remember that seven generations more will come, as our elders tell us. & I must contribute to preparing a world for them to inhabit. To all my Ancestors who jumped overboard in protest. To all my Ancestors who fought maroon wars in protest. To All my Ancestors who suckled the babies of enslavers in protest. To all my Ancestors who rebelled in protest. You teach me what love truly means. To love is to embody courage. I am learning.

#personalrisk #protest #love

Today’s performance excerpt is of the young lovers in Blood.Claat. Meet Njoni Black, the boyfriend of Mudgu Sankofa. Mudgu goes and visits him on a day she is supposed to be at school. Here is the reception she receives.
I have always enjoyed playing these young lovers in the same scene. Moving through gender in my own body, is often how I experience myself; gender on a continuum. Twenty years ago when my communities and I were talking gender, we talked a lot about androgyny. I remember wanting to sit in a place in my body that transcended ideas of the masculine and feminine. How do I negotiate gender? A part of it for me is recognizing the ways in which I quite literally perform gender. Performing ‘femininity’ and performing ‘masculinity’ and all that comes in between.
Since I joined the wig-wearing party, it’s been interesting observing the worlds’ reaction. This ongoing work that I/we do to make homes in our bodies is indeed lifelong. I recognize the cross roads that I am at, once again. Being 41 has shifted something yet again. I am grown in a way that I have never been before. Taking up space in my body in a way that I never have before. I am also the most child-like right now. I feel like a child in my body while feeling so grown. What a paradox. Is this what ageing is? I absolute love it!!! #41 #lovinglife #growing #wiggingit #storytelling #anitafrikamethod #independentwomxn #blackbeauty #leadership #gender #genderconstruct

Last night I went and saw ‘Black is The Colour of My Voice’ by Apphia Campbell, inspired by the life of Nina Simone. I have no words. The monodrama was everything I needed to see, feel, hear, think, taste, embody. My dear friend, in town for just a few days, took me to the theatre. My mouth was on the ground. My heart was in my womb. My spirit was flowing all through the space. I cannot thank Apphia Campbell and my friend for the life they gave me last night. We are storytellers. I am a storyteller. This is what I was put on the earth to do. This is what I asked of the Ancestors. This is the gift they gave. Soooooooo THEATRE! THEATRE! THEATRE! THEATRE! THEATRE! THEATRE!
This monologue excerpt is of the character ‘Granny’ from the first monodrama I wrote called Blood.Claat, a coming of age story about a 15 year old girl (Mudgu Sankofa) in Jamaica who is living with her Grandmother while her mother is away in Canada. The scene takes place in the early morning. Granny speaks Jamaica Nation Language. She is chastising the neighbor (Njoni, Mudgu’s boyfriend) for playing the music so loud so early. ‘Blood.Claat’ is the first play in ‘The Sankofa Trilogy’ which features 2 other plays ‘Benu’ & ‘Word! Sound! Powah!’ The Trilogy is being published in the fall by Playwrights Canada Press. I am so excited about being on stage again!!! I mean I never left but poetry performances, lectures, keynotes feel somewhat different in my body to doing a 70-90 minute monodrama with lights and set and most importantly, the Village. So ready for that NOW!
#theatre #monodrama #acting #writing #playmaking #storytelling

My pole dancing classes came in handy today on the overground. Some of us were left behind on the class field trip so we entertained ourselves while waiting. Enjoy!!! ♥️🎊🎈🙏🏾 #poledancingonthetrain #poledancing #trainstories #joyjoyjoy

Part Two - I Write My Story: Arts education has played a significant role in my development as an artist. I began running arts workshops in high school at Jarvis Collegiate in the late 1990s, while participating in a political youth radio show called U-Talk at CKLN 88.1fm. In the summers I received foundational anti-oppression training at Fresh Arts Summer Program in Toronto Canada. A paradigm shift occurred when in 2008 I was asked to design a summer youth program at Art Starts which resulted in a devised production entitled PN Numero Uno: Jinch Malrex. These powerful young people impacted my life so profoundly that by the end of the program I promised to create an ongoing arts residency for them. It is here that I began conceptualising the Anitafrika Method during the birth of The Watah Theatre (FKA Anitafrika Dub Theatre), Canada’s only Black focused performance art school which offered tuition-free professional development programs from 2008-2018. Change-makers such as Amanda Parris (CBC’s The Exhibitionist), Kim Katrin Milan, Natasha Adiyana Morris & Colanthony Humphrey were among my first artists-in-residence. Since then, other artists have studied the Method with me including Canadians Bahia Watson (The Handmaid’s Tale), Che Kothari (Manager to Machel Montano), Raven Dauda (Star Trek Discovery), and Randell Adjei (Rise), Mriga Kapadiya (Nor Black Nor White Fashion House); Nigeria’s Titilope Sonuga; Zimbabwe’s Rudo Chigudu; Britain’s Ria Hartley; Trinidad’s Soca King Machel Montano; & Jamaica’s Julene Robinson and Webster McDonald.
Along with Watah, I also founded Spolrusie Publishing, a micro press in Toronto Canada, to publish the work of Black emerging writers who are generally not supported by mainstream publishing houses. The press provides a platform for emerging & established artists to archive and canonise their works, circumventing reluctant mainstream presses. So far, Spolrusie has produced three drama anthologies, three books of poetry, two children's books, one book of photography & a deck of cards illustrating the Method. We will be relaunching the press in the spring with the publication of ‘The Collected Dub Poems of D’bi Young Anitafrika.

Part One - I Write My Story: When I was thirteen years old, after completing my first and only performance in Jamaica’s National Secondary Schools’ Theatre Festival, I ran outside, looked up and saw three prominent stars lined up, one behind the other peering down at me. These were the same stars I had claimed as my own when I was five. They followed me wherever I went and so I dubbed them my magic protectors. Right there, outside of the theatre festival, I made a promise to these stars to be my very best, in exchange for a long life as a storyteller.
My name is D’bi Young Anitafrika and I am an African Jamaican (born and raised) multidisciplinary performance artist: Dub poet, monodramatist, playwright, director, dramaturge, educator and emerging scholar, who has lived for the past twenty-five years in Canada and all over the world. I now live in London UK. My art engages complex dialogues on race, class, sexual orientation, gender, ability & the overlapping intersections of our humanity. My art is heavily influenced by the performative and political environment of emerging Dub poetry in Jamaica of 1980s. I am the daughter of Anita Stewart (a Dub poet and original member of Poets in Unity), and Winston Young, (an avid community organiser). I grew up watching (and later emulating) my mother and father, and the foundation Dub poets such as Mikey Smith, Jean Binta Breeze and Linton Kwezi Johnson, who became my life-long teachers in storytelling. My mother and her contemporaries, poeticised struggles for racial, economic, gender & class equality. I am my mother’s daughter.
At fifteen years old I moved to Canada to join my parents. Over a period of twenty years, through rigorous artistic mentorship, I grew and developed my ideas around biomyth theatre, theatre of recovery, artist mentorship and the Anitafrika Method: an intersectional anti-oppressive feminist praxis utilised by artists, instigators, educators, and change-makers world-wide. The Anitafrika Method has steadily grown and expanded globally throughout the years, supporting artists in cultivating self-recovery/self-actualisation, creativity, and leadership...TBC

Twenty years of poetry in one volume. The Collected Dub Poems of D’bi Young Anitafrika (1998-2018). Five Book Events. Toronto & Dublin in April. London UK & The Netherlands in May. Bristol UK in June.
The Collection features my previously published (now out of print) poetry books Art on Black, Rivers & Other Blackness Between Us and Oya as well as a new book Butu They Call Me only available in this volume.
The complete volume explores Black Feminist Thought, Intersectionality, Critical Race Theory, Dub Poetry, Dub Theatre, Life growing up in Jamaica, Diaspora Black Experience, Black Life Experiences, Queer Theory, Black Super Sheros, Jamaican Maroons, Jamaica Nation Language, Art as Social Change, Childhood Sexual Trauma, Mental Health, Depression, Love, Relationships, Spirituality, Motherhood, Environmentalism, Post-Colonial Theory, Pan Africanism, Biomythography, The Anitafrika Method, Afrofuturism, Enslavement and Emancipation, Self-Love, Anti-Black Racism, Homophobia, Critical Pedagogy, Self-Recovery, Self-Actualization, Coming of Age, Suicide & Revolution.
I would love to see you at a launch 🙏🏾. #collecteddubofdbi #newpoetrycollection #newbook #newbookbydbi #dbiyoung #dbiyounganitafrika #blackfeminist #feministpress #micropress #anitafrikamethod #blackgirlmagic #blackgirlmagic✨ #blackfeministhought #spolrusie #spolrusiepublishing #independentartist #independentscholar #independentwomxn #independentpublishing

Good morning Global Village. On my way to school & was ruminating on the crucial role that independent micro-presses play in publishing the work of artists, activists, scholars & emerging makers of anything & everything. In my own life, small presses are responsible for spreading me words across the globe. In 2008 I founded a small press to publish the work of the artists-in-residence at Watah Theatre (FKA anitafrika dub theatre). Since that time we have published a few anthologies of plays, collections of poetry, photo book, graphic novel & independent plays, by writer-performer-artists-activists who may otherwise have not been able to do so. I am so deeply inspired by these ever present gate-keepers who insist on using their power to keep gates closed to independent thinkers. They remind me to laugh 😆 & to continue to co-create a space, where we are welcome. Soooooo in the spring we will be relaunching Spolrusie Publishing, this time under the leadership one of the most brilliant and kind human beings I know. Her name is soon to be revealed (you know how much I love surprises 😉). We welcome your submissions. Lots more info to come in the coming months on our Black feminist press.

#spolrusie #spolrusiepublishing #watah #wathatheatre #micropress #independentpress #dbiyoung #dbiyounganitafrika #blackfeminist #blackbrilliance #feministpress

Today once again I was reminded of the significance of being the teller of one’s own story. I woke up this morning, in fact I was went to bed last night, with both my head & my heart throbbing from coming face-to-face with systemic discriminatory fuckery. It was so visceral that I thought my heart was going to burst through my chest or the back of my head implode. I thought of going to get my blood pressure checked. The encounter triggered a deep old fear that had my anxieties clogging my ears, making my eyes foggy & the palms of my hands sweaty. Some would say a classic PTSD response. I watched as my body writhed through the motions but in my mind I was clear. I thought to myself, my body is in panic but my mind isn’t. Certainly I can help treat my body with tools that I have acquired throughout the years. The same tools I share with my students. So I took a hot shower in which I shook the way I learnt to shake in Qi Gong to reset my nervous system. Then I did some talk therapy to my body. Then I did some deep breathing. Then I cried to release the tension I was feeling. Then I prayed. Then I meditated. Then I took my vitamins including lots of vitamin C to protect my cells from stress damage. Then I took B Complex to help my cells deal with the stress. Then I read Black Feminist Theory to be able to name clearly, the psycho-emotional violence that I had experienced. Then I came up with an action plan. All of it helped but the biggest interruption to my body’s stress response was sitting with a mentor in the British Library for a couple hours. She listened deeply to me. Then she reminded me that I deserve kindnesss. That I co-create my story. That there will always be fuckery & through it I can stay focused. By the time I left the library, I was smiling, my heart had calmed all the way down & my outlook had shifted. Storytelling is MY medicine. Storytelling shifts my PTSD response. Having someone remind you that you have a sacred purpose is a direct antidote to the anti-Black anti-Queer, anti-working-class, anti-womxn violence that we live breath eat and shit daily. To all the guides out there being mirrors for the mourning, I LOVE U & I THANK U ♥️

Image by Noncedo Charmaine taken while I was living in Cape Town South Africa & working on the 333 album. A team of brilliant artists & I mean absolutely BRILLIANT womxn helped me to realize my dream of creating multiple images of African Supah Sheros that challenge the anti-Blackness & anti-Black-womxnness that we have been taught. The snake represents the Ancestors & fertility...cycles rebeginning...contrary to the anti-snake, anti-womxn doctrine that have become a part of today’s mythology. The brewing represents exactly that...a revolution brewing in a witch’s cauldron. Everyday we are cooking up revolutions by simply daring to stay alive! Everyday we are making revolution by insisting on growing beyond the boxes created for us. And the horns...well I am obsessed with Unicorns and the number 3, so 3 horns just made absolute sense...😂. During the shoot, the snake turned and kissed me...I will never forget that.

#dbiyoung #womensmythology #blackbrilliance #blackimages #blackfeminist

Good evening from nighttime London, Global Village...Happy African Heritage Month / Black Futures Month / Queer Black History Month / African Herstory Month / Celebrate Africa & the African Diaspora Everyday-of-the-Year Month.
For the past few days I have been dreaming about rivers & forests & houses tucked away on the sides of mountains that are green & mysterious. Myself tucked away within these houses surrounded by mountains of books with rivers of words pouring over & through me.
My heart beat races when I think of writing. I want to write & not stop. I want to pour myself into sentences that are abrupt & run-on. I want to wallow in words that tell me change is possible. In fact that change is already here. My heart feels tender & soft. I want words to kiss my heart gently & rock her to sleep. Words are constantly shaping me. Mirroring back a truth that says, I indeed am co-creating my reality.
Ok back to writing I go...I hope that love poem to words works...& will make my words flow 🙏🏾 #wecannotlibewithoutourlives #barbarademing #lovingwords #lovepoems #dbiyoung #anitafrikamethod

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