by Doriana Diaz
sun and the moon align themselves. the ceremony begins at dusk. when shingles of light hang from the melaleuca tree. we sit in a hexagon. auntie places a bowl of tea tree oil in the center. each person must dip their hands in the oil, place their palms in front of their face, take a deep breath at the nose, hold it at the top. and exhale. the eldest woman will walk around the perimeter of the hexagon and squeeze 3 drops of oil at each woman’s feet. the scent will linger, initiating the feasting. this is how we summon them.
cross the bridge
onto the mainland
call us home to a wanted place.
crawling to the
having made it across
to the bayous of a pregnant mother’s womb.
the spirits get up off the floor of her belly, strike away the black
and give birth to new melanin bones.
not to replace
but to remember.
spirits can be preserved
inside her belly
along with the fireflies.
in conversation with Doriana Diaz pertaining to The Women That Raise Us:
"...We must move against not only those forces which dehumanize us from the outside, but also against those oppressive values which we have been forced to take into ourselves.” - Audre Lorde. Through experience, this concept has seemed to flow into our relationships with ourselves and our relationships with others, potentially, creating barriers and preventing us from building, supporting, and lifting one another. how can we transcend this construct?
I agree with the statement for a number of reasons. I think that our exterior reinforces our interior and vice versa, part of our life's work is cleansing ourselves from the oppressive forces outside of ourselves as well as inside of ourselves. We must be brave enough to take a look at ourselves, not the surface self, but the deep core of who we are, without judgment. Moving with those forces which dehumanize us requires us to be vulnerable and tender with ourselves. Something I have realized through the process of this statement is realizing that I am tender and I am damaged, and admitting you're damaged is the first step towards liberation of the oppression. We might be damaged for a variety of reasons, we might be broken for, various circumstances, but that is where we access our power, it is not weakness admitting those things to yourself. That’s is the cure.
"We must be brave enough to take a look at ourselves, not the surface self, but the deep core of who we are, without judgment."
The Women that Raise Us aims to exemplify the variations of women that raise and influence us, directly and indirectly, acknowledging every connection, whether ancestral or distant. Who are the women that have shaped you or raised you? Who are the women that continue to do so?
My grandmother has been a light force for me in my life. She has helped to shape me, she has influenced my love, my light and my inspiration. When she passed away I felt a huge transfer of energy. I felt a desire to be the women she knew I could be and the woman she would be proud of. She had always been proud of me, but I knew that she was living through me, I am a vessel of her.
Do you consider "negative" and "positive" relationships and experiences with women as a contribution to your growth? Do you consider friends, inspirations, fallen relationships or even the everyday encounters as a contribution to your current self?
Yes, I consider every single encounter in my life a contribution to my current self, what happens within our lives shape who we are. My connections and interactions with women in my life are very important to me. I am the most inspired and empowered by women, particularly women of color. I think that that experience is unique.
I think that negative experiences influence my character and identity a huge amount. I learn the most from mistakes or from pain, I learn how to continue the life long journey of loving myself unapologetically. I also am very intentional about the women that I surround myself with. All of the women I keep in my circle are powerful forces of nature.
In what ways can we, as a community, release the stereotypical negative perspectives and ideas of women of color and their roles? How can we transcend these constructs and deepen the interpersonal / intrapersonal relationships with women of color?
I think that sisterhood and building sustainable relationships and connections with women like you is a crucial aspect of breaking down stereotypical perspectives and ideas of women of color and their roles.
Find people that share your experience and expand your circle of women who don’t. I am very intentional about making my circle as intersectional as possible. We transcend these constructs every single day by purely existing in the world. We cannot be touched. We must know our worth, we must reclaim our value through creating spaces within our communities to heal and continue to create and cultivate the magic that flows through us.
"We transcend these constructs every single day by purely existing in the world. We cannot be touched."
How can we lift each other, while we still climb as individuals? How can this become an ongoing practice?
We can lift one another by being supports in each other's lives, checking in on one another and making sure that we have a strong system of love and kindness. We can create a love ethic like Bell Hook’s writes about in her novel All about Love. We must utilize the tools given to us. We know how to love one another. As we love one another we will begin to grow and climb as individuals because we know that we have something we can fall back onto, we know that we have one another.
Doriana Diaz: "I am a poet and a female creative based in Philadelphia PA. I have always written to release myself from pain. I am a Women’s Studies major at Temple University. I am a Afro-Latina and have a strong and undying love for sisterhood and womanhood and the strength and softness both things contain."