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Womanhood: Evidence of God’s Goodness

A Song & Verse Post: Evidence by Josh Baldwin

evidence: the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid

Every time Evidence comes on in the car I want to pull over and praise God. Today, I came to home to write.

All throughout my history Your faithfulness has walked beside me.

There is not one period of my life that I cannot identify the presence of God and His work in me. I remember being baptized around the age of six. Though I had no understanding of what that meant at the time, I can literally look back on my life to that moment and see how God has held on to me through every devastation, betrayal, abuse, disillusionment and every step of rebuilding and healing.

I remember my one-dollar lock and key diaries from Walgreens that were full of my seven-year-old pleadings for God to save me from the near daily sexual abuse I was subjected to. “Dear God, he did it again. Please make him stop!” Years of one or two line prayers. Silent screams. One day, four years later, God called me out of my house (I didn’t recognize His hand then, but I certainly do now) and guided me on a walk to a nearby police station outpost. I knocked on the door and said to the officer who answered, “I’m being molested.”

From that moment forward, I was never again forced to share space with my violators.

The winter storms made way for spring. In every season, from where I’m standing I see the evidence of Your goodness all over my life. I see Your promises in fulfillment all over my life.

I grew up in families – both sides – that didn’t acknowledge abuse or trauma. Everyone is either a victim or a perpetrator. If anyone could claim to be on the sidelines, they would act deaf, dumb, blind and incapable for standing against any wrongdoing.

A few years after I had forgiven my dad, and a few years before he died, he asked me why I act better than I am. “You’re from the ghetto, you’ll always be ghetto.” This was during the “healing and repair” of our relationship, mind you. It was also one of our last conversations.

Imagine being told by someone who should have molded you for greatness, that you were never expected to rise above his level of filth, disease, psychological, sexual and spiritual bondage. Imagine being looked upon with disgust by a man who, for all intent and purpose, murdered you as a child and then being told as an adult woman that you were expected to remain dead.

At that time, I hadn’t yet started my dedicated faith walk. I was still journaling – writing prayers to God – but the Bible remained a mystery to me. Nothing was catching or keeping. However, I can look back on that time now and see it as the beginning of release in my life. I tried so hard to reconcile that relationship, but when I stopped holding on – when I stopped trying – it was easy to see that I had been on my own the whole time.

I believe firmly that God desires willing hearts most – a desire to conform to His Word in practice and deed. However, He has never allowed me to remain open to those who intentionally harm me repeatedly. I view this as God’s judgement on the other person’s heart condition, rather than my inability to be faithful and obedient to Grace and Mercy.

Imagine telling your sire: I’m more than my beginnings. I’m more than the seed you contributed to my being. I’ve become more than a little girl from the ghetto.

Help me remember when I’m weak, fear may come but fear will leave.

It’s said that we can do anything we can imagine. Yet our imagination is limited by what we’re exposed to. What if we’re exposed to people who can’t see beyond their own dark pits?

I went into a deep depression in my late thirties. My mom died at the age of thirty-six and when I reached that age, my future dimmed to darkness. It was difficult to climb out of my second grave by letting go of the woman I thought I would have become by then. My mother began life as a sharecropper’s granddaughter in rural Mississippi, but I only ever saw her as the best of all created beings. As difficult as her life had been, she had at least accomplished the Holy Grail of Womanhood (according to society) – marriage and children. No matter that she tied herself to a rotten man and worked multiple minimum wage jobs to house and feed her children, she remained the epitome of everything to me. It was difficult to see myself as worthy of more time in this world than she had. Harder still to face the length of her lifespan without even a taste of the Holy Grail of Womanhood.

The end of beginnings is the beginning of letting go.

You lead my heart to victory. You are my strength and You always will be.

My birthday this year will put me at ten years beyond the lifespan of my mother – and still not even a lick of the traditional Holy Grail of Womanhood. Today, I can say I am completely fine with that. In recent years I’ve not only learned to embrace my solitude, I’ve come to appreciate it, honor it and protect it. There’s something being forged in me that I can’t articulate. That glimpse of greatness that repelled my dad fifteen years ago, is unfurling in a wondrous way. I’ve grown from hiding my light under a bushel to Clarkeshia Kent exposing her S with a declarative chest thrust. Yet my light is still gaining strength. I foresee beaming across the Universe.

Why settle for tradition when the Universe is already mine?

I’m becoming a Woman I never imagined I would be. Nothing about my life today was part of the dream, fantasy or hope. Everything about my life is better than all my mind and heart conjured for me. There’s something to be said about what we’re exposed to. Exposure sounds expansive, but it’s actually limiting. If we only trust what our eyes see, we will be satisfied with that view for our life. However, when we begin to let go of all the dead things – relationships, hopes, dreams, ideals, culture, tradition – we will have room to invite the previously unimaginable in. We will be able to develop into beings of light with experiences beyond the confinement of the world. Living beyond the construct breaks the paradigm. At which point, you’ll actually be able to imagine what previously seemed impossible. Thus, within your reality all things are then possible.

A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth.

But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days.

So when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued[d] the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to her place where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.

Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus.

~ Revelation 12:1-2, 5-6, 13-14, 17

 

[NOTE: More of my story is shared in Clichés: A Life in Verse, My God and Me, and Desert of Solitude. Some poems from Clichés will be reprinted in I AM WOMAN: Expressions of Black Womanhood in America. All books are available on Harvest-Life.org/shop and Amazon.com]

 

Evidence

by Josh Baldwin w/Dante Bowe

All throughout my history
Your faithfulness has walked beside me
The winter storms made way for spring
In every season, from where I’m standing

I see the evidence of Your goodness
All over my life
All over my life
I see Your promises in fulfillment
All over my life
All over my life

Help me remember when I’m weak
Fear may come but fear will leave
You lead my heart to victory
You are my strength and You always will be

See the cross, the empty grave
The evidence is endless
All my sin rolled away
Because of You, oh Jesus

Why should I fear
The evidence is here

 

See a Victory

by Elevation Worship w/Brandon Lake

The weapon may be formed but it won’t prosper
When the darkness falls it won’t prevail
Cause the God I serve knows only how to triumph
My God will never fail
My God will never fail

I’m gonna see a victory
I’m gonna see a victory
For the battle belongs to You Lord
I’m gonna see a victory
I’m gonna see a victory
For the battle belongs to You Lord

There’s power in the mighty name of Jesus
Every war He wages He will win
I’m not backing down from any giant
I know how this story ends
I know how this story ends

You take what the enemy meant for evil
And You turn it for good
You turn it for good


Sources:

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Kingdom of Heaven ( ACAD: Revelation 12)

A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth. Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rulea all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days.

And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming,

“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Messiah,b for the accuser of our comradesc has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death.

Rejoice then, you heavens and those who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you
with great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

So when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursuedd the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to her place where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. Then from his mouth the serpent poured water like a river after the woman, to sweep her away with the flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman; it opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus.
Then the dragone took his stand on the sand of the seashore.

Footnotes

  1. Revelation 12:5 Or to shepherd
  2. Revelation 12:10 Gk Christ
  3. Revelation 12:10 Gk brothers
  4. Revelation 12:13 Or persecuted
  5. Revelation 12:18 Gk Then he; other ancient authorities read Then I stood
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Video MR 3.1: Prelude: Womanhood Juxtaposed with The Crown on Netflix

“Who do you think you are? The Queen of England?”

Have you ever wondered who Elizabeth II, the Queen of England thinks she is? This first part of our third Marriage & Relationship study discussion explores the roles of women within a discussion of The Crown on Netflix.

The last two #Zoom discussions were recorded and I’m working to get them posted to this blog. As I review them for editing, I’m convinced this series should have been titled “Bible Conversations with Friends” or something similar. The faceless voice you hear in this video is my long-time friend, Dorina. When Dorina and I met over thirteen years ago in a corporate office in New York City, she didn’t identify herself as a believer and I had just begun my intentional faith walk and Bible learning.

Over the years, I’ve ascended and descended on the waves of life. There were some points when Dorina considered herself an ashiest or agnostic but would still engage in conversations about my faith journey. Four years ago, she began her own intentional faith walk and has been most interested in discussing marriage and divorce, ergo the title of this series. I’m truly glad to be able to share some of our great conversations with you all! Even better, you’re welcome to join us! Email for up-to-date details.

You can watch Part 3.1 of the discussion on Adam & Eve here:

Marriage & Relationship: Modern Concepts vs. Biblical Principles
Part 3: Adam/Adamah + Chavah/Eve | Man + Woman | Human + Spirit
Text: Genesis 1-5, Revelation 22

Video Part 3.1: Prelude: Womanhood Juxtaposed to The Crown on Netflix

  • Intro: Culture of Womanhood
  • Navigating roles of woman, daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother | Queen, Princess, Prime Minister
  • Which role(s) do you abdicate in your life?
  • Which role(s) do you focus on daily or regularly?
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Test Shoot: Rhonda, “Delete the rest.”

I may go to friend jail for this, but I think it’s worth it. An old friend, Rhonda, visited last week to celebrate her 50th birthday. I told her to bring something she wants to be photographed in and to think of her Woman word for my I AM WOMAN Project. When she got here she gleefully said she was happy to take pictures for the project, because when I was in Milwaukee (where she lives) in July she wasn’t in a good place to participate.

No worries. No offense or judgment. Keep it moving.

I told her I had a new lens – it’s a Zeiss Batis 85mm portrait lens – I wanted to practice on her during her visit. Being a woman of my word, I did exactly that. She was in NYC for three full days. Her entire trip was essentially chronicled through my lens. Though that wasn’t my intention, I got some amazing shots.

On the second night, during our visit to the Brooklyn Bridge, I knew instantly the close-up images of her with Freedom Tower as her backdrop, where the images to use for I AM WOMAN. I told her right there, in the moment, “These are your money shots!” I also told her she was a natural in front of the camera. The images I was getting were simply amazing. To me, anyway. And perhaps I’m biased on three levels: as friend, photographer and project curator.

My goal was to avoid turning her visit into a counseling session and simply do things she had expressed an interest in. I stayed silent and performed as her personal photojournalist – with a good deal of excitement initially.

While on the Brooklyn Bridge, I asked her what her word was. She said a couple of words that didn’t represent her at all. I then framed the question for her, “I’m not asking for an aspirational word, a word you hope to become. I’m asking for a word that represents how you see yourself. Or what your womanhood means to you.” She said she would think about it and get back to me. I explained that I use the word as a guide for the shoot. A reminder that the shoot was in progress…. She never consciously gave me her word.

I thought about posting her I AM WOMAN image as “I Am [unknown].” However the core of this project is about how Women SEE and IDENTIFY themselves. So I took a step back. I sent her image gallery to her as something of a memory book. Images I knew she liked and wanted as well images I like (some of which were images she insisted she looked “ugly” in and immediately insisted I delete. I refused on the spot. The images she defamed as ugly were taken at the 9/11 Memorial Fountain at Freedom Tower and across the road in front of the Oculus. The images are somber, unmasked, and intriguing. Frankly, I think they’re beautiful.

But again, this isn’t supposed to be about me!

I AM WOMAN is a project about womanhood. All of it. Everything it means to be a woman. The first phase of this project is focusing on the experiences of Black Women in America. By and large, we embody pain, disappointment, rage, resentment, bitterness and frustration. Yet in the same body and space we are joy, love, loyalty, commitment, faith, grace, forgiveness and eternal hope. For most of her adult life, Friend Rhonda has only focused on the dark emotions. The residue of her constant focus is visible. It’s audible. It’s painfully disturbing to witness.

The short of her response to her image gallery was, “Thanks for all your hard work! I see sickness in most of my photos…. I choose the ones I like…. I ask that you delete the rest.”

I was stunned, angry and very much offended. Not only did I see the images as work product, they also represented a great time in the City with an old friend. Over the last few days, I released my frustration over her request and comments. I literally have much bigger issues to deal with. However, at the same time I don’t want to dismiss this episode as inconsequential, because it is not. It actually speaks to heart of my project. The juxtaposition of ones womanhood not being anything to celebrate against fully embracing ones womanhood with all its pain and glory.

Basically, I think her images and her comments add a great deal to the larger conversation of Black Womanhood in America. How we internalize our grief and disappointment. How they solidify and weigh us down in a deep abyss of cyclical suffering. How we can become incapable of seeing pass that one thing (situation, heartbreak, betrayal) that first knocked us down. I do believe she can’t see pass the sickness within her. I also believe that sickness is the result of years of anger, resentment and bitterness that she has consistently refused to let go of. We become what we harbor and feed.

I would love to hear your thoughts, not just on the images but on story as well.

Equipment: #SonyAlpha7iii, #ZeissBatis85mm

She liked less than 20 images. Some are below.

These are some of the ones she wants deleted.

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Test Shoot: Friend R, “Delete the rest.”

I may go to friend jail for this, but I think it’s worth it. An old friend, R, visited me in New York City to celebrate her 50th birthday. I told her to bring something she wanted to be photographed in and to think of her Woman Word for my I AM WOMAN photo essay project. When she got here she gleefully said she was happy to take pictures for the project because when I was in Milwaukee (where she lives) in July she hadn’t been in a good place to participate.

No worries. No offense or judgment. Keep it moving.

I told her I had a new lens – it’s a Zeiss Batis 85mm portrait lens – I wanted to practice on her during her visit. Being a woman of my word, I did exactly that. She was in NYC for three full days. Her entire trip was essentially chronicled through my lens. Though that wasn’t my intention, I got some amazing shots.

On the second night, during our visit to the Brooklyn Bridge, I knew instantly the close-up images of her with Freedom Tower as her backdrop, where the images to use for I AM WOMAN. I told her right there, in the moment, “These are your money shots!” I also told her she was a natural in front of the camera. The images I was getting were simply amazing. To me, anyway. And perhaps I’m biased on three levels: as friend, photographer and project curator.

My goal was to avoid turning her visit into a counseling session and simply do things she had expressed an interest in. I stayed silent and performed as her personal photojournalist – with a good deal of excitement initially.

While on the Brooklyn Bridge, I asked her what her word was. She said a couple of words that didn’t represent her at all. I then framed the question for her, “I’m not asking for an aspirational word, a word you hope to become. I’m asking for a word that represents how you see yourself. Or what your womanhood means to you.” She said she would think about it and get back to me. I explained that I use the word as a guide for the shoot. A reminder that the shoot was in progress…. She never consciously gave me her word.

I thought about posting her I AM WOMAN image as “I Am [unknown].” However the core of this project is about how Women SEE and IDENTIFY themselves. So I took a step back. I sent her image gallery to her as something of a memory book. Images I knew she liked and wanted as well as images I like (some of which were images she insisted she looked “ugly” in and immediately insisted I delete. I refused on the spot. The images she defamed as ugly were taken at the 9/11 Memorial Fountain at Freedom Tower and across the road in front of the Oculus. The images are somber, unmasked, and intriguing. Frankly, I think they’re beautiful.

But again, this isn’t supposed to be about me!

I AM WOMAN is a project about womanhood. All of it. Everything it means to be a woman. The first phase of this project is focusing on the experiences of Black Women in America. By and large, we embody pain, disappointment, rage, resentment, bitterness and frustration. Yet in the same body and space we are joy, love, loyalty, commitment, faith, grace, forgiveness and eternal hope. For most of her adult life, Friend R has only focused on the dark emotions. The residue of her constant focus is visible. It’s audible. It’s painfully disturbing to witness.

The short of her response to her image gallery was, “Thanks for all your hard work! I see sickness in most of my photos…. I choose the ones I like…. I ask that you delete the rest.”

I was stunned, angry and very much offended. Not only did I see the images as work product, they also represented a great time in the City with an old friend. Over the last few days, I released my frustration over her request and comments. I literally have much bigger issues to deal with. However, at the same time I don’t want to dismiss this episode as inconsequential, because it is not. It actually speaks to the heart of my project. The juxtaposition of one’s womanhood not being anything to celebrate against fully embracing one’s womanhood with all its pain and glory.

Basically, I think her images and her comments add a great deal to the larger conversation of Black Womanhood in America. How we internalize our grief and disappointment. How they solidify and weigh us down in a deep abyss of cyclical suffering. How we can become incapable of seeing pass that one thing (situation, heartbreak, betrayal) that first knocked us down. I do believe she can’t see pass the sickness within her. I also believe that sickness is the result of years of anger, resentment and bitterness that she has consistently refused to let go of. We become what we harbor and feed.

I would love to hear your thoughts, not just on the images but on the story as well.

Equipment: #SonyAlpha7iii, #ZeissBatis85mm

Related posts:

She liked less than 20 images. Some are below.

These are some of the ones she wants deleted.

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Update: I AM WOMAN Essay & Portrait Project

I spent the summer photographing women.

In February, I quit my corporate job with a determination to pursue my creative interests. Specifically, writing and photography. In the late spring I decided I wanted to chronicle this moment we’re living in by putting a camera and a mic in front of everyday women and asking them what their womanhood means to them.

I AM WOMAN is an essay and portrait book project that was born from a desire to give Women a platform to describe themselves. The catalyst for the idea was the state-sanctioned assault by police officers on Chikesia Clemons at a restaurant in Alabama. In the video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3eI5F-AUVw) you can see two male officers yank on her arms, pull her out of her seat, throw her to the ground, sit on her, threaten to break her arm, choke her, expose her breasts, then flip her around by her neck and belt to put her face down on the restaurant floor. A third officer stands over her the whole time. Unfortunately, these videos are not uncommon. However, what stung was seeing male patrons in the background continue eating as if a dehumanizing physical, racial and sexual assault was not taking place in their presence. The only person trying to help Chikesia was her female friend who also filmed the assault. I am hard-pressed to imagine men sitting by so calmly had a white woman been so brutalized in their presence.

The foundation of the project is the desire to combat the idea of women as sexual objects. There has long been an extremely visceral hyper-sexualization of womanhood, girlhood, and the feminine form. For Black Women and Girls, we are sexualized, used, abused and discarded without even the defense of our humanity. We are inundated with images and words that render women as no more than shallow, one-dimensional receptacles for men/boys to deposit their disdainful waste into or to fixate on as a waste depository goal.

The title of the project derives from a combination of Sojourner Truth’s 1851 speech, “Ain’t I A Woman?” and the “I AM A MAN” signs used during the Civil Rights Movement in 1968. It’s unsettling that anyone still needs to declare their personhood in 2018, but here we are.

As a Black Woman, I want to explore and present the experiences of Black Women in America as the first stage of the project. I want to share the every day woman’s perspective of herself in an environment, culture and country that is intent on not acknowledging her except as a dehumanizing stereotype. Basically, I am tired of hearing and seeing what the world thinks of Black Women. I want to know what Black Women think of themselves.

Overall, in the larger Sisterhood of Womanhood, I know the struggle is universal. Across the United States, no matter what demographic groups we fall into, Women are essentially telling the same story. We aren’t seen. We aren’t valued. We are not respected. We have to fight for any measure approaching equality to a standard set by men. We may have different starting points, but for the most part we are all chasing the same goals: love, acceptance, appreciation and respect for our contributions.

I didn’t have any defined expectations for the contributors when I began, but I am surprised and humbled by the messages (read: heart) shared by the Women and Girls who have participated in the portrait sessions and submitted poems and essays so far.

Though the written submissions for Phase 1 is focused on Black Women, the initial portrait sessions were open to all women. From June to September, I offered free portrait sessions open to anyone interested in participating in the I AM WOMAN project. During this time, I photographed fifty-five Women and Girls across the country, including New York City, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Phoenix. The goal of the photo-shoots was for the Women to represent the word they used to describe themselves. “I AM WOMAN. I am _________________.” Quite a few used more than one word. Of the sixty-three words collectively used to describe the participants of the portrait sessions, I’m glad to report “sexy” was not one. The most common words used for self-description were: Strong, Powerful/Power, and Love.

img_1969-e1538082503936.jpg
Word cloud of words used by portrait participants to describe themselves.

Happily, I have more than enough photos for the portrait portion of the I AM WOMAN book project. However, I am still seeking written contributions for Phase 1: Experiences of Black Womanhood in America. If you would like to contribute, please email Shawnda@Spirit-Harvest.com.

img_2001
Gallery of I AM WOMAN images.
img_1391
Gallery of I AM WOMAN images.
img_1390
Gallery of I AM WOMAN images.
img_1389
Gallery of I AM WOMAN images.
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Update: I AM WOMAN Essay & Portrait Project

I spent the summer photographing women.

In February, I quit my corporate job with a determination to pursue my creative interests. Specifically, writing and photography. In the late spring I decided I wanted to chronicle this moment we’re living in by putting a camera and a mic in front of everyday women and asking them what their womanhood means to them.

I AM WOMAN is an essay and portrait book project that was born from a desire to give Women a platform to describe themselves. The catalyst for the idea was the state-sanctioned assault by police officers on Chikesia Clemons at a restaurant in Alabama. In the video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3eI5F-AUVw) you can see two male officers yank on her arms, pull her out of her seat, throw her to the ground, sit on her, threaten to break her arm, choke her, expose her breasts, then flip her around by her neck and belt to put her face down on the restaurant floor. A third officer stands over her the whole time. Unfortunately, these videos are not uncommon. However, what stung was seeing male patrons in the background continue eating as if a dehumanizing physical, racial and sexual assault was not taking place in their presence. The only person trying to help Chikesia was her female friend who also filmed the assault. I am hard-pressed to imagine men sitting by so calmly had a white woman been so brutalized in their presence.

The foundation of the project is the desire to combat the idea of women as sexual objects. There has long been an extremely visceral hyper-sexualization of womanhood, girlhood, and the feminine form. For Black Women and Girls, we are sexualized, used, abused and discarded without even the defense of our humanity. We are inundated with images and words that render women as no more than shallow, one-dimensional receptacles for men/boys to deposit their disdainful waste into or to fixate on as a waste depository goal.

The title of the project derives from a combination of Sojourner Truth’s 1851 speech, “Ain’t I A Woman?” and the “I AM A MAN” signs used during the Civil Rights Movement in 1968. It’s unsettling that anyone still needs to declare their personhood in 2018, but here we are.

As a Black Woman, I want to explore and present the experiences of Black Women in America as the first stage of the project. I want to share the every day woman’s perspective of herself in an environment, culture and country that is intent on not acknowledging her except as a dehumanizing stereotype. Basically, I am tired of hearing and seeing what the world thinks of Black Women. I want to know what Black Women think of themselves.

Overall, in the larger Sisterhood of Womanhood, I know the struggle is universal. Across the United States, no matter what demographic groups we fall into, Women are essentially telling the same story. We aren’t seen. We aren’t valued. We are not respected. We have to fight for any measure approaching equality to a standard set by men. We may have different starting points, but for the most part we are all chasing the same goals: love, acceptance, appreciation and respect for our contributions.

I didn’t have any defined expectations for the contributors when I began, but I am surprised and humbled by the messages (read: heart) shared by the Women and Girls who have participated in the portrait sessions and submitted poems and essays so far.

Though the written submissions for Phase 1 is focused on Black Women, the initial portrait sessions were open to all women. From June to September, I offered free portrait sessions open to anyone interested in participating in the I AM WOMAN project. During this time, I photographed fifty-five Women and Girls across the country, including New York City, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Phoenix. The goal of the photo-shoots was for the Women to represent the word they used to describe themselves. “I AM WOMAN. I am _________________.” Quite a few used more than one word. Of the sixty-three words collectively used to describe the participants of the portrait sessions, I’m glad to report “sexy” was not one. The most common words used for self-description were: Strong, Powerful/Power, and Love.

img_1969-e1538082503936.jpg
Word cloud of words used by portrait participants to describe themselves.

Happily, I have more than enough photos for the portrait portion of the I AM WOMAN book project. However, I am still seeking written contributions for Phase 1: Experiences of Black Womanhood in America. If you would like to contribute, please email Shawnda@Spirit-Harvest.com.

img_2001
Gallery of I AM WOMAN images.
img_1391
Gallery of I AM WOMAN images.
img_1390
Gallery of I AM WOMAN images.
img_1389
Gallery of I AM WOMAN images.
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Ain’t I A Woman? by Sojourner Truth

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say. [1]

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain’t I A Woman?

Delivered 1851

Women’s Rights Convention, Old Stone Church (since demolished), Akron, Ohio

“I sell the shadow to support the substance.” — Sojourner Truth. Carte de Visite, circa 1864, in the collections of the Library of Congress (http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/97513239/)

Born into slavery in 1797, Isabella Baumfree, who later changed her name to Sojourner Truth, would become one of the most powerful advocates for human rights in the nineteenth century. Her early childhood was spent on a New York estate owned by a Dutch American named Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh. Like other slaves, she experienced the miseries of being sold and was cruelly beaten and mistreated. Around 1815 she fell in love with a fellow slave named Robert, but

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I AM WOMAN. A photo & essay project.

New Project Announcement!

SH-Images wants to hear from, and photograph, Women for our I AM WOMAN Photo and Essay Project. Our goal is to share a collective story of Womanhood and Sisterhood. This will be a multi-phase project. Phrase 1 is Black Women’s Experience of Womanhood in America.

Even though Phrase 1 is about Black Womanhood in America, we are embracing women of all ethnicities who want to participate in this project. Our goal is to develop multiple sister projects based on the themes that emerge from the our conversations with participants.

As you develop your written submission or prepare for your mini photo shoot with us on one of our scheduled dates (listed below), please use the following questions as a starting point to get you to where you want to be to represent yourself in words and/or images. What does womanhood mean to you? How do you navigate in, or through, different spaces? Are you always fully present in your womanhood or do you hold back in order to move forward? Where or how do you find your joy? How do you nurture your spirit? Do you use your voice to call out, improve or destroy? How would your advice to your younger self differ from your advice to your older self? Would it differ at all?

The fee for the written submissions is $25. The collected fees will help with editing and initial printing expenses.

Women of all ethnicities are welcome to participate in the FREE mini portrait sessions that will be held in Chicago, Milwaukee, New York City, Phoenix and Tucson from June to August 2018. Though the sessions are open to the public, women are encouraged to register for a time slot on Eventbrite. The sessions are 2-3 hours and all photographs will be taken by LaShawnda Jones.

Images captured throughout the project will be shared via blog posts and social media. Signed photo releases are required. Download: PHOTO RELEASE FORM

There will be a small stipend for images and written submissions chosen for print publication. A complimentary e-book copy will be sent to all participants who provide an email address. Participants selected for publication will be notified by September 30*, 2018.

If you or someone you know is interested in being part of the selection/editorial committee, please email Shawnda@Spirit-Harvest.com.

Timeline

Submission Period: June 1 – July 31, 2018submit

Notification of selection: Week of September 30*, 2018 *corrected

#Photography #portraits #project #essays #blackwomen #ethnicwomen #womanhood #IAmWoman #shareyourvoice #perspective #life #experience #submission #opencall #contributors #editors #photoshoot

 

Essay & Portrait Project, Phase 1 Topic:

Experiences of Black Womanhood in America

1. The Written Word

We are currently accepting essays, short stories, poems, prose, reflections, devotionals and prayers for the upcoming coffee table book, I AM WOMAN: Experiences of Black Womanhood in America.

This book will be a collection of the written word in various forms accompanied by portraits of Black Women in their daily lives.

We have a small team and will not be able to respond to every submission individually. However, writers of chosen submissions will be notified by September 30, 2018. If any editing is needed, we will collaborate with the author before publishing.

Payment: We will pay a minimum of $75 for each written submission accepted for publication.

Submission Fee: There is a $25 fee for each submission. And with your submission, you’ll receive a complimentary e-book copy of I AM WOMAN: Experiences of Black Womanhood in America.

Formatting document: Your document should be in Arial 12-point type, double-spaced with at least one-inch margins and no more than ten pages. Unless you’re submitting poetry. Poetry can be single-spaced and in the format desired for presentation (alignment, indentation, spacing, etc.). Also, for those submitting poems, you can submit multiple poems totalling no more than ten pages as a single document for one submission fee. All documents should have your name, email address, and telephone number typed at the top right corner of the first page.

Visit https://SH-Images.com/IAMWOMAN for up-to-date information.

Submission dates: June 15 – August 31, 2018

Notification of selected submissions: By September 30, 2018

All submissions will be received and processed via Submittable. You will have complete a Submittable profile. It’s free, quick and painless.

submit

2. The Portraits

SH-Images will conduct several open call photo shoots throughout June and July. The open call indicates all women are welcome to show up for a mini photo session. However since we anticipate bottle-necks as participation ebbs and flows, we suggest booking a time slot in advance. Time will be scheduled and allotted in 10-15min increments. So Ladies, come ready to do your thing, get that shot and keep it moving!

The overall theme of the project is “I AM WOMAN. I am _________________.” We want you to fill in the blank with how you would describe yourself. We are looking for one word here, however, on your consent form we ask for two to three sentences about what womanhood is to you.

Your “I am _________________.” statement will accompany your photo on social media and in the book should your image be selected for print publication. So think about your word and how you want to represent it in an image. As an example see below.

Women of all ethnicities and faiths are welcome to participate in the free photo shoots. However, keep in mind, the first phase of the project is dedicated to capturing, cataloguing and presenting a collective story of experiencing Black Womanhood in America.

FREE Mini Portrait Session Details

Click a date below to reserve a spot on Eventbrite.

NEW YORK CITY

Saturday, June 23, 2018, 1:00-4:00pm(Studio, 111th & Park Ave / Theme: Relaxed at Home)

Sunday, July 8, 2018 1:00-4:00pm (Battery Park @ Bowling Green / Theme: Liberty & Water)

Sunday, July 22, 2018 1:00-4:00pm(Central Park @ Columbus Circle / Theme: Nature & City Images)

Thursday, July 26, 2018  7:00-9:30pm (59th Street @ Columbus Circle / Theme: Night & Subway Images)

MILWAUKEE

Thursday, July 12, 2018  7:00-9:30pm (Location: Burke Brise Soleil / Theme: Sunset & Twilight)

CHICAGO

Saturday, July 14, 2018  12:00-3:00pm (Location: Cloud Gate (Bean) at Millennium Park / Theme: Old School Glam/A Day in the Park)

TUCSON

Saturday, August 18, 2018  8:00-11:00am (Location: TBD /Theme: Desert Refreshment/Renewal)

PHOENIX

Saturday, August 25, 2018  8:00-11:00am(Location: TBD / Theme: Grace in the Valley)

Please continue checking back for additional details. If you would like to receive updates, please complete the Contact form with a message about being updated on the I AM WOMAN project.

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I AM WOMAN. A photo & essay project.

New Project Announcement!

SH-Images wants to hear from, and photograph, Women for our I AM WOMAN Photo and Essay Project. Our goal is to share a collective story of Womanhood and Sisterhood. This will be a multi-phase project. Phrase 1 is Black Women’s Experience of Womanhood in America.

Even though Phrase 1 is about Black Womanhood in America, we are embracing women of all ethnicities who want to participate in this project. Our goal is to develop multiple sister projects based on the themes that emerge from the our conversations with participants.

As you develop your written submission or prepare for your mini photo shoot with us on one of our scheduled dates (listed below), please use the following questions as a starting point to get you to where you want to be to represent yourself in words and/or images. What does womanhood mean to you? How do you navigate in, or through, different spaces? Are you always fully present in your womanhood or do you hold back in order to move forward? Where or how do you find your joy? How do you nurture your spirit? Do you use your voice to call out, improve or destroy? How would your advice to your younger self differ from your advice to your older self? Would it differ at all?

The fee for the written submissions is $25. The collected fees will help with editing and initial printing expenses.

Women of all ethnicities are welcome to participate in the FREE mini portrait sessions that will be held in Chicago, Milwaukee, New York City, Phoenix and Tucson from June to August 2018. Though the sessions are open to the public, women are encouraged to register for a time slot on Eventbrite. The sessions are 2-3 hours and all photographs will be taken by LaShawnda Jones.

Images captured throughout the project will be shared via blog posts and social media. Signed photo releases are required. Download: PHOTO RELEASE FORM

There will be a small stipend for images and written submissions chosen for print publication. A complimentary e-book copy will be sent to all participants who provide an email address. Participants selected for publication will be notified by September 30*, 2018.

If you or someone you know is interested in being part of the selection/editorial committee, please email Shawnda@Spirit-Harvest.com.

Timeline

Submission Period: June 1 – July 31, 2018submit

Notification of selection: Week of September 30*, 2018 *corrected

#Photography #portraits #project #essays #blackwomen #ethnicwomen #womanhood #IAmWoman #shareyourvoice #perspective #life #experience #submission #opencall #contributors #editors #photoshoot

 

Essay & Portrait Project, Phase 1 Topic:

Experiences of Black Womanhood in America

1. The Written Word

We are currently accepting essays, short stories, poems, prose, reflections, devotionals and prayers for the upcoming coffee table book, I AM WOMAN: Experiences of Black Womanhood in America.

This book will be a collection of the written word in various forms accompanied by portraits of Black Women in their daily lives.

We have a small team and will not be able to respond to every submission individually. However, writers of chosen submissions will be notified by September 30, 2018. If any editing is needed, we will collaborate with the author before publishing.

Payment: We will pay a minimum of $75 for each written submission accepted for publication.

Submission Fee: There is a $25 fee for each submission. And with your submission, you’ll receive a complimentary e-book copy of I AM WOMAN: Experiences of Black Womanhood in America.

Formatting document: Your document should be in Arial 12-point type, double-spaced with at least one-inch margins and no more than ten pages. Unless you’re submitting poetry. Poetry can be single-spaced and in the format desired for presentation (alignment, indentation, spacing, etc.). Also, for those submitting poems, you can submit multiple poems totalling no more than ten pages as a single document for one submission fee. All documents should have your name, email address, and telephone number typed at the top right corner of the first page.

Visit https://SH-Images.com/IAMWOMAN for up-to-date information.

Submission dates: June 15 – August 31, 2018

Notification of selected submissions: By September 30, 2018

All submissions will be received and processed via Submittable. You will have complete a Submittable profile. It’s free, quick and painless.

submit

2. The Portraits

SH-Images will conduct several open call photo shoots throughout June and July. The open call indicates all women are welcome to show up for a mini photo session. However since we anticipate bottle-necks as participation ebbs and flows, we suggest booking a time slot in advance. Time will be scheduled and allotted in 10-15min increments. So Ladies, come ready to do your thing, get that shot and keep it moving!

The overall theme of the project is “I AM WOMAN. I am _________________.” We want you to fill in the blank with how you would describe yourself. We are looking for one word here, however, on your consent form we ask for two to three sentences about what womanhood is to you.

Your “I am _________________.” statement will accompany your photo on social media and in the book should your image be selected for print publication. So think about your word and how you want to represent it in an image. As an example see below.

Women of all ethnicities and faiths are welcome to participate in the free photo shoots. However, keep in mind, the first phase of the project is dedicated to capturing, cataloguing and presenting a collective story of experiencing Black Womanhood in America.

FREE Mini Portrait Session Details

Click a date below to reserve a spot on Eventbrite.

NEW YORK CITY

Saturday, June 23, 2018, 1:00-4:00pm(Studio, 111th & Park Ave / Theme: Relaxed at Home)

Sunday, July 8, 2018 1:00-4:00pm (Battery Park @ Bowling Green / Theme: Liberty & Water)

Sunday, July 22, 2018 1:00-4:00pm(Central Park @ Columbus Circle / Theme: Nature & City Images)

Thursday, July 26, 2018  7:00-9:30pm (59th Street @ Columbus Circle / Theme: Night & Subway Images)

MILWAUKEE

Thursday, July 12, 2018  7:00-9:30pm (Location: Burke Brise Soleil / Theme: Sunset & Twilight)

CHICAGO

Saturday, July 14, 2018  12:00-3:00pm (Location: Cloud Gate (Bean) at Millennium Park / Theme: Old School Glam/A Day in the Park)

TUCSON

Saturday, August 18, 2018  8:00-11:00am (Location: TBD /Theme: Desert Refreshment/Renewal)

PHOENIX

Saturday, August 25, 2018  8:00-11:00am(Location: TBD / Theme: Grace in the Valley)

Please continue checking back for additional details. If you would like to receive updates, please complete the Contact form with a message about being updated on the I AM WOMAN project.