I liked a paper shared on Twitter yesterday. It focused on why decolonizing geosciences mattered. I loved everything I read that I felt it was critical to keep some. The fact that we have been told that certain ways of knowing and doing are superior resonated deeply with me. That and the fact that for eons we have been told that local or indigenous ways of knowing are inferior. That experts are only outsiders with resources, and if they are coming from the West, even better. That expertise can’t come from insiders, those who carry treasures of their life within their core. Yet to address harm and change how science is done, we must deeply recognize how colonialism have benefited experts and not those with expertise for whom knowledge first belonged to.

This paper is a perfect example of why stories matters with any attempt at decolonizing anything and any field. The hunt has glorified the hunters for too long that all we know are the stories of the colonizers, the stories of the experts, the stories of the hunter. This is my attempt at changing this with this article and the work of many great minds as an inspiration. I simply call it tell your story with decolonizing anything, somethings, or everything. We have nothing to lose these days and so we might as well strut like the lions we are.

With decolonization, tell your story, they say.

While the legacy of the hunt lingers.

Tell your story, they say.

Or the hunt will continue to glorify the hunters.

Tell your story, I hear. The hunter has failed everyone, including those being hunted.

But you can’t decolonize anything. You can’t decolonize somethings. You can’t decolonize everything.

It’s a myth.

It’s a myth.

It’s a myth.

And decolonizing should mean much more said the powerful as they wield their power in powerful spaces they erect and maintain to keep telling the stories of the hunter, to maintain their power.

Yet, we know that we can’t decolonize powerful spaces.

We can’t decolonize powerful people.

They are hunters. Their weapons are mightier. Their impact last longer than a day.

But while the debate about the myth of decolonizing remains, while the powerful even join and lead the debate, are we supposed to be silent?

Are we supposed to watch and stare as they continue to cast their shadow?

Are we supposed to live as if we don’t have our own historians?

Are we supposed to continue to forget that we are lions? No.

Rather, the time has come for the lions to tell their story.

The time has come for the lions to have their own historians.

Like a tale by moonlight, let me begin with the following;

Story, story, story.

Story, story, story.

Story, story, story.

I woke up today full. Find you a sisterhood and you will find life. We have been in STL for 4 years now and life still feels very transient until last night. We have always moved around the 2-4 year mark so for the first time it feels strange to have no plans to leave the state of Missouri. I said that out loud to myself yesterday. Midwest is now home. As I let that realization settle in, I looked at my surroundings. I looked at the people gathered at the table I joined last night. I was in the midst of some powerful women and we were all black, all mothers, all ambitious, and all sterling. I watched us all in awe. A passerby said the same thing as if reading my mind. His words ‘this is beautiful.’ I agree. They say food eaten in secret tastes better. I also agree. But better isn’t up to us alone. Better can’t happen in a vacuum. We are stronger together. Much better when we come together. And black women together makes the world better. If you heard all we shared together last night, heard our plans to make things we value better, you will understand. This is my keep for today.

Our community.

When black women come together, we come as a better version of ourselves. We come to carry water. We come to forget the edge of the sea as we dive deeply into each other. We come to whisper through water too, fierce words that heal, that nurture, that uplift or part dead seas. We come knowing we do not know. We come looking for ourselves and seeing ourselves, even when soaked in water. We come afraid to look too, but looking together in fear. We come to have sisters on our side and our cup overflows. We come to listen and listen and listen. We of course come to talk and talk and talk and share tea. We come out of the fullness of grace as grace alone makes us full. We come knowing we are blessed and prepared to bless each other even more with our blessings like rivers and springs that gush out into valleys and hills. We come fighting for our children, pushing for their voice, their visibility in a land that would rather they remain invisible. Not with us. We are like fishes and we know how to use water. Even better, we come knowing now more that ever that we are water. We have no enemies where are life, our families, our work, our children are concerned. We come with the blessings of walking on water when storms rage. We come with the stillness too of knowing whose we are, even while on stormy seas. We come knowing that even though the darkness all around is so deep, we are willing to push through light, ready to walk on water too. We come because our brilliance are like the silver of moonlight, the brilliance of starry skies even on nights where strong winds blow. We come filling our lives with light, leaving too in a dazzling light that wind and waves obey. We come because coming together as a community, as one, is a basic necessity of life, our life. In the end, our eyes are deep in water and together we sail through because doing together with each other is a beautiful thing. Keep a sisterhood of black women wherever you find them. We really make the world better.

Writing grants has taught me how to fail 30 times. I look forward to the 31st time. Counting failures is something I do now. Something I embrace too. The hurdles or the joy. The writing. The waiting. The bearing witness to, how things we believe in crumble, for lack of funding. And I have believed in so many things that failed. Poured my blood into missions that ended before they even started. I am learning to love all the pain they entail, all the sadness too, or the weight of each failure. Not because success isn’t better. But more so for the lessons every failure teaches. The doors and unexpected journeys along the way they open too.

I wrote a grant on ways to arise, on ways to let minds often ignored thrive. Failing with that grant broke me down that I became the opposite of what we sought to do. My mind failed me too for awhile. Until I started to see the beauty in failing. See that grant would have changed my life but failing it too has opened new and unexpected doors for me. I expected to scream that we got funding to do great research but now I scream we have no funding, but impactful work continues. In fact the most important work you will do, is the work you do for free. The work you wake up everyday to simply do because you have too. The work you use to connect with each other as humans. The work you do to provide light to dark spaces. My grants are often for the eyes of few people to see. But the most impactful work I have done are free, open and accessible for all to see. It cost me nothing to use words, my words to change people’s life. I may have failed to secure funding for my grants, but every day and through my words, I secure hope that connects us to each other. This is the beauty of failure worth spreading. (ps another grant is being reviewed today as I type this, I may get my wish before next week with my 31st failure. Accepting each one gets better with time).

Danielle Doby has a beautiful book worth keeping. It’s simple invitation, ‘come as you are’ is quite simply sterling. I am coming. I am coming into a space that allows me to choose in the name of my heart. I am all for a space in praise of my younger self’s quest for life’s light. I long for the tender infinite living within me and I thank Danielle for using words to help me greet my younger self with power. I embrace spaces that remind me not to skip the struggle. I am also in love with knowing that the light in me cannot always see and honor the light in you. Still we can find steady breath in our unknown light. We find lessons worth learning and relearning simply because nothing is meant to be done alone. Not even our light. And even when this season of discovery becomes closed off to others, I welcome the gift of light that continues to pour itself in dark places that surround me.

This is the gift of Danielle. The gift of being consumed by love. The gift of love in its fullest circle is worth finding, worth knowing, worth loving. It’s for this reason that I remain thankful for her reminder to keep being drawn to the light in others. It is how we know that we are not alone. Her book is a perfect guide on how to become seekers of light, how to let our stories exist so others can see for themselves the power of pain, the power of struggle, the power of stunning resilience and belonging that is also theirs to make as they choose. The sun was with Danielle as she wrote her book. I am thankful that my eyes opened and my mind choose to rest in the warmth of her embrace. I am still learning what it means to belong to myself in light for here and now and with other seekers of light. I love my sisters keeper and it’s sweet appeal to surround yourself with other women who show up and own their independence unapologetically but still believe in the collective’s success. I also forgot to remind you all to do as she noted and do what ignites worlds within you. She shared how we should all let our work and everything we create be a direct extension of our hearts space. Now more than ever, the world needs more of your light. All I can say is thank you for using your words to gift me light.

There is so much to love about this little book that ask you to keep I am her tribe. It will inspire you to reach deeply for the light within you, for your sun.

Words call us, we go. A blurry thought, uncertain notes, hopelessly we stroll until meaning becomes clear, becomes us. Today we sat patiently trying to wait for words to come. It took a while. Children were crying. Hearts were weary but souls were full from a reunion a pandemic almost denied. We waited for the words to come, to express how we felt for we where thankful, full of thanks for a day that kept giving, spilling into another day that continues to give. Then the word ‘serious’ leapt across our mind. We questioned its intent, waited even for the discontent. ‘Serious’ what are we supposed to do with you. Then we remembered, being together is a serious matter. Being with family even in the middle of a pandemic is serious. The terrible stories we could have told are blunted because we did together seriously. So as we settle in, as we bask in the glory of yesterday, the majesty of today, and the hope for tomorrow, we know that together will always remain serious for us. Thanksgiving with people like us is a serious matter and we intend to keep it so.

Simple words are all we need to touch each other. To feel, to wonder, to love all that makes us whole. I am learning the power of simple. The power of soft words, like velvet gently brushed across my skin. The power of inclusive words too that wrap us all together like a fuzzy blanket on a cold winter night. The power of memorable words, unforgettable ones that tell how sweet it is to be loved by you. The power of paradise words, all of them that speak of the bliss we all know truly exists in heaven. The power of loving words, living words too that help us all rise up on wings like eagles. The power of enlightening words, those that let you bloom where you are planted for your light was never meant to be hidden. The power of simple words are profound, easy, effortless, sincere, honest, open, direct, pure, comfortable, uncomplicated, coherent, just, straightforward, elementary, natural, undemanding, plain, innocent, real, and light. So too are the words through which my kids gifted me with this Thanksgiving. Simple words that are as warm as a hug from loved ones this season. Simple words that share all they are thankful for. Keep simple, like Happy Thanksgiving. I am happy and thankful for you all. I give thanks to you all. That’s all.

Nikki Giovanni has a poem called quilts. I read it in her poems and prose book ‘Make me Rain.’ The title first of all is a blessing in disguise, for those hungry to let words flow like raindrops on a cloudy day. Quilts as described by Ms Giovanni to me is like a fast-flowing river. Nothing seems to get in its way. Not the source which begins a river or the path through which it flows. All of it are connected to make a river flow. So too are quilts. Every single piece used to make a quilt is sewn together by design, is put together with love, lots of love too.

I have been thinking lately about the quilts that make me whole, every single piece that comes together to create all that I become. My life quilt is also like a river, with every single piece, a source of energy that shapes and form, all that I become. These pieces connect at a point, connect through hard hurdles and constant strife to tell our story. In the middle where we connect, in the middle where we intersect over tiny threads that meander back and forth, back and forth, through more hard hurdles, and painful strifes, in that middle, our greatest strides are taken, our greatest acts, created, as we become all that makes quilts precious. These unseen component of our connections, the untold stories of our flow, may very well be the reason we are built like rivers. And like rivers, may we continue to flow in love, grow in love, one piece at a time, one quilt at a time. Keep flowing like rivers, loving like quilts.