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Welcome back, beauties.

I’m late! (as usual, get used to it. monthly-ISH. time is a construct etc…) I’m writing you from Rio as the dust settles, post-Carnival. It was wild. This town is so diverse, and everyone’s still Brazilian. But I’ve noticed (it’s not hard to spot) a consumption of Afro-Brazilian culture - for fun and convenience and tourism dollars and clout etc - paired with an erasure of Afro-Brazilian people. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking this doesn’t happen all over the world. You’ll see some stories and interviews and writing from both Colombia and Brazil around these issues in my next letter.

THANKS for joining me this time! Send thoughts if you have them, I love getting every one of your notes. And if you’re deeply feeling the whirlwind of life these days, like me, try my beloved Anita’s mantras for a little course correction.

 

champion/

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Oh, the gorgeous Nap Ministry. Tricia Hersey’s Atlanta + Chicago based collective sees sleep deprivation as a justice issue in black communities, calling rest a form of resistance.
It “disrupts and pushes back against capitalism and white supremacy.”

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Hersey created the ministry while studying black liberation theology and now runs workshops, lectures and collective napping experiences. “Our souls are exhausted and many feel so much guilt and shame when it comes to centering rest as a healing tool,” she says.

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Follow The Nap Ministry here,
support Hersey’s work here,
and soundtrack your own dreams here.

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reminder/ Indonesian culture critic and poet Fajar Zakhri (one of my favorite wordsmiths - he’s prodded my jaded thinking about pop music and much else), is celebrating a recent wave of brilliant queer music. But who’s with him? Fajar’s concern that queer communities still default to a hetero music scene despite all treasure and talent is so relatable, no? Are we doing enough to lift up our own when we’ve been trained for so long not to? Read his thoughts (and find a very important party playlist) here.

honorer/ The western yoga industry is full on nails on a chalkboard to me. I’m not alone, and have yet to find a way to engage with yoga that doesn’t make me feel slimy: it’s now so commodified and colonized that it’s effectively erased the people and culture that gave it life. Susanna Barkataki’s in the middle of a month long summit digging into the issues that have buried the ancient spiritual system. If you practice or teach yoga, please spend some time with this summit. The branding tips a little infomercial, but so far it’s an important, eye-opening set of conversations.

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beyond/

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eastern/ This’ll be old news for friends in Indonesia, but the 2017 film Marlina The Murderer in Four Acts only recently popped up in the US. It was directed by Mouly Surya, who’s said she thinks of this particular “Western as a lens into the Eastern.” It’s stark, angry, direct, mystical: a widow carries her rapists’ severed head on horseback across a desert island in a quest for justice. Krithika Varagur’s piece for LARB considers this idea of the “feminist western” and makes for great background reading. Anyway, watch it. Indonesian film is a wonder - this is a good place to start.

otherworld/ Hey: read this book. I’m not feeling right calling it a book, though, it’s like something else entirely - a ferocious, dark, living set of words tearing at ideas of existence. Freshwater is the Igbo/Tamil writer Akwaeke Emezi's first novel, the story (their story - READ THIS) of a trans, queer, Nigerian writer with “one foot on the other side.” An Igbo ogbanje spirit-filled reality defying mainstream understanding. I love how it affirms that indigenous ontologies and writings have so much more to offer our realities than any western system. I haven’t felt quite the same since reading it.

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‘We came from somewhere—everything does. When the transition is made from spirit to flesh, the gates are meant to be closed. It’s a kindness. It would be cruel not to. Perhaps the gods forgot; they can be absentminded like that. Not maliciously—at least, not usually. But these are gods, after all, and they don’t care about what happens to flesh, mostly because it is so slow and boring, unfamiliar and coarse. They don’t pay much attention to it, except when it is collected, organized and souled.”
- Akwaeke Emezi, Freshwater

 

decolonize/

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spice trader/ Sana Javeri Kadri splits her time between Mumbai and Oakland and has my actual fantasy job: decolonizing spices. She created her growing-like-crazy (just celebrated one year), queer, brown-woman-owned company DiasporaCo by partnering with farmers in India for the best turmeric I’ve ever tasted: organic, single-origin, heirloom, vivid like the sun. She’s putting money, equity and power into the farmers hands, upending a seriously dusty old spice trading system that’s not doing anyone any favors. Buy here. Next up for her: cardamom. SQUEEEE!!!!!!

ash conqueror/ Abena Boamah-Acheampong is also busy putting equity and money back into the hands of producers. Her company Hanahana Beauty works with a collective of women making butter from the seeds of native shea bushes in northern Ghana. “[They] were so passionate about what they were doing, but they weren’t seeing the value they deserved,” she says. Just like Sana, she’s cutting out middlemen, and the evergreen appropriation of indigenous ingredients, to produce… better. In her case, it’s all these gorgeous, creamy shea balms. The war on ashiness is won.

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embody/

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neon dream/ There was just so much to love about the 2019 Chromat NYWF runway. Founder Becca McCharen-Tran makes the brightest of futuristic swimwear, sending bodies of ALL kinds down the runway. The show shouted out Miami, a paradise of a town facing off directly with climate change and toxic pollution (fashion industry, ahem). The swimwear’s made of discared fishing nets and up-cycled fabrics, and the brand works with fair-wage factories. Watch the show here, read the accompanying ‘zine here.

From Teen Vogue: “[Chromat] reimagines how we think about our futures: different-abilities, gender-queer and diverse in race, all realities that are proving to be statistically true. But, what really sticks out at a Chromat show is how much the crowd cheers as they see models that represent a new world confidently stride down the runway. This is not the norm in fashion. It’s a nod to community, a community that has never really been a part of fashion. The type of community that will be required to survive and save us from the impending reality of climate change.” I mean, damn.

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“If I’m shining, EVERYBODY gonna shine.”

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Your video of the month: Lizzo’s recent retro-glam release, JUICE. Let me tell you I have had this on repeat and I am unashamed. Bonus: don’t miss her Ron Burgundy jazz flute challenge lolololol she’s a treasure.

 


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