Why Activism & Creating Affirming Spaces for Women Moves Me

Emelda De Coteau
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Emelda De Coteau

Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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Black Womyn Rising (May 2016)

Ever since elementary school, I have stood up against any perceived injustice. Not on a picket line, more subtly I suppose, as my early protesting involved befriending kids others made fun of or ignored.

On the weekends, Dad told my brother and I stories about his life, the years he spent in Hounduras before coming to the U.S. We learned about his childhood, both the simple beauty and abject poverty. Those expressive eyes held a tinge of sadness as he told us about wearing shoes only on Sundays, as they walked to church; they traveled to school barefoot.

I sat there, all of 6 or 7, fully absorbed, unable to push the sentences about hardship back, tears and anger welled within me. Of course he said, “don’t cry,” “I’m fine now, Meldy” (his nickname for me), and yet, as he hugged me tenderly, smelling of cologne and peppermint, I couldn’t shake the heaviness of it all.

Why did I have shoes and clothes and other children didn’t? It felt absurd, cruel and unfair, and I wanted to change something, however small. I always felt a deep desire to transform the world in my own way, bringing light and beauty.

All these years later, I finally feel I am walking into my purpose as an activist, organizer, and cultivator of affirming spaces for women. Sometimes God must remove the noise, distractions and barriers which are hindering us from growth.

Rocking a shirt given to me by my good friend Kayla (includes names of Black womyn and girls murdered or assaulted by police)

And I suppose this is how I have come to work with Black Womyn Rising, an intergenerational organizing collective  I helped found with several other sistas based in Baltimore. Our work is intersectional (meaning we seek to understand how various forms of oppression operate and  impact black womyn and girls), and rooted in transformative love and global sistahood.

We are deeply concerned with resisting all forms of oppression and actively creating affirming spaces for womyn of color.  In the spirit of Nina Simone and so many other foremamas, we uplift the beauty, complexity and the rich layers of blackness.

While social justice and activism are a deep part of my soul, so, too, is creativity. Writing, photographing, sketching, these outlets are oxygen for me. Last year I founded Women Creatives Chat, a community that lives online for now (working on planning some events) whose mission is to inspire, empower (through tips, resources and regular Instachats), and connect my fellow creatives with one another.

Since launching on Instagram late last year, it’s growing daily. And I feel blessed to follow and connect with women from all around the world who are creating and trusting their unique visions. You and I truly can have the life we seek and dream about it. It begins with clarity, which I believe is rooted in prayer, a personal relationship with God and radical self love.

Graphic designed by Emelda De Coteau Founder, Women Creatives Chat

 

Anyway, enough about me! What sets your heart on fire? What do you feel called to give to the world?  I want to hear all about it in the comments below, sweet friends.

Inspiration For Your Ears & Soul: From John Legend to Self Care, Kindness & Love 

Emelda De Coteau
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Emelda De Coteau

Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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Singer John Legend

There is always such inspiration around us – an abundance of light and joy. We simply have to tune in and remain in a place of openness to receive it all. I am excited about the depth of music many artists are offering, along with all I read about folks around world committed to change.

Here is your mid-week inspiration round up, lovelies:

John Legend’s recent song, I Know Better  on personal growth is amazing. Love Me Now, a beautifully shot video, speaks to me so deeply about being in the present moment and appreciating love, because tomorrow is not promised.

My friend Kami’s heartfelt blog post on sharing kindness with a struggling man, and how this ultimately transformed her own perspective: “And there, in the middle of a parking lot, I placed my hand on his shoulder and prayed a short, simple prayer that he would feel loved and be provided for. I asked for him to be shown kindness in the days to come.”

Artwork by Ainsley Jordan

Have you heard of the 5 love languages? Seems like everyone is in the know! My bestie Chel mentioned it to me years ago, and I was reminded again when checking out my girl Joi’s blog, she has a whole fab. series going, connecting it to self-care. Head on over!

I love the SideHustlePro podcast! Since listening last year, I have learned so much from Nicaila Matthews and all the fab. guests! Christina Brown of LoveBrownSugar was on recently and dropped so many jewels about turning your blog into a profitable biz! Yasss! Let’s get these coins, ladies!

Take the guesswork out of fashion with this post from Kevya Jo on the Pretty Entrepreneur blog about style staples for the entrepreneur. And then peep Vee’s post on self-love and self-care – although written for Valentine’s Day, the message is relevant year round.

Listening, even when we disagree with folks – a thoughtful read from Yes! magazine about doing just this in the era of Trump.

Black history is year round! Such an uplifting blog post on the richness of the African-American experience from my girl Monica (afrotasticlady).

Gratitude, the practice of seeing what we often overlook, is beautifully written about on Life with A View. Peep Lynda’s recent blog post and leave inspired!

Inspiration For Your Ears & Soul: Poet Saul Wiliams, Nina Simone, Dr. King & Creating Lasting Change 

Emelda De Coteau
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Emelda De Coteau

Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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Poet Saul Williams

I like artists that question what we are told is normal, folks pushing against the status quo.  As we near the birthday of Dr. King, I am thinking even deeper about the righteousness of rebellion:

Saul Williams’ performance on NPR Tiny Desk Concert is raw and arresting in innumerable ways.

I listen to Dr. King’s speech at the Riverside church quite a bit. He calls us all into radical action and love.

The beauty of the incomparable Nina Simone, unapologetic in her truth:

One woman’s letter to her boyfriend about the privilege of his skin and their love: “How did you become the man I love? You bake; I write. You’re gregarious; I’m reticent. You’re North; I’m South. You’re white; I’m brown. You’re local; I’m global. But we meet in vulnerability. You soften my edges. You are honest and kind.”

One group in New Orleans is liberating women from the prison industrial complex.

My girlfriend Kayla shared the Interview piece where Beyoncé has a heartfelt Q&A with Solange. It’s beautiful, and provides such insight into her rich creative life.

Music is universal. Don’t you love that? Alsarah & The Nubatones from the Sudan sing with such intense feeling. Another amazing performance on NPR Tiny desk concert series.