diary of a renaissance negresse
Sunday, February 16, 2020
WHO IS THE RENAISSANCE *NEGRESSE?
Haitian/Chinese-American multi-media healing artist Cassendre Xavier coined the term *”renaissance negresse” in 2002. A musician, writer, actress, and visual artist, Xavier (who sometimes works under the names Amethyste Rah and Amrita Waterfalls, and is also an ordained interfaith minister) says the term describes a black woman who is skilled or gifted in 3 or more arts. Xavier is a recipient of a Leeway Transformation Award for her work as a community cultural arts advocate, having founded and directed several Philadelphia arts initiatives including the Women’s Writing & Spoken Word Series (Est. 2002) and the Black Women’s Arts Festival (Est. 2003), as well as several peer support groups related to personal growth, creativity, healing, and recovery. She is originally from Brooklyn, NY and has been living creatively and joyfully in Philadelphia since 1990. [*”Negresse, Negre: In the French- and Spanish-speaking Caribbean Islands, these words often have a connotation of affection, entirely non-racial in meaning. `Ma petite negresse, mon negre, are equivalent to `My dear, my darling, my sweet.’” [From Masters of the Dew, a contemporary classic novel by the Haitian author Jacques Roumain, translated by Langston Hughes and Mercer Cook.]
If not now, when, right? 🙂
I have been wanting to write for months, but haven’t. No excuses.
Actually, I have written. I have written emails, poems, and essays. I’ve shared my writings with friends and on Wisdom Magazine online.
What I haven’t done is written on social media much, nor to my email list, except in the few occasions of gigpluggery (aka “gigpluggation”).
Before I begin, I wish to do a series of shout-outs, if I may. *If* that would be permissible to thyselves? 🙂
* Rupert Wates, musician, for being a musical mentor and longtime psychic friend. Brother Aquarian who shares my birthday – or do I share his? 🙂 https://www.rupertwatesmusic.com
* Stacey Lorin Merkl-Wates, for being such a loving and supportive longtime friend across the miles, the ethers, and on the inner planes. I love you! https://realizeyourbeauty.org/home
* Alex Kudera, novelist and warm supportive dear friend of many years. https://kudera.blogspot.com/
* Stephen M. Wilson, whose “a cross between Tracy Chapman, Sade & Enya” carried me many years and now inspires me to work to attract an updated similar description of my music 🙂
* My family of origin: mother, sister, brother (and his family), and my precious nieces and nephew.
* Extended family of origin: cousins, aunts and uncles whom I don’t see nor chat with often, but who remain in mine heartal reggiones nonetheless. I love you all!
* My former collaborators, Spirit McIntyre https://spiritmcintyre.bandcamp.com/ and Amor La Luna https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100022061701130&ref=content_filter . Thank you for working with me – I enjoyed much of our times together and I always wish you well on your current projects!
* Venue directors: Theresa Shockley (Community Education Center/CEC https://www.cecarts.org/, where I produced my 5-castmember play “Sex for Survivors” for the 2003 Philly Fringe Festival), Gina Renzi, executive director of The Rotunda http://www.TheRotunda.org, which has been home to the Black Women’s Arts Festival since its inception in 2003, as well as other CX events including the release concert of my 2005 CD “Beautiful”. Also, beautiful aRtivist Larry Robin, of Robin’s Bookstore and Moonstone Arts Center https://moonstoneartscenter.org/, both of which have been venues for my projects The Women’s Writing & Spoken Word Series (Est. 2002), and the Black Women’s Arts Festival. Moonstone has also been a fiscal sponsor for BWAF. Recently, I’ve really enjoyed Moonstone’s Poetry at the Pub series, which happens at Fergie’s Pub. I featured my poetry on September 4th, and I look forward to returning in March for the group reading of poets featured in Moonstone’s 2019 anthology. Looking forward to it, and more updates on my literary efforts soon!
I’m sure I’ve produced events at other venues, and I apologize if I’ve not listed you here. The ones I’ve listed are the ones I’ve had the longest-lasting relationships with.
To an artist and event producer, a venue and the managment behind it, functions as something of a fairy godmother and invaluable sponsor/dream-maker. This kind of relationship can be incredibly enriching, and I appreciate you all!
Also a big huge thank you to my m/patrons, whom I will mention again at the end of this message. Thank you!!
BIRTHDAY AND GOFUNDME UPDATE
Last week I turned 51, and had an absolutely wonderful few days in celebration of that. Some of it I will share publicly, and some I will reserve for my more private audience, if you will. (As it were!) More about the public vs. private audience later in this message.
My GoFundMe campgain “My Fiftieth Year” http://www.gofundme/CXYear50 (I’m guessing at that address, by the way!) will continue throughout my 51st year as well, and I’ll be posting another update about that one of these days soon 🙂
GAG ORDER UPDATE
As some of you may know, on September 10th, 2019 there was a blow up where I live, and until I move out it is not safe for me to write about or otherwise share in a public way certain aspects of my life. I live with 2 people, 1 of whom wants me there (forturnately the one who makes that decision), and 1 does not.
As an erotic artist, and one who is a late bloomer quite eager to be fully self-expressed in this way, it is difficult, very difficult, to remain silent completely. So I’ve been looking at ways I can still express myself, while respecting the privacy of my entire household.
I have temporarily deactivated my presence on several sites, including my blogs, but I recently decided to still write for them. (Keeping my expressions bottled up was really starting to feel horrible.) Today I have sent two poems and one essay to three of my blogs, and later tonight I will send them to one of my temporarily deactivated sites. This means that when I do activate them again, all my writings from now one will appear. This makes me feel wonderful!
Same with my blogs – when I activate them again, the writings I am sending to them now will be there. It feels soooo good to know there will be a record of my real life actual existence!
Further, I will gladly privately email readers who wish to receive my writings on:
Just send me an email to cxwriting at gmail dot com (I wrote it out this way to avoid/reduce spam)
Email only, please. I am not interested in using Facebook Messenger, and again, I am not active on any other sites at this time.
Because of what happened on, and in the 9 months prior to September 10th, you must be open about who you are. No anonymous email addresses, please. I have to be super private about this, and I have to know who you are. If you’re shy, keep in mind, I’m the one writing the smut! 🙂
One of my favorite things about my sweetie, is that he reminds me of something I have lived my erotic artistic life by, the Gnostic Gospel credited to Christ, “If you bring forth that which is within you, that which is within you will save you. If you do not bring forth that which is within you, that which is within you will destroy you.”
I believe that which is within me will come out one way or the other, and I want it to be public. Not all of it – a certain amount must be for a particular audience that is into it. But the vast majority of what I write about sex and sexuality can be suitable for the general public, I believe.
The other day I was listening to my music online, and I thought to myself, that there is no way that someone who can creates music like that, if she would also write about her sex life, that she could not make a decent income. It just doesn’t make any sense 🙂
So I’m here willing and ready to start making some sense of my financial life, recognizing the direct corrolation between energetic output (or lack thereof) and monetary income.
It’s not a straight line to the answer – the road is certainly curvy. But the answer is there, somewhere. I believe it will present itself as I present myself.
MENTAL HEALTH & DISABILITY UPDATE
It’s so funny that I go from what I want to do, what I believe I can do, to my mental health update!
Over the years, I happen upon musical acquaintances of mine in town. They are busking, usually, and sometimes they sound wonderful. Or they are not busking.
Many times, I think to myself: These folks are very talented, and they sound marvelous. Why haven’t they made it yet? And I’m not talking about musicians who have gigs and day jobs and just happen to want to busk from time to time. I’m talking about musicians who are not gainfully employed (I’m guessing/assuming), and 15 years later, I don’t see much progress in their financial lives. My guess is always this: mental health issues.
Sure, some of us weren’t reared to know how to make a living as musicians. We weren’t taught that at home, nor in school, most of us. It would make sense that we wouldn’t be navigating that part well in our lives.
But I think that more often there are behavioral issues at play. I think one of the biggest parts of success and financial stability is the ability to make and keep relationships. And not just with anyone, but with those who would help make a significant impact in our financial lives, not just others who are like us – talented, but also struggling and perhaps dealing with similar mental health issues.
I can’t say that I see specific symptoms in my peers who are still struggling financially. I can only guess because I know that’s my own story. We can present very well, as intelligent, articulate, and yes, talented individuals – great. But where’s the money? Where’s the stability? Where’s the record deal? Where’s the solo-indie record deal? Where’s the relocation to another city where we can be new and fresh and actually make some money? Where’s the significant day job that could pay for all of this? Where’s the team?
That’s one of the biggest things about being successful, in any artistic field: having a team of some sort.
Here’s my story as one of those musicians who’s been at it a long time and still hasn’t “made” it financially.
Two words: Bipolar, and PTSD.
Both of those things impact relationships and all sorts of other things that make it difficult to achieve long-term financial stabilitational qualities 🙂
And guess what – last year I received a new diagnosis. I have been very shy to share it publicly because of the stigma, and I only just shared it publicly last weekend when I presented at the 15th Annual Poly Living Conference in Philadelphia. My workshop was “Mental Health Issues & Maintaining Poly Relationships.”
I don’t think I’m ready to write about my new diagnosis now. Maybe I’ll make it a teaser 🙂
Maybe I want to give it the proper attention that it needs. (The longer I live with mental “difference,” the more honor and special attention I want to give to it. It’s a serious thing. I don’t want to just brush it across the page.)
But I will share that I was talking to my psychiatrist last Thursday and I said,
“I don’t feel much of an understanding of [my new diagnosis] as I did of bipolar disorder.”
She asked, “Well, is there a difference? What would be the difference between your understanding yourself as having [the new diagnosis], or just having an understanding of yourself?”
I said, “Well, maybe because I had it for such a long time, I have a lot of understanding of bipolar disorder. And having all these resources to learn about and identify with it, really helped me understand myself in relation to it.”
She nodded in understanding, and said, “Oh, okay.” And I continued, “I’m sure that as I learn more and more about [my new diagnosis], I will probably feel that way too at some point.
Dr. asked, “Is there anything you would like to know about [your new diagnosis]?”
I said yes, and I don’t remember what exactly I said, but she answered, “There are features of bipolar and severe mood swings in [your new diagnosis], but why you have this one now is because of your inability to have worked for so many years. That’s what differentiates the two.”
So, there ya have it. I wish I could’ve had her write that in a psychiatric evaluation, since I am now in the process of appealing my second rejection of my application to receive social security insurance (SSI).
Two days ago I began taking a second, additional mental health medication – so now I’ll be on two, and I’ve never been on two mental meds before. I feel good about it – I think it will help – I’m expecting it to help. I can’t believe it’s so expensive – $329 cash for a monthly supply. Super grateful for my Medicaid, which covered 100% of it. I have heard nightmare stories of people who don’t have health insurance and pay cash out of pocket – and I’ve made a note of Good RX, which apparently is very helpful in findind reduced rates for medications.
In the meantime, I thank my lucky stars (?) that I’m indigent 🙂
I have to say that one of the worries I have as I envision becoming an earner is losing these perks of being broke. I just have to trust the Universe that all will be well. It must be!
I’ll be writing again about my mental health situation, and updates, if I have any, of my application for SSI.
SAYING GOOD NIGHT NOW
I’m a little tired. I’ve done a lot of writing today, and I’ve been active outside of that – well active for me these days anyway 🙂
This morning, I got up, leaving nesting partner in bed, and cooked some food not only for today, but to take with me on a week long trip I’m leaving for tomorrow. Wish I could tell you all about here, but alas, *someone* could be watching, and I want to have a home to return to when I get back! If you’d like to be on my Amrita Waterfalls/Endowed Goddess email list, let me know – cxwriting at gmail dot com (you can also message me on Facebook Messenger, but I will not send you writings there – just send me your email address if that’s easiest!)
I did quite a bit of cooking today, actually. And also writing. Oh, and I folded clothes 🙂
I wrote this blog post, “Diary of a renaissance negresse: February 16, 2020”
I wrote a poem, “Black BBW Body Love – Mine”
And I wrote an essay – “Poly Love Blues & Bliss: Black BBW Envy”
(To receive the poem and/or essay please email me at cxwriting at gmail dot com)
TO MY M/PATRONS
Right now I’m listening to my albums on YouTube (search “cassEndrE xavier”). My channel is http://tinyurl.com/CXYouTube or http://youtube.com/cassEndrExavier
A little over a week ago I received an email from CD Baby, letting me know I’d received income from many sources – only sold 1 CD (live at the kraftbrau, kalamazoo!), but sold lots and lots of musical downloads. Well, not so much that it was more than $10 total 🙂 But enough to know that when I’m performing out more and making more albums, those of you who are buying there, will buy more there, and my income will be higher, and this is good and I thank you so much!
The reason I mention YouTube is that for the first time in the 18 years I’ve been selling my music online (first CD was posted on CD Baby in 2002), and for the first time in the 12 years I’ve been on YouTube (joined in 2008), my music has not only been heard there, but sold there. Thank you so much!
I’m also on Spotify: https://www.tinyurl.com/CXSpotify
Napster, and other places.
For those old school West Philadelphian’s among ye, my CDs and chapbooks of poetry and personal growth/mental health writings are sold at:
4530 Baltimore Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19143
The best time to visit or call are Saturdays and Sundays early afternoon (between 1pm and 4pm.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate you!
Make yourself a beautiful day!
$15,000 Leeway Transformation Award-Winning musician, writer, actress, visual artist, and community cultural arts organizer.
Founder & Executive Director of the Black Women’s Arts Festival (Est. 2003) and the Women’s Writing & Spoken Word Series (Est. 2002).
Official website: http://cassEndrExavier.wordpress.com