Daydreaming is a Renewable Resource: MMUF Summer Workshop 2014

Exhale.  Collage by Alexis Pauline Gumbs for Toni Cade Bambara.

Exhale. Collage by Alexis Pauline Gumbs for Toni Cade Bambara.

Yesterday I had the honor of facilitating a workshop on wellness called “You Sure?: Cultivating a Deep Well of Resilience and Brilliance for Graduate School and Beyond” for a cohort of brilliant emerging community accountable scholars at Barnard College at Columbia University (my alma mater!)   We used poetic activities to get past the “what is your project?” paradigm and to share what renews us, what wakes us up, and who makes us possible.   We also talked about the 4 p’s of navigating wellness in academic institutions (wouldn’t you love to know what those are :)

Toni Cade Bambara was the guiding ancestor-intellectual for our process and we drew both on her enduring question from The Salteaters about deciding whether we want to be well and on her story about her mother encouraging her to do the important work of daydreaming.  This poem is from our closing group activity designed to share with you what renews us for our ongoing intellectual adventures. 

daydreaming is a renewable resource

(after and with Toni Cade Bambara)


Screen shot 2014-06-07 at 4.07.25 AMby the 2014 Mellon Fellows and their graduate student mentees during the “You Sure?: Cultivating a Deep Well of Resilience and Brilliance for Graduate School and Beyond” workshop at Barnard College.


love is a renewable resource

strength is a renewable resource

courage is a renewable resource


laughter is a renewable resource

listening to children is a renewable resource

conversations with old people are a renewable resource

hugs are a renewable resource


breath is a renewable resource

laying on the floor is a renewable resource

closing ones eyes is a renewable resource

sitting in darkness is a renewable resource

sleep is a renewable resource


forgiving is a renewable resource

being with others is a renewable resource

deep conditioning my hair is a renewable resource


finding and re-finding balance is a renewable resource

pain and recovery are renewable resources


petting cats is a renewable resource

smelling flowers is a renewable resource


sunshine is a renewable resource

creativity is a renewable resource

trying new things is a renewable resource

music is a renewable resource


a good meal is a renewable resource

a good meal with good people (indigestion notwithstanding) is a renewable resource


chocolate is a renewable resource

color, patterns and textures are renewable resources

holding babies (and being able to give them back) is a renewable resource


going back home (wherever that may be) is a renewable resource

singing is a renewable resource

hope is a renewable resource

daydreaming is a renewable resource




Bring Alexis to your campus to facilitate a Brilliance Remastered Workshop


Enough: Affirmations that Sustain Sistorians!


Last night was the LAST NIGHT of the Brilliance Remastered Sistorian Webinar.  I’m not ashamed to say I teared up.  Also I kinda sang Boys II Men’s “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye.”  None of us wanted to get offline.  It was truly a ‘you hang up, no you hang up’ situation.  I am so grateful for this space and to each of the amazing sistorians who participated.   As part of our process of moving forward affirmed and empowered to continue to act on the insights we came to together we collected quotations from geniuses (from Gwendolyn Brooks to Rob Base) to carry with us…post in our offices, keep in our wallets and to turn to as mantras when we need them.   We hope they can affirm you too!!

“I am who I am, doing what I came to do.” Audre Lorde (Eye to Eye: Black Women Hatred and Anger)

“for we are the last of the loud, nevertheless live. conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind.” –Gwendolyn Brooks “The Second Sermon on the Warpland”

“come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.”
–Lucille Clifton

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” -Audre Lorde

“I love myself enough to be who I am.” Essex Hemphill

“I have hopes for myself.” Gwendolyn Brooks (Interview in Sturdy Black Bridges)

“Black women are inherently valuable.” -Combahee River Collective Statement

“I have everything I need within myself.” -Rah Goddess

“I got an idea that I want to share. You don’t like it? So what. I don’t care.” Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock (It Takes Two to Make a Thing Go Right—especially useful in a racist academic/activist workplace)

“Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can anyone deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”
― Zora Neale Hurston

“Anyone working to resist white supremacy has to be a visionary..”  Bekezela Mguni

For more affirmations check out this post we love from Crunk Feminist Collective’s Robin Boylorn:

Want to sign up for the October Webinar—Bright Black: Ending Slavery in Contemporary Black Intellectual Practice?  There are a few days left to get on board! Sign up here.




World Made New: A Beach Retreat for Transformative Feminist Intellectuals of Color March 29-31, Wilmington NC


Calling Feminist Scholars of Color!  Save the date!  Immediately after the 2014 Southeast Women’s Studies Association Conference (SEWSA) in Wilmington, NC Brilliance Remastered will be hosting a retreat specifically for people of color who are engaged in transformative feminist intellectual practice in university, non-profit, artistic and self-made settings.   Facilitated by Brilliance Remastered founder and SEWSA People of Color Caucus Chair Alexis Pauline Gumbs, this retreat is in response to requests from scholars of color at recent SEWSA conferences for more in-depth space for healing, feedback, strategizing and community building among feminist scholars of color.   As you plan your journey to SEWSA keep this in mind!

This retreat will take place at a beach house in Wilmington, NC on Saturday evening, all day Sunday and will end Monday morning and will include creative exercises, critical dialogues, meditation prompts, individual writing,  time connecting to the ocean and each other and amazing food.   There will be a limited number of slots for residential (i.e. at the beach house) participants and options for day participation for people staying elsewhere during the conference.   More details on registration options soon!

Sign up for email updates on this retreat here:


Sister is a Verb: Clarifications from the Sistorians

Toni Cade and books

This week during the third session of the first ever Brilliance Remastered Sistorian Webinar we talked about the hard work of sistering, how it causes us to grow, how sometimes it takes us apart and puts us back together.  We read Audre Lorde’s essay “Eye to Eye: Black Women Hatred and Anger” and talked about how institutional oppression and trauma continually challenge our ability to believe that we are “enough” to love each other and ourselves.   We find ourselves repeatedly challenged by the work of sistering, but Toni Cade Bambara says “sister is a verb” and it is what we do.  After a collectively challenging week that has tested our health, our relationships, our spirits and our resolve we put together this clarification about sistering that displaces “sister” as a simple name and deepens our understanding of sistering as an intentional practice.

Sister is a Verb

After Toni Cade Bambara

By the Sistorian Webinar Participants


sistering is NOT for the faint of heart


sistering is painful

sistering makes me want to run and hide.

sistering is a constant hide and seek where searching is a necessity

sistering is not-who-i-thought-i-was vulnerability

sistering can be exhausting

sistering brings up all my anxiety

sistering is wake up in the middle of the night work

sistering is giving what i think i don’t have towards a future i’m still learning to deserve

sistering is having no clue and being willing to learn and listen

sistering is owning that sometimes all you can do is sit with and listen

sistering is not being afraid to reach out again and again for what you need

sistering is an opportunity to be reborn


sistering is about being together and also about spending time with yourself.

sistering takes practice, but it doesn’t get easier

sistering demands selflessness… sometimes when I most want to be wrapped in myself!!!!

loving yourself…through the hard you can be kind on the next

sistering is nurturing and love and hugs and taking time out to be with another

sistering is about listening and remembering.

sistering means believing that there is some way to say/show what i mean and be heard

(even if it doesnt work the first time)

sistering is about TRYING.


sistering is slow sometimes

sistering is overwhelming fast sometimes

sistering is slumber parties and indulging the girl inside you

sistering is just typing “girrrrrrrrrrrrl…” sometimes… and she already knows what you mean


sistering saves lives


sistering is a technology we are supposed to forget

sistering is deep love

sistering is about showing up.

sistering is about showing out sometimes too

sistering is conscious

sistering affirms

sistering is about telling Black women they are beautiful

(there are enough compliments and adoration to go around)

sistering is salvation earned and gifted

sistering is transformative generosity

sistering is knowing you are infinite and if you share yourself…there is nothing to lose

sistering means you have to do the work of loving yourself and believing in your greatness


sistering is what we do


Are you looking for a transformative space for community accountable intellectuals?  Sign up today for the Bright Black Webinar which will convene at 7pm ET every Tuesday in October.  Sign up closes on September 27th.



The Bright Black Webinar: Ending Slavery in Contemporary Intellectual Practice

The Bright Black Webinar (facilitated by Alexis Pauline Gumbs)


The Bright Black Webinar draws on the brilliance of black intellectuals from the era of US slavery to imagine black intellectual practice in a post-university post-non-profit ecology. Slavery is supposedly over but the conditions are strikingly similar (pun intended).  Let’s draw strength from the strategies our ancestors used.  How do the contradictory conditions of black intellectuals like Phillis Wheatley and Benjamin Banneker reflect the vexed situation of contemporary black intellectual practice in the university and non-profit industrial complexes?  How do the works of brilliance created by black intellectuals during slavery point a way past and through the limiting and liberating contexts of the present moment?  Join us on Tuesday evenings in October to draw infinite strength and tangible strategies from black genius ancestors!
Fee: $200  Reserve your spot with an email to explaining what you hope to get out of the course and your $50 deposit:


We Who Believe in Freedom: Sistorians Speak!

ellabakerLast night was the first night of the Brilliance Remastered Sistorian Webinar facilitated by Laguana (Elle) Gray and Alexis Pauline Gumbs!  After reading Barbara Ransby’s introduction to Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision we had an affirming and transformative conversation about what the technology of sisterhood teaches us about self-care, abundance and love.   Many of us remember Ella Baker’s statement (immortalized by Sweet Honey in the Rock) that “we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”  A few years ago while doing some research at the Schomburg Library in NYC I came across a letter from Ella Baker to a friend and comrade that made that statement real in more than one way.  Ms. Ella was explaining that even though her community was begging her to take a sabbatical and had even fundraised the money to allow her to do so, she could not “find the time” to actually take a break.   When I read that letter I saw myself and so many of the organizers, educators, activists and artists that I know, and many of us in the webinar have seen the people we love work tirelessly and unsustainably.   With this poem we begin a practice of modeling abundant presence and sustainable freedom for ourselves, each other and everyone who would call us sister.

We Who Believe in Freedom

(a remix for sweet Ella and all of us)

by the participants in the Brilliance Remastered Sistorian Webinar


we who believe in freedom rest


we who believe in freedom believe in the centrality of joy

we who believe in freedom believe in the transformative power of pleasure

we who believe in freedom believe in the transformative power of silence

we who believe in freedom cultivate the faith to be still


we who believe in freedom nourish our souls


we who believe in freedom nourish our souls with deep breaths

we who believe in freedom value our breathing over our reputations, our relationships over our resumes

we who believe in freedom believe that freedom is a personal practice

we who believe in freedom listen to our bodies and take time to release what does not uplift us

we who believe in freedom allow ourselves to talk back


we who believe in freedom TAKE NAPS

we who believe in freedom kiss ourselves and jump back smiling!

we who believe in freedom SING for no or whatever reason!

we who believe in freedom dance in our seats…

we who believe in freedom LOVE!


we who believe in freedom love ourselves like we love our little sisters.

we who believe in freedom forgive ourselves as a practice of compassion

we who believe in freedom practice the power to say no


we who believe in freedom don’t gotta do it all ourselves!

we who believe in freedom believe our ancestors are helping us.

we who believe in freedom remember and share the stories of our past freedom struggles

we who believe in freedom believe in each other enough to share power and responsibility

we who believe in freedom speak in love and cultivate honesty

we who believe in freedom actualize the transformative power of sisterhood

we who believe in freedom don’t have to prove it we just live it


we who believe in freedom REST


(Does this make you want to sign up for the next Brilliance Remastered webinar?  Get the details here:

Sistorian Webinar

The Sistorian Webinar (co-facilitated by Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Elle Gray)  

Toni Cade and books

As Toni Cade Bambara taught, sister is a verb!  This webinar explores sistering as an intellectual practice and standard for engagement in an intellectual marketplace that encourages competition, tokenization and shade.   Join sister-comrades Elle and Lex  on Wednesday evenings this September as they draw on texts by black feminist historians, lead discussions on sistering as an intellectual practice and live online interviews with black feminist historian sheroes!  


This course is in session and no longer available for sign-up.  See other webinars here:

Here is some wisdom from the Sistorian Webinar Participants:

We Who Believe in Freedom: A Remix Poem for Sweet Ella and the Rest of Us

Sister is a Verb: Some Clarifications from the Sistorians

Enough: Affirmations that Sustain Sistorians


Love it?



Elle and Lex have collaborated on a number of projects and are co-authors of the companion curriculum for SPEAK! a CD featuring a collective of radical women of color writers.  We are excited to invite you to participate in our newest collaboration…the Sistorian Webinar!!!

(you can sample the CD here by the way:








Laguana “Elle” Gray is an assistant professor of history at UTSA.  She received a B.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Houston and an M.A. from Louisiana Tech University. Dr. Gray teaches courses on recent American history, African American history, women’s history, and race. She plans also to teach courses in labor history. Her current research areas include the (U.S.) South, black women’s history, labor history, and black-brown relations. Her research interests lie in centering the roles women of color play in social movements, social policy, feminism, and creating alternative media. She is working to publish a book that chronicles the history of the lives and labors of black women in the southern poultry processing industry.

agumbs120x160Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a queer black troublemaker, a black feminist love evangelist, a prayer poet priestess and has a PhD in English, African and African-American Studies, and Women and Gender Studies from Duke University.  Alexis was the first scholar to research the Audre Lorde Papers at Spelman College, the June Jordan Papers at Harvard University, and the Lucille Clifton Papers at Emory University, and she is currently on tour with her interactive oracle project “The Lorde Concordance,” a series of ritual mobilizing the life and work of Audre Lorde as a dynamic sacred text. Alexis has also published widely on Caribbean Women’s Literature with a special interest in Dionne Brand. Her scholarly work is published in Obsidian, Symbiosis, Macomere, The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Literature, SIGNS, Feminist Collections, The Black Imagination, Mothering and Hip Hop Culture, The Business of Black Power and moreAlexis is the author of an acclaimed collection of poems 101 Things That Are Not True About the Most Famous Black Women Alive and poetic work published in KweliVinyl, Backbone, Everyday Genius, Turning Wheel, UNFold, Makeshift and more. She has several books in progress including a book of poems, Good Hair Gone Forever, a scholarly monograph on diaspora and the maternal, and an educational resource called the School of Our Lorde. She is also the co-editor of a forthcoming edited collection on legacies of radical mothering called This Bridge Called My Baby.


Bright Thunder Lightning Strike: One on One Intensive


“Some women wait for something

to change   and nothing

does change

so they change 


- from Audre Lorde’s “Stations”


New in 2013 Brilliance Remastered is offering one on one all-day intensives for community accountable intellectuals at a major turning point in their purpose vision and mission.  This vigorous intensive is only for visionaries committed to making a major shift and requires a phone assessment to determine eligibility.

The one day intensives take place virtually and are ideal for the busy (often overloaded) community accountable intellectual who can not add a long-term coaching session to their life, but is ready for the breakthrough!   The one day intensive requires an indepth survey in advance and consists of a series of customized activities facilitated by Alexis on one day for 4 hours (not including breaks).  The Bright Thunder Lightning Strike Intensive is guaranteed to provide

  • real, loving and critical space to reflect on the consequences of isolations contradictions and barriers to your community accountability
  • tangible ways to connect to your inspired purpose for being a community accountable scholar
  • concrete steps for building and connecting to community
  • an ongoing support plan to keep you accountable

Fee:   $1000-1500 sliding scale (Lex can assist select folks in crafting a crowdraiser to help with the fee)

Email Lex at to set up a phone assessment.

May 2013 Updates!

Greetings Bright Thunder!

This is the season of transition that every species participates in!  Everything around us is growing pollinating and responding with unbelievably bright enthusiasm to grey skies and rain.  And what about us? This life-changing May Brilliance Remastered has a number of ways to honor transition and to prepare for the best summer ever! Scroll down or click on the links below to learn more about:

Locally Grown Garden Walks Continue

Special Online Office Hours in May

Community is Not A Luxury Summer Cohort Sign Up

Summer Lovin’ Custom Organizational Retreats in NC

Remastered Tools 101 Downloadable Course

Garden Walks Continue!!!


I enjoyed April’s Garden Walks so much that I am continuing to  celebrate my favorite season in Durham, focusing my energy on the community I love!!!!!  Are you or someone you know someone who could benefit from a personalized Brilliance Remastered Conversation this Spring?

Maybe you are about to graduate from something or about to embark on your own social justice minded project.  Maybe you are ready to have a breakthrough around making your creative or intellectual work more community accountable.  Maybe you are hoping to launch an art project that will make our world a better place.  Maybe you need to quit your job and are looking for a way to transition out.  Maybe you want to make your side project the center of your life.  Maybe you just know a walk and conversation with Sista Docta Lex about your passionate work would increase its value for our whole community.  If that is you or someone you love you should sign up for a garden walk!  (Also if your accessibility or allergy needs call for it we can certainly sit in a garden or walk near a river or do something else.)

So here is how it works!

1.  Sign up for one of only 6 available one hour walks (Monday and Wednesday afternoons from May 8-27)

2.  Send an email to Lex at about what you are up to right now and your hopes and dreams for our conversation.

3.  Recirculate the love!  Donate $50 to Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind (the same donation that folks not lucky enough to live in or near Durham pay for a phone consultation) OR donate $25 and a delicious healthy vegetarian meal that can feed Lex and Julia!

Talk with Lex During Transition Time: Special May Office Hours

Since May is a time of major transition for many intellectuals, during May 2013 I will be conducting special online office hours on Wednesdays 10am-2pm EST free for existing participants and at the regular hourly ($50) rate for new folks!

The theme for May’s office hours is transition.  Has Spring outside shown you how much you have grown inside this season?  Have you outgrown a previous intellectual/activist role and into something new?   Are you starting a new organization? Are you graduating from a program and thinking about how to prepare for what is next?  Are you simply determined for next semester to be significantly more sustainable and community accountable than this semester has been.   Holler at your girl :)

Email with the subject heading “office hours” to sign up.

Community is Not a Luxury Summer Cohort:

It is about time to sign up for the Community is Not A Luxury Summer Cohort!!!!

“Look how you print yourself on my heart.” -Audre Lorde

This intermediate stage of the coaching curriculum trains you to implement and build a community of accountability outside of the limits of your university setting.  Community accountability is what distinguishes meaningful intellectual labor from elitist word games.  This coaching module is for scholars who are committed to making a difference in the lives of the communities that inspire them and also activates community as a superpower to sustain your wholeness and to support and celebrate you in your degree process.

The cohort model allows a set of aligned visionaries to experience the life-changing curricula and to benefit from one-on-one attention from Sista Docta Lex while building community with each other.   Doing it together also allows Brilliance Remastered to provide this service at a lower rate.  (However the one-on-one version of this curriculum is still available for those of you who want me all to yourself! :)

Cohort Participants Commit to a 3-Month Experience with:

  • weekly transformative assignments
  • bi-weekly google-hangout discussion sessions with fellow cohort members facilitated by Lex
  • weekly email check-ins with Lex
  • access to Lex’s online office hours
  • song dedications and motivation

all for $750 per participant.  Payment plans are available.  I am committed to making this accessible to you!

Participants join the cohort through a phone assessment conversation where we will determine the best way to engage the curriculum.  Email to schedule a phone assessment for $25.  More on phone assessments here.

Summer Lovin’ Organizational Retreats in NC

Another part of the Brilliance Remastered Durham Advantage!  Summer 2012 is all about the brilliance of deepening and strengthening relationships.   As part of my long-term investment in the important and experimental community institutions in and around Durham, NC  I am offering custom organizational retreats focused on relationship building for shared leadership and long-term victory.

DSC_0277Drawing on a unique curriculum based on Audre Lorde’s body of work these retreats will be customized to the emergent breakthroughs of your organization or group and will use embodied, creative techniques that will allow your group to access many dimensions and generations of wisdom.  These retreats are an especially timely opportunity for organizations transferring leadership, working through conflict, changing structures or just getting started.

To see if your organization is a good match for some Summer Lovin’ and to start a conversation about designing a retreat set up a phone consultation.

Remastered Tools 101 Available for Do It Yourself Download!!!!

After the major success of the Remastered Tools Webinar Series,  I am offering them as downloadable courses that you can do anytime with my love and support at about half the rate of actually taking the webinar.  Get started now with Remastered Tools 101 with special audio support, brilliant poems and mantras by the Remastered Tools 101 graduates and full access to my online office hours included!

Remastered Tools 101 Course for Community Accountable Intellectuals by Alexis Pauline Gumbs


Remastered Tools 101 is an opportunity to examine our relationship to knowledge and our theories of change as they relate to the work we do as scholars and the work we empower with our scholarship.   We will investigate how dependence on systems that are NOT community accountable are cultivated even in the most seemingly radical fields and support each other in creating visions for our own community accountability.


I also have a couple coaching slots so if you want to set up one on one coaching set up a phone consultation so we can see if we are a perfect match and as always if you want specialized feedback on your thesis, dissertation, statement of purpose or syllabus hit me up for a PhDoula belly blessing!  Hope to hear from you soon!



Talk with Lex During Transition Time: Special May Office Hours

Since May is a time of major transition for many intellectuals, during May 2013 I will be conducting special online office hours on Wednesdays 10am-2pm EST free for existing participants and at the regular hourly ($50) rate for new folks!

The theme for May’s office hours is transition.  Has Spring outside shown you how much you have grown inside this season?  Have you outgrown a previous intellectual/activist role and into something new?   Are you starting a new organization? Are you graduating from a program and thinking about how to prepare for what is next?  Are you simply determined for next semester to be significantly more sustainable and community accountable than this semester has been.   Holler at your girl :)

Email with the subject heading “office hours” to sign up.