I'm so incredibly over-joyed to share the release of an incredibly special project: Vol. VI no. 1 Spring 2021 Yellow Arrow Journal on Renascence.
Right from the cover this journal is a breathtaking journey on the topic of cultural resurrection and its many incarnations according to women from all over the world. My aim was to amplify as many voices of color as I could, and am proud to share, including myself 20 of the 24 artists and authors whose words you will read are of Women of Color, and four of those women are Indigenous. Inside, authors tackle awakening in its various incarnations. There are sweet nostalgic trips down lanes we wish we could linger upon, juxtaposed with raw visits to tales we don't want to hear, but must, and those that sing the song of reveille, forcing us with a decision to act or become complicit.
Renascence is available to purchase
In paperback or Kindle via
Or directly from the publisher in paperback or .pdf : Yellow Arrow Publishing
Join me on June 4, 2021, for Renascence: A Reading
Come experience the magic firsthand. Meet our authors and our incredible cover artist. Watch live as the authors share their Renascence selections, and their inspirations for their work. Find out more at Yellow Arrow
Streaming Live on Yellow Arrow’s Facebook Live
or join us on Zoom
(Audience be advised this link and invitation is for viewing purposes only. Audio and video of non-participants will be muted/off. Chat participation is encouraged. This event will be recorded.)
Meeting ID: 961 6966 6959
Yellow Arrow Publishing supports and inspires writers identifying as women through publication and access to the literary arts. This project is based in Baltimore with a focus on literary events and publishing local writers.
Read on for my reflections on my experience, and the greatest lesson I learned as a guest editor
(written June 3, 2021)
The experience guest editing this issue of this journal was more profound than I anticipated. While I feel like I've leveled up on so many more skills than I thought I would, some resonate more than others. Looking back, on the eve of the final reading, I know that none was more valuable than the other. There's nothing like recognizing the holes in your web of knowledge, after you've seen them filled.
There was a moment along the way I'd like to share, because I think it’s important to remember none of us is expected to know everything. I want you, dear reader, to remember that there are steps you can take to find your way, even when you think you might be lost. Just try to be kind to yourself.
My dream for this journal was lofty. I wanted to give voice to the silenced. I wanted to grant the power of paper and ink to those who have historically had to scribble in secret. I wanted to cast the light of permanence on the intangible. I wanted to compose a harmony of pain, joy, and pride in a melody of culture.
This was my driving force, which lead me almost magically through the entire process of choosing from the gorgeous submissions and finding the ways to weave them together both in ordination and design elements. The yellow arrow in the digital version of the journal evokes such childish delight in me I’m almost dancing as I type this.
There was a moment, however, where I came to an obstacle I had no idea how to approach. No that’s not honest. I had ideas, but they weren’t options I was interested in pursuing. I needed alternatives. I needed the vocabulary to understand how to communicate about culture and race inclusively. I had reached the edge of my knowledge. As a woman of color, I had considered myself educated about diversity and inclusion, but when it came to practical application, I was ignorant. It was like I’d been walking in my own backyard, just to discover a giant abyss I couldn’t see my way through.
For an entire day I sat in my anxiety. I allowed myself the distraction of a multitude of other tasks. I was unkind with myself. I accused myself of being an imposter. How could I write about culture if I couldn’t figure out how to talk about it? How could I consider myself inclusive when I still felt intimidated by women who weren’t of color? I knew what I needed to do, but there was this feeling of failure that I couldn’t solve my problems on my own. There was a fear that I didn’t have anyone in my circle who knew how to advise me. I allowed myself this one day of doomsdaying. I allowed myself to imagine the consequences of inaction. I'm not sure if I slept very much, or if that anxiety puzzled through me to the wee hours. Sleeptime is liminal like that. Eventually I did sleep.
Eventually I awakened, and was gifted with...a thought? A recognition? In that moment it dawned upon me that I was renascent.
I thanked my fear for trying to protect me.
I got a cup of coffee.
And I asked for help.
Would you believe someone answered?
More than ONE person?
I discovered a community of support I'd never been certain of before. They were not just open to offering advice, they were willing to talk me through the missing pieces in my web of understanding.
Muna Ikedionwu was incredibly generous with her time, responding immediately to my call. With her guidance I learned the difference between calling in, and calling out, and how to communicate with a purpose. Within less than an hour’s chat she helped me develop strategies to communicate effectively. More than anything she helped me realize my own power. She helped me see that I wasn’t pretending to be on a mission. I am on one.
I spoke to Michael P. Scott, who coached me to understand what my responsibilities are as a woman of color, what they aren't, and reminded me that my purpose is to always serve you, dear reader. He told me that “culture is the antidote to racism”. I’m not sure if those were his words, or if he was quoting someone, but it’s the thing that has changed me the most from that conversation. The only thing that mattered, in the end, was that the stories that needed telling were told.
By sticking to my initial drive, that motivation beating like a drum inside my soul, telling me that my purpose on this planet is to push forth the voices history and colonialism have rendered inert for too long, I returned to that magical ease I’d danced through in the beginning. When fear stopped driving, I was able to rely on the skills I'd had all along. I was able to trust myself, and my powers of recognizing and honoring the beauty in our differences. I was able to render all I’d been afraid of into a fearless compilation of courageous women, etching our names in the cavern wall, like my ancestors before me. We have declared ourselves. There is no going back.
The team at Yellow Arrow held my hand the entire way. The amount of support, efficiency, and camaraderie in this team was one of the best parts of this experience.
Have we been successful in this Renascence? Ultimately that’s up to you, my dear reader, to decide for yourself. The greatest lesson I learned was that there is more support out there than you think, and it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. Be humble. Be respectful. Listen. And most of all don’t forget to pay it forward.
Support small publishing.
Special thanks to Kapua Iao, our amazing Editor-in-Chief at Yellow Arrow, along with the entire Yellow Arrow Team! I couldn’t have done this without the help and guidance of Muna Ikedionwu, and Michael P. Scott. Thank you to my amazing soulmate Eros, for existing, for giving me my incredible children, and for cooking dinner those nights I had evening events—you are an amazing partner in this life thing. Thank you, Seth, for always being ready to help whenever I need it (especially during the reading this Friday you amazing treasure human), and my Buggie for constantly challenging me to be a better version of myself.
Muna Ikedionwu is a passionate, forward-thinking business strategist and DEI consultant currently serving as Associate Director at Style House. She works alongside industry leaders, founders, and C-level executives as both a DEI expert and business consultant to develop innovative and inclusive strategic programming. Over the years, Muna has collaborated with brands across multiple industries from legacy enterprises (The New York Times, WNBA, Coca-Cola, Deckers Corp.) to small businesses and early stage startups (Catbird, Warby Parker and Glossier circa 2015). She currently lives in New York City and divides her time between New York and Nashville where possible. Connect with her via Linkedin here.
Michael P. Scott is a civic leader based in Baltimore Principal, Member Boston Impact Initiative Fund Building Cohort-Greater Baltimore/Greater Maryland/DMV/MidAtlantic Connect with him via Linkedin here