Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a queer black trouble maker, a black feminist love evangelist, a prayer poet priestess and she was also the first person to dig through the institutionalized archives of several radical black feminist mothers including June Jordan, Audre Lorde, Lucille Clifton and Toni Cade Bambara while writing her dissertation “We Can Learn to Mother Ourselves”: The Queer Survival of Black Feminism, a 500 page work. Alexis is shocked when she travels the country and organizers, artists, teachers, students and established academics confess that they have actually downloaded that massive dissertation document or are reading it online and even outloud in groups. Alexis has also published important articles and book chapters on mothering in Laboring Positions: Black Women, Mothering and the Academy, The Business of Black Power, Mothering and Hip Hop, Symbiosis, Gender Forum, Macomere and forthcoming in Are All the Women Still White?, and Black Queer Studies 2.0. Alexis is also a contributor to important intergenerational works including, Stay Solid: A Radical Handbook for Youth, Ain’t Nobody Gonna Turn Me Around: 40 Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith, Does Your Mama Know, Growing Up Girl, Dear Sister, The Revolution Starts at Home, Black Gay Genius, Leaving Home Becoming Home, Make Your Own History and Abolition Now. Her work on intergenerational Black Feminism is published in Ms. Magazine, Signs, Meridians, Obsidian, Feminist Collections, The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature and in several of the most widely used women’s studies textbooks. Alexis is the instigator of the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind Educational Movement which includes local events in Durham, NC, workshops around the US, a public access TV show, a series of podcasts and a broad online audience. Events using Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind materials take place across the US and the world in queer and feminist organizations inluding Fahamu in Nairobi, Kenya, Meem in Beruit, Lebanon, and the Shakti Center in Chennai, India.
Alexis was named one of UTNE Reader’s 50 Visionaries Transforming the World in 2009, a Reproductive Reality Check Shero and a Black Woman Rising nominee in 2010 and was awarded one of the first ever Too Sexy for 501c3 trophies in 2011! Alexis’s work as co-creator of the MobileHomecoming experiential archive and documentary project has been featured in Bitch, Curve Magazine, the Huffington Post, in Durham Magazine and on NPR. She has also appeared on PBS American Master’s Series sharing literary and political insight on the life of Alice Walker in Pratibha Parmar’s Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth, alongside Walter Mosely on the Laura Flanders show on GRITtv and has on Black Issues Forum on PBS. As Alexis grows into caretaking roles with elders and youth in her radical loving community in Durham, NC, and Atlanta, GA she is crafting herself into a mother in every sense of the word that she can imagine.
Mai’a Williams is the creator and director of Water Studio which supports and co-creates with underground community artists and revolutionaries in Cairo, Egypt and she organizes with the Revolutionary Youth Councils of Cairo, which were one of the leading forces during the 2011 ouster of Mubarak. In January 2009, she spent three days in Israeli detention with her one-year old daughter, during the bombings on Gaza, and after being freed from Israeli jail, she moved to Cairo and organized outreach programs with Sudanese teenage refugees/gang members. She lived and studied in Chiapas, Mexico in 2007-2008 for six months and attended the Zapatista Women’s Encuentro with her baby daughter. In Minneapolis in 2007, she worked as a doula (birth assistant) for working poor Black American and recent west African refugee young mamas. In the summer of 2006, she was a print and radio broadcast journalist for International Middle East Media Center, during the Israeli-Hezbollah war. In the autumn of 2006, she researched the effects of the of war on local communities, especially on woman, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. That year, she also worked on staff as the anti-oppression consultant and training director for Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). In 2004, she lived in Jerusalem, Hebron, and the village of at-Tuwani in the southern Hebron hills, Palestine, accompanying communities under the threat of Israeli military violence. During 2002-2003, she founded and directed Cosmic Sun Theatre, an experimental community theatre and gallery, in Roanoke, VA. The theater became one of the primary loci for anti- Iraq war organizing in southwest VA. She participated in a delegation to Guatemala and Oaxaca, Mexico investigating the effects of the Plan Puebla Panama on local indigenous communities in 2001. It was her living and working with Palestinian, Congolese, and Central American indigenous mothers in resistance communities, that initially inspired her to become a mother and continues to guide her as she practices this life-giving work, called radical mothering.
Her essays, short stories and poetry have been published recently in make/shift, Mamaphiles, Tenacious, Popshot, Woman’s Work by GirlChild Press, Lilith Devotional by Knickerbocker Circus Press, and the anthology, Colored Girls. She is the instigator of the Outlaw Midwives movement, zines, and blog which shifts the discourse around birth, life, death and healing by offering a vision of radical empowerment and accountability. In 2008, she published the Revolutionary Motherhood anthology zine and the corresponding and on-going group blog, a collection of writing and visual art about mothering on the margins, which became the inspiration for Revolutionary Mothering.
China Martens is a writer, glamazon, and empty-nest low-income anti-racist white radical single mother. Born in 1966, she had her daughter in 1988, and started her first zine The Future Generation in 1990. She is the author of The Future Generation: The Zine-book for Subculture Parents, Kids, Friends and Others (Atomic Book Company 2007), and the co-editor of Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind: Concrete Ways to Support Families in Social Justice Movements and Communities (PM Press, 2012). She was also the submissions editor for Mamaphiles #4 “Raising Hell” a mama and papa zine anthology (2009). China’s short story, “On the Road (with baby)” was published in Breeder: Real-Life Stories from the New Generation of Mothers (Seal Press, 2001) and has had various other essays printed in publications such as Baltimore Indypendent Reader, HipMama, WIN Magazine, and Revolutionary Motherhood. She also was a columnist for DIY newsprint publication Slug and Lettuce (the column was also called The Future Generation) from 1994 to 2004 and won Baltimore City Paper “Best” Award for “I was . . . a Student Nurse!”
Work written about her zines appears in Alison Piepmeier’s Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism (NYU Press, 2009). Segments of an interview with her also appears in Heather Bowlan’s article in make/shift magazine about radical childcare collectives in the U.S. (Fall/Winter 2010) that was reprinted in Utne Reader (Jan-Feb 2011).
Since 2003, China has co-facilitated numerous workshops to create support for parents and children in activist and radical communities at universities/conferences/healing spaces across the United States and Canada including the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Conference, Allied Media Conference, and bookfairs from Montreal to New Orleans; Minneapolis to Santa Fe; and New York City to San Francisco. She also was a co-founder of Kidz City, a radical childcare collective in Baltimore (2009 – 2013) and is connected to a national circle of radical childcare collectives established at the 2010 US Social Forum in Detroit. She is currently enjoying exploring middle age self-actualization, community acupuncture, therapy, online dating, and writing with hardcore dedication. She has weekly family dinners with her daughter who lives in the next neighborhood to her in Baltimore, Maryland; and calls her own mother more than once a week.
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