For #ThrowbackThursday, I want to give you context on how I started on this road to sensuality. The actual idea of doing a 31 Day Challenge happened in this summer after having a series of conversations with different women about love, sex, relationships, confidence, wellness, and vaginal health. I realized that everyone I spoke to ( including myself) was in a state of redefining themselves, their sex lives and reclaiming their femininity – but no one knew how to do it. So, I started this challenge to get the ball rolling.
However, the seed of exploring this topic started a few years back in Grad School while at The New School. For my Capstone project, my partner Darren Mallett and I created Black, Brown & Digital ( #bbdigital)– an event series that provided a platform for digital content creators of color to showcase their content in a traditional theater setting. Through our yearly event, #bbdigital presents… Darren and I would thematically highlight media through a curatorial lens that was both provocative and thought-provoking. Our goal was to encourage conversation and coalition building amongst an audience of filmmakers, technologists, artists, media makers, community organizers, and entrepreneurs.
In 2015, #bbdigital partnered with Creatively Speaking Film Series to produce #bbdigital presents: Sex Exploitation, Exploration, and Expression at MIST Harlem. We curated content that focused on our generation’s concerns and curiosity about the continued exploitation of representations of people of color in mainstream media. We picked filmmakers who utilized digital media as a tool to promote dialogue around today’s hot topics: homophobia, navigating gender identity, black body politics, and sexual exploration from a global black perspective.
The films we screened covered the following topics:
- ‘Black Pervert – A short film about the black BDSM/ Kink Community.
- The Trade- A short film about Human Sex Trafficking amongst black and brown girls.
- Pursuit of Sexiness – A comedy about life, liberty and the pursuit of sexiness.
- Eden’s Garden – The first scripted series about transgender men of color.
- Naked Layers – A short film about black women body discovery, femininity, and self-love.
- Tráfico– is an American crime drama about the dark invisible side of the human trade within the United States.
- Homo Thugs– A real look inside the lives of two homophobic, in-the-closet gangsters.
- The Pearl of Africa– A short film about a Ugandan transgender woman struggles and prevails as she lives in an actively transphobic environment – fighting for her right to love.
After the screening, our host Andrea Lewis ( of Black Actress), Ashley Bernal (Domestic Violence Program Coordinator, Women With a Vision), and Michael Roberson ( Public Health Practitioner, Advocate, Activist ) sat with our filmmakers for a soul-stirring conversations about the politics of black sexuality and the policing of black bodies. This event changed the way that I looked at sex, sensuality, and freedom. It gave me permission to live my life out loud and to focus on making content that always has an educational component and a call to action! It was the catalyst that helped me get clear about the why, how and who I wanted to create media for. So allow me to reintroduce myself – my name is Empress. I create media and experiences that highlight the beauty, power & diversity of women, people of the LBGTQIA community and the Global black community.
I bring this up because I want you all to know that the inner activist in me is working through a creative lens. Writing and participating in this 31 Days of Sensuality Challenge is apart of a bigger conversation and social movement to empower black women ( cis & trans) to have agency over our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. My wish is that you go through each article and take only what you need to help you unleash and enhance your most sensual self. Get in tune with all parts of you- this is your creative life force.
Note: #bbdigital is currently on a hiatus. Darren is working on turning his short film BodyMore into a feature. And I’m out here in these streets writing, producing and building community!