Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Mai'a Williams (two of the three co-editors of Revolutionary Mothering) in a one on one conversation on moving from the shorelines to the frontlines, mothering, the revolutionary mothering zine, transnational fairy godmothering and more.
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.