"My desire is for a new generation of women to understand that there are new choices in everything for us,
particularly in love.
So much of how we love is attached to fear and pain...I'm trying to translate the stories of loving freely and vulnerably...the way that we're made to."
Don't you already love her?
We used to run a little building in Houston's Third Ward called The Dream Station. This little white box building, formerly a gas station, was a building we rented with the intentions to provide a space for artistic entrepreneurs to experiment with their concepts at low, or no cost to them. Our hope was that these events would serve as "proofs of concept" so that our friends could leverage the success of their events for funding, partnership--to keep going.
ROOTamentary, an educational musical journey curated by DJFlashGordonParks (which later became the foundation for "This Thing We Do," his documentary on Houston deejay culture) was in residence at the Dream Station.
Enter Josie, in full expression. Dancing, talking, hugging, she made her way through the crowd and lit up everyone she hugged. She single-handedly shifted the energy in the room. Who is this woman? I wondered.
We met and I instantly loved her. I began following her on twitter, and my God what this woman can do in 140 characters. I was provoked, challenged and reflected (what seemed like) too many times a day as she posted thoughts, articles, and questions. Her writing is loving confrontational therapy.
One of our beloved Folklore Films subjects, Elder Jean Dember introduced "confrontational therapy" to me.
According to goodtherapy.org, using confrontational therapy as a technique, the therapist confronts a person on his or her behavior, attitude, and beliefs. The purpose of this technique is for the person take ownership for their behavior, and it urges them to be honest with themselves and their environment.
Here is an example of how Josie coats the truth in honey so that we can get it down and digest it:
"The peculiar thing about doing the work to uplift others is, the world often forgets that the worker also needs uplifting, that the work becomes heavy, that frequently the work is being performed to soothe one’s own soul. And that when one lives even a small portion of her life publicly, that public too often expects perfection. The expectation is that s/he has conquered those challenges s/he advocates against, and that s/he is therefore the face of overcoming."
-Excerpted from Depression and the Black Woman Syndrome, Josie Pickens, Ebony Magazine, 2015
In this particular article, Josie pulls from her own experiences and proves her points through thoroughly researched evidence and then provides a simple roadmap that I have personally followed from a pit into the light.
As she writes, Josie merges deep love, "Big Mama Wisdom," and an academic acumen to give us space to pause, reflect, and begin the work of necessary change. I imagine that future generations will unearth her pieces, and use them as literary guideposts to navigate their own futures.
She is also my friend, and she doesn't know that I wept in gratitude after she came to visit me during my maternity leave. She shared her pain and progress as a mother and just loved me with her presence. I didn't know at the time that I'd been experiencing a bit of post-partum depression, and without knowing, her hugs and smiles and poppin' lip color lifted me from it that day.
Follow her. She's @jonubian on Instagram and Twitter.
Read her. She writes for errbody and shares through her Facebook Page.
Let her love, through her craft, liberate you.
Below is a short visual poem we created for Josie, that was a part of the Amnesia Therapy Exhibition: