Interview with Adrienne Maree Brown
by Sarah Gottesdiener·
Where do I even begin? adrienne maree brown is one of the writers and thinkers who is shaping our current world of action and imagination. Her books, Emergent Strategy and Octavia's Brood, have articulated and defined new waves of philosophical thinking, proposed new blueprints and maps for our collective, and have offered generous criticism. adrienne's podcast, co-created with her sister autumn brown, is a must-listen. adrienne's work embraces social justice, Black liberation, community organizing, self-help, artistic practice, and pleasure activism, to name just a few realms. I reached out to adrienne to write for Many Moons completely on a whim, totally thinking my email would go into the technological void forever. Shockingly, she agreed to write a beautiful piece on the September new moon that addresses change and seeds. When I read it I cried immediately. Below, adrienne answers some of my questions with her awesome grace, openness, and humor.
Hi adrienne! You are a writer, a facilitator, an organizer, a podcaster, a philosopher, a leader, a teacher, a friend, a family member, and a human being.. .In other words...a lot of different things, with a lot of different energies! What are a few baseline spiritual practices or belief systems that keep you focused and grounded as you do your work in the world?
I seem to be doing the most (laughing)! The only title you gave me that I must clarify is organizer - I support organizers every day, but my movement offer is really the facilitation, and I clarify that out of deep respect for the work of organizers...Let's see, one central practice is tarot. Every day I pull for myself and for movements for liberation and justice. Just that act of asking the universe for guidance keeps me in my place.
Another practice is quiet time - sometimes as meditation. I like variation even in my practices, so while I need quiet solo time daily, sometimes I use the Insight meditation app with the water sounds or om chanting, sometimes I listen to Alexis Pauline Gumbs or Mooji or Tara Brach, or read Pema Chodron - they all help me find quiet. And sometimes I just float around in the quiet of my body. I love to get a bit high and just feel.
Caring for living things is a new practice this year - I have 16 plants at home and I really feel responsible for them. And I swim every day that I'm home or when I can find a pool on the road. That can go on the title list, black mermaid.
What are some similarities between movement building and magic making?
Both activities are about challenging and expanding what people believe is possible. Both things take a lot of practice before there's ease. There's a performance aspect, like telling a story well, being artful and compelling. And if it's misused there can be manipulation, hoodwinking, charlatans, or those that make a spectacle of difference, who make oppression into entertainment. Being responsible about the spells we cast is crucial in movement magicians.
For your September New Moon piece in Many Moons, you wrote about dealing and grappling with the inevitability of change. In your own life, what is changing? How are you dealing with and working with that change?
Ah...everything. Old stories of who I am and how I love are shedding, changing. I finally feel desirable outside of external validation, and that's allowing me to be much more present for intimacy and less distracted by the incoming projections of desire from others. I'm learning about the boundaries I need in order to stay authentic as my work goes through a phase of recognition and success. And I'm learning to be less attached to outcomes.
What is your current favorite Moon phase? Why?
I am a full moon fool. Always and now, I can sit and state at the full moon for hours. I have a moon phase tattoo on my spine that I charge up with the full moon. Lately I cast spells and then feel very sleepy, lethargic, like...how cats are in the sun? I'm like that in the moonlight. I no longer expect to sleep on full moon nights until she's done with me.
What are a couple of things (anything, a record, something you are learning, a new boundary practice) that you are excited about? Why?
I'm excited about being in increased community with people practicing emergent strategy, and with other facilitators. Being of a growing body of people dedicated to learning transformative justice together. I am geeked about everything Rihanna is producing and how it's changing the landscape for women of color and larger women and how she is so fully herself doing it. I'm geeked about Wild, Wild Country and thinking about how to NOT start cults amongst people who want to create change together.
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