Audre Lorde once told us that the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. No one understands this better than, Dr. Zelaika Hepworth Clarke, she is constantly deconstructing and reconstructing the way that we think of sexuality, and challenging traditional power structures through her work as a sexuality educator and sexologist. Dr. Clarke has been studying human sexuality for over a decade and is one of the leading experts in Osunality, having spent time in Brazil conducting interviews and direct observation of ceremonies for Oshun, the Yoruba deity of sensuality and sexuality (among other things). We asked her all about Oshun and sexual decolonization.
Q: Your work has centered on afro-indigenous spirituality, black femme sexuality, and sexual decolonization. Can you talk a little about this and how you’ve found it comes into play for Black femmes now?
A: Thank you for that thoughtful question, and kind of starting off by acknowledging our ancestor's strength and the power of melanin and surviving and being, and living truth. And I think that there's so much magic that can be conjured when tuning into our embodied wisdom.
It’s a type of acknowledgment and the type of awareness that is not based on western, white, capitalistic, cis-heteropatriarchal, mentalities and philosophy and structures and systems. And remembering or going back, and fetching work and information that is still available or needs to be revived or has been hidden. This can offer us liberation, transformation, and a progression, towards remembering our power. I think we're conditioned to not be aware of our power, our healing modalities, and our inherent wisdom and beauty just because of how we've been conditioned or programmed or how we've been surviving.
Acknowledging diversity is important because there's no one way to be Black or femme. There are many ways to unlearn, decolonize, heal and utilize spiritual forces that we may not be able to see. For Black femmes now, I think it's a special “herstoric” time to be alive and manifesting a collective healing, loving, unlearning and reminding ourselves of our embodied wisdom. I think it's inside of us. We are our power and our magic, and making space to recreate a just world that we can live in peacefully. Those are the kind of things that I think of when it comes to spirituality, sexuality, and decolonization.
I also can't forget about land, sovereignty, reparations, sustainability and the importance of community and self-determination.