Artist of the Week: Jahra “Rager” Wasasala, world-builder, contemporary dancer and poet. A force of nature. Photographed by Sam MacDonald.
This week began with a vivid dream of someone I used to know. I woke up in my feelings and they didn’t leave my body for two days. It was a familiar heaviness that I recognized from years ago and I could feel my heart ready to summon an old guard to close the rusty iron gate. I find it interesting how different my chest physically feels when my heart is open versus when my heart is on the defensive. My breathing became shallow and tense. Thickness moved in like molasses. I started to get annoyed at myself. Without realizing, I began to redirect the sadness that I was feeling about the past and turn it inwards on myself, irritated that those memories can still trigger such a reaction in me.
Then something changed. I called on patience and comforted myself with the knowing that emotion does not know time. Emotion is simply energy in motion and however long it takes to move through my body is just fine. I was able to recognize that the emotions came from an illusion of the past, but here, in this present moment, life is good and I am safe. Besides, I couldn’t stomach any more melancholy, so I flipped the script. “Nah fuck that shit,” and what do you know? Fresh air. A deep breath replaced the shallow breathing. Exhale. Let it go. Release, release. Come back into my body. Then I chose to focus on embodying a different narrative, something more truthful and honest, something that I can respect. To all my powerful women and woman-respecting folks, this one is for us.
We owe it to all of the women who came before us to stunt as hard as we can in every aspect of our lives. We carry them with us in our bodies on a cellular level. As we developed in our mother’s womb, we were imprinted with her beliefs, just as she was imprinted by her mother, and her mother’s mother, and so on. It is the matriarchy that births us all. We are the present-day embodiment of everything that has been passed down through our family lineage, always through our women. They fought hard so that we can stunt harder. To me, that looks like healing our roots so that we may live more fully in our power. Yes, it is real work and yes, it is a challenging process to meet balance. Just when you think you’ve recovered, another layer is brought to light. Stunt harder.
So much strength and resilience is required from every woman who is determined to contribute her perspective and share her vision. Determination is required to stay true to the integrity of her creations in a society that does not want her to create. To honor her natural rhythms without compromising her independence, authenticity, or power is an accomplishment in its own right. And that is only the work she puts in behind the scenes before the presentation is ready and the public is present. The world is always moving forward and if we want to shape it, we need to learn from the past so that we can be present to affect real change. That means forever evolving, embodying more of all that we are and being unapologetically brilliant as fuck. You are the protector of your own value. Stunt harder.