via Bklyn Boihood (Cross-posted with permission.)
InspiHERed By spotlights phenomenal women in the Black queer community—everyone from artists to activists. Each week ELIXHER features someone whose personal journey and individual craft inspire us to dream bigger, laugh harder, and love deeper. Bklyn Boihood‘s head writer, Morgan W., recently caught up with Moya Bailey, co-creator of Quirky Black Girls, an interactive website and online community “for Black girls that refuse boxes.”
MORGAN: What is/who are Quirky Black Girls?
MOYA: Quirky Black Girls is the tangible manifestation of the spirit of a small group of students that nurtured me while I attended Spelman College. These girls dared to follow their own path and chart their own course in a conservative and sometimes hostile environment. This looked like piercings, tattoos, fishnets, and high platform heels. It sounded like Q’uranic Prayer, soul-stirring poetry, and southern crunk music sung with an operatic cadence. And since then, I keep meeting Black girls who did their own thing who looked, talked, walked, lived in ways that weren’t reflected anywhere.
In 2008 I met fellow QBG kindred Alexis Pauline Gumbs and when our powers combined, Quirky Black Girls was born! As co-conspirators of the Quirky Black Girl Movement, we began to pull ourselves towards each other. Via a blog, a social network, a Facebook group, regular arcade nights, jam sessions, cookOUTS, a Black speculative fiction reading group and more, QBG, allows a diverse group of self identified Quirky Black Girls to build bravery and challenge each other’s thinking. QBG facilitates mutually nurturing online and in-person spaces for Black feminist conversations, which honors and supplements the rich tapestry of Black feminism that has come before us.
MORGAN: You’ve managed to create a community and space for women to build upon the backs and fronts of one another. What types of impact are you hoping to have on your community?
MOYA: I hope that quirky Black girls where ever they are feel like they are not alone. That there are kindreds around the globe who get them.
MORGAN: QBG’s have willingly taken on a name that conjures pretty specific images—something we can definitely relate to. We love asking people this question, so we’ll ask you: What does it mean to be a ‘boi’?
MOYA: “Boi” is hard for me to define, as it’s an identity that I don’t embody all the time. I think, like the “girl” in QBG it has an elasticity that “man” and “woman” often foreclose. It reminds me of a youthful openness and adventurous spirit.
MORGAN: Who is the QBG team? Is it informal, has it grown?
MOYA: The QBG team is primarily me and Alexis Pauline Gumbs. We met four years ago and QBG just blossomed. We would love more energy so if anyone feels so moved, get at us!! QBG is an intergenerational space so QBG’s across the time continuum are so welcome!!
MORGAN: What keeps you motivated and passionate?
MOYA: The state of the world. I often think of the Toni Cade Bambara quote, “The revolution begins with the self.” Freeing yourself opens up a freer world and there’s a seemingly endless supply of self work to keep me motivated. I’m also a big believer in music. Feeling like I have a soundtrack or like I’m in a movie montage is a new phenomenon that’s keeping me energized.
MORGAN: How is this crafting you professionally? Are you a writer? A community organizer? A social entrepreneur?
MOYA: I’m a gatherer. I love to connect people to each other more than anything. QBG is a way of doing that and I feel so amazed by the kind of connections and projects that have sprung up because of it.
MORGAN: Where are you going?
MOYA: I don’t know! A grad school friend of mine told me about the headlights theory, basically only go as far as you can see. That’s what I’m doing these days and it’s working for me.
Morgan W., (bbh Head Writer, Stategy & Development) is an adventurer, writer, educator and creative consultant based in New York City. Originally from Washington, DC she has been a writer (and consultant) since way back; forged parental excuses, commissioned by the lovestruck for sincere notes of admiration, varsity team term papers–and then poetry. A recent graduate of Sarah Lawrence College’s Master of Fine Arts program in Writing, she has been a feature writer for Bklyn Boihood, Queer Memoir, Dark Phrases, autostraddle.com and Razor Wire Women. Her work in every genre emphasizes the need for light in dark spaces. For over five years she has taught and/or led creative writing, community-based theatre, prison education and college access workshops throughout the United States. As a consultant she works with collectives, organizations and individuals to develop and refine their creative strategies and written materials. She lives (and loves) uptown.