Words of Strength from I Cannot Lie to the Stars That Made Me

June 12, 2018

Catherine Hernandez’s pair of plays, The Femme Playlist & I Cannot Lie to the Stars That Made Me (Playwrights Canada Press) are a powerful testament of strength and survival and a vivid portrait of a radical queer brown mother. Catherine’s characters share stories—stories they’ve heard and stories they’ve lived—that not only help their journeys but also serve to guide others. With the collective experiences of these female characters, we turned to I Cannot Lie to the Stars That Made Me, an around-the-campfire guide to mourning and healing for women of colour, for their words of wisdom. 

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#1:

 

"Don’t be shy. Say what you want to say."

“My moon is in sync with the moon in the sky which means that my appetite is as big as the cosmos. So do not put your hand near my mouth or I will bite you. And do not kiss me or I will swallow you whole.”

 

#2:

 

Show your inner strength.

“Do not be afraid to show the power of the goddess in you. That power is not to appease nor entice but to challenge and dare. Show the world you are a force to be reckoned with.”

 

#3:

 

"Rest. For there will be lots of work to do in the morning."

“Rest. Stop scrubbing the tub. Feed yourself. Find shelter and rest. Tomorrow the work starts.”

 

#4:

 

"The Fasting (in which we intentionally weed out the bullshit in our lives)."

“Steps for Bullshit Fasting:

WITNESS 2: Number one: If it’s bullshit, you don’t want it. Tell it to walk.

WITNESS 1: Number two: Leave enough space between you and the bullshit so that when it walks through the door you will know it and call it as it is.

WITNESS 3: Number three: Care for yourself unapologetically so that you will have a clearer head to recognize the bullshit. And if you see bullshit coming, proceed to step number one.

ALL: Look yourself in the mirror and say the truth. Enough is enough.

WITNESS 3: You must smudge. Burn the medicine in the bowl made by your daughter or mother with earnest until even the edges are just a rumour to your failures.

WITNESS 2: You must shower. Shower until the skin that you scraped off their back in your dreams washes away from the deepest depths of your nails.

WITNESS 1: You must clean house, right into the edges, right into the corners of each drawer, all to the sound of your solitude.

WITNESS 3: You must smarten up. No more consolation prizes, no more half-empties, no more living in the pin-prick shadows of the holes in their hearts.

WITNESS 1: You must eat well. Sleep. Congratulate yourself. You made it through one more day, this act of resistance by simply existing.

ALL: For mourning is moving and you have moved mountains simply by breathing and being here.”

 

#5:

 

We don’t need statistics, because we already know.

"WITNESS 3: According to the Canadian Association of Social Workers, Black women often work in lower-paying jobs and are less likely to be employed, despite having education levels that are similar to other Canadian women. They are also more likely to be poor, with over forty-six per cent living in poverty, compared to twenty-nine per cent of all Canadian women.

WITNESS 2: Hold on. Wait a minute. Are you quoting statistics again? We already know this shit.

WITNESS 3: But it’s important to note that according to the World Health Organization, 'Overt or implicit discrimination violates one of the fundamental principles of human rights and often lies at the root of poor health status [...] Discrimination both causes and magnifies poverty and ill-health.'

WITNESS 2: We don’t need numbers or statistics. Not when we live statistics every day in our bone-tired bones.

WITNESS 1: I mean how many of us in our struggles have watched our sisters survive fibromyalgia or struggle with asthma?

WITNESS 2: Or face mental illness alone because she couldn’t afford taking time off from her low-paying job to get to the doctor’s to get a referral to another doctor who only books during her time at her low-paying job to give her a prescription for a drug that may not work so she has to go back to the doctor who only has an appointment during her time at her low-paying job so she takes time off work then she gets fired?

WITNESS 3: No. You’re right. We don’t need numbers or statistics."

 

 

* * *

Big thanks to Jessica Lewis at Playwrights Canada Press for sending us these words of wisdom from The Femme Playlist & I Cannot Lie to the Stars That Made Me.


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