Sunday, October 11, 2009
Everyday Heroes: Shante "Paradigm" Smalls
It's been a while since I shared with you one of my everyday heroes. Tonight, I had the honor of sitting next to one of my heroes. She's a woman that I learned to love more than a decade ago. She bounced into my life, high energy kicking up sparks from the carpeted halls of the Oakland Convention Center. That night, she kicked up some sparks from my best friend and roommate's coochy, and from that day to this one she has been a light in my life.
Her name is Shante Smalls, some of you know her as Paradgim from the homohop duo B.Q.E. I know her as my sister from another mother. But shoot, you know how slavery worked, we could be cousins. Shit, as crazy as we both are, we are probably half-siblings.
This woman is amazing. I remember walking into Amazon Bookstore in Minneapolis one day (the oldest feminist bookstore in continuous operation in the United States...word!). I was thumbing through the magazines, and who should I see leaping on the cover, dreadlocks flying this and that way, but Miss Smalls herself. She had been chosen Girlfriend of the Month, and let me tell you, she deserved the honor.
Whether she is organizing PeaceOut East, the International LGBT Queer Hip Hop Festival, cutting a new record, working for human rights as a Bunche Fellow with Amnesty International or working on her dissertation for her PhD in Performance Studies from the NYU Tisch School, this woman has committed her life and her art to the community. She is brilliant, she is sexy, and she is single...so word up hit me up if you want a crack at that. I will be vetting all comers, cuz I just can't have my girl with just any old body.
But truly, Shante is an inspiration. She keeps me laughing, and she keeps me real. She is a devoted Buddhist and lives the life that she talks about in her art and scholarship. She is a survivor of many kinds and a thriver of the first degree. I had no idea that when I met her, myself fresh from an airplane from Puerto Rico and she fresh from BK, that she and I would create a friendship that would stretch for a decade, cross art and activism, and be firmly rooted in love and mutual respect.
I love you Shante Smalls. Thank you for creating community with me. It's been an honor and a laugh. Now where's my fried chicken?