Alana Cloud-Robinson (writer, musician, and Head of Customer Service at Christy Dawn) is not one to be introduced - rather, she introduces herself. Meet Alana.
The shedding of a snake’s skin is not always swift, it’s an uncomfortable process that takes time. It begins with the slowing of their movements, a shift in their behavior and energy followed by the dulling of their skin. Their eyes become glazed and milky, lack of vision produces aggression and fear as they enter their own chrysalis of sorts. The main event of molting takes time, energy and patience as the snake breaks free from the old and emerges, born anew. I’ve watched this process time and time again throughout my life, this experience of a sort of death and renewal and I believe this is exactly what is happening now in the world around us.
We seek justice, change, abolition, recreation and renewal in so many forms and this process of transformation has been painful. Many feel fearful, angry, confused or even lost, but the old ways must be shed in order to make way for something hopeful that looks at itself with honesty and truth. Change isn’t always easy, it doesn’t always feel good in the moment, but once liberated from these systems that do not serve us, that have tried to oppress, silence and remove us from the fabric of existence, we will all know freedom.
- A.C. Robinson
You’re such a powerful poet - have you always been a writer, or is this something you’ve come to more recently in your life?
I’ve always enjoyed poetry, though my writing has certainly undergone many revolutions. I was once committed to a very structured, classical style but found that to be restrictive especially for deeper, more raw emotions. I’m deeply inspired by musicians like Nina Simone and Fiona Apple, they have this anger inside them that they somehow find the strength to transmute into beauty. I have it too and that’s what I aspire to do with it.
You grew up in California in a predominantly white neighborhood - how did that shape your experience growing up as a Black woman?
My environment definitely contributed to my own internalized racism. With light skin and green eyes, I have my own privilege to be acknowledged. I have never been in physical danger due to my race, but I have been subjected to innumerable encounters with emotional, psychological and even sometimes spiritual warfare against my blackness. There was a mentality within my white peers that I wasn’t “that black” and could be party to their racism, their micro aggressions and hostility. I took it all, forced it deep down inside myself and let it poison me for a number of years. With a Creole mother and black father, learning my own personal history was painful but necessary for me to undo that self hatred and accept myself. When I decided to embrace being black, truly, wholly, and unapologetically, the backlash was immediate. I felt so much resistance to the change, frequent reminders of where I grew up and even more scrutiny of my interests, friends, partners and personal choices overall. I didn’t fit into the stereotyped mold of what a black person “should be” and it took me years to realize that the mold actually doesn’t exist, it never did and none of us fit into it.
The murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police and the murder of Ahmaud Abery by vigilante extremists have inspired both worldwide protests and calls for action for this country specifically. What has that looked like for you? Where have you been focusing your energy?
Every fiber of my being, every part of me has been fixed upon this movement. I have been waiting for this, we all have, for so long now. The grief, anxiety, anger, and all the rest that has come along with this time period is also accompanied with a sense of hope I have never had in my life. I have never seen my white peers react like this before, they’re hearing this battle cry for revolution, a cry that comes from deep in the depths of our souls and for the very first time they are actually answering. Gil Scott Heron said “the revolution will not be televised” and he meant that it cannot be this forced, packaged product for easy consumption, it will be a change of the heart and mind first and foremost. I see that change occurring, I see hearts and minds changing, I see people having difficult conversations and it’s truly moving. There are so many names, Alton Sterling, Tony McDade, Eric Garner, Atatiana Jefferson, Philando Castille, the list goes on and on and we feel each loss in the collective consciousness that I believe connects all black people. My energy has been directed towards education, support for my community and the physical act of showing up for this movement, I’m here to serve, listen, and keep the momentum.
How do you Honor Mother Earth?
I find that having a relationship with plants sort of reaffirms the symbiosis between human beings and the planet for me on a daily basis. Under my father’s tutelage, I’ve developed a bit of a green thumb and bringing the natural world to my own space—especially living in a major city—has brought me so much peace. Plants too have cycles of rebirth and renewal, it’s always so exciting to watch their little green shoots emerge and unfurl into big, beautiful leaves.
how the rage comes.
It slips in through the dog door
crawls up through the bathtub drain
it just smacks you on the back of the head
like grandma’s pocket book
binds us uniquely
strings us together still
to feel one pain
in the collective soul.
The smallest prick
in gestures or words
sends us thorns of cotton bracts
into all our hands
- A.C. Robinson