As I mentioned in our podcast last week, we have some very exciting news this morning. I am thrilled announce the addition of our newest member of Team Eclectablog, Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty of Detroit. It’s hard to improve on the bio from her website so I’m simply going to reproduce it in part here:
Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty is a mother, anti-racist social justice organizer, youth advocate, poet and author. She was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan and is intricately involved in water rights, digital justice and visionary organizing work. She is the past recipient of the Spirit of Detroit Award, the Woman of Substance Award, the Women Creating Caring Communities Award, the Detroit Awesome Award, the Black Law Student Association’s Justice Honoree Award, and was recognized as one of Who’s Who in Black Detroit in 2013 and 2015. Tawana is a board member of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership, a Data Justice Community Researcher for the Detroit Community Technology Project, a Detroit Equity Action Lab (DEAL) Fellow, a member of Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management, and The Detroit Digital Justice Coalition.
As an organizer, Tawana has organized a vast array of social justice initiatives bringing together thousands to advocate for social justice and create alternatives and solutions.
In 2014, she spoke with comrades on water rights issues at the United Nations in New York on International Peace Day and in 2015, and was a featured speaker at the School of Americas Watch Vigil (SOA Watch Vigil) in Georgia.
Here is a video of Tawana on-stage:
I’d like to personally thank Monica Lewis-Patrick for connecting me and Tawana.
I sat down with Tawana for a short interview to introduce her to our readers. Later this morning she’ll publish her first piece. Please give her a hearty Eclectablog welcome.
Welcome to Team Eclectablog! I’ve already described the work you do and some of the amazing awards that you’ve won and it’s an impressive list. Tell us a bit about your art, what a Honeycomb performance looks like, what types of topics you get into.
Pretty much no topic is off limits in my art. Whatever I am experiencing at the time, emotionally, politically, spiritually, it’s covered in my art. I’ve been writing poems since I was 7 years old. I used to think that I was practicing escapism in my art, but realized as I got older, that I often brought the things I was trying to escape with into my art with me.
In addition to being an artist, you’re also a passionate activist. Talk about what motivates your activism and what sorts of issues you are involved with.
I’m involved in water rights, digital justice, women’s rights, and youth advocacy work in Detroit, but I try to connect a lot of my work with what’s going on globally. I’m motivated by a passion to leave this world better than I received it, better than my son received it, better than we all received it. I’ve gotta believe that we have yet to experience the world we all deserve. I’m committed to doing my part, however small, to get us there.
Do you consider yourself an artist who engages in activism or an activist who does art?
It’s funny you ask that. I’m always thinking about this. I teach workshops called, Poetry As Visionary Resistance, because I firmly believe that my art is also part of my activism. Some people call that artivism. Toni Cade Bambara said, “The role of the artist is to make revolution irresistible.” I strive to embody that role.
What is your proudest achievement for your art, for your activism, and in your personal life? It can be three different things!
My proudest achievement for my art has been the recent release of my 2nd book, Coming Out My Box and the production of my one woman show of the same name. I decided to do both on my 40th birthday. I was super nervous and cancelled the show in my head about 20 times. Luckily, I mustered up the courage to go through with it. It was an incredibly transformative experience. I am also proud that I’ve consistently being given opportunities to share my art as activism, to teach my workshops.
In my personal life, my consistently proud moment has been watching my son grow from a wonderfully brilliant and compassionate young person into a wonderfully brilliant and compassionate adult.
What types of things do you see yourself writing about at Eclectablog?
I see myself sharing the stories of the voices who are often absent from dominant narrative, including the true voices of Detroiters. I am also a risk taker. Sometimes the stories I write aren’t the most popular, but I pride myself on being truthful and keeping humanity at the center.
If you could be doing anything you want in five years, what would that be?
I can see myself becoming more of a full-time artist/educator, teaching more workshops, writing more books and performing. There is nothing more rewarding than nurturing the glow of inspiration in young minds and hearts.
What’s one interesting thing about you that most people don’t know?
I have 5 tattoos. I used to think I’d never get another one, but I’ve been tempted to add a bit more body art lately.