How old were you when you understood the traditional idea of "power"?

I recall my first encounter with power when I was 13-years-old. Power was negotiated by "popular students" in social hierarchies, and then a kid wore a jacket with a drawing of a noose on it. He completed the school day without being reprimanded. At this time, I feel I was giving my power away to fit in.

Over the years, I have found that power can be abused as much as it can be cultivated. There is power in the ocean. Power in words. Power in our thoughts. Power in mirror work. Power in the earth's core. Power in nature. Power in food grown from the land and leaning into the natural flow of life. Power is how things can get done. All else is likely authority or control, which is coming from the ego. For the most part, humans play with the illusion of power to try to keep control over: ourselves, others, our communities, and the earth. I am just now starting to understand and have so much more to understand.  

What was your first encounter with power?

My family is from Winston Salem, North Carolina. My first encounter with power was when I witnessed spirit move people to tears, shouts, and other forms of praise at a Baptist church. These moments would happen during a revival, and people would jump and shout in the sanctuary to express their love, awe, and deep gratitude for God.

Fairview, Pennsylvania. This was the community my parents decided to raise me in the suburbs: a nice neighborhood, a good school. The word Ni**er was written in molasses on the driveway when my parents and I moved into our new home in the suburbs of Fairview, PA. This informed my perspective and opened my eyes to the injustices that surround us every day.

What's your relationship to power now? How has it changed over the years? Did you have to unlearn anything you were taught?

I've had the pleasure of organizing massive cultural events. Each month I was awestruck having the opportunity to bring between 10,000 - 24,000 people together around one common theme in the name of art and community. Those experiences represent a certain type of power. Now, I am immersed in a conversation of spirit, love, self-care, nature, water, and thinking. I'm focused on actions that will uplift my community and me. This is where the real power is. I am still very much in the process of understanding the reach and depth of spirit and am enjoying it. I've had to unlearn being intimidated by power. I'm in a place where I recognize that power is always with me.

How do you cultivate and express power in your life? How does that translate externally?

My daily practices hold me down. I don't sleep much, so the early mornings between 2am-4am are my magic hours. This is my time to ponder that which is emerging in my thoughts, feelings, and my personal and professional life. I write it out. My other practices include breath work, movement, drinking lots of water, family time, and meditation. I find my peace and power in these practices.

Where are the unexpected places you've seen power manifest?  

I have seen power manifest in my son on many occasions — his continual awakening to new ideas and then having the ability to communicate them. Also, I have experienced power manifest watching the sunset on the coast of Hawaii.

Photo Credit: Light. When We Gather (2019)

Light is a cultural producer, public speaker, a community-oriented planner and strategist. She is known for developing thoughtful, fresh, and inclusive spaces where everyday people feel comfortable and encouraged to use technology as a tool to engage with art, ideas, and each other. As a regular contributor to The Unfolding, Light enjoys holding space for conversations in modern spirituality, sisterhood, gratitude, and affirmation. Inside and outside of work, her programs encourage human connection and thought, Light works alongside artists, cultural partners, and community organizations to generate space for collective impact and social justice. Her pursuits reflect a deep respect for communities of color, with a deeper focus on women of color who she recognizes as the voices that drive culture, democracy, and our collective radical imagination forward. She has guest-lectured at Pratt Institute, Harvard, Columbia, and New York University and holds an MPS in Arts and Cultural Management from Pratt Institute, a BA in Business Management and Marketing from Edinboro University. Light currently lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.