Why was Vagabroad journals started?
First, journaling has been a consistent thread in my life since I was a child. My father would give me discarded military field notebooks and his mother sent me my first diary when I was 8(?). It was a practice to which I took naturally, despite my detesting writing for homeschool lessons.
Fast forward many years to my senior year of college, where I begin making my own journals. With low budget and less excitement than usual, I’d gone on my perennial search for a journal at a local paper shop. All of a sudden I became hyper-aware of the lack of responsible journals for women of color. The books that claimed to be awaiting my story were irreverent and mass-produced and I was going through far too much to put my heaviness into a capricious notebook made by someone who could care less about my narrative, history, soulful journey. Journals at the paper shop were illustrated with white women, botanicals, or inscribed with exhaustingly silly words-- not books I felt safe placing my words into while processing issues like senior year of college, divorce, purpose+destiny, (un)employment, homelessness, etc.
After making my first journal that winter, I started researching more of who I am as a generational notetaker, more on the power of the Black female body and the power and poetry of our written words. I read diaries by women like Ida B. Wells and essays on writing by bell hooks and realized our words on paper are a form of electricity; our private notes are both agency and legacy. I realized that our history has been under attack throughout the ages; the rise of technology and digital everything is an affront to the position we as matriarchs carrying our children’s children must have as self-historians through the eras. The Creator led me on a journey of learning the value of documenting our continuance, and the passion for creating life archives through journals scintillated in my being.
Vagabroad Journals emerged as a brand that summer. I was equipped with the urgency to narrate myself while the words were still fresh, and needing a sacred, trustworthy surface to scratch my thoughts upon. Yah gave me a name for this art project, took me on a journey to teach me the meaning of "Journeying Soulfully," showed me the power of writing our lives down into blank books, taught me how to paint, and gave me the words to write on each of the journal covers—He still does. I came to realize that journals for women of color ideally should not originate from those who could not care less about our stories. And my appreciation for my work transformed into an assignment.
The brand has since evolved into journals and stationery for teastained women all around the world: those of us whose histories and narratives have been stolen and are persistently interrupted by a system set up to distract and demilitarize us; those of us who are in war with being either tired and entertained; drained and stressed; projected upon and lied to by the media, etc.
This work is not limited to the subject of journaling in a “dear diary…” sense, either. It’s meant to serve as a reminder to take time and give language to yourself and the times in which you're living. The words on these journals are strong so that you're constantly shocked upon with the power of claiming and inscribing your soul's narration. You are your own scribe, gifted with your position in history to tell time.
Historically, our stories have been erased and we've had to navigate time with third party accounts and pathetic excuses for "history" books. It is more than vital for us to reject distraction disguised as information, fantasies,
and statistics' false prophecies so we can tap into our quiet, listen to ourselves, and document our histories in real time— I call all of this Journeying Soulfully.
There's a bigger picture that surrounds journaling beyond “self care”:
journaling is a way of being present, leaving a legacy, archiving all the women you become, reclaiming your narrative, not repeating irrelevant mistakes, etc.
For almost 5 years now the Vagabroad's conviction has remained unchanged:
teastained women, pursue truth and write yourselves. Preserve your multigenerationality. Decide and discern yourself into tomorrow,
writing your story along the way. Only you can pluck the fruit that’s been feeding you. Only you can codify and archive your soul's languages. You are the only one qualified to tell time you've been here.
I don't make journals with anodyne illustrations and accompanying
feel-good messages. I don't make journals for weak women. I make journals that are designed to convict each time their author picks it up.
Obviously, I could go on forever. The main point is: grab a journal—whether it’s a Vagabroad Journal or a Dollar Tree notebook—and start putting your existence in writing. This is important.