Vanessa Rochelle Lewis
Monday, July 17
Join us for a discussion of uglification and how we can reclaim UGLY for ourselves.
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Faerie Princess Mermaid Gangsta for the Revolution.
Baldheaded super dyke
Find Vanessa Online
Vanessa Lewis (fae/she/her/femme) is the author of Reclaiming UGLY! A Radically Joyful Guide to Unlearning Oppression…
Vanessa's Full Bio
Born and raised in South Central, Los Angeles, Vanessa Rochelle Lewis (MFA) is a Queer, Fat, Black, Femme performer, facilitator, educator, writer, activist, healer, joyful weirdo, and Faerie Princess Mermaid Gangsta for The Revolution. She loves love and her life is devoted to creating a world where more people can experience love uninterrupted by cis-temic (systemic), interpersonal, and internalized violence.
Vanessa has danced across many professional and creative stages. She has been a Writer and Managing Editor for acclaimed feminist magazines, Everyday Feminism & Black Girl Dangerous; an Adjunct Instructor at multiple Bay Area community colleagues (including College of Alameda, Merrit College, and Chabot Community College); a Fundraiser and Events Coordinator for the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project; the Artist-Facilitator In Residence for the Young Women Freedom Center; and a core team member for Creating Freedom Movements (an 18 month long social education project that supports grassroots visionary leaders to incubate healing and joy projects while learning more about the art, theory, and practice of social justice movements).
She is the Director of Programming for the Positive Results Center (the PRC addresses trauma from a cultural and age perspective by creating awareness to prevent and end teen dating, domestic and interpersonal violence, sexual assault, bullying, sex trafficking, and other social and interpersonal violences within marginalized communities). Vanessa has spoken at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Hampshire College, The 5 Colleges Queer Conference, Saint Mary’s College of California, UC Riverside, California College of the Arts, California Institute of Integral Studies, Mills College, The SF Dyke March, Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, Women’s Policy Center, National Association to Advance Fat Acceptace, Our Family Coalition, and more.
In 2021, she was included in The Root 100, a list of the 100 most influential African Americans between the ages of 25-45. After experiencing her appearance being weaponized against her on too many occasions, Vanessa began writing articles about what it means to exist in a body that the others perceive as ugly and why people choose to look at others and perceive them as ugly. Many people responded with their own stories of being bullied and harmed due to their appearance. This exchange inspired Vanessa to create the organization, Reclaim UGLY: Uplift Glorify Love Yourself – And Create A World Where Others Can As Well!
Her vision is to co-create a world where everyone knows that they are a safe, welcomed, and valued member of their communities; has the support to dream authentically and exist in their truths; and knows that there is no face, no body, and no person who is ugly or unworthy of love and acceptance. In 2019 Reclaim UGLY hosted their first Ugly Conference. In 2020, Reclaim UGLY hosted Solidarity Healing September (an online, month long, racial justice heal-in/teach-in that was a fundraiser and heart raiser for Black Healing October) and Black Healing October (a month of daily FREE online healing workshops for Black people by Black people). Please visit www.reclaimugly.org to learn more.
When she’s not trying to save the world, Vanessa loves listening to audiobooks; making friends with strangers; attending local performances; fun-venturing with her friends, partners, and colleagues; playing at queer kinky events; worshipping at the feet of domme partners; and swimming in every body of water she can find.
Vanessa's Poetic Bio
Vanessa Rochelle Lewis Is…
A healer with a satchel full of medicine words,
A conjuror with desire to nurture other artists as they create magic and save lives,
A faerie princess mermaid gangsta for the revolution,
A lush-bodied, Black femme Goddess motivated by sensuality and freedom,
An educator and performer with a passionate exuberance for silliness, laughter, and the stage,
A starlet who doesn’t want to be in the spotlight alone,
A lover of all things collective, emergent, and interdependent,
A wild-seed born and blossomed in South-Central Los Angeles,
A fighter with fists born of circumstance and a heart that refused to harden,
A warrior committed to freedom, brow dripping with resilience, wings crusted with diamonds that grew from trauma healed,
A sunbeam drama kid, always ready to explore the whimsy of imagination with others,
A dreamer who’s hungry for more—more understanding, more expansive enlightenment, more friendship, more growth, more compassion, more love, more creativity, more access for her people,
An activist committed to unpacking the seeds, kernels, and fabrics of social justice, liberation for all, and collaborative healing
An alchemist who knows how to turn spirit-wounds into magic, oppression into possibility, resentment into vulnerability, insecurity into self-expansion, anger into love,
An ethical hedonist and pleasure activist committed to the transformative potency of using joy as a tool for decolonial healing, connection, intellectual assessment, and movement work,
A good witch who highly values compassion, love, curiosity, and using the forces that be for generative transformation rather than revenge,
A survivor, through and through, and extremely proud of it,
An unapologetically integrated person—intersectional, full, able to be held accountable, and unwilling to compromise any part of herself,
A Free Black Woman in love with words and expression, A goofy, romantic, and rascally flirt
A moon storm full of whimsy
A weirdo, queerdo, love bug, gummy bear who is so grateful to be alive.
A Freebie for You
I have a free little e-booklet on what uglification is.
Additionally, I’ll be facilitating a workshop called “We Keep Blooming.” It is a trauma-informed writing workshop designed specifically to support the healing of Black & Brown survivors through creative expression, community building, and accomplishing literary goals.
We will study the strategies and techniques that our favorite Black & Brown feminist poets and writers used to create the works that have healed us, use those techniques to give voice to our own pains and hopes, and offer each other loving support and encouragement along the process. While we can and will support writers who wish to grow in craft and publish their work, this workshop is dedicated to the vulnerable work of healing through reading, writing, and creative community building.
Reading, Journaling, and Writing are creative expressions that can be used to help participants:
- Reflect on the things that have caused pain and trauma throughout their life without judging or shaming themselves;
- Identify and hold space for the grief and anger over what was lost or taken;
- Intentionally and creatively express difficult or repressed emotions in a safe container amongst supportive witnesses;
- Develop a generative, self-loving, and honest voice to speak to and about their trauma;
- Compassionately identify negative or unintentional patterns, habits, or masks as a result of unprocessed grief and pain;
- Understand that they and their bodies are still sacred and separate from what has happened to them;
- Learn to accept, love, and nurture who they are and where they are on their journey;
- Lean into the radical power of healing through imagination and narrative shift; and
- Participate in a safe and loving community designed for and devoted to healing and creativity.
What's Coming Up
My book, Reclaiming UGLY! A Radically Joyful Guide to Unlearning Oppression is available for presale!