Updated: Mar 15, 2021
I have known Safi since 2015, I believe. From the moment I met Safi, she called herself, the Goddess and this was, at first, just a funny thing to hear, but as I got to know her, I knew it was much more.
And then she emerged with the writing and her painting… I saw the purpose. I was a fan. So I drove to pick her up in the east end.
She was regal from the moment she stepped into my car. Even in her jokes. We made our way to her photoshoot and started from there…
Let’s go to the beginnings. When we first met, you had the confidence to label yourself as the Goddess. Prior to finding that identity of yours, would you be able to describe Safi then?
That’s hard. Me speechless? It’s over! The interview’s done!
We’ve found the Kriptonite!
Yeah, that’s it! I don’t know. I will say that for a long time, I prioritized other people’s safety and well being above mine. Maybe I was a Goddess at the time, but for others. I couldn’t be that for myself. It was a discovery, but I’ve been that. Me calling myself a Goddess was sort of me coming back home.
Basically, like, you’re seeing yourself for real.
It was like a veil was in front of you and you couldn’t see that you were this entity.
Yeah, it was more like me reaffirming and taking back my power. And the whole thing too, with me saying my name is also me taking back my power with my own identity as who I am outside of a Goddess. Like me, the raw me. I also feel that when you say a person’s name a lot, you’re giving them life, indirectly. So that’s why when I don’t like a person anymore, I won’t say their name anymore. I don’t want to give that type of energy anymore. I had to give myself my own life. I had to do that on my own. There’s only so much another person can pour in you. I know how to easily pour into others, but when you don’t pour into yourself, something’s not right. I needed to find a way to save myself so that when I’m at the lowest, even though I’m down, I’m still a Goddess. And that would help me maintain some kind of sanity. Because, you then, you can’t really lose. I’m still someone. I’m still valuable.
Can you describe that day when you came to that realization?
I don’t think it was a day. I think it was more gradual. I was doing more and more things and gravitating towards that things that were nurturing that kind of energy where I felt more comfortable professing and seeing within. And I started to do things that I do for others for myself without feeling guilty.
Could you describe, growing up, what it was like with your family dynamic?
There were a lot of things. I don’t have the mental capacity to get into that. It was an interesting and defining experience. A lot of the traits I have in terms of doing things on my own by myself… A lot of things that I know, I’m self-thought. I have been on my own since I was 17. I even emancipated myself legally. There’s a lot of stuff that happened. There’s some stuff that are still triggering and while there are good memories, there’s a lot of scars. So I’m still navigating that.
I totally understand. So now, with regards to the artistry. I believe with you, it started with the writing.
Yeah. I always loved writing since I was a child. And I loved reading for so long. The foundation of everything was my writing, song writing. I’ve been writing songs since I was a pre teen. I think I was 11 when I wrote my first song. It became everything and I even shared my talent with some of my friends. Some of my teachers knew that I was writing. And writing was a way for me to express myself and still be quiet. When you’re sent to your room and told to be quiet, you can still write and not make noise. You don’t need much to write. Writing has helped me navigate a lot of different experiences since I was a child until now. So as I started to allow myself to share that with the public and friends. People encouraged me to share that on social media. I was a little shy, but me taking those steps inspired me to get back into my painting and I used to do it when I was younger. But the artistry started with the writing.
Looking at some of your posts on social media, I feel like you’ve taken on a much more daring approach.
Daring and I’m also reclaiming my body.
I feel like you’ve been very intentional what you choose to want to display…
And when I want to.
Taking the ownership, I get a lot of suggestions of what I should with my body and post because of the kind of body I have. But at the same time, because of the kind of body that I have, it’s difficult for people to understand that this body has a lot of pain and scars. Even doctors when they say me, they will say, Wow you look good! And at that point, I know they’re not focused on the fact that I’m here because I need healing.
And that’s when you change doctors.
Oh yeah! Of course! You have to fire doctors. Especially for black people, but that’s a different conversation for another time. But it’s just one of those things when you realize that because of your appearance, people have decided what they want you to do. They already have a vision for you without your input. You see someone with red hair and you don’t see that a lot, and you think that person would be dope for a particular photoshoot not knowing what they boundaries might be. So every now and again, I do it to remind myself that I’m not just a lump of flesh that is in a lot of pain. It’s my way to remind myself that there’s beauty inside and outside of this body. Even though I’ve had surgeries, I’ve had things done to me that were procedures where you’re awake and realizing that I’m awake for it. I have had moments where it was difficult connecting with my body because so many things have happened to it and I told myself that this could not be me.
So we’re talking about trauma, right?
Yeah, definitely! A lot of trauma. So this is where disassociating from your body at times… This is my way of coming back into my body and reminding myself of my own sexual agency. Because even though I do all these fun things like the writing and the art, I also want to enjoy my body. Not just for the world to have for their own viewing experience. But it’s for me to experience. Especially for black women, we are not allowed to enjoy our bodies the way people take advantage of us. And the moment a black woman starts to take ownership of her, no matter her weight or the scars she might have and she starts to show it or dress a certain way, maybe it’s modest or showing too much skin, people become concerned. But if it’s for a show where someone else is making decisions on that body, it is seen in a different light. And also, I’m aging as well. It’s not something that I thought about 15 years ago, but I am getting older. And I have to say, which is not something that I expected, I feel cuter now as I’m getting older. I’m having more opportunities regarding the beauty industry. And we know that industry is not a fan of people getting older. But I also made a decision. I’m going to do things my way. A la Safi! So I decide! I feel like I’m more refined now, even with all these scars. Because I didn’t go out of my way to cultivate that. But I feel like the things I’ve been doing and the people I’ve been surrounding myself with and trying to find different ways to connect with my body when I’m not happy with the way that it functions, have led me there. So every now and then, I’ll share the treats with the world.
Facts! Now, with you reclaiming your body and you mentioned your body going through trauma and pains and surgeries. I remember when you mentioned at a certain point where you were in constant pain.
I am still in constant pain. It is different. The thing is that I’m in so much that when I feel that I’m not in as much pain, I feel like something is missing.
So you’ve connected with your pain like that?
I have an intimate relationship with my pain.
It’s a very interesting feeling. A few years ago, I was with friends walking, and I stopped walking holding my head because I couldn’t feel the pressure and that was me not having a migraine. And it had been so long, it felt like something was missing. And it was the pain. And every now and then, it happens with other parts of my body. So when I feel relief, I’m reminded of the contrast that you’re not supposed to be in pain all the time. This is not normal, but the thing is that I had to learn. And this why, with certain medication, it’s taken a while for me to take them because I waited for the pain to get worse. And some of the doctors who are still good to me, they’d tell me that I was so used to the pain, I’m not taking the medication early for it to do the work, but by then, it would be beyond. There were times for years where I would stay in the dark and write with my little lamp. And I was like, ok, I’m in pain anyway, and at times where I was not in pain, I would enjoy my music. But I do have a relationship with pain that I’m trying to…
I’m not trying to say avoid because I think sometimes pain is there to help you make decisions. For example, someone is hurting your feelings over and over again. Maybe, they don’t respect you. Like you’ve already communicated that to them and you’re feeling pain, I don’t think people who love each other should be hurting themselves constantly. It does not mean it does not happen, but when you guys are constantly hurting each other, at some point, is it an accident or are you making the conscious choice to not be mindful of that person’s wellbeing. And so, I’m still in chronic pain and I’m currently dealing with a chronic pain specialist. And a bunch of others stuff I won’t get into because I’m still navigating the reality of it, because when you look at me, and forget makeup and whatever, but you can’t say that this person is always in pain everyday.
The whole time that I’ve known you, you’ve mentioned it and I cannot tell, at all, but when you tell me, I feel what you’re talking about.
And it’s also the thing not to want this to be my entire identity. I’m a Goddess, but I’m always in pain. How can I be a Goddess and in pain? So I decided to shift things a little bit. What I’m learning and I’m incorporating in my practice of my art, and everything I’m doing. Because I feel like if I don’t include in my business and practice, it won’t happen. So now because I’m associating it with money and my art, it’s important… (laughter)… So it is important, but I’m trying my best to get it together to rest. I had to accept and the doctors whom I have a good relationship with, have reminded me that rest is just as important as this or that action. Just like an athlete, at times, you do have to rest. Maybe if you play on that muscle, maybe you won’t walk again. So knowing the value, and respecting and honoring your body enough to do that. And not associating it with being lazy or weak. But also the syndrome of being a strong black woman made it difficult to show my pain. So even if I would want to be vulnerable at times, I’m only starting to do that now. It was difficult because I had to see my mother go through things where I knew there had to be pain involved, but you could not tell. You could never tell. So I picked up on that. And no one wants to be around people who talk about their pain or who look like their pain.
That depends! It depends!
And that’s the idea I had in my head. And it’s very hard when you don’t look sick because they don’t get it. And it’s knowing because sometimes it’s knowing before the pain gets there. If I continue what I’m doing right now, am I going to put myself in a situation that would make everything exhausting? So yeah, pain is a big part of my life, but I decided to include pleasure. And that’s very different for me.
So what does it mean to include pleasure into your life?
Not thinking about when the pain will come back. I’d think that I would have a good time and there’s a reminder that the pain might come. But both will be in my life anyways. I just so happen to have pain consistently.
What pleasures have you allowed into your life?
I would say, especially with myself evolving in my art publicly. And by art, I mean, everything that I’m creating… Yeah so, there is the pleasure of putting myself first.
Yeah. And not feeling bizarre thoughts about it because I can also give the pleasure I give others to myself and it does not have to be something weird.
What do you categorize as weird?
Weird as in… I just have a hard time. There’s always been this guilt. Especially when you raised yourself as a late teen for certain things. The little pleasures in life… Like while you’re friends are complaining about curfew, you’re trying to pay you rent. You don’t have the same problems. So there’s little pleasures you don’t get to experience because you’re in survival mode, when you should be in mode of enjoying life and discovery… For me, I couldn’t discover anything. I had to save my life. So now I’m trying to allow myself to do little things like treating myself, putting myself first, discovering what makes the fire within me burn. In terms of sex, I would say that it has been better with what I’m willing to allow. But I demand that there is an understanding that this is an experience we’re sharing and you’re not going to use my body to masturbate to.
I like that!
Because sometimes you’re there, but not there…
You’re basically an object.
And that kind of experience is very strange. And I’m not here for that. I also don’t believe in fake moaning to encourage bad behavior.
To satisfy another person’s ego.
For me, I’ll just be there and that is that. I’ve had conversations where it was like…
This was not pleasurable.
It’s not a conversation anyone wants to have, but if you don’t tell the person, they’ll continue on that path.
Communication is key! And the key is that I’ve told past partners about that. It has to be an experience for the both of us but you have to communicate your pleasure. That’s why I need someone who’s able to communicate their pleasure about themselves.
I feel, especially as women, I find that for myself, I’m very much a giver. I have had to accept that receiving is also a part of giving your partner the opportunity to please you. And it’s another way of you honoring your body.
And I must say that as a man, the beauty of a woman’s orgasm, as a gift alone, is more gratifying to me than any nut that I experience. It’s more gratifying to me, as a man, to see a woman who has climaxed. A lot of dudes will speak of having damaged the pussy. Did she enjoy herself or did you go in there to create damage? As if creating damage speaks of a great sexual experience.
And that’s interesting too. When I started to call myself a Goddess, there were certain things that I…
You wanted to be worshipped!
Yeah! And it’s not in a controlling kind of way. Whatever I inspire you to do, it’s something I do for you. So I… There are certain things I just know because of what I want and don’t want to experience, because I made a choice that if it cannot be had a certain way with a certain connection, I am not interested. Because I know how to please myself and not just in that way, but in so many other ways. Like going out by myself. I don’t want to wait on people. I am not opposed to having experiences by myself. If someone wants to join me, sure, come through. I’ve had to come out of my shell a little like going out to dance events by myself with no chaperon and I’m lucky enough to bump into people that I do know. And even if it does not happen, I’m having a good time. I take myself to dinner. I take myself on dates and I’ve been doing that. So it’s like, all these things, I’ve allowed myself to indulge because I’m tired of that relationship with pain so…
So basically, by knowing how to treat yourself accordingly, you’ll be able to communicate that with the next person that comes through.
Exactly! And I’ve been getting better at it. And I got better friendships. And we’ve talked about relationships, but what about your friendships? Are they healthy? Is that a healthy friendship? Do you respect each other’s boundaries? Maybe you’re in the wrong with your friends? So my thing is now that I have friends, especially my guy friends… I’ve curated my garden of flowers aka my friends in such a way that I’m so used to having men around me who respect me that when it gets abusive, then you’re not there anymore. Like if you have a girlfriend, I won’t call you after midnight. And because of that, it’s going to be interesting when I get in a relationship because the men around are people I’m really proud of who respect me.
How has dating been like for you?
Dating is not happening right now.
Before the pandemic.
Not even that. Just, I live in the city known as Toronto, so I am tired. And yes! We are putting that in the interview.
(laughter) Toronto sucks for dating.
I just want people to be transparent. If you just want to have sex, tell me. If you want to build something, tell me as well.
But what do you demand for in a partner? Because that will also be in the interview because…
No, because that’s how you get trapped. You say your list and then they become it.
So basically the lies people use to get in your pants…
Yeah, so I’m good.
Transparency is one thing.
That’s so important. And it’s not transparency with just me. But with yourself first.
What is the end goal for Safi?
My motto is A LA SAFI. And the reason I chose that is just to remind myself that my way of doing things is enough. Whatever way I choose to express myself is enough. It’s also a way of reaffirming that I did this. I’m doing this. It’s also to remind others of their power. My thing is that if I know my power then you can do it too. So I would love that everyone who’s exposed to everything I’m creating to remember their own essence and their own power and from there, transform their own life and say that they did it! So I definitely want to bring more to light, the art of resting. Art work centered around melanin and things that I would want my children to be able to read or have access to. Continuing to speak about sexual violence. I realize that it’s something that I’m so passionate about because I realized that if people left women alone, we would be able to do so much more. Because there’s so much trauma that affect healthy relationships afterwards. People asking why someone is so frigid. Well maybe if they were not abused since they were children, maybe they would not have these issues. So bringing to light sexual agency but also discussing sexual violence in a way that empowers people, especially women. And for me, it’s also about the tribe. I’m all about community and support. The essence of Safi is definitely about support. When I say I’m here, I’m here. And that’s how I support. And that’s just how I am. And I’m thankful that I can say that I’ve experienced support. But one thing that I think I could’ve used a lot more is support when I was younger. So that’s why I’m so excited to support others because sometimes that’s all you need. The talent, the hard work, but you need that boost.
My last question is what would be your advice for the next generation and the young ladies who could possibly be experiencing what you’re experiencing?
Well, we’re in a pandemic so I don’t know if there is a next generation. Kidding! You can remove that (laughter).
It’s going in. It’s definitely going in (laughter)
Imagine how powerful it would be every time a child comes into this world, imagine we tell them they are Gods. So we have this conversation, and no matter what they are experiencing, achievement or failure, they know they are Gods. Especially black children and marginalized people. Imagine the impact this would have. That’s what I want to tell people now. Behave as though you are Gods. Take care of the planet. Take care of yourself and you will have the ability to have the next generation and all of that. But take ownership of your power.