Maya Angelou said you have to learn to get up from the table when love is no longer being served.
On this day, this day of love, I want to remind you that love requires honesty. And from that honesty, always truth. These are the tenants that hold up the world: love, honesty and truth.
I am aware there are those of my ilk (writers), whom have not been named but their stories recorded in the imaginations of other people. But the four that I have always taken solace in are Nikki Giovanni; James Baldwin; Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison. Of this list there are two which have gone back to the God that created them. There are two more whom remain. There is a reason why these four are influential to all that I hope to accomplish in and with these twenty-six letters.
The threads that tie them all are still love, honesty and truth.
James Baldwin is enjoying a resurgence that perhaps he always knew that he was owed and could have. From I Am Not Your Negro to If Beale Street Could Talk, and The Fire Next Time, you see through his crafted dynamic, he’s not here for the shit. Throughout his writing, he never fails to turn the mirror on the society that continues to imprison, provoke and eradicate all things seen as aberrations. Including, people of color. Love requires honesty.
Nikki Giovanni encourages us a people to think. To analyze. To rethink and to be proud of all you are and the heritage that sustains you. And the best quote I have ever heard from a writer, is what she said when asked about her affinity to hip-hop:
“Sometimes you just gotta call a motherfucker, a motherfucker.”
There is nothing about Nikki Giovanni that has not been, or cannot remain unapologetically Black. With her poem Ego Trippin’ I saw myself as a Black girl, now a Black woman, as this cosmic force of nature. I saw myself as I should have always seen myself as if the mirror shown to me wasn’t cracked or misplaced. I am all this beauty, all this power and Black on top of it! Love requires you love yourself first and last.
Maya Angelou decided just like Nikki Giovanni to tell the truth, even when it hurts. She determined the best way to tell the truth was to identify the wounds and clean them out. To own all you see and love all you will become. That the pain you feel, or may feel, is only temporary. Her work reminds us that your past is never an accurate compass of your future. Her work, her writing is testament that I can be, you can be, the duality that the world around you never wants you to know: you can be Black, AND. Black is never a detriment, distraction or disability. Love requires truth in order to be honest.
Toni Morrison is unapologetic in reminding us as people that we own our stories. That there is a way to create a canon exclusive, outside of White influence. There is a way to speak truth to power in more than one way, and on more than one platform. She shows through The Bluest Eye, Sula, Beloved that the truth can shift depending on the light. That the power of the story is within the talent and dynamic of the storyteller. Love requires bravery and from that bravery, honesty.
As for me, I write because I love. And because I love all of you that share, read and discuss, I write.
[Images from face2face.com, defendernetwork.com, wantedonline.co.za, granta.com]