Birthing Ida B. Wells Barnett

When I was a kid, I loved the month of February. I loved Black History Month. The most vivid classroom I remember, was Mrs. Annie Green. Her room was always covered in books, and posters, and in February? She had these icons of African-American history stapled above her blackboard. It was in her class that I began to become ravenous about African-American history. And it was in her class that I was introduced to Ida B. Wells Barnett.

I admit it…I was saturated with her. I called her one of the Faithful Four. Those four:

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

-Frederick Douglass

-Harriet Tubman

-Ida B. Wells Barnett

This was one of the main reasons I ran after history, and soaked it up. There HAD to be more black people that did great things besides them. Ida B. Wells Barnett, I knew the basics about her. She was born right before Emancipation. Her parents died of yellow fever. She raised her sister. Helped found the NAACP. She was a writer. She married a guy in the newspaper business and died in Chicago.

It wasn’t until I got older that I dug into her life, and could appreciate everything that she did. She wrote about lynching, oppression, economic disparity and white supremacy. She wrote about women’s suffrage. This is a time where it cannot be overstated that my ancestors weren’t supposed to read, let alone be college educated and be able to relate and relay an experience! Granted, she was educated initially during Reconstruction, and then at Fisk, but I had to embrace what it is that she did. And the time that she did it.

The sheer fact that she existed, and made her words the this wielded machete that laid a path for other women of color to see. I saw the work she did and revered her. I saw her boldness as archetype, and thought if I could do an once of that…it would be magnificent.

If I could harness that passion to say what I need to say no matter who didn’t want to hear it, harness that collective energy to effect and affect change–how awesome would that be?

In this time of forward moving, I use her as reference, as anchor, and as hero. I remember that this talent is both gift and weapon. My observation and recording is my armory and words my arsenal. From that, I reveal, revel, mourn and conceal. Nothing can be hidden from the observant.

I embrace the weight being a writer, an activist, comes with. It grants me a peace that I believe my foremother Ida  had:  Someone has to tell the truth, might as well be me.

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#RESIST

RESIST:

verb (used with object)

1.to withstand, strive against, or oppose:

 

2. to withstand the action or effect of:

 

3.to refrain or abstain from, especially with difficulty or reluctance:

 
verb (used without object)

4. to make a stand or make efforts in opposition; act in opposition; offer resistance.

noun

5. a substance that prevents or inhibits some effect from taking place


History is the oldest form of storytelling. What is more perfect than a story that every once can agree on especially if told by the winner? There are things that are happening now that it would be  horror not to report or record. There are things that are happening that I cannot ignore…and refuse to become complicit to. #RESIST
I know that’s a catch phrase now, but that indeed is what I do.

I question. I re-ask. I critically think. I act.

The fact that I exist and intersect in that existence, is in itself, resistance.

This resistance, this activism, this work, indeed is important. It’s important because it’s ongoing. It is ever-present and is daunting, and without some type of support group or coping skills, will incinerate your compassion and sense of self. It will encompass all that you believe you can achieve within it.

#RESIST.

Every day, I make a conscious choice to make a difference, as cliche as that is, everyday. I decided that whether it be through motherhood,  ministry or general humanity, to be a voice, equipped to be the hands and feet of those that no longer can use them or require strength to be carried. That strength is beyond a hashtags, tee shirts and photo ops. It is beyond safety pins, and Twitter rants, and even blog posts.

It is the element, this #RESIST nature, that compels us to act beyond words. It  puts heat to them, feet to them, fire to them, and from that, this irrepressible need and press towards change. Towards the stoppage of all things seen to obstruct the basic nature of what it is to be alive.

It is from that place, that power, that forms this #RESISTANCE. This indignation that pushes to act instead of lulls to sleep. My husband, a United Methodist minister by trade, and training, gave this quote, that reminds me the importance of not just feeling but doing:

“Your compassion should compel you to action.”

(Pastor Phillip A. Harris, Lead Pastor of Spirit Of Life Church-Ferguson, MO (2016))

It was compassion, this compassion, which is a component of my faith–a tenet of it—that is the reminder that I am an agent of change. I am sentient, I am capable, and I am more than that–available and responsible. Alice Walker is quoted to have said, “Activism is the rent I pay for living on this planet.” I believe it is more than that.

Activism is faith activated.

My activism is rooted in the ability to see the better the worst according to (Hebrews 11:1), and not be afraid to be dirty in fixing it. Not being afraid of nay-sayers, and the complacent and the complicit.

My activism is based in the hope that if I can’t see the sun just yet on the matter, I’ll bust a hole in the wall so big it’ll be a window.

*”If you can’t get in the front door, try the back. If the back door is locked, buss a window and jump in.”

 

*-This quote is from my father, Dr. Richard L. Bush (1948-1998). This is what he told us to remind us never to give up:  it’s always a way to do something. Thank you, Daddy.

#BreakMoreWindows

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Die With It

You want to know what the best, lost art is?

Keeping secrets.

With Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and its filters, and the followings of throngs of invisible people on the Gram, few people know how to keep things to themselves. No one remembers what it was like to be entrusted  with something, to be able to hold something within themselves.

There are apps rather than conversations.  We have more followers than friends. Rather than real spouses, we find them on Instagram and have them during working hours. We’ve lost what these devices and applications are supposed to foster:  connection.

When I say, to die with it, there are things that are not meant for public consumption, things that people outside of your immediate circle will understand. There are things even with explanation, will remain unimportant to other people–only because those experiences aren’t theirs. Some things are just beyond the capacity and reach of other people’s entity.

My grandma, and women of her age and ilk would call it ‘being able to keep yourself.’ The idea of being able have a sense of self that is almost medicinal in nature. Being able to understand what indeed has happened to you, and accept that which no one may ever understand.

The hearts of people, especially women, are these deep, cavernous places. These places that hide and house and hunger. These places that hide memories, and tears and things it hurts to think about, let alone discuss with other people. This goes beyond the testimonies that help other people overcome, and remind them of the life that will come after.

These are the places that we rarely let light into, that we grimace over and lie about. The portions of our personal history that are not for public view, report or consumption. The things that haunt us, the thorns in our flesh. The things that keep us humble…and quiet when asked about them.

Now, believe me…there are things in my history I have divulged, purged, and been released by God about. There are things I have shared with my husband only, and few close friends. But I know there are some things, some demons (if you will) that I continue to wrestle with–and those fights are never meant to be public.

Those fights are never meant to be public.

There are some things that are part of you, that will remain a part of you. They developed you, scarred you, make you run or mad you mighty to fight it off. They keep you alert where you were lulled. This emotional armory.

Dear ones, I hate to break it to you…but there are some things, some stuff that you have to overcome, that you have even conquered, that you may never be able to emote properly, let alone speak to people about.

However, don’t run from that.

Don’t hide from life in that.

These things, too, have made you. I won’t tell you they are easy, I won’t tell you they heal fast, but I will tell you–those are the definite parts of you. The parts that offer yes or no without waver. Remind of you what you know and knew and will never fall for again. The things that tell you the truth about yourself…

The one thing apps won’t do, and no amount of followers will do…and the things these magic devices have stopped us from doing sometimes:   do things ourselves.

 

In The Quiet


My grandmother had this power of being quiet. She had looks, and mannerisms that let you know she was not for chaos, havoc or foolishness. And with that persona, it made her impenetrable when I got older, and really wanted to know  more about her, and how to navigate through this life, using her wisdom as a vantage point.
I would see her, no matter what was going on, there was this strength that made me fear her, especially since I only had 1 set of grandparents left-my maternal set. As I grew up, I noticed how intent and focused she would be when she cleaned, or how she cooked, and when she would garden and snap beans.

After I gave birth to my oldest daughter, and she began to decline only because of age, I noticed that persona was an armor. I wanted to ask her so much, I wanted her to speak to what I was facing as a mother of daughters. 

I wanted…her. 
I was jealous of people that had relationships with their grandparents, and could talk to them about anything and everything, and gave of themselves in those conversations.

I was jealous of the stories that other people’s grandmothers told, and how they treated it like it was nothing special. I wanted that from her, but realizing once, sitting across the table from  her, there was this wall I could not breech. I thought of the quote biographers added to the myth and truth of General Robert E. Lee:  “safe from the pick-locks of history.”


As I added birthdays in the three years she has been gone, I recognized why she was or had to be quiet:  personal space and peace. Sometimes you have be to able to cultivate peace in yourself first before you can have it anywhere else.
I know very little about the formative years of  my grandmother, only know what I know from my own mother and other aunts. What I do know, what I think I hang on to, I cannot reveal here–but what I will say is this.

There are things that we go through in this life that you can only process, handle or accept when and unless you’re quiet.  There things that you cannot even come to peace with unless you’re quiet.

There is a place your mind travels when you process. There’s this peace it fights for when all Hell is breaking loose–this anchoring energy that reminds you, of you. The need you have for your own self, and what you need. There are things that you deal with, I deal with, she dealt with, that you cannot or may never be able to share with other people. Or, perhaps, ever share with other people because they won’t understand or understand why you aren’t dead.


I’m learning to cultivate that quiet, harness it for a base for that same strength. That place in my own self that is safe and appreciative of what it is that I want and need. That appreciates, and seeks to digest the things that have made me what I am, whom I am, and demands that I do something beneficial to myself.
This advantageous quiet…this necessary intrareflection we discount. We think don’t need it, can take it later or think, ‘My mama aint talk, and she told me that black women gotta be strong.’

Let me tell you something–even mules get tired.

I’m a woman, not a mule.

I deserve space to process, space to breathe, and not let people in to preserve the integrity of that space. I get to do the things I enjoy that help me decompress, and breathe deeply. I owe myself, to myself. My grandmother, even with her silence, she gave me all she could:  the stoic nature, never let folk see you sweat, and you do what you have to until other things happen.

In doing that, preserving myself…when my daughters and granddaughters come to me, wide-eyed over a kitchen table, I can open my mouth and release that same blessing and hope that my grandmother tried to give to me.

 

It’s about 4:50…

I  normally don’t piggyback like this…especially not about things that are almost a fad, trending topic. However, I think enough time has passed about and around Mr. Carter’s album, that I can give some realspeak to this.

I’m not going to rehash the lyrics, or the symbolism, or Jay-Z’s/Mr. Carter’s ‘frank’ nature and discussing his indiscretions. What I am going to do is this–be honest. There is a YouTube personality that I follow (*Derek Jaxn) that spoke about how proud he was that Jay was able to do that (Ready…)…and that men need to take a lesson from (Aim…), and how he has grown as an artist, and how not to go ‘Eric Benet.’ (Fire!)

There was an interview I was listening to that said Jay-Z has ‘started a movement.’ What movement is this? Now, I am all for the male of the species to be that and be awesome and righteous. However, I am not about to say growing up and treating your spouse holistically should be classified as a movement. I don’t think he should get medal for admitting how badly he messed this up.

Now, of course–I’m not one to mince words especially about crazy-making bullsh!t, but I will offer this observation. What makes something a movement is exactly that:  movement. This sustained motion towards process and its success.

So, in the 4:44 short (making rounds on TIDAL and Facebook), we see clips if all these famous guys and what they think the album and Jay’s honesty means. I sat, rapt and irritated. Why? The lyricist himself said, “…this is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Nothing’s harder than this.”

Yes, Shawn–it is.

It is a hard thing to relearn what was treacherous, and toxic and realize that you were wrong. However, the blessing in this is–he learned. And because he learned, he can teach…

So here is my message to him–

Remember the eyes of your wife and daughter, and what healing looks like in them now. Remember you now have harnessed the ears of young men old enough to be nephews and young enough to be sons. Teach them what it is to love and value a woman, teach them what it is like to indeed be a man while upright and clothed. Teach them that men indeed are needed and need to be shown what one looks like and carries himself.

Remember the tears of your wife, and the life of your son, whom may have her eyes. Remember what you promised her when people could not see or say or report. Remember that he will need you to show the invisible of manhood– that it does not make him more male to disrespect women, or mistreat them, count how many he can make say is name during the course of sexual acrobatics–show him what it is to be in love with one. You’re the one the said that you ‘almost’ lost Blue over all this madness. And ‘what’s a threesome ‘when you have a soulmate’ right?

Right.

Remember the young men that look up to you, strive to sit on top of your shoulders, throw dough like you do, covet your spot, lust your shine…now you have to help them launch off these newly strengthened shoulders:  you now have new assignment and power. You have created a space to facilitate the bettering and betterment of the young men that follow you, bruh. You can’t back off from that now. You gotta keep going: the conversation has started, and you have to answer the questions.

Teach the Princes how to be Kings.

 From here on in, your “legacy” is more than money.

Signed,

The Daughters of The World

 

 

*-Video referenced:  Jay-Z New 4:44 Album Should Be A WAKE UP Call to Men Everywhere, published July 2, 2017. This post was not to bash, but to have a conversation. I thank Derek for his candor  (I am #TeamJaxn).

Gifting

The world needs its misfits. It’s magic workers. It’s conjurers.

From that, we get those with the blessing of being soft places to fall. The ever-present open ears and able shoulders. The open eyes that see and never say–unless asked. The healers of this world and work.

Those of us that see suffering and pain and loneliness and strive to stop it. Seek to understand what it is, why it is, and how to avoid it–channel it into better. That’s what those of us that are healers do.

We write. We emote. We sing of passions and callings. We tell the truth about this mortal experience, even when it hurts. We tell the stories that need to be told, even when they are our own.

We gift those we love with our own tears, spun gold and as medicine to give to those in need of that wisdom. That wisdom of that weight can only be given and used when it comes from experience. When we didn’t die after that first heartbreak, we can tell you that you won’t. We didn’t panic when trouble came, ran our of money or when our parents died. We go through to give you a map.

Sometimes this is the trouble of being one of those unique open God has opened to see the world behind the world–to see the trouble of mankind and a way out of it. Sometimes you have to be the first one to bleed to teach the second to follow how to heal.