The Case For Suffer-Rage of Black Women

It was in 1920 when the 19th Amendment was passed giving women the right to vote. It was the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which enacted by the 89th Congress  (1965) which prohibited racial discrimination in voting. Meaning, I as a black woman, and my mothers before me, where not able to vote in any realm of politics until 1965. My own mother was 15 at the time of the passing of the Voting Rights Act.

What is often lost in this collective history is the recollection of the experiences of and given by black women. So much of our cultural history and make up is dedicated to keeping secrets, running interference, and to carry those that cannot fend, walk and speak for themselves. This is the taught power of black women. The benefit of our strength and talents are always needed…yet to the exclusion of the distinction of race.

We have had the Ain’t I A Woman shouted from pulpits, lecterns and with fists on kitchen tables with the same hands that have made meals and tended to the duties of life they provide–despite their ache for help. None more apparent than in the life of the history of women’s suffrage. The patron saints of this movement being Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. There is one woman, two women, whom are often forgotten:  Ida B. Wells Barnett and Mary Ann Shadd Cary House, remembered as Mary Shadd. It was the deft of Ida’s pen that granted her room into the forefront of recording the black experience, especially in the American South. It was the brilliance of Mary Shadd and her law degree from Howard University (age 60, 1 of 2 black women practicing law in the nation at that time)  which armed the American Suffragist movement, testifying before Congress on behalf of suffrage , working with these architects as it were of feminism, giving legal basis for women to have the right to vote.

Ida B. Wells Barnett records in her writings that while marching for women’s suffrage, she was asked to march in back of the other white women that were attending at particular rally Susan B. Anthony had organized. There were southern white women whom thought her place was, and should be beneath them. Ms. Anthony is recorded to have She come and take Ida B. Wells Barnett in front with her to march because she would not have participated otherwise. 

In the case of Ms. Shadd, little is mentioned of her and her impact towards women’s suffrage, despite her dying 27 years before this amendment was ratified to the Constitution. Such is our lot, our weight and our wait as black women:  we show up, we fight, we work and we make it better. 

However, one fact remains to be true despite all that is dressed as progress:

I am only seen as benefit when it is beneficial.

My talents, skills, brilliance and ability is only granted its full power when the established power feels there will be strength in numbers. My body is only seen as useful when it is used to protect the very freedoms to be stripped from me. Yet, like my foremothers we swallow these bitter truths, and fruits from the ground of hope we till. We take care of the messes, clean up the glass…and wait. We wait.

Now, we are tired of waiting.

We remember the tears and prayers of our grandmothers whom declared us free at the only wielded weapon they had on hand: faith. We remember being told what we were not, are not and may never become by a world that was satisfied with our copy, our doppelgangers. We remember our fathers and how they poured into the world, to come and home to their wives to be replenished. We remember  how it felt to have he world around you hate you and steal from you with the same hand.

We remember and we are tired of waiting.

In this “Women’s March” to be held in cities around the nation and perhaps the globe in coming days, we see the same problem that Ida and Mary had:  I am beneficial only if I am deemed beneficial. My sex matters more than my experiences my race offers because solidarity is better than justice. We have white women whom have organized these events without  taking into account the experiences of women of color. These same women are intimated, resentful and afraid to embrace the facets of womanhood that are indeed unpalatable because it is the desire of those that organize to remain comfortable.

Their comfort is our oppression.

Solange Knowles song “Seat At The Table” is not an anthem, it is a war cry. It is time we as black women indeed embrace the experience of other women and demand reciprocity! We repeat as our mothers do “Ain’t I a Woman?”  “Am I not good enough?”  “Am I worthy of my own freedom?”  “Can I not self-determine my own destiny?”

“Is my black the disqualification to my womanhood?”

It is, it was, our hands that planted the trees, to be cut down like our sons would be.

It was our hands that formed and fashioned the frame of the legs of sturdy oak and maple, just like my grandmothers did to be “pretty” and no darker than a brown paper bag.

It was our deft fingers that had sown and hemmed tablecloths, linen napkins and wedding dresses, just as we were to be fitted with our own burial shrouds of every dream and wish we as women had taken and beaten from us–and from those ashes we strive to make it all beautiful. You see, we are the table–every leg, every design, every etch is us. The table was made from us-only to exclude us. This time, this dispensation is no different. It is no different.

There are allies that see our power, our spirit and our lives and treasure them–just as we do. And there will be a time where they cannot speak for us–will not speak for us. As the Lord instructed, even if we do not praise the Creator, even the rocks will cry out as a testimony. I need no such reminder. I will be like Ida and not be allowed to have my sex be more powerful than my race. I will be like Mary and continue to speak truth to power–power must understand that there will never be a time where truth is not needed or present. We have made the table of our tears and flesh–we will sit if only because our forebearers have chosen to be the timber by which we were and are forged.

The time for waiting–is over.




In The Twilight Zone

In the closing days of the administration of our current President, Barack H. Obama, it is disheartening to think about the diabolical plot to erase him. It is something about the astute resolve that is being exhibited that would allow those whom are supposed to serve the people to condone the erasure of him…with glee.

Throughout the collective popular memory known as history, we find the abhorrent nature of man so versed and saturated with vitriol expressed in times when change is most likely to have occurred against the will of the people whom have instituted it. There are times, those times, when the voice of the people seems to be ripped from our very throats. This is one of those times…one of those ages…the very dispensation.

I have often thought of the skill and talent of writing being one with definite God implications. Recently, I have reacquainted myself with the early 1960s show The Twilight Zone. As a young girl, the show scared me because of the opening imagery and music. However, working night shift has forced me to break out of ruts that people working graveyard shifts fall into:  you watch what keeps you awake. In that exploration pertaining to the mission of staying awake, I discovered the brilliance and prowess of one Mr. Rodman Edward Serling, commonly remembered as Rod Serling, host of The Twilight Zone.

Every episode Mr. Serling comes out, normally smoking a cigarette and introduces the show and what to expect. At the end of each episode is a foreboding truth or twisted wit. In the time the nation is in at present, it is to best interest to heed the wisdom of elders…and especially of experienced storytellers and Mr. Serling is no different. From 1959-1964, Mr. Serling along with his team of writers and producers gave the viewing audience a glimpse into what dystopian humanity and freakish human behavior were capable of.

One episode, I keep referencing and oft quote is from Season 2, episode 29:  The Obsolete Man. The synopsis reads as follows-

“In a future totalitarian society, a librarian is declared obsolete and is sentenced to death.”

This is episode, we see what the country has become:   a controlled and censored state. Anyone that is seen as a threat to their regime, by speech or vocation is sent to be liquidated (i.e. executed) by any means of their choosing. The librarian and the leader of the state are in a room where there librarian is to be liquidated by bomb. The librarian has chosen his death be televised in his home, and it is honored. He tricks the leader to sit on his couch, facing the nation as he reads the Bible (beginning with Psalms 23).

Unable to handle sharing this fate with him, the leader pleads to leave before the deadline of his death being midnight. The librarian obliges and releases  him just as the bomb goes off.  The leader returns to his position with the state and is declared obsolete due to disgracing the state by other state leadership. As he pleads for his life and declares his works and faithfulness  for this state, Mr. Serling is heard saying this quote in 1961:

“Any state, any entity, any ideology, that fails to recognize the worth, dignity, the rights of man, that state is obsolete.”

It is often the job of the writer to use such keen observations and those prophetic implications to alert when humanity is on the brink of its own demise, uncertainty and resentment to empathy. This time is no different. We, the people, indeed, are in a resistance. The best weapon, lies in your throat.

Breathe Fire

In this time, I am most thankful to be a woman.

I am excited to see what it that the rest of this feminine life hold for me.

In the space I occupy, I am reminded that I must make room, demand room for other women. I must remind them of the divine they  house and must bring forth. I no longer have the time or effort to be quiet.

My mother told me in my thirties I would settle into myself. I have learned to appreciate every stretch mark, every scar and the cocoa of my skin. I have fallen in love with me…all over again.


In The Work

The POTUS whom we have known the last 8 years will be gone from this portion of political life in a matter of days, and the nation is already in a state of mourning. There are some that revile him and will revere him–as with most influential leaders and leadership.

With all the noise surrounding the incoming administration, I feel that there is one pivotal question that hasn’t been posed or answered: what do we do now? Dr. Michael Eric Dyson once called the current POTUS the “Jackie Robinson” President. I could not agree more.

Jack Roosevelt Robinson integrated Major League Baseball in April 1947, 1 year before my father was born. He lettered in four sports, college educated and a veteran of the US Navy. Branche Rickey choose him to integrate this sport because he thought he would be the best to be the first to do it. Now, that said, without Jackie–there would be no Willie Mays, Satchel Paige or Ken Griffey, Sr or Jr. The cost of being the first should not be discounted.

The hopes and dreams of a people and a nation have been heaped on Pres. Barack H. Obama and people were shocked to know he was yet human. People seemed to have hated him for his mortality. Yet…in all his grandeur and his flaws, we yet have work to do. We yet have something to contribute to this corporate experience we yet call life.

I answer my own question with passion and power. What we do now is we work, and we fight. We refuse to become negligent. We refuse to become complacent and normalize oppression, repression and violence towards minority peoples. We begin to take responsibilities for our own actions and begin to continue the work presented to us in the communities by which we live. There is a work each of us can do, and cannot be left abandoned at the feet of elected leaders. We hold them to the greater standard forthright, yes, but we still must realize we all have work to do–and cannot be absolved of.

The work announced by every oppressed and marginalized peoples on this land. The work was pushed by Garvey, run in hand by Malcolm and Martin, and crested with Barack. It has not ended. We have lost sight, and must not lose sight again, of the knowledge that we have not died to progress. It is our turn to fight. We change the world one life at time, one day at at time. The secondary question to pose is, “What will I do, can I do to make this life a little better?”

In The Reaping

When Prince died in June and I thought someone had unplugged the world. I turned 35 about 2 weeks later. I still cried as the news rolled through social media outlets and radio station rotation. I couldn’t believe that it happened.

There are certain people that we give immortality to. Especially, when we have had the fortune to grow up with them, watch them change as you do and will. You begin to think that death will never reach these people. And when it does, it is devastating. It reminds you of  your own mortality–of that final day out of years of them, wasted and regained ones, there will be one day where all that you planned to do will no longer matter. We all desire to matter, to mean something to someone, be heard of someone one. Most of all remembered.

This year I have seen people that I thought would be with us always, the God of the universe has said otherwise.

Silence Cannot Be Condoned

I was a 17 year old Senior at Jennings Senior High School in Missouri when Matthew Shephard was murdered by two bigots in Laramie, Wyoming. Little did I know, I would lose my father almost 2 months later.

I am asked why I am so passionate, and so involved in aspects of social justice. This and Pedro Zammora, from the show THE REAL WORLD,  were turning points for me. I remember how helpless I felt, how sad I was, and how FUCKING ANGRY I became. I remember television stories, the newspapers and the cable news outlets about him and Matt Shepherd. I remember his mother crying on an MTV commercial which was an anti-defamation commercial. I remember crying…and not understanding how someone could be so evil and do this to someone just because they are gay.

I remember portion of the funeral being broadcasted on television and the thing that struck me was there was this church that had the signs GOD HATES FAGS and FAGS BURN IN HELL. In my infancy in the Christian faith, I had not even been exposed that level of hate and ignorance. I had no idea it existed. What I found later is that this “church” was the Westboro Baptist Church: a hate group. They are not a church. These “men” beat him and left him outside…to die. An officer on patrol found him 18 hours later. This group of people whom say they love and serve the same God I do, were doing this. Little did I know a decade and change later, I get called to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

That sign, those actions, his family have stuck with me. The heartbreak of his mother, especially her eyes, bore into me. I’m glad they did. That allows my heart to remain soft, and in that, I cannot afford to become callous as to what effects other people, both like and unlike, in this world.

I am aware of what the Bible says concerning SIN, NOT JUST homosexuality. I believe the Bible, my Bible, cover to cover. I believe in its redemptive, restorative, transformative power using God’s greatest weapons:  love, time and patience (2 Peter 3:9). I believe in the radical, consuming power of God according to Luke 1:37, for if HE is involved all things are never final and can be handled. I understand the mandate of the Gospel, and its standard. I cannot change that, will not change that. I also know that as an ambassador of Christ, a minister of this Great Gospel, I have neither the right nor would I ever deny ANYONE the opportunity of  Christ from ANYONE matter where they may be found.

In this dispensation of time, in this era of neo-fascism, I understand my role as pastor, minister, wife and mother with such intimacy, which I try to execute with some finesse. In the documentary I watched tonight,  documentaries I have watched concerning Matthew Shepherd, I came across this one moment. Matthew was in search of help and assistance, he was depressed (from documentary, MATT SHEPHERD IS A FRIEND OF MINE). He went to a church near his home in Colorado, and found a woman there, the documentary doesn’t mention her name. Rather than offer him the help and love found in Jesus Christ, she told him that ‘all gays go to Hell’. To this I offer this retort–all sin is an abomination to God. Not JUST this seemingly unforgivable one being gay. My question is this, “Why didn’t you offer HIM, JESUS! Why not offer him TOO the love, the shelter, the peace of Christ?! Why not?!”

I have said on a myriad of occasions, I would rather have my child alive and sinning, than gone with no hope. NO MATTER WHAT SIN IT IS.




The Apostle Paul says that such were WE before Christ (1 Corinthians 6:11). How quickly we forget, and want to whitewash our lives before Christ, when the book of Revelation says that WE overcome by the blood of the Lamb and word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11). Just because someone’s life experiences are alien to you, does not mean they are discounted. If someone didn’t doesn’t believe as you do, does not mean they are less than human. If someone is not the same shade as you, does not mean their life is less than. We are to tell the truth in LOVE, and have the rest be known and handled by God. That is my job as a believer in Christ, before any addendum are added. I told my husband that the best summation of the Gospel is this:

My Daddy wants all his kids home, and he left us a key. Our job is to get everyone there. The church is supposed to be that lighthouse, that porchlight, as a signpost to get everyone home. Those that attend, have the keys. Those keys should be given to all whom are lost, whom wander, whom are afraid. We are not to deny those keys to those that desire rest and home.”

I offer those whom wander, whom are lost, whom are in need of love, the same thing that was offered to me…LOVE, unabashed and unrestrained. You cannot say you love the Lord, and hate any of His people…regardless of where they are or lay or what their story is.

The Church must be willing to throw on the light, and all those that leave from it become such a light. No matter whom may ring our bells to try and come home.





In working nights for almost a year, and having been a mother for the last decade, I am still mystified by the rising of the sun each morning.  I look forward to that crossing over from night to day. I look forward to the alpenglow. I get upset when I don’t see it right away.

Since I was a girl, I have been fascinated with light, especially sunlight. I would sleep in the sun to stay warm, watch my skin look more honey and browned while I absorbed all the sun gave. Now, those same sunrises have different meaning.

I work in healthcare, I have seen people pass before suns rise. I have seen people look past the light in their rooms to the unknown and known–those hands that reach forward and back. I have seen people with their dimming of their eyes like candles near open windows. I have seen them fight for the lingering light.

I have seen Death.

I have walked halls, in and out of rooms, looking for it. I have assessed, reassessed, charted and reported any signs of him. This  entity that has residence that hopelessness unlocks and unrolls mats for. It lingers in doorways, in lobbies, in the faces of us that look in faces looking for evidence that he is not present. We ward him off with our uniforms and medicine and tools—so they can yet see the sun.

The patron saints of this profession are Florence Nightingale and Hippocrates. Hippocrates gave a natural basis for the physical ailments. Florence was reported and noted to go up and down her halls seeing those she was carrying for. They knew it was her, that they would be okay, because of the light she carried.

Working overnight gives us a unique heritage to follow. We fight for those whom can’t for the preservation of their life…and their light. Sunrises are best above ground.