Rest well, Aretha.
My grandmother said one thing about children that I still meditate over: “When children a little they step all on your feet, and when they get grown, they step all … Continue reading Mother’s Love In Mysterious Ways
TW: child neglect, drug addiction, abuse Thank you to Rebecca for her candor and present honesty. I know this piece was hard for her, and I am grateful she was … Continue reading Mothers Of A Different Sort: Motherless Daughters
There are always these worlds that break open when women die. When my grandmother died almost five years ago, it was surreal to go the home she had … Continue reading Legacies & Lighthouses: Living As Your Own Woman
I have been told my whole life how I look like my mother. Eyes, skin tone, face shape. At one time, I hated hearing that. Now, at 37, I embrace … Continue reading The Best Of It-Part II
For Nathaniel Brian Jones (1980-2006). The dreamer, the schemer and the secret genius. May he find rest in the life after. I’m not anxious to get there, but grateful to … Continue reading I Still Call Him Nay-Nay
This work is not my own, but written by a Father Oracle, Langston Hughes (1902-1967). In keeping with the theme of this month, I thought this fitting. Let us be reminded that life is precious–and black children are entitled to know and see theirs are just as precious as anyone else’s.
When Kids Die
This is for the kids who die,
Black and white,
For kids will die certainly.
The old and rich will live on awhile,
Eating blood and gold,
Letting kids die.
Kids will die in the swamps of Mississippi
Kids will die in the streets of Chicago
Kids will die in the orange groves of California
Telling others to get together
Whites and Filipinos,
Negroes and Mexicans,
All kinds of kids will die
Who don’t believe in lies, and bribes, and contentment
And a lousy peace.
Of course, the wise and the learned
Who pen editorials in the papers,
And the gentlemen with Dr. in front of their names
White and black,
Who make surveys and write books
Will live on weaving words to smother the kids who die,
And the sleazy courts,
And the bribe-reaching police,
And the blood-loving generals,
And the money-loving preachers
Will all raise their hands against the kids who die,
Beating them with laws and clubs and bayonets and bullets
To frighten the people—
For the kids who die are like iron in the blood of the people—
And the old and rich don’t want the people
To taste the iron of the kids who die,
Don’t want the people to get wise to their own power,
To believe an Angelo Herndon, or even get together
Listen, kids who die—
Maybe, now, there will be no monument for you
Except in our hearts
Maybe your bodies’ll be lost in a swamp
Or a prison grave, or the potter’s field,
Or the rivers where you’re drowned like Leibknecht
But the day will come—
You are sure yourselves that it is coming—
When the marching feet of the masses
Will raise for you a living monument of love,
And joy, and laughter,
And black hands and white hands clasped as one,
And a song that reaches the sky—
The song of the life triumphant
Through the kids who die.
Dear Dr. King:
How marvelous it is to know and read of you! How wonderful it is to know your compassion lead you to action and how your wife has supported you. I wish to thank you for your life and service. I’m sure those two words are rarely heard, and never heard enough. On behalf of those whom benefit from history and hindsight, once more, thank you.
In the fifty years since your passing from living to ancestry and then to legacy, there is still so much to be done, Martin. There are strides, stutter-steps and fighting for every inch of ground we as a people have. There are policies and laws in place now that weren’t fifty years ago, yet there are places in this nation where my almost seventy year old mother would still be called a ‘colored girl.’ There is still so much work laid, yet so much work to do, which at the weight of it all–sometimes threaten to crush my soul, spirit and heart.
As this new movement, this strive to be ‘woke’, has been something akin to what I am sure you, Coretta and all of SNCC and the NAACP saw. There has been a unity emerging which is needed and necessary, yet there is a thread, once pulled reveals motives, hearts, agendas and intentions. It is sometimes such lonely work, Martin. Such lonely work.
What I have decided to, Martin, perhaps what you considered: work my niche. I have found my niche to be organizing, support, mentoring, refuge and education. I have found that the work, this work of the gospel and social justice, will always be ongoing. The mission field is too wide a swath to tackle alone! I am learning it will not be perfect, I will not be perfect in learning, but there is a restlessness in me which makes me want to keep going. I have to keep going.
Martin, Dr. King, I understand more what Margaret Mitchell meant when she said, “Respectability is the punishment for the wild.” For all the fires I caused and walked away from, I now must start and kindle to others.
I want to thank you for not giving up. I thank you for showing what a possible path to freedom looked like. I thank you for your grace, fierceness, courage and boldness. I don’t believe to change the world as a person of color you have to be ‘the good negro’–and I have always rejected that depiction of you. I know now, to change the world as a person of color you have to know the game you’re playing and play it better.
I’m deciding to play it better.
In Hope, Fight and Faith,
Pastor Jennifer P. Harris, Spirit of Life Church-St. Louis
In this the fourth month, eighteen years into the new millennium, my heart has an ache, it’s as heavy as stone (I Cover The Waterfront-Billie Holiday). In this most rainy month, with the freak weather the Midwest had over the holiday weekend, perhaps it is fitting this month I talk about, the contributing staff talk about, is this uptick in black children, young children, committing suicide.
Ending the life not even two decades old!
Consider this an introduction to a portion of Black life, the Black experience, we don’t talk about often or often enough. We fall victim to the invincibility of our own mythos. Too often we despise and detest the frailty found in ourselves, but accessible to non-people of color. Psychology and coinciding therapies are or may be seen as stuff “white people do.”
But we’re supposed to fight through it? Because we saw our mothers, fathers, grandparents and alienated family fight through it? From that legacy, we get children whom wander through these dark orchards, eating of these bitter trees.
We see children now, the children that hold and bear our reflections, in a place of learned helplessness, panic, isolation and apathy. If the police aren’t murdering their neighbors and family members, they get made fun of at school for being smart like 12-year-old Storm, in Washington, D.C. in January of this year!
Black children are expected to deal with trauma, death and suffering like no other demographic of children. They are supposed to be impervious to bullying, immune to billets and illiterate to the world around them! The emotional soil tilled in the life of black children in this nation is hard, rocky and neglected. Today, I will start tilling this ground, planting trees and gardens to offer help, safety and space to not be okay.
We who are alive and remain can no longer sit as if this slow catastrophe is not happening! We must be proactive in the lives of children who do look like us, whose struggles we know and have overcome. The time has come and now is for us to pay attention!
The children are crying, but they keep covering their own mouths to muffle their own screams of pain. Why? It’s what they have been taught to do.
Share this post often.
Share the suicide hotline number.
Life is all our responsibility. Help someone keep living. Thank you.
[images from Google]
It’s just a glass.
Melted and shaped rock that was formed and that I can drink out of. This glass was given to me by the Director of FLOW: Where Writing Moves, one amazing Ms. Amanda Wells.
I have not drank from it, and cried when she said I could have one of the many she has on a brown shelf on the wall in her cozy office. I turned it over and over in my hands, tried not to cry. One would ask, “Why cry over a glass? It’s just a glass.” These are the people whom cannot relate to me–they are not acquainted with loss or pain or passions.
It was about two years ago when I decided to forgo nursing school, the goal of becoming a nurse, in favor of pursuing what I loved: writing.
I decided to let go of the safe to do the extraordinary, the unsafe and unheard of. I listened to my heart and the leading of God and have seen my life transform. Since giving up nursing school, the false self, I rediscovered my artistic bent and nature. I began to love me again. I loved creating and words again…I found me.
On this journey, I found myself in rooms I did not unlock, with people I would have never met, and was allowed to have this little Dollar Store water glass.
Which I am allowed to fill…
All my years of trying to please people, of not being accepting of all I was, allowing other people to define me and what I needed–has ended.
I define me now. And only me.
This glass sits in a place where I can see it daily. It reminds me of my potential, my power, my choices and beliefs. It holds only what I allow, and releases only what I say and will. I reminds me that my journey is not over…only just beginning.
And I shall be brave enough to finish it.
[Image belongs to author]