October 7, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Living Testimony Audio Version
Who are these women all clad in white
They marched today and sang their praise
For they are living testimonies.
Each all in white, each with brown skin
But each brown eye tells the difference within.
Who are these Mamas, Sisters, Friends
What stories have they to tell
Who will be their voice
Who will serve them well?
They call me little sister
Their lives will be my paper, their tears will be my ink
And I will write each story
As a living testimony.
When I wrote this poem years ago there was an image in my head of a church full of women wearing flowing white dresses, wide-brimmed white hats and just a touch of sass to let you know that they had lived the songs they sung. I knew I had to meet them, these Mamas, Sisters, Friends, because they were as natural to me as seeing my reflection in the mirror. I promised myself not only in that poem but in life that I would tell their stories because like many of us plain folk who never grace the cover of magazines or have history pages dedicated to our experiences, they are living testimonies. As a scholar I have been fortunate to meet more of these women, along with their husbands, sons, brothers and nephews. And carving fifty minutes out of a day to record their life stories has been some of the most rewarding work I will ever do. Yet I find that the more stories I record the more stories I lose. For every person I am able to interview there are at least ten interviews that will never be completed, and now my Aunt Mattie’s is one of them.
I recently learned that my great Aunt Mattie passed away last Saturday at the age of eighty-nine. If you had met her and I told you she was in her eighties you would not have believed me. I have so many fond memories of her, teaching me how to make fried corn in Jackson MS, mixing up her tonics and herbal remedies for good health when she came to visit the family in Los Angeles. And one of my special memories is of her all clad in a deep pink blouse and skirt, like a beautiful spring peony, being escorted down the aisle at my wedding. Aunt Mattie, like her sister, my Great Grandmother and so many of the other women I now imagine are clad in white and singing songs of praise to our God in heaven was a faithful woman. Her faith at times sustained the faith of others. She was a living testimony.
I will never get to record her story in her own words, but it is my hope that through the carefully placed memories of those who knew and loved her, that we can piece together a portrait of her life. As many of our loved ones pass on, at varying ages for varying reasons I am reminded that their stories are worth writing down, even if only to serve as family artifacts. After all, history has shown us that the person may pass away, but the testimony always lives on.
For tips on how to begin recording the life history of someone you know please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or to share memories of a loved one you recently lost please post in the comments section, I’d love to hear from you.
July 20, 2013 § Leave a Comment
[Sorry, no pictures this time - just words]
I know that in the wake of the Not-Guilty verdict George Zimmerman received from six jurors in the state of Florida everyone with a sound mind, and good judgement has been angry – make that furious, sad, and disgusted that an unarmed child can’t receive proper justice in America in the year 2013. I know you are probably looking for ways to calm your nerves and stop reading the headlines, but I wanted to share a couple of links that I found really helpful for me in understanding my anger and frustration. Also for those who are saying move on, or “it’s time to move on,” I have a couple of links to news headlines elsewhere in America that will leave you asking “Move on for what?” The work that needs to be done is clearly unfinished, and may have actually just begun?”
Please take the time to read it in its entirety, this is a good analysis: http://www.socialcourttv.com/prosecutionfail/
Please learn of this case – a woman, a mother with no earlier arrests is faced with serving 20 years (three of which she’s already served) for simply shooting off a warning shot to get an abusive husband to leave her alone. This case was also tried in Florida, but she received 20 years for standing her ground and no one was hurt or injured…something is definitely wrong with this law.
Wisconsin man shoot and kills his 13-year-old neighbor in front of the boy’s mother and then claims insanity …
In another sick and deadly twist of fate, this 76-year-old man accuses his neighbor a thirteen year old black boy of breaking into his house and stealing his guns. Then he shoots the boy in cold blood as the boy struggles for his last breaths he shoots again, misses and the boy’s mother rushes as her son takes his dying breath. Luckily a jury found him guilty and sane.
To sign the petition and send a personal message to the Department of Justice click here
July 15, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Moments after the verdict in the George Zimmerman case was released, moments after watching his attorneys and legal team smile, pat him on the shoulder, and congratulate themselves, moments after not hearing one word about the deceased Trayvon Martin from the Judge’s closing remarks, a sea of words flowed through my body. Course, angry words played on my tongue. Sad, defiant words rose and fell in the back of my throat. Bitter, resentful words settled in my heart, and after a few hours of restless sleep, three final words tugged at me until I finally wrote them down. A certain death.
We all know those who have come and gone, people whose lives were lived to the fullest or those whose breaths have been fatally cut short, and while death becomes an unwanted friend to us all, certain deaths leave us hanging on the edge of tomorrow wondering what or who will be next, Trayvon Martin’s death was this kind, if not for the simple reason that there was nothing certain about it. The word certain comes from the Latin words certanus, certus, and from past participle of cernereto which means to sift, to discern, to decide. It is akin to the Greek word krinein to separate, decide, judge, and Old Irish criathar, to sieve. On that Sunday in February, there were perhaps many things in Trayvon Martin’s life that were certain, his relationships with his family and friends, what he planned to do during the next week, what he wanted to eat for dinner and even where he wanted his life to go after high school. One thing that was not certain was encountering George Zimmerman on a simple walk home from the 7-Eleven. Unfortunately for Trayvon, all the uncertainty of his encounter with George Zimmerman was overshadowed by the certain ways in which his seven-teen year old black – male body was criminalized without cause by Zimmerman, whose emergency call voiced, “These assholes always get away.” The uncertainty Trayvon would face in those moments was also overshadowed by the certain way in which George Zimmerman followed him – wielding his pistol, even after he was advised not to. Perhaps the only thing that was certain for Trayvon in those last few moments of his life were that if George Zimmerman had a gun and the gall to use it, he was in trouble and so he screamed for help, but no one came.
I reflect upon these moments within the contexts of certainty and uncertainty to say that if we properly sift through the particulars of this case we will see that George Zimmerman was predisposed to make the fatal shot because in his mind and heart he was certain that Trayvon was a threat regardless of proof. So if Zimmerman is to shoot and kill Trayvon, to murder him with impunity – what does that mean for the rest of us? It means that certain deaths are acceptable by the state, and certain excuses for murder are within the laws of reason. It means that Trayvon, like so many other black youths throughout this nation’s tragically racist history was always living a bare life in which his humanity was debased to the point of political and legal indifference. There was no justice for Trayvon on Saturday, but like many of you have said this verdict ushered in a second death, and this death certainly affects us all. It declares to these United States, which lives are expendable in a court of law, or as one of my friend’s stated, “This is what it means to be the child of slaves.”
The most contemptible part of this saga is that neither Trayvon’s death nor George Zimmerman’s actions are exemplary. This is not the first time a person of color was unjustly murdered and their perpetrator set free. And while the internet trolls will want to bring up stats on black-on-black crime, and the various media outlets will want to temper our reaction with “legalese” citing case stats, reasonable doubt and other comments that make it seem as if the system did in fact “work,” those of us who are left to send our sons and daughters off to school or just down the street, will have to seriously weigh the risks. We will have to pray fervently that we and our children will not be profiled and or attacked. We will have to teach our kids how to survive in their own backyards, and most of all we will have to teach them the names of every victim including Trayvon Martin.
Certain deaths remind us that life is fleeting, and we must live it to the fullest, while others – whose origins are more uncertain remind us that this world we have created is not fair and for those of us whose work takes us to the front lines of race in America we see that systemically the roots of racism can not be undone overnight or in one sector of society alone. We must address it in housing, education, voting, justice, incarceration, entertainment, employment, and even in our houses of worship. Certain deaths remind blacks in particular that we have been enslaved in this country longer than we have been free, and each new freedom continues to bring uncertain consequences.
Check out the NAACP Petition to urge the Department of Justice to open a Civil Rights Case against George Zimmerman here: http://www.naacp.org/page/s/doj-civil-rights-petition
June 24, 2013 § Leave a Comment
“Be careful, keep calm, and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart.” Today I want to encourage you, that out of the fullness of all this uncertainty there is a great blessing coming. Today I want to encourage you to think outside your usual box, to take the road that skirts around a scenic part of your city or neighborhood, and to chase the blues away with thoughts that at first seem sweetly absurd, or even uncanny but are actually quite possible. Today, just for a few minutes, float on the word “possible,” get to know its contours as you delicately bounce from one letter to the next, and crave dreams you had long since set aside. Why today? Because today is a new day and tomorrow is an unforeseen gift, so go ahead – unwrap your present early and see what’s inside.
Thinking of you,
Quoted text is from Isaiah 7: 4
January 24, 2013 § 1 Comment
I thought about posing this title as more of a question than a statement, because sometimes question marks at the end of loaded statements seem far less harsh or “judgmental” even when finger wagging is implied. But since I am a Prude, and I feel that I am wagging my finger more at myself than at anyone else, I went with the statement as opposed to the passive aggressive question.
“Tomorrow is already too late” is what I said to myself when I thought of postponing my detox another week or so just to be sure I was really ready to commit to a liquid diet and candida die off symptoms. ”Tomorrow is already too late” is what I thought as I sadly remembered that my first promise in the New Year was to write to my elected officials and urge them to be on the right side of new gun control legislation. You see, there is a tendency to forego or even to forget to do things that we know we ought to do but at the same time if we don’t do them, where is the harm? For the examples I give the harm is overwhelming not just to my health and well-being but for our society as we are forced to live in states of on-again-off-again fear. And so this statement stared me in the face along with a dozen other tasks and activities that I had inwardly vowed to do but never did. Unfortunately in the case of requesting congressional support for stricter gun control legislation tomorrow is already too late.
Upon hearing of the tragedy in Newtown, I mourned with everyone else from a distance and kept thinking “we have to do something about this, that could have been my child, my grandchild, my neighbor, my friend.” Yet, as the holiday came and went and my “to do” list became watered down with more mundane activities like reading this or emailing that, I was reminded in an article about one of the Newtown victim’s parents, that tomorrow was already too late. If you have a moment and you haven’t read it already, I would suggest checking it out here.
Suddenly I began to think about all the other things that I have meant to do, but have not done. What impact would their completion have on me or those around me? Would the time and energy it takes to “just do it,” really compromise other events in my life? Finally what are the costs of not acting upon the things we are burdened by? For some people depending on your life or line of work these questions are constant, and for some of us they only come up in a brief yet meaningful moment of clarity when we realize that tomorrow is already too late. There are many promises we make in the month of January, some of them survive into February and March while others slip away, barely noticeable before the month ends But for the rest of January I am challenging myself to complete two things I have meant to, wanted to, been burdened to do.
If you decide to join me in this task I encourage you to think boldly and broadly about what you should or have to do and then go out and do it, afterall, the only thing you really have to lose is regret.
Till Next Time,
January 16, 2013 § 1 Comment
So I am three days into the Prude Papers 2013 Detox which I promise I will give all the details about in the near future. I decided that before I share the plan with others, I should have a taste of my own medicine so to speak. So I am trying it out, learning what things my body likes and what I need to tweak. To give you a sneak peek though I thought I would share some of my experiences with you.
This is a 7 Day Restore and Renew Detox. Last year I did a 21 Day Candida Cleanse that was really good, but also really hard to stick with for 21 days because well..21 days is a long time, and I have never done well on simply restrictive diets, but more so on gradual lifestyle changes. So while I found the cleanse and the recipes and the overall experience quite rewarding (I lost 10lbs and kept it off for at least six-nine months, and I felt re-energized) I decided that I had to do something a little more practical in terms of time commitment and I was not looking to necessarily fight candida as I was last year, but more so to restore good eating practices, restore good bacteria and renew my commitment to my overall health and yes…wellness too. So with these goals in mind I tweaked a would be candida cleanse and focused on packing myself with as many naturally beneficial substances as possible by allowing Bentonite clay, apple fiber and antioxidant rich foods to flush out all the toxic waste inside of me. I also realized after last year’s detox that detoxifying was not only about what you ate or didn’t eat, but also slowing down, streamlining and getting back to basics if you will. So in this restore and renew detox getting enough rest, de-cluttering your heart and mind, and taking it a little more easy are just as important as what you will and won’t consume. This is definitely not one of those “do it on the go” grab a shake and eat a balanced meal plans. We can all do that, and some of us actually have, but when you force yourself just for seven days out of the whole year to slow down, to put some errands off till next week, to let your spouse or coworker or friend take over some of the things that were on your plate or to even use a sick day (don’t say I told you) so that you can sip burdock root and milk thistle tea for ten straight minutes while doing absolutely nothing else, then you are pairing the mental with the physical.
Now I know not everyone has the luxury to work from home as I do, or to set their own deadlines as I do (now at least), but that is why this detox can be modified to do when you please and how you please just as long as you take your body through the three different steps that I’ll outline later. Anyway enough about all that here’s how I’m doing. Days one and two were a little difficult, I had chills, itching, dizziness, and a lot of irritability. Day two was better, not as much dizziness, not that many chills but an occasional hunger pain that was soon relieved by a scheduled detox drink. Both days I had better sleep than usual, which I wholly attribute to the nightly liver flush. It wasn’t that I actually got more sleep than usual, but the sleep I did get was better, and the dreams were quite interesting.
So now Day three. I have to say I thought I would be spent by now, but I actually woke up this morning to a blanket of white snow, which meant I would have to reschedule my Wed library trip for later in the week and work from home. I rearranged my schedule and then to my surprise I worked out. I know you may be thinking “Seriously, even after 2 days on a liquid diet. Is that even safe?” Trust me I wondered if I should be lifting weights too, but I didn’t do a boot camp workout just a good light cardio workout with some Pilates, and here’s the big thing…I loved it. They say sweating is good during a detox because it is another way to aid the body in excreting toxins. Afterwards I was ready for my broth, but not drained or famished. In fact my overall energy levels have been higher throughout the day while on the detox than they have been in months (12 of them to be exact). While I have more to share on this, I will leave you now as I’m going to capitalize on all this energy and get some dissertating (dissertation writing) done!
Till next time,