A few weeks ago, I was helping out at a fund raising garage sale for a BIPOC organization. Kenya and I struck up a conversation. Somehow it came up that I grew up in Mississippi. She exclaimed that her grandmother was from there.
“We are probably cousins.” she giggled. I giggled right along with her. Kenya is black. I’d love to be her cousin.
I shared with her some of the unpleasant, that’s putting it lightly, actions of my family. Actions I grew up with and ones I learned about from researching my ancestry.
“Hey, these are conversations we need to have in order to heal, learn do things differently.” she said. I couldn’t agree more. She came over the next week to do some digging on ancestry, showing me where her family lived in Mississippi. We found some slave stories, one being from a great, great grandmother of hers. We could have used a few more hours. Her dad is creating a podcast, about when you woke. Kenya will be interviewing me. Don’t know when it will go live. You’ll be the first to know.
On this 4th of July, let us not forget the words of Fredrick Douglass in his famous speech:
“What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.”
Descendants of Fredrick Douglass read his speech
And Maurice Carlos Ruffin on Being a Patriotic Black Southerner
I love Maurice Carlos Ruffin. On twitter, he is such a light, giving positive words to fellow writers.
Stay safe. Thanks for reading.
I cry at the threat of democracy
I cry that black lives don’t matter
That whites think they are supreme
Democracy was always fragile, if it even existed in my family system
Schedules and decisions were centered around the men, I am a woman
individuality, even if it was shopping, was kept secret
Only certain voices were heard, are heard, some are marginalized, treated as though they never existed or exist now
Human life is not important, being right, being supreme is, mammonism rules
I cry for those who no longer have a voice, whose pleas fall on the ears of those who care but have no power. Those in power say I am too emotional.
Let your voice be heard and begin our return to democracy, power to the people
If you go looking, you may not like what you find. I decided to google my deceased paternal grandfather. He was chancery clerk of Hinds county (Jackson, MS) in 1958. I always felt he was not a totally honest man. He often kept to himself in his room when we visited his house. I never had any one on one time with him as a young child. He was not a hands on kind of grandfather.
I found a congressional record. It is written exactly a year before I was born. It stated, “June 7, 1958: King was committed on June 6th to Whitfield State Mental Hospital for a period of observation to last a minimum of 30 days. Examination by the two Hinds County doctors was by Chancery Clerk Frank Scott following a statement by Gov. J.P. Coleman who declared King “went berserk” during his attempt at entry to the University Thursday. Coleman said that if the mental examination shows King is sane, he will be tried on charges of disturbing the peace and resisting arrest on the Ole Miss campus at Oxford.” Yes, Clennon King was a black man. More on Clennon King Jr.
In 1962, James Meredith became the first black man to be admitted to the University of Mississippi.
My grandfather was part of this unjust system. I am not surprised, but heartbroken. So many emotions around this. My family has a history and continues to hide behind appearances. If it’s ugly don’t discuss, if it’s uncomfortable don’t go there. I’ve been the one in the family to go “berserk” over injustices and yes deemed insane by them.
Today I feel a little paralyzed learning this. However, it will also fuel me to continue the fight for bringing justice where it is due.
Complete Congressional Record
Sometimes, I fall asleep crying and wake up crying. I’ve come to accept that and move through it, knowing in another moment I won’t be.
I cry for missed opportunities, family gatherings, my grandchildren turning 6, hearing them call me Gaga, the comfort of family checking in on each other during a pandemic, sisters, nephews, daughter and grandchildren calling to wish me a happy 61st birthday, planning the next gathering, and laughing together.
For reasons, some of my own doing and some I’m not sure of, those opportunities have passed.
I do believe, if we all listened, really listened with the empathy to put ourselves in each other’s shoes, we could grow to understand and forgive. I believe there is a story to be told, one of love and redemption. Fear is erased, holds on control and the need to be right are loosened, and hearts are opened.
But for today, I’m off to Black Lives Matter Rally in Missoula. Black Lives Matter Rally
Showing up to show support, listen and learn.
Side note: the dolphin is running good. I took it to have oil changed at Lube It. The guys there loved it. I love it when whoever is working on it, loves it. Taking it into RV shop on Wednesday to have a few things taken care of. I love it and it needs so much work!
Sick Empire– podcast tells the stories of Black and Brown Communities Living in New York City During COVID-19
Meantime in Missoula, MT, armed white group corner a black teenager at protest. Missoulian article
This fight for justice and black lives matter has certainly brought up personal injustices. Due to my own irrational reactions to some of the injustices in my life, I have lost a great deal. I stayed in a marriage much too long, actually should have never married in the first place. But from where I come from it is important for a woman to be married, otherwise what will become of her and who will take care of her. Sound archaic? It is, but it isn’t.
I married a man who had proven he was capable of infidelity, had proven he lost money for his employer because wasn’t doing his job and was a sexual deviant. But he was such a nice guy. I take full responsibility for the choice I made. Unfortunately, I had a lot of buried anger. I drank to deal with it. After two infidelities in our marriage, he begged for my forgiveness. But the hurt always crept up. I asked for a separation. Once the divorce was under way, somehow he managed to convince some that I was breaking up our family. I made poor choices and ended up looking like the “crazy” person.
That was an injustice I wasn’t capable of fighting at the time. I was still drinking. Now I have a clearer mind from not drinking for several years now. I will put my clear mind to good use.
Thanks for listening, just had to get that out.
Well the quiet and rest was nice for awhile. That’s how I have spent most of this quarantine time, resting. But everything is picking up for me. This time is such an opportunity to fight for justice and I don’t want to miss it. There is a lot to read, movies to watch in order to educate, talk with the black community, protest, research how to bring justice and break down a corrupt system.
Last night I watched an excellent documentary on the sovereignty commission based in Mississippi during the 50’s and 60’s. It was the largest spy operation in the US before 9/11 with a mission to keep blacks and whites segregated. I was just a babe and had no idea all this was happening. Highly recommend, Spies of Mississippi, streaming for free on Amazon, may be on PBS as well.
Looking for a place to make a donation with this fight for justice as their goal, consider,
Southern Poverty Law Center
My writing group is writing in the form of list. One of our prompts today is:
Questions I wish I’d asked my departed ones but didn’t
Where were you raised?
How many siblings do you have?
Is that white uniform uncomfortable?
Tell me about your parents, about your childhood.
Who takes care of your daughter while you are taking care of me?
Where did you learn to cook all the delicious food you cook for my family?
How much do my parents pay you?
How much is the bus fare to get to our house?
Which church do you go to?
What’s it like to witness all that goes on in our household?
Can I come over to your house sometime?
Elizabeth, do you know I love you very much?
This morning, my friend K Lynn had a request. It was prefaced with how hard it was to ask. She asked if I could be on her list of people to call when she is scared for her life. She doesn’t feel safe out in the world. She is black. Her vulnerability and sharing brought me to a whole new level of understanding. The ramifications of yesterday’s events in NYC central park, Central Park incident , and Minneapolis George Floyd incident , bring up lifetimes of pain and injustice.
KL is beautiful, smart, funny and strong. Some of my better healing belly laughs have happened with her. Those characteristics are missed by some because of her color.
She explained, they see me, but I don’t see them. I don’t know which policeman is racist and which is not, which grocery store clerk is or isn’t, if the paramedic who is called if I am having an emergency is or isn’t. “They see me, but I don’t see them.”
So yes, I will be on her call list. I will stand up for injustice when I witness it and otherwise.
I share this conversation with her permission.
Petition to arrest police who took George Floyd’s life