GRACE UNDER FIRE

The old man sits silently on the steps of his front porch.

These are his thinking steps.

“Always thinking,” his wife used to mutter to herself, “Always thinking!”

Miz Mae never really understood her husband’s quiet ways, his continuous reflections on the curiosities of life.

“Always thinking!”

The old man sits on the steps and stares down the street to the corner where some young boys stand discussing whatever it is young boys discuss these days.

“Hey, old man!”

Rufus, a longtime friend, shuffles up to sit beside his old friend.

It is a daily routine for these two, old friends sitting side by side on the stoop talking and listening to one another.

The old man clears his throat, a sure sign he is about to speak on something he has been thinking about for quite some time

“You know, Rufus, we as a people personify grace under fire.”

He rubs his gray grizzled chin as he speaks.

“Whut you mean by “puhSAHnuhfie?” The old man’s friend often wonders where his friend learned all those big words.

“It’s like we look like grace under fire, like if grace under fire was human, it would look like us.”

“Uh Hmmm.”

Rufus tries to make himself sound like he really understands the old man when he “speech-a-fies” but the truth is that he almost always has a hard time following his friend whenever he uses those big words.

“Yep, grace under fire, that’s us.”

Whenever the old man speaks of “us,” he means African Americans

“Grace under fire is the real story of us, you know, Rufus?”

Rufus grunts assent and waits for the old man to expand on his thought.

“Yes sir, they ripped us from our native land. The smells, the sounds, the taste of home was our only luggage on the middle passage. They dragged us onto foreign soil, alien tongues assaulted our native ears. Our language was whipped out of us and we were forced to speak a foreign tongue they did not teach us but when we finally learned to speak what we thought we heard, they laughed and called us ignorant. They did not recognize our genius, did not see the majesty of our being!”

“They barely named us, treated us worse than that stubborn old mule that refused to pull the plow. They beat us and expected us to love them unconditionally, bowing and scraping whenever they were around, had us mammy their babies and bear children forced upon our women by the master’s rough hands.”

“The sounds and the smells and the tastes of our native land were forced out of us. We swallowed our sorrow, mingled tears with sweat and endured the angry bite of cotton bolls picked in the scorching heat of every day.”

“They force freed us then designed a new bondage named after a minstrel song that foisted violent servitude upon us, brutal acceptance of their inhumanity. They hung us from trees while they picnicked and took trophy pictures like hunters on a safari.”

“We endured it all, wept through it all, buried our dead too young, muted our anger, wrapped ourselves in our frustration and waited and waited and waited for real freedom  ”

“Well, freedom finally caught up with us, we thought, but it came with conditions attached. Stay in your place, accept what we say is right for you, be grateful for the crumbs we half-heartedly throw to you, walk through that open door then work twice as hard to prove your worth.”

“We worked hard, we assimilated, we embraced our natural roots, we expected more but each day we received less and they wonder why we are not satisfied.”

“But, dagnabit, look at us Rufus, we are still here, still climbing Mr. Hughes’ torn, worn stairs. We are still striving, still pressing, and Rufus, we ain’t rioted full scale across the country, yet, not even when they  killed Martin or when Malcolm died, not even when they killed our boys, our girls, our men, our women. Our souls have been tried. Our spirits have been bruised. Our hearts have been burdened. Our tears have been bitter. Our losses have been huge. But, even so, we held on to hope, we still hold on to hope. They still killing us but we still get up in the morning. We still laugh. We still dance. We still sing. We still love. We still marry. We still have children. Shoot, we still like sex when we have the energy!”

Rufus chuckles then looks around to see if anyone heard that last comment his friend made.

“We have not yet reached the end of our rope but I’m mighty a-feared that the rope of our hope is getting shorter, that the fuse of our anger might be about to be lit for a great explosion of retribution. I pray that peace prevails and that equality, one day, will one hundred percent win. That is my prayer. It’s my prayer for our land, Rufus. Its my prayer for us, too.”

Rufus blinks a few times as he chews on the old man’s words. He is both proud and afraid at the same time but he sits up a just a little straighter, squares his shoulders and says,

“Yessuh, we sho have puhSAHnuhfied  grace undah fiyah, yessuh, we sho have. ”

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IMITATION, SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY?

Sunny Hostin and Whoopi Goldberg Clash Over Whether Black Women Wearing Weaves is Cultural Appropriation

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My definition of Cultural Appropriation: A group “takes” what is my legacy, something my ancestors created, that which has been passed from one generation to another as a honored and often sacred tradition but you laughed at it, devalued it, called it hood and ghetto until you begin to see it as trendy, a thing to do or have so you now consider it, evaluate its worth for your brand, your market, your sense of style and you “take” it, rename it and claim it as a new thing/creation and you choose (intentional or not) not to acknowledge or even admit the true source of its elegant majesty.

How an individual chooses to dress or how they style their hair is of little consequence to me but when it becomes an issue of cultural pride and relevance what I need from the “new” user is that they acknowledge and value the origin of their “new thing.”

You see, my community is so used to being ignored, devalued and overlooked that when our legacy, our ancestral tradition/legacy is assimilated, subsumed, absorbed, consumed and renamed by those who have no clue to the why of our pride or they are not even interested in its origin or sanctity within a community, we call it as we see it, OFFENSIVE!

I love the maxi skirts made of African cloth and recently was gifted with three. I have worn one and I love how I feel when I wear it, how it looks on me. But, recently, I read an article/blog by an individual from Africa who called us out on making their heritage, the cloth, into a fashion statement. This concern certainly has made me more conscious of how my choices, innocent though they may be, may appear frivolous and offensive to the group of origin. I will wear my skirts but I will also do my research on the cloth and its “history” so that I may consciously honor the group and their ancestral legacy through my acknowledgement of its cultural roots and pride of heritage when I am complimented.

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We must all become just a little more sensitive to how our choices appear or impact others especially when it comes to those “products” of culture.

“THE NEGRO SPEAKS OF RIVERS” ~Langston Hughes

I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers  

 

 

 

SICK AND TIRED OF BEING SICK AND TIRED

Fannie Lou Hamer was an African American Civil Rights activist of the 60s/70s.

She was well acquainted with the poverty and violence in the Jim Crow South.

A phrase she coined, in all of her activism, was “I am sick and tired of bring sick and tired.”

I feel you, Fannie, because I am tired, tired of being watched in unexpected places.

What do I mean when I say I am tired of being watched in unexpected places?

Well, i have lived most of my life being watched in unexpected places.

Huh?

reeseandcoco

 

Here’s the deal…

I am tired of being watched in places where it is assumed I will not be or presumed I should not be.

Watched by startled eyes that mark my every move to make sure I live up to their lowered expectations.

Expectations gleaned from a family book of prejudices or a media that reports its own brand of digital apartheid or stereotypes paraded behind closed doors of private clubs or redlines rigidly drafted onto stark white paper strewn across dark walnut tables in a good old boys boardroom.

I am weary of others deeming denial as my birthright while privilege continues to labor to keep me in a place as defined by them.

I am sick and tired of my concerns being dismissed as yesterday’s old news while microaggressions nip at my heels day after day  after day.

Yep, I, too, am sick and tired of being sick and tired, so dear people, please be forewarned from this day forward.

Before you bring me any of your foolishness, fine tuned in the errancy of your self-entitled pride, take a deep breath, step back and re-think how you think before you speak.

Because if you don’t, I most definitely will “clap back.”.

Be very, very sure, and rest assured, that the next time you dismiss my truth, I will call you on it and just so you are not uninformed, here is my truth: I, too, am sick and tired of being sick and tired!

 

reeseandcoco

Where’s my mic?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHEN DID I BEGIN? Daily Post Challenge

Origin Story

 

When did I begin

At birth?

Before I knew who I was

Or what I was

Did it begin

When I named myself adult

Grown enough to  make my own decisions

Or so I thought

Was it when I became “Wife”

Or “Mama”

Or “Supervisor”

Or

Was it when I became “Widow”

Had to figure out life on my own

Manage single what once was double

Sleep alone

Dine alone

Survive alone

Become someone’s object of pity

Yearn for Yesterday

Grapple with Today

Wonder about Tomorrow

Find a new voice

Face a new normal

Alone

(un)Naturally

New beginning

New day

New season

New start

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New Normal

 

 

From Forgiveness to the Mission Fields of India

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Front to Back:  My niece Aquila, my sister Jacqui in the middle and me Gina E with my hand up

From forgiveness to the mission fields of Chennai, India is where I find myself after reluctantly, but obediently fasting in pursuit of living in the midst of God’s will and call. It was and continues to be important for me, as a maturing Christian and the president and founder of Charity For Life Ministries, to insist that God discloses to me anything in my life that would encumber or prevent me from achieving His call on my life and to Charity For Life Ministries. Every call to leadership is successful when in pursuit of God’s supreme instructions, directions, guidance and when His presence is beckoned . And so it was, in my hunger and thirst, that God revealed to me deeply hidden unforgiveness that was threatening my growth and call…

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HILLARY AND THE “HOOD”

Hillary Clinton is running for President.

No news there.

By the way, did she drop “Rodham?”

But, less I digress,

She is making all the rounds.

I get it.

Shake the hands.

Kiss the babies.

Attend churches that are predominantly black.

Learn how to twerk like the sisters (or was it the Nae Nae she whipped?).

Play dominoes with the brothers.

You know, all that stuff that shows how relatable she is to me and my hood (as in neighborhood).

Wait, what?

I can’t with you, Hillary, I can’t

Your face in what you think is my place does not automatically give you a free pass to my vote.

In fact, I am just a little irritated by your attempt to “connect” with what you think are my connections.

Were you twerking with Bill before this election year?

Did Bill watch you whip?

Did you teach Chelsea how  to play dominoes (or bid whitz for that matter) when she was a little girl?

When was the last time you sang one of those good old hymns you learned in the “black” church?

When was the last time you even attended a “black” church just to worship?

Many people will not get my irritation.

I get it. No big deal to some.

But, for me, it’s tantamount to Hilary proclaiming to the African American who wonders as I am wondering, “Some of my best friends are black!”

Microaggression on display.

I. Just. Can’t.

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p.s. She was in South Central L. A. today (check out the demographic).

Yeah. . .

😳😐😳😐😳😐😳😐

 

 

 

THROUGH THE AIRWAYS

I think I have discovered the “sweet spot” of technology.

It just came to me this morning, this “sweet spot” eureka moment.

It came to me as I was congratulating a Facebook friend on how naturally she took to becoming a first time grandmother.

Prior to the birth of her grandchild, she had expressed concerns on her page about whether she would know how to be a good grandmother.

I responded to her comments, then, with what I hoped were some words of encouragement.

Here is where the sweet spot comes in: I do not know this “friend” personally. She lives in Florida. I am on the West Coast. We will probably never meet in person, yet this “gift” of technology allows us to reach out to one another as though we were sitting across the room from one another chatting about grandchildren.

The “sweet spot” is that place of love and support and encouragement and warm moments of connection with strangers across the states or across the pond.

Faces we do not recognize flow to us through live-streams. Words of sympathy are tweeted on fluid trending timelines. Writers across the world share their thoughts with cyber pen and paper.

Yes, I know.

Technology also has its rachet moments, it’s mean moments, it’s totally out of control moments. But it is just a reflection of society, isn’t it, a melange of diversity and attitude?

It is our choice as to how we use what I will call the “gift” of technology.

When we receive a gift we can either relish it or misuse it. The choice is ours.

Technology also brings with it the potential for psychological trauma as it transmits the chaos and turbulence rampant in the world today. Our hunter-gatherer new world creator ancestors would have been blissfully unaware of such things, at least for a longer period of time, simply because there was no technological herald from across the seas or across the land. News traveled slowly in the New World. By the time word was received of wars and victims and massacres and death, the dead were long buried and the wounded healed. Words of love, hope and support were transmitted in the form of prayers that never reached the physical ears of friends and loved ones but hopefully God would hear and act.

Yes, technology today can either be a bane or a blessing, two words our ancestors would definitely  understand.

I choose the “sweet spot” of blessing.

It is the best I can do.