Thursday, February 15, 2024

Let Me Get Out Your Way

 When I was a little girl - I used to try to disappear, to be invisible, unseen, unnoticed,  unheard, un - un.

My naive little self thought that if they didn't see me, the monsters who lived and breathed fire, they wouldn't hurt me.

Most of my growing up, a full decade, I was afraid. 

Petrified, even.

Survival meant being nice, kind, quiet, compliant, nondescript, absent from any "prettiness" that they said was my late mother whose face I carried.

How could I be the incredible shrinking girl and stay in a corner until it was safe to use my voice, my words, to protect others so they would never feel that heart-thumping-heat-filling-terror.of.existing.

As we enter this season of Lent, the discussion very often among those who practice this season of contemplation, confession, and contrition is about what one is giving up - a pleasure or activity; we often don't discuss what we are taking on for righteousness and justice.

Let me consider this as I mentioned as the start of this muse, the ways that many try to erase themselves so they are not in the way of others deemed more important. This, to me, is antithetical to the very existence and call placed on us from the brown-skinned, son of a teenage mother, born of parents without a home and had to work with their hands, from a place that no one considered any good could come from. To me, we were called to shake things up, to not just go with the status quo, to wonder, and to question. And like him, to be daring and confident to ask the why questions in the process of figuring out how to meet the social needs of the people who eventually flocked to him.

We are in changing and often, troubling times.

Just yesterday, during a celebration of the Super Bowl champions, someone thought it was in their right to wreck havoc in that space. Gunshots rang out. My older sons and nephews were there. My middle son's military training kicked in and he got the family out safely.

What parts of humanity was missing in the soul of the shooter that took innocent lives and injured children?

How much are we unseeing people that they would take this extreme to try to be seen?

How much are we unhearing when people cry out?

How much are we unknowing what is glaringly obvious? 

People need to get in the way. 

Get in the way of economic injustice and oppression.

Get in the way of racial and ethnic injustice.

Get in the way of gender violence.

Take a risk and speak.

That is what I think we are called to in these times and something I have taken to doing more and more. I only have this dash and it is incumbent upon me to do all I can, all the while I can, in all the places I can, for all the people I can.

Sometimes that means speaking when I am petrified.

Sometimes that means writing when I know some will be offended.

Sometimes that means being present and a witness.

Whatever these forty days lead you into, let it lead you into more than just giving up a sweet treat or caffeine, let it lead you into considerations for humanity. We are all we we have  - together.

Monday, January 29, 2024

The Last One

 Something changes in you, in your generation, when you realize that the last of your familial elders has made her transition from this Earth.

That was the feeling I had when I received the news a week ago that she passed away.

When are we ever ready to suddenly be the grown-ups in the room?

My first cousins and I all looked at each other like, wait, wait, we don't have any Aunts or Uncles anymore. The vacuum was felt, even as we believe our ancestors are a part of us and their memory remains, to suddenly be in the universe without the seven of the fourteen who were the backdrop of our lives, was shocking in ways we are still absorbing.

Everyone is spread out now, no longer centrally located in the town our parents migrated up north to, we are literally around the world. Some were able to make it in, others were able to tune in via the power of technology.

There is a silence that is so loud when you are sitting there.  

We do as African Americans do and talk about how she looked. The funeral home did a great job on her, she looked like the way we all remembered her. She wore her favorite color - blue - and just looked like she was sleeping. None of the signs of the Alzheimers were on her face.

After the services and internment in the new (past twenty years now) family cemetery, we went to a restaurant to eat. The elders weren't here for us to gather at one of the Aunt's houses who would always have pound cake and coffee. Hardly anyone lived in the area anymore, so we gathered around a table where no one had to cook.

And then we laughed. And hugged. And snapped photos. And remembered.

Then, we pulled out notebooks or like one of the younger generations, the smart phone, and looked at our ancestry and started unraveling mysteries our our grandfather with the one-drop of African American blood who gave most of us our height.

The thing we did the most was appreciate the family into which we were privileged to be born. We loved the many hues of us and the multiple generations. We were fruitful and multiplied. The lot of us fulfilled the dreams of the elders who chose other suns to find opportunity.

Generation after generation now, we stopped counting at five, have taken the baton and run with it, that is what we want and hope.

The last one is gone now and we carry on, holding memory and loving this space.

We are the elders now.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Confessions of a Called Woman

 I have been on a life journey for a while, but then, all of us who are in the between space of first breath to last breath are on that same travel.

For me, it has been trying to become who I believe the God of the Universe created me to be.

Why someone like me, fifth born, last daughter, grew up motherless, would be called into ministry and spend years figuring it out.

When I was still-and-yet seeking my way, a little, tiny afro-wearing, walnut colored African American woman came into my hospital room in the week hours of the morning. She was a hospital chaplain and was assigned to visit those who were in pre-op. For me, it was an emergency surgery for a swollen gland on my neck that threatened to cut off life and voice. 

So she politely asked to enter my room and sat on the window sill to just be with me while I waited. My husband was traveling for work, my daughters were early elementary school, my youngest son was away at college, so I was in the quiet spaces of being alone facing a major surgery.

Being a chaplain now myself, I understand the vulnerability of that moment and entering someone's room at 5 o'clock in the morning.

We chatted. 

Up-to-that-point, I had neither met a Chaplain before and certainly not a Black woman one. I was intrigued.

I asked her about her studies and how she came to be in that space and then she told me about the seminary where I eventually attended and graduated.

Funny thing, I never saw that woman again and couldn't pick her out if I had to, but she was there and she listened with all her senses.

Then she said something to me that for a decade, I haven't forgotten, "Who's to say your writing isn't your ministry?"

Now, if you know me, you know that I have been putting pen to paper or fingers to keys for a very long time, trying to make sense of the world as it unfolds. This very space, long before influencers or instagram was the place to share moments, I was writing here. Before that, it was with Helium. 

But writing as ministry?

That was the first time I'd heard it.


I wanted to know how this could be and somewhat being in the space of caring for children while my husband's very demanding career was all the focus, I had to just try to get the words in when I could.

My book reviews started over a decade ago, my poetry long before that, I even have a manuscript written, and since that time, more scholarly papers than I ever thought.

Ministry in words?

Of course it makes sense to me now. 

So, here is my confession, I took what she said to heart, and tried to fit into spaces in public ministry that went on to take up the last 8-10 years of my life. Since then, I've earned another Master's degree and have been actively looking at doctoral programs. I've presented at scholarly seminars and published scholarly papers. 

But to center the quiet spaces of hearing what the God of the Universe wants me to say to the world, to make that the center of my vocation, and to be unapologetic about it?

I haven't fully done that yet.

And that is my confession.

My repentance.

I will be sixty in a few months, and in reaching that milestone that half my father's siblings never reached, I'm facing my own "more years behind me than in front of me" as my father said. I have a sense of urgency to me now.

The world is lost. 

We have more lost children since October than in so many wars.

Just this past week and yesterday, even, the undereducated and un-enlightened in two states just voted to have a narcissistic criminal as their party candidate for the upcoming election.

There is a space for those of us who ponder.

But that is also the space for those who studied writing and journalism were targeted and called all manor of everything but someone deeply loved by the God of the Universe. That is intentional.

Writing is freedom.

My ancestors, as one descended from those Born on the Water™ as Professor and Journalist, Nikole Hannah-Jones coined us, were among those who were denied the right to learn, think, and create for themselves. 

Reading and writing is liberation.

Reading and writing and thinking is justice and a way out of oppression.

I am giving myself a reclamation and transformation, my own Sankofa moment to renew and resurrect what was placed in me before I was born.

In speaking it, or in this case writing it, I am claiming it.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

The Comfort of Solitude: The Peace of Place

 It is scary how much I enjoy my time at home.

Like really love it.

I am an Introvert.

A true one, that INFJ on the Myers-Briggs, the very rare three-percent.  Now, I'm in good company, they tell us that those other Advocates include President Jimmy Carter and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Idealists and faith-filled people who observe the world from a wholistic position to think of how it can be better.

And homebodies.

Even if their bodies are not at home, they are more comfortable in solitude.

In my theological imagination, I've often said that the man, Jesus, was INFJ. So were some of his disciples.

I believe my late father also had this personality type and when he wasn't advocating for social justice in my second hometown, he was ensconced in his home library reading.

He was the one who introduced me to the love of story and the comfort of a good library. From him, I gained my awe of the local town library or bookstores.

The other thing he taught me was that there is a resiliency that comes with being from a place, even if adopting that place, and that there was some power in being sure your home could hold all your dreams. He showed me how to love what I have and to make the most of it.

It has been cold in the Northeast, like much of the country, and I don't have all my winter gear with me, so thinking about the lessons of my father turned me to my kitchen to see what I could make.

Yesterday, I made a pot of black beans and mixed rice. Only with the seasonings I had at home, it wasn't my best and could have used the sautéed onions, but it was comforting. Same with the homemade biscuits I made to go with it.

By that time, I had been been in the house for days and had no desire to get out in the freezing cold.

And I knew the place that privilege afforded me.

Today wasn't different. I made coffee at home, had a nice smoothie for breakfast, and enjoyed an Affagado for evening dessert. That is what made. me think about how comfortable I've made this place, this dwelling.

I have never needed crowds or approval, not even the influencer type that has everyone tripping all over themselves to tell every moment of their lives for TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube. I'm good over here in the quiet hum of the stove fan or the occasional churning of the electronic ice machine. I'm comfortable in my solitude.

What is it about being fully aware and at peace with oneself that we often miss it as Americans who rarely, if ever, just take the time to be present with their thoughts? Are we, the collective we, afraid of what may speak in the silence? Are we afraid of what we may confront about ourselves and this country Are we just so used to being cogs-in-a-wheel that say our only worth is if others can see us and ascribe some value to our existence?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately as I journey toward another milestone (thank God!) birthday of existing in this space called Earth. 

How have I lived into my gifts and calling? How can I do more? Will I make an impact if I am not comfortable with my own thoughts and have taken the time to analyze them before going out in the world? How much am I rested and able to be my full Empath self in the spaces where I encounter so much hurt and pain? Is being at home replenishing or is it just my safe space? Or both?

I ponder a lot.

While sipping on my Affagado with locally made ice cream, relishing the taste of the hand poured coffee directly brewed onto my ice cream in this handmade little demitasse, all I could ponder was how many people have a safe space to just be complete in their thoughts? To not see going shopping as entertainment, but to really just stand and look at the snow or at the red bird that was outside my window today. What are we missing and what can we reclaim?

There is something to be said about peace and having a place where one's soul is quiet.

That for me is my home in the cold winter months. I like my books, my coffee, my comfy blankets, my cozy socks, and my oversized sweat pants. I enjoy being "in" and have no desire to be seen. Maybe that makes me like the bears in our state who hibernate during the winter months. Not sure yet, but even when the kids were home for the holidays, I just wanted to watch them, didn't want to go out. I only did if they drove. 

So if I could utter a dream or prayer for what is still unfolding in 2024 that will be a very challenging and complicated year; it is that everyone can find peace, solicitude, and comfort in their dwelling. Ultimately, isn't that what every human being desires? I pray for them to have what they need so they can spend time attending to their soul and not to survival. I know what is happening in the world and what has been lost when people do not have peace in their place.

For these past few days that I've been able to be inside before my vocation calls me back out, I am being sure to inhale in the sound of silence and the comfort it brings. I want it to be a practice, to still my heart, to quiet my soul, to settle my spirit. Then, when I am at renewal and filled with peace, I am ready to step across the threshold, in my layers and heaviest coat I can find, and see what the world is saying.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

The Weight of Saddness

 I am weeping inside.

My mind can not wrap itself around the sheer amount of hatred that has filled the culture.

Everywhere present all the time.

Brothers are against brothers, sisters against sisters, emotions at an all time high, all of it is sometimes knee-jerk reaction.

But that is also humanity.


When we can't make sense of what we are seeing with our eyes and hearing with our ears and without turning to our spiritual source of comfort and encouragement, we are left with the sounds from the airways.

Humans want to blame someone, to fault someone, to point to someone.

God is not causing what is happening now.

Human hands destroyed human lives.

Innocents are perishing because of the ideology of human beings thinking they are the one and only ones that the Creator of the ENTIRE universe loves and affirms.

It does not work that way.

That is not the way.

The times we are in are beyond comprehension.

They are dangerous and animistic and intentional.

I  am feeling the weight of it.

Even as I look out with hope and endeavor to not let fear grip me.

We are the hands and feet of good in this world.

If we choose to see each other as brothers and sisters and not as vermin or animals or obstacles to an ultimate rule of power.

Dynasties through millennia have tried that.

Empires have fallen.

What do we do with all of this?

I am listening with all my parts - in my soul, in my spirit, in my heart.

I am watching with all my parts - with my eyes, with my soul.

In my work as a Chaplain, we often talk about doing no harm and walking a little way in the suffering of others. As we journey in these many many uncertain days, that is what I am doing.

Humanity demands it of us and compels us to it.

Because otherwise, the weight can be unbearable and crush us.

I'm trying to stand up and not be swayed by emotions.

Use the intellect you have been given. As a reader, I am reading, I am learning. Measured, informed, thoughtful. 

There are no answers that will satisfy this time and yet, silence does not either.

What I know is that God is a God of love and not hate. If you have to choose, choose Love. And walk in it.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Hatred is an Unbearable Weight

 It has been one week.

Sabbath to Sabbath.

That the world turned her attention to the place often in the periphery of being unless the news shatters the perception of innocence and assaults our eyes with the unseeable.

Last week, during celebrations for the Jewish people, Hamas hang glided intentions of destruction and rained down terror upon hundreds of young people at a music concert.  They indiscriminately killed people, raped women, snatched hostages, all in the space of moments that the Israeli government was unable to respond. 

It was a weekend.

it was a holiday.

It was planned.

It was barbaric.

It was evil.

It was inhumane.

It was terror.

I was offline last Saturday, my television not tuned into the prior week incessant wrangling about the American elections and the will=they-or-won't they of the Republican congress.  My husband and I were enjoying much needed respite.

Even Sunday, when I took a little road trip up to Vermont to just be, I was not fully aware of what had been going on. NPR wasn't playing in my car. I knew by that late afternoon there had been something, but not sure what the extent of it had been.

By Monday, the reality of what happened became more clear and after spending the night digesting the news, reading writers I trusted, and tuning in, I was stunned into near silence.

I had an interfaith coffee already scheduled for mid-morning and neither of us were Jewish or Muslim or Palestinian or living in the Middle East, each of us wore the realization of what was taking place on our faces.

Multiple times we were covering our mouths as we began to unpack what it was. What we needed to do.

Through our coffee chat - an African American woman of multiethnic and multiracial heritage and a Puerto Rican woman - shared our dismay, our shock, our knowing that we were called into saying something - and finding words for what there are no words.

It is the same thing I saw happening all week with the news coverage, from those expertly trained in how to tell us what is going on and guiding the sense-making of what makes-no-sense.

That was not what I saw most of the week.

It was pain, shock, knowing, bearing, stunned silence after more and more was told, stories were told, funerals were going on, evacuations were going on, bombs were dropped, water was withheld, my God!

I wasn't a Monday-morning rush to write. So many of us were in the same position.  I'm not an expert on Middle East conflict except what I know from a spiritual, Biblical perspective and intimate through conversations. It is decades, centuries, millennia long.

And yet, it isn't.

This recent spate of hate is grown from modern times.

Hamas is not the age of the land, they are an occupying terrorist organization bent on the destruction of the Jewish race, much like the American grown tiki torchers and people who murdered innocents in Pittsburg. They are the same thread of cold-hearted-evil.

Hamas works through fear and propaganda and gangsterism, they terrorize the un-landed people living in the Gaza Strip and other areas of Palestine. 

This was not a holy war.

This was not a holy ideological conflict between descendants of brothers.

This was not the on-going and necessary conversation of the need for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.

This was terror.

President Biden said it was not human behavior, far beyond even being inhumane. It was beyond animalistic. It was demonic.

They used women, children, girls, old women as fodder for their televised reign of bloodshed.

They murdered infants in front of their parents.

They raped girls.

Israel responded to all of it, from the first of it to the on-going with their state power of declaring war. They immediately did so. They dropped bombs and warfare on a stretch of land that is smaller than the state where I was just visiting. It is densely populated. 1.1 million people.

The latest news was the Israeli government told them they had to evacuate in 24 hours.

One of my esteemed biblical scholars posted on her instagram last night, "you can't move a city of people out of a hurricane zone in 24 hours. Evacuating 1.1 million people of out of Gaza in 24 hours is.not.possible. Just tell us you intend to massacre people without saying it." - Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey.

It is worse than imaginable.

And it is so very complicated.

No, not complicated to condemn what Hamas did, that is without question.

it is even understandable for Israel's response, the Jewish people have already suffered and this loss of life was more in one day than Kristallnaught. 

So there are parts of me that get their immediate response.

Except I also don't.

Over half the population of Hamas are children and half of the other half are women and old people. And not all of the people who live there are Hamas. They are invaded and overtaken, much like the gangs in my ancestral homeland have people living in terror in their own neighborhoods. Hamas has a sophisticated system of tunnels and weaponry and just barbarism. 

They will not stop.

This will not be over in one week.

And there are changes that must come.

Last night, Jewish people in New York, at the start of their sabbath, did a sit in at their senator's home to demand that there be a solution for the Palestinian people, that Israeli stop being an occupying, colonizing, terrorizing force against these people. This is something that has been going on along that part of the Middle East since the 1940s when settlers started taking land that had been in Palestinian families for centuries.

Many had already been displaced.

Gaza was a place of displacement.

The Israeli government has been currently taking a hard-line, ultra conservative stance, much like the MAGA republicans in this country, and were also bent on taking more, leaving a minoritized-people with even less than what they were existing on.

We have seen over the years news reports of Israeli troops that indiscriminately killed civilians, their atrocities against Palestinian women and children, their reign of terror. 

My daughters and I marched for Palestinian independence. Nine years ago, Ferguson and Palestine were understood in an intersection way.  The Palestinian-Americans were teaching the African Americans how to deal with tear gas. Israeli troops had been using that tactic for years.

I mourned with my Jewish brothers and sisters with Pittsburg, we were in seminary at the time, and at on-going acts of anti-semitism happening in this country.

That is what my father taught me.

That I was connected to everyone, he taught me first about the Jewish people. I remember being nine and asking him why he was telling us this and making us watch movies or read books about the Holocaust. He said our plight was intertwined, that we were brothers, and that human beings should care for human beings and should stand against hatred, regardless of race, creed, or skin color.

Over my lifetime, I've tried to teach the same thing to my children.

Before this news hit, I was reading and posting my support of the Haitian dam-builders because water is a human right.

I was listening about the African nations banning together to oust colonizers and realize their economic power is un unity.

I was reading and listening about the ongoing assaults against the heritage, presence, and being of African-Americans that have dominated the atmosphere. Whether it was a Black boy with locs in Texas being banned from his public school or the white guy suing Black women for giving money to Black women or the non-stop book banning, the airwaves were filled with one form of hatred after another.

How do we shed this weight?

This unbearable weight?

When is enough enough?

How many bodies that are too many to count, no place to bury, and tears from loved ones?

Will they ever be satisfied with the "other" being gone? Much like that Great Replacement Theory of the far right MAGA folks in this country that have a deep-seated fear of a browning nation, their satisfaction will never become because their hatred finds new targets.

They came for so many and so many were silent and then they came for you, who will speak?

I don't have words.

I'm sorry.

I mourn.

I weep.

And I hold onto love.

To love you like my brother and my sister.

To see you in your brokenness.

To hold you in your pain.

That is what we are called to do as sojourners on this earth.

Because the alternative only gives us what we have seen over the past week, and it is unbearable.

Friday, October 6, 2023

To Be Awake and Aware

 America is in trouble.

America is in trouble.

America is in trouble.

I remember sounding an alarm about what was coming when I was still a budding-reluctant-activist after a shooting happened in my new town of Kirkwood, Missouri.

February 2008 was when the shooting happened.

That was also an election year.

I joined with other community members to talk across race, ethnicity, age, gender, and location.

Oh those days of people still innocently thinking the good.

When African American kids were marginalized in what looked like a literal Mason-Dixon Line in the high school. The Atlas kids, the ones who needed more educational attention despite growing up in this somewhat affluent suburban school system. Well, they mostly came from Meacham Park and their parents may have been tired of fighting the then all white school board. 

White and claiming to be liberal, but white still.

With one Black woman principal who had her little kingdom of this program and the Black Achievement Awards.

Then along came me, idealistic, hopeful, insightful, prophetic, actionable.

There were community groups that I became engaged with that examined the redlining history of the town, the ways that historic African American land - Kentuckytown and Tennessee Town, for example, had been swindled away with the annexation.

Resentment still filled the air of the few remaining families who were able to eek out a deal to keep a semblance of their family heritage where generations had grown.

Meacham Park should have been a town, but it was unincorporated.

Like a lot of historically African American communities, they were taken over by the more powerful city government of mostly white capitalist. The principal of the high school was a member of the Chamber of Commerce. Conflict of interest, much?

But there was still somewhat a sense of community. All the schools had the same red & white color. People took pride in coming from Kirkwood. There were progressive, liberal whites who wrestled with the history of neglect and complacency. There is still a weekly protest on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Still standing up for Black lives.

I remember being in this atmosphere and looking forward, not just in Kirkwood, but the whole state and nation.  

There were efforts to get people engaged in the school board and not just for a crisis. I tried to start a couple after-school study groups to help African American students not just be marginalized to Atlas. Now, not all of them were in that program, like me, there were Black people who moved to Kirkwood who were without historical identity to Meacham Park. Most came from other cities and lived on the other side of the railroad track. African American people had always lived over there also.


But that is also a tactic.

Efforts to get people to see their issues were similar were always met with suspicion of the other.

Perhaps that is the same as what is happening today in America, despite the strikes we have seen all summer, there are still groups that do not realize their enemy is not the Black or Brown or even White person who lives down the street.

It is larger and more nefarious.

When I was sounding the alarm and trying to get people to realize their vote mattered beyond just the Presidential Election, that, incidentally, had people literally walking to the polling place. There were lines around the corner at 6 o'clock in the morning in November 2008 when the nation elected the first Black President.

But I tried to get people to realize it was their local that made an impact in their lives.

People wore their "I voted" sticker, some even went to the

2013 happened and some woke up.

2014 happened and some took to the streets.

2016 happened and some paid attention.

2020 happened and some realized.

America is in trouble.

Deep, systemic, almost irreversible trouble.

Unless the collective We, The People, realize this.

Much like that idyllic town my husband and I moved to in 2007. I was in Mocha Moms, raising the last of the kids, the girls were just emerging from being toddlers. I was writing, taking on some consulting projects, but just settling in to this cute quiet place.

Waking up to things happening in the world around you is not always easy or comfortable.

Yes, I always voted in every election.

Yes, I was as involved as my former brand and marketing career allowed me.

But no, I hadn't been to a school board meeting. 

I was like a lot of working parents, just believed my children were getting the best of what they needed. Now, to be fair, I lived in a "good" school district and my husband, the university professor and researcher at the time, did all the interactions for the sons. One was in middle school, the other two were bookends in elementary school, and well, when we went there, the girls were just a dream. So we just moved and grooved.

There weren't book bans in 2000. Or crazy white moms trying to erase Black history. Well, to be fair, there wasn't Black history being taught in schools except for the obligatory mention of King and Parks.

But my family didn't worry about that, our sons were surrounded by Black history in our home.

We took the stance of what my late father taught me, we didn't rely on the schools to tell us about America.

Not everyone grew up that way.

This was long before the Internet took over every part of life and when phones were still flipping, still costing minutes, and a camera was one you held in your hand. I still have the VHS tapes of the video camera my husband used to document moments of our life.

I get the want of a simpler time.

Before 9-11.

When I was working at dream job making big money looking out on the horizon as a boy mom and wondering what this new century would bring. 

I understand the fear that some may feel about the way the world has been rapidly changing.

Technology accelerated that change when smart phones and social media brought instant everything into our homes. 

It was information overload and some of that information showed up in harmful ways.

The past twenty-three years have given us a terrorist attack on our own soil, a war that lasted throughout the majority of the lifetime of my two daughters, economic unrest, domestic terrorism, more Black and Brown people being killed by police, protest, political chaos, unaffordable rents, homelessness, desperation-as-crime, health crisis, a global pandemic, educational apartheid, and the never ending systemic racism, to just name a few.

I get it, it is exhausting to think about.

Makes you want to just get to a quiet cabin in the woods along the lake with a book and a latte and just wait it out. Or maybe that is just me.

Pining for a time of respect, honor, decency.

Not when a fraudster is on trial and still inciting violence like the violence he incited because his spoiled brattiness couldn't take losing.

Not when Nazi-types are walking the streets and running for mayors in cities - openly - and the media is trying to figure out if the current President, who is right-siding the economy and cleaning up the ineptitude of the buffoon, is too old to run.

Not when fear is stoked more than faith, hope, and love.

America is in trouble.

But she doesn't have to stay that way.

Like the town I lived in when the people who thought "we are not like that" found out that "yes, we are" and then set out to have difficult conversations to make changes, it is possible to get past this.

We have to see this for what it is.

We are far beyond 1930.

We are in deep danger.

This is the year to save the democracy and any semblance of hope for my grandsons.

It is just that dire.

To be awake and aware is exhausting.

I'm not in that small-ish town anymore.

But I am fully engaged and hope that everyone else wakes up. Especially for African Americans who are the ethnic group with the target on our backs because all of draconian policies they are coming up with are to erase any gains of the last sixty years.

That is why they went after Affirmative Action and why one dude has his life-intention to stop Black people from helping Black people.

That is why in Texas two oligarchs and multi-millionaires are buying up politicians, organizing PACS, and oh yeah, are pastors with a bully pulpit to push their great replacement theory rhetoric.

That is why in Tennessee they are stopping the Black elected officials from doing their job and have literally Nazi flags at a Mayoral town debate.

What do we do?

We use our voice.

See, the biggest thing about all this is that the bullies try to scare people into silence, into believing they have no power.

You do, we do, I do.

Use it.

You do not have to give in to the fear.

That immigrant, that homeless person, that striking union worker, that Black kids in school - they are not the ones trying to take anything away from you.

Look at the ones who are trying to amass power for the sake of power, for authoritarianism, for power, for control.

If they beat you, me, us down to nothing, if they stop you, me, us from learning and reading and thinking, if they take away the arts and creativity and wonder and joy - then all that is left are drones, robotic type people who just go along. Sounds like 1984 doesn't it?

We are in the times the historians, writers, scribes, thinkers, artists and others have tried to warn us about.

Wake up.

And then, do something.

Anything, one thing. Just one thing to more toward love and humanity.

Evil only has power if you let it.

We don't have to let it be so.

So if they call be bougie and radical or "just too much," so be it, I would rather be that than asleep and wake up one day to my daughters and sons and grandsons in a space that my ancestors fought to leave.

We can do something.

If we are brave.

Sunday, October 1, 2023

In Praise of Jasmine "Tell It Like It Is" Crockett from Texas or Black American Women Just Tired of the Mess

 If you were like me, or maybe not, you were somewhat glued in to the ever-increasing-drama of a government shut down.

For days on end, weeks, months, even, the news kept giving us the drama of a "will they or won't they" about the MAGA republicans attempt to shut down the government in service of their overlord, the 91-indicted, commercial fraud, sexist, racist, empty vessel tyrant wannabe dictator who is only trying to save his own skin. They were capitulating over and over and their speaker was just the 15-vote weak-willed one who couldn't hold it together.

Well, except to try to blame the Democrats and the Senate when Civics 101 means that laws are passed in the Congress first and then voted on in the Senate before they are signed by the President. Didn't anyone else grow up with "It's Just a Bill trying to make it to Capitol Hill" Where is Schoolhouse Rock when you need it.

Then, instead of being the leader and not just a MWM with a title, McCarthy let these MAGAhattypes bring an impeachment hearing tying up precious hours that could have been used ironing out a budget deal.A hearing that even their own constituents said had zero evidence about wrongdoing on the part of President Joe Biden. 

Meanwhile, judge after judge was acting on behalf of the people of the country by finding fraud in New York and essentially ordering the dissolution of the inflated fake enterprise that had every tinymindedwannabe thinking that because they shared Wonderbreadskin, they would one day, hopefully, maybe, be a billionaire, except, he never did anything to earn it or be it. But they could hope, and then the judge after judge, from state to state, dashed those hopes to leave the only thing they could resort to - being keyboard bullies. Talks of "retribution" were uttered over and over, he was trying to stir up the same violence that led to January 6.

In all of this, the media was reporting on it and only a few were calling the card and telling the truth. 

We can't be numb to this, can't be exhausted by all of this, can't be anesthetized to the vitriol. We have to feel it, let it keep us alert. The democracy is on the line.

Just when some of us, well, I, was thinking that no one was paying attention...along came Representative Jasmine Crockett from the Great State of Texas.

This junior representative walked into those chambers with all the ancestors and the spirit of Sojourner and Ida and Mary and all the foremothers who shouted for justice. She wasn't going to demure to the chamber and the OWM in the room. Sista came in prepared.

So it was at the wasting-the-tax-payer-dime that she reminded them that there was a twice-impeached candidate who did commit actual crimes who had the nation's very secrets in the "shitter" because he had such little disregard to the rule of law, the full faith and integrity of the United States, and wanted to destroy this nation in favor of the little dictator he admires. She was fast and fiery in her speech, knew that she was there to fight for her constituency and not just capitulate to these in the power seats.

These are not normal times that we are living in.

Nothing about this is normal and we are way past the time of tip-toeing around anyone's bruised feelings for calling out the blatant racism that is behind literally everything that has been happening in the last year or so.

The book bans? Racism.

That Florida no-personality-joke? Racism.

The dude trying to stop Black women from giving their own money to other Black women? Racism.

The too-to-count-felony-charged-dude-out-on-bail? Racism.

Every safety net they wanted to end? Racism.

Their singular aim, even at the detriment of their own ethnicity is based solely on the original sin of this country and it is past time to call it what it is.

There are some brave souls who are standing up to the bullies and calling a space a space.

What they fear, after they realized they wouldn't make as much money as their fear could hold, they want to make an apartheid state of the fast browning nation. That is why they were salivating at the Texas governor's brutal chain-saws-in-the-river kind of tactics or the Florida and Texas governors bussing hundreds of migrants to New York City or Martha's Vineyard.

In all that they do, cloaked in their fear, they do with racism in mind. 

On the land they stole but are sure to have a naming-ceremony, they only want the people who look like them. That is at the crux of the mean-spiritedness of the actions of that fake-mogul-reality-TV-"star" whose tiny bruised ego couldn't take it when a Black man President ribbed him at the Press Conference dinner over a decade ago. He is vengeful and found some other tiny-hearted-tiny-handed-tiny-souled other incel-bully-patriarhy-types who would rally around him as their second-coming and storm the capital in hopes of restoring their milk toast vision of the nation.

It was more than enough of enough and finally, after so many thinkers, and people like April Ryan, holding it down in the Press Rooms as the only one, were writing, telling, talking about this danger, But after all of this, some are finally listening. 

The nation is about to implode if people keep thinking this is just politics-as-usual or just the other side of the aisle thinking or just liberal-vs-conservative. It is more than tat.

And it is people like Representative Jamie Crockett who is using all her tell-it-like-it-is Blackwomanhadtobetwiceasgoodandprepared self, to literally try to save this nation from itself.

So tonight, on this October 1st, this Sunday with the warmer-than-usual weather in the Northeast, I stop to sing a praise song to this young woman. 

She is not the only one, there are others in the wings, in law schools, in classrooms, in newsrooms, in all walks of life, who are working hard to try to make this country live into her promise of what she can be.

I have hope.

Hope that the rest of them will not give into the bullies who are trying to silence women and put mothers in jail for caring for the reproductive choice of their daughters. Hope that the people in this country will realize that it is not just the presidential election that matters but every last civil servant that requires our vote. That to be engaged matters, even if it is tiring, exhausting, and infuriating. 

Let that fuel us, in the areas of our work, let it makes us want to keep learning and writing and making it better and yes, if we have to, calling out the crap in the shitter, if that is what it will take.

Thank you, Representative Crockett, for not standing back and playing the demure-just-happy-be-here or not embarrassing the nation like others in the chamber. Thank you for fighting for the soul of the nation.

May it inspire the others to find their voice and use it.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Picking Up the Pen Again

 I have been following the WGA Strike for 146 days.

I have also been following the SAG-AFTRA, AMPTP, Teamsters, UAW, and honestly, every other group of creators, creatives, and collaborators who made this country work. 

Never in my lifetime have I seen all these different industries realizing there is more power together, if they stand united, than there is in an individual negotiation for pennies.

When I was in California, I desperately tried to find the SAG-AFTRA strike so I could be in solidarity in person, but I ended up at the wrong location. So I have been following from across the country.

The same for the writers, I put down some major writing projects including my muse/book project and  my book reviews on Tayé Foster Bradshaw's Bookshelf.  If they couldn't write, produce, and earn a living from their craft, why should I? And it has been agonizing! 

Now, to be fair and transparent, I am no where in their league.

No one is paying me to sit in a room with other creative minds and bounce ideas off each other to create an audience-grabbing series or drama. I highly doubt Chat gPT or other AI is trying to pilfer my work the way they are the noted published authors who are currently suing ChatGPT for copyright infringement.

For me, this is still budding.

Yes, I have some pieces published and yes, I've been at this a very long time, but no, I don't make a living from my words. Most writers, actors, and creatives have other gigs, they have to, because the process of imagining from nothing - something, is not valued.

To also be transparent and fair, I'm not in the Writers' Guild of America.

Again, I never considered myself on their level. I'm not a novelist and have never considered myself that creative to write a world and have people read it. I'm not a scriptwriter or screenwriter, so didn't consider myself writing worthy enough to join the guild.

That is a bit of policing myself and some of the mom-life chatter I have been shifting through for the twenty years my life shifted from my corporate imaginations (and huge paychecks!) to being "oh, she is just his wife" as if I checked my brain at the door when I stepped into scheduled-around-their-life kind of work. It was in that, though, that I found my writing again, beyond some poetry projects I'd done in the past, I picked it up almost full-time from 2008. 

Yet, I never put myself in the same league as the writers on strike, so when all this came about 146 days ago, it brought up some questions for me and considerations of this craft.

Craft is a lifetime.

I don't have an MFA or an MA in English (wish I did). I have an M.Div, and an MBA and in those spaces, did a lot of non-fiction writing. Not the stuff of gripping TV.

Yet, it is craft.

A craft that is worth her respect and honestly, pay.

Nothing happens without the writers.

That realization recently surfaced again when I was overhearing my husband with his speechwriter who is still figuring out my husband's "voice." He is in the category of professionals who have a team to pull together his vision and words. 

So, nothing happens without the writers.

And that is the point.

Writers are in every field, making sense of the world, and crafting it in a way for you to understand.

That is the consistent message that came out of the writers' strike and the actors' strike.

This is not "easy" and "just anyone can do it" so "why pay them a decent, fair, and equitable salary - kind of work.

We are pouring out parts of ourselves every time we pick up a pen or tap the keys.

Sure, Instagram and all the instantlyfamousinfluencerswhoarealwayssellingsomething makes it look like that process and planning, education and honing a craft are worthless these days. Why take the time to read and read and study when a camera with backlighting is all you need to be seen?

What the guild was advocating, in my opinion, was something other than a capitalist structure that takes from the many to reward the few; that steals others' work for profit; that bullies people into silence; that values compliance; that prefers to break people for the sake of power. What they were advocating was a just, right, and fair world.

We are in some challenging times.

All the "powers that be" are desperately fighting to maintain their stranglehold, realizing what they have always known - that people power is a far greater force. 

I am happy for my writing siblings across this country. They say the deal reached was exceptional. 

Pick up the pen, my friends, and create the world as you want it to be.


Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Sis Did That: Fani T. Willis and Countless African American Women

 It was meant to be an ordinary after-a-busy-weekend-Monday for me.

I had two small meetings scheduled.

Came home to refresh and relax, and decided that the evening news was to fill the space of knowing I missed out on all weekend.

The Grand Jury had been meeting in Fulton County all day on Monday.

It was now past 5 o'clock Eastern Time and they were still there.

I went on about my evening and one pundit turned into the next into the next and it was getting past my bedtime.

Then well after ten o'clock Eastern Time, the clerk of the court, an African American woman who resembled so many that I know, walked, through a sea of other African American women and the smattering of men, to the waiting scene in the courtroom, all of this televised, but silent.

She stood as the judge read through the stack of papers - looked like a full ream to me - asked her a few questions, signed them, handed them back to her.

In her summer orange dress and pixie cut, she turned with that stack in her left hand and walked out.

The judge addressed the crowd of reporters and told them that all these civil servants had been there well past quitting time and none of them could go home until they leave, so kindly leave.

Then the pundits came back on and were waiting for the unsealing of the papers - was it or wasn't it an indictment?

I think it had to be closer to eleven o'clock at night and they panned to the briefing room of Fulton County and were setting up a podium, the indictment was unsealed and it was a doozy.

An attorney I am not, just the daughter, sister-in-law, friend, and mother of a want-to-be-one, so I wasn't aware of all the steps involved in this and how meticulous she had been as a prosecutor to be sure the state case was airtight.

Even the political commentators were a bit stunned as they read through that ream of paper and started naming all the defendants and the charges - all felony - that exist without possibility of parole.

What a doozy!

I kept texting the family chat and at least admonished my political science/pre-law daughter and my journalism/media studies daughter that they needed to be tuned in to this.

It was a moment that reminded me a bit of Nixon and Watergate.

This was history.

This was necessary.

This was cathartic.

They read the charges.

RICO was and is a big one, it is how they got some of the other organized criminals.

Then, later in the night, again, well past my bed-time, District Attorney Fani T. Willis came out with the entourage of Deputy District Attorneys and in her no-nonsense way, read what was happening. She did not allow her expression to reveal any emotion she felt, not the tool on her and her office, not the weight of the egregious and just sheer nasty threats against her person. She did was she was elected to do and in so doing, also communicated that she was more than qualified to do this - she had tried and won eleven other RICO cases.

Sis did that.

An American Black woman, in Georgia, bringing a moment of relief and healing to the country that the country probably doesn't even know it needs.

Part of my earlier day included a three hour coffee with the assistant of one of the state senators where I now call home.

He was a history major.

It was a get-to-know and perhaps a bit of the privilege of my position as the First Lady of a university, he may have given me more time than just any other constituent. 

Our conversation flowed effortlessly.

He, the same age as my youngest son and a race and ethnicity different than mine.

Me, a past-middle-age woman.

We talked about the state, about the connected issues of housing, economics, health care, and education.

He gave me pointers of places to travel since I'm a foodie and coffee snob.

After the pleasantries of getting to know each other and we turned to the situation at hand, we made the connections in history and the founding of this country that are playing out now.

Neither of us had our phones on or were following the news of being present with another human being.

That was important because it was on one of the pundit evening shows that I was waiting up for to hear the woman who should have been president in 2016. She wrote an article about the issues of loneliness and it was ironic to me because that is what the young man and I talked about as an after effect of covid and part of what is driving this angst we feel in the air.

We agreed that social media and these powerful devices that track every moment of our lives, have us disconnectedly connected to reality. 

If it wasn't on the screen, was it real?

So I was tuning in to hear her when in the middle of that after-nine-o'clock-segment, they interrupted their intended conversation for the breaking news from a young African American woman correspondent who was reporting from outside the Fulton County Courthouse.

I sat up more in bed and listened through the lens of history.

This was big.

Huge, even.

And part of the story that places like Arkansas that just banned AP African American Studies and Florida that ban anything and everything about African Americans, don't want taught or studied.

I absorbed it and recounted the entire day, the entire past few weeks, the entire time since that day in 2016 when that menace "won" the election.


I'm not a political pundit, but it was not lost on me how much this was a social, cultural, and political moment and the importance of African American women leading this charge. 

The Federal judge is an African American woman.

The Fulton County Prosecutor, Clerk, and court officers were all African American women.

The Georgia election workers that the menace and several of the co-conspirators attacked, were African American women.

We tried to tell the country.

Back in 2008.

Years since.

From activists to organizers to scholars, African American women have been canaries in the mine-shaft sounding the alarm that this who thing is about to implode if we don't do something about it.

African American women delivered for the woman who should have been president, it was the white women who just couldn't bring themselves to consider her and instead voted for the nation's long nightmare.

Even after that, African American women worked tirelessly, in the wake of assault after assault against civil rights, after social injustice, and police indifference and brutality, to try to hold up the light of hope and possibility for this country.

It has to be all of us or none of us will make it, despite the rapid dog racism and vitriol of the disgruntled 30-percent of cult followers.

We, historically, have borne the brunt of the worse.

It was on our bodies that the enslavers made it perpetual and declared that even if they raped us and produced a child, that child would not be free like the white father, but perpetually enslaved. The Law of Maternal Descent.

We have placed our bodies on the line for the country we built and are and have been the least respected and least protected.

Fani T. Willis thanked the sheriffs that were protecting the building, the office, the staff, the attorneys and would continue to do so.

It is because history has shown us, January 6 showed us, that there are segments bent on violence to uphold white supremacy and systemic racism.

A dying dog barks the loudest.

And DA Fani T. Willis was steady and sure, well prepared, she stood against vitriol as a professional. She is an HBCU alumna, went to the Mecca. She knew how to do the meticulous cross the ts and dot the I's research that every African American woman knows one must do to be impeccable in her work because this country is stacked against us.

She was ready.

She put in the work for two-and-a-half-years.

She is the one he always feared.

That is why he had the most egregious commentary for Black women.

That is the way this country has been.

And sis stood strong through all of that.

I am very proud of her.

There will be some hard days ahead and a lot of work, but sis did that.


©2023. All Rights Reserved by Antona B. Smith

Sippling my morning latte, looking out at a rainy Northeast morning, smiling at her good work

Thursday, August 10, 2023

In the Moment of Moments

 If you know me, you know that I am somewhat if a bohemian, an amateur anthropologist and sociologist, a presence who observes life and wants to be a part of that life surrounding beauty. Maybe it is the mixing of all my heritages and cultures, or the simplicity of my personality, but I like to be and just appreciate being, experiencing life and she unfolds around me.

If you also know it, I wasn't able to always do that.

Once-upon-a-time, I was in the early morning grind of just trying to survive, the then-divorced young mom in my mid-twenties with boys I had to get to day care before catching my train to work.

Now, as I am winding down this sixth decade of my life, cruising to that Milestone birthday next year, I'm reflecting on how I am living in the moments I could only dream about.

My time is essentially my own, something I could never attest to even as a working-full-time and going to school full time college student. Now, I can regulate my day as it goes and for most of the days of summer, exist without a minute-by-minute agenda.

Some would say that this is what I prayed for, what I worked for, what I pined for, to have my days so that I could create if it wanted, walk if I wanted, sip from a handmade coffee mug, and just watch the world.

It is not a privilege I take lightly and not a position that did not and does not come with its own challenges.

To be in the position I'm in is to be able to notice those places where care is needed more in the world because I am able to walk among the world and notice things. I'm not a lady-who-lunches simply for the sake of saying I can. Now, a coffee shop trip with a journal and book, that is another story! But no, I am not to be found perusing the designer wares at some high end designer store, I am not pining over jewelry that makes my hands glitter, I am pretty simply in my life joys and pleasures. 

There are perhaps moments when this space of calm I feel and just "going with the flow" is what I have gleaned being around my daughters.

They are young/emerging adults now, both in college, one preparing for her final year, one is her second year, both of them are amazing individuals that I marvel at anything I had to do in their development.

As GenZ women, they have taught me a few things about being present with myself.

One does not deny herself the simple pleasure of a day on the peace or outings with friends, she is the social butterfly that I am not. Even though she will say I am more of an ambivert than the introvert (INFJ) that I actually am, she is indeed the more social of the crew. She spent her month at home after her internship traipsing up and down the coastline with her friends who were also home from college.

In her, my youngest,I see the joy of life and just taking it all in.

My oldest daughter came home for a couple weeks after finishing up her production apprenticeship. 

She is more like me in ways, quieter, observant, just likes her space. We can be at home all day and be content in that space or when we go out, we enjoy the simple pleasures and appreciate the experience for what it is.

Her lessons to me are in that I am worth the things I do treat myself to - like the handmade Turkish slippers I bought on a recent trip to a bazaar in Los Angeles. It is something I would have second- guessed before and something my twenty-something-self could never afford.

While I am not perusing the luxury stores, I do love the artistry and beauty of something made by hand and will honor the ones who took the time to create it, I don't quibble over the price of something created from someone's soul.

So it was, in being in moments of moments this weekend when I initially missed all the news that unfolded in Montgomery, Alabama.

August 5th is my wedding anniversary. My husband and I have been together a lot of years in a lot of places and this one was spent with him traveling because our youngest had to move into her collegiate apartment. So we just had a quiet movie-in-day, my older daughter and I.

Then the next day, we were out on the Green in community with others seeking ways to care for humanity, ways of ecumenical service and agreement that all of us live on this place called earth and all of us have a part to play. Then, she and I were present with each other over a meal, came home, refreshed, and then spent the rest of the evening watching movies. 

So we were a little late the the dock and boat scene, but oh when it finally reached our inbox!

I've been on that docked and walked that downtown, my youngest son went to college there.

I'm a believer in the spirits of the ancestors, especially those enslaved in this country, continuing to ring out and teach us, to show us ways.

It is the same belief I had living in the northeast and walking on all this Indigenous land, driving down places in Connecticut and Rhode Island that have Indigenous names, it is being present to stop and listen to what these ancestors are sharing with us.

When I am among people, I listen, watch, feel. That is the Empath in me.

I felt all that was happening in that boat scene, again, late reaching my airwaves, but impactful when it finally did.

All that has been going on around us and things I've been writing about since 2008, it seemed to all feel so right for those of us descended from those whose traverse came across these rivers and oceans. It just was a needed release.

So whenever this almost-sixty-year-old-woman is in spaces, people don't often notice me, I'm an past-middle-age African American woman of post-menopausal size. In that seeing-unseeing, I see a lot.

The gift of this time that I am in is that I am able to be in time and spaces.

Inside of one month, I have been in airports in Connecticut and Chicago and Los Angeles. I've been in resorts and restaurants and in the unintentional middle of religious prosletyzing on the streets of Hollywood. I've been in empty coffee shops and crowded restaurants and malls without shoppers. I've walked along tourist streets in big cities and beach towns, I've looked at trinkets not worth their price simply because of place and then gingerly held something an artist created worth more than the sticker they placed on it. I've walked on college campuses without notice of who I am and watched the young ones see-but-not-see the older ones. I've been in rooms of people who think they influence and then sitting across others over coffee knowing where change really happens.

Moments, all of it.

Being in it is to appreciate it for what it is, to muse over it, to consider it all.

In this stage of my life, in the privileges of this life, in the only one I could never dream was mine, that is all I am trying to do.


©2023. Antona B. Smith. All Right Reserved.

Enjoying life along the sound.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

A Tragedy We Will See for A Generation

 I have been busy with our family transition, dealing with movers, packing, setting up the apartment, and just swamped, so it was with a bit of dismay this morning that I was finally able to sit down and have a cup of coffee to watch the news when the news was shattering:

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down Affirmative Action in higher education.

Now, this is more than just Harvard or UNC or frankly, any college or university.

This is four decades of precedence. 

Like them striking down Roe v. Wade.

They have consistently shown themselves to be the most racist, mean-spirited, ultra conservative court that has ever existed.

White boys are not smarter than African Americans. What they got was legacy admissions and unmerited access to generations of higher education. White boys are not smarter than the vast majority of the country and one of the things that Affirmative Action made sure was that poor white students, women, African American, Indigenous, and other people who otherwise were qualified for admission to college, could have their race and class considered in the overall makeup of the student class.

I'm a mom of college students.

I'm the wife of an university president.

I just walked on campus the last two days with scores of Class of 2027 students going through orientation and just smiled at the racial and ethnic diversity of these students. The actions of this decision today could decidedly threaten that in future classes.

It left me so angry this morning that after watching the news, I had to get out of the apartment and just walk and think. There is a book by Ifeoma Oluo called Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America.

We have been living in that since 2008 and the birther rose up.  We have seen it on the other side of the quests and protests for Black lives, we have seen it since 2020 when George Floyd was lynched in the middle of a pandemic and all sorts of people stood up. We keep seeing it.

And this bought-and-paid-for conservative majority, in a 6-3 decision, ruled that this is an apartheid state with only White males as the ultimate ones to benefit from any chance or opportunity.

This, in a country that is racially and ethnically diverse, that is not the top 1%, that is filled with people who have hopes and dreams that if given the chance, will make this a truly representative democracy.

What happened today is a tragedy that we will see play out in my grandsons' lives.

My late father, in the early 1970s, wrote the State of Missouri's Affirmative Action Plan that became an Executive Order that created the Office of Equal Opportunity. That dealt with everything from employees in state government to government contracting. What resulted was the doors pushed wide open for white women who raced out of the secretarial pools into state government positions of management, who took business contracts under the guise of being "minority" and benefitted from this ruling. 

Today, we saw that this U.S. Supreme Court is abnormal, that has ruled against the rights and hopes of the people.

They lied under oath that they would not overturn president.

They took gifts and special trips.

And they have shown they are not impartial and can not be trusted as the balance for the country.

This was horrible and will be devastating.

I'm sickened by it.

The Chinese/Asian students used as pawns in the Harvard case and what happened in the UNC case has shown the dangers of not considering history and that this country was born on genocide and human/sexual trafficking of African peoples who were not like immigrants who came here of their own choice.

Only African Americans were denied education to the point of it being illegal for them to learn. Even Indigenous people were allowed to learn - albeit a colonized and horrific boarding school system - but they were not denied the right to read and write like what happened to African Americans. The Chinese and Asian students, the Indian students, Caribbean and African students, the Hispanic/Latinx students of recent years have never been impacted by the same history of 246 years of radicalized caste in enslavement of African Americans, 163 years of Jim Crow and we have only had since my lifetime - 59 years - with a slight modicum of equal opportunity. The disparate impact of race continues and Affirmative Action was only one tool that leveled the playing field for students who already had to meet all the qualifications to even get into the college or university. It is horrific and generational and this court dashed all that aside.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson said in their "let them eat cake obviousness" that seems pretty replace for the top 1% and for the white male and white female justices who had every unearned opportunity handed to them because of their race and thinking they were exceptional because of it.

It is horrific.

Access to education has been denied.  My husband, in one of his speeches at his new university, talked about "the transformative power of education" and why this work is his passion, that it literally changed the trajectory of his life as a first generation college student.

This U.S. Supreme Court just dashed the hopes that people like my husband stood on.

I am not a first generation college graduate. From the maternal heritage, my kids are actually third and fourth generation. Really, the luck of the draw as African heritage people in this country. For my husband, my daughters are second generation college students who have had the benefit of parents who invested in their matriculation. We believe everyone should have the same chance, that this country, this democracy will be so much better if everyone who wants to is able to access the education of their dreams.

Why should it just be for the elite?

What happened today was a gut punch, much like the same court dashing a woman's right to choose what happens to her body.

All they want is power and control, perhaps what they want are just bodies to work, the same kind of people what are relaxing child labor laws, that are forcing women to have children and then making it impossible to feed, clothe, and educate those children. Once-upon-a-time, this country had children working in coal mines and garment sweat shops. Is that what they want again?

Today was tragic and like any tragedy, we will be days and weeks trying to grapple with it, trying to find ways to live around it and still have hope for a diverse nation.

___________________________________________________________________________________©2023 Copyright by Antona B. Smith

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

In the Middle of Perfect Change

 I have been quite busy over the past few months and in the midst of all the jubilant chaos of excited blessings, I had to quiet myself.

We have been on a whirlwind every since my husband stepped into his new role at yet another university.

It has been event-after-event, more people met in a short time, and lots of changes.

Those changes can feel overwhelming when stacked on top of one another. They have included moves of my adult children, lots of travel, planning entire house moves, studying, and still trying to walking in the joy and happiness I've been studying.

Change is inevitable, it is new every day, fresh every morning like the grace that rests upon each of us, but it is also a lot to navigate if it is more than what was expected, or if it rushes at you all at once.

Or it can be anticipated, but unanticipated at the enormity of it and how literally overnight your circumstances can shift.

I have been packing for days on end now, preparing for our household move to place some things in storage until our home is complete. We will be living in a two bedroom, two bathroom campus apartment for six months.

That means that in the middle of putting things in boxes and moving bags, I've been trying to anticipate what events will comprise my summer and fall. Exactly what suit or what dress to bring with me? How many engagements will require my attendance and how glammed up will I have to be? 

Or for a bibliophile with more books than the average small, independent bookstore - exactly which titles of TBRs go with me to the 2x2 cube allotted for any books I intend to read while on campus? What about my studies and important papers I have to complete this fall? Do I send everything to storage.

Or, finally, what about the weather? Do I anticipate bringing boots and coats with me?

Change has been defined as both a verb and a noun. As a verb, that action form it means to "make something or someone different or replace something with something else of the same kind that is newer or better, substitute on thing for another." As a noun, it is the act or instance of making or becoming different, to make the form, nature, content, future course of something different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone." - Google search, 6/14/23.

The verb (action) and the noun (person, place, or thing/thought) of it seem very similar and in a lot of ways are exactly what the essence of this experience I am having entails.

It is tangible - we are indeed changing one place for another and with it, the anticipation of what it will be like to wake up in a different place. It is also very spiritual for us, for me at least, to consider the ways that our journey brought us to one place and is preparing for another one. 

We have been in eager anticipation of what God was going to do with us next. 

My husband and I have a shared faith and through our expressions of it, have held onto the belief that there was a reason that we were privileged to be in the spaces were we found ourselves and that a part of our essence was to be an example of love and light in that space.

Throughout all our lives together, through raising our children, we have had to deal with the inevitability of changes.

These have included moving to different places - more times than I want to count the boxes, in guiding our children through meeting new people and adjusting to those spaces, and in ourselves lamenting what we cherished about one state of being and discovering what is to be appreciated about a new space.

Our hearts skip a beat, our breathing reflects what our body absorbed, change is felt.

It can be exciting and uneasy at the same time.

I always discover something in the middle of it, like in all this packing and. my extensive library, I encounter a title that I read years ago and am flooded with memories of the joy of discovery and why I kept that book. Or, when my older son was here visiting us a few months ago and was helping with the beginning of the packing phase, he found some old pictures and we were both time travelers to the when of those still images. It made me wish for a "real camera" again and the expectations of what would come back from the developer, those days of film when we weren't sure if it was good or not. It wasn't as easy to make a quick change to it before it was posted to the world. It was a happy moment we shared and a reminder to me that I have boxes of real photos calling my attention to scrapbook them before time fades away the story of it.

Reflecting on all that this life is bringing me has been an experience of reflection and renewal, discovery and discernment. These are also acts that are reflected in change.

If we never grow - i.e., change - we just become stagnant, almost like that forgotten unwatered plant I found in my sunroom. 

Change then, is inevitable, it must happen. Things can't just be the same, stagnant all the time.

Lately, I've been asking what are the lessons in it, what part of it can I share with others, and how can I still grow to become the person I was always meant to be.

I recently turned fifty-nine, decidedly on the other side of middle age and deep in the ravages of post-menopause on the body. In that calendar shifting, I looked at myself in the mirror and noticed the sudden altering of my image reflecting back at me. 

When I got over the shock waves radiating through my body from the sudden onslaught of pains that weren't there even three years ago, I began to marvel at what the universe was gifting me.

So, here I am, an older Black woman with dark circles under my eyes, walking with a decided limp as the result of a car accident thirty-eight years ago that finally decided that it was time to make that injury more than an occasional sciatic nerve episode, looking at the lease of time and wondering about how I can still change my life.

Some were going to automatically happen because of my husband's new position, I'm meeting new people and in the middle of new situations all the time, that is not really a change, as the wife of an university administrator, but it is with a new audience, people who don't really know me, and in a state where I am still a relative stranger. I have to adjust to them as they adjust to me and all of it is a dance of acceptance, trust, and believing in the positive.

What do I do when it feels like a lot?

I am an introvert and have to find moments to replenish and renew myself, to not be "on" all the time, and to quiet my soul so that I can hear her speak.

So I find a respite of a coffee shop or a sit out in the sunroom, or when I have to process a lot of shifting forms and being different - I race to the water.

While it is still happening all around me and swirling in the midst of me, I am still pausing to appreciate the perfectness of it all.