Tuesday, November 17, 2015


This afternoon, a rainy, sloshy afternoon, I went to get a chest x-ray.

It is the first one I've had in probably a decade, maybe even fifteen years, not since living in Iowa City. It wasn't needed. I had a head CT scan once, about ten years ago, an x-ray before a surgery to remove my submandibular gland, of course, the mammogram, but nothing alarming.

Asthma is a funny chronic disease In me, it ramps up after exposure to a trigger and goes fast.

There was mold in the wall of my townhouse. The leak fixed, the walls removed, the wood treated, new walls up, new floors up, drywall painted. All good, and smelly things, that send an asthmatic into wheezy city.

November ended up being that month, after fifteen years of not being in the hospital, not even an emergency room for oxygen, that I was floored. No hospital or even chronic care, took care of it with my nebulizer, chastised by my doctor for not coming in a few days sooner, prednisone my new friend, and then, something that stopped me.

There was no sign of pheunomia, good, even with the rain and the November weather, it is not a cold that sent me to wheeze, check No cold, no inflammation, none of the usual asthma suspects. Even my oxygen stats were good. My vegetarian self was feeling pretty good

Then the tech told me that they found a 4mm module on my right lung and wondered if I had xrays done there before so they could compare.

Nope, I said, I didn't, I hadn't lived in this city before and the last ones were over a decade old.

Ok, she said, we will give the results to your asthma doctor.

Then, like the downpour and the gray clouds and the sloshy roads, an overwhelming feeling hit me.

It was both fear and fight.

I started to think about life.


That precious thing that matters to the students at MU who were protesting for their young lives to simply exist in their black skin and seek an education.

The students at Yale and Northwestern and KU and countless other universities that rose up and spoke up for safe spaces and their right to exist at these same institutions that heavily recruited them for the sake of diversity.


That thing that was lost in Paris and Beirut and Kenya and today, Nigeria.

Lost in Chicago, and Minneapolis, and St. Louis.

Precious, once-only-dash.


That thing that matters to Syrian refugees and Indian women fighting to not be raped and be held as full human beings, to former military personnel testifying in Congress that a two-time vet during this decades long war can't feed his family on $7.25 per hour.

I started to think about all those things that I still want to do.

So I prayed. Out loud. In my car.  Not the holy roller prayer, but the declaration, the speaking

I want to live, I am not finished yet, that purpose that I was created is not over yet. I still have to finish that chap book, that poetry book, that book, travel to the ancestral islands and put my feet in the Caribbean. I want to see my grandson grow up, my daughters perform in Carnegie Hall and my son's first Opera performance. I'm not finished teaching, and advocating, and consulting, and helping.


Even as millennial protesters tell us that are over fifty that we are past our prime, I talk to my peers and we are still filled with all the things we want to do. We are not over. Not finished.

Life matters.

It really does.

Even as some tried to degrade the Black Lives Matter protesters to sneeringly proclaim All Lives Matter, when they really don't think that, the face is that ALL LIVES DO MATTER and have value and have a right to live without contrived fear for profit and murder to satisfy some fabricated ideal. If all lives did matter, the Syrians wouldn't be turned away from 31 of the United States and France would not have immediately retaliated by bombing an already ravaged country and wouldn't be continuing to extract blood, sweat, and tears from African nations as reparations for slavery that never should have existed.

Life is truly precious.

I sat in that rain and thought about that precious dash, that moment that we we have That moment that so many callously take from others, like little nine-year old Tyshawn in Chicago and the 13 black women who were raped by the former police officer I refuse to name, Life matters.

Life should be lived fully,fully. Love fully, laugh fully, learn fully.

We matter, we do.

This black woman intends to fight, Not live in fear, Fight fully to live.

Because I have to
Jubilee Summer at Lake Huron in Cleveland - photo by Tayé Foster Bradshaw

I know, it is likely nothing, it is too small to be cancerous, probably just a build up, nothing to be alarmed about,

But it did alarm me

It reminded me that I am further away from that stary eyed young college girl with dreams in front of me, thinking I could change the world.

But it also reminded me that almost all the older white people running for President are a decade or more older than me. It if is not too late for them or governors or mayors, it is certainly not too late for me.

Never too late to love and be loved, fully and completely. Never too late to walk on the beach or drink a latte or read a book or meet a new friend or smile.

Life matters to all of us, it is the gift we have been given by The Most Holy One, what we do with it is our gift back and a testimony that we matters.

I intend to live this dash.





Sunday, November 8, 2015

Why Mizzou Matters

It was quiet news at first.

Homecoming at Mizzou.

Black students in silent protest for the condition of black lives on campus and in Columbia.

These students were booed and met with the usual middle Missouri brand of racism.

The students kept their resolve and understood that the issues they were speaking up for included the larger social issues that have been a part of the Black Lives Matter movement. Specifically, they understood that
1, Denying graduate studnets access to health care is a breech of a promise
2. Planned Parenthood is a comprehenisve health option for many students, especially in reproductive care
3. Continued racial unrest, much hadn't changed since the 2010 cotton incident
4. Mizzou has a strained history of racialized behavior 
5, The Lloyd Gaines case remains part of the story

The first news tricked onto social media when the Concerned Students 1950 organized their walk-outs, sit-ins, and a hunger strike by one of the graduate students.

They have taken their protest to key spots on campus including the Plaza 900 dining hall, the Alumni Center, and through the Quadrangle during the recruitment tours. The Columbia Missourian has been reporting about the situation on Mizzou's campus and the very determined efforts of the students, including Jonathan Butler, graduate student on a hunger strike.

It remained a quick scan for most of those outside the university life. There were some posts and some notices, a read-a-day to find out what the university response would be. It was remininsent of the SLU occupation that happened last year during the days after Michael Brown's murder.

Then, Saturday happened.

Mizzou players united
photo credit - @1Sherrils_2MIZZ

Saturday, November 7, 2015, represented a catalyst of change and a conversation of courage for the black athletes to declare that they would not play football until System President, Tom Wolfe, is either fired or resigns for fostering an environment of homophopia, racism, and sexism.

These students were bold and strategic in their demands. They took it to the top. They stood united, they counted up the cost. They also are keenly aware that the powerful Mizzou athletic program has been boosted on the backs of several generations of black men like these, recruited to play for the Tigers, while their counterparts encounter otherism in class, cotton thrown on their student union, or residence halls painted with human waste. They know they are in the den of the most vile racists in the middle of the state.

Sunday, November 8, 2015, after a night of twitter and Facebook trickling up news of the athlete walkout, the national news coverage has taken the story. Every post this morning had news of the athletes, ending with the most recent one that the Mizzou Athletic Department is standing with the students. Their hashtag is #BehindOurBoys.

This is big, it is a moment, a potential for change, like the students of a generation ago who helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott or those of Freedom Summer who descended on Mississippi to register black voters, this is a time that the Black Lives Matter Movement needed.

Mizzou matters because of The Dred Scott Case, Harris-Stowe State Univerity, Lincoln University of Mo, Lloyd Gaines, and the continued racism in education. It matters for all the staff, professors, and students facing ill treatment from departmetns at the university, from college recruiting to housing, to academic departments, the atmosphere is one of oppression, filled with rural and mid-state racism.

We need to keep our eyes on Mizzou, it is going to be an interesting fall.

"It is our duty to fight for our freedom. We must love and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains."