31 December 2015

KWANZAA DAY 7 : IMANI / FAITH

From the Nguzo Saba, day seven of Kwanzaa celebrates

IMANI / FAITH
to believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, 
our leaders. and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

HABARI GANI?





I believe with all my heart in:

Black people-- which is everyone, not just us with melanin enriched dermis, but especially skin Black people-- to turn the tide of hate towards us as we more fiercely and intentionally love ourselves and one another. Don't believe the hype.  Create our own narratives of Black love, affirmation, and joy. 

The Ankh : life, stability,
endurance and power
My Mother-- for being living faith. Before I was educated in biblical language and could articulate my theology of the Imago Dei, I knew that Mama was God! Sure, I have called her other names, including: Stone Cold Fox of the 60's, Ride or Die Girl, Granny on Fleek, and Queen Mother; however, being raised watching her do "what is good, and what the Lord requires: to do justly, to love mercy, to be humble, to walk with God" (Micah 6:8) continues to inform and transform me. I thank God for her 76 years of life and my 55 years of being a part of her heart. And also,Church mothers, Mother HawkinsMother Tramble, and JoyBell Ray for adopting me into family systems of love even though they both lost daughters to death who were my peers.  

My teachers-- from 1st grade, Mrs. Hall for making me feel smart and creative; from middle and high school, Mr. Turner for recognizing me as Lady Rae, femme lesbian, brilliant orator, skilled seamstress, and afraid of very little. He always looked upon me as I imagined a proud father would. Audre Lorde for teaching me to demand to be called the name/s I answer too; and to ignore all others. Like her, I love that I look different in all of my pictures/selfies. Dr. Katie G. Canon, from whom I learned that real womanists are confident enough to lecture, love, and do the Wobble in public. Sharon Bridgforth, for freeing my poetry to appear on the page like I perform it in public. Church mothers, Mother Hawkins and Mother Tramble, for adopting me into family systems of love even though they both lost daughters younger than me. 

Our leaders-- namely, President Barack H. Obama, for choosing to be a public target for the good of humanity.  As a global leader he is respected. As a national leader he is the pride of many.  As a husband and father, I get the feeling Lady Michelle and the girls are not putting on a front. Thank you, Mr. President. When your vacation starts, know that you have well earned it!

the Bye Nyame : No one but God.
(also, my next tattoo)
The righteousness and victory of our struggle-- #BlackLivesMatter #BlackGirlsRock #BringBackOurGirls #LetGirlsLearn #ColorofChange #JayyDodd and everywhere grassroots activism takes roots.   

With God, in whom I have all faith, I have faith in humanity to become more like you, one breath at a time. In you, O God, we live and move and have our being. Remind us, Holy Spirit, remind us, over and over again. 

Ashe.
And so it is. 
Amen. 


.

Kwanzaa Day 6: KUUMBA / CREATIVITY

From the Nguzo Saba, day six of Kwanzaa celebrates

KUUMBA / CREATIVITY
to do always as much as we can, in the way we can, 
in order to leave our community more beautiful 
and beneficial than we inherited it.

HABARI GANI?


Dogon symbol :
creativity
I am a Creative. That peculiar person who others treat like a square peg frustratingly impossible to fit into a round hole. We hear drums-- and appear to dance off beat. We see rainbows-- and name the colors between the arches in gradients and hues.  We delight in words-- written, spoken, sung, warbled, and cooed.  We know straight lines exist-- and in our heads they are drawn in microscopic patterns unseen by the others' eye. I am a Creative

Without the morphological tools to name and classify myself, I first became aware that I was a creative in the early years of elementary school.  I wanted flair in everything I did. I wore the extra barrettes in my hair. I wore bangle bracelets as far up my arm as I get away with. If purple was a clothing option I chose it. When called upon to read aloud, in the classroom or in church, I read in rehearsed animated voices. I wrote poetry and bound them in books made of cardboard and crayons. I conducted full liturgy for my dolls and occasional stuffed animal (I preferred dolls over stuffed animals.)

When the others were outside playing or inside watching television, I was creating. I showed a natural aptitude for creating with my words and with my hands.  To this day type over 100 wpm with few if any errors while composing. I write poetry, sermons, speeches, wedding toasts.  I design interactive websites. I design and sew clothes and home decorations.  I crochet the functional and the whimsical. I paint with acrylics and textured mediums.  I bead complete sets of jewelry.  Creating something is never far out of arms reach. 
“In art, the Trinity is expressed in the Creative Idea, the Creative Energy, and the Creative Power—the first imagining of the work, then the making incarnate of the work, and third the meaning of the work.” ― Dorothy L. SayersThe Mind of the Maker
I am a Creative. When I am creating, I am in my happy place. Then I am content and at peace. I am aware that what I create is often a gift to others who do not create the way I do.  Even when they don't understand my unconventional way of living and engaging with the world, they appreciate my artistry.  I believe, they genuinely appreciate me. 

I am a Creative. I am the Imago Dei of the One who in the beginning created. When I create, I am in worship. When my creation blesses the others, God is praised. 




30 December 2015

Kwanzaa Day 5: NIA / PURPOSE

From the Nguzo Saba, day five of Kwanzaa celebrates

NIA / PURPOSE
to make our collective vocation the building and development of 
our community in order to restore our people to our original greatness.

HABARI GANI?


If the question, "What is your purpose?" evokes  any measure of anxiety, you are in a good place.  The pursuit of purpose, for the purposeful, is a life long quest to do more than just occupy space on earth between life and death.  

In seasons of knowing our purpose we feel accomplished, clear, powerful, and influential. We feel we can move mountains and are usually successful in our attempts to do what we set out to do. Then, there are seasons when what we are doing seems not enough, off a bit, a tad inadequate.  Sort of like, wearing shoes where the heels have been worn down. And so we begin questioning our purpose; we begin pursuing our purpose; we get anxious when we can no longer rattle off our elevator speech response to the question, "What is your purpose?"

I suggest that only people living out our purpose are those who ebb and flow with seasons of purposefulness. We are they who began to feel the run down imbalance of working our purpose; until that day we realize we have out grown that model and means of shoe-- the way in which we found our purpose fulfilled. 
the Nefir :
beauty and good

Although we can refine our purpose on any given day, there is something about the last days of each year that affords us space to reflect and contemplate.  To reflect on how we came to foundationally understand our purpose; and to contemplate how fleshing out our purpose might look going forward. 

We might just need to resole our shoes.  We might also need to retire that pair, get measured for new ones which better accommodates our stride and gate that comes with experience, and walk into the next season of our purpose well-fitted and functional.  

Only people with purpose stay in pursuit of fleshing out our purpose.  May the soul of your purpose continue to be realized in all things that are beautiful and good.




29 December 2015

Prayer to Shaddai : End of Year 2015

End of year emotions are increasingly complex. Shaddai, hear our prayers:

For those who mourn deaths of mothers, fathers, siblings, and friends-- dichotomize comfort with tears; heal untreated wounds; and reconcile relationships between the related. 

For those who mourn deaths of children, spouses, friends, and kin to police violence and racial profiling-- accelerate justice for the murderers; make the stakes higher as a deterrent to this abhorrent privilege. 


For those who celebrate new babies born in recent weeks or celebrating their first Christmas-- infuse the world with joy with their every smile, coo, and peaceful slumber. 


For those who end the year operating in the black-- may their gratitude be from fair gain and not from exploitation of the poor, dependent worker; allow their pleasure of their profit be in measure of their just wages and policies.


For those who end the year in debt, homeless, cash poor, overdrawn, and agonizing that their boot straps are frayed-- give them rest from their toiling, hope for how to work with your providence, and meet their needs, grant their wants, and give them abundance to share. 


For those who are ill in body, mind, or spirit-- show yourself as healer through trained healers who act as your hands, ears, hearts, and resources; show them to physicians, psychiatrists, therapists, specialists, midwives, nurses, home health aids, nutritionists, and other wellness professionals who see healing as divine calling. 


For those who are in a relationship quandary-- turn lovers' hearts back towards one another with a fresh desire for their one and only; have single men and single women open their eyes to the one who is perfect for them; sanctify marriages for your glory in family, business, ministry; and most of all, stave the hands of abusers of those who trust them as fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, lovers, and children. 


For those... [this prayer remains open for petitions, supplications, and intercession]


End of year emotions are increasingly complex. We find ourselves traversing from places of need to abundance, grief to joy, agitation to peace. Shaddai, Multi-breasted One, you calm our fretting and feed us grace.  You alone suit our case, whatever it may be, from fleeting moment to moment.  


Shaddai, hear our prayers. 


Amen.


Kwanzaa Day 4: UJAMAA / COOPERATIVE ECONOMICS

From the Nguzo Saba, day four of Kwanzaa celebrates

UJAMAA / COOPERATIVE ECONOMICS
to build and maintain our own stores, shops and
other businesses and to profit from them together.

HABARI GANI?


Entrepreneurship. Side hustle. Gig. Craft booth. Bake sale. Out of the trunk.  Gypsy taxi. Entrepreneurship.  Black people have an impressive history of  making ends meet; of monetizing our passions. 

the Nsibidi represents
togetherne
This year, I upped my game from being an occassional freelance writer to incorporating my writing services business-- iWrite.Solutions LLC.  I invested the work to get the paper, banking, and branding to move me from an afterthought to sought out. 

I realize that it is not enough to support Black business, we need to create Black businesses! And, we need to do it by filing the necessary forms which legitimizes our viability and visibility.  The Small Business Association really is a wellspring of information and equipping for helping with the process and networking. 

By faith, we must "despise not small beginnings" of our own dreams, visions, and witty inventions.  We must commit to our own gifts and talents what we commit to making another's companies grow on our bent backs, minimum wages, classist protocols, and waning benefits.  

How will you plant your one person business aka entrepreneurial gig with paper on record with the IRS, Secretary of State, and Chambers of Commerce?

For iWrite.Solutions LLC I give God thanks and praise:
  • The circumstances which gave me the time to do this full time. 
  • The banker who heard my vision and became a client. 
  • The first time I got cash rewards for using my business credit card.
  • Online banking which has a live person who understands why holding payments for 21 days is not applicable to my business model. 
  • Compliments received on the wittiness of my logo, web site, and URL. 
  • Satisfied past clients. Present steady clients. And clients on the horizon. 
  • Vision for entrepreneurship; courage to submit the first form; opportunities to make my calling my vocation
In the near future, consider hiring iWrite.Solutions LLC as your writing partner for web design, speeches, academic articles and editing, blogs, listicles, and almost anything time you need to write the right solutions!  View client testimonials, hire me, and follow my grammer blog

28 December 2015

Kwanzaa Day 3: UJIMA / COLLECTIVE WORK AND RESPONSIBILITY

From the Nguzo Saba, day three of Kwanzaa celebrates
UJIMA / COLLECTIVE WORK AND RESPONSIBILITY

to build and maintain our community together and make our brother's
and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together.

HABARI GANI?
I have over 1,000 problems and there are still three days left in this year. 
KilledByPolice.net chronicles the names, ages, genders, race, states, and news coverage of persons killed by police since 2012.  So far in 2015, American police have killed 1190 people.  At last count by The Guardian, over 1,000 of these were Black / African American. So far. There are still three days left in this year. 
Although my son is alive today, there is no guarantee that he will be tomorrow-- if the police has a hand in it. And I sit here writing out my grief today, while there is no guarantee that if I open my door to a strong knock it might end in my execution just across the threshold to my home-- if the police has a hand in it. So today I write about my problems, all 1190 of those names, outnumbered by police who use their badge and bullets as judge, jury, and executioner against black men, women, and children. Because they can; and they can get away with it. I have over 1,000 problems in graves and only as many more as are black people living-- as long as the police use us for target practice and live trophies. 
My problem is that my sons were murdered by the police (and white men with law enforcement affiliations and white men just for sport):  Tamir Rice,  Michael Brown, John Crawford III, Eric Garner, Levar Jones, Trayvon Martin, Mike Davis, Oscar Grant, Walter Scott, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo...
My problem is that my daughters were murdered by the police (ditto above reference): Sandra Bland, Natasha McKenna, Tanisha Anderson, Yvette Smith, Miriam Carey, Shelly Frey, Rekia Boyd,  Aiyanna Stanley-Jones...
My problem is that my natural born son lives in Boston, one of the cities in America in which police have ONLY killed Black people this year.  And there are still three days left in 2015. 
I pray my prayers work salvation. 
I give my signature for justice. 
I bring water to youthful protesters stopping traffic. 
I plead with Black people to re-value our own lives.
I hope white people repent; or at least revolt alongside me.

Please, for there are three days left in this year. 



Adinkra : symbol of shared
effort and obligation.

27 December 2015

Kwanzaa Day 2 : KUGICHAGULIA / SELF-DETERMINATION

From the Nguzo Saba, day two of Kwanzaa celebrates
KUJICHAGULIA aka SELF-DETERMINATION
to define ourselves,
name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
 


HABARI GANI?
Seven ways I write to define myself, name myself, create for myself, and speak for myself:
Akan throne

1.  Poetry: from my earliest remembrance I wrote poetry.  I see life in poetry. I unintentionally speak  and purposefully preach poetically.  I purpose to publish three volumes of poetry this year.

2.  Sermons:  from around six years old I loved playing church -- only if I was the preacher.  But that was unheard of. In the denomination of my youth and young adult life, only the men got to preach. So I wrote my own sermons, preached myself to sleep as a lullaby, and write sermons for a living now. I love translating texts, seeking non-canonical texts, and creating viable interpretations of ancient texts.  I am excited to begin next year with two preaching/teaching opportunities.

3.  Prayers:  There is power in praying for someone in person.  Yet, there are people for whom I pray which distance prohibits actually touching them.  I like to write prayers for the people-- we who meet with common faith and on the occasion s of human tragedies. Lord, hear my written prayers. I purpose to publish a book of prayers.

4.  Blog:  Blogging for me is the social media of essay writing.  The freedom to choose a topic, explore it in very personal terms, and share it with the world opens me up to conversation with others of like mind.  Not that we have to agree; we are just thinking about the same things. I grow. I purpose to post less on social media and blog daily instead.

5.  Letters:  handwritten in note cards and longer writ typed.  I like the form and the content. I like imagining how the recipient will respond. I like creative salutations and signatures. I like writing love letters and letters of activism-- these are somehow the same although the latter is steeped in pain. I purpose to handwrite letters to my paramour. 

6.  Status updates:  I particularly like the Facebook format over other social media.  I can tell a good story, pen a pithy anecdotes, or reflect on a moral dilemma.  I like LIKEs; affirmations that the post resonated with a reader even more than agreement. I welcome REPLYs; whether affirming or adversarial.  My FBF are a brilliant lot and the conversations we have define, refine, and create stronger community.  I purpose to transition my longer posts into populating my blog instead. 

7.  Reflections:  I often examine my motives, actions, and outcomes by writing out encounters and exchanges with others.  In doing so, I relive moments of being present, flesh out regrets, and capture joys of life. I learn most about myself and how I want to be in the world-- loving, giving, forgiving, joy-filled, and hopeful. I purpose to use my reflections as poetry fodder.

Through writing I define myself as a woman being of God; I name myself as mother, queer, preacher, poet, theologian, scholar, artist; I create for myself truth, history, and legacy; I speak for myself as disabled, aging,
African in American diaspora, and global citizen.





26 December 2015

Kwanzaa Day 1 : UMOJA / UNITY

From the Nguzo Saba, day one of Kwanzaa celebrates
UMOJA aka UNITY
to strive for and to maintain unity
in the family, community, nation, and race.
 

HABARI GANI?
Dagi knot

Today I celebrate the Black Lives Matter movement. Echoing sentiments of the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s, #BLM is the movement giving renewed strength for our journey to be regarded as human by racist oppressors and for us to be mindful of our complicity in devaluing our own Black lives. Through #BLM activism, America once again sees people of all races and nationalities sitting-in, dying-in, blocking-up, stopping-up, shouting-down, speaking-up, and fighting to live another day. 






#BLM cultivates unity, out of oppression; and sustains unity by celebrating the stamina of youth, influence of social media, and wisdom of the elders. Black Lives Matter is more than a slogan, it's truth. Truth which matter to every living being. Especially in America. 

My Christmas "it's the Christian thing to do" Greeting is a simple black and white card inscribed with this sentiment:
    I crochet way too many of these Black stars
    to shed light of the lives of Black people
    killed while in police custody.
  • Please hang this Black Star on your gaily colored Christmas decorations in remembrance of Black lives cut short by violence in America.  We hope in Christ, live for peace, and work for justice. Black Lives Matter. #blacklivesmatter #blm

TAKE ACTION :

  1. ORDER more Black Stars: EMAIL with quantity and mailing address; $15 per dozen. [black cotton yarn, keeps it shape year after year with a spritz of starch and steam iron]
  2. I will SEND a star at no charge to the family of persons killed in police custody. EMAIL  a mailing address. I will do this throughout 2016.
  3. DONATE (generously) to #BlackLivesMatter www.//blackstore.org/