“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”—Pema Chodron
“I’m a feminist so I believe in inhabiting contradictions. I believe in making contradictions productive, not in having to choose one side or the other side. As opposed to choosing “either/or,” choosing both.”—Angela Davis (via teacakes)
“At some point you will realize that you have done too much for someone or something; that the only next possible step to do is to stop. Leave them alone. Walk away. It’s not like you’re giving up, and it’s not like you shouldn’t try. It’s just that you have to draw the line between determination and desperation. What is truly yours will eventually be yours, and what is not, no matter how hard you try, will never be.”—(via lovemenendawit)
We chose for her the name Nailah, which in Swahili means “she is successful.” When I was freshly pregnant,a babalawo told me that my child would be a girl with a strong will- one that an ordinary “no” would not work for. Six months into my pregnancy , and four months before she was due, she decided she had baked long enough and was ready for the world, and as the babalawo said, she would not accept my, or the doctor’s “no.”
And so she came, and as her little one pound body defied every odd that the doctors predicted, they would pass her in their rounds, and bring their colleagues, and grin big and wide. Doctor’s, after all, love when science is wrong, and everybody loves to see a miracle.
She’s my miracle. She’s the personification of love. She is, to me, a glimpse of the fabric of heaven. And every single day I tell myself that if God decides to never bless me with another thing, It is justified. There is no greater joy than her. My heart beats in her name.
My parents, like Zora, grew up in an all-Black settlement in southern Louisiana that informed many of their ideas about the importance of community. When they packed up and moved to the big city, they settled into another Black community close to other families who’d left the sweltering sugar cane and cotton fields of Louisiana for industrial work and a shot at a better life.
Continuing the rituals of my ancestors, I grew up in a Black community, attended all community schools, and settled eventually into attending an HBCU for my undergraduate and graduate education. When I chose to purchase my home, I decided on a community similar to the one that had nurtured my parents and I. Along with living in a mostly African-American community, I teach at an HBCU and try to conduct as much of my business as possible in Black communities.
As Zora stated in her letter to Cullen, I want to feel welcome where I live, work and spend my hard-earned money. And more than anything, what I want (and what I f*cking deserve) is to feel safe. I refuse to live in a community where Blackness is deemed so atrocious and monstrous that my appearance, even as I beg for help, makes me dangerous and a target for brutality, violence and murder. We see example after example that we’re not welcome in the White communities we hope (in 2013) will finally accept us.
“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.”—Arundhati Roy. (I wish I could tattoo this entire piece of prose on my body.)
“Basically, disappointment, embarrassment, and all these places where we just cannot feel good are a sort of death. We’ve just lost our ground completely; were unable to hold it together and feel that we’re on top of things. Rather than realizing that it takes death for there to be birth, we just fight against the fear of death.”—Pema Chodron
“We tell our sons almost every day what we expect when it comes to their behavior, but we seldom, if ever, tell then what we expect when it comes to that most serious of decisions: choosing a partner.”—Audre Edwards
“How can it be they so many people’s ex-girlfriends are crazy? What happens to these women? Do they eventually go on to birth babies and care for their elderly parents and scramble up gigantic pans of eggs on Sunday mornings for oodles of lounge-snouts who later have the nerve to inquire about what’s for dinner, or is there some corporate Rest Home for Crazy Bitches chain in cities across the land that I am unaware of that houses all these women who used to love men who later claim they were actually crazy bitches?”—The beast and the best, Cheryl Strayed
“The people, however, who believe that this democratic anguish has some consoling value are always pointing out that So-and-So, white, and So-and-So, black, rose from the slums into the big time. The existence — the public existence — of, say, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. proves to them that America is still the land of opportunity and that inequalities vanish before the determined will. It proves nothing of the sort. The determined will is rare — at the moment, in this country, it is unspeakably rare — and the inequalities suffered by the many are in no way justified by the rise of a few. A few have always risen — in every country, every era, and in the teeth of regimes which can by no stretch of the imagination be thought of as free. Not all these people, it is worth remembering, left the world better than they found it. The determined will is rare, but it is not invariably benevolent. Furthermore, the American equation of success with the big time reveals an awful disrespect for human life and human achievement. This equation has placed our cities among the most dangerous in the world and has placed our youth among the most empty and most bewildered. The situation of our youth is not mysterious. Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. They must, they have no other models. That is exactly what our children our doing. They are imitating our immortality, our disrespect for the pain of others.”—Baldwin told you about how damaging your “bootstrap” theories were in 1948. What we call a read today, ain’t really a read. Now THIS on the other hand…
“one thing I don’t need
is any more apologies
i got sorry greetin me at my front door
you can keep yrs
i don’t know what to do wit em
they don’t open doors
or bring the sun back
they don’t make me happy
or get a mornin paper
didn’t nobody stop usin my tears to wash cars
cuz a sorry.”—― Ntozake Shange, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
“Honey, de white man is de ruler of everything as fur as Ah been able tuh find out. Maybe it’s some place way off in de ocean where de black man is in power, but we don’t know nothin’ but what we see. So de white man throw down de load and tell de nigger man tuh pick it up. He pick it up because he have to, but he don’t tote it. He hand it to his womenfolks. De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see.”—Zora Neale Hurston knew, and the truth ain’t changed.
““I only wanted dolls growing up so I could dress them prettily,” Lisa surrendered as we sat for cocktails and girl talk—half laughing, half wincing and hoping I wouldn’t judge her. Of course I didn’t judge. As a single mother and a feminist, I don’t at all believe that mother and woman are synonymous. I have a clear understanding of how one’s life changes after children. Therefore, I’m always encouraging women to be thoughtful before they take the plunge into parenthood.
I find it quite courageous that Lisa is creating the life she truly wants and not one that others expect of her. After all, we’re both G.R.I.T.S. (girls raised in the south) whose families considered us moving towards spinsterhood when we approached our mid-20s and were still single. We took separate paths, but we’re both very happy with our lives.”—Read more of my latest at EBONY http://www.ebony.com/love-sex/love-no-limit-childless-by-choice-654#ixzz2bOpegDcI
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“Art, to be sure, has its roots in the lives of human beings: the weakness, the strength, the absurdity. I doubt that it is limited to our comrades; since we have discovered that art does not belong to what was once the aristocracy, it does not therefore follow that it has become the exclusive property of the common man— which abstraction, by the way, I have yet to meet. Rather, since it is involved with all of us, it belongs to all of us, and this includes our foes, who are as desperate and as vicious and as blind as we are and who can only be as evil as we are ourselves.”—James Baldwin. (I’d never read such complete sentences before reading Baldwin. You push away from them, gut protruding and full, with no room for more. He’s an inspiration like no other.)