“And if the word integration means anything, this is what it means: that we, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it. For this is your home, my friend, do not be driven from it; great men have done great things here, and will again, and we can make America what America must become. It will be hard, James, but you come from sturdy, peasant stock, men who picked cotton and dammed rivers and built railroads, and in the teeth of the most terrifying odds, achieved and unassailable and monumental dignity. You come from a long line of poets, some of the greatest poets since Homer. One of them said, The very time I thought I was lost, My dungeon shook and my chains fell off.”—James Baldwin from My Dungeon Shook. Swoon.
“Calling sex by its name thereafter [the 17th c.] became more difficult and more costly. As if in order to gain mastery of it in reality, it had first been necessary to subjugate it at the level of language, control its free circulation in speech, expunge it from the things that were said, and extinguish the words that rendered it too visibly present.”—Michel Foucault on the language of sex, from The History of Sexuality. Discussing language + sex is so much win.
“I’ve not learned the acceptable way of saying you fascinate me…I’ve not even learned how to say I like you without frightening people away.”—The always awesomely full of truth Nikki Giovanni. Kindred.
“I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger as reason. I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous has power over me. Anything I can not transform into something marvelous, I let go. Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.”—Anais Nin. #runtellthat
“But I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all. I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all but about it. Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more of less. No, I do not weep at the world—I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife….Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”—From Zora’s How It Feels to Be Colored Me
“The absence of models, in literature as in life,…is an occupational hazard for the artist, simply because models in art, in behavior, in growth of spirit and intellect—even if rejected—enrich and enlarge one’s view of existence.”—Alice Walker discusses the need for models…
I don’t know why I cannot cease to think of you, and to love you, you say I have stolen your heart and I can say this much you stole mine first and a fair exchange is no robbery…So I will present you my heart and hand to accompany it provided you will accept of them in return for the one that was stolen from you…
One of my favorite affirmations is Erykah Badu’s “The Warrior’s Reminder” which can be found in the actual liner notes of the epic Mama’s Gun album. Made me wonder how the digital age has affected our connection with recording artists. I mean, yes, Badu tweets, but reading these words in this booklet > reading those sporadic tweets. Then again, I’m an old lady who enjoys turning pages still… Anyway, the reminder is a great meditation tool. Love it and yourself:
“Time’s passage through the memory is like molten glass that can be opaque or crystallize at any given moment at will: a thousand days are melted into one conversation, one glance, one hurt, and one hurt can be shattered and sprinkled over a thousand.”—The awesome Gloria Naylor
“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
There are not many who are able to capture black womanhood, the beautiful struggle of it, the way that Lucille Clifton has. God bless her life. My favorite poem from her is What the Mirror Said. Please enjoy and recite and live and love:
listen, you a wonder, you a city of a woman. you got a geography of your own. listen, somebody need a map to understand you. somebody need directions to move around you. listen, woman, you not a noplace anonymous girl; mister with his hands on you he got his hands on some damn body!