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They’ll see how beautiful I am And be ashamed— I, too, am America.: Our Power is Our History

In Inspiration on April 14, 2013 at 10:06 am

It’s odd how some days have a natural theme of their own. Unintentionally you are surrounded with information that is all tied together. Yesterday was such a day. Yesterday’s theme was racism.

Earlier in the day I came across a reading of Still I Rise by Maya Angelou, this lead me to follow other YouTube links. In college I studied African-American history and literature. When I home-schooled my daughter I taught her much of the same. To me I think my fascination with this history is the strength of the human spirit. The beauty of the soul that continues to have hope in the direst of circumstances enthralls me. I came across a PBS special on a remarkable book and its background. Its title is simply, Slave Songs. The songs of slavery offer inspiration, painful naked truth and many were used to hide codes to lead escaping slaves.

 Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

HISTORY DETECTIVES | Slave Songbook | PBS

Here are a few:

McIntosh Country Shouters preform Adam in the Garden

Louis Armstrong: Go Down Moses

Black Gospel Quartet Singing: Roll Jordan Roll (Acapella)

And my favorite

Hazel Miller – This Little Light of Mine

There are so many more songs that I haven’t mentioned.

Still on YouTube I also found some wonderful videos about the period in history known as the  Harlem Renaissance. There was I. Too, one of my favorite poems. This is a very powerful poem by Langston Hughes, an incredibly talented man. Then there is one of my favorite authors of all time, Zora Neale Hurston,  read “Sweat” .

I, Too by Langston Hughes

The History of the Harlem Renaissance

Biography of Zora Neale Hurston

Today there is a book signing in the small town of Mount Dora, Fl. it’s a book about a dark part of Florida history. The book is called “Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America  by  Gilbert King  More of the  story of the Groveland Boys can be found on PBS’s site, The Legacy of Harry T. Moore “.This part of Florida’s racist history is a fascinating and terribly sad story.

Then there was a conversation I had with a friend. She is a beautiful 25 year old woman and she also is an amazing artist and one of those people that as soon as you meet her spirit attracts you. She is also bi-racial. Here’s what she told me when we discussed race.

“I am so offended when people ask me. ‘What are you?’ What kind of questions is that? What are you? Am I a dog or a freak? Who the hell do these people think they are? I choose to not let my race define me. I am me.” Me being me, I told her to answer, “I am a human being”, and walk away.

Racism is still creeping through our society and eating away at people’s hearts. It disturbs me on a profound level. The only protection we have against evil such as racism and hatred is our history and education. I find it terribly, terribly sad that so many people do not know the African-American history. When I took an African-American literature class the teacher pointed out to the class that I, a white woman in her 40’s and the only white person in the class knew more about their history than they did. She said it was shameful. Sounds harsh but it opened up a door in many of the young people’s minds and they started listening and asking questions. They became my friends and would talk to me about their history and we would discuss the good and the bad. I came away from that class having had the richest educational experience of my life.

One of the things that make me the proudest as a parent is that my children are color-blind when choosing their friends. My son’s best friend growing up was African- American and it wasn’t until years later that my son realized that when he was invited to join in a parade that was planned to celebrate Martin Luther King Day that he was the only white person in the parade. He never noticed. My children choose their friend by their character not their color.

There has been progress made in the fight against racism but there is so much further to go. I hope that in some small way this post has enlightened you, maybe educated you or at least made you think. Whether you are white, African-American, Asian, Latino or any other ethnicity the dark history of our world needs to be studied, if it’s not we are in danger of repeating it. We need to come together as the Human Race.

The introduction video was Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child, it is sung by Rev. Timothy Fleming Sr. at the Rialto Center in Atlanta, Ga.. Powerful.

Would Emmett Till Have Read the book “Wash” by Margaret Wrinkle?

In Inspiration, Writing on February 19, 2013 at 6:53 pm

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I am reading an interesting, thought-provoking book that at times made me feel like someone punched me in the gut and at others took my breath away with tenderness. This book tells of the complicated relationships that occur in a society where it is OK to own another human being.
The book is Wash which brilliantly delves deep into the minds of slaves and their owners in the newly minted United States of America. It blows my mind how she captures their individual voices. I have spent time in African American history and literature studies and I will say that this book should be included in the curriculum for both.
The economics of slavery here and around the world has always been complicated. This book delves picks at the festering sore on the body of a nation that allowed human beings to be a commodity. Richardson, a slave owner who returns after spending years in the Revolutionary War is released from a prison camp to come home to find his farm near ruin. He decides to use his slave Washington as a breeder-for-hire. Imagine that. Wash and the women of other plantations are forced to breed mostly under the watchful sometimes lustful eyes of their captors. Wash is shunned by the women and hated by the male slaves.
There are so many layers to this amazing work that I don’t want to go into here. I would love for you to pick up this book. As I tell my children when we discuss the sad times in our history when we forgot we are human that the only thing that stands between us and another era of hate is our knowledge of the past.
It is important to remember and educate our generations. I read about an incident recently that puts that in perspective for me. Rapper, Little Wayne, included some lyrics in a recent song that mentioned a young man named Emmett Till. If you don’t know who Emmett Till is please take a few minutes and educate yourself on what the hate of racism looks like on a 14 year old boy. The lyrics were very offensive especially to the family of Emmett Till. Stevie Wonder has also spoken out on this incident. In my opinion, if Little Wayne truly understood the history of African-Americans and what his forefathers suffered so that he can have the right to create the lifestyle that he has created for himself, he would NEVER had included Emmett in his song.

I used the story of Emmett Till’s to teach my children what damage racism can do. I believed that by them being shown what happened to someone their own age that was hated solely for the color of their skin that they would understand racism in a more personal way and they do. They are now grown and when I mentioned the Little Wayne controversy they were appalled and saddened.

Read “Wash”, share it with your children, other family and your friends. Thank You Margaret Wrinkle for an amazing journey.
If you do read this book I would love to hear your thoughts.

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