vacation in history

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I was planning a trip to the beach. Fortunately, Atlanta affords me the leisure of choosing between various Georgia Islands, or a few hours drive to Florida, South Carolina or the coast of Alabama. I decided to do a quick turn around trip to one of the Golden Isles off the coast of Georgia. Distracted, I began to flip through Facebook and came across an article about Igbo Landing or Ebo landing.

“The Igbo Landing occurred when Igbo slaves who had taken control of their ship marched into the water and drowned at Dunbar Creek on St. Simons Island, Glynn County, Georgia.

After surviving the rigours of the Middle Passage, the 75 Igbo slaves who were bought for labour on the plantations of John Couper and Thomas Spalding for 100 dollars each.

The slaves were chained and put aboard a small ship to be transported to their destinations. During this voyage, they took control of the ship and grounded it, drowning their captors in the process.”

(from the site pulse.ng)

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I looked up St. Simons Island and discovered it was a mere 4.5 hours away and I could choose lodging on the island or in nearby Brunswick, Ga. There are so many stories to be told. So many lands to be visited and honored or memorialized, and as a writer I believe there are always new words to discover. New smells and newly uncovered ways to describe emotions. So I booked my lodging, fueled up the Buick, and hit the road.

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How many “I Love You’s” do you do?

There are several things I love about teaching but most notably I enjoy the time off during holidays and summer. (while still receiving a check 🙂 This is especially rewarding to me who spent years as an executive manager in retail and worked every holiday and most weekends.

Now I know you must be thinking, ‘my goodness Nikki, the school year just started didn’t it and you’re already thinking about time off?’ YES! You would be correct in with that assumption! And I think I have just the thing to help me get through the first half of the school year and my first semester in grad school.

A few months back, one of my friends exercised “staying in the moment” by writing daily things on what she most loved about herself. She did this for 60 days and surprisingly enough, she said the first twenty were very laborious. Laborious because she was having a difficult time discovering what she loved, or even liked on some days. The statements had to be instinctively linked about her and not some indirect love for something or someone else. She said this helped with her daily self care even if it was only 5-10 minutes a day. With my schedule becoming 12 hour days Tue-Thur due to school immediately after work, I thought this “I Love…” regiment would be ideal to ensure I think about me.

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For the next 90 days, I am going to write in this little journal different things I Love about me. This is extremely horrifying to me because it involves commitment and I can be so anal (for lack of a better word) when it comes to committing to something and what loyalty means to me. But I am at a stop in my life where I am both an educator and a student, literally, and I am content. How do I insist that I remain present under both titles? By involving myself daily, by communicating with myself daily. Hopefully this 90 day venture will prove to assist with that!

Join me if you may! Also, after this 90 days, it will be Thanksgiving and time for a week break from both work and school 😉 Clever, huh?

nothing like it, for peace and justice

20180711_105519.jpgI have visited the majority of the civil rights museums in the southeastern states. The Center for Civil Human Rights in Atlanta, Ga. and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN are two of my favorite. This past spring, in Montgomery, Al., a space opened that is the first of it’s kind in this country. “The National Memorial For Peace and Justice is the nation’s first comprehensive memorial dedicated to the human loss suffered during the era of racial terror lynchings, which swept across the south and beyond in the decades following the abolition of slavery.”

 

The memorial is a collection of work done by the Equal Justice Initiative, identifying more than 4,000 African American men, women, and children who were lynched between 1877 and 1950. This space was haunting. In the same breath, this space made me feel like another piece of me had been reconciled.

Until now, lynching had been painted in songs, danced about in novels. The impact of seeing 800 steel monuments inscribed with crimes of lynching, some detailing the reason why, presented a different sentiment. While this is a space that uses literature, sculpture, art and design to tell its’ story, there was no rhythm or pace to it. There were no perfectly fitted color patterns or designs, it just happened. There was no spell check, no correction of verb/noun agreement, the art at this memorial lends escape to no one. This space brings name to the thousands of men, women and children who were hideously and violently murdered for mere social transgressions and some from absolute innocence.

There is tons of history in Montgomery, Al to see. So planning a trip to this memorial is not the only thing you will be making time for. This is a must for anyone seeking reconciliation against violent crimes committed against African Americans in this country. This is a must see for anyone seeking retribution for human justice.

Continue reading nothing like it, for peace and justice

a new career, for the 3rd time; the first year

In between speaking engagements or during the interim of writing projects, I picked up side jobs to keep me financially ahead instead of becoming creatively stifled due to trying to maintain or “stay afloat”. After I wrote my play, “Hope’s Return”, I was introduced to the Atlanta theatre world and re-connected with previous theatre buddies. With this, I was invited on several occasions to apply to teaching positions in the theatre capacity.

After years of executive retail store management, I had NO interest in working with a theatre company and devoting my nights and weekends. And after experience with non-profit organizations, I had NO interest in working for a community/neighborhood theatre and contributing countless loads of money to guarantee a successful and professional looking production. Now, I have done both of these positions before and at that time in my life they were incredibly rewarding and I thoroughly enjoyed them. However, that time has come and gone. I have both of those t-shirts folded somewhere in my closet.

A few years ago, I began substitute teaching for public schools. I quickly learned, after several assignments, I was great with pre-k to 4th grade. I didn’t have the language or patience for any grade above 4th grade. I joyfully worked a full school year as a sub, even so that towards the end of the year, I was requested by teachers and principals more than I had to seek assignments. The following school year came and the only thing I wanted to change was to be stable as a long term substitute with two or three schools. I saw a posting for a long term substitute for a school that had three campuses. I thought that this would surely keep me busy and it is exactly what I had prayed for. I applied and got the position.

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I started my six week assignment for a 4th grade English Language Arts (ELA) teacher going on maternity leave. I loved the environment of teachers I was around everyday! And as luck would have it, a fellow 4th grade ELA teacher had resigned and would be leaving around the same time my assignment would be over. Administration asked me if I was interested in becoming part of the team as a full-time ELA teacher, I accepted.

So there I was, I had entered a new career (outside of my artistry), for the 3rd time. A job that concluded between 3:30 and 4pm and was conveniently close to my home. And the best part, I was able to impose the magnitude of words in the young minds of brown kids 5 days of week. I was able to share my passion of sentence structure and reading on some impressionable minds.  What I had never taken into account were the behavioral curves and obstacles that reared its’ ugly head every day.

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Re-Establishing my Journey

Years ago I decided I would not never become a teacher. I envisioned it as confinement. I am a creature of routine BUT I do not want one imposed on me. I always saw being an educator as someone who was doomed with routine and rewarded with low pay. That was not the life I wanted to live.

As time and the ancestors would have it, my poetry created a platform for me to engage my art at colleges and universities. Not just as the “entertainment” but additionally as an educator to young writers on the importance of preserving the black vernacular. My art eventually evolved to focusing on the feminine narrative. Encouraging the black feminine voice expressed and written from a holistic perspective and not just as a presence to move a plot forward. These discussions exposed two things, (1) I had more questions than answers and needed to do more research to educate myself (2) I was pretty good at this teaching thing.

My community knows me primarily as a performance poet and from the theatre. Both of these creative platforms allowed me to express undivided and intellectually intact. I had the company to be beautiful and the security to laugh at myself and others. As I immersed myself more with the writing community, plays and novels, I felt absent- invisible even. I was stifled with this feeling once before when I studied film at Howard University for my M.A. In screenplay writing, I didn’t have the company of voice, meaning the character written or represented on film, was not a bridged visualization of my existence as a woman. A black woman, a woman of color living in this country. My questions about the presence or the acceptance of what was represented as the black feminine narrative, now became a plaque of concerns. That was until I got my hands on Toni Morrison’s “Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination”.

Continue reading Re-Establishing my Journey

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