Category Archives: african american culture

Thankful for Toni Morrison

toni morrison photo

 

“A literary artist of the first rank.”

“She delves into the language itself, a language she wants to liberate from the fetters of race. And she addresses us with the luster of poetry.”

Those words are from the Nobel Committee that awarded Ms. Morrison her Nobel Prize in Literature on this day in 1993.

Her acceptance speech spoke of ‘spreading like algae because this prize is being distributed to various regions and nations and races.’  Morrison shared this win with women, the mid west, the east coast and African Americans.  She is one of the reasons I am in love with pen to pad.  Why I love words to dreams.  Why I am courageous enough to speak my vernacular.

People do speak highly of my art.  And I have been used in some really nice analogies during introductions to stages.  And for that, I am thankful for Toni Morrison.

 

 

 

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nothing to manage

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Saturday afternoon truth
told by thick brown hands,
stories of survival and struggle until both
sound like all the names of the black mamas in the neighborhood

Hymns and laughter
imparted in between sections of greased scalps
that smell like coconut or yesterday’s frying oil

Here, little girls get to disappear
feel their mother’s heart beat
as her fingertips massage away her little girl worries
of
not turning the jump rope fast enough
getting picked last during recess for dodge ball

on the floor between her mother’s legs
the little girl’s father appears in a new light
fresh and foul
like discounted gizzards
she learns why to save
why the pulled out back seat of her grandfather’s Cadillac is a
treasure in the garage

safe Saturday rituals become
sanctified Sunday religion
and all this from sitting in between her mother’s legs
getting her hair
did.

The Thing about proof

I will not be the first to say it or prove it because of the legacy I claim. The legacy of black women’s intellect. The legacy to exist as a whole person as I breath this wind no matter how sharp or cold the inhales. A legacy of black women who have been pioneering theory and knowledge creation inside a world of balance and beauty.

In this PhD journey I am becoming more comfortable with the process of framing any claims I am wanting to make with theories. Luckily for me, I knew the sound and feel and of my art being embodied with a language that respected the ground my ancestors toiled and turned. Also lucky for me I studied Africana Women’s Studies at a HBCU and was introduced to a platform of scholarship that affirm the holistic agency of black women. So now that I am back in theatre, I am waltzing with a world that has no problem thickening the boundary of marginalizing me as an artist and budding scholar.

Theatre, you do not exist without drums. Or the quilted curtains that open and close a world designed from black women’s comfort and smiles.

I am in a program with no black people appointed on the faculty. No Professors to offer seminars on their research interests that would most likely be host to discourse on the borders of gender, race or class from a centered perspective. With no one to rally for the social and political interests of black students, the curriculum adheres to hegemony and the unwavering white imagination on blackness. So I have joined the “how do I sift through the compost of oppressive constructs and still have energy to find the same paradigm speaking my language?”

Theatre, you are not monolith. Don’t believe history or the curriculum. Turn off the spotlight until they all are voiced.

Re-Membering Katrina, “When Chris Met Katrina”- a short story

The boat whistled its’ way through the waters and soon the screams of the women faded. The air was now filled with the constant yells of families sitting on roofs screaming for help.  They approached Memorial Medical Center and Chris decided to seek refuge there.  As he got closer, he could see through the lobby window hundreds of people camped inside.  Every seat was occupied and people were sprawled out on the floor with blankets.  Police were patrolling the doors.  Chris knocked but the policemen just stood and shook their heads in the negative.  Chris trudged through the water to the other side of the hospital and policemen were standing heavy guard at those doors too.  He knew besides the sore bones and loose teeth, he had no serious injury and they were not going to let him in.

Chris double tied his bag of food and treaded through the water on his tippy toes.  He began to reminisce on the summers growing up in New Orleans.  His father worked as a mechanic in a neighborhood shop and in the summer Chris would help out by washing the cars once he was done.  Afterwards, instead of joining his cousins down at the local swimming pool, he hung out with the neighborhood knuckle heads and smoked weed.  Or they convinced one of the older drunks to buy them liquor.  He was all of nine years old.  With the water slapping up against his chest and occasionally splashing in his face, he wished he had taken those swimming lessons instead.

A few blocks from the hospital, Chris found himself pacing in the water side by side with a dog.  The dog was a dark brown cocker spaniel probably looking for a dry place to rest his feet.  From atop, the dog seemed to be relaxed.  But he knew underneath he was probably  paddling his legs wild as the devil!  Chris remembered how easy it was to tread the dog paddle when he was younger so he picked his feet up to give it a try.  He quickly dipped in the thick, murky waters and emerged panicked.  He struggled to get his stance stable but soon regained his pace and continued down the street with the other stranded people.

A little ways down, Chris spotted the small boat and whistled to get their attention.  They acknowledged him by waving.  Other people began to whistle and try and make their way to the boat too so Chris picked up his pace.  The eyes of the dog swimming nearby were showing signs of exhaustion.  There was no telling how long the dog had been in the water.  The dog let out a bark, then went under the water.  Within seconds, his head reappeared and he began to bark in desperation.  Chris was mindful to stay as far away from the dog as possible to avoid being bitten.  The small boat reeved it’s engine as they waited for him.  The dog’s bark now became aggressive as he continued to swim towards Chris.  The men on the boat splashed water towards the dog to slow him down and distract  his concentration on swimming.

“Come on man!  Dat dog look mad or summin’!,” one of the men said.

Chris turned his head to witness the dog go under again.  He started to run on his tip toes because he knew he would get sprayed with the dirty water when the dog came back up.  He reached the boat and threw his bag of food aboard.  He could feel the water spray on the back of his neck as the dog shook its’ head.  The men reached down and pulled Chris on the boat.

“They wasn’t lettin’ nobody in down at the hospital huh?,” Gunner asked.

“Naw,” Chris simply replied.

The boat pulled away and the dog continued to swim behind it.  His eyes were bulging as he barked pleas of help.  There was nothing in sight for the dog to take refuge on.  The dog’s shiny, brown coat disappeared under the water a third time, not to emerge again.

a snippet from the short story book, Mississippi Window Cracks.

Purchase your copy today

Mississippi Window Crack

She Chronicles 2021

After living through 2020 EVERYBODY has something to write about. I hope everyone considers what words you have in your collection to contribute to this year’s She Chronicles. Please click the following link for more information: https://nikkiskies.wordpress.com/submissions-for-she-chronicles-2016/

New Resource: Black Writers and Artists in Special Collections — Special Collections & University Archives

Literature and Rare Books in Special Collection and University Archives is a rich resource of works black artists and writers. Explore these items in our new subject guide on Black Writers and Artists!   Non-fiction writing by black authors covers a wide variety of topics, including pamphlets on politics, racism, activism, and culture in our […]

New Resource: Black Writers and Artists in Special Collections — Special Collections & University Archives

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)

igbolanding1

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.

Continue reading vacation in history

My Reading on Saturday…

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I am reading this jewel of a book this morning for one of my classes. (ok… it’s Saturday so I am doing some work around the house so I have the audio on as well)

There are so many jewels that I am coming across in this text that I want to share some. Enjoy 🙂

“I learned to love my son without wanting to possess him and I learned how to teach him to teach himself.” – Maya Angelou

“I am convinced that people do not grow up. We find parking spaces and honor our credit cards. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are still innocent and shy as magnolias.” – Maya Angelou

“Some entertainers have tried to make art of their coarseness. When they heap mud upon themselves and allow their tongues to wag with vulgarity, they expose their belief they are not worth loving.” Maya Angelou

“The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights. I maintain an attitude or gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow.” Maya Angelou