Play Fool to Catch Wise

There is a difference between telling it like it is and being a truth teller. Telling it like it is is primarily used when we are angry and used as a weapon to demean someone. Being a truth teller is used by a liberator to patronage freedom.

As I was re-reading the chapter, “Seeking After Truth” in Sisters of the Yam by bell hooks, the Jamaican quote in the title of this blog brought about great contemplation for myself. In the past years of me trying to be a clear vessel for my art to come to fruition, I have had to un-learn some things passed on to me by my mother. In addition, I have had to find a place to put these undermined honesties my mother passed on to me.

In past generations, it was deemed necessary for African Americans to lie as a means to survive. Now, a lot of our families live by appearances. (I suppose a softer form of lying.) Like me, a lot of children are raised in illusions of presenting how things seem in comparison to the truth of what they really are. This is done with parents staying together and pretending to be in love, parents blaming drugs instead of the user/person or as innocent as the tooth fairy and santa claus. I was taught that creating an illusion everything was fine was the protected value and ultimately this undermined a comfort level for me in lying.

This really stimulated thoughts about the way I am rearing my nieces and nephews. Was I creating as much of a reality based life for them or repeating to them what my mother and her mother knew? Dissimulation encourages us to deny what we experience and how we feel and we eventually lose who we really are and what we need. I was fortunate to grow in an extended family with my mother and grandparents and be surrounded with free arts programs for me to express but this is not the story for my nieces and nephews. If I was disempowering them with illusions, they would not be equipped to face the institutions of racism, sexism and domination.

This critical thinking can be the saving grace for my nieces when they encounter degrading images or insults. If I keep them out of illusion (as much as possible) they will be able to identify the ills and have a sense to protect themselves. “Our mental well-being is dependent on our capacity to face reality,” bell hooks.


Litany For Survival


“and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be shared
nor welcomed

but when we are silent
we are still afraid

So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive.”
Audre Lorde

I come from that good stuff

that stuff that dreamed. my generation had one of the highest high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates. we were at the cusp of technology. the apex of video games (Atari) and cable television. I remember when “God Bless America” played on the television channel before the network would turn off for the night. I’m from that old school learning of patience and manners being taught by everyone. I remember the bad kids being “paddled” in the principal’s office. I remember how long it took to dial a phone number on a rotary phone. (especially if they had 9’s or 0’s in their number!)

I come from that good stuff of after school programs and free summer programs at the local boys club or ymca. I come from organized marching drill teams and family reunions every year. I come from a grandmamma that got on her knees every night to pray. a family that knew how to hunt and fish for food.

I come from being nurtured to dream. a schooling with arts integration. that culminated in my generation being so inspired and viciously ambitious. we were provided an outlet to create, imagine and dream.

not so much for our kids now. they call them the “microwave kids”. they don’t have to go to the library. they don’t even have to go outside to play or talk with one another. they can do everything via internet and online gaming. now the arts are a privilege for those that can afford it. and that is the impression most have.

the impression is dancers come from wealthy families that can afford for them to train for years. and writers were all left family trust funds so they can sit around and stare out of windows while they write best sellers. the impression is theatre actors are funded by their wealthy family members that sit on the board of trustees for the winter and spring programming. art is viewed as unattainable. the absence of art has our children where they are today.

they are at a lose for individuality. they are born in a box of selections for a career. collectively our communities have shun anything outside of our “safe boxes”. the boxes created to keep us from being murdered or kidnapped or lynched. yes, we still battle that psychological warfare. my dreams were “I could be anything I wanted” and I was presented various platforms to fail and succeed. now our children are told, “you can be anything you want but..” and they aren’t given a safe place to test it out. after so many failures accompanied by laughs and “I told you so’s” from their peers, it is easier for them to stop. and to save their esteem we allow it.

arts is integrated in all studies at school. I believe it is strategic that it has been removed from public schooling and community centers. too many close calls of that next generation connecting their oneness inside of themselves. what if our children figured that out? they would become genius and critical thinkers and seek to remedy all their ills. they would then be from that good stuff like I come from.

God help us. Ancestors guide.

their gold

“Let’s go ahead and be, Betty and Malcolm to infinity
not boo and nigga to never,
Me Ruby Dee and you be my Ossie!”
– excerpt from the poem Make We by Nikki Skies


They existed before we could quit. Before we began to measure faith. And I don’t know what their arguments were about! I don’t know if they ever went to bed mad at one another! But I can’t find an article of them speaking ill of the other or talking about giving up.

I see a complete picture. It’s like they’re looking at the end. They spotted the pot of gold and this is the best poker face they could deliver to hide their joy! I imagine this picture is after the blessings of their families for them to unite. After he promised her family he would now be the provider. This is after she agreed what he would bring to the table would be enough.

Perhaps this is before Malcolm X began to rise. This is a still when our antiques were their current treasures. This is a still of the black arts movement! If you stare long enough Ossie begins to sweat and pulse points on Ruby Dee’s neck palpitate subtly.

They look like they are ready to conquer the world.
They look like they will create their way out of any situation.
They look like a purposed love.
and I stand on their shoulders.

Ossie Davis and Rube Dee

rural me


Ors Jacques was my paternal great grandfather.  He was half African and half French/Canadian and somehow made his way down south and fell in love with my paternal great grandmother from Birmingham, Al., Willa Mae.  Together they had six children and found their way to Omaha, Nebraska where they reared them and the majority of their families still reside.  She was his second wife.

I’ve always had this strong fetter with the south and have been fascinated with the simplistic beauty of rural life.  Us city folk buy nicely crafted flower pots and arrange them for balance in our yards and porches.  We re-fresh our curio cabinets with the seasons new symmetrically cut vases and treasured memoirs from recent travels.  And we call it home.

The homes on the rural back road yards are decorated with rotary mowers that stopped in that very spot some 40 years ago and now house the annual bloom of black eyed susans in April.  A garden of fall vegetables grow in the back yard near the separated garage every year.  The porch houses coffee cans of “particularly” favorite flowers such as tulips and mums.  The chipped paint on the homes reveal their age just as the rings on an oak tree.  And then there are the songs, and sometimes screams, that command the wind.  These and the trees.  Church bakes and the lakes.  Wooded water pales and old wives tales.  I’m finding pleasure in tracing my family tree.


My great grandfathers’ family has been traced from Wivelsfield, England to Canada to Iowa to Alabama to Nebraska.  And it was easy to go back as far as the 1700’s to find them.  I look forward to finding when the name changed from Jacques to Jakes.  It appears to have happened somewhere from Iowa to Alabama.  Now my great grandmother… I can’t get past her mother in 1892.  Where does she come from?  Did she know?  That is why that rural part of me loves the south.  Because there is so much to learn and hear.  And imagine.  Turning the dirt is like shaking a bag of bones to tell your fortune or in most cases, explain your past.

I have a covenant to write of the south to encourage people of color to speak a resolve within themselves of not knowing where and who.  While many probably don’t even think of it, I believe this is a part of our psychological warfare that effects our mental health.  While I will continue to trace my family in England, I will also continue my love for the rural south and listen for the voices of my families names of Nash, Michaels, Browns, Clays, Curtles and Mills.

common sense religion

“Give it up to the Lord”, literally has some people just stop.  They stop asking, stop seeking, stop dreaming and wait for someone to knock on their door!  Or perhaps they will meet this person at the pharmacy or at a traffic light.  The opportunity will arrive via their AOL account or during a heated argument.  As much as religion strengthens some people, it also weakens.  The dictation of the scripture can encourage some to stop thinking or being creative.  It also encourages them to follow the same path and stories as the scriptures and not take a chance on that road less traveled so they can mimic someone else’s blessing.

The common sense behind religion is what I compare to Harriett Tubman’s quote, she “could’ve freed more slaves if they knew they were slaves…”  If more people considered religion as the noun and spirituality as the action, we would have a broader definition of freedom.  A closer connection to the sun.

Some Things I am Convinced Of

I am convinced of my ancestors effortless being of linking the seven sciences. 

                         (Grammar, Arithmetic, Rhetoric, Dialectic, Geometry, Astronomy and Music)

I am convinced my ancestors altruistic nature taught this ingenuity to everyone else on the earth

I am convinced once it was duplicated the magic just wasn’t the same… it never had the same exact medicinal results

I am convinced this angered the foreign thieves

I am convinced the foreign thieves feared our wedded power if we were to ever reconnect the power of It All

so we were taught to compete in a way that destroyed families/communities/dynasties

we were distracted with results while the formulas to create now became our quest

and this continued through captivity

but we began to communicate through drums and quilts and songs

and then some of us were chosen to eat and… we were separated again

something happened in the 50’s/60’s where we began to communicate through song and dance and sermons and theatre

and then some of us were chosen to eat and… we were separated again

and then we created a culture of hip hop with music and dance and graffiti and religion and clothes

and then some of us were chosen to eat and… we were separated again

and then poetry began to crawl then walk and ran from corner to corner of the world

and we met at coffee houses and corners and churches

and then some were chosen to eat and… we were separated again

I am convinced the spirits of our ancestors will garner enough energy to once again present an opportunity for us to reconnect ourselves as One

and this time my dear Artists,

We Must Feed Each Other until we get the formula just right!

We must bite the hands of the presenter and

re-member Ourselves.

I am convinced of this.


my reVolution

“The most dangerous thing black people can do is feed eachother.” – Cointelpro

“If I could do it again, I would love as fearlessly as we fought.” – Kathleen Cleaver. 

You see, it is easy to duplicate (manipulate) anger. This makes infiltration simple because everyone is vibrating on a low level.

You can’t fake love, especially a fearless love.

speak on love.

I too Stereotype

I do. I stereotype. And I believed them because I was taught them directly and indirectly. And attachment of objects and outcomes allowed me to accept them too. Stereotypes.

I have always been labeled an overachiever. Probably because early on in life I knew what I didn’t want to be. I didn’t want certain names attached to my name that I deemed were negative. I didn’t want to be stupid or lazy. So I compensated exceedingly in other areas. My mother was in a bad marriage with my stepfather and I took heed to the advice I heard people give her because I didn’t want to be those things. Such as “naïve, too forgiving and controllable”. I related those words with allowing yourself to be mistreated.

So, I sunk my head into every book I could so I couldn’t be considered naïve. I held grudges and cut bridges with people that offended me so I wouldn’t be forgiving. And if I couldn’t be first or in a position of power, I didn’t stay so I couldn’t be controlled. So I grew smart with no knowledge. But at least people wouldn’t be able to relate me with being a victim.

And I held all this in from my mother because I didn’t want to bother her with another problem so I learned to “cover it up”. I learned to “deal with it”. And while it built strength and character, it also further developed the stereotype of “strong black woman”. We can take anything. We are a strong people. We have been through so much and we keep on moving. And now looking at our direction and time frame and life span, it is not all of our truths. It is not all of our make up or balance.

And the price is steep and I kept working to be able to pay the price. So I drive past the field of “black eyed suzzies” five days a week and missed their beauty. My work has been a cover up. Well, I am slowly resigning. I quit.

And the unemployment of avoiding defending stereotypes is my new selfish. It is a love I only find when I am creating. It is like carrying the sun in my pocket. It is an abandon that allowed space for listening conversations with my nieces and nephews. I believe this comfort comes with living a couple of decades. This is the type of unemployment and abandon that would pose a threat to the masses! I was taught to embrace a struggle, I want to pass something different on to the children I am raising.

I am a lover of perseverance. I am folklore. I am consistency and contradiction.

%d bloggers like this: