...common roles illustrate how Black women, and their sexuality, have often been synonymous with deviance. And reclaiming, repackaging, and/or discarding the roles has given women agency; a control denied the Good Girl who is essentially invisible. She needs that.
It is no easy demon to face who has dressed you and your entire context as “fine.”
I got some actual work done today and also started on these since they were all impatient and wouldn't wait.
1. Browngirl, Brownstones – Paule Marshall 2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith 3. Segu – Maryse Conde 4. The Secret of Gumbo Grove – Eleanora Tate 5. No Easy Place To Be – Steven Corbin 6. Long Distance Life – Marita Golden 7. Sweet Whispers Brother Rush – Virginia Hamilton 8. Assata [...]
He took sex instead of your life; maybe the glass bottle he threw at you missed; you were named “bitch” and any other list of monikers that do not appear on your birth certificate; the old woman turned on the porch light and startled him and his pistol away; he left you in the street alone and lost in a city that was not your own. You made it out alive. None of those were missteps of the fragile male ego or drunkenness. They were not about how you lead him on or were rude or rash when you refused to comply to his demand for your attention. They were about the agency you have over your life and how you live it and being denied that agency so often
5 years ago…
“Her father, a preacher, is already not happy with her first semester grades, but he’s allowed her to return to Richmond from Detroit to redeem herself. So far, she’s doing a bang up job and all because, ‘Ms. Scott, I guess I like the rush.’
I suggest she consider sky diving instead. It’s, at least, regulated.
Today I ran like the fool child I am. 18.74 miles to be exact.”
Within a single semester I receive doctors notes from quiet, bright Simone-with-the-dimples to excuse her absences and allow her to make up missed assignments.
Today she returns to class after a week long hiatus with a new note: this one for an infection. She confides in me: “Those notes, Ms. Scott, are because I had to have 2 abortions.” This infection came from a glitch in the last abortion.
The second semester she returns to repeat my class. She starts missing assignments pretty early. This weekend she’s found herself at a party in some unsavory part of the city. She’s trying to change her ways, she tells me, and the guy who took her to the, erehem, gathering is angry that she won’t have sex with him. So he leaves her to find her own way back to the campus.
When I ask Simone how she finds these “friends” she…
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We know that the rules of engagement; the strategies for survival that Baldwin and Johnson try to outline are flimsy at best.
Can we give them our stories without curling their backs into it, yellowed pages crisp and crumbling like sepia snow into piles we sweep from in front of our bookshelves? Will we love them only; wait and watch them turn to men who fail themselves for want of recognition?
I enjoy sharing my work--writing, art, pedagogy but I do not like the public performance of it. (Artists be insular as a mug y'all; don't like you ain't know)! So I sometimes correct people when they call me "shy." I'm reticent; quiet; and nope, public presentation is not an activity I particularly enjoy. But I don't think "shy" is precise enough.
Fearful love means sometimes I worry over you because I love you so much (yeah, resulting in that goofy glossy-eyed look--just play along like y'all do). If you know that, then you know that there are no shady hucksters, no mistake you could ever make, no single thing on this side of the river Jordan that could make you any less than loved in my eyes and should not make you any less in your own.