Posted on Leave a comment

Nnamdi Okonkwo

In 2009, I had the pleasure of meeting Nnamdi Okonkwo at an art show in Manhattan.

Pictured: Nnamdi Okonkwo, Sculptor, with Resolution

A couple of years ago I started following him on IG and told him I was looking forward to the day I could purchase my first piece of art from him.

Have you thought about what your first real art purchase would be? I’ve long suspected mine would be sculpture. Something three-dimensional.

When I moved to New York City in 2005, I began visiting art galleries. My favorite one is on Central Park South. There’s some beautiful work in that gallery. But even if I could swing the exorbitant price tags, the pieces I liked best didn’t really reflect me.

When I met Nnamdi with his lady Resolution, I wanted to lean in, take a seat and speak with them both. Not only did he speak to me but so did his work.

Last month while on a cross country road trip, I asked if he was available for a studio visit. He was. I visited and it was the highlight of my trip and a true joy I will remember throughout my life. I placed an order for two small sculptures, “Joy” and “They are Waiting.” I wanted to select art that not only reflected some of my physicality, but also expressed where I am spiritually and emotionally. My whole life is long waits dotted with bursts of joy.

The below video shares some of my exploration of Nnamdi’s studio as well as his graciousness in opening his space and answering my questions. I’ve also added pictures of him from the art show in Manhattan and of me sitting with his “Friends” monument installation in Harlem in 2012. I refer to this statue as “Sisters,” in the video but please note “Sisters” has three more figures than “Friends.”

When we sat to talk in his studio last month, Nnamdi started off by saying he remembered meeting me all those years ago. My first inclination was to dismiss his comment. Then I had to reject my dismissal. He and his work had made such an impression on me I’ve literally remembered one of his pieces with me as a figure in it (see video). ☺

We live in a superficial world where people change their interests with the shifting winds seeking instant gratification. I’ve never been one for the quick fix. I’m purposeful and methodical. I come through on the follow-through eventually.

For those of you who may be beating yourself up for taking too long to do something or acquire a wishlist item, remind yourself it’s your life to live at your pace. When you’re in a comfortable enough space to do that unnecessary, but pleasurable thing, your satisfaction will have no limits.

Check out Nnamdi Okonkwo’s work at http://www.nnamdiart.com. Yo can find him on IG (@nnamdiart) and Facebook (@nnamdi.okonkwo.96).

“In my indigenous culture, womanhood is venerated. In my sculpture I want to express the noble virtues of humanity such as empathy, love, humility and inner strength which women possess. The voluminous shapes are aesthetically pleasing and intoxicating to me, but why also serve to emphasize the largeness of the soul of womanhood.”

 

Posted on Leave a comment

POEM: I Am from…

I am LaShawnda, sister of Kim and Nicolette.
We are daughters of Terry Ann, the daughter of Bessie Mae,
The daughter of Lizzie, the daughter of Mae Emma, the daughter of
Many Unknowns.

I am from coconut oil and bergamot grease
From pinto beans and bananas.
I am from the light.
From home-cooked meals and shadowy corners,
From Thanksgiving feasts are for week-long leftovers.
I am from the iris;
The majestic maple tree,
Whose thick trunk I remember climbing and falling from.

I am from nowhere and everywhere.
From many mothers and no real fathers.
From silence, violence, solitude and perseverance
From hard work tempered with spots of joy.

I am from share-croppers and life-long toilers,
Farmers, gardeners, strong women, and providers.
I’ve been formed through the oppression of my ancestors
The generational resilience of my grandmothers and
The unruffled pragmatism of my Mama.

I am from lies and “keep it in the family”
And God is trying to tell me something
and do unto others as you… well, just do as I say.
I am from stardust and grace, refined in the fire of supernovas.

I am from Gary, Indiana by way of Mississippi and Arkansas
By way of Virginia, South Carolina and Louisiana
By way of Cameroon, Nigeria, West Guinea, and Britain
By way of One Africa seeding the World.

I am from the beginning and the end.
From all that is and all there will ever be.
From salvation and damnation, prophecy and legacy
I am from abundance and sufficiency. I am existence.

~ LaShawnda Jones
from I AM WOMAN: Expressions of Black Womanhood in America

Posted on Leave a comment

Real Estate: Self-Representation

Unpopular Opinion: I think everyone needs to invest in a real estate course and learn what they need to know to do what they want to do – rent, own, invest, etc. – in their local market. This doesn’t mean you have to represent yourself in your deals. It does however, make it more likely for you to know when and how you are not being well represented.

I had four listing agents for my first resale in NYC. During the tenure of three of the agents, I was in real estate school in AZ. I had literally gone along with things suggested by the agents that I assumed was a ”professional knowledge” thing, that was nothing of the sort. Real estate agents are just people with their own opinions and biases just like you. More than likely, they are more concerned with their best interests than yours. Who knows what they consider to be their best interest on any given day dealing with you?

I’m absolutely certain there are excellent real estate agents in the world who truly strive to be good representatives of their clients and are respectful counterparts in a transaction. I have not had the honor of working with one. In either of the two states, I’ve bought and sold homes in.

FSBO’s (for sale by owner) are laughed at by professionals. They’re derided. As an agent selling my own property, I was scoffed at repeatedly. Another agent actually told me it was illegal for an agent to sell their own property. It’s not. One of my former brokerages made it impossible to remain with the agency if you sell on your own instead of listing with them. The average homeowner has the option to sell their own home or hire someone to do it for them, but a real estate agent can only sell through their agency? Nah. I didn’t get into real estate to have my options restricted. On property I own.

What I will tell you as a new agent with a clientele of one, myself, I am my best representative. I was the best representative of my properties. No one know the home better than the homeowner. Even if you work with an agent, your job is to make sure they market your property well. Only one agent of the six I’ve worked with got a better number for me than I got for myself, but she didn’t close the deal. She dropped the ball and told me to my face face, in front of her broker, that she did her job my getting me the offer. With my limited real estate knowledge (still in RE school at that point), I told her, “Your job is to close the deal.”

Agents don’t get paid for offers. They get paid when their brokers get paid. Their brokers get paid at closing. No close, no pay.

I went through two more agents after her before getting my license in NY, joining an agency and listing my own property. Listing with your brokerage as an owner/agent does have some benefits. In New York City, there’s no public MLS. Agencies market properties to each other. Agents build networks and databases for marketing units or buildings. It’s easier to be seen via an agency’s platform. I was in contract within a few weeks of listing my own property with my agency. The buyer had expressed interest to one of my former listing agents. Had even made a low offer, which I rejected. When I relisted my property, they reached out again and we met in the middle on price.

For my AZ resale, I had one agent before delisting and going FSBO. He fielded an offer. It was low. I nudged him to follow up. I got the sense he thought I was being unrealistic in my expectations. Honestly, I think he was going by the book. He was focused on comps and the comps on the block didn’t support my pricing. This is where personal knowledge of your property and neighborhood comes in.

The two recent sells on my street hd been quick and urgent. The first one may have been fear of market collapse or perhaps the owner was over-extended. A lot of homes in this community are second homes before they become primary residences.

The second home that sold under market felt trapped by the comp of the first sale. They were also on contingency with the builder for a larger home down the street. They were at risk of losing the lot they wanted, so they were desperate to close fast.

I wasn’t in a hurry. I had a low number I didn’t want to go below. The offer my agent got was about $30k below ask and $20k below my low number at the time. The house wasn’t showing, meaning either agents weren’t aware it was available or it simply wasn’t being shared/marketed by y agent. Tucson had very low inventory at this time. Other properties in the area were getting offers within a week of listing. I stayed listed for three months before canceling the listing. I rested during the holidays and relisted on Zillow in January.

The offer I accepted came in $500 below my floor and $10,000 below my ask. Decent numbers but not the best for the times. I hadn’t kept my eye on the market. The absolute lack of inventory in the Metro Tucson area meant I could’ve netted $30-50k above my ask had I been more patient and discerning. As it was, the offer I closed on was $30,000 higher than the offer my agent brought me months prior and $9,500 higher than the highest cash offer from a corporate cash buyer. Not to mention the 4-5% commission fees saved for any of the offers.

Representing myself has earned and saved me tens of thousands of dollars per transaction. Because proof is in the pudding, I don’t see myself using an agent unless it’s absolutely beneficial to me.

For example, I’m planning on buying investment properties in a state I’ve never owned in before. The properties are city-owned, deeply discounted and comes with performance requirements. The city also requires licensed agents to process the application. No problem. I’ll hire an agent. The city as the seller, pays the agent’s fee. If I choose well, I may have someone to navigate a new market with me. If my agent streak continues as it has been, then I’ll have another cautionary tale.

Speaking of cautionary tales, the buyers of my AZ home and their agents are intergalactic level assholes. Like truly, I’ve never encountered the audacious level of disrespect and entitlement as these four individuals exhibited throughout the course of the transaction. I already shared their numbers were within spitting distance of my range, so in my mind,not enough to to trash the deal over. However, their treatment of me was so insulting, I asked them to cancel the contract twice. I simply was not comfortable dealing with them. In Arizona, sellers can’t cancel purchase contracts unless there’s outright fraud. I suspected they were misrepresenting themselves and their intentions but it didn’t amount to the level of fraud. Essentially, I asked repeatedly for verification of identity and funds. Their agent ignored my requests. I ended up contacting their banker, whom I don’t know and who could say anything on the phone, but he claimed they were legit and he had verified identity and funds. He also forwarded a chain of emails which mollified me a bit. I was assured by my broker at the time that the title process would shake loose any discrepancies. Title was a breeze. These people weren’t.

Because of this experience, the next home I sell for myself, I will not pay for the buyers agent. If I am FSBO, and the buyer wants an agent, then the buyer can pay for their own agent. In my mind, I paid money for licensed professionals to disrespect me during the resale of my AZ home. The state board says their behavior (more than shared here) is neither an ethics violation or a professional standards violation. One broker told me this is what I get for representing myself. Another said, next time you’ll hire someone to represent you, won’t you? Yet another said, why don’t you believe in the system? Each of these people make money off of agents listing and closing properties with their firms. That’s the only way they remain profitable entities. Me selling outside of the agency is of no value to them. That’s a blaring intrinsic bias. I had to stop and ask myself, “Who does their advice benefit?” Then more specifically, “How does this advice benefit me?” It didn’t. So I had to continue to move in a way that benefited me. Honestly, this is how I’ll be moving for the foreseeable future.

Posted on Leave a comment

Womanhood: Evidence of God’s Goodness

A Song & Verse Post: Evidence by Josh Baldwin

evidence: the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid

Every time Evidence comes on in the car I want to pull over and praise God. Today, I came to home to write.

All throughout my history Your faithfulness has walked beside me.

There is not one period of my life that I cannot identify the presence of God and His work in me. I remember being baptized around the age of six. Though I had no understanding of what that meant at the time, I can literally look back on my life to that moment and see how God has held on to me through every devastation, betrayal, abuse, disillusionment and every step of rebuilding and healing.

I remember my one-dollar lock and key diaries from Walgreens that were full of my seven-year-old pleadings for God to save me from the near daily sexual abuse I was subjected to. “Dear God, he did it again. Please make him stop!” Years of one or two line prayers. Silent screams. One day, four years later, God called me out of my house (I didn’t recognize His hand then, but I certainly do now) and guided me on a walk to a nearby police station outpost. I knocked on the door and said to the officer who answered, “I’m being molested.”

From that moment forward, I was never again forced to share space with my violators.

The winter storms made way for spring. In every season, from where I’m standing I see the evidence of Your goodness all over my life. I see Your promises in fulfillment all over my life.

I grew up in families – both sides – that didn’t acknowledge abuse or trauma. Everyone is either a victim or a perpetrator. If anyone could claim to be on the sidelines, they would act deaf, dumb, blind and incapable for standing against any wrongdoing.

A few years after I had forgiven my dad, and a few years before he died, he asked me why I act better than I am. “You’re from the ghetto, you’ll always be ghetto.” This was during the “healing and repair” of our relationship, mind you. It was also one of our last conversations.

Imagine being told by someone who should have molded you for greatness, that you were never expected to rise above his level of filth, disease, psychological, sexual and spiritual bondage. Imagine being looked upon with disgust by a man who, for all intent and purpose, murdered you as a child and then being told as an adult woman that you were expected to remain dead.

At that time, I hadn’t yet started my dedicated faith walk. I was still journaling – writing prayers to God – but the Bible remained a mystery to me. Nothing was catching or keeping. However, I can look back on that time now and see it as the beginning of release in my life. I tried so hard to reconcile that relationship, but when I stopped holding on – when I stopped trying – it was easy to see that I had been on my own the whole time.

I believe firmly that God desires willing hearts most – a desire to conform to His Word in practice and deed. However, He has never allowed me to remain open to those who intentionally harm me repeatedly. I view this as God’s judgement on the other person’s heart condition, rather than my inability to be faithful and obedient to Grace and Mercy.

Imagine telling your sire: I’m more than my beginnings. I’m more than the seed you contributed to my being. I’ve become more than a little girl from the ghetto.

Help me remember when I’m weak, fear may come but fear will leave.

It’s said that we can do anything we can imagine. Yet our imagination is limited by what we’re exposed to. What if we’re exposed to people who can’t see beyond their own dark pits?

I went into a deep depression in my late thirties. My mom died at the age of thirty-six and when I reached that age, my future dimmed to darkness. It was difficult to climb out of my second grave by letting go of the woman I thought I would have become by then. My mother began life as a sharecropper’s granddaughter in rural Mississippi, but I only ever saw her as the best of all created beings. As difficult as her life had been, she had at least accomplished the Holy Grail of Womanhood (according to society) – marriage and children. No matter that she tied herself to a rotten man and worked multiple minimum wage jobs to house and feed her children, she remained the epitome of everything to me. It was difficult to see myself as worthy of more time in this world than she had. Harder still to face the length of her lifespan without even a taste of the Holy Grail of Womanhood.

The end of beginnings is the beginning of letting go.

You lead my heart to victory. You are my strength and You always will be.

My birthday this year will put me at ten years beyond the lifespan of my mother – and still not even a lick of the traditional Holy Grail of Womanhood. Today, I can say I am completely fine with that. In recent years I’ve not only learned to embrace my solitude, I’ve come to appreciate it, honor it and protect it. There’s something being forged in me that I can’t articulate. That glimpse of greatness that repelled my dad fifteen years ago, is unfurling in a wondrous way. I’ve grown from hiding my light under a bushel to Clarkeshia Kent exposing her S with a declarative chest thrust. Yet my light is still gaining strength. I foresee beaming across the Universe.

Why settle for tradition when the Universe is already mine?

I’m becoming a Woman I never imagined I would be. Nothing about my life today was part of the dream, fantasy or hope. Everything about my life is better than all my mind and heart conjured for me. There’s something to be said about what we’re exposed to. Exposure sounds expansive, but it’s actually limiting. If we only trust what our eyes see, we will be satisfied with that view for our life. However, when we begin to let go of all the dead things – relationships, hopes, dreams, ideals, culture, tradition – we will have room to invite the previously unimaginable in. We will be able to develop into beings of light with experiences beyond the confinement of the world. Living beyond the construct breaks the paradigm. At which point, you’ll actually be able to imagine what previously seemed impossible. Thus, within your reality all things are then possible.

A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth.

But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days.

So when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued[d] the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to her place where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.

Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus.

~ Revelation 12:1-2, 5-6, 13-14, 17

 

[NOTE: More of my story is shared in Clichés: A Life in Verse, My God and Me, and Desert of Solitude. Some poems from Clichés will be reprinted in I AM WOMAN: Expressions of Black Womanhood in America. All books are available on Harvest-Life.org/shop and Amazon.com]

 

Evidence

by Josh Baldwin w/Dante Bowe

All throughout my history
Your faithfulness has walked beside me
The winter storms made way for spring
In every season, from where I’m standing

I see the evidence of Your goodness
All over my life
All over my life
I see Your promises in fulfillment
All over my life
All over my life

Help me remember when I’m weak
Fear may come but fear will leave
You lead my heart to victory
You are my strength and You always will be

See the cross, the empty grave
The evidence is endless
All my sin rolled away
Because of You, oh Jesus

Why should I fear
The evidence is here

 

See a Victory

by Elevation Worship w/Brandon Lake

The weapon may be formed but it won’t prosper
When the darkness falls it won’t prevail
Cause the God I serve knows only how to triumph
My God will never fail
My God will never fail

I’m gonna see a victory
I’m gonna see a victory
For the battle belongs to You Lord
I’m gonna see a victory
I’m gonna see a victory
For the battle belongs to You Lord

There’s power in the mighty name of Jesus
Every war He wages He will win
I’m not backing down from any giant
I know how this story ends
I know how this story ends

You take what the enemy meant for evil
And You turn it for good
You turn it for good


Sources:

Posted on Leave a comment

I AM WOMAN: A Book List from the Timeline

421 Years of Black Women Using Their Words

This book list is derived from the African American Women Using Our Words Timeline I developed for I AM WOMAN: Expressions of Black Womanhood in America. As with most creative projects, I had no idea where the timeline would lead.

This is by no means a full list of creative works or published/recorded documents by Black Women in America. More accurately, it’s a highlight reel of some of the historical works in the public domain. Some of the women were/are prolific writers and have multiple publications which are not listed within my timeline.

Begin With A Seed

The I AM WOMAN Project began with the idea that resistance and speaking up for ourselves are not a new concepts for Black Women. Lo and behold, a bit of digging reveals Black Women have been speaking, shouting, fighting, and resisting being controlled and abused since before our words were written down.

Discover a Forest

The Timeline in I AM WOMAN: Expressions of Black Womanhood in America includes 421 years of documented words by African descended Women in the United States of America proclaiming who they are and telling their stories in their own words. The Book List spans 421 years of Black Women in America advocating for themselves, their families, their communities and their people while exhibiting an impressive breadth of accomplishments throughout the centuries.

Black Women in America have a long and truly empowering history. Our truth cannot be hidden forever. Neither will freedom elude us forever. We are our most loyal encouragers. We are our own best defenders. Black Women have always been their own most worthy heroes.

Everything before 1924 is public domain and can be downloaded for free. May the readings liberate your mind, heart and soul. May your vision and understanding be infinitely expanded. Asè.

Book List, 1600-2021

1600 Isabel de Olvera Affidavit
1746 Lucy Terry Prince Bars Fight, August 28, 1746
1773 Phillis Wheatley Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral
1849 Jarena Lee Religious Experience and Journal of Mrs. Jarena Lee
1854 Francis Ellen Watkins Harper Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects
1850 Sojourner Truth The Narrative of Sojourner Truth
1859 Harriet Wilson Our Nig; or Sketches from the Life of a Free Black, In A Two-Story White House, North
1861 Harriet Jacobs (aka Linda Brent) Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
1863 Old Elizabeth Memoir of Old Elizabeth a Coloured Woman
1863 Susie King Taylor Reminiscences of My Life in Camp
1865 Charlotte Louise Bridges Forten Life on the Sea Islands
1868 Elizabeth Keckley Behind the Scenes; or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House
1890 Octavia R. Albert The House of Bondage
1891 Lucy Ann Delaney From the Darkness Cometh the Light; or Struggles for Freedom
1892 Anna Julia Cooper A Voice from the South: By a Black Woman of the South
1892

1895

Ida B. Wells Southern Horrors: Lynch Law and in All Its Phases

A Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynchings in the United States

1893 Amanda Smith An Autobiography: The Story of the Lord’s Dealings with Mrs. Amanda Smith, the Colored Evangelist: Containing an Account of Her Life Work of Faith, and Her Travels in America, England, Ireland, Scotland, India, and Africa as an Independent Missionary.
1896 Gertrude Mossell The Work of the Afro-American Woman
1898 Kate Drumgoold A Slave Girl’s Story: Being An Autobiography of Kate Drumgoold
1926 Hallie Brown Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction
1904 Virginia Broughton Women’s Work, as Gleaned from the Women of the Bible
1919 NAACP Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States: 1898-1918
1942 Margaret Walker For My People (poem reading)
1950 Gwendolyn Brooks Annie Allen
1953 Katherine Johnson Determination of Azimuth Angle at Burnout for Placing a Satellite Over a Selected Earth Position.
1959 Lorraine Hansberry Raisin in the Sun
1968 Audre Lorde The First Cities
1969 Maya Angelou I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
1970 Shirley Chisholm Unbossed and Unbought
1983 Alice Walker The Color Purple
1988 Toni Morison Beloved
1986 Rita Dove Thomas and Beulah
2001 Mae Jamison Find Where the Wind Goes: Moments From My Life
2001 Condoleezza Rice Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family
Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me.
2008 Kamala Harris Smart on Crime: A Career Prosecutor’s Plan to Make Us Safer
2009 LaShawnda Jones My God and Me: Listening, Learning and Growing on My Journey
2010 Carole Simpson NewsLady
2015 Amanda Gorman The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough
2018 Stacey Abram Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change
2018 Michelle Obama Becoming
2019 Valerie Jarrett My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward
2019 Susan Rice Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Kingdom of Heaven ( ACAD: Revelation 12)

A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth. Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rulea all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days.

And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming,

“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Messiah,b for the accuser of our comradesc has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death.

Rejoice then, you heavens and those who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you
with great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

So when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursuedd the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to her place where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. Then from his mouth the serpent poured water like a river after the woman, to sweep her away with the flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman; it opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus.
Then the dragone took his stand on the sand of the seashore.

Footnotes

  1. Revelation 12:5 Or to shepherd
  2. Revelation 12:10 Gk Christ
  3. Revelation 12:10 Gk brothers
  4. Revelation 12:13 Or persecuted
  5. Revelation 12:18 Gk Then he; other ancient authorities read Then I stood
Posted on 1 Comment

I AM WOMAN: A Timeline

African Women In America: Using Our Voices

A Timeline: 1500 -2000’s

This has been quite an undertaking for I AM WOMAN: Expressions of Black Womanhood in America!

At first I assumed there had to be chronologies of African Women in America and our contributions or achievements throughout the centuries. But there really weren’t any. I was able to source a chronology of enslaved African American Women. I was able to locate chronologies of African Americans in general and African American men specifically. But nothing that told a broader history of Black Women in this land. This has consumed a great portion of my development time on the I AM WOMAN project, but I think it’s a necessary part of the continuing story I’m trying to show and tell about our roots and our trajectories. Our struggles and our joys. The way we make do and make better no matter our starting points. We, Black Women, are magnificent in all our statuses, throughout any affliction or oppression, we not only continue to rise, we shine, we illuminate our surroundings and provide routes of escape for others to follow.

I’m so humbled and encouraged by the varied richness of the short bio lines of the women in the I AM WOMAN Timeline. To aid Women and Girls to see themselves as part of the overall story, I’ve added a space for them to add themselves to the timeline.

Have you pre-ordered your copy yet? If not, you can do so here!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  Download PDF: Timeline. African Women Using Our Words.sm

Related Posts

I AM WOMAN I AM WOMAN Contributors I AM WOMAN: Expressions of Black Womanhood in America

40 Famous Black and African American Women Who Are Leaving Their Mark on History

#words #women #history #africanamerican #chronology #timeline #ancestors #blackhistory #blackhistorymonth #365black #america #americanhistory #womenshis #womenshistorymonth #womanhood #books #bookstagram #harvestlife #indie #publisher #michelleobama #kamalaharris #amandagorman #lashawndajones

Posted on Leave a comment

Give Yourself Permission to Be Uncertain

This is about fragility, vulnerability, uncertainty, poor decisions and giving yourself permission to do things over when you’re in a better mental state.

#life #permission #doover #selfhelp #selfreflection #fragility #vulnerability #uncertainty #harvest #harvestlife #evolution #women #woman #womanhood #harvestlifeblog

Posted on Leave a comment

Video MR Part 2.2: Rape of Dinah and Fallout

The first recorded discussion was for Part 2: Abraham/Sarah + Hosea/Gomer was about five hours (more segments to come). Somehow we got off the principle couples and dove into Dinah’s story for a good amount of time. It got a bit intense.

What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
there is nothing new under the sun. ~ Ecclesiastes 1:9

During my studies, my best understanding has come from placing myself within the stories. Mostly as a witness, simply because I can’t see myself making many of the choices that are made by folks. However, there are times I can place myself in someone’s sandals and explore how I would respond. Dinah’s story is one I feel personally.

I think some people may have difficulty grasping core elements of Biblical stories because they read it as the “other” or “outsider” or something so old that it has no relevance to contemporary culture or concerns. Ergo it’s unrelatable.

Bible stories are human stories. Rape, incest, adultery, betrayal, disobedience, revenge – these actions and abuses weren’t left in ancient times. Hope, love, faith, courage, belief, obedience – these expected elements of a righteous life are not the sole domain of prophets.

In our contemporary, daily lives we have to cope with violence against us in some way. The violence could be emotional, verbal, physical, sexual or spiritual. It could be perpetuated by someone we love or care about, acquaintances, strangers, or ourselves. We can also be oppressed by government, societal, or cultural structures. No one is opposition-free in this world. The Bible explores all of this.

In this discussion, it is supposed that Dinah is seeking the world when she seeks out the women of Shechem. The underlying assumption is that young women didn’t go off on their own during Dinah’s time. That they had to be constantly watched by their men folks.

One of the through lines of my study is that the Bible is a self-referencing document. The best understanding or framing you can get for anything in the Bible is by cross-referencing it with another Biblical occurrence. In Dinah’s case, she went out alone to explore a city her family had camped next to. A prince of the region saw her, seized her and raped. Then he claimed he loved her and wanted to marry her. We can find hundreds of similar stories on TV and in the news today. None of this is unheard of. What’s interesting is that there are similar stories throughout the Bible.

Naomi and her daughters-in-law, Oprah and Ruth, traveled from Moab to Bethlehem by themselves without men to get to Naomi’s next of kin. Orpah, returned to her mother’s house on her own as Naomi’s urging. (Ruth 1)

Mary traveled alone from Nazareth to the Hills of Judea alone to visit Elizabeth (about 90 miles, a 34 hour walk). (Luke 1:39-56)

Women in the Bible weren’t as fragile and dependent as we like to think. They were what they needed to be, just like women today.

Noah’s wife was raped by their son as she slept next to her husband. You have to do additional cross-referencing to get clear picture of “saw his father’s nakedness,” but it’s there in the Bible. (Genesis 9, Leviticus 18) Lot offered his daughters to a mob to calm them down. The daughters later raped him while he slept because they thought he was the last man on earth and they had a duty to repopulate. (Genesis 19)

Genesis 34

The rape of Dinah and the culture surrounding her

Two other reference rapes: Noah’s wife by Ham, Lot’s rape by
his daughters

Shechem, rapist claims to love her and asks for her to be
his wife

Freedom of women to move around/travel in ancient times and
present day

Other examples of women traveling alone in the Bible: Mary,
Naomi and her daughters in law

Favoritism and the harm it caused

Posted on Leave a comment

POEM: Elegy: Cousin Tish – Baby Woman Mother

In memory of my lil cuz, Tish.

Elegy: Cousin Tish – Baby Woman Mother

Playing house is different with baby
cousins, lil’ brothers and sisters and the
mannish boys in the neighborhood. Who needs
a fake baby with real baby cousins
in reach? Tish was a chubby, curly-haired
infant, rosy-cheeked girly-girl toddler
adorable, rambunctious, loved. Rolling
over, pushing up learning to walk, run
circles around folks from the house and yard
to Grandma’s vegetable garden; real life
cabbage patch doll blooming up and down the
street, burrowing roots, extending networks.

Too soon, I was no fun; just a boring
old cousin to a womanish girl who
preferred smokin’ weed as boys circled and
plotted in her haze. Though she grew up fast,
she was no fast-tail-gal. She met her love,
married young in paradise. Soon after,
my play baby was having babies in
wedded bliss. A homemaker happiest
making a home in the warm embrace of
family, next door to her mama, ‘cross
town from Grandma. A nurturing space for
herself, her husband and their one two three
four five bouncing bundles of joy. Later
expanding her shelter to make room to
comfort Grandma in her declining years.

A lifetime came and went. A final stealth
pregnancy shared with few. Heard in passing
near her due date. Her mom, my aunt, kept her
confidence; our uncle not so. She was
due on my long-deceased brother’s birthday.
A happy coincidence to be sure.
On December 16, my aunt called to
check on me. She asked, “Have you gotten your
diabetes under control?” “I thought
I did, but last week I spiked,” I replied.
On and on I rambled, before Cousin
Tish interrupted, “Should I let them give
Grandma the Covid-19 vaccine?” “No,”
my aunt said. “What do you think,” she asked me.
“No,” I agreed, “they don’t know what the side
effects are.” “Yeah,” my aunt said, “Mom has too
many illnesses and is taking too
many medications, that vaccine could
kill her. “Ok,” said the woman who was
once upon a time my play baby, as
she made arrangements for the grandmother
she was now mothering. Generations
are mere stair steps grape-vining across blurred
lines. We could’ve all been in the same room,
sharing the same space in momentary
unity. A rare consensus. Eighteen
hundred miles, forty years separated
us from oldest to youngest to farthest
away. “I have to go,” said Auntie. “Tish
needs to get ready for the hospital.
They’re inducing her tonight.”
“Goodness! How does she do it all,” I asked.
“What do you mean?” Intoned with a raised brow.
“She’s about to deliver her sixth child.
She’s on her feet to the end, taking care
of grandma, five kids and a husband. It’s
a lot.” With a quiet sense of affront,
my aunt said, “I help.” Indeed, she does, though
not immediately apparent from
eighteen hundred miles away. As neighbors,
mother and daughter have separate but
shared households. They see each other daily.
Tish stays home, her mom works. They share the days
and divide the responsibilities.
Mini-compound in an old industry
town. How can any of us do it all
without help? “Ok, talk to you later.
Good luck to Tish.” When was the last time I
told her I love her? She’s kept me at a
distance for decades; I stopped trying to
bridge it long ago. What would I have said
had I known it was my last chance to speak
to her through her mom? The next morning, her
brother called to say this vibrant woman
died in childbirth. Unbelievable, yet
true. That was not the call any of us
expected to receive. From good luck to
my God, may she rest in peace! We know she
held her blessings close in a well-lived life.

Of the ways we thought any of us would
go next, the ones we were “ready” for, Tish
dying giving birth was not a concern.

Gone. Thirty-eight years young. Healthy. Happy.
Living, loving fully. Present for life.
Woman, wife, mother, daughter, granddaughter,
sister, niece, cousin, friend. Being herself
was her favorite role. “I Am Woman.
I Am Me,” she shared with me when asked what
womanhood meant to her during my last
visit. “Everything about Woman
represents Me. Determination. Me
being focused. Being respectful and
making sure my children are respectful.
Having manners. Succeeding in life.” She
Will be remembered as my play baby
and a bonafide mommy-woman. She
leaves behind many impressed by all the
life in her years, her love of motherhood
all encompassing. For the little ones,
Tish’s babies, overwhelming sadness
for the void her physical absence leaves
in their lives. May God enrich their spirits
to receive all the comfort, guidance and
love they need to fill their years with good life.
Precious Layla, Erick, Karess, Remy,
Daymanie and dearest London whose first
breath struggled pass her mother’s last. As I
mourn Cousin Tish, I ache for the husband
she shared her life with, mother never more
than a hop away, father whose pride was
his first-born, and brother who could’ve been
her Siamese twin. Then there’s Grandma, who
has been sustained by Tish’s care and grace.