Today: A Poem by Elisabeth Michel

Please enjoy a poem submitted by Beautiful Community member Elisabeth Michel. Perhaps it will inspire you to take up your pen. In fact, Elisabeth also shares a couple of writing prompts to help.


Today, I will write.

I do not consider myself a poet.

But I think of the voices now silent,

And I remember the writers.

The dancers.

The chefs.

The travelers.

Musicians.

Scientists.

Artists.

All the ones who could. Whose individual songs rang with power, even when soft. Whose perspectives helped us see parts of life and truth that we would have otherwise missed.

The ones who, in pursuit of their purpose, shaped the world around us.

They may, at one point, have thought they couldn’t.

Yet they blessed us when they did.

So today I write.


Writing Prompts:

1. What’s something that made you smile this week?

2. For the next two minutes, write down all the activities you engaged in today, in reverse order. (Start with now, and then write what you did before this moment, what you did before that moment, etc.). Go as far as you can in 2 minutes. After the two minutes are up, review the list and see which activity/moment in your day thus far has the strongest emotions attached to it. What was that moment, and what are you feeling?

Note from Elisabeth: “A professor gave me this writing exercise in college, and I love it to this day.”

If you feel comfortable, feel free to share your answers from the writing prompts above in the comments.

Elisabeth Michel is a health equity advocate passionate about seeing a world where everyone has the opportunity to reach their maximum potential. Currently living in Michigan, Elisabeth enjoys photography, improv, playing the piano – and when spring and summer finally overtake the Michigan winters, she loves to lounge outdoors in the grass with a good book.

Photo by Kaci Kennedy

 

Gabourey Sidibe takes on Nina Simone’s Four Women in her directorial debut of the film adaptation of the song which she has named, The Tale of Four. We’ve seen the likes of Jill Scott, Ledisi and other greats take on the song with their pounding and commanding vocals but never have we seen it iterated like this. In an interview on ABC’s The View, Sidibe talks candidly about her reasons for getting behind the camera and about her choice to depict this story in  particular. Take a look and ponder her perspective of how these four women’s stories play out on the screen. Regardless to whatever critiques, good or bad, it is very good to see more black women’s stories added to the conversation.

 

Photo Credit: Slate.Com

Last summer, we partnered with the folks at Black August in the Park  to create mini photo docs of social justice organizations who fundamentally believe in the beauty and power of Black people. Spaces of joy, pause and peace are integral for Black people’s well being in the midst of the weight of our fight. In celebration of Black August in the Park 2017’s fast approach, we are grateful for the reflections of the Black Youth Project 100-Durham Chapter.

Today, journey with us to learn more about BYP100-Durham Chapter!

 

BYP100 is an activist member-based organization of Black 18-35 year olds, dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people. BYP100 is committed to building a collective focused on transformative leadership development, direct action organizing, advocacy and education using a Black queer feminist lens.


Why do you do this work?

“I do this work because there was a seed planted long before I existed, but someone knew I would manifest to be willing to be transformed in the service of the work. I do this work because I went to terrible schools and it was easier to get a gun than to get to the library. I do this work because I want black liberation for all black people.” 

-D’atra “Dee Dee” Jackson, she/her, BYP100 Durham Chapter Co-Chair


How do you define power?

“Power is the ability to have control over our bodies and the environment we exist in.”

-Nhawndie, They/Them, Healing & Safety member


How do you define beauty?

“I can’t provide a full definition, but when I think of beauty, I think of security. Beauty to me is resistance and reaffirmation of what has been devalued. Beauty is community. Beauty is loving the most authentic you.”

-Angum Check,Organizing committee 


When do you feel the most powerful?

I feel most powerful when I am with my movement family because they make me feel safe, valued, and loved!”

-Nhawndie,They/Them, Healing & Safety member



How do you define beauty?

“I define beauty existing wherever there is compassion.” 

-D’atra “Dee Dee” Jackson, she/her, Durham Chapter Co-Chair 


When do you the most powerful?

“I feel most powerful when I am challenging everything designed to eliminate or restrict me, whether that’s through my mind in decolonizing and unlearned toxicity or through tangible actions like protesting.”

Angum Check, Organizing committee


Visit BYP-100 to learn more!


Black August in the Park is a stunning experience that affirms Blackness and creates an opportunity to connect with others who are fighting to make the world–and Durham–a space that is safe and welcome for all Black people. See you at Black August in the Park 8.20.17!

 


PHOTOGRAPHY by Meron Habtemariam,Kaci Kennedy,Madylin Vernise Nixon-Taplet and Jamaica Gilmer for The Beautiful Project

 

They sang lullabies, wooing us away from our insecurities and fears and hang-ups and let downs . . .

Beautiful black girl, it’s okay to have those curls, it’s okay to have brown skin, you don’t have to be of the world you’re in.

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They sang empowerment chants, strengthening us to confront the lies that have been told about us, encouraging us to face ourselves full on in the mirror again, daring us to remember and know that we are brilliant, we are beautiful, we are bold and we are better, together . . .

Now that I know the truth, time to show and prove. . . Every part of me is beautiful and I finally see, I’m a work of art, a masterpiece. . . I”ll show my picture to the world, I’m not afraid to let it show, anymore.

 

They moaned sacred hymns, original compositions, those that could only be written by black women who know what it is to be misunderstood, mistreated, left out, under appreciated, offering these words hummed out in harmony as a salve, soothing the ache, making us know it’s going to be okay; we do not stand alone . . .

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If she could dance naked under palms trees and see her reflection in the river, she would know she is beautiful. But there are no palm trees and dish water bears no image.

For the length of two hours they used God given instruments; combinations of soprano, alto, tenor, notes in between and notes not yet named, creatively syncopated and composed to confirm our existence, appreciate our presence, and give earnest unto our future . . .

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It was the ultimate act of sisterhood, a story worthy of being told with black, blocked letters on manilla colored pages, but, make no mistake, this was no fairytale. This was real, and they pounded out note upon note, line for line, putting in work to passionately make us to know it is so:

sisterhood is activism.

The Sisterhood Soundscape was an experience. The lyrics have carried me and continue to do so. I hear them in my head and I let them do their work of pushing me forward, making space for me to explore myself, love myself, be myself. We were all so captivated by the work of the remarkable, significantly impressive sisters from the North Carolina Central University Jazz Studies Program Tyra Scott, Dupresha Townsend and Natalie Wallace, under the leadership of the fierce, incomparable, gracious and giving, Lenora Zenzalai Helm.

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To these women, we offer a humble thank you, understanding that there is no gift or words we could render to accurately and appropriately honor them for the myriad ways they blessed all of us that hot summer Sunday in June. They have imprinted on our hearts the messages of sisterhood that keep echoing back to us, like an audible boomerang, relentlessly reminding us that sisterhood says

I see you,
       I stand with you,
                                     I stand for you,
       I will keep you,
                                     I celebrate you.
I will hold you up and hold you down,
      I will walk with you,
                              I will weep with you and for you,
                   you are not alone.

And so, we simply say back to them, what they beautifully cantillated out to us in sweet song, with our right fists clenched tight with conviction and pride over our heart, as our anthem unto one another, determined to stay in the fight and make it, together,

We must go on this way; getting stronger everyday, can’t be too shy to say, that I really love you, sister, I love you.

Our deep thanks to the Beyu Caffe family for supporting the wonder of the Sisterhood Soundscape!

 

Thank you to Lisa Maxwell, Citizen of the world, origin Jamaica, Daughter. Sister. Supergirl Amina’s Mother, Marketing Extraordinaire, Joy Giver, for sharing her story of the sisterhood of sharpening with us today. We are walking with a renewed warmth and nostalgia today.

My life is made possible by the sisterhood of sharpening.

I incarnated as a girl in Jamaica, born to a single mom and raised alongside my younger sister, Patrice whose father claimed me as his own. By all I accounts, I should be an expert at sisterhood. But have learned the hard way that sisterhood is not something you are born with but something you must invest in with love, honesty and vulnerability.

lisa-maxwell-img_1197My turning point moment came on April 1, 1990. It was the day my mother left Jamaica to make a better life for my sister and I. At the time, New York had a nursing shortage and recruited nurses from the Caribbean. In exchange for coming to New York, the nurse could secure her family members’ visa if she was successful after a probationary period. I was 14 years old and in the 3rd Form (aka 9thgrade), feeling a sense of doom at the prospects of my mommy leaving. What would happen to Patrice, then 8 years old and my newly teenage self? My mother had been our life blood leading up to this moment. Yes, she worked long hours and yes we were given much responsibility to ensure we went to and from school and remained home safely until she returned daily but what happens to two girls who now need to go live with their single dad when they had grown up to this point with their single mom? Would daddy really know how to take care of us? Could I trust him to advise me, prepare our uniforms for school and did he know how to cook for us? What buses would I now need to take from his home to school? And when would I hear my mommy’s voice again? As unlike today where there is a cell phone at the ready, then only rich people had phones in their homes. We had to walk two miles to the nearest payphone so the postal service was our best bet at communicating. And would I make any friends in his neighborhood as an awkward teenager? But despite all my questions, I must not cry and make my mommy feel bad about her sacrifice. I must not break down and have my little sister see me fall apart.

And so began the sharpening of self sufficiency and tending to my younger sister as there is no better teacher than being put in the seat of teacher.

From that moment on, I had to step up and think of those who needed me. We left Sangster’s International Airport in Kingston Jamaica and on the ride back to my daddy’s house, I had grew up. For two years, I had to walk in self direction. I for the first year, we were not allowed to travel outside the country based on the immigration and visa process so I saw my mom twice and she barely recognized me. Gone was the girl who would think nothing of playing and not doing homework and entered the girl who planned the task of washing uniforms, ironing them, cleaning the house, cornrowing my sister’s hair and then doing my homework. For those two years, I had to form a new sisterhood circle that helped me stay centered. It was comprised of the vision of my mommy’s sacrifice and supported by my oldest friend Claudia who lived in my mommy’s neighborhood and would travel home with me to my dad’s house on a Friday after school once a month and stay the weekend. I introduced her to my new friends, Rosemary and Shelly who lived in my dad’s neighborhood and went to the same school. Together we laughed, played, teased Patrice incessantly through chicken pox (another story) and awkward pre-teen girl moments and were a true sisterhood of sharpening. Together, we grew and loved and mourned when we lost Rosemary to lupus when she turned 20 years old. We lost touch in our twenties as mourning does something to you when you are touched by death in your early 20s. And now Claudia remains a dear friend and Patrice is one of the best people I know. Yet I look back at April 1, 1990 to July 4, 1992 as the turning point of my youth and the best teacher of my commitment to helping women and girls form deeper sisterhood connections.

Sisterhood is a living organism, a cycle of giving and taking. Sisterhood is like water: it cuts through the mess, it creates step change growth, it feeds me, it moves me and yes, it sharpens me. It even sharpened my cornrowing skills! Thank you to all my sister girlfriends. You give me life!

#DearBlackGirl was born out of the brilliant mind of Erin Stephens, The Beautiful Project’s Health & Wellness Coordinator and our beloved friend. She is powerful and lovely, walking through the world igniting barriers and creating safe spaces. This woman…we just can’t say enough. Read her words to find out how #dearblackgirl came to be.

For #dearblackgirl submission guidelines visit our Get Involved page! 

“I write for young girls of color, for girls who don’t even exist yet, so that there is something there for them when they arrive.” – Ntozake Shange

​As a little black girl, I was blessed to have countless black women around me speaking into my life. They spoke words of who I was and who I would become; they celebrated my dancing feet and ever singing voice; they affirmed that my life had meaning. As I grew into a black woman, the voices continued, but the messenger and messages changed. Now I heard words that projected a character that wasn’t mine; I resisted and mourned the labels that were thrown my way just because of my race and gender; my song faltered and my feet grew heavy.

As black women, we find that all too often the world attempts to define and label us in ways that disrupt our relationships with one another and disguise, distort and contain our individual and collective power. Yet, my journey has taught me that within each other, we can find the wisdom, joy and strength to overcome negativity and know our beauty and power. Most of us can think of the one or many black women whose support and wisdom has helped us on our path to becoming who we are.

Now it’s our turn- and we can begin simply with #dearblackgirl…

 

Erin Stephens is a doctoral student in sociology at George Mason University and a graduate research assistant at the Center for Social Science Research (CSSR) and the Institute for Immigration Research (IIR). At the IIR, she provides statistical analysis on immigrant economic participation and experiences as it relates to gender. To learn more about our Erin, check out her TBP bio and follow Erin @rinimeister.

 

 

 

 

Just before the Christmas holiday we were able to sit down and talk with Jasmine Bowles, a thirty something mother of three darling girls, making her way in the world, one daring move at a time. It was our privilege to listen to her story as she shared her way of doing life on her terms, making sure that she doesn’t get caught up in the rhythm of survival but pushes herself to thrive, if for no other reason than for the three pair of adoring eyes fixed upon her each day. Please read on if you’d like to laugh, be encouraged, be inspired and get this Tuesday morning started off right!

 

OK, so to get started, tell us your name and a little about yourself.

My name is Jasmine L. Bowles. I’m 36 and I live in Durham, NC.

I’m very excited about living here. I’ve been trying to get here for nearly 10 years, or for at least as long as my sister has been here. I’m from Maryland. I was born in Delaware and I was raised all over the north— NY, DC, MD, Delaware. My mom was born and raised in Delaware so that was the place you could always go if you were in between something. When we lived there, we were in the lower part of Delaware where the cornfields and beaches were, so instead of going to the pool in the summertime, we would always go to the beach. I can remember when we were in New York, my sister was one, and my mom, sister and I would get up early and ride with my mom to the train station because she worked for the FBI at the time. We were in Deer Park, Long Island. Currently, I work for Frontline Solutions and I am a student. For Frontline I am on the project management support team. I am going back to school for Business Administration and Management. I first entered college in 1996/1998. However I started working at 14 and got a taste of regular money at the pay rate of someone with a degree, so, later, with family circumstances as they were I decided to put college on the back burner and then, vowed never to go back. But Durham has been so freeing that I am going back in February. Once I graduate I may start my own business.

Did you say your mom worked for the FBI?

She laughs, Yes! It seems so weird and funny. I’m not sure what she did there, but yes, she worked for the FBI.

What does a typical day in your life look like (your routine for the day)?

Wooooo Lord! I get up between 6:30 and 7:00 am which is actually late. I take a minute to get myself together, to pray, get a jumpstart for the day. This takes about ten minutes, then I get my girls up and start drop off; one gets on the bus, the other two get dropped off at school, and then I head to work, which is an outlet for me because it’s adult time. After a few hours I head out again to pick them up. I try to get all of my appointments done while the kids are at school. After everyone is home, we come in, talk, dinner, bath and bed, so I can have my sanity again. And that does not change.

Is there anything, anyone or any part of your day that dictates how you look, i.e. how you wear your hair, your style of dress, make-up or fresh face, etc?

I feel like I do. I am very adamant about not being a frumpy mom. I say that because I know that as moms you don’t worry about how you look, you worry about how your kids look and you are the only one who looks like you’ve been caught by a ball of fire. I always go “fresh face” unless I have an event. Otherwise I choose something that makes me feel good but is very comfortable, so I’m not necessarily walking around in stilettos all the time but I do have several pair. I also enjoy going to the salon to get my hair done because those kinds of things are very therapeutic, the conversations, coming out looking good, and feeling good. Oh and it’s good for my girls too, because since I’ve done that, they expect for me to look a certain way or they will call me out in a heartbeat!

Yes! I know what you mean. I sometimes find myself caught up in making sure I get things done, making sure I take care of my girls and my husband and I leave me as the last thing. There were many days that I looked like the fire ball victim. Ha!

We share a laugh here because she is not condemning or judging me. She is encouraging me, all of us, to see the value and joy of self care and count it as much a priority as we do taking care of others.

It’s so funny though because when I was married my husband could have a bad day and not look like it but when we have a bad day it looks like we have been through it! 

How would you define beauty?

I think beauty is kind of tied to your self worth. Through the years, I’ve come to think it’s tied to how you see yourself. So you see people with things in place on the outside; makeup, clothes, and all the pretty looks on the outside, but on the inside she could be very ugly. But when someone has accepted herself on the inside there is a wall that comes down and it’s just very beautiful.

You spoke earlier about the freedom you’ve found in your new home, Durham, NC and, in listening to you speak, I see beauty in this freedom. This change seems to be exposing a very beautiful side of you.

Being in North Carolina, for me, has been a freeing moment, where I finally get to feel and discover things, how I feel, or what I think about things, all the noise has been drowned out the longer I stay. It’s all been so freeing. Maryland is where I spent most of my life. Even if I moved, I moved somewhere else north. It was a safe place. There were great things happening there but it wasn’t the place that, I believe, God would have me stay. When I had an opportunity to come here, I fought it but then when it was really time, everything fell into place and I let go and everything was freeing. Also I wanted to be closer to my sister. And, for me, there is no struggle here. There is no race here.

So what would you say to women who want to move locations: How did you come to the place where you decided, “I’m going, but I’m not running away from anything.”?

I am known to be very strong, very hard, but I have cried more in NC than I ever did in the north! But here is what I would say, self evaluate and assess the common denominator in all situations. When I did this, I discovered that it was me. So I had to figure out why I wanted to leave because 9 times out of 10, to get the change you need you don’t have to go anywhere. I have had to process things by the example of my mom, family members, environment, school setting, but what is the real reason why I want to leave? So I had to self evaluate and assess because if you just take a step back you can get a better view of the whole picture. But a lot of times we don’t want to do that. I wouldn’t be where I am if I had brought all that stuff with me. Before, I was on “the plan.” I am 36, have three kids with my ex-husband, I was searching for the career I wanted, you know, the plan. But now I am here where I am finally saying, this is what I want to do, and get confirmation from God and then, it’s go time. People say you’ve gotta go to school, if you don’t find a husband between that time, you keep going to school, then you find a husband and have kids but then nobody says what happens after that! Then you become this frumpy old lady who looks caught on fire and nobody wants that. 

At this, we both crack up laughing!

I have one best friend since 7th grade and we have been able to walk through this stuff and see this stuff together. Women can be very complicated. There are things that can be miscommunicated all the time. So you have to make sure that you take a step, even if its a quick step, take a step back to think through how things happened and why they happened, what was your part and how do you move forward now.

Would you say that there is any relationship between beauty and power?

Yes! I would because knowing yourself and feeling beautiful is very empowering. And it may not necessarily be status–social or job- but if you’re in control of what’s happening, that is very powerful. When you interact with people, they can see that in you. They say, “she is so dynamic” or “it was a quick conversation but there is so much behind her eyes.” I think that it gets misconstrued but if it is handled the right way, they can come hand in hand. I really feel like right now, I am a Christian, go hard or go home, all day, but I feel like God has given me the power to control my life, under His guidance of course, but He is giving me free will to make good choices with my life and for the first time I feel very powerful. For the first time I can make decisions and that feels very empowering to me.

And does that make you feel beautiful? 

Yes. definitely. And so does my lipgloss. But it gets to the point where I don’t care what other people think. I just am finally able to settle down and accept myself. 

Do you think you’re beautiful?

Yes, and I really want for my girls to understand that they are as well and not materialistically. I know what that is to be looking for it in other things and people and not be able to see it in yourself. That’s really important to me with my girls. I try to tell them they are beautiful and why and it can’t be materialistic. For example, I tell them, you are beautiful because you are compassionate toward your sisters. I noticed the other day that Ahmadie asked me if I thought she was beautiful and why. So I told her and I asked her if I told her that enough and she said yes but I could tell that she needed to hear it more. I have to touch them and let them know from a woman to a little girl. I have written notes to myself and reminders in my phone to tell them and do it often each day because I can get caught up in my schedule and things going on that I miss my opportunity to tell them. 

What makes you beautiful?

I think that I am beautiful because I know what I want and I know who I am.  I am very simple and I think that simplicity is beauty.

Do you think your beauty empowers you? How?

It has created a confidence in me that has changed who I let in my life. It’s my life, and when I step back and look at myself, take time to assess, it builds my confidence and gives me power to accept what I want and reject what I don’t.

Has your beauty ever been challenged?  If so, how did you overcome those challenges?

Oh definitely. Everyone in my family looks very different. We are all the different colors of the crayon box. As a kid I was always that skinny, hairy, light skinned little girl. I mean I was odd; my feet were big, I was tall, I was just odd. But I had an uncle who would tell me all the time that I was beautiful. He would give detail, like your eyebrows, or your feet are getting big but in the long run that is going to be a beautiful feature. So I would have to close my eyes and accept the truth about how I looked but know that that didn’t make me ugly. Even now that I am gaining weight more than before I want to join a gym and women look at me and think why, and that can be very vicious. All the things that were crazy to me when I was younger, now I just think that being able to identify what those things are, well they are MINE, this is what God gave so I’m gonna love it! You don’t have to, but I do. It took a long time to feel that way but now that I do, I love it. 

What would say to your younger self to encourage her to embrace herself most fully and walk confidently in the world?

I would tell her: you don’t need anyone else to tell you how beautiful, powerful or strong you are. If I could have paired up with Christ then, I wouldn’t have needed so many other outside reinforcements to help me know it so that when others would say that I was beautiful, it would feel like confirmation and not new information because I would be sure of who God made me to be. I didn’t know any of that.

What advice would you give to moms?

We can’t take care of anybody else if we don’t take care of ourselves. If I don’t do these things for myself then what am I showing my children? They can’t see me paying the bills, they can’t see me paying the mortgage because they are kids and they don’t understand that. So I have to figure it out and know that everything is going to be okay. It’s not going to blow up if we don’t have dinner on the table at 6 or if we have to choose this job that has us at work all the time and someone else has to help us take care of our kids. Hey, everything is still going to be okay! We have to realize that so that things don’t feel so crazy all the time. I wish I had known all this time that everything is going to be okay and I’m not perfect and even that is okay. The hard decisions that we have to make for our well being, for our family, they don’t have to be an explosion in your mind! Everything is ok. You have to figure out what decisions you have to make, make them and remember that it is okay to ask for help. 

Well said, Ms. Bowles. Well said.

Found this very charming article and video on Vogue.com. Thought we’d share! Enjoy and click over to Vogue for the full article about Lupita’s braiding party!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo & Video Credits: Vogue Original Shorts

See what difference a little, hurt, Black girl can make. Thank you, Ms. Morrison, for shining the light on us. Thank you, Ms. Morrison, for seeing us.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Vanity Fair

Video Credit: Visionary Project YouTube Channel

Her conviction and passion captured me. She could illustrate murals through the rasp in her voice and pierce the soul with conviction when she opened her eyes wide, forming round, heavy scopes of wisdom and truth.  She showed us how to love a man and how to move a man. Loving her man was as much her joy and mission as her work on the stage and screen. Beautiful as she was, she was able to position herself as never to be objectified; no one had her permission to decide who she was. Only she did that, with the expectation that others would oblige. She fought for civil rights for mankind and for the rights of her people. She did not allow fear to stifle or stop her. She seemed to thrive in it. Her small frame was heavy with determination and power and she knew she had influence. No matter what people said or will say, she was a monument.

I’m talking about Ruby Dee.

Talking to one of my sisters the other day about yet another great ancestor ascending into the clouds and she said, “Sometimes I just feel like we’re losing everybody at once.” I told her I know.

I know and I know.

Our faces are only barely dry from mourning our mother-teacher Maya Angelou. As soon as we lift our head to the sun, our broken heart beckons it back down to weep once more for yet another matriarch gone on. But I dared to peek open my eyes and take a look around, in the quiet mourning, I heard a whisper. Can’t you hear it? The great cloud of witnesses is expanding. One more soul is standing on the sidelines, calling our names, beckoning us forward to take our places in the struggle and fight. Fight for civil rights, fight for our children, lend our voices to the cries for help for the marginalized, ready our hands to take the plow, lace up our shoes for the journey ahead for there is yet work to be done. I can hear their whispers. I hear them saying,

Girl, stop worryin’ about what people think of you. Stop worryin’ about if they’ll like what you have to give. Stop worryin’ about if you’ll make it. Stop it! You are here for a purpose. You are Queen Esther, called for such a time as this, equipped, purposed and predestined to cover the deficits that move your heart and consume your mind. All that wonderin’ and worryin’ is but a distraction, to keep you focused on yourself, causing you to miss the bigger picture while you concentrate only on your own imperfection. This whole world, this whole production was put together by the greatest artist of the universe, the Great Creator. He knows it all. In His goodness, grace and mercy, He has given us a chance to participate in His work. It is art but it’s not complicated. Don’t overthink this. It’s paint my numbers and, baby, you already know your color and number. Pick up the brush, baby. Pick up the mic, the book, the math, the camera, the pen, the hammer, the ax, the broom, pick it all up and move. Move, for your time is now and we slid over and made for room for you because we knew that you could do it. So do it.

“Life exacts a high toll.” Ruby would say. “So stand up inside yourself and know that you are God’s child.” Maya would add.

And I would dab at my tears, square my shoulders and say, “Amen.”

 

Photo Credit: Gawker