What happens when you become antiracists. I woke up early today and wrote a series of what I call what happens. Derrick Bell was to blame. I wanted to use them to teach my daughter about symbols, about failure, about questions, about life in general, but most of all what happens when she becomes anti-racist. I finally got to the end of Derrick Bells ‘Faces at the Bottom of the Well’ and I couldn’t help but now become a true believer in the permanence of racism.

Derrick Bell

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, this idea that justice for faces at the bottom of the well can’t actually be won in the United States. I bought this book last year at the height of all the racial reckoning and kept keeping it at a distance, not ready to confront the reality I knew was nestled within the pages of this book. Until this weekend. This weekend, I confronted the bitter truth of racism in America with the finest legal scholar that ever lived. I can see why people laughed it off when he once shared his opinion. Few people are prepared to confront this harsh reality about life in this country. ‘If racism is permanent, what is the point of the struggle’ as Michelle Alexander points out in her foreword. Granted accepting the permanence of racism does not mean accepting racism itself. Bell himself suggested this as well. His book has so many truths lurking for today, especially whether the battle can ever be won. And so for those who choose to become antiracists, know these truths about racism stated so eloquently by Derrick Bell:

That the cause is greater for those who choose hope rather than despair.

Those who recognize the futility of action and the conviction that something must still be done.

Those who know racism is permanent, not fleeting.

Those who see it in their real lives, not in sentimental minds.

Those who choose survival, rather than being silent.

Those who choose light rather than darkness.

Those who choose freedom rather than bondage.

Those who know there is no giving up, even as history continues to unfold.

Those who choose to be counted as antiracists for as long as racism exists.

For them, there is still hope, still meaning, even in this struggle to become antiracists.

I long to be word’s happiness in places, where happiness is instant. I long to feel word’s peace in places where peace is instant. I long to embrace word’s beauty in places were beauty is instant. I long to know word’s change in places where change is instant. Happiness, peace, beauty, change, all flow easily, when words are buried deeply in your soul.

Few bear witness to power within Black girls. Even very few celebrate it too. Yet black girls who are celebrated today, will be celebrated tomorrow and always. Today, I celebrate my daughter. She shared papers she received from school today. One after the other, they showed how terrific she was, whether with geography or spelling or basic reading. She was delighted to share her scores. I told her I was proud but better yet, I asked her how she felt. Her response: While she was taking these tests she was nervous. But now, she felt good about the scores because they show how she overcame her fears. As I listened to her, I was suddenly in awe of her intense awareness of fear and how to overcome them. She is only 9. Yet, this inward realization of her strength as applied to the outward celebrations of her tenacity is a treasure that surely must be supported at all cost, protected too. For black girls who know they are terrific today, will surely be legendary tomorrow. Keep being terrific my child.

The kids were jumping on the trampoline. I was amazed by how far we have come. Baby was strolling gingerly towards them and away from them, in his yellow green shirt that read how he was a ‘little man with big plans.’ He truly was. Today’s plans, dirt and all sorts of ways to become one with dirt. Dreams of one day jumping on the trampoline too we’re on his mind. On this first day of Fall, in the second year of a pandemic that ceases to end, I am sitting here staring at how far my family and I have come. Baby is still walking back and forth towards his siblings jumping on a trampoline and away from them. A cool breeze, so gentle like a baby’s kiss, gently kisses my face this evening. Everything seems sterling to me. The green of the grass. The blue of skies. Even the white of clouds have a certain aura to them that personifies my aura these days. I am walking in light and there is no turning back. My mother-in law spent her days during the early parts of summer tending to a garden. It was also her way of coping with the illness of her only daughter that would come to do consume our entire summer. Today I stared deeply at how her garden continues to flourish, continues to remain glorious, even in her absence. Angie would have been proud of her. Angie would have loved her light.

African Greens from our garden

We all know light when we see it. Light is peace. It is peace for the mother, the wife, the teacher, the daughter, the sibling, the awakened public, suddenly rising from their comatose state. Luminescent, incandescent, glistening, hers, that glow with a light within are trouble for tortured souls, trouble for those who prefer chaos. And the world is a chaotic place, violent place too, for those rearing and resting in darkness, sly racists too who prefer their structural violence rather than the power of roaring lioness. Still, like a lioness, I choose light for its aura, it’s brilliance, it’s chink, it’s dazzle, it’s ethereal, it’s fire, it’s gleamer, it’s halo, it’s illumination, it’s jewel, it’s kindle, it’s luminosity, it’s morn, it’s nature, it’s optical, it’s prism, it’s queer, it’s radiance, it’s spark, it’s twinkle, it’s upbeat, it’s vividness, it’s wave, it’s x-factor, it’s yellow, it’s zenith. Certain openings for light visited on people are so blazing, so lustrous, so airy, so zestful, so effortless that it must be protected at all cost. It’s not a gift. It’s a necessity. For a city, a people, built on light cannot be hidden. Blaze your light and keep it too at all cost.

We have been holding our breathe for Amanda Gorman’s book since January. We finally got a copy of it this part Friday. The title: Change Sings. It begins with a little girl holding guitar, strumming a tune, as if to begin belting how change sings, how not to fear too for its coming. Next, we see her walking through a prism of colors and words that inspire change. There is even an image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr as the little girl dreams with the cries of true dreamers. And so the story begins. The little girl slowly assembles other young people just like her hoping for a change that sings, long for it’s it’s mysteries, it’s history, collective strength and light that each day brings. We awaken to love when change sings, to courage when change sings, to tolerance of differences that roar and springs when change sings. But the beauty of this story is that change has always been there, inside of you and me, growing like a seed, something the world needs, something we too can sing along too, for change, it’s gifts, it’s mysteries, are all ours when we give it a fighting chance. Clearly we love this book. Keep a change that sings for you and me.

My son has begun to leave traces of his drawings and coloring everywhere. He loves drawing these days because Mo Whilems taught him how to draw a pigeon trying to drive a bus. He also loves coloring because alpha blocks are zesty and full of colors. They taught him how to color within alphabet known as blocks. It’s as if he has begun an endless hunger for art. But it’s his art assignment at school that has me mesmerized this morning. Coloring or drawing didn’t come naturally or easy to him. Here is a boy for whom coloring between the lines or within spaces was a chore. There were assignments full of coloring that he never really completed, never really understood, and saw as a waste of time, if as things to assign. The colors he placed rather haphazardly disturbed nothing, moved nothing too. From then on, coloring became a chore, another thing to do, another thing, often described as boring, this thing that we bore into him.

Pigeon from Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.
Alpha block

Until this summer, our summer of light, our summer full of discoveries. It was this summer, one with no therapy, that my son discerned for himself, the intimate sustained surrender to art for art’s sake. In the absence of demands, through frames that are separate, yet particular, a pigeon, alphablocks, and now the Virgin Mary, this thing that was once boring, complements his minds’s many dazzling ways, deepening an enduring desire to do more, be more, involved yes, but consumed more with what he creates with his own hands. A pigeon, alpha blocks, even the Virgin Mary all pry open the pages of his intriguing mind. His art, has become now, more important, than his silence, more important than days where his mind frays or melts down. This is a keep worth reliving over and over again, one where his art is becoming life, one frame at a time.

Virgin Mary

I asked him, why he even painted Virgin Mary brown. Most depictions are of a fair lady, fairer than the white of snow. His is only 7 years and I am fascinated with how he depicts humanity. His response as clear as a sunny day: because she is supposed to be brown. I don’t take this response lightly. His mind is a puzzling masterpiece to all of us that know him intimately. To see this journey, to watch as he follows his path, through art, through colors, through people, is to see possibilities with minds on a spectrum. All of us that are typical have so much to learn from children on the spectrum, whether from their thoughts on pigeons, or alpha blocks or Virgin Mary. Don’t wait for society to tell us how they should act or speak or even react to ways that are untypical to a typical mind. Each of us are destined to use the skills we have to meet minds that dream of days were dreaming is life’s streaming, this beaming in need of more esteeming. I am learning each day that those of us with the privilege to see how the brain works differently are the lucky ones. How each coloring, each drawing becomes a thing worth keeping is my prayer for you, for me, a desire for what to come when we all keep coloring. Keep it, because it’s what you, we, are all supposed to do.

I waited a day to write this. I waited to see if anyone would remember. I searched Google. The local news in Birmingham didn’t forget. It was the 58th anniversary. 58 years of flowers that could have bloomed, yet cut too soon, gone too soon. The youngest among them, Carole Denise McNair, only 11 at the time of the bombing would have turned 69 this year. Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, and Carole Robertson, all 14 at the time, would have been 72. There lives were cut short because of hate. And 58 years later, only 3 sites, 2 of them, local news sites remembered. These are times when words don’t come. Yet for the sake of history, these are times when words are all we have, since their story, their history, are cut from books that should have their stories. We still live in times of hate, where lives so fragile, are cut so soon, with so many gone too soon, that we fail to remember where the sun set to soon. Yet their memories, even their stories of flying and sailing away to soon, to a place, to love that replaced hate, something so unfamiliar to date, is the keep I choose to remember in this space. Their lives may have been short, their deaths even quick, but none of that was in vain, Toni Morrison wrote in her book ‘Remember.’ I agree. I so agree.

From Toni Morrison’s Book ‘Remember.’

Something about a new school year keeps me hungry and restless to learn something new. A new strategy, a new framework, a new innovation, a new story. This school year, I am taking lessons from the master storyteller herself. Though she is gone, Toni Morrison’s many many literary treasures continues to teach and inspire and help me soar to new heights, new possibilities, new dreams. Today, I am dreaming of a time when schools began the tumultuous journey to integration. Many may take it for granted that black and white children can go to schools together today. But there was a time this wasn’t the case. Toni Morrison’s book ‘Remember’ is a historical work for young people, full of archival photographs that depicted what happened after the U.S Supreme Court declared segregation in schools unconstitutional.

Through a fictional account of the dialogue and emotions of students who lived through the era, Morrison reminds us all to remember because and as she noted, ‘it’s the mind’s first step towards understanding.’ And so we begin a journey towards remembering, towards a time where there was as much hate as there was love, as much anger as there was hope, as many heroes as cowards. This fictional account of ordinary people living ordinary lives takes us to new journey, new friendships, new kinds of fear, and old kinds of emotions. A wide road maybe ahead, but the path towards it was narrow, often closed, before we even see a path. This was also a time when children had to be braver than their parents, when pastors, priests and rabbis walked with strangers. It’s this time that I choose to remember. Not because of the difficulties of this period, but more so for the path that unfolded, the brave people, brave children that walked through them, through closed doors into possibilities that make today glimmer with hope. We cannot forget this time and I urge whoever you are reading this to keep remembering too.

I was greeted by roses today. Crimson-eyed ones. China ones too. Each had a story to tell. A symbol to sell. Crimson-eyed ones are precocious, full of color, full of life, a colorful life. China ones are love personified, plus full of happiness, full of beauty, a beautiful happiness. Such was my Monday morning. A wish for life that is colorful. A prayer for life that is beautiful. A wishful prayer so precocious, so lovely. My prayer for you. I was greeted by roses today. Crimson-eyed ones and China ones too. May their beautiful colors, keep your life full.

China roses
Crimson-eyes rose mallow.

I cherish the boisterous Black Angel that drives me. It’s ups and downs help protect the place where my power rises. Today, I let it rise beyond the sources of pains it’s leaves behind, sources of grief too. I let it eat, the few things that sustain me, like smoky hot party jollof rice and deep fried croaker fish. These details are not for you to be misled. They are for me to remember to keep what sustains me. To keep the memories from what passes through, the people who pass through too. This weekend, it was our bosom friend from Georgia, Tony. We met back in 2017, shortly after baby number 3 was born. He had a bad case of respiratory viral infection and he was only 2 weeks old. We met in the emergency room too. We have been tied in the hip ever since. This weekend he came all the way from Georgia to pay his condolence visit. To know him and his family, is to know love. A deep love, that is forever eternal between our families. We may not see for years, but when we connect, his love sustains, like smoky hot jollof rice and fish. These are the people that matter and this weekend I learnt once more to keep what sustains me. We are forever keeping Tony and his family in our hearts.