Did you have a genius of a great-great-grandmother who died under some ignorant and depraved white overseer’s lash? Or was she required to bake biscuits for a lazy backwater tramp, when she cried out in her soul to paint watercolors of sunsets, or the rain falling on the green and peaceful pasturelands? Or was her body broken and forced to bear children (who were more often than not sold away from her)-eight, ten, fifteen, twenty children-when her one joy was the thought of modeling heroic figures of Rebellion, in stone or clay?
How was the creativity of the Black woman kept alive, year after year and century after century, when for most of the years Black people have been in America, it was a punishable crime for a Black person to read or write? And the freedom to paint, to sculpt, to expand the mind with action did not exist. Consider, if you can bear to imagine it, what might have been the result if singing, too, had been forbidden by law. Listen to the voices of Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Roberta Flack, and Aretha Franklin, among others, and imagine those voices muzzled for life. Then you may begin to comprehend the lives of our “crazy,” “Sainted” mothers and grandmothers. The agony of the lives of women who might have been Poets, Novelists, Essayists, and Short Story Writers, who died with their real gifts stifled within them.
Esperanza Spaulding covers “Tell him”
Sun Ra and His Arkestra—“Intergalactic Motion”
Outer Spaceways Incorporated (Black Lion 1968).
THE DOOR BY AVA DuVERNAY (by miumiu)
Space Is The Place [Sun Ra Film 1974] (by Saucer People)
I bought a dollar and a half's worth of small red potatoes,
took them home, boiled them in their jackets
and ate them for dinner with a little butter and salt.
Then I walked through the dried fields on the edge of town. In middle June the light
hung on in the dark furrows at my feet,
and in the mountain oaks overhead the birds
were gathering for the night, the jays and mockers
squawking back and forth, the finches still darting
into the dusty light. The woman who sold me the potatoes was from Poland; she was someone
out of my childhood in a pink spangled sweater and sunglasses
praising the perfection of all her fruits and vegetables
at the road-side stand and urging me to taste even the pale, raw sweet corn trucked all the way, she swore, from New Jersey. "Eat, eat" she said,
"Even if you don't I'll say you did."
you know all your life. They are so simple and true
they must be said without elegance, meter and rhyme,
they must be laid on the table beside the salt shaker,
the glass of water, the absence of light gathering in the shadows of picture frames, they must be
naked and alone, they must stand for themselves.
My friend Henri and I arrived at this together in 1965
before I went away, before he began to kill himself, and the two of us to betray our love. Can you taste what I'm saying? It is onions or potatoes, a pinch of simple salt, the wealth of melting butter, it is obvious,
it stays in the back of your throat like a truth
you never uttered because the time was always wrong,
it stays there for the rest of your life, unspoken,
made of that dirt we call earth, the metal we call salt,
in a form we have no words for, and you live on it.
Simone Leigh. You Don’t Know Where Her Mouth Has Been, 2012
via @NYC Black Pride
Barbara Christian, a professor of African American Literature at the University of California at Berkeley, had been ill for months, years really, experiencing a slow ebbing of physical vigor marked by chronic back dysfunction, unshakable fatigue, and later, undiagnosable chest pain. Before she became ill her impact as a writer, scholar, and activist had been deep and wide… But when her life’s work began to crumble around her, she got tired. Hers was a progressive debilitation, a slow chipping away of power and energy that was a precise mirror of the slow destruction of progress she saw around her. Around the country, affirmative action programs were being dismantled and ridiculed. There were fewer and fewer students of color each term. Harvard notwithstanding, black studies departments were losing power, losing faculty, losing funding and institutional support in the midst of a renewed debate about the worth of those programs and the necessity of linking art and education with social and political concerns. In the publishing world, black editorships were down. The publication of black books was on the rise but was increasingly limited to commercially lucrative romances and thrillers, closing down avenues for other kinds of work and other kinds of voices.
In the meantime, and in this context, her health continued to fail. When her cancer was still undiagnosed, she walked around with her hand pressed against her heart, where the pain seemed to originate. To friends and colleagues she spoke often about her disappointment with the direction black cultural work was taking, not knowing her own life would be cut brutally short as a result of the very set of problems she had spent her life fighting. Or perhaps she did know. “My heart is broken,” she said, months and months before she was diagnosed. “That is why I’m dying.”
For You To Love Luther Vandross Live At Wembley (by Darron Moore)
The snaps make. me. disintegrate.