Black Women Writers to Celebrate

Black Women Writers to Celebrate

zora-neale-hurstonAs I reflect this month in which we celebrate women’s history I feel compelled to share with you a couple of women writers that rank high upon my shelves.

When I first attempted to read, Zora Neale Hurston’s, There Eyes Were Watching God, many years ago, I have to admit I just couldn’t get through it. The dialect of broken English was just a little too much. Some years passed and I don’t remember why, but I picked it up again. I’m glad I did.

For those of you not familiar with it, this is the story of Janie Crawford, the grToni-Morrisonanddaughter of a former slave who rejects the notion of marrying simply to establish a solid home and financial stability. During a time when this was much more than someone of her stature could hope for this was no light matter.

Her grandmother, who she calls Nanny, became pregnant by her slave owner and fears that her granddaughter will become “a mule” by some man if she doesn’t quickly get her married.  She arranges for her to marry Logan Killicks because he will provide the status and financial security she feels her granddaugghter needs; love is neither necessary nor relevant. Nanny’s destiny was chosen for her, she wants better for her granddaughter. Janie has higher hopes. She longs for true love and can’t imagine settling for anything less.

She eventually finds it in Vergible Woods, better known as Teacake.  He is a good looking stranger who enraptures her with his guitar playing and free spirit. He seems to be from nowhere and everywhere.

She is in her forties when her second husband a prominent man in an all-black town in Southern Florida, dies. Despite their age difference and his lack of any type of status, she runs off with Teacake and marries him despite the whispers and gasps of the town folk. Janie narrates the story, which is a reflective one.

Their Eyes Were watching God, taps into the human spirit and the quest in all of us to find that one that makes us have to remind ourselves to breath.

Hurston dared to write such a novel during a time when women and especially Black women wouldn’t think to flaunt their dissatisfaction with traditional roles so publically and unabashedly. She does it uniquely, tastefully and in a way that transcends time, race or culture.

My other look-back is The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Morrison is a master storyteller and possesses this ability to tap into the most intimate parts of the human spirit,bluest eye awakening her reader.

This is the story of Pecola Breedlove; the girl is as black as night and equally as ugly– at least in the eyes of others and thereafter, in her own eyes. Taking on the role she believes society has given her, a role subservient to her white counterparts, she desires to be a white girl with blue eyes. For her this seems to be the sought-after standard of beauty.

The story is told mainly from the point of view of Claudia, whose family has taken in TheirEyesWereWatchingGodPecola because of issues she’s having with her family, namely her incestuous relationship with her father. Claudia is proud of her blackness and indignant at Pecola’s desire to be something other than Black.

Although issues of racism and sexuality and self-worth are thematic throughout, Morrison has a way of weaving them into a well-told story.

Take some time to check out both books. And if you have already, they are certainly worth a second look.

O.K. Here’s the deal: you’re going down

O.K. Here’s the deal: you’re going down

Maybe I am the only one, but I doubt it. Every night before sleep takes over I hear these voices–crowded, in each other’s way, unrelenting.1muhammad ali

Now, wait a minute, I don’t need to be medicated.  I speak of these accusatory voices reminding me of, incidents for that day not resolved, things I should’ve done but instead  stupidly decided to do something else. They read me a long list of reasons why everything I did over the last 24 hours was useless and the real work begins tomorrow. Only thing is, they tell me the same thing every night. Maybe you hear them too; voices, taunting and telling you that you are absolutely making no progress. Your venture sucks. No one will read or listen or buy whatever it is you’re selling, saying or even giving away.

They send their cousins over to greet me in the morning before I get the sleep out of my eyes, before I’ve had my tea. They remind me that I am out of my league, off my rocker and hey didn’t my cousins warn you last night you are useless at this? Why do you even keep at it?

When I first decided I was going to be a published author I have to admit, my naiveté boarded that of my nine-year-old. This is how it was supposed to happen: I would sit hunched over my computer for hours every day, sipping coffee or lattes or whatever it is that real artists drink. And when I emerged to show the world my fiction master piece, some editor would sit up all night reading, so enthralled she’d be with my work. (Seriously, I heard this happened with Mary Higgins Clark.)  So, we know it is possible but not probable and probably didn’t happen with me because it took my editor months to get back to me.

Anyway, none of that happened at least not that way. Nope. I went something like this: I stood at my computer for a few hours at my night job writing this novel. At home I didn’t have time to put pen to anything except to sign the check for the bill collectors. It took me a year to write and I collected rejection slips like baseball cards. It was all I could do to keep from giving up altogether and I would’ve taken up drinking but I ‘m really not a fan. My hubby told me to get a real job and then he rattled off the someday speech. My kids forgot that I was even writing anything.

So, here I am months later and it’s going to be published next month. And the voices, like out of nowhere (kinda like how maggots seem to mysteriously grow out of rotting meat) assaulting and accusatory telling me what I failure I am, before I have even failed.

What I have noticed is that negative thoughts don’t just go away because they are ignored, no more than a fly would that is sitting on your nose. Just doesn’t happen. Negative thoughts are conquered through positive words, godly words. These words change your thoughts and your thoughts change your actions and attitude.

So, with that in mind, this is how it’s gonna go down. I speak to those voices:  Your entire clan will back off. You have no idea who I am. You don’t own or control me. My God is bigger than you. My will is stronger than yours. My authority is greater than yours. I am not, and never will I be a failure, no matter what happens from here on out. I am walking in my gift and calling. I have studied my art and prayed and worked my….butt off. So. There it is.

Push Past Failure: Victory is on the other side

Push Past Failure: Victory is on the other side

I love new things don’t you? What can compare to the feeling of launching a new project? A new job or a fresh start? But new gets old quickly. It is our nature to give up on things quickly, to grow bored and tired of what use to excite us.

God places within us dreams and visions; we are made with purpose and on purpose. He is not a creator of accidental inventions or experimental concoctions. He is the embodiment of intent and destiny. We awaken when we hear that voice urging us to get up and do.And when the vision becomes clear—oh my!In the days and weeks that follow we move and are excited and can barely behave. With the newness of this energy our capacity to create, build and motivate is limitless. We start that business plan, book or play or seek investors for that new business.We cannot fail.Furthermore it seems like the entire world is on our side cheering us on and it’s as if we can do anything but fly. Success belongs to us.

And then inevitably it happens—the pangs of life come into play.The work is hard—sometimes grueling, the folks that said that they would—don’t.The investment of time, work and energy seems daunting and takes its toll.And we think—it shouldn’t be this hard afterall I’m gifted and God said this was mine. We begin to back paddle or worse yet we seek out a new venture (remember I said everybody likes new).

Listen to this—just because it’s God-given doesn’t mean it’s not work.Remember Jesus’ great sacrifice?That was not a pretty sight up there on the cross. He knew we were worth it. Your dedication and work is worth it.You will fall, get tired, grow weary and do a lot of sighing—maybe some crying. But grab hold to his hand and move. Move even when your cheerleaders pack up their pompoms and go home, when folks question whether or not this really was a smart move.Move, push, push. Learn to become your own motivator and listen to that voice. Whatever you do, don’t stop. You will not fail. Success belongs to you.

 

What do you do when love isn’t enough?

What do you do when love isn’t enough?

There was a couple struggling to keep their marriage together. They’d had counseling, tried to revive their romance and nothing, absolutely nothing seemed to be working. The Valentine-8husband was discussing his relationship with a friend. And the friend asked if he stilled loved his wife. To which he replied ‘Yes, I do.’ And then after thinking about it some more the husband says to his friend, ‘What do you do when love isn’t enough?’

It would be amazing to think that the foundation of all healthy and sound relationships isn’t…enough. Well what do you do when love isn’t enough?

I say that it is always enough. Love perfected is all you will ever need for a healthy and happy relationship. It is not that something is lacking in love, but that something is lacking in us.

The question becomes is that person the one to whom you want to give it all too? Are they worth it? Deserving? Do we trust them with all of us? Will they trample on the best part of us or misuse the greatest gift of all?

When you trust someone with all of you are, when you love them completely and wholly, yes, it is enough. According to scripture, love:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end. (I Cor. 13:3-7)

Yes, that is a lot! But it is love in its purest form. When you love someone in this manner, it is more than enough. But when we shrink back because we don’t trust or believe or aren’t ready to give our all, well, that’s another issue altogether. If you are not ready to love so fiercely for whatever reason, that’s cool too, but you really can’t blame it on love.