As we approach “black history month” people of color be encouraged to celebrate our Afrikan heritage life long. Love yo black, covet yo Afrikan whatever way you were born into it. Kwame Ture said, “Once you just Afrikan ain’t no question. Once you have proper identity one of your biggest problems is solved.” To our allies remember that ally is a verb, so saying you’re an ally is not enough. You must do the work. It’s not about your intent, it’s about your impact. Shout out to my people of Afrikan descent who are finding their way, embracing what is ours! It’s not weakness to be of Africa-it’s a great honor. And while most of us were born in different parts of the world, know that our root origin comes from the same continent, so rich and complex. Let’s celebrate our legacy. Let’s love each other in the many ways we exist. ❤
-Gracie Berry #thee amazing grace #tag
I remember it like the moles sprinkled just below my left eye on my left cheek. I lived with my grandmother at the time. We were always in that old Thunderbird making stops for food and liquor. Lynn, my grandmothers husband pulled up along side the curb on 45th and Lancaster Ave Philadelphia Pennsylvania cross the street from Penn State Beer Store. Grandma finalized her order, a pint of gin, Lynn opted for a 5th of vodka and he got out of the car.
I could always tell when she was in a good mood cause she would get to buying stuff and throwing money around. She would be extra nice to Lynn, even gave him a kiss on the lips. She turned toward the backseat where I was sitting and said here Rabbit. Rabbit was a term of endearment she used toward me and my siblings. She continued, take this here dollar grandma got for you as she waved it around. I was so happy and was smiling from ear to ear cause the sun was so bright outside and I thanked her. I thought for a second with the Jamaican candy story adjacent to my left and in plain sight as any kid would about all of the snacks, candy they could buy if they had just one more dollar and since she was in such a good mood I opened my mouth with wide tooth smile and asked in the sweetest voice I could muster if I could have another dollar. Actually I said, “Can I have another one Grema”.
The instant she turned to me, a raging bull, face stern with that evil darkness in her eyes and menacing half smile I was so deathly afraid of and snatched the dollar out of my hand, tearing it in half in the process. She smacked the blood out of my face and blamed me for the dollar ripping. She yelled at me that I better not EVER, EVER ask no adult for no motherfucking money after they already gave me some. She followed by saying, “See what you made me do”. She always said that after beating me badly or when something went wrong. She called me an ungrateful little bitch. I cried in silence with tears rolling down my face and choking on that lump of sadness you get when you just want to scream it all out, but can’t because if you did it would be so much worse.
That was the moment I learned never to beg for money or anything for that fact. To be satisfied with what was given to me. To settle. To never aspire to reach for anything more than what was in my view. To never overstep my bounds even if I wanted something on the other side. I was meek and solitary and confused at how much, me simply asking for that extra dollar made her mad. How angry she was at the very notion of me making that choice. How much control she had over all things in my life. How that one moment debilitated my self-worth and drive that affects me deep down to this very day. How I will often suffer alone instead of asking for the help I need out of some secret fear. She always wanted to break me, every chance she got. -Gracie Berry
I’m often asked by people getting to know me, why I take so many pictures as I have so many photos of myself and the people and things I love in my home and other places. Many folks aren’t aware that I grew up in abject poverty, was a ward of the court since age 5, was the eldest of 9, was homeless for most of my childhood, was abused physically, mentally and emotionally, and wasn’t enrolled in school until much later. I remember my first grade teacher, Mrs. Joel. She had a kindness that was like the warmest sweater wrapping you up on a cold day. She was a tiny woman and so excitable about picture day. She sent me home with a picture package and told me to dress in my best and to remember to smile for the camera. I was hype skipping home from school. I took the package to my grandmother and she ripped it to shreds in front of me. She laughed saying something like she ain’t got no money for no damn pictures. Every year after that was the same, so eventually I stopped bringing it home. The closest I got to school pics was the group ones we took with our class and teacher and even then I didn’t get a copy. The pic below was my first school picture at age 14. I was so proud of that and nervous too that’s why I didn’t smile as big. I braided my pony tale down my back and rocked my ole famous mullet style cut. Silly me I didn’t know that the pic would only show the front unlike the different packages showed, so my pony tale is lost in history lol! I got my first camera at age 15 and well haven’t stopped since. I love the skin I’m in and take lots of pictures of it. The memories. Those irreplaceable memories that live in those photos are my visual poem that speaks in a language that is mine to understand. ❤
i’m a firm believer that just because you didn’t go through what i been through don’t mean you ain’t “go through”. dig? everyones struggle is valid. give thanks to each other and how we get each other through. we got mad gifts and are gifts to each other, teaching each other all of the time.
I wasted enough time trying to be better than myself, like being better hurt less. I felt numb. I struggled to fit in-to survive-to cope-to live. My mind played tricks on me like fear, dis-empowered my thoughts, made me sick, had me convinced I would die there. I rescued my love that was dormant, petrified in a fetal position at the base of my spine. I coaxed the fragments that didn’t look pretty. My love snuggled to my bones. She even welcomed what was not fully recovered, nor healed, the scars and injuries warmed my soul without shame. I learned to just BE. Warm. Organic. Honest. Silly. Me. Now I just BE-livin’. Believing. Moving about the planet carefree. I don’t care if I fit in. Ha! smile emoticon heart emoticon #uglybeautiful #loveonyouboo
I can appreciate honesty, but honesty don’t always mean right. My loved one posted a status about their detest of natural hair and how they won’t date a woman whose natural and furthermore when they see it they want to relax it. As I mentioned to them, when you see a woman with natural hair now a days believe me it’s one of the deepest acts of self love out here, so while you hate it, it does no good to hate on the love she got going on for herself. Women of color have suffered self hate of their own skin far too long and now we are falling in love with ourselves all over again simply by wearing our hair the way it was gifted to us at birth. This is our revolution, our birth right! I loooooove my nappy and all things nappy. heart emoticon #naps #loveyourhair #naturalisbeautiful
A gift for Melissa Warren! Told you I saw art in your photo lol! Hope you like it! And happy New Year. #isawabikini #girlrillavintagebeforetheboat
Happy birthday mama Hurston! Your words are the best I’ve read all day. ❤
“Prayer seems to me a cry of weakness, and an attempt to avoid, by trickery, the rules of the game as laid down. I do not choose to admit weakness. I accept the challenge of responsibility. Life, as it is, does not frighten me, since I have made my peace with the universe as I find it, and bow to its laws. The ever-sleepless sea in its bed, crying out “how long?” to Time; million-formed and never motionless flame; the contemplation of these two aspects alone, affords me sufficient food for ten spans of my expected lifetime. It seems to me that organized creeds are collections of words around a wish. I feel no need for such. However, I would not, by word or deed, attempt to deprive another of the consolation it affords. It is simply not for me. Somebody else may have my rapturous glance at the archangels. The springing of the yellow line of morning out of the misty deep of dawn, is glory enough for me. I know that nothing is destructible; things merely change forms. When the consciousness we know as life ceases, I know that I shall still be part and parcel of the world. I was a part before the sun rolled into shape and burst forth in the glory of change. I was, when the earth was hurled out from its fiery rim. I shall return with the earth to Father Sun, and still exist in substance when the sun has lost its fire, and disintegrated into infinity to perhaps become a part of the whirling rubble of space. Why fear? The stuff of my being is matter, ever changing, ever moving, but never lost; so what need of denominations and creeds to deny myself the comfort of all my fellow men? The wide belt of the universe has no need for finger-rings. I am one with the infinite and need no other assurance.”
-Zora Neale Hurston 1942 autobiography Dust Tracks on a Road.
“Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to ‘jump at the sun.’ We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.”
Zora Neale Hurston circa 1928
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