Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth: Catherine Acholonu and Molara Ogundipe

Sherese Francis: Futuristically Ancient

Hey everyone! I am back after taking a short needed break. Last week marked the third year that I have been running this blog! Yay! Happy Anniversary!

Today I return to highlight a few writers I found out about after reading Bilphena Yahwon’s post on Africa Is Done Suffering, “The Writers I Never Learned About.” In this post, Yahwon writes about mainstream literary establishments and education systems lack of inclusion of black women writers in their canons. Her pieces is an addition to a growing critique of these institutions, like Junot Diaz’s “MFA vs. POC” and “We Need Diverse Books Campaign.”  Besides listing writers I already knew, she did include ones I did not know as well and wanted to show their work here. The two women and their books I want to feature are Nigerian writers and activists Catherine Acholonu and Molara Ogundipe

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Beyond the Seven Letters In Forever

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I keep pulling memories from my follicles, little bro. Wish you had left here a little easier. A little softer. Calmer. A bit more peace left behind. A little less dramatic. But shit, it wouldn’t be you. You remind me. You remain, the deepest love I’ve ever known. My brother. Missing you on this day of your death. Shoutout, to my loved ones for showing me today! ♥️

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On the eve of your departure, little bro. Post-up In the mirrored halls we’ve spent so much time. Time being #queer #young AND #black lol! I peak over my shoulder, only to see you there. Missing you beyond the 7-letters in #forever. #tribesgiving #belvedere #mybrothersswag #agingmakesmeknowit #magicalspirit

Stop the Glorification of Busy

FE232889-DF2A-4E75-B380-26B58B678ABD.jpegI just came across an article about @wendyshow fainting on live tv the other day. The article went on to say that she hadn’t taken a day off in years and that she was hungry and dehydrated. Neglecting ourselves, traveling here and there, doing “busy work” will not make us more sufficient. Being busy all the time doesn’t equate to success, or being more important, or worthy, or good. It’s killing folks out here. Hope Wendy is alright and listening to divine messages of self care.

In warmest sol,

TAG, TheeAmazingGrace, Grace

You Never Have To Prove Your Way

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#wcw. You never have to prove your way into anyone’s life, they just have to trust you that’s all. My mother was never one to prove anything, even when all the stakes were high and odds against her. Even through her addiction, the abuse, and disappointment I learned to trust her. She was the first one in this world that I ever had to trust. I learned to trust the parts of her process that counteracted her addiction, the visceral #spiritmama that birthed me, born me & raised me up. I remember the moment she stopped fighting to keep us although much damage had been done. It was the proudest and most painful part of growing up. I know that she cared more deeply for us than this life flesh could ever show. The day I learned to trust my mother was the day she learned to trust herself. #restinpeacemama #wcwmama #restwell #gonebeforetime #trust #girlrillavintage #tag #theeamazinggrace

Embracing My Ugly

Red Foxx said, “Beauty may be skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone”. Had someone recently ask me, how I “deal” with #adultacne. I replied that I don’t lol! They explained, apologetically in so many words about how their skin is tied to the center of their sense of self and couldn’t understand where my confidence comes from without having #flawlessskin skin. I thanked them for sharing that. I reminded them that my “scars” and #skin are part of me, not all of me. And by embracing my “ugly” I heal and feel great about my life! And no, not as in the way ugly opposes beauty because #ugliness is not the absence of #beauty. My appearance doesn’t dictate that. freeyomind #tag #girlrillavintage #uglyalookwithgreatcharacter

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Progressive: As In Black Folk Ain’t in the Equation?

The title I used amuses me, not necessarily because it’s a ridiculous concept or that I’m being sarcastic about race, or that I’m tired of talking about race, but at the moment, after speaking with a friend I might’ve been when I wrote this.

I started a social collective called, High Five the Movement: Safe & Accesible Spaces for People of Color in Lancaster PA, back in 2011, in response to the systemic race problem that targeted me and my folks personally on a regular basis, in damn near every establishment. We educate then we celebrate with community members of color and our allies about #afrikancentered teachings, ideals, social spaces then we celebrate via (dance party, art/game night etc.) It’s wild because even after all of the great lengths we went through to spread the word, to be inclusive via personal invites, canvassing, and social media NO ONE,  but us showed up. I would think is it our tone (skin and other wise)? Shit was deep because no one wanted to embrace what we had to say about the state of our community in relation to us back then.

That’s when I had to learn to be extra gentle with black people. Moments like that helped me to not internalize what was happening. Had to practice the same patience with them as I was teaching myself. Because let’s be honest, black Afrikan problems aren’t ordinary problems. Our shit is #systemic. Stems from posttraumaticslavesyndrome. Deep-rooted in racist, capitalist structures and misogyny. Our shit is extra deep, so we gotta be extra gentle with each other even just for those reasons.

I digress. Fast forwarding to when I moved away for two years, then came back this year. My extended friends and surrogate families made it an easy transition. Anyway, my point is is that I feel jaded and it’s irking to see that suddenly errrybody radical in the city. Got folks that aint even of #afrikandescent speaking on the behalf of our communities? Errrybody a spokesperson on race relations now? Coming out to speak on the behalf of colored folk with nothing, but book context? When us colored folks fight just to breathe in our own skin, just to not be a statistic, just to share a got damn sidewalk without being bullied into oncoming traffic by #msdaisy.

Not to mention #whitefolks calling Lancaster “the new Brooklyn” or as I overheard someone say “as progressive as Brooklyn? Huh? When? How? Hope we in context. Hope we in sync. Hope we NOT talkin’ ’bout #progressive as in #whengentrificationbringsracismtothehood (excellent article by the way)? The writer who is of #afrikandescent reflects on feeling like a stranger in his own #brooklyn neighborhood of #bedfordstuyvesent, in #2014. TWENTY FOURTEEN?! A whopping 3 years ago? And we are making such comparisons based on what we think we know about the progression of a place?

Hope that aint the #progress we think Lancaster is making? By pushing all black owned businesses to the edge of town, only to replace them with a million and one white washed coffeeshops, yoga studios, art galleries, and boutiques on every corner. When the only spec of color I see is myself and a print of #vincentvanghos #starrynight on canvass in a gallery that only offers the #wineandcheese to white folks. How they covet it when I reach, to get a taste, but they’ll never admit it.

Dat shit is almost as progressive as white hippies skating through the projects (thanks Jamed 😜). We gotta do better. We gotta set our own progress. PROGRESS that includes everyBODY. ‘Cause if black folks ain’t in the equation, ain’t shit progressive. #melaninmatters #coloredfolkmatter #afrikanfacepeoplematter #tag #girlrillavintage #theeamazinggrace #liberationaintfree

-Grace Berry