Sunday, December 27, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Today, my maternal birth family buries their matriarch. The same day 42 years ago that I went to the foster home.
I am with them in spirit.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Saturday, December 05, 2009
My birth mother's mother, she, almost single-handedly, was the physical force that set the course of my life. I hated her. I loved her.
The wicked witch is dead.
Though, to me, she was dead a few years ago. When she couldn't manage to even call me when my father passed. The man who took me in and raised me after she made her daughter give me away.
An act of cowardice I may never forgive.
When she found it necessary to scowl at my dreadlocks and earrings as I stood in my childhood kitchen just days before I put my father in the ground.
A cutting judgment I will never forget.
Right then and there, I wanted to put her out of her misery. I buried her on the spot.
I named her England. For she colonized and oppressed generations of her offspring. Put darkness in places where there ought to be light.
I loved her. After all, she was somebody's grandmother. Somebody's mother.
Eight years ago, I met all those somebodies and grew to love them as much as I could love a set of strangers who shared my DNA. I saw me in them. Them in me. And yet--
I hated her.
Two days ago, after having both her legs cut off above the knee, one at a time with time in between, she gave up the ghost.
(Birth mother's will often tell you that surrendering a child to adoption is like losing a limb.)
Now that she's really dead, I'm struggling with my voice--literally. Spiritually. Psychically. Metaphysically.
The physical force that set the course of my life has left this world.
I knew this day would come. I knew this day would be challenging. I had no idea it would be like this. Can't sleep. Can hardly talk. Laryngitis. Wheezing most of the time. Asthma. Equilibrium shaken by an ear infection.
Poetry, I suppose, that while in foster care, according to my adoption file, an ear infection was the first illness in the opening verse of my life. Afraid, I dare say, to get on a plane to go to her funeral for fear it will be the last. Frightened by the real prospect I would let explode 42 years of rage right in the middle of her church.
Nope. I had no idea it would be like this.
I pray for healing.
For all of those somebodies I met eight years ago. The mother who conceived me in winter and bore me in fall. The younger uncle who stayed with her the summer she went away in secret. The elder uncle who brought me unannounced to her doorstep in spring. The three sisters and four cousins and their eight children.
For my mother, the woman who took me in in spring and raised me when Elnora put me out. Who became her friend the moment they met. Who will miss their long telephone conversations. Who so desperately wanted me to forgive the woman who put darkness in places where there ought to have been light.
But you can't make your heart do something it won't.
May my first and last grandmother rest in peace.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Friday, November 06, 2009
I stopped being a grassroots gay activist more than a decade ago when the movement went picket fence. Of course I'd like marriage equality, but whoever put it at the top of the agenda whenever it was put at the top of the agenda wasn't reading the tea leaves very well.
If we don't stand up, unabashed and unapologetic, to religious fundamentalism we'll keep losing. It looks something like this:
Bishop John Shelby Spong -- A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!
I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is "an abomination to God," about how homosexuality is a "chosen lifestyle," or about how through prayer and "spiritual counseling" homosexual persons can be "cured." Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy. I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate "reparative therapy," as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people. I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality "deviant."
I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that "we love the sinner but hate the sin." That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement.
I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is "high-sounding, pious rhetoric." The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me. I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer. The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves.
I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn't. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone. An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding was to "Roll on over or we'll roll on over you!" Time waits for no one.
I will particularly ignore those members of my own Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a "new church," claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings, who are so deeply locked into a world that no longer exists, to form a community in which they can continue to hate gay people, distort gay people with their hopeless rhetoric and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives. Church unity can never be a virtue that is preserved by allowing injustice, oppression and psychological tyranny to go unchallenged.
In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by "fair-minded" channels that seek to give "both sides" of this issue "equal time." I am aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people. There is no way that justice for homosexual people can be compromised any longer.
I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude.
I will no longer be respectful of the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to believe that rude behavior, intolerance and even killing prejudice is somehow acceptable, so long as it comes from third-world religious leaders, who more than anything else reveal in themselves the price that colonial oppression has required of the minds and hearts of so many of our world's population.
I see no way that ignorance and truth can be placed side by side, nor do I believe that evil is somehow less evil if the Bible is quoted to justify it. I will dismiss as unworthy of any more of my attention the wild, false and uninformed opinions of such would-be religious leaders as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Albert Mohler, and Robert Duncan. My country and my church have both already spent too much time, energy and money trying to accommodate these backward points of view when they are no longer even tolerable.
I make these statements because it is time to move on. The battle is over. The victory has been won.
There is no reasonable doubt as to what the final outcome of this struggle will be.
· Homosexual people will be accepted as equal, full human beings, who have a legitimate claim on every right that both church and society have to offer any of us.
· Homosexual marriages will become legal, recognized by the state and pronounced holy by the church.
· "Don't ask, don't tell" will be dismantled as the policy of our armed forces.
We will and we must learn that equality of citizenship is not something that should ever be submitted to a referendum. Equality under and before the law is a solemn promise conveyed to all our citizens in the Constitution itself. Can any of us imagine having a public referendum on whether slavery should continue, whether segregation should be dismantled, whether voting privileges should be offered to women?
The time has come for politicians to stop hiding behind unjust laws that they themselves helped to enact, and to abandon that convenient shield of demanding a vote on the rights of full citizenship because they do not understand the difference between a constitutional democracy, which this nation has, and a "mobocracy," which this nation rejected when it adopted its constitution. We do not put the civil rights of a minority to the vote of a plebiscite.
I will also no longer act as if I need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. No one should ever again be forced to submit the privilege of citizenship in this nation or membership in the Christian Church to the will of a majority vote.
The battle in both our culture and our church to rid our souls of this dying prejudice is finished. A new consciousness has arisen. A decision has quite clearly been made. Inequality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a debatable issue in either church or state. Therefore, I will from this moment on refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice by engaging it. I do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer. From this moment on, I will no longer tolerate our culture's various forms of homophobia. I do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon.
I have been part of this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me. I do not debate any longer with members of the "Flat Earth Society" either. I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection. I do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union.
I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church's participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day. Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of color, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people.
Life moves on. As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago: "New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth." I am ready now to claim the victory. I will from now on assume it and live into it. I am unwilling to argue about it or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever.
This is my manifesto and my creed. I proclaim it today. I invite others to join me in this public declaration. I believe that such a public outpouring will help cleanse both the church and this nation of its own distorting past. It will restore integrity and honor to both church and state. It will signal that a new day has dawned and we are ready not just to embrace it, but also to rejoice in it and to celebrate it.
Maine has a People's Veto -- which ought to be vetoed because it's a waste of the work (and by extension our tax dollars!) that our legislature performs -- so the law the legislature passed would surely be put before the people in short order. Why didn't the legislature take steps to limit the kind of issues the People's Veto could address before undertaking the legislative effort to pass marriage equality legislation? Why spend all that political capital passing a controversial piece of legislation without a safeguard against the People's Veto?
Despite what I've already said and what I'm about to say, that remains the crux of the matter, at least here in Maine. Putting the cart before the horse tends to end badly.
Still, I did my part for No On 1, and up until the weather broke on Tuesday morning, I thought Mainers would actually do the right thing. We're known for being a libertarian live and let live kind of place. The Way Life Should Be boasts our motto. But I was deluding myself, and I knew it, trying to keep hope alive.
People don't vote for other people's equality just because it's the right thing to do. Fear doesn't need to be more convincing than reason, but our campaign didn't give people enough reasons to vote No.
The opposition runs the same fear-based strategy and the same ads in every state, even with lies and falsehoods, and gets the same kinds of religious institutions, (who are never challenged with any real action to strip their non-profit status for being so blatantly involved in politics) involved in peddling the smut they peddle, and they win every time. "Those fucking faggots and dykes will never get what we have!" remains the subtext, though it isn't very subtle.
Where were the ads from No On 1 arguing the economic boon to our relatively poor state if marriage equality passed? Nowhere.
Where were the ads batting down "the gays are going after our children" with a critique of the Catholic Church and all the children it has abused for centuries? Nowhere.
Where were the ads appealing to Catholic voters that reminded or informed them for the first time that Catholics weren't allowed to marry in Maine when the state was part of Massachusetts? Nowhere.
Where were the ads that spoke directly to seniors in the voice of seniors, such as the WWII vet who gave powerful testimony at the legislative hearing? Nowhere.
Where were the ads showing the men and women unable to claim their beloved's bodies from funeral homes because they weren't legally "next of kin"? Nowhere.
Where were the ads declaring separate but equal unconstitutional? Nowhere.
Where were the ads buttressing the arguments for marriage equality from the Iowa supreme court ruling? Nowhere.
Where were the ads showing, at last, that marriage between one man and one woman has, in fact, not been the only marriage model throughout history? Nowhere.
The ads No On 1 did run were lovely. But they were all about projecting an image of family that most straight people won't allow themselves to see no matter how many times we project it. And quite frankly, as I posted them on my blog in the lead up to the vote, all I kept thinking was, "I already saw this ad in another form. How many fence sitters is this version going to persuade?"
Why didn't I take my ideas to the No On 1 campaign? Well, I did. Even before ads started running. You see, at the legislative hearings, I encouraged the coordinators to do more than just put a friendly family face on gay marriage. That we needed to confront assumptions with more than just stories of responsible, tax-paying, community-involved GLBT families. I got a few "thank you, but we got this" kind of responses.
One thing I know about the picket fence GLBT movement: once the leaders make up their minds on the best way to get as many people to like us as possible, they will continue to beat their heads against the same wall and get the same result.
The organizers of No On 1 made up their minds at least three years ago that this was the way to go, despite the results in 31 other votes around the nation. I applaud their efforts and the efforts of all those who poured blood, sweat, tears and cash into this campaign. But trying to convince folks who think we're deviant that we're not with poignant and compelling stories and images of GLBT families simply isn't going to do the trick. It's time to start holding up a mirror, as has Bishop Spong, to the Catholic Church, the religious fundamentalists, the fearmongerers and the hateful. Unabashedly. Unapologetically.
And when we lose, we need to stop blaming other oppressed groups or pointing fingers at this president. Forget all the exit polls that make this knee-jerk reaction so tempting. I wanna see a poll that measures the attitudes of GLBT citizens on marriage equality. There's an assumption we're all for it. I wanna see a poll that tells me how many registered GLBT voters stayed home on election day because the issue simply doesn't resonate with them. Did the leaders who made this a top agenda item over the past few years even research their own large and diverse communities to see how many of us even care?
I cringe to say it, but we're cowards. We also tend to be jaded by entitlement. Not a great combination for getting results. We refuse to change a losing strategy and confront the key issues head on, and we have a hard time looking in the mirror when we fail. Until we muster up the guts to do more than just promote how "normal" we really are with pretty pictures, I hope we take a break from marriage equality and unite with other movements to dismantle corporate control of our elected officials.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
WHEREAS we are of sound mind, body and spirit; and
WHEREAS we have been living and loving together for nearly two years; and
WHEREAS we have made, in the presence of our families, friends, ancestors and all that is holy, a public pronouncement of our intent to enter this union, we
the undersigned, on this 22nd day of August 1998, as witnessed by those closest to us,
Promise to have and to hold each other, in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, in prosperity and in destitution, all the days of our lives on this earth. We further
Promise to recognize this union as sacred and unbreakable and will, in times of trouble or weakness, turn to God and to all those who have witnessed this declaration to support us on our lifelong journey together.
Monday, November 02, 2009
Sunday, November 01, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Sunday, October 04, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Thursday, September 03, 2009
It's green. Like key lime pie.
Even the organic soy milk you buy at the health food store has been colorized. I guess the producers figure no one wants to drink green milk.
It's fabulous. Tastes like a large cool glass of good health.
The animals are going to love the okara, the ground up hulls of the soybean itself.
The farm stand is busy.
I could get used to this.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
About Sweet Potatoes
And, yes, you can grow them north of the Mason Dixon Line. If you can start them early indoors and keep the field plants warm with mulch and compost, especially during the early tuber initiation stage, you'll be good to go. Your best bet, of course, would be to cultivate a local variety. The plant, which looks like a bush bean variety, flowers like a morning glory, to which it's distantly related. Some varieties have deep purple leaves and are grown purely for ornamental purposes.
The plant is native to Central America and unrelated to the potato. In most European countries, sweet potatoes are hard to find unless the country boasts an immigrant population who traditionally eat the tuber.
Many folks in the United States refer to sweet potatoes as yams, but this is misnomer. Yams belong to a completely different plant species than the orange-, white-, yellow- or purple-fleshed sweet potato and remains an important crop around the world, especially in Africa and the Caribbean. They are rarely found in the States.
Select unblemished, firm tubers with small soft spots and no broken skin. Do not refrigerate them. Ever.
Sweet Potato Pie
4 large sweet potatoes, washed and scrubbed
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. orange zest
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cardamom
Splash of fresh squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup (12 oz) heavy cream
4 large fresh eggs, room temperature
3 9-inch deep dish pie crusts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place sweet potatoes directly on middle rack and bake until juices run and potato skins separate from flesh, about an hour. Place strips of aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven to catch the juice.
Remove potatoes from oven and let cool until comfortable to handle. Pull off peels and place potatoes in large boil. Add butter and mash. Add sugar, spices, zest, orange juice, and vanilla extract and mix well. For a smooth, custard-like pie, transfer filling to a food processor, puree for five minutes, and return to bowl. Adjust spices and sweetness to taste. (I prefer a sweet pie, so I tend to sweeten the filling to taste with pure maple syrup at this point.) Using a hand beater on medium high, slowly add cream and beat until smooth. Add eggs one at a time and beat until smooth after each egg. Pour filling into crusts and bake until center of the pie rises like a souffle and the edges crack, about 60-90 minutes depending on your oven.
Remove pies and place on racks to cool. Serve plain or with fresh whipped cream flavored with your choice of liqueur, essence, extract (all the above) or vanilla ice cream. Of course, if you want to be ghetto/country, you can always pull out a vat of Cool Whip and smother a slice with it, but I suggest you read the ingredients on the vat and stay as far away from that mess as possible.
Pies may be stored at room temperature for two days, in the refrigerator for 10 days, or frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, wrap pies tightly with several layers of food plastic, place in air-tight freezer bags, and store in freezer as far away from the door as possible. The crust will separate from the filling on the sides when thawed out. You won't notice till you plate a slice.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Late blight has come to Annabessacook Farm. I took one day off from farming -- just one fucking day -- and that's all it took for blight to ravage my tomatoes, reducing a jungle of lush, green foliage to a leper colony. Purple lesions that look like Kaposi sarcoma marked the stems and fruit and leaves of my crop.
I thought I was lucky because I grew my tomatoes from seed instead of from plants purchased at one of the huge outlets tagged for selling infected plants to thousands of gardeners across the northeast.
The incessant June-July rain, the secession of cloudy days, the tropical-like humidity, the recent middle-of-the-night thunder showers, and all those infected plants growing in neighboring gardens releasing a million spores of the pathogen into the atmosphere and it was only a matter of when, not if.
The cause of the Irish potato famine in the late 1840s, late blight come early is vicious. I was skeptical it could wipe out an entire commercial crop of tomatoes within 72 hours, but I'm no longer a doubting Thomas. Just last night, after my single day off, I harvested green tomatoes to fry up southern style for dinner and I saw no symptoms on any of my plants. This afternoon, blight had spread like a bad rumor among my pomodoros.
The leaves turn their colors just as one looks away from them....
How many places a day can go.
Memory says that within a month of the publication of "The Death of Animals," Adeline, one of our two white mares, laid down in a spring-snow-covered pasture behind the barn and never got up. The look on Job's face broke my heart. He, a 175-pound man against a horse that weighed a ton, tried to get her up, but Adeline was already in shock. We had to call the vet to put her out of her misery.
We didn't have Adeline for very long before she passed, but bonding with animals happens without effort. I was surprised by how much I sobbed when I watched the tractor gently drop her body in the ground.
This morning, Job found Shadow lifeless in her shed. That look on his face.
There was something wrong with Shadow when we got her. I didn't want her, truth be told. She had been rejected by her mother as a little lamb and her previous owners brought her into their house and bottle fed her until she was old enough to go back outside and graze. Why they would part with an animal that needed so much human attention I'll never know.
Anyway, Shadow became stricken with diarrhea a few days ago and got so weak so fast, she couldn't stand up without help. Job stood her up several times to allow her to drink water, so dehydrated she was. We gave her grain and hay and called for advice, but Shadow got weaker and weaker and finally, sometime after we went to bed last night, her spirit left her body.
Job carried her lifelessness across the road and dropped her in the woods. No time to dig a grave. No inclination either, really. If the foxes haven't feasted, I'll probably go cover her body later. Whatever killed her -- bovine virus, a broken heart, both -- I don't want the crows to spread it.
Light, the sheep she left behind, is beside himself. He won't go into the shed they shared. Can hardly stop crying. Soon, he'll have another companion. For now, he's grieving like a lover who lost his lover.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
Sunday, August 02, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
who I'm thinking of when I'm
out on our land
After all these years?
You can't really
I'm thinking of my father, rest in peace,
and my father's father, rest in peace,
and my great grandfather, rest in peace,
and my birth mother's father, rest in peace,
and my birth father, live in peace,
and all those Jamaican farmers from his line, rest in peace,
and all those slaves and sharecroppers
and earth magicians from my fathers' lines,
rest in peace,
who stand over my shoulder when
I'm Opening the Earth,
who whisper music, whisk
mosquitoes away from my
ears so I can hear it more clearly,
who show the way.
I'm thinking of Dutch clay--
Maine too has so much
putty, tart and heavy and fertile--
of typical Dutch kut weer--
Maine too has so many
overcast, water-logged days throughout
the growing season--
of Dutch tulips, and green-
houses and stone barns and boers--
Maine has so many farmers and rocks
and plastic-covered laboratories
in pursuit of the perfect growing thing--
flower, herb, vegetable, tree.
I'm thinking of the Netherlands.
Your mother land, the mother
ship of the trade that
brought my ancestors to
these western hemisphere shores,
these craggy bleeding shores that
dart into this other half's, this other land's
earth, desperate for deep, tender love.
I'm thinking of you--
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters Malia and Sasha, arrive at the White House from Ghana, early Sunday, July 12, 2009, in Washington. AP photo
Air Force One has carried President Barack Obama and his family out of the skies of Ghana back to Washington, after a whirlwind visit to the first sub-Saharan country he has gone to since he became the first black President of the USA.
He received tremendous cheers from Ghanaians when, in a speech to Ghana’s Parliament, he acknowledged that yes, the blood of a Kenyan runs in his veins.
But I suspect that in the private apartment he and Michelle Obama shared on board Air Force One. the President would have noticed that; despite their bravery, something other than cheer was present in the psyche of his in his wife and two daughters.
Their unhappiness, not too difficult to decipher, was captured in a photograph which shows a grimfaced Obama with his arms around his eldest daughter, as they emerged from Cape Coast castle.
Why did he take them inside the castle? It is a whited sepulcher that does justice to Christ’s depiction of hypocrisy and true evil.
In there, the President and his family would have undergone the indescribable trauma of having to imagine what conditions were like on the spot where they stood, for millions of African-Americans, who were chained together in the dungeons of the castle - sometimes made to sit in their own excreta, the women washed and raped – before being shipped across the cruel sea, from Ghana to North America and the Caribbean, on a journey that took them into chattel slavery.
A chattel slavery that condemned them to endless labour, planting and harvesting cotton, tobacco, sugar and other crops, on plantations that yielded the wealth upon which the West’s prosperity and industrial might was built.
I am told by one of the Ghanaians who organized the trip for the Obamas that “in the dungeon, the tears of the President of the United States were flowing freely, Michelle Obama just broke down.
I figured the experience had taken her to the lowest point a human being can reach. The kids were asking many questions and registering the answers with shock.
It was a terribly distressing emotional moment for all of them.”
In truth, the slave trade was the most inhuman trade ever carried out in the history of mankind.
And it went on day after day after day for almost 300 years.
Of course, history written by westerners does acknowledge it (even if briefly} as The Atlantic Slave Trade.
But published accounts by freed slaves, such as that by Olaudo Equiano and slave-ship crewmen, such as Robert Barker, show that it was so horrible that descriptions of it were by Europeans, was either muted or suppressed..
In Cape Coast castle, everything that was bestial The Atlantic Slave Trade comes together – there is a door there labeled
“The door of No Return’, which was the slaves’ last exit from Africa.
From the forests of the African interior and the savannah, men and women who had once been the most unfettered creatures on earth, in both body and mind, were carted off to a perilous journey of no return.
At least a quarter of their number perished at sea, dying through disease and hunger, and being gifted to the fishes of the sea.
Personally, even before I heard an eyewitness account of the Obamas” experience, I just could not see how Mrs Obama, a descendant of a couple of the surviving slaves, could stand in that Door of No Return and look into it to the wide cruel sea that ate up millions of her ancestors, without needing to suppress an outflow of tears.
Read the rest...
I haven't been able to reflect on this trip. Haven't seen the YouTube video of the President's speech to the Ghanaian parliament. The photo posted is about all I needed to keep me from going there just yet.
As I find so many insightful comments from the readers of Jack and Jill Politics, as I found the story quoted above, I've also found this:
Just thinking here: Why would the Obama's bring the girls- now? I mean anyone born of the Middle Passage, in my opinion, has to make peace with that history and visit to just acknowledge its existence. Our history books work hard to not acknowledge it. But just now, reading this piece I have have to believe that the Obama parents HAD to make REAL what their lives are committed to correcting.
It all started THERE. What they inherited (among many things,) is a legacy for Black people that goes back to the foundation of our nation. Slavery. How can they really explain the level of hate some people have for their family without going back THERE of all places. Sasha and Malia must have a foundation for understanding how their father is revered and also hated by so many people. Why there is such a fear for their little lives? They cannot do what they used to do. It is impossible not matter how hard they try.
Slavery. You can read about it, hear about it- but there is nothing like being there. You feel dread, fear, anger, sadness, and even gratitude for our ancestors who endured and willed themselves to survive. Their family made that trip together- what a blessing to get to share that moment.
I have to think this castle visit HAD to happen for their girls. This trip, this experience will truly and unequivocally unite them as a family and it will provide those beautiful baby girls a foundation for understanding the sacrifices and opportunities that will be before them.
Originally posted as a comment by evita on Jack and Jill Politics using Disqus.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Saturday, July 04, 2009
From Frederick Douglass:
“The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro”
Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men, too Ñ great enough to give frame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory….
…Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?
Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold, that a nation’s sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation’s jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the “lame man leap as an hart.”
But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common.ÑThe rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can to-day take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people!
“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! we wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? If I forget thee, 0 Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.”
Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, “may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!” To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then, fellow-citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave’s point of view. Standing there identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America.is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery Ñ the great sin and shame of America! “I will not equivocate; I will not excuse”; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just.
But I fancy I hear some one of my audience say, “It is just in this circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more, an denounce less; would you persuade more, and rebuke less; your cause would be much more likely to succeed.” But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the anti-slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is conceded already. Nobody doubts it. The slaveholders themselves acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their government. They acknowledge it when they punish disobedience on the part of the slave. There are seventy-two crimes in the State of Virginia which, if committed by a black man (no matter how ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while only two of the same crimes will subject a white man to the like punishment. What is this but the acknowledgment that the slave is a moral, intellectual, and responsible being? The manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact that Southern statute books are covered with enactments forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the slave to read or to write. When you can point to any such laws in reference to the beasts of the field, then I may consent to argue the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a brute, then will I argue with you that the slave is a man!
For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are ploughing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver and gold; that, while we are reading, writing and ciphering, acting as clerks, merchants and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators and teachers; that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hill-side, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives and children, and, above all, confessing and worshipping the Christian’s God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!
Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? that he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question for Republicans? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to be understood? How should I look to-day, in the presence of Amercans, dividing, and subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to freedom? speaking of it relatively and positively, negatively and affirmatively. To do so, would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to your understanding. There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.
What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their mastcrs? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong? No! I will not. I have better employment for my time and strength than such arguments would imply.
What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman, cannot be divine! Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may; I cannot. The time for such argument is passed.
At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.
What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.
Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival….
…Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation which must inevitably work the downfall of slavery. “The arm of the Lord is not shortened,” and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from “the Declaration of Independence,” the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age. Nations do not now stand in the same relation to each other that they did ages ago. No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference. The time was when such could be done. Long established customs of hurtful character could formerly fence themselves in, and do their evil work with social impunity. Knowledge was then confined and enjoyed by the privileged few, and the multitude walked on in mental darkness. But a change has now come over the affairs of mankind. Walled cities and empires have become unfashionable. The arm of commerce has borne away the gates of the strong city. Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe. It makes its pathway over and under the sea, as well as on the earth. Wind, steam, and lightning are its chartered agents. Oceans no longer divide, but link nations together. From Boston to London is now a holiday excursion. Space is comparatively annihilated. — Thoughts expressed on one side of the Atlantic are distinctly heard on the other.
The far off and almost fabulous Pacific rolls in grandeur at our feet. The Celestial Empire, the mystery of ages, is being solved. The fiat of the Almighty, “Let there be Light,” has not yet spent its force. No abuse, no outrage whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide itself from the all-pervading light. The iron shoe, and crippled foot of China must be seen in contrast with nature. Africa must rise and put on her yet unwoven garment. ‘Ethiopia, shall, stretch. out her hand unto Ood.” In the fervent aspirations of William Lloyd Garrison, I say, and let every heart join in saying it:
God speed the year of jubilee
The wide world o’er!
When from their galling chains set free,
Th’ oppress’d shall vilely bend the knee,
And wear the yoke of tyranny
Like brutes no more.
That year will come, and freedom’s reign,
To man his plundered rights again
God speed the day when human blood
Shall cease to flow!
In every clime be understood,
The claims of human brotherhood,
And each return for evil, good,
Not blow for blow;
That day will come all feuds to end,
And change into a faithful friend
God speed the hour, the glorious hour,
When none on earth
Shall exercise a lordly power,
Nor in a tyrant’s presence cower;
But to all manhood’s stature tower,
By equal birth!
That hour will come, to each, to all,
And from his Prison-house, to thrall
Until that year, day, hour, arrive,
With head, and heart, and hand I’ll strive,
To break the rod, and rend the gyve,
The spoiler of his prey deprive –
So witness Heaven!
And never from my chosen post,
Whate’er the peril or the cost,
The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass, Volume II
Pre-Civil War Decade 1850-1860
Philip S. Foner
International Publishers Co., Inc., New York, 1950
Thursday, July 02, 2009
And it won't stop raining. My plants are literally going to drown.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
WHO didn't own this poster?
I'm still bowled over by this. I knew it was coming but it doesn't make it any easier.
I don't think we realized how revolutionary Charlie's Angels was until long after the last episode aired.
Who didn't want those teeth?
Every little Black girl I knew, and some of the boys, too, wanted the Farrah Flip. Hot combs and pressing irons got quite a workout in her heyday.
Did anyone see her remarkable work in Small Sacrifices in the role of sociopath Diane Downs, the woman who killed her children? Extremities was all that and then some, but Small Sacrifices was a giant performance. That she hoisted no major award for it remains a tragedy.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Seeding, planting, pruning, weeding, watering.
Red beans, northern beans, green beans,
blackeye peas, soybeans, cucumbers
and squash. Cantaloupe, watermelon,
honeydew, gourds and pumpkin. Peppers,
almost all the varieties, tomatoes,
zucchini, okra, potatoes, sweet potatoes
and apples trees. Lemon, tangerine, mango,
Asian pear, and avocado, too.
Can't forget the spring garden,
either. Cauliflower, collards, fennel,
golden beets and carrots. Arugula,
asparagus, mescalin, mustards and turnips.
Swiss chard, spinach, mizuna, mache,
radish and red beets. Broccoli, peas,
cabbage, celery and parsley. Thyme,
tarragon, rosemary, sage, basil and
cilantro. Leeks, red onions, scallions,
vidalia and chives.
The pure humus, fine and soft
as brown sugar, around the
giant oaks at the southwest corner
of the field looks sweet enough to eat.
Finding composted horse,
goat, and cow manure,
like coffee grounds, black and
pungent and eye opening,
like dark chocolate, rich and
dense and rush inducing,
beneath weeds, rocks, rotted plywood
all over the barnyard makes
my heart skip a beat.
Sunday, June 07, 2009
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
When we consider that our ancestors couldn’t have their marriages to each other honored because they were considered property and had no individual rights, and therefore, our families weren’t considered important enough to keep together when it was time for one of us to be sold to another master, one would think Black folks wouldn’t want to see anybody’s marriages go unrecognized by the state.
You might not know this, but there are lots of gay people who have no interest in this issue at all. While they don’t come out against it, they don’t support it and think gay people who do are just selling out to the majority culture.
I must admit that being involved in marriage equality wasn’t something on my plate years ago, either. Even though I was married in the eyes of God, I was perfectly fine with that and sought nothing more from the state. But as I’ve aged, my life experience as an adopted person and as an adult adoptee rights advocate raised my consciousness. You see, in most every state in the union, an adopted person who’s an adult has no right to access his original birth certificate. That is, the birth certificate the state impounded when the child was adopted and a new birth certificate was created to include the name of the adoptive parents. The birth certificate is a person’s legal DNA. I was adopted in the late 60s, during the time when everything around adoption was about shame. Adopted people know that their birth certificate is a lie — my mother did not give birth to me as my birth certificate says she did. It was important to my psychic healing to be able to see my original birth certificate after I found my birth mother, but I needed her permission to see it. A grown man needed the permission of a woman he may have never even met just to see a copy of what is rightfully his. All across the nation, grown people are treated like children by the state, like little pieces of property moved from one family to another, a move they had no say in whatsoever, and when we’re grown and we want to know where we came from, the state tells us it’s none of our business, and if we REALLY want to know, we need to get permission from some stranger we may never even want to meet or crawl before a judge on our hands and knees and beg the judge to open up our adoption file and our birth records just so we can see that piece of paper that includes our original identity, and if we’re lucky, it will help us heal.
If you can see a connection between this and our experience as Black people in this country, then you’re with me. If not, I don’t know what to tell you.
What does any of this have to do with gay marriage?