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The fall 1986, I began my doctoral work at LSU. Mona Lisa and I took a class together. I was shocked by the emotional distance that had developed between us. It was as if I were a near total stranger. I supposed it was what maybe called the "creole shuffle." She had no further use for me, so she didn’t feel that anything was required of her.

 

 

Letters of an Abiding Faith:

Legacy of a Slave's GrandDaughter to her Son

written by Ella Lewis to her Son (Rudolph Lewis)

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Letter 37

 

Feb 24, 1986

 

Dear Son,

How are you Fine I hope as For me Ok. Listen Just a note see Why you can't rite to me. I wrote you 4 weeks ago No answer. You know how I worry When I don't hear From you. Are you Sick.* Or What. I like to hear From you right away. I guess you are Busy But not that Busy. So please let me hear From you the rest of the family OK Far as I know.

Much love you

Mother Ella

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Commentary

*Rather than a sickness of body, it was probably a sickness of the soul. Matters had broken down between Mona Lisa and me. She moved out with hard feelings against me and found herself another place to live. I was also concerned about what I would be doing for employment that summer. My contract with the university was scheduled to end after the spring semester. I never discussed the matter with her. 

As the man she expected that the bills and such concerns were those of the man. I had no idea what she was doing with her money. Obviously, she had been saving up to make her move. We both took the GRE. I scored high and received a fellowship for the graduate program. She did not. That must have also cost some consternation on her part. We both moved to Baton Rouge that fall. I stayed on State Street in walking distance of the university. I was also in walking distance of Mona Lisa’s house. I visited her once or twice, but she was as icy as an old freezer.

The fall 1986, I began my doctoral work at LSU. Mona Lisa and I took a class together. I was shocked by the emotional distance that had developed between us. It was as if I were a near total stranger. I supposed it was what maybe called the "creole shuffle." She had no further use for me, so she didn’t feel that anything was required of her. Moreover, she believed she had a righteous grievances against me. But I was hurt to the quick.

Moreover, I felt extremely isolated being a long way from home. Most of my former associates at UNO had left the state and I had burned quite a few bridges behind me. I was getting so edgy that when a couple of college students drove pass me and yelled out the car window "nigger" I ran after the car. I had never had such a situation to happen to me anywhere. It was becoming clear to me I was in the wrong place. I stayed one school year in Baton Rouge. In the entire year, I did not make one friend at LSU, male or female, black or white.

I was unable to find a professor at LSU in which I felt comfortable. I had hoped to make friends with James Olney. My primary interest was to figure out a way to write a biography of Marcus Christian. I took a course with Olney and had several private discussions with him. He, however, kept his distance and never understood what I was going through or cared, it seemed to me. I dropped out of LSU at the end of the Spring semester and returned to Virginia. My stipend continued through the summer months. I stayed at the family house about three months and then returned to Baltimore. After four years, I had had enough of "Lousy Anna."

But it all worked out for the best. After I left Jarratt and Jerusalem in 1965 to attend Morgan State College, I spent no more than a few days at a time home before I returned to the city. On this occasion I spent my longest period, nearly three months. I got to know my home and my family intimately again .

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

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#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

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#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

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#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

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#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
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#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 31 December 2011

 

 

 

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