ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes

   

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But we were a loving church, a forgiving church. So we recommended counseling. After all,

all of us had cross-dressed in some sin. But he was not penitent either, so we had to dismiss him.

It tore us up emotionally because we had to start searching again.

   

Books by Dorothy Rice

 Pennies to Dollars / The Seventeenth Child

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Christians Are Forgivers: Obama as Healer

By Dorothy Rice

 

In 1977, after a year of church-hopping, I joined a church in Richmond, Virginia. I joined for three reasons: the country-church intimacy, and great singing, and my mother was also a member. The fiery, animated sermons fueled me from week to week. Although the sermons varied, they always ended with the pastor acknowledging the exact time and place when he became born again.

There were things about the church that occasionally annoyed me. For example, the choirs' beautiful harmony and inspiration were sometimes daunted by the repetitive and loud attempts to whip everyone into a spiritual frenzy. My mother and I would glance knowingly at each other to signal "enough is enough."

Also the pastor, for all his humility, was sought after during election times. City council and state legislature members and aspirants courted our vote. The pastor was partisan in his politics and made no bones about whom we should vote for. I resented that because I wanted to make my own decisions. On occasion I would simply walk out as a quiet protest.

Nonetheless, my children and I participated in vacation bible school and they also joined the children's, youth, and young adult choir causing me to swell with pride as they proceeded down the aisle in their angel robes. I could always hear their individual voices as I watched them sing and clap, and rock. The church also had the best meals. Ours was a feeding church.

The pastor died two decades later, so we floundered for three years with interim pastors before we elected a young man from Georgia. An educated fellow who had been preaching since he was a boy. His father was also a preacher. This young man could be articulate, but he also had some of that Georgia countryisms which sometimes endeared us, made us laugh. He was a crowd-pleaser with his characteristic droning, and throwing his handkerchief in the air and catching it. He lasted seven years until his lies caught up with him. He had lost his driver's license because of his drinking and driving convictions. Then he got caught cross dressing as a prostitute.

But we were a loving church, a forgiving church. So we recommended counseling. After all, all of us had cross-dressed in some sin. But he was not penitent either, so we had to dismiss him. It tore us up emotionally because we had to start searching again. Another three years passed, during which time, I visited other churches and considered joining another when my husband asked me to stay so that the family could continue to worship together. I stayed. We got a new pastor: a young, impatient man ready to evangelize the world, take all our tithes and offerings to build a mega church. Sure we wanted to build a larger church, but mega was not on our minds.

Little did we know his impatience would morph into pitting congregants against each other as he attempted to dismantle our cherished traditions, disrespected our elders, and demonized any opposition to his ecclesiastical authority. It got really bad and was about to get worse. He has become an outrageous dictator, but still it was hard to leave our church. The church was more than one person. It is all the people, resources, ministries, traditions, and shared vision. But one person can dismantle all the good will and destroy a church. The reason we didn’t leave are as varied and similar as the reasons Hillary decided to remain with her philandering husband. Christians are forgivers.

Still, I wonder why so many seemingly intelligent or educated people continued to follow him. I wonder what character flaws they share. My mother always said, “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you what you are.” And my siblings and I were drawn to some unsavory associates and friends. Sometimes we did what they did. Sometimes we were mere voyeurs of their clandestine behaviors. When one of my girlfriends got pregnant in high school, some people denigrated her, but we remained friends. I accepted her for the good friend she had always been. Barack Obama’s relationship with Reverend Wright is like that. Why throw away the baby with the water? I believe Obama is the only candidate who has the qualities for healing this war-torn nation. Belief and reason are sometimes at odds. Sometimes qualifications are intangible.

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Dorothy Marie Rice is a literature and history resource teacher at the Arts and Humanities Center in Richmond, Virginia.  She presents her original poetry in local venues.  She was a winner of the first Furious Flower Poetry Prize in 1995.  She has co-authored two books:  Pennies to Dollars with her cousin Muriel Miller Branch, and The Seventeenth Child with her mother Lucille Mabel Walthall Payne. Both books are currently out of print.  In addition to creating poems, she makes paper jewelry and papier-mâché bowls.

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man's turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by "the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn't operate in his own home town." Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively researched study of the "great migration," the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an "uncertain existence" in the North and Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

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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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Negro Digest / Black World

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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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posted 3 April 2008 

 

 

 

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