Books by Mona Lisa Saloy
Red Beans and Ricely Yours: Poems
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Mona Lisa on IT
Hey now Rudy,
Just getting online after Tropical Storm
Cindy, and bracing for Dennis. Thanks for keeping me in
the loop. As usual, your thoughtful comments are well
taken. I, too, feel IT challenged, and am bracing for the
promotion of my book,
Red Beans and Ricely Yours; Poems, due out in September. I need to learn
to do a web site, et al.
Especially noted were two comments: one
from Ms. Boof: ``Her charge is
that there is a proclivity of well-off American black men to
consort with mulatto (or ‘high yalla’) or white women."
Black people are so much more than a color; we are a world
culture with some basic similarities in World View—belief in
the DIVINE, FAMILY, and COMMUNITY or extended family—and a
whole lot of differences in how we express all of that.
In most of the
world, we have been colonized, therefore, mixed. Some of our
greatest proponents of "Black" ideology were/are fair:
W. E. B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Sonia Sanchez (our
Mother of BAM), Toi Derricotte, Deborah E. McDowall, Haki
Madhubuti, Nikki Giovanni, Manning Marable, and Cornel West—and
others in between those. The reality is that many
fairer-skinned Blacks, like myself, come from very dark-skinned
mothers or fathers, and are culturally rich and proud of their
heritage and traditions.
For more recent
examples, take for instance Jessica Care Moore [spoken-word
Diva who won five consecutive Live at the Apollo contests] and
Devorah Major, former San Francisco Poet Laureate; both have
white mothers but are deliciously Black at heart, to which their
work is a testimony. [Devorah's father is Reggie Major,
author of The Panther is a Black Cat;
James Baldwin was her God Father.]
Please, let us get over color as a measure of who we are.
other comment noted is this one. "So we have a stark absence of female essayists, journalists,
literary critics. They just have not submitted."
This is unfortunate. The reality is
that many Black women are struggling to survive alone, without
partners in life. This comes with a tremendous
economic burden, and feelings of inadequate preparation for
later in life. While I cannot cite the source readily,
apparently Black women make more money than white women over the
course of their lives.
Often, Black women work several jobs, layer
multiple income strategies to make it. More often than
not, white women can afford to stop working to bare and raise
their young, or to reduce stress as one academic I know.
She's had the Ph.D. for only a few years, but teaching at a
small undergraduate teaching college and trying to write while
raising one son who needs tutoring plus a handicapped husband
has caused her to have high blood pressure; this is real.
Still, economically, she is deciding to work
part time or stop altogether for her health, and she can afford
this. There are other sisters who bear these stresses and
more but cannot imagine slowing down, let alone not working.
It's just that Black women do all of the above and carry the
high blood pressure to an early grave. Statistics prove
this. It is no wonder that we are losing input into these
As a recently minted Ph.D. (graduate in
August), getting this last union card is my individual effort at
positioning myself for longevity—GOD WILLING—inside and
outside of the academy. Along the way, it was difficult to
choose when and not to enter debates. The years of
teaching at an HBCU—THANK GOD I HAD A JOB WITH BENEFITS—with
loads of needy students, kids who like me are first-generation
degree holders, slowed me down. I could not cheat my kids;
I had to give them my all and then some.
Layer this with the years of care of my
Alzheimer's Dad until he passed; these were the most
fulfilling of my life, knowing my Father as a grown woman,
to learn who he really was as a man, the struggles, the
love. These years were more fulfilling than my short
marriage which left me with a broken pelvis and lost memory
from a near-fatal car accident [which was why I did not
bare kids when young].
The only time I've had unconditional love was
and is from my family. I am BLESSED, and I know it.
My life, maybe not the particulars, “is” common.
In many ways, we can agree that we have come very far by faith,
but surviving the new millennium is more than a notion. So
understand that we, sisters, are here, and we are stepping up to the plate, by our timeline, maybe just
Red Beans and Ricely Yours, Mona Lisa
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Ancient African Nations
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Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
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posted 11 July 2005 /posted 27 June 2008