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Only we can heal us.  Only we can protect us.  So, “You, brother! You protect us.”   You are going

to protect us or we are not going be protected.  Sorry, brothers, I am tired of the rhetori



Our Soul Is the Witness

By Jerhretta Suite


A few years ago, I was threatened on a job site.  My last thought was of calling the police.  Actually, I had no thought of calling the police.  My first and only thought was to call my MAN.  We paid dearly for me having confidence in him. When the police were called to "save the day"not by me, mind youthe “script was flipped."  The threatened, the victim, the “good guy” in the script became the accused.  We became the threat.  But, if we had to do it again, we would.

However, the question is, do most sisters defer to brothers to protect them?  In a recent broadcast news story concerning the rape of a Black Woman in Baltimore, a brother in the background cried out, “Who is going to protect these black women?”  His cry for help referred to the lack of police protection offered in our communities.  My response to his cry, “YOU, brother!”

Although I understand our right to be protected just like other “citizens,” his cry for help saddened and sickened me.  It was as if he had not been Black in America all his life.  True, I do not know the brother, but I do know that ours is a tentative citizenship.  And, the only true protection Sisters have are Brothers.  Our history in this country should be proof enough that if our well-being is going to be attended to, we must attend to it.   Why do we keep expecting anything other than what we receive from folks other than ourselves?

The district police commissioner issued a memorandum mandating that all black males that entered the area, where the Sister was raped, be stopped as suspects.

So, through memos we are being terrorized.  What’s new?  Inherently exclusive memos in this country, also referred to as laws, terrorize us every minute of every hour of every century that we succumb to this psychological beating.  I am in no way suggesting that the suspicion of all or any Black males be condoned.  I am suggesting that we stop crying about it and place our lives in our own hands. 

Of course, I do not want to feel my brothers terrorized because of the intimidating truth of melanin; but I do want to see, feel, hear and know that my brothers are protecting us because of the majesty of our melanin. And, because our genetic memory demands that we protect us.  Our concern must be with what we are doing, not with what other folks are or are not doing for us.  We are so often, so easily diverted from our real issues. One being that a sister is hurting. Sisters are hurting. Brothers are hurting.  Our sister is hurting.  I trust that the Ancestors will heal her heart, body and soul.  Her mind.

Our other real issue is that we refuse to control our own lives.  Only we can heal us.  Only we can protect us.  So, “You, brother! You protect us.”   You are going to protect us or we are not going to be protected.  Sorry, brothers, I am tired of the rhetoric, as I watch you step past, walk around, close doors on and make excuses about why you can’t get along with the women who look just like your mothers.  I am tired of the rhetoric espousing the greatness of our Ancestors without honoring their work through continued action. 

No more words, ‘til action.  No more crying out about who is going to do something for us unless we are crying out to us.  No more insults to the Ancestors by burying our heads in the very earth their blood nourishes.  These are not weak shoulders we wobble on.  The Ancestors’ shoulders are strong enough to stand on.  So, stand on them.  No more “intellectuals” over analyzing an answer. The solution is simple.  Your women; you protect!

If a sister seems afraid of you, show her that she does not have to be.  So what if your feelings get hurt.  Better us than a memo.  Besides, we are worth it.  This is not a “slamming the brothers” piece.  This piece is about our peace.  It’s about love: our true, enduring love for each other. 

I remember a time when I shushed my husband when he was taking a stand I thought would hurt us.  Then he helped me realize, that if I wanted a man, I had to be a woman.  And, that if I loved him, truly, the way I proclaimed, I could not suffocate his manhood as if we were slaves afraid to become "strange fruit.The traditional Poplar Tree is not the only method of madness used to lynch us.  We must not lose our minds in other people’s madness.  

What use is the body if we can’t protect it? What use are we to us if we don’t come to terms with our fear of white folks and why?  Once we state that fear and the reason, it will start to dissolve.  What use is our body if we don’t have our own mind?  For that matter, my husband explained, we might as well be the fruit that Billie sings about if we don’t honor our Ancestorsour genetic memory.  Or perhaps what James Baldwin wrote was correct “[Our] memory stammers.”  

But, ain’t our soul the witness?

(Original quote by James Baldwin, “My memory stammers: but my soul is a witness.” From, The Evidence Of Things Not Seen)

posted 13 October 2004

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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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Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid

By  Frank B. Wilderson, III

Wilderson, a professor, writer and filmmaker from the Midwest, presents a gripping account of his role in the downfall of South African apartheid as one of only two black Americans in the African National Congress (ANC). After marrying a South African law student, Wilderson reluctantly returns with her to South Africa in the early 1990s, where he teaches Johannesburg and Soweto students, and soon joins the military wing of the ANC. Wilderson's stinging portrait of Nelson Mandela as a petulant elder eager to accommodate his white countrymen will jolt readers who've accepted the reverential treatment usually accorded him. After the assassination of Mandela's rival, South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani, Mandela's regime deems Wilderson's public questions a threat to national security; soon, having lost his stomach for the cause, he returns to America. Wilderson has a distinct, powerful voice and a strong story that shuffles between the indignities of Johannesburg life and his early years in Minneapolis, the precocious child of academics who barely tolerate his emerging political consciousness. Wilderson's observations about love within and across the color line and cultural divides are as provocative as his politics; despite some distracting digressions, this is a riveting memoir of apartheid's last days.Publishers Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

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By W. E. B. Du Bois

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Ancient African Nations

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