Write Out Loud – Stories from the Frontline

February 28, 2009

Forty Years In the Wilderness – by JoyceAngela Jellison

Filed under: BrokenBeautiful Randomness — writeoutloudboston @ 1:14 am

This city is silent. Everyone is mute and I am turning up my eardrums to tune into thoughts – capture truths. I am the harbinger of the first and last words – everything inbetween fucks with my mind.

Did you ask me if I was happy about Michele Obama being in the white house? Did I cringe? Wasnt Sally Hemmings a black woman – what about Condelezza Rice? Are you not a black woman if you work under a republian administration?

You tell me you dont see color – I say color sees me. Technically color blind is the inability to detect red and green – shades of black, gray and the absence of color are detectable. Does colorblind mean you cant see folks of color? Can you see me if I shed my skin? Can you see me if I dont oppose your truth – if I cross the racial divide and you stay safe on your side?

Did you walk out of my workshop on black women and media representation because I am in your words, “too intelligent” to cuss so much – and what do I say to your back? Could you not have grabbed some part of the message – this is me struggling to impart passion and retain my sanity.  I can only be me and I can only share my passions in the way in which I know – I accept you with your hypocrisies – but for you, must I be pristine to be valid? Please read bell hooks, Sisters of the Yam. 

Did you ask me if I ever wondered if  my ex-husband called me nigger and I did not hear?  I told you about the myths of love and the transcendent reality of marriage. We were one I tell you and look as though you have your doubts. I am not here for you to dismantle but this is what is happenning and I dont even know why I am speaking anymore.

My mother calls my daughter and I tell her to say Iam not home.  She never listens and would not recognize the sound of my voice because she has never heard me…I told you of my cutting and the need to take pain from one place and put it in another place. Did you understand that blackness can be confining if I am not allowed to be more than what you are told I am to be?

Black women cry – love, grieve, hate, forgive, dance, laugh – I am a whole being. I am a flawed being in the silent wilderness of Boston. When I speak folks just capture clicks and beeps – a radio that is not transmitting properly. 

Did you not tell me the class of seventh graders I am teaching are at a fourth grade reading level – did you throw me into the frey without a flashlight to guide me in the darkness.  Did you know I would fail? I started with seven students and I only have two left – shamefully, one I cant recall her name and she should be remembered but I am distracted by what she does not know and the little time I have.

Grandmother, you never told me of places like this and I long for a place at your table – I need to lay against your back on the too soft mattress that is your bed. The streetlight shines in and the boys on the corner play basketball deep into the night – the sound of the ball hitting the street and the swoosh of it going through the net is an urban lullaby. In the morning I realize I have dreamed you and I decide to write a letter and place it on a glass a water beneath my bed, an enticement for your spirit to return to me.

Forty years in the wilderness. I have only been here three. A lifetime of breaking silences and turning up my eardrums lay ahead.


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