And now…moving on…My letter to the Young Folk

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Edith Lee-Payne at March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom: 8.28.63

I’m impressed with how you are engaged and involved with today’s political & social issues. I’m hopeful for America’s future because YOU are that future. And yet it breaks my heart to see you filled with stress at having to witness the moral degradation of late.

Exhausted from the two-year fiasco we’ve endured we’re also concerned for our unknown future. My 22-year old daughter said “it feels like a death”. Students are crying, wearing black and protesting on campuses all over the country.

It’s not enough for us to verify that the country seems hopelessly divided and say we fear for your children and grand-children. Better that we circle the wagons—keep all of you close via face-to-face conversations, video chats, texts and phone calls because ~ yes we have seen a death of a measure of common decency and human spirit, but also of apathy, which needs to die. Let audacity live in its place. Your generation is waking us up to the call for paying attention and holding ALL politicians accountable, on both sides. Van Jones says—we must mourn (and drink water!) in order to heal, and then we must pick up and move forward. As President Obama said, “the sun will come up again tomorrow” ~ a place where from death there can be new life.

I know it’s hard for you to imagine that America has been through worse than what we are seeing now, but it’s true. Much, much worse. It’s up to those of us who were there for those times to help you navigate these rough waters by elevating morals.

We who believe in decency and “re-spect” must look deep and “see-again” the Good Wolf embedded in the foundation of America—a determination that had to be strong to rise from the blood and ashes of piracy and genocide that is, sadly, America’s bedrock.

Beginning in the 1600s with the collisions of First Americans with the entitled Spanish and British dissidents, the forced migration of enslaved Africans, indentured servants and others, race was constructed in America—and as Farai Chideya, said on Twitter, “white” is also a race. One cannot build on such a wrongful foundation and escape the consequences. An America where forces that embrace wide-spread bigotry can rise to power is part of those consequences.

Through centuries of hardworking fighters who would not be moved the phoenix called Audacity rose and still flies in the hearts of all who believe. Trust in the power of one; we must continue to not be moved and be the positive, inclusive change we want to see in the world.

With each rising sun of the next four years we will renew the journey as countless fighters before us have done. We will not succumb to the notion that at its core America is anything less than benevolent and humane—otherwise we would not have survived these 240 years. THAT is the balm to begin healing.

And no. We don’t move to Canada; we move forward like The Scales of Justice ~ working to strike a balance between the forces that seek to divide us and our collective Audacity.

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The First Bite

A weekday in Harlem, Albany, GA, circa 1960s 

America has a multitude of best-kept secrets. The Albany Georgia Civil Rights Movement  is one of them. It started in the fall of 1961. I was seven years old, and my late sister, Betty, was just shy of twelve.To my knowledge our late parents—like most of the more than 20,000 blacks in Albany at the time—were not active in the Movement. Quite the contrary, they sheltered us from it, for obvious reasons: extreme southern white bigotry was nothing to mess with. Yet that is exactly what a few brave souls chose to do, mess with the racial status quo in order to force change. You will meet many of those heroes in future posts.

I have many vivid memories of my parallel life growing up on Hazard Drive while this crucial part of American history unfolded around me. These memories were the bud for my work-in-progress novel, PEACH SEED MONKEY, where I have placed a host of fictional characters inside the very real present-day Albany, with flashbacks to the highly charged 1960s.

I invite you to visit here often (and subscribe!)  to learn how important the Albany Movement was ~ and still is ~ as an instrument of change and a model for the Women’s Movement, Vietnam protests and subsequent non-violent struggles for human rights throughout the world. Although the Movement is crucial to this story, PEACH SEED MONKEY is a work of fiction and will set out to do what novels do best ~ present the author’s exploration of a certain truth.

Leave comments, join the conversation as I’ll be sharing snippets from my process and travels—both mythic and actual—as they pertain to and inform the story; sometimes going back to 1960s Albany and my childhood house on Hazard (now a parking lot, for real); sometimes looking around my present-day life in northern California and even projecting ahead to the world our teenage daughter is headed for. I will let you in on why this is a story I am powerless to resist.

National Amnesia & Bipartisan Disorder

Anita’s Note ~ Come on people. Have we really forgotten that the same country that elected Barack Obama elected Donald Trump? And that country participated in the Middle Passage slave trade for 245 YEARS? And that same was the architect of what W.E.B. Dubois described as “the freedom to destroy freedom”? As a result our country suffers from what I’m calling bipartisan disorder* (scroll down for definition & let me know if somebody else is calling it that, too).

I love what is good about America—and there’s a lot to love—doesn’t mean choosing to forget the horrors. Trump has delivered a wake-up call. Let’s not turn over and go back to sleep.

A few minutes a go I took a break from revising the novel to indulge in content for my next blog post—my reward for six hours of writing/revising. The words “national+amnesia” popped into my head like an original idea. Not. A quick search  lead me to an op-ed by Ana Paulina Lee, assistant professor of Luso-Brazilian Studies at Columbia University, NYC. Ms. Lee has eloquently told it like it is and gave me permission to re-blog

Guest Blogger

 

Ana Paulina Lee, Columbia University

“How would one think differently of the United States if we were to think of it not as a nation built by immigrants — a national myth — but rather as a nation built on slavery and the removal of Indigenous people from their land?” ~ Ana Paulina Lee “Op-Ed; The Perils of National Amnesia.” Truth-out.org. 7 Jul. 2016.

*bi•par•ti•san dis•or•der
noun
a political disorder marked by alternating periods of national elation and depression brought on by how one casts one’s votes.  ~ Anita Gail Jones

“Students across the US, regardless of their background, may graduate from college without ever learning about inconvenient histories. Yet, national forgetting is powerful. It enables ideology like racial supremacy to not only exist, but evolve.” ~ Ana Paulina Lee “Op-Ed; The Perils of National Amnesia.” Truth-out.org. 7 Jul. 2016.

“…histories of racial violence are not over. And we need our classrooms and our culture — and not just Jesse Williams — to tell that truth.” ~ Ana Paulina Lee

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ROSTER of Cities: Other Women’s Marches

Young women at the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom, 8.28.63

Young women at the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom, 8.28.63

UPDATE: New Name:  ~ The Women’s March on Washington, Saturday, January 21, 2017

Put the brakes on. The news is changing so fast it’s hard to keep up. Biggest change is the name: From “Million Women’s March on DC” to “Women’s March on Washington”.  Read VOX article [link at end of post] to find out why.

As you can imagine, many groups are vying for time on the National Mall on January 21st. According to a story published today by WTOP in DC, the original organizers were a little too late to get the permit for January 21st and will have to choose a new time and location. If you’re planning to go to DC do your own research. You might want to consider a march closer to home. Here are some links ~

Read the WTOP article:

Overbooked National Mall Means Changes for Women’s March on Washington

Other Cities:
Oakland: https://www.facebook.com/events/299394117127175/

San Francisco: https://www.facebook.com/events/1516849161665234/

Denver: https://www.facebook.com/events/688840321281067/

Philidelphia: http://philly.carpediem.cd/events/1701001-womens-march-on-philadelphia-official-page-at-benjamin-franklin-parkway/

Cleveland: https://www.facebook.com/Million-Women-March-Cleveland-2016-904276429619758/

 

“While our early plans announced that we would be rallying at the Lincoln Memorial, those plans changed and our updated rally site is another location in the city that will accommodate our numbers. We will not be releasing the location information at this time because we are still in the permitting process and need to ensure that all of our logistics are in place. As the article says, National Park Service is working with us. And quoting the NPS spokesperson: “The permit has not been denied. We will make every effort to accommodate their request though it may be at a different time and location,” Litterst said. The start time has not changed and any changes to times will only impact our set up. We are continuing to work with National Park Service, Metropolitan Police Department, Homeland Security, Capitol Police, and other agencies to ensure a safe march that will accommodate the number of people we anticipate arriving.”  ~ Organizers for Women’s March on Washington

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Click here for VOX article: The “Women’s March on Washington” Explained.

 

Please comment with news and updates as you get them ~

 

 

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Japanese maple in our back garden: ablaze with the colors of the season

Higher Expectations = Higher Results

Enough doom and gloom. Let’s focus on repeating what is good about America—and there’s plenty, starting with…

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North Carolina native Ron L. Clark, Jr, 44, bestselling author and educator, had some thoughts on how to overhaul the education of African-American underserved middle schoolers. In 2007 he and Kim Bearden co-founded Ron Clark Academy, a private non-profit school in Atlanta, Georgia where the students thrive and educators from around the globe flock for training in their innovative methods.

Read more…

Sierra Club: “We’re lucky to be in California “

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Kathryn Phillips, Director: Sierra Club California

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I have three main observations. First, we’ve been through this before. America doesn’t always elect the most environmentally enlightened candidates for president. Second, we’re lucky to be in California. From here, we can keep making progress on environmental policy. Third, we aren’t alone.” ~ Kathryn Phillips, Sierra Club California Director

Check out the full letter. She hits the nail on the head…

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Click on photo for full letter

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Still I Rise ~ Maya Angelou

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From Maya Angelou’s 1978 poem “And Still I Rise”.

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Maya Angelou 1928 ~ 2014

Through her words, her undeniable presence and voice she left an indelible mark on the world. She wrote this poem two years into President Jimmy Carter’s term; the year Harvey Milk became the first openly gay member of the San Francisco City Council. Who knew that 36 years later the poem’s sentiment would be still be so relevant. Watch a video of her reading And Still I Rise

 Transcript of this video version~

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
Just ’cause I walk as if I have oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like suns and like moons,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hope springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my sassiness upset you?
Don’t take it so hard
Just ’cause I laugh as if I have gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You can shoot me with your words,
You can cut me with your eyes,
You can kill me with your hatefulness,
But just like life, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness offend you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance as if I have diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past rooted in pain
I rise
A black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak miraculously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the hope and the dream of the slave,
And so—naturally there I go rising…

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A 12-Step Program for Responding to Trump (NY Times)

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11.13.16 A peaceful protest at Lake Merritt in Oakland, Calif in response to the election of Donald Trump. Credit Jim Wilson/The NY Times

“We can not afford to immobilize; it’s time to organize individually and collectively.” ~AGJ

Read more…

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