ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
I began to attend New Shiloh Baptist Church when it was on Freemont Avenue. Its head minister
was and continues to be Dr. Harold Carter, to whom I was introduced by Mary. He was kind and gave
me copies of two of his published works, which included The Prayer Tradition of Black People (1974).
Letters of an Abiding Faith:
Legacy of a Slave’s GrandDaughter to her Son
written by Ella Lewis to her Son (Rudolph Lewis)
March 16, 1991
I haven heard From you Since you went Back. What wrong I miss you From riten. How are you Fine I hope. For myself not too good I went to Doctor to day March 15th. I feel a little Better.
I riten you Just a note if you Can send me a little piece of money. I got to pay $500 dollars the insurance diden pay. I not asking you For that amount. Because I pay it By the month I Just telling What I want it For. What Ever you send me Will Be highly apreshated. I hate to ask you For I know you got your Bills to pay too.* If you Can and if you Cant I will understand.
Much love to you always
P.S. love you
*I was working again. And I indeed probably did have money. I was working in Mayor’s Schmoke’s adult education program. I am sure I must have sent the money. I am certain I had not bogged myself down emotionally with any woman after Mydea. After that time, my intimate relationships have been ones of convenience. They brought no joy, only relief. I have gotten as much or more out of a celibate life.
Three times women told me they intended to have an abortion. Maybe they did or maybe they didn’t. These may have just been stories told me to get a rise out of me. I am not absolutely certain that they occurred. I did not go to the hospital or the doctors with them. .They may have just said these things for hurt, to see my reaction and anxiety. In any event, it all probably was a good thing, whether true or false. They were relationships that did not work for me
In all three situations. I was in no situation emotionally to deal with raising a child. Moreover, my poverty and lack of confidence did not suit me to attend to the matter in a proper way. Evelyn, I later married out of guilt and desire. Jennifer was also a woman I also loved but feared that there were too many differences (of race and class). I was then in graduate school and had barely enough money to keep myself afloat.
But such trials, I suspect, are the lot of all men. I have no excuse and probably none is needed. I only regret the hurt that I visited on these three women. Evelyn, the girl I married in my twenties, has gone on to do well. She has prospered and is now a grandmother. Jennifer I have not seen since 1980.
Mydea has prospered and I am very happy for her. When I last spoke with her she was president of the All-Liberian Association and Queen of the Bassa, a very powerful woman indeed. And I, well, I am still struggling in my poverty, trying, as old folks used to say, to make a way out of no way; to reconcile my own emotional scars, to come to grips with the world I have made, often clumsily, for my self.
Evelyn was my first and only wife. Before 1988, I had not seen her in thirteen years. I was not sure why she brought her daughter Ebony (by her third husband ) and introduced her to me. Maybe it was like showing someone your new car. It is a part of your life and you want people to appreciate your accomplishment. Ebony, I believe, was then thirteen. Or maybe Evelyn wanted to get a few more licks in, for she felt that she had loved me and I had rejected her. And she wanted to impress on me more sharply what I had lost. As I understand it now, she is a grandmother and plans to retire in a few years in Florida. We did not have any children together and I am still childless.
Under the encouragement of Mary Spriggs, a member of Local 1199 and a sometime friend since 1970, I began to attend New Shiloh Baptist Church when it was on Freemont Avenue. Its head minister was and continues to be Dr. Harold Carter, to whom I was introduced by Mary. He was kind and gave me copies of two of his published works, which included The Prayer Tradition of Black People (1974).
I continue to go to New Shiloh even after they moved into its multi-million-dollar edifice on Monroe Street.
For awhile I was an usher, but found that exceedingly problematic with heel spurs. I considered joining the choir, but thought better of that. The activity that most appealed to me at New Shiloh was the prayer sessions that began about seven in the morning. In that they helped to regulate my day, I began to attend them frequently and they did me a world of good. Mama told me I should always pray. But I never really learned how to do that. But I was on my way to learning how to do what one can only do truly for oneself.
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#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson
#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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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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A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family thats 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 Katrinas inexorable winds is the voice of Wards 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 familys raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brothers blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt. Her fathers hands are like gravel, while her own hand slides through his grip like a wet fish, and a handsome boys 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 isnt usually just metaphor for metaphors sake. She conveys something fundamental about Eschs 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, whats salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.WashingtonPost
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 30 December 2011