Bare Your Soul

Bare Your Soul


ChickenBones: A Journal

for  Literary & Artistic African-American  Themes



  I expected her to shave her head, or experiment with drugs, or start dating an ex-con.

I thought maybe she’d become a vegan. Instead, she started going to church.



Bare Your Soul: The Thinking Girl’s Guide to Enlightenment


Edited By Angela Watrous



A provocative look at how today’s young women celebrate and repudiate religion and, ultimately, find answers that fit Whether brought up within a specific belief system or warned against all things religious, women today have been left with questions and conflicts about life and spirituality that pop feminism and dating guides simply can’t resolve. Bare Your Soul offers wisdom and validation and reveals how women can negotiate an empowering spiritual existence in our pop-culture inundated world.

This liberating collection of spiritual writings by women represents a fascinating spectrum of religious and spiritual backgrounds—from Buddhism to Islam, Judaism to Goddess-worship, Catholicism to atheism, and many others.

It reveals the multiplicities, divergences, and commonalities of our experiences, allowing us to emerge from isolation and share in each other’s journeys. Speaking to neo-traditionalists, reformists, and skeptics alike, these refreshing essays illuminate a unique truth–the fact that we don’t need to know or have all the answers—while speaking to each other in a way that gives the collection greater resonance and scope. In these days of frightening fundamentalism of all kinds, the flexibility and fluidity found here is a much-needed glimpse of a more holistic, less judgmental tomorrow.—Rebecca Walker

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Table of Contents


My Sister’s Keeper, Twilight Greenaway

I expected her to shave her head, or experiment with drugs, or start dating an ex-con. I thought maybe she’d become a vegan. Instead, she started going to church.

Coming Clean, Angela Watrous

I’d long since realized that in some circles it was assumed that I wasnt religious–presumably because true queer liberal types could never be involved with an organized religion, never get sucked into something so pass as faith.

The Road toward Islam: A Traveler s Tale, Claire Hochachka

A few hours later, as I in-line skated home over the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan, I realized I had just been called to the Islamic faith.

The Culture of Faith, Shoshana Hebshi

I’m bound to both Judaism and Islam by the laws of religious lineage–through my mother I am Jewish; through my father I am Muslim.

The Last Conversation, L. A. Miller

I didn t believe in God. In truth, I thought of him as a little like Ronald Reagan, if he existed at all.

Glitter and the Goddess, Kara Spencer

I became more than myself, my awareness expanded to sense the gestalt of ravers, humanity, bonded to the universal flux of life.

Million-Step Program, Stephanie Groll

I swallowed forty-eight sleeping pills. And that was that. Good thing I didn’t believe in God or I might have been headed straight for hell.

Practicing Faith, Maliha Masood

It never occurred to me how far I had strayed from the principles of my religion because I still considered myself to be a Muslim in spirit.

Daughter of a Preacherman, Andrea Richards

Growing up as the child of a minister makes you a ready-made rehab case. . . .Its almost like being a Kennedy–at birth you are set up to flounder on a very public scale.

The Church of Godly Men, Tanessa Dillard

They marched in gay parades, prayed for their enemies. Instead of abandoning their spirituality, they created something that worked. Their example inspired me to stay true to everything I believed.

The Playhouse and the Altar: Householder Buddhism, Liesl Schwabe

While I felt his soundness and his wit would make for a dedicated father, I also knew that his understanding of the Dharma would be what would ultimately make becoming parents together the single most important and beautiful thing in my life.

Raising a Family the Good Old-Fashioned Way, Juleigh Howard-Hobson 

Andrew asked me recently, Would Luke Skywalker know the Goddess? . . . Of course, but they would call Her I answered.

The Sound of God, Lisa Shiffman

Voice. Melody. Song. Each held answers. Answers about a deeper part of myself, about the essence of Judaism, about being human–and perhaps even something about God.

Worshiping in Color, Bernadette Adams Davis

American obsessions about race keep most of us apart on Sunday mornings. The worship hour is still one of the most segregated times of American life.

Pilgrimage on Mission Street, Griselda Suarez

At that moment, I lost my Virgen de Guadalupe and found my goddess Tonantzin. . . . She talked to my heart in a familiar voice, my own.

Just Another Anarchist Antichrist Godless-Commie Catholic, Sonya Huber

A true anarchist would certainly have no soft spot for the ladies in black and their days of prayer.

A Flash of Lightning: Inner Revolution and Social Transformation, Diane Biray Gregorio

I saw for the first time the connection between my spiritual practice and my work in the world. They both sprung from the same source–the yearning to understand suffering and experience freedom–whether in myself or in the world.

A Yogini in New York, Deborah Crooks

Then a collective gasp sounded and we raised our eyes from the drawing to see the second tower go down in flames. For a second everything stopped as nearly everyone on the street seemed to suspend their breath.

God is Grape, Gail Hudson

Grape was an ideal container for my understanding of God. . . . It taught me that what we revered, what we gave thanks to each night at dinner, was something that resided in the beauty of everyday life.

Agnostic Dyke Seeks Goddess, Jennifer Collins

I am: Butch agnostic, freelance writer, NS/ND, social drinker. You be: Omnipotent, with whole world in hands, good with cars and words.

After Christ, Teena Apeles

The choice of Catholicism was not my parents either. My familys faith was determined hundreds of years ago when Spanish explorers and missionaries brought the religion to the Philippines and forced it on the island peoples.

Pilgrimage, Pramila Jayapal

I could not feel the same devotion as do the millions of people who come to Badrinath, the devotion that I thought every true Hindu Indian should feel.

Sex and Catholic Girls, Caurie Miner Putnam

For the first sixteen years of my life I was the quintessential good Catholic girl. Then, I went on my first date.

A Call to Service, Trudi M. H. Frazel

The first time I heard that suffering comes from wanting things to be different than they are . . . I began to see that simple awareness is an act of service.

On Ki, Eleanor Martineau

I still want to be very careful. Poking into ki pokes at the Tao, at Zen, at nothingness. About which I know very little.

Bare Your Soul: The Thinking Girl’s Guide to Enlightenment

ANGELA WATROUS is the author of After the Breakup: Women Sort Through the Rubble and Rebuild Lives of New Possibilities, and the recently published Love Tune-Ups: 52 Ways to Open Your Heart and Make Sparks Fly. Before becoming a freelance writer, Angela worked as an editor in the book publishing industry for five years. She lives in Oakland, California.

Publication Date: November 2002

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#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 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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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

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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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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