Skip to main content

Are They Worthy of Your Stuff?!

Ntozake Shange has been on my minds for weeks now. For those of you who don't know her, she's a poet and the author of the renowned play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf.  I first heard of this play in my childhood, seeing monologues performed by local black women in the New Orleans theater scene. I knew it was special cuz my elders told me so; but I had no idea I'd connect with it on such a profound and visceral level later on in life. This season of my life has brought me closer to the essence of Shange's work--to the script, to the lines that didn't make sense then but make sense now--to the pain and the heartache..to my stuff!


There's a poem by in For Colored Girls performed by the Lady in Green called, "somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff."  

somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff 
not my poems or a dance i gave up in the street
but somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff
like a kleptomaniac workin hard & forgettin while stealin
this is mine!
this aint yr stuff
now why don’t you put me back 
& let me hang out in my own 
self

-excerpt from Ntazoke Shange's For Colored Girls...

It's a poignant piece and you'd have to read it in it's entirety to understand the context, but that's how I feel right now. That's how a lot of black women feel right now. And we are tired! We are the ones with the "stuff"--the ones who carry the load, who give free advice--the overused and under-compensated. We are the ones "the people" call on when they are in trouble--when they need a helping hand. They petition us for our "stuff" but don't offer anything of substance in return. I am the Lady in Green. I can't believe somebody almost walked off wid all my stuff!

The black woman’s wisdom runs deep
Deeply Buried in the bloody soil of this nation—
from pushing white babies through Central Park in expensive strollers
to writing dissertations that the academy don’t wanna publish.
From knowing just how much baking powder goes in the cake without measuring
to braiding our daughter’s hair with our eyes closed,
This Wisdom—this black woman’s wisdom runs deep.

It is engrained in the fabric of the nation.
They dig and they dig and they dig in the black woman’s resources
They dig and they dig and they dig for wisdom but
ARE THEY WORTHY OF HER!? ARE THEY WORTHY OF YOU?!
ARE THEY WORTHY OF OUR STUFF!

They want our wisdom but don't want to invest in a relationship. They want our nurturing but don't want to protect us. They want our intellectual property but don't want to pay us. I can't believe somebody almost walked off with alla my stuff?!

Fortunately, I know my worth, now...or, I'm learning my worth.
I know that I deserve more--that I deserve better--that my stuff is worth it.

Did y'all know that Ntazoke means "she who has her own things" or 'things that belong to her" in Xhosa?!

Yes. I am Ntazoke. I am she who has her own things. I am a colored girl, who ain't afraid to tell you to back off my stuff! 

Get your own things.





Comments

Popular posts from this blog

It's Cheaper To Die

This past December, I sat down with my checking accounts after my rent was paid, and I added up all of the past due medical bills that had been piling up for months (some, for years). I deduced that I had the funds to finally pay off the $500+ of unpaid bills--bills from the colonoscopy I had in 2014 and the biopsies I got done in November (nothing malignant was found). I was so proud of myself for paying off my medical bills at the end of the year. It felt like a tiny weight of debt was lifted from my aching back.
In January, however, I got slammed with a new set of unexpected and hefty medical bills and, honestly, my friends, it's cheaper to die. 😶
When you go to the doctor or dentist these days, there is a lot of lack of clarity about how much things cost. I knew I'd have to pay for some of the colonoscopy and x-ray, and I did so up front, but I wasn't expecting the unexpected remainder that my insurance suddenly decided not to cover to slap me across the face with th…

Surviving the Community that Supports R. Kelly (and Men Like Him)

Read Finding Love After Sexual AssaultHere
_______________________
My brilliant colleague, Danielle Williams Thiam, preached a sermon this fall on the rape of Tamar (2 Samuel 13). In her sermon she pointed out all the ways in which, not just Amnon, but the community and world in which Tamar lived participated in her rape. "Rape is a communal sin," she preached. I honor her words as a sexual assault survivor and as an advocate for holding the collective responsible for the violation of women's bodies, particularly the bodies of black and brown girls. ______________________
For every person who knew that Deacon so-and-so (who was in with the pastor) was touching little girls and turned their heads cuz they didn't want to 'fall out' with the pastor-
REPENT.
For every person who stood outside a closed door knowing that what was going on behind that door involved an abuse of power that ravaged a female body-
REPENT.
For every lawyer who knowingly defended a guilty…

Pile Up Your Affirmations

I haven't blogged in a while. I suppose it's due to many reasons. First, many of you know that I relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina at the beginning of April. I got the offer of a lifetime to come down here and do full-time ministry, focusing on the fields of spiritual formation and community outreach--which are two of my favorite things in ministry. I left New York after 8 LONG years of hustling and self-discovery, saying "yes" to God and the unknown yet again. For my final sermon in New York, I preached about God's command to varying groups of people in the book of Genesis to "fill the earth" (Gen 1:28, Gen 9:1, Gen 9:7). I  knocked down the Towers of Babel that I'd built over the years and I ventured forth into the mystery. 
This journey has been a tumultuous one. It has been one of many ups and downs over the past 18 months. For the most part, I am grateful--grateful for the opportunities that have come my way--for the accolades, for the aw…