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What are your thoughts on the Ferguson grand jury decision?

Ferguson Protest
Image by Debra Sweet via Flickr/Creative Commons

Like much of America I watched last night as a grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

I watched as many of my friends took to social media to vent their anger while others virtually shrugged their shoulders and simply said evidence doesn’t lie.

But America does lie.

America tells black people that our lives don’t matter, that our deaths don’t even deserve a trial. As Birmingham columnist John Archibald wrote:

When those families look at Ferguson justice, they see anything but due process. They wonder how a majority white grand jury could look at the same evidence they’ve seen on TV and not find enough evidence to at least send it to trial. After all, everybody knows a prosecutor can indict a tuna sandwich if he wanted to.

Last night a poem by Langston Hughes came to mind:

I am so tired of waiting,
Aren’t you,
For the world to become good
And beautiful and kind?

I am tired.

I’m tired of a rowdy few turning peaceful protests into riots. I’m tired of self-righteous racists turning the riots into an excuse to treat black people like animals.

I’m tired of politicians pulling black-on-black crime statistics out of their back pocket whenever asked to address police brutality and racial profiling.

As Kansas City Star columnist Jenee Osterheldt writes:

Yes, 93 percent of blacks are killed by other blacks. The Justice Department says that nearly 84 percent of whites are killed by whites. That doesn’t change the fact that we have a race problem in America. It doesn’t erase the way white fear has infected communities, not just cops.

I’m tired of waiting for the white Christian church to stop being silent on issues of racial justice.

I’m tired of feeling like the lives of my black father, brother and husband only matter to me.

I’m tired of feeling helpless.

I woke up this morning asking God “What can I do? What can I do to help?” but I found no burning bush telling me the answer.

As a writer, all I can think of is the power of words.

I think about Proverbs 31:8 which urges the people of God to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.”

I think of my husband, a columnist for The Birmingham News. This is what he strives to do every day. This is what he was striving to do when last night he wrote that the outrage in Ferguson proves we can no longer ignore America’s race problems.

And he will continue to do this work even if it means waking up to an email inbox littered with racial slurs from angry, insensitive, closed-minded readers (who, ironically, say racism doesn’t exist).

Ferguson Library
Image via Ferguson Library Instagram

I think about the power of words and how books changed my life, possibly saved it. Yes, I grew up in neighborhoods some folks are afraid to drive through even in the day time. But when I think of my old neighborhoods I don’t think of gang violence or any other type of crime. I think of the libraries that were my home away from home. I think of the books that dared me to dream and showed me the world was bigger than my block.

Today the schools in Ferguson are closed but the Ferguson Public Library is open. A Facebook friend urged folks to donate to the Ferguson Library. Library staff has consistently made themselves available to the community even when every other place closed its doors. The library has even created makeshift classrooms where teachers could continue their lessons.

“Suddenly the library is full and overfull.  Everyone knows we’re here,” says Ferguson librarian Scott Bonner in an interview for the blog The Magpie Librarian.

And so I donated money to the Ferguson Public Library.

This small gesture will do nothing for the Brown family. It will not cool the literal and figurative fires that burn in Ferguson this morning. But I pray that a book will give at least one black boy or one black girl in Ferguson the hope they need to carry on another day and I pray the words they read will remind them that their lives do matter.

What do you want for Christmas?

It’s that time of year again when my close family and friends ask me what I want for Christmas and that time of year when I annoy them all by answering “December 26.”

Those who know me best know I’m not a huge fan of Christmas — a holiday that I believe drives individuals into debt and families into arguments — but I digress. I won’t bore you with my Bah! Humbug! routine.

Each year I appease my loved ones who are patient enough to actually want to buy gifts for a Scrooge like me by writing a blog post that I typically call the Writeous Babe Wish List. My hope is that it will give my family and friends some guidance on how to shop for me and give my readers some ideas of how to shop for the writeous babes in their lives.

Rookie Yearbook One, Two and Three

Rookie Yearbook 3

Even though I’m 33 years old one of the women I admire most in life isn’t old enough to drink. Eighteen-year-old Tavi Gevinson is the young woman behind Rookie Mag, an online magazine for teen girls. Each year, she publishes in book form a collection of the website’s best pieces from the past 12 months. She calls the collection the Rookie Yearbook. Because I’m still a girl at heart, I would like Santa to bring me all three editions.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

bad-feminist-roxane-gay

This collection of essays by Roxane Gay has been on my “must read” list since it was published back in August. I’d love to kick off 2015 reading Bad Feminist.

Kate Spade iPad Case

kate spade ipad case

I need a new iPad case and this Kate Spade iPad case needs a new home.

Gift Cards

You can never go wrong with gift cards.

In 2015 I’m going to attempt to run 1200 miles. This means 100 miles a month. This also means I’ll be giving Fleet Feet half my paycheck as I replace running shoes and gear throughout the year. Help a sister out with some Fleet Feet gift cards.

teaching classy

And speaking of gift cards, I plan to revamp my wardrobe in 2015, too. Support the cause with gift cards from The Limited so I can snag some Olivia Pope inspired couture and gift certificates from ModCloth so I can get some fabulous frocks like the one pictured above.

What’s on your holiday wish list?

Have you heard the new Beyonce songs?

Beyonce Ring Off
Image by Caroline Delaney via Flickr/Creative Commons

If you know me well you know I am a huge Beyonce fan. So I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when I heard that two new songs from her upcoming platinum edition of Beyoncé  had leaked.

Initially, I was rather underwhelmed by “7/11,” an unremarkable club track that just reminded me why I no longer go clubbing.

But I must admit that the video is ridiculously fun and makes me want to plan a girls trip ASAP.  The more I watch the video, the more “7/11” grows on me. Beyonce, what kind of spell do you have on me?!

The better of the two songs, by far, is “Ring Off.” In this loving lyric to her mother, Bey sings about how she now understands the struggles of being in a failing marriage and acknowledges the sacrifices her mother made through the years:

You used to dress and fix your hair/ then you’d smile through your tears/ In the mirror you would stare and say a prayer/ like I wish he said I’m beautiful/ I wish it didn’t hurt at all/ I don’t know how I got here/ I was once the one who had his heart…

But this is no sad love song. Beyonce declares that that Ms. Tina has taken that “ring off” and now “the fun begins” and she “can love again” and now she’s happier than ever.

Click here to check out both songs for yourself.

 

Each day in November for #bloglikecrazy I’ll be publishing a blog post that answers your questions about blogging, social media, writing, wellness or women’s empowerment. Send your questions to javacia@seejanewritebham.com.

Making the Ordinary Extraordinary

As promised, I’ll be posting poetry writing prompts occasionally throughout April in celebration of National Poetry Month. Here’s one adapted from The Poet’s Companion by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux:


What do you do every day — or on a regular basis? Write a poem about showering, or jogging, or cooking, and so on. Try, in the poem, to get at the particular way you perform this activity, that might be different from someone else. 


Here’s a poem by Al Zolynas for inspiration:


The Zen of Housework


I look over my own shoulder
down my arms
to where they disappear under water
into hands inside pink rubber gloves
moiling among dinner dishes.


My hands lift a wine glass, 
holding it by the stem and under the bowl.
It breaks the surface
like a chalice
rising from a medieval lake. 


Full of the grey wine
of domesticity, the glass floats
to the level of my eyes.
Behind it, through the window
about the sink, the sun, among
a ceremony of sparrows and bare branches, 
is setting in Western America.


I can see thousands of droplets
of steam — each a tiny spectrum — rising
from my goblet of grey wine.
They sway, changing directions
constantly — like a school of playful fish,
or like the sheer curtain
on the window to another world.


Ah, grey sacrament of the mundane!