Archive for the ‘weeping women’ Category

Mothers on a Mission

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Talking last night to mothers who’ve had children murdered on the streets of Boston has left me scrambling for words today. The occasion was a Mother’s Day Monday Interfaith Worship service spearheaded by the office of Massachusetts State Senator Diane Wilkerson. For the past ten years Wilkerson has used her office to help call attention to the alarming number of young people who are murdered every year in Boston as a result of street violence.  As a politician Senator Wilkerson knows that her office has to tackle the issue of violence and crime in her city and state, but as a woman of faith she knows that there is also a spiritual problem that needs attending to.  “I have no memory of going to a classmate’s funeral when I was a child,” she said. “But it’s a common occurrence for inner-city children here. Everybody knows at least one someone who was shot or killed in street violence. That tells me that we have failed our children.”

I was slated to be the speaker at the Mother’s Day Monday service, but I did more listening than I did talking. Mothers stood and talked about the children they lost to gang violence, cross fire, and unsolved street violence. There was lots of talk about love, family, faith, and forgiveness. Still, it was like it happened yesterday. Each woman could remember exactly what she was doing when the knock on the door came with news of her child’s death.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. Mothers talked about the pain of burying children, and the rest of us sat there and listened and wept. Like mourning women all over the world we gathered to weep with the mothers and to protest to anyone who may be listening, “This has got to stop.”

School will be out soon, and lots of inner city youth everywhere who are looking forward to the summer will have little to nothing to do all day while their parents are at work. Funds for summer youth programs have dried up, says our elected officials. “Something is wrong when more money is spent in this country on building prisons than it is on educating and lifting the spirits of children,” says Senator Wilkerson.

Meanwhile, mothers in Boston are bracing themselves. And praying. And weeping. And organizing. And praying. And weeping. And organizing.

If there were summer camps  that you went away to back when I was a kid we didn’t know anything about them. Summer was spent outside. “Go outside and play.” “Stay out of trouble.” “Be in the house when the street lights come on.” Playing outside in the streets was how we spent our summers when I was child. Bike riding. Skating. Running to the store.  But no one plays outside much anymore these days. For one reason, it’s too dangerous.  Another reason is because the community youth centers where we learned to swim, play softball, and passing love notes to each other have been replaced by the violent games children get to watch on TV and the computer.

While words do not come easy today, I don’t want to miss the opportunity today to salute women like State Senator Diane Wilkerson and organizations everywhere like “Mothers on A Mission” who are working to make neighborhoods safe for boys and girls to be able to play and working to help mothers of murdered children find a way to turn their grief into a cause to organize to save the children that are still with us.

Wear Red on April 30

Monday, April 28th, 2008

I want to thank Fal and everyone over at Document the Silence for giving me permission to share a video presentation they’ve put together to raise consciousness about the epidemic of sexual assault crimes against women of color both here in the United States and around the world.  As I stated in an earlier Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Red. post, black women in the church need to know about and need to get involved with national and international organizations that are working on behalf of women everywhere who have been victimized.

I want to thank WOC in blogosphere who used April to raise awareness about the Congo rape epidemics as well as the genocide taking place in Darfur.   I was bogged down in travel and other obligations on the specific date is April WOC bloggers set aside to use our blogs to call attention to specif attrocities, and couldn’t write the kind of post I wanted . But today is as good a day as any to add my voice to those keening and inveighing against the murders and militarized rapes that are endemic to what goes on in war torn areas around the world.   

I want to thank Sojourner 4 Truth for reminding me that April is the 14th anniversary of the Rwandan genocides and for passing along information about Left to Tell, Immaculee Ilibagiza’s powerful memoir of both how she survived the  Rwandan genocide (by hiding out, along with 7 other women, in a pastor’s bathroom for 91 days) and how she managed to maintain and strengthen her faith during the trauma of that ordeal. Says Sojourner 4 Truth: “I read [Left to Tell] with the teens from my Rites of Passage Collective and they were so moved that they could not put the book down. We finished reading it in 3 days. They even read it to their parents!!!”

The presentation is about 5 minutes long– which is a long time for busy, busy women to sit and watch something on the computer, especially something that’s not a dance or music video. Five minutes. A long time if you’re sitting in front of a computer multi-tasking and trying to dash to the next project on your list. Five minutes.  A life time if you’re one of the hundreds of women around the world who are Right Now being raped and/or murdered.

(Be sure the volume is up on your computer so you can hear the “Sweet Honey” sound clip.)

Let’s Show Al Sharpton That We Are Our Sisters’ Keeper

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008


This mass open letter is a call to action for all black people who
care about the safety and welfare of black women and children in
America. If you are concerned about the recent developments about
Dunbar Village, please copy the post below, and email it to all of
your friends and coworkers.



Right-thinking black people everywhere are stunned by the recent betrayal of Al Sharpton and the NAACP in a situation that is just too outrageous to ignore.

This is a painful story to tell, but it’s important for the moral, law-abiding majority of black Americans to understand exactly why Al Sharpton and the NAACP must be immediately stopped.

On June 18, 2007, a black woman was gang raped by 10 youths and forced at gunpoint to have sex with her own 12 year old son in a housing complex called Dunbar Village in West Palm Beach, Florida. The young men not only viciously punched, kicked and sliced this sister and her son with glass objects, but they also blinded her boy by pouring nail polish remover into his eyes.

The young men forced this sister and son to lay naked in a bathtub together, and attempted to set them on fire (they could not find matches). The youths boldly took cell phone pictures so that they could enjoy their violent, immoral and sadistic acts at a later time. The violence continued for more than three hours, and although this sister’s neighbors heard her screams, no one called the police or came to her aid.

This sister and her son had to walk a mile to the hospital, because the assailants stole her car, and threatened to kill her and her family if she told the authorities.

Only four of the young men have been apprehended, while the remaining six are on the loose, doing Lord knows what in our communities. There is no manhunt for the remaining suspects.

As devastating as this story is, what the NAACP and Al Sharpton have done about it will simply take your breath away:Not only did the NAACP ignore hundreds of requests to assist this woman because it was ‘outside the scope of their mission’, but they joined forces with Al Sharpton, and sent their lawyers to speak out IN SUPPORT OF THE RAPISTS.
You heard me right.

Even though there is conclusive DNA evidence and signed confessions, the NAACP and Al Sharpton are saying that it is ‘unfair’ to not offer bail to these four alleged rapists. They even had a press release about it.


Al Sharpton and the NAACP are banking on the belief that you and I will be just like this black woman’s neighbors. Join me by saying NOT THIS TIME. We will not turn a deaf ear to when we hear calls for help from one of our sisters and brothers who are being victimized.

Stop the NAACP and Al Sharpton’s National Action Network from committing this disgrace in our community. Just this once, let’s stand up and be counted by saying that we demand safe neighborhoods for our women and children.

Here is what you can do:

1. Spread the word. Forward this email if your conscience and concern have been raised. Send it to every concerned black citizen that you know.

2. Demand an explanation from your local NAACP chapter about this case. Cancel your membership to these organizations, and write a letter explaining that you will return when they prioritize the public safety needs of black women and children.

3. If you do not belong to these organizations, call and write them to tell them of your outrage and displeasure:

NAACP National Headquarters
4805 Mt. Hope Drive
Baltimore MD 21215
Toll Free: (877) NAACP-98
Local: (410) 580-5777

National Action Network
Rev. Al Sharpton
106 W. 145th Street
Harlem, New York 10039

If you know an African American reporter or a black radio talk show host, forward this story to them and ask them to follow up on it.

Read the history of the Dunbar Village problem here:

Something Within is collaborating with a network of other black women bloggers who are committed to staying on top of this story. Please check any one of the following blogs out on Fridays for an update on this story.

Call For The Weeping Women

Friday, January 11th, 2008

We’ll get to the third installment of “Voice Lessons” another day.

The story of Washington, DC mother, Banita Jacks, 33, murdering her four children (ages 17- 6) and being found by U.S. Marshals holed up in the house with their decomposing bodies has me in a fit this morning. Banita Jacks told investigators that her four daughters were possessed by demons and died in their sleep. I will spare you the details on how each child was actually killed. In fact, a few lines into this blog post and I’m deleting everything I was about to write and concur with others that it’s obvious Banita Jacks is mentally ill and needs professional help. I’ll even pass right now also on pointing the finger on all that went wrong in this case (e.g., the police, school officials, the child welfare agencies, the children’s dead-beat dads, the family that filled the courtroom at Jacks’ arraignment).

I need to get something else off my chest and out of my spirit at this moment. 

But before I do, let me once again reach for that moving passage from the book of Jeremiah that helps to call women to their senses.

Consider now! Call for the wailing women to come; send for the most skillful of them.
Let them come out quickly and wail over us till our eyes overflow with tears
and water streams from our eyelids.
The sound of wailing is heard from Zion;
How ruined we are! How great is our shame! (Jeremiah 9:18-19)

Listen up.

As many of you know I spend a lot of energy here on this blog coaxing women to tap into their inner strength and to step up and speak up. I try as best as I can to support women, uplift women, defend women, give voice to women, both those from our past and those struggling today.  (And I have made my share of enemies, both male and female, for being passionate about issues impacting women.) Like others I think the time has come for us to wake up and stop the media’s whoring of our daughters and to stop sitting idly by why others write us off as ignorant and insignificant. I write here on this blog unashamedly from a black woman’s perspective, knowing full well how much black women, and other women of color in this society, are loathed. I am unapologetically a woman of faith, shaped and formed in the belly of the Protestant Christian tradition, for better and for worst. I believe women of faith have surrendered their voices to the men whom they’ve allowed to occupy the seats of power in their traditions, and that we have sinned against God, ourselves, our children, the world, and even our men, in doing so.

But none of this means I am unaware that women are just as capable as men of evil. None of this means I don’t know that black women are not perfect. I am fully unaware that some women are crazy, plain and simple. Some women are downright sick. Sexism, racism, and neither classism can be be blamed for all our sicknesses. Some women shouldn’t have babies, shouldn’t be allowed to raise children (even those they gave birth to), nor should some women be allowed near children.

Let me put it plainly: not all black mothers are saints.

I ain’t finished, but I’m through for now. I’ll close with one of my favorite mourning scenes found in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon.

Ignoring tradition, Pilate bursts through the church door of her granddaughter’s funeral shouting “Mercy!” and begins walking toward Hagar’s coffin, shaking her head as if that will help the reality of Hagar’s death not be real. Reba, Hagar’s mother and Pilate’s daughter, joins the older woman at the coffin singing “Mercy” in a call and response ritual that everyone in attendance joins in.

In the Darkness. Mercy
In the morning. Mercy
On my knees now.
Mercy. Mercy. Mercy. Mercy.

At the close of the ceremony, Pilate identifies Hagar as her baby girl, repeating the words for all the attendees. In the end, Pilate proclaims loudly to the heavens and everyone in attendance, “And she was loved.”

Lord, let it be that Brittany, 17, Tatianna, 11, N’Kiah, 6, and Aja, 4 were loved by someone in that family and knew it.