05 November 2012

I Vote Because…

I Vote Because…

I remember Mama working the Poll Tax table at the Heights projects in Houston in the 60s – AND because in 2012 black voter suppression tactics have become more insidious, sophisticated and sinister.

I remember graduating high school in the 70s when Jimmy Carter was President and he signed a bill to guarantee equal employment for everyone – AND because in 2012 black bodies face modern racism which finds any way to rend blacks underqualified for equal opportunities and women still make 30% less than men.

I remember coming of age in the 80s when blacks were still achieving firsts in their professions and in populating the criminal justice system – AND because in 2012 the first black President of the United States of America has fielded some of the most malevolent vitriol from the media, non-black citizens, and politicians ever in the history of American democracy.

I remember giving birth to my son in the early 90s, only a week before acquittal of white officers who beat Rodney King , a young black man, like a rabid dog threatening life and limb of a playground of white children – AND because in 2012 on the way to work this morning I witnessed a white State Police officer take a second look at the Range Rover ahead of me entering the HOV lane, overtly unusual diversion from his behavior of waving on the dozen or so cars I could observe ahead of me. Although I could not see the occupants through the tinted windows, my mother’s gut took note and commented to my passenger that the officer’s behavior was odd – as if he was noting tag and taillights. As a former law enforcement officer, I knew the tactic to be the base act of determining probable cause to stop a car aka racial profiling.  Something just didn’t sit right with me.  Imagine how loudly I cussed and prayed a few minutes later upon pulling alongside the Range Rover, with tinted windows, current tags and no taillight malfunction to discover it was occupied by two young black men!

I watched, called and prayed through 2008 when then Senator Barack Hussein Obama was campaigning for the USA Presidency.  I watched and covered in prayer, Daddy J (Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.) and his family as he was maligned by the media for preaching liberation of the politically captive.  – AND because in 2012 with no Daddy J in the opposition’s arsenal, baboonist editorialized cartoons, attacks on the First Lady’s fit and fabulous black body, PhotoShopped slavery caricatures, and insipid insinuations of ineffectiveness of President Obama’s leadership threaten to confuse and dissuade participation in the democratic process of which America has justified occupying Lybia, Iraq, Iran, Palenstine, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Japan, Cuba, and other global friends.

I vote because if I didn’t my silence would be complicit agreement that all is well for humanity in America and the world. I am many things, but silent is not one of them.


09 March 2012

What Manner of Woman is This? : Homage to the 2012 WOMANIST Legends

What Manner of Woman is This?
Homage to the 2012 WOMANIST Legends
by Rev. Raedorah C. Stewart ©2012

Wise Woman of Color
Montage: Ella Mitchell, Prathia Hall
        Katie Geneva Canon, Delores Williams, Jacquelyn Grant
As purple is to lavender
we are steeped in hotter waters and dipped in deeper dyes
that makes us strong that makes us wise
even when we would rather just rest a while
we have another lesson to learn another lesson to teach

a girl imitates us a boy looks to us
a man seeks us a lover needs us
reaching into tattered aprons and designer bags
we depose perfect word to
warn and ward off
heal and help
encourage and educate
the masses

Opposes All Oppression
Montage: Renita Weems, Emilie Townes, Kelly Brown-Douglas, Barbara Holmes
We are committed
bloody battlefields of birthing liberation from our heads our hearts and our wombs
We are committed
to surviving ourselves and taking you along with us to wholeness
We are committed
opposing uncivil liberties with civil disobedience of story-telling truths
We are committed
to writing publishing crafting sculpting painting dancing preaching cooking hiding and leading
We are committed
to our wholeness and taking you along with us to liberation by way of the front lines

Makes Up My Own Mind
Montage: Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, Linda Thomas, Jamie Phelps,
               Cheryl Sanders, Julia Speller
We have been making up our own minds for a mighty long time
Shiphrah and Puah, let the boys live
Jochebed and Miriam, did too
Hannah and Abigail, handled their husbands
Vashti and Hadassah, did too
Deborah and Jael, warred and won
The Samaritan Woman and Mary of Magdala, did too
So it is no wonder that with little forethought or rehearsal
we display outrageous, audacious, courageous and willful behavior
that has been known to inconvenience conventional thought
Hewn in the furrows in our brow
we are Responsible. In charge. Serious.
Appropriates Knowledge
Montage: Stacey Floyd-Thomas, Rosetta Ross, Teresa Fry-Brown
               Mignon Jacobs, Cheryl Anderson
“Girl, get your head outta that book and...”
It didn't matter who was scolding us or
calling our attention to some present matter
there was no task more compelling than getting book learning
to balance out our inherited common sense and innate survival sensibilities.
“Girl, get your head outta that book and...”
Turning off the overhead lights meant turning on the light
under the covers, in the stacks, onto banned book lists.
Like underground hip-hop we found knowledge outside the
Library of Congress and began writing to
inform, reform, transform -- ya’ll’s minds.
So that some womanish little girl compelled to know too much
might hear someone hollah at her someday
“Girl, get your head outta that book and...”
she does only long enough to pick up pen and
write her own books for other womanish little girls
until they begin writing their own.

Names My Own Experience
Montage: Diana L. Hayes, M. Shawn Copeland, Marcia Riggs, Joan Martin
So, what’s with those who assert themselves to talk for us
instead of asking us instead of listening to us
when we are our own experts?
Being whatever shade of Black and beautiful is not a dichotomy, it’s divine
like the Genesis story like Big Mama’s blackberry cobbler
Giving of myself is not the same as giving up on myself
When I serve in the church or get tenure in the Academy
What I am doing is doing me
misunderstood and exploited may be
but doing what must be done today
for as long as there may be a tomorrow
I will name my lived experience myself.
Intentional About Hospitality
Montage: Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, Marsha Foster-Boyd, Evelyn Parker, Valerie Bridgeman
Sunday mornings may open the doors of the church
but we tend to keep doors propped open and
spare keys under welcome mats
Seldom will there not be enough tea, soup or wine
Often there will be plenty of good room and ample time
to share space with a sister and make a place for a stranger
We tend to smile first and wave from the porch
We are apt to notice who ran out of change in line ahead of us
and offer the few cents that set another’s day off to a good start
We throw parties with a phone call as lavishly as can be done with engraved invitations
We also, and this is the hard part,
accept hospitality from others when we need it most.

Sister in Spirit, Struggle & Survival
Montage: Karen Baker-Fletcher, Joanne Terrell, Gay Byron, Yolanda Smith
Being me. Finding you.
We are sisters.
No secretive rituals and bloodletting under shroud, by candle or moonlight
Not by copulation, fertilization or labor pains other than those of the struggle
But sisters.
Created and Discovered for
understanding and being understood accepting and being accepted
risking and being vulnerable to knowing and being known
being and being betrayed loving and being loved
the way sisters do
sometimes in the company brothers but preferring the company of ourselves
to find the sister in you
and be the sister in me.
Takes Care of Self, Regardless
Montage: Our Legends, Ourselves, and the Next Waves of Womanists
In the company of my sisters and sometimes alone
in the Spirit in the Holy Ghost
you will find me
making music making dance
making love making friends
making dinner making curves
making peace making war
making my way into God’s presence
diving head-first and emerging soul-baptized
that place to which I return when I get too tired /too sick /too hungry /too lonely
that place I remind myself to go before I get too tired /too sick /too hungry /too lonely
lest I lose myself in doing and forget about being

I take this WOMANIST vow, again
I handle my business, seriously
and above all else
take care of myself, regardless.

Me & Mary: SisterLoves &
Secret Keepers for over 33 Year!

My Womanist Little Sister and Big Sister:
Pastor Cat & Dr. Joan

Womanist Legends 2010


22 February 2012

Lent 2012 : Forget My Mouth, Create in Me a Clean Heart!

For this next 40 days -- Wednesday, February 22nd through Thursday, April 5th -- I am going to...
  • eat chocolate
  • swear at bad drivers
  • taste a different microbrew every week
  • drink tea daily and coffee if the bus is late
  • eat Monday night $1 ribs at the sports bar

Because, “It is not what goes into the mouth that makes a person unclean. It is what comes out of the mouth that makes a person unclean." Matthew 15:11

Therefore, during Lent this year, I am excited to...
  • Practice the prayer discipline of fasting and serving at a homeless shelter on Thursdays ["Is this not the fast that I have chosen:  ...to share your bread with the hungry...?" Isaiah 58:5-7]
  • Donate to The Prom Dress Project vs sell on eBay my two new purple evening gowns that ended up being way to large for me by the time I lost weight and my formal event came around [“...This woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity, which she continually did.” Acts 9:36]
  • Explain why I am not participating in political vitriol -- my lips are moving even when you don’t hear a sound [Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10]
  • Demand that past trauma shuts up, forgiveness speaks up, and live in my authentic loving self in my most intimate relationship [“Forgive us our trespasses as we give up resentment against those who trespassed against us.” Matthew 6:12]
  • Hand write encouragement notes to pastors and ministers (email your mailing address) serving congregations in this season [So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10]

Oh Lord of Lent, I pray the words of the Psalmist David recorded in 51:10:  "Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me." and psalter this prayer as does the Psalmist Donnie here --

"Are you capable of risking your life for someone? Do it for Christ."
- Pope John Paul II, Lent Quote

01 January 2012

Poetry: Leftovers

by Raedorah © 01 january 12

inspired by arm-chair philosophers to ring out the old and ring in the new
I flipped the calendar hope dashed and expectations depleted
because at the stroke of Midnight there was no new forgetting last year
and no new technicolor realities with HD visioning for the new one

It’s a new year but there is no
new car smell
new baby smell
new book smell
It’s a new year but there is only
leftover food
leftover debt
leftover love

it’s a new year and I hung a new calendar
because I need the new in this year
even though all I got right now is leftovers

Poetry: Face-off

Face-off  / 01 january 12
by Raedorah ©2012 

23:59:00 12/31/11
the hour hand straining its counter clockwise approach to midnight
the minute hand loitering in the eaves of the new year
the second hand tick echoing the inevitable
longing for the hour to pass into tomorrow
wanting the last minute to pass into yesterday
hoping the next seconds would not tarry much longer
the alloted 525,600 minutes of this year spun out of control
in recent weeks when making memories were hijacked by
who shared the days and who spent the most
who baked which pies and who ate too much
who lived, and died, and was born
today the tree was dismantled and ornaments stored
yesterday the mail was collected and sorted
the day before folk were still dropping in “happy...”
the hour hand, lead heavy lethargic
the minute hand, deceptively malaised
the second hand, deafening bravado against the blood rushing in my ears
I know I stopped breathing but I cant seem to inhale
I feel I am sweating but I cant seem to dam the glands
I see the hands align but I didnt see them assume the position
Happy New Year
12:00:00 01/01/12

the hour hand lazed its way into the new year
the minute hand sauntered its way around the face
the second hand kept metronome time
unhurried and steady
telling me to turn away
and walk through this year
unhurried and steady
one second at a time
one minute at a time
one hour at a time
until we meet again
this time next year.