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


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