Nobody but you, Lord (& Alice Walker & Kanye West)

cropped-kendra-bitmoji-4.pngWe are in a pandemic. I am in a pandemic. I am in a global pandemic. I am in a global pandemic w/7.5 billion other human beings–& w/the exception of the Black & Brown people who are at higher rates of contracting, being hospitalized by, & dying from COVID-19, this corona virus gives zero fvks about race, class, gender, age, ableism, political affiliation, you fill-in-the-blank. & so here we are: 7.5 billion of us, together–kinda like being in the Olympic Games–we athletes from four corners of the Earth, running the course, holding our breaths, exhaling towards the finish line, anticipating a win, hoping to make it to next year’s game. Together.

I had no intentions of writing about my feelings &/or current disposition re: this pandemic; however, early this morning–like at 3a.m., God was trying to tell me something. For real. In Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Celie can’t sleep at night cause she injured Sophia’s spirit: Celie told Harpo to beat Sophia (p. 37-39), which is probably the most oft performed line in Black popular culture: “You told Harpo to beat me.” However, in Walker’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, in order for Celie to get some sleep, she had to reconcile w/Sophia and get that sin off her back: “A little voice say, Something you done wrong,” writes Celie. “Somebody spirit you sin against” (37). Celie, tho afraid, confronts Sophia, which leads to their reconciliation & their quilt making–which I argue is a return to spirit that blazons Celie’s transformation.

Anyway, as the story unfolds, Celie, as well as the other characters–Albert (Mr.______); Shug Avery; Sophia, & Harpo–are eventually emancipated as signaled (in Steven Spielberg’s film adaption of Walker’s novel), when they follow Shug Avery from Harpo’s jook joint to Shug’s daddy’s church where Shug sings “Maybe God Is Tryin to Tell You Somethin.” My point is: I’ve been contemplating myself in relationship to others since the start of the pandemic. & altho I’ve always reflected on myself, I’ve been thinking a lot about my “how I got ovuh” self. & what comes up for me are the events surrounding my person. No lie: I have attempted to bury my head in the sand–sideways tho, so I can still keep one ear to the street–because the more I think about me in a pandemic, my soul grows tired (& perhaps my liver weak, as I’ve taken sleep aids to quiet my brain’s chatter). But this morning, spirit nudged me str8 outta my sleep & insisted I get the fvk outta my head already. So I can breathe. & so it is.

I am a 41-year-old middle class Black lesbian woman who still feels and sees the blast of the 1986 Spaceship Challenger exploding during take off. I was in Mrs. Maheras’ first grade class, & my classmates & I were tuned into our classroom television–not even 32 inches big–but displaying the biggest disaster I had ever witnessed. Mrs. Maheras, an old white woman who was probably in her late 60s when she was my teacher, was so at a loss for words, she directed us to stand up, hold hands, & sing, “Go Tell Aunt Rhody.” The song is an inappropriate choice, but I reckon w/the separation of church & state, it was the only secular grief song Mrs. Maheras could muster. That was my first acquaintance w/death & national mourning. I’ve seen so much thereafter:

I’ve attended so many funerals before I was 25 years old–a handful of them when I was still in elementary school. I’ve had to speak at both of my grandmothers’ funerals, my auntie’s & my daddy’s; he passed when I was 22 years old. & I’ve seen cancer eat a way my neighbor’s whole body: her name was Shirley. & Cedric, he wasn’t even 35 when he died of pneumonia, which his AIDS stricken body couldn’t fight. & I saw that second airplane crash into New York’s Twin Towers. & when Michael Jackson died, phew, I cried during a class discussion. & I almost cried while delivering a welcome speech at Tennessee State University the morning Maya Angelou passed. I felt like I lost a mother-friend. & in my 41-years, I’ve experienced so much more I won’t mention here. But I’ve seen so much. I’ve felt so much, & it may not be as much as others have seen & felt, but it’s mine, & this pandemic on top of all of that could almost be too much to bear, but God.

How else do we stay alive in the world, remain open to goodwill, dare to love again & again & again but by God? When I think about myself in relationship to others, the grief I’ve encountered saddens me so, I can’t sleep at night. & I often feel guilty for belaboring my bad days, for not always believing the words of that good ole gospel song, “I Won’t Complain”: Rev. Paul Jones sings, “All of my good days / outweigh my bad days / I won’t complain.” But the truth is, while I don’t complain, per se, at night I obsess over those bad days, & maybe God has grown tired of my preoccupations, & is roiling me out of em. Cause I’m still here–we are still here–by the grace of God who is ALL in our lives. Right? & I have so much for which to be thankful, cause in real life, all of my good days do outweigh my bad days–& while this pandemic doesn’t feel good, I haven’t had a bad day since it’s happening. God gets all the glory. 

Yo! People str8 clown Kanye West, dismiss his Jesus talk–altho he’s been including Jesus in his music since he dropped College Dropout in 2004. Kanye is a whole person, despite his mania. This dude dares to publicly praise God when, for too many (secular) Black folks, praising God out loud feels embarrassing or intrusive. But this dude told us Jesus walks; & he said “I’ll fly away”; & he called himself a god; & he asked the Father to stretch his hands; & then he dropped a whole gospel album, Jesus Is King (2019), celebrating, acknowledging, & praising God. & like his record label G.O.O.D., it’s all good. it’s so good. & that’s enuf: According to Genesis 1:31, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” & that’s the part.

I gotta stop concentrating on what I perceive to be “bad.” Like Celie, I gotta be courageous enuf to confront what scares me instead of trying to sleep it off, cause when spirit insists on the come thru, it will keep ur ass up at night; & then, I gotta jump into my Yeezus self & praise God for showing up in my life–give God that crazy praise. Right? Cause w/out God, I cease to exist. I am because God is. & so, this pandemic, tho it is unsettling, the shake up invites me (& others) into a quietude that inspirits me to show up in the world as a whole person w/whole experiences, that when looked at holistically, is good; it is so good. I am good. We are good. Praise God cause God is good.   

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s