Black Woman by Fee Thomas

You let him beat you down, make you feel so small

Tell you the Truth, it mystifies me all

It’s like you don’t even know who you are

And here it is, your genes have traveled so far

Sister friend, why do you look at me so quizzically?

Do you not know that you are tied to your lineage intrinsically?

Tears of a woman

 

So here you sit, proving that you are the strongest of your line

Go ahead, shake your head – that’s just fine

Lean back awhile I’ll tell you more

Your line goes back to when they first hit America’s shore

In slave ships they were; bound and gagged

Until they hit the marketplace for sale and tagged

On to the plantation, for beatings and rapes

The daring ones… up for escapes

harriet-tubman2

 

Your lineage surviving mass disease and incarceration

Your people living through racism and segregation

Jim Crow, lynchings, mass inequality

The women in your line said I’ll beat all three

So as you sit now in your skin

I want you to take a moment and remember your kin

black factory women

 

Evolution always moves up

To you, I tip my cup

Because you exist, that proves you are the best of your line

Sister friend you are doing just fine

Just do one thing for me, please

This moment, I must seize

The next time he wants to tear you down or call you “bitch”

Make sure to tell him there’s one little hitch

great black women

 

You carry too many great women along with you for a word that shady

Besides, you are too busy being a lady

You are from what the slave ships stayed alive

Because yes, Darling, only the strong survive

 

Fee Thomas

“When I write there is no thought. It is complete invocation of Spirit and heart. I write, simply, because I cannot stop.”

 

A Single Blade of Grass by Fee Thomas

Tonight I am grateful for being present in the moment For sitting outside, breathing, rocking in the chair, for admiring the beauty of a solitary birdhouse
For sitting outside, breathing, rocking in the chair
For admiring the beauty of a solitary birdhouse
Then my eyes gaze over at one uncommon blade of grass being teased by the wind
The blade is vibrant and strong and holding his own, all by himself
And I think, My God, it’s been a long, dark, bitter, brutal winter- so much so that most of it escapes me- but look at that, underneath the heft and burden of all of that heavy, dank snow that tiny little blade of grass was thriving all along
Still alive
Still in one piece
Alone, but His
What a miracle!
At that moment I realize that that’s what miracles do- they inspire awe and excitement, so tonight I am grateful for that miracle: that tiny absolutely significant blade of grass, which taught me everything today
Thank you, God
Grateful.

 

Fee Thomas

“When I write there is no thought. It is complete invocation of Spirit and heart. I write, simply, because I cannot stop.”

Too Many Good Boys

 

 

black boy not sad

He wants to be a good boy.

He wants to be a good boy with dreams and aspirations.

He so desperately wants to be a good boy but he looks all around him.

All he sees is shades of brown and black from the housing projects that have been shut down.

housing projects

He wants to be a good boy but his teacher corrects his grammar making him feel like a fool.

He wants to be a good boy but he still wets the bed and his momma whoops his ass every time.

He wants to be a good boy but there is a different uncle in his apartment every night.

He wants to be a good boy but his stomach is growling.

He wants to be a good boy but he can’t read.

He wants to be a good boy but someone told him to drop this package off down the street.

He wants to be a good boy, dreams of becoming a doctor; but doesn’t know any.

He wants to be a good boy and then someone gives him a gun to hold.

He wants to be a good boy in his footie pajamas watching cartoons with Mr. Bear but his childhood is over.

mr bear

He wants to be a good boy but now it’s time to bring income into the house.

He wants to be a good boy but he’s skipping a school that never cared about him to slang on the street corner.

He so desperately wants to be a good boy with dreams and aspirations but he’s heading for the penitentiary.

Fee Thomas

“When I write there is no thought. It is a complete invocation of Spirit and Heart. I write, simply, because I cannot stop.”  Fee Thomas

The Day I Fought Muhammad Ali

 

 

Just a bit of poetic license because I never actually fought Ali although he did throw a punch at me. That may be a stretch too as he never intended to hit me because he surely could have done so had he meant to. Muhammad Ali came to visit Fisk University in 1975 and I was among many enthralled by his presence. He was admired not for being a champion. But for championing peace and non-violence. For taking a stand and not giving in to the pressure to bow down even though it temporarily cost him his belt and millions in earnings for doing so. He risked going to jail for his beliefs and it was the man and not the boxer that was cheered that day.

Ali in Jubilee Hall

He gathered around him in a circle, those of us who at least looked the most formidable. Football players, basketball players and other athletes. I told myself I was taller than he, my reach as long. But before any delusions of glory could manifest themselves, he threw a playful jab in my direction as he’d done others in the circle to demonstrate his quickness. It only registered that he’d thrown the punch after his fist was on its way back. I felt the wind against my jaw before my sight registered the arm behind the fist I never did see. My thoughts of boxing were permanently erased as I realized that there was a level to which I could only aspire.

Ali kiss at fisk

Ali eventually disappeared back into the limousine in which he appeared. Many got to chat with him and while I did not I have a memory that will last always. Muhammad Ali… the greatest. RIP!

When It’s Time To Go

I wrote this to a friend for whom I felt could use these words. While specific to one they may have value for many therefore I share. While it was about career choices there may be considerations for relationships as well.

 

When It’s Time To Go

 

You’ve known for a while it was over

You were no longer allowed to function on your terms

You were more than they could comprehend

Smarter… taller… blacker

 

They were confounded by having to address what they would rather not

They wanted to talk about change

Without actually changing

They needed labels so they could elevate themselves

There were bad kids but never bad teachers… schools… districts

 

The hard part is learning not to define yourself using their standards

The hard part is leaving a situation where despite the obstacles

Despite the systemic bias against black, brown and yellow

Despite those who asked your opinion without really wanting it, just to be able to say they did

The hard part was knowing that you were doing good by getting down on your knees, on the floor, with those who were smaller so you could look them in the eye.

The hard part is leaving behind the next child that you could have helped

Time for you to go

 

Not just go to the next plantation where they will use you till you drop

Time to be your own master

Time to control your fate

Time to step onto a bigger stage

 

Sisyphus was punished for self-aggrandizing and deceit

You have only told truth

Let the rock roll down the hill and push it up no longer

Multiply yourself a thousand fold and help more children than you ever dreamed

Become a speaker, write those books, tell more truths

 

Time to assess your assets, your platform, your pedigree, your dreams

What is the message you would deliver

To whom would you tell it

Is there anyone already doing what you would like and how did they get there

 

The hardest part about making change is letting go

The best part is rediscovering the joy in what you do

Not only will there be no regrets

You’ll wish you had done it sooner

So strategize and energize

Think and then do

Time for you to go

black woman walking

I Found Out I Had a Daddy Today: Part One

 

This is not my story. I knew my father, sort of. He took me and one of my brother’s fishing once. I remember it as being fun. A second time he came knocking on the door drunk wanting to see his family he’d long ago left. I don’t recall him ever living in our home, only the aforementioned events. I got a call while I was in college letting me know he had passed away. I thought I was supposed to feel something. Nothing came. But I digress because this is not my story.

I met a woman today, rather she met me as I did nothing to initiate the conversation. She was not black, not white, I’m more sure of the things she wasn’t than what she was but it’s not relevant to the story. I will add that I am apparently one of the few tall, big, black men in America that is not “scary” because nobody ever reacts to me that way. When I got to college at Fisk, I was 17 and do admit I looked young. My basketball teammates called me “Baby Huey”. Maybe it’s my calm demeanor which has earned me another nickname, “Still Bill”. But again I’m meandering because this isn’t my story.

The woman’s first words were, “I found out today I have a daddy”. She went on to say, “my mother had told me he was dead but I talked to him and am on my way to meet him right now”. There was a time I might not have been curious and wished she would go away but since I’m a writer now I have to become a better observer, examining human behavior and describing the fragility of our existence. Instead of ignoring her I asked, “how did you find him”? She said her grandmother mentioned him by name and referred to him as being alive. She later found him on Facebook and tried to friend him but he blocked her. She then went to Instagram and sent him a message explaining who she was. They talked by phone, he asked who her mother was and when she named her, he broke down crying saying, “You’re my only daughter! I was looking for you for years but your mother changed your name when you were very young.” They made arrangements to meet and that meeting was now about 15 minutes away in a public place.

I asked how she felt about meeting him? She said she was apprehensive. She said without judging, “he’s a man whore, his Facebook page is full of naked women. But I’m gay so he has to deal with that.” She was full of nervous energy and I felt like I should be offering some advice but I had none to give. I asked how old she was and she replied, “twenty”. Younger than my youngest daughter. She asked why I inquired and I told her I write about things I experience sometimes and she agreed to let me know how the story turns out. I did say that “it doesn’t all need to happen in a day”. She agreed and moved along to go meet her daddy. To be continued…

Even a Strong Black Woman Gets Tired Sometimes

If we are lucky we currently know or have known strong Black women who can always be counted on when things get tough. What we fail to realize is that always is an awfully long time and that depending on that strong Black woman can be draining because it so often results in them putting others before herself. It would be nice to think she “don’t get no ways tired” but even the best of them have their days.

tired black woman good

Strong Black women are under assault, they are exempt from none of the forces systematically aligned against Black people and they have also assumed the responsibility of standing up for their children, their mates, their brothers and sisters whether family or not and have even extended themselves to other causes where the absence of justice and equality and rights threatens not just some but all.

tired black woman

It is easy sometimes to sit back and rely on the strong Black woman to fight the good fight, reaping the windfall of their efforts while doing little of the work. We roar at the slaughter of Black men but with Black women somehow not so much. We participate in judging and body shaming and trying to control what we ought not. Our own images sometimes depend on the woman being somewhere beneath us rather than at our side. It is no wonder that she gets tired sometimes.

strong black woman one

To the strong Black woman I would ask her to remember the good she has done and the lives that have benefitted from her presence. I would also ask her to deploy her own airbag first before attempting to help others because if you lose consciousness you’re of no more help. Feed yourself also if not first and look within and to your faith for strength because people are somewhat unreliable. Know your worth and use some of that strength to insist others respect it as well. Know when to cut your losses because all situations and relationships and causes may not be intended for more than a season.

sad woman

 

To those who know a strong Black woman, support her, assist her, make her welfare a concern because she may be so busy being strong she doesn’t take the care of herself that she should. Most of all appreciate her. It will go a long way toward giving her the strength to keep doing what we all need her to do. Love her unselfishly recognizing that she is not only supporting you but a whole universe of people who have needs as well. If she has chosen you your time together will be cherished because she’s that kind of woman. And when she needs it, let her rest because even she gets tired sometimes.

black woman resting