Freedom

Untangled

My mom has a particular story about me that she likes to tell: As she was doing dishes in our kitchen, she looked out the window and saw me in the backyard trying to catch frogs and kiss them. While it’s rather cute to think of a porcelain-white toddler with black curls and thick baby […]

Thirsty

I used to be an underweight Jersey girl. So skinny I could knot my underpants. “Pero, que nina flaca,” complained my grandmother one day. I searched her eyes, looking for the remnants of weekend revelry. But Abuela’s rosy cheeks were scrubbed. Her eyes, sans makeup, were bright, eager to please. When sober, Abuela mended her […]

Shame on Me

I think I’ve been brainwashed.  The unexpected thought pierced my sleepy fog. Although after midnight, we girls were dragged from our sleeping bags for a special lecture. Clumped together on a couple of couches, we yawned and tried to listen. I was sadly aware that my alarm was going off in less than six hours. […]

In Bed with Shame

Confession: Sometimes I watch “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” just so I feel better about my own life. I can’t always tell them apart, but there’s something satisfying about seeing Kim, Kourtney, Khloé, Kendall, Kylie, Kris, Caitlyn and Rob weave in and out of drama. (Thank goodness for Rob, as all good alliteration must come […]

Stealing Joy

Mindful of mental wellness and practicing self-care, I sought solace for my soul. I am overwhelmed. I am weary and seek to manage my anger and disappointment. My practice? Staying mostly quiet, writing, and stealing joy.

Breaking

I’ve had my share of youthful indiscretions. (Mom, please exit here and look at some of my baby pictures instead.) Not least among these was that time in college when my roommate Marie and I finished finals early. The cumulative stress from the completed semester was palpable. So we let loose like any other restless […]

Women, Existing and Singing

It’s day 9,348 of COVID-19 panic and last night, I read a story from Shar Walker* about her grandmother and a gospel song. Shar writes,  I can picture my grandmother swaying to the hum of a popular gospel song, “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” eyes closed and soft rocking. I knew she was drawing […]

Meet the Princess of the Press: Ida B. Wells

This was first published in March 2015.  Southern trees bear strange fruit Blood on the leaves and blood at the root Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees Before Billie Holiday sang the lyrics above at Cafe Society, the first integrated nightclub in New York, another icon of […]

A Safe Place

None of us belong here. and none of us are getting out alive.
My mother country doesn’t love me. I embody her shame.
I am the legacy she’d prefer to deny, and I refuse to be silent.
I am American history, but America would prefer me to get along quietly,

The Immigrants’ Daughter

It’s maybe her first memory: The rocking boat, tempest-tossed* and cutting through Atlantic waves. “You always remember what makes you afraid,” she smiled. Fear mingled with hope as the USNS General M.L. Hersey entered the safety of the Lady’s harbor. Embrace was not a word she understood. Not in English. At three years of age, […]