Monday, February 23, 2009

A Black History Moment with Lutishia Lovely

Why Black History Is Important To Me…

I grew up in a very small, mostly White town in John Brown country, Kansas. When I was in high school and thinking about college and life after graduation, my guidance counsellor suggested I become a secretary. This because I performed excellently in classes such as English and typing, and because I was good with words. You see, this well-meaning white man didn’t know about the prolific history of the Black pen, the hieroglyphics of Egypt, the scrolls of my fore bearers nor the ingenious creativity of the griot tongue. I don’t think he’d read Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington, The Complete Narrative of Sojourner Truth or any of Phyllis Wheatley’s poems. I’d bet my next book deal that he never heard of, much less read Paul Lawrence Dunbar’s The Party.

He was probably just not familiar with Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. DuBois, A. Phillip Randolph, Chandler Owen or Marcus Garvey. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d never read Ebony, Jet, Black Enterprise and surely not Essence Magazine. If he were familiar with any of these people and/or publications, then perhaps he would have encouraged me to become a journalist or publisher.

I doubt he knew much about the Harlem Rennaissance: Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston and James Weldon Johnson. It’s unfortunate, but he probably missed the bliss of seeing the Youngers claim their new home in the Lorraine Hansberry classic: Raisin In The Sun.

But thanks to my parents, grand-parents, my own questions of “who am I” and a belief that there was life outside this narrow-minded, Podunk town, I knew about these gems of our culture along with Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou, and why Colored Girls Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Was Enough. I knew about these brilliant minds and many, many more.

So while this well-meaning White man looked at me and saw a secretary, an honorable profession to be sure, I looked at me and saw a poet, an actor, a playwright and an int’l best-selling author. Knowing my history, created this present moment, and propels my future. This is why Black History is important to me.

What Black History Means To Me
The road to freedom, to being truly alive
Well lets start with’s not the 10 or the 60 or the I-95
Its not a path or a freeway one can physically travel
That brings peace to the soul, and helps mysteries unravel

Before beginning , the first step is defining “free”
That answer may be different for you than it is for me
So just as a point of reference, for various meanings the word carries
I looked - in the book - called the dictionary

Inside was a plethora of delicious choices
As many blurbs to define the word as this station has voices
Enjoying personal rights or liberty,
(Translated: if u’se ain’t a slave, then u’se is free)
Exempt from external authority, independent, no restrictions
“I can do what the hell I want” is another way to put this description

Clear of obstacles, no judgment…choices!
And for Lutishia’s translation, let’s see
Uh, how bout this, why don’t you do you, and then let me do me

I think that freedom is running naked, and not caring who sees it
Freedom is writing what I want and not caring who reads it
It’s in choosing to be kind, instead of having to be right
It’s being friends with the person that nobody else likes

And when you’re the one they’re hatin’
And I don’t mean to be crass
But freedom is the ability to say
Kiss my _______ !

To me free means open, unimpeded, like flowing water without a dam
Freedom is simply the ability to be who I am
Even when I’m in a different geographical dimension
Even when we share a bunch of different opinions
Even when ones religion is different from the other, even when everybody is a different color
Even when we butt heads on a political situation, or share a different view or our sexual orientation

Freedom is recognizing self outside of time and space
Seeing all of us as coming from and going to same place
Freedom is listening to Spirit, so below as above
Freedom is knowing we’re all One, Freedom is love

The road to freedom, to being truly alive
Well lets end with’s not the 10 or the 60 or the I-95
It’s a journey where you discover you’re your own best friend…
Because the road to true freedom, is a journey within.

Lutishia Lovely


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