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More Than a Song

By Bethsheba McGruder

In 2006, my son was attending a school where they did not have Dr. King Day off. The principal said, “I don’t think Dr. King would want children to be out of school.” I didn’t like that answer. I felt as if she thought parents did not know how to celebrate the day off. Of course, me being who I am, I did not send my son to school and we watched Spike Lee’s “When the Levees Broke.” Now that he is a teenager, I am thinking about what we will do today. Will we listen to his speeches, or write a couple of paragraphs on what Dr. King means to us?

I emailed my best friend Deidre and asked her what does having MLK Day off mean to her?

This is what she emailed me:

“I was listening to my car radio as I drove and got pretty excited when the DJ introduced the song “King Celebrate.” The collaboration included the voices of some notable hip hop and pop artists of the 1980s, more specifically known as The King Dream Chorus and the Holiday Crew. El De Barge, Fat Boys, Full Force, Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel, Whitney Houston, Kurtis Blow, Stacy Lattisaw, Lisa Lisa, Teena Marie, Menudo (with Ricky Martin), Stephanie Mills, New Edition, Run-D.M.C., James “J.T.” Taylor, and Whodini were some of the artists who were featured in the song. The tempo was catchy and the singers were the crème de la crème of that time. They came together to reach America’s youth to educate them about the importance of their freedom and the man who gave his life to a cause from which they benefit.

 

When I listened to the words, I began to wonder just how much has changed since 1989, or 1969 for that matter. There have been so many positive changes for our youth, yet the change within our youth seems to have deteriorated significantly. They blindly enjoy, or more so abuse, the freedom for which Dr. King and so many others have fought, bled and given their lives. Stop any kid on the street and ask them if they know who Dr. King is and what he has done. To some diminutive degree, they could tell you. Conversely, ask if they live their lives as though they know that he laid down his so that they could be free to become highly educated, have a resounding voice and prosper at the same rate as their white counterparts.  A chorus of crickets just might sound. It saddens me to see their behavior and lack of appreciation for what Dr. King has done. Our youth need an aggressive intervention. Where is The King Dream Chorus and the Holiday Crew of the new millennium? Although in this present day, we could definitely use more than just a song.”

Photo Credit: Elissa Todd

Today, I hope to drive my son and his friends to Dallas to check out the free exhibit on Dr. King’s life at the House of Blues or go to the parade.

What are you doing today?

By Bethsheba McGruder

 

“Her birth was emotional and extremely peaceful, we are in heaven.” Beyonce

 

 

 

Blue. We welcome you Blue Ivy.

 

One of the greatest gifts to an artist is to express himself, the emotional, intense high of giving birth and becoming a mother and father. If you take a moment to walk in another man shoes, wouldn’t you secure the whole floor? If you were rich for the day, would you deliberately inconvenience others because you had it like that? If you were rich and free to think, act, and be, who and whatever you wanted to be and open any business that you day dreamed, wouldn’t you do it? If you had so much joy inside of you how would you express it?

 

That’s what being financially and mentally free does. Seeing in the mind what you want as a reality. Now imagine if you stuck to what you were born to do, you too could be rich?

Looking for bell

By Bethsheba McGruder

I need to revisit bell hooks; I sold numerous copies of Killing RAGE in the good old days of the brick and mortar of the greatest time in traditional book selling. But I or maybe “we” have lost alot of knowledge that we didn’t pass on to the next generation.

I apologize for not schooling the next generation. A decade has past and not enough young women know about bell hooks.

I want to be clear I am not a racist or what ever you want to tag me after this but some things must be past down so that when the next generation gets old they can retell the story the right way and it be the truth.

I have so much to study that is not academia and so much to learn so my commission for the people who are in charge and writing lines and penning pages to tell at lest one woman out of your normal circle (the girl at the bus stop, grocery line or where ever you socialize) about bell hooks and why she is important. It’s about the Lesson and the History. In no way am I trying to start what has been I am merely concerned.

We must remember to share and Sing Out Our Sheros’ name and her contribution to ushering a generation of strong women. After all, we had to learn how to wear a skirt, with stilettos, and rock our natural hair and be smart tooting an imaginary gun in corporate boardrooms to bring home the bacon.

Yes we have paid a price but that’s another story and really at the end of day, we must not throw our genius away! bell hooks, taught us how to Love while shifting thru the complex world of class, race and gender.

I haven’t heard from her in a long time and maybe she is on a long sabbatical or maybe I didn’t get the memo whatever the case. I’m looking for her to bow down at her feet and tap the floor twice, with my right hand!

(African gesture of respect)

Thank you and Love You Sister bell hooks

“They are not to look at her as a whole human being. They are to notice only certain parts.”- Selling Hot Pussy; Representation of Black Female Sexuality In The Cultural Marketplace by bell hooks

Mad at Alice

By Bethsheba McGruder

A friend emailed me Alice Walker’s process of writing “The Color Purple.” It read: “However, in order for the characters to blossom, Alice decides to take a year of silence to write the novel. This meant she would not take on any new jobs or engagements. She would just think, enjoy life and write her novel. She believed that it would take five years to write her novel, it took less than a year to complete.” Chris Danielle, Living By Grace: Alice Walker Biography.

It took me about two seconds to reply back: “Good Stuff!”  But I was MAD at Alice! She had married, had the luxury of choosing not to take on any jobs or engagements.

I on the other hand had to steal, rob and cheat time away from my children, family, employer, and God.

I steal time away perfecting a query letter at 2pm at my employers’ desk, steal time on Sunday mornings writing conversations that invade my mind, take over any rational thought of motherhood. I write and there are no pancakes for breakfast for the second time this month. I have no Mother, therefore my children have no grandmother who I wish was here to help me with this beast, this addiction: writing. Help me to help them have a good meal because the artist in me, the writer that wants to be left alone and write, re-write and finish what she’s started in peace. So I place bowls of cereal on the dining room table and get back to writing. I have cheated! Robbed my children of the fondest memories I have of my mother making pancakes for me on Sunday mornings.

I can only think now when I am dead and gone what will they remember on Sunday mornings?

A cold blue plastic bowl with brown sugar squares dancing around and their mother hovered in a corner of the kitchen writing and re-writing in a self-induced addiction of characters, conversations, sounds, smells and dialogues from buses, cars, trains and corners. I vow to myself to do better and make a promise I will make a Sunday Breakfast they will never forget!

I rob God quite often. I do not go to church on a regular basis but I have church in my writings, at home, and on Facebook. I do not have a husband, no academia fellowships, I have no mentor.

The one thing I don’t have is TIME; to muddle, cry, laugh and talk back to my characters in my head and then transfer them to paper. So yes, I’m MAD at Alice.

Mad that she made the choice not to take on another job or engagement and just write and Mad that she had support.

I am MADLY in love with her writings, “MADLY” in love with her writing process.

MAD that it takes 10 years or maybe never for an artist in poverty to make it. No I’m not MAD at Alice, maybe slightly jealous.  But grateful that I can pull “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens” off my shelf and know I can triumph too and remember “Saving The Life That Is Your Own: The Importance Of Models In The Artist’s Life.”

As we begin the second week into the New Year, ask yourself,

when was the last time you saved another writer’s life?

By Bethsheba McGruder

 

Happy New Year Basin Family!

Just wanted to say thanks for the opportunity to have a writers’ exorcism go viral! It’s awesome to have permission to write freely! To set the tone I would like you to know that I’m a down home sittin’ on the porch with a drink, and cigs, (floating between writing utensils) pen, paper, laptop and ipod- listening from a wide range of music from Miles Davis, Ma’ Rainey to J. Cole, while watching my children play outside. Always multi-tasking, day dreaming and creating scenes in my mind of characters dancing, smoking, drinking, cussing, praying and then dressing up in their “Sundays” best for church. Penning short stories in the middle of the night. Never forgetting to reflect on cultural remembrance of how people over come.

No matter how much education Mis-Educated or Not; you will always find me on the porch, mentally and spiritually.

Hope you enjoy!

Photo Credit: Vanessa Bly, Congo Square NOLA

 

“We are a people. A people do not throw their geniuses away. If they do, it is our duty as witnesses for the future to collect them again for the sake of our children. If necessary, bone by bone.”–Alice Walker, author, 1976.

Bethsheba McGruder, always having the passion to write, but rarely the time, Bethsheba enrolled in a fiction writing class at Columbia College Chicago after closing her bookstore. She completed a J-Term class in Reading and Writing, which positioned her in the rich artistic sanctuary of New Orleans, Louisiana.  Bethsheba was acknowledged as a featured writer for Columbia College at the Chicago Writer’s Luncheon for her literary work in the Crescent City.  In addition to her studies at Columbia, she was accepted into the University of Iowa’s summer fiction writing course, taught by Pulitzer Prize winner James Alan McPherson.

Bethsheba’s body of work reaches audiences well beyond the Chicago area.  Listed among her credits are recorded interviews with the Story Corps, in partnership with the June 2007 African American Women Evolving: Griot Initiative. They are archived at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress and “The Kitchen”- Miles Davis @ The Sutherland Hotel, Tidal Basin Review Summer 2011.

Writer and Literacy Advocate, she is the 2010 winner of the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright award for college writers for her novel excerpt, “1950”.

She was born and raised in Chicago, and now resides in Fort Worth, TX., with her two children.

Outro

By Keith Wilson

 

There is technically nothing stopping us from dressing up throughout the year.  Social awkwardness notwithstanding, we enjoy it and yet we must go through the motions of designing days and engagements where it happens. 

 
But more than an enjoyment, communication is our lifeblood as humanbeings.  A strange thing that we poets, who are especialy known for our words,  often similiarly need to be formally convinced to speak, whether through opportunities like this or by necessity (outrage).

 
When I figure it out, I will write on it.

 
I just wanted to thank everyone for reading and TBR for allowing me to speak! Happy Halloween!!