Whenever I forget how to be brave, I think of her.
Sometimes I gingerly look through this nearly 80 year old journal, written by a 20 something year old woman, from a small Alabama town… and I feel her fortitude emitting from the pages.
A woman who would eventually become my maternal Grandmother, my Bigmama.
I remember the certainty in her voice whenever it was mentioned…
If she was scared… of the unknown, going to a new place where she didn’t know anyone.
And her answer always inspired me.
“Shit… scared?! Scared for what?
My Bigmama was thrust into a untenable position, but she pushed back against a backdrop of Jim Crow Racism, masochism, loss and World War II, because she was too busy to consort with fear.
She picked up and headed North for the promise that Chicago offered, leaving the restrictive confines of the South for a different type racism that provided a greater chance for upward mobility… as her refusal to work:
“in some white folks kitchen where they’d treat me worse that the blamed dog… that wasn’t for me, hell… I had my own kitchen to take care of!”I never knew my Bigmama to hang her head… her pride, was contagious.
“When Aunt Lee would visit us down South when we were younger… she would tell us about Black folk having them factory jobs, overtime and pensions, like the Schoolteachers got “And I said. Shit… Chicago that was the place for me, that was how me and you Auntie’s got here!”Whenever she would tell me this story… I’d sit awestruck, as if it was my first time hearing it.
So when the pandemic pokes at my humanity and challenges my resolve… I find myself thinking.. what would my Bigmama do? And I answer as she would:
“Shit scared?! Scared for what?
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