My Blackness

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On tomorrow, I will be celebrating the heavenly birthday of my grandmother, Beatrice, affectionately known to her family as Mudear. There isn’t one day that goes by that I don’t think of her “figures of speech, quotes, words of wisdom, or just a matter of fact response to any kind of drama that is going on. I got my first lesson on community from living in her tiny apartment in the projects. Her place was filled with smells of fried chicken, grease popping and cabinets that displayed it, hair pressing, and the love that she had for her family.

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Photo by Shopify

I wrote the following poem ” My Blackness”, this past week, after dropping my car off for an oil change, and then waiting for my son to pick me up. I read the poem to my son, and he was surprised that I was able to write it so fast. His response, “Hmmm, I’m surprised that you didn’t need to have the perfect writing conditions present”. My response: “Yes, I know. Totally a God thing.” Me standing there on the sidewalk typing a poem into the Notes app on my phone? I then explained to him that I had read a blog post by a black blogger on the Black Lives Matter topic, particulary Juneteenth, and was immediately inspired to write poetry that helped to express my feelings about everything. Feelings about why we judge, what we judge, and what we think when we just don’t understand.

Well, here goes. Mudear, this is dedicated to you:

My Blackness

Is it the sassy in my voice?

Is the hips I’m given by choice?

Is it the knots that’s in my hair?

That makes the crowds shake heads and stare?

Is it my eyes that’s filled with grief?

Above the teeth that’s clenched by thief?

Is it the music that makes me sway?

That helps me heal from day to day.

Is it the movies that recall drama

Of taken lives and baby mommas?

It’s part of blackness.

Oh, can’t you see?

My Godly image, “identity”.

Have a blessed Sunday!

Dedication to Mudear

Everybody has a name that is special to them when they think of their grandmother.  For me and my family, my grandmother was always referred to as Mudear.  Yesterday was her birthday, and if she were alive, we would have been celebrating.  Her death occurred a little over five years, right when I was at the height of a series of traumatic events going on.  Due to trauma, sometimes it seems like it was just yesterday that she died, and other times it seems like it has been longer. 

Mudear was the pillar of the family.  She taught us how to enjoy life by doing the simple things.  She didn’t wear fancy clothes or buy fancy things.  She wasn’t afforded this luxury, and even if she was, it wouldn’t have been her.  She liked wearing her “house dresses”, as she called them, scarves tied on her head, getting her long fingernails polished, and watching her favorite television shows.

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We were graced by a woman who showed us what it meant to have community.  On any given day, she would stretch six dollars to feed us for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with there being the job of several trips back and forth to the local meat market by my cousin and I.  She welcomed people from all walks of life into her home, and even with all the drama that went on, we knew that there was nothing that dancing, singing, and good old laughs couldn’t cure.  She loved her children, and having all of her grandkids around her.  There was joy in simplicity at its finest.

Mudear wasn’t one who had to raise her voice in order to get her point across.  She just used her old sayings from the South.  If you looked nice, she’d say, ” You look sharper than Dick was when Hattie died.”  If you sat inappropriately as a young lady, she’d say, “You are sitting mighty high”.  If you didn’t clean up behind yourself, she’d say, ” Oh, you must have thought today was your birthday.”     

The holidays at Mudear’s house were filled with music, dressing, turkey, ham, macaroni and cheese, and let’s not forget her homemade four layer chocolate banana cakes, coconut pineapple cakes, and caramel with pecan cakes.  Although we all miss you, we know that the love you shared will never be forgotten.  Thank you God for gracing us with Mudear.