“My dear I want to send you some things but I don’t know who to send them by but I will try to get them to you and my children. Give my love to my father and mother and tell them good Bye for me and if we shall not meet in this world I hope to meet in heaven. My dear wife for you and my children my pen cannot express the griffe I feel to be parted from you all. I remain your truly husband until death”
On September 19th, 1858 an enslaved man by the name of Abream Scriven wrote a letter to his wife Dinah Jones which included the passage excerpted above. Scriven had recently been sold to a Louisiana trader “by the name of Peterson”, and was separated from Jones and their children. He explains that at the time of writing the letter he was still en route to New Orleans and did not know the specifics of where he was traveling to; but that he would send word to his family once he had arrived.
living in Limbo (...OR An Open Letter To those unsure about what comes after the tassel is turned left)
If I had to describe myself, pragmatic dreamer would be one of the many oxymorons that come to mind. I live somewhere in a gray area where my mind shoots for the stars and believes that amazing things are possible but is very aware of the work required to get there and the possibility that things may not go as perfectly as planned.
I was recently asked if I was addicted to anything. It didn't take me too long to think of my phone and all that it comes with-news, social media, direct messages- as being the most honest answer. I've been thinking since about what fuels that addiction and the degree to which it all controls me.
I think that people sell millennials short sometimes. They assume that we're ignorant about the beauty of real human interaction, the thrill of meeting new people serendipitously, the superiority of touches over taps.
But it's more than just an affinity for shiny gadgets that light up spontaneously and offer instant validation (insta-validation sounds like a Facebook plug-in by the way.)
My recollection of my own childhood is an unusually hazy path, punctuated by a handful of clearly defined memories– the frightening or embarrassing or worrisome that stand out most likely because there were accompanied by a rush of adrenaline at the time. There are some memories however that don’t carry such a negative flavor and those are ones which center around the holidays. Thinking about those moment have always brought a mental montage of me proudly buying cards and gifts with my allowance money at my elementary school fair, rushing to complete holiday assignments so as to enjoy the full expanse of the vacation, traveling to Prospect Park to go sledding for a momentary escape from the constraints of urban life, explaining to my classmates what Kwanzaa was despite my own limited understanding, singing Christmas carols in my choir and later, soaking in Motown versions of those same classics at home.
We are barely half way through 2016 and its already been a jarring year. Three people in my life whom I have either known closely or peripherally have passed away- their ages spanning from young to old and the cause of death varying as well– rendering it even more difficult to piece together and make sense of. For the first time in my life I am dealing with the idea of death, wrestling with the idea of morbidity and asking the maybe too abstract, maybe too conceptual questions of where do we go after this is all over and what does it really mean to be here at one moment and not be here the next?
I dont have answers to those questions and from my experience the people who are able to most eloquently articulate their own answers are those who are deeply steeped in their faith… and yet even then responses, opinions and attitudes fluctuate. Those are inquiries that maybe I’ll try to tackle at another time but the question that Im most concerned with now are how are we treating people when they’re still here?
At Wellesley, one of the concepts I’ve perhaps developed a clearest understanding about is privilege. Who has it, who doesn’t and why it’s bestowed upon some and not others.
I’ve realized that despite the multitude of different backgrounds we all have, just being here on a college campus is a privilege that we all share.
But being a woman of color & especially a black woman this recognition of privilege is all the more potent.