For some of us, this solstice, this Kwanzaa, this Hanukkah, this Christmas is a tangle of fear, anger, love and joy. Every time I turn on the radio, there’s another thing to worry about. My shoulders are tired and my sleep has been troubled.
Nonetheless, when I heard Sister Ruby declare “You can’t coerce me into hating you,” in a recent interview I remembered I have power. I’m not at the mercy of someone else’s actions. I can impact my internal mindset. Sister Ruby talked about growing up with Black folk religion as opposed to the formal church and how it protected her from Southern apartheid. Black folk religion kept her connected to a wellspring of love, including a love for herself. “I grew up believing that I was a first class human being and a first class person.” According to Ruby hate wasn’t even in her vocabulary in her small tight knit Black southern community. She grew up singing “I love everybody; I love everybody; I love everybody in my heart.”
Today, most of us don’t live in tight knit communities. Many of us question our value. And hate is all around us.
How do we choose to love?
We can’t do it alone. Not for long. We need each other. We need to hear each other’s stories. A mentor shared Ruby’s interview with me. I didn’t know I needed to hear her story until I listened.
Who do you need to hear?
My theatre company, Theatre for Transformation, is hosting an Art and Healing circle on Dec. 27 at 6pm (on the second day of Kwanzaa). Here, we will listen to each other, share songs, poems, prayers and healing rituals. The coming year, 2017, will challenge us. We will need to remember who we are and to stay in our hearts come what may. Please come.
If you can’t come to Lancaster, I invite you to hear my story via the Say the Wrong Thing audiobook.
There’s something raw and close about listening to my voice and my son’s voice as we share our stories of confronting racism, and feeling love and grief.
You can listen now.
Whatever you do, put your ears where your heart is. If you want a multicultural, multiracial equitable world, then listen to the stories of artists, change makers, healers etc who are building that. We have to focus on our internal mindset so that lying news and lying presidents don’t trigger us into mirroring the system we want to overhaul. Note to DT “You don’t own me!”
Peace and love,
-Dr. Amanda Kemp