#TellMeABlackPowerStory today

I am living in a state of rage. This may come as a surprise to those who know me as a nice lady wearing a string of pearls and sensible heels who helps people get through the details of their bumpy board transitions and orderly organizational launches.

femme-black-powerBut no matter what I do or what I wear, I am a black woman who is awake.  It is not possible to be a black woman who is awake without anger these days.  If one is awake, there are so many reasons  to be either angry or in despair.  As the Fran Landesman tune goes:  “All the news is bad again/ Kiss your dreams goodbye.”

And the news is that the  police officer who shot Rumain Brisbon because he was armed with a bottle of painkillers was not charged with a crime: he will be back on the beat in Phoenix soon.  The news tells us that one year later, the only girls from Chibok , Nigeria who have been freed from their mass kidnapping and sexual enslavement are the handful who escaped on their own. The news is full of the repeating  images of Tamir Rice and Walter Scott and Lavall Hall being shot to death by the police, black bodies dying over and over again  in repeating loops of snuff reality TV.  The news is that “religious freedom restoration acts ”  mean that while I don’t have to  get my health insurance through Hobby Lobby, I  still need to be ready to be  refused service by some business based on my sexual orientation  when consulting with new clients  in Indiana.

Anger is a useful emotion. It is the feeling we are supposed to have when we are injured or violated.  Although it has become popular to treat anger as a cause of physical and spiritual illness, the purpose of anger is to engender the physical and emotional energy to resist violation, even when that resistance is the simple act of survival.  The poet Audre Lorde reminds us:

Every woman has a well-stocked arsenal of anger potentially useful against those oppressions, personal and institutional, which brought that anger into being. Focused with precision it can become a powerful source of energy serving progress and change. And when I speak of change, I do not mean a simple switch of positions or a temporary lessening of tensions, nor the ability to smile or feel good. I am speaking of a basic and radical alteration in those assumptions underlining our lives.(The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism, 1981)

Anger is also a bridge- a way over the river of despair, a way to move from one place to another. Stories about our anger can unleash energy for protest, or focus our attention on resistance.  Stories about anger can give us the will to regenerate when we have been displaced, or the creative spark to reinvent a new path toward beauty and freedom. And what is on the other side of that bridge?  Liberation.  Self-determination. Power

So, if the other side of anger stories are power stories, then what I need to move forward from my state of chronic rage is to hear and tell to tell black power stories right now. In the face of  stories of the terror of gender-based slavery, I need to hear more black woman power stories. When all the news can tell me is stories of black boys and men shot to death, I need to hear stories of living, resisting, empowered black men.  When it barely makes the  news that five transwomen of color were murdered during the first 6 weeks of 2015 , I need stories of deep black sisterhood and black trans triumph over patriarchy just to keep breathing. To keep moving toward freedom instead of dwelling forever in rage, I need to hear black justice and power stories.

So what do I want  from you? I want you to #TellMeABlackPowerStory  today.

The poet Christina Springer recently launched the tag  ‪#‎TellMeABlackPowerStory, saying:

I have a great need right now for Black Power Stories. Simple stories. Big stories. Mundane stories. Helped My Son With A Project Stories. Cooked a Healthful Meal Stories. Planted Some Vegetables Stories. Smiled At A Random Black Child At The Store Stories. Won An Award Stories. Gave Back To Community Stories. Woke Up And Went To Work Even Though I Didn’t Feel Like It Stories. We need more Black Power Stories. Black Power Stories are Black Love Stories, Black Kindness Stories, Black Helping Stories, Black Honor Stories, Black Generosity Stories.

So friends, I am asking you to #TellMeABlackPowerStory  in the comments below. Or post one on your Facebook page, or share it with me on Twitter.  Show Me A Black Power Story on Instagram or Vine. Spit it in a rhyme or sing it in a poem in your kitchen, on your stoop, through a mic on a stage. Tag it #TellMeABlackPowerStory. Repost it. Pass it on. Storify it. Make a Tumblr. Write short piece about it on Gawker or ForHarriet or wherever you give and get your news. Amplify it so our stories can find each other, and make a vision that can carry us forward.

The other side of anger is power. And I am one of many who needs to hear some stories of the power that’s awaiting all of us on the other side of this seemingly endless rage. Right now,  the act of staying awake has me longing for a black power story. The news is so bad that this moment actually requires  ten thousand black power stories, each one repeated a hundred times over.  So I have come here to ask you to help me put them out into the world.

I deeply need to hear you #TellMeABlackPowerStory today.

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  • Faith Reidenbach  On April 16, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    A story from today. Black faces in a small-city Oregon newspaper are rare. An elder of the community received a national NAACP honor and will be featured later this month.


  • Terra Turner  On April 16, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    Here is a story about your cousin , Ed. Ed was very popular among the Shaw high staff and his theatre clique. In what should have been his senior year (1983), he not only won the MLK award but also was the Tinman in the sold out production of the Wiz. But he had some emotional struggles and a lot of strife at home and did not have enough credits to graduate. He even needed more credits than summer school could provide. He had no desire to return to Shaw after being so high profile. Come the beginning of the new school year, Ed sat depressed and immobilized at home bearing the wrath of parents whose weird child is now an unemployed high school dropout. After a few weeks of that, He got a job at Dunhams sporting goods at Severance and using the address of an aunt, started going to Heights High. He thrived at Heights and after a semester there and a round of summer school atShaw got his diploma from Shaw ( claiming to be the valedictorian class of 1984 and 1/2!). He worked at Dunhams full time becoming manager of the Jeans dept. Saving every dime, in September of 1985 he joined me in Columbus at OSU, paying every bit of his tuition and housing himself.

  • Amanda Shaffer  On April 21, 2015 at 11:25 am

    I am attending this webinar on 5/17 because I always find her writing and perspective interesting. http://www.whataboutourdaughters.com/classes-and-workbooks/

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