Live Virtual Group Session: 6PM EDT June 20th 2022

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session!

Thirty participants gathered from diverse geographies and time zones to listen, read, discuss, and write with a focus on Juneteenth the federal holiday celebrating June 19, 1865, the day when an estimated 250,000 enslaved people in Texas learned of their emancipation, which had been proclaimed more than two years earlier.

After watching a video of Danez Smith performing the poem dear white america in 2014 (video and text posted below), we silently read the text, discussed tone, themes, metaphors, and structure, as well as thoughts and emotions evoked in us when hearing Smith’s powerful delivery. Such a dense and sonorous text stimulated explorations of meaning, connections to biblical references and Shakespeare, and biting and evocative wordplay employed by the author, who follows the naming of murdered/disappeared Black boys with “abra-cadaver, white bread voodoo.”

The choice of prompts Write about the planet you search for OR “Write a new history called forth journeys through and to places of desired values and safety.  

Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.

Also, we would love to learn more about your experience of these sessions, so if you’re able, please take the time to fill out a follow-up survey of one to two quick questions!

Please join us for our next session Friday June 24th at 12pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


dear white america by Danez Smith

i’ve left Earth in search of darker planets, a solar system revolving too near a black hole. i’ve left in search of a new God. i do not trust the God you have given us. my grandmother’s hallelujah is only outdone by the fear she nurses every time the blood-fat summer swallows another child who used to sing in the choir. take your God back. though his songs are beautiful, his miracles are inconsistent. i want the fate of Lazarus for Renisha, want Chucky, Bo, Meech, Trayvon, Sean & Jonylah risen three days after their entombing, their ghost re-gifted flesh & blood, their flesh & blood re-gifted their children. i’ve left Earth, i am equal parts sick of your go back to Africa & i just don’t see race. neither did the poplar tree. we did not build your boats (though we did leave a trail of kin to guideus home). we did not build your prisons (though we did & we fill them too). we did not ask to be part of your America (though are we not America? her joints brittle & dragging a ripped gown through Oakland?). i can’t stand your ground. i’m sick of calling your recklessness the law. each night, i count my brothers. & in the morning, when some do not survive to be counted, i count the holes they leave. i reach for black folks & touch only air. your master magic trick, America. now he’s breathing, now he don’t. abra-cadaver. white bread voodoo. sorcery you claim not to practice, hand my cousin a pistol to do your work. i tried, white people. i tried to love you, but you spent my brother’s funeral making plans for brunch, talking too loud next to his bones. you took one look at the river, plump with the body of boy after girl after sweet boi & ask why does it always have to be about race? because you made it that way! because you put an asterisk on my sister’s gorgeous face! call her pretty (for a black girl)! because black girls go missing without so much as a whisper of where?! because there are no amber alerts for amber-skinned girls! because Jordan boomed. because Emmett whistled. because Huey P. spoke. because Martin preached. because black boys can always be too loud to live. because it’s taken my papa’s & my grandma’s time, my father’s time, my mother’s time, my aunt’s time, my uncle’s time, my brother’s & my sister’s time . . . how much time do you want for your progress? i’ve left Earth to find a place where my kin can be safe, where black people ain’t but people the same color as the good, wet earth, until that means something, until then i bid you well, i bid you war, i bid you our lives to gamble with no more. i’ve left Earth & i am touching everything you beg your telescopes to show you. i’m giving the stars their right names. &this life, this new story & history you cannot steal or sell or cast overboard or hang or beat or drown or own or redline or shackle or silence or cheat or choke or cover up or jail or shoot or jail or shoot or jail or shoot or ruin 

										                                                                                                                                   this, if only this one, is ours.

9 thoughts on “Live Virtual Group Session: 6PM EDT June 20th 2022

  1. Rita B

    About a new history – Rita

    If I write a “new” history, it will be a “Herstory,” as I identify with “her,” more than with “him.”
    My story won’t be “new” either, as I’m old, and traditionally – history is about the past.
    Although, Yuval Harari will disagree and say, that he is a historian who also predicts the future.
    With that in mind, my herstory will be about love, hope, our wishes coming true, and mostly, about –
    not repeating mistakes of the past.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. rewrite the contract, a social setting, one that honors the obligation we have to support one another and respect the agreements made – no need to sign in blood – that wasn’t worth anything in the old story, the new story, what will it really be? i want the colors of the spectrum reflected – it’s lonely and cold when the colors are taken out, i want the inflections of myriad voices, i want the faces to match, and bodies, and emotions, and ways of imparting oneself as a community, peaceful togetherness in the knowledge that conflict always arises but is manageable on equal terms

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pamela Poe

    I think it’s dangerous to rewrite history.
    Far better to see it and know if for the first time.
    We learned that “strange fruit” meant lynchings, and that the
    1619 Project dated the time enslaved people arrived on our shores much earlier than we had known.
    The many multiple and simultaneous grievous sins in the streets, the courts, the jails and the land
    Simply cannot begin and end with mere apologies.

    But to me – it’s a decision to listen to the truth
    No matter how painful it may be,
    That manifestly refuses to white-wash history or rewrite a single word.
    Far better to honor what really happened.

    Trayvon Martin, Ahmed Aubery, Breonna Taylor, Emmett Till, Martin Luther King:
    You’re just the tip of a big, ugly and glistening mountain we all need to climb
    together.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. About a planet I search for~~~

    I search for a planet where there is understanding, there is honesty, there is justice
    Where all its members are judged fairly
    Where the color of your skin is not a hindrance
    Where your place of origin is not a detriment
    Where citizens have a say in how they are governed and each voice is heard clearly
    Where each citizen is secure in a safe haven and has ample food to place before his family

    In short, I search for a planet of freedom from bias and fear.
    Where a person is judged solely on how well a life has been lived.

    Pipe dreams going up in smoke… I hope not
    Let us stir the embers

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Beth H

    It’s there – the land where
    this suffering is not allowed to exist
    this primitive reactionism to difference
    this violence, subjugation, exploitation.

    It’s always been there
    shimmering on the horizon
    the Phantom City

    We must continue on- the journey
    to find our true selves
    that honor, praise, and respect
    our inner gods
    ours and each others
    where diversity
    the Foundation
    and Bedrock of Life
    Thrives with Love
    Nutured and Nuturing

    Liked by 1 person

  6. al3793

    Before I write a new history
    I must learn history
    late have I begun to understand
    and learn about the history of
    our country that set me up for success
    while others are left behind by it
    and I try to reckon
    my responsibility for
    writing a new history
    doing the work that
    will help start a new chapter
    not a revision
    a new chapter
    It’s going to take some
    hard talk and
    some hard time
    long, hard talk and time
    tough lessons
    perseverance and
    clarity of vision.
    COURAGE!

    Andre

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Narrative Medicine June 20.2022
    Prompt:
    Write about the planet you search for
    or
    Write a new history
    (I chose to combine the two)
    ………………………………………………………….
    Melissa Adylia Calasanz

    who am I to write
    these wrongs
    while in orbit
    .
    history repeats
    .
    how can i write
    when wronged
    .
    smile and nod
    no
    i have not moved on
    only a zip code
    .
    neighbors who talk
    about “those people”
    to my face
    they don’t see
    those people are me
    .
    til ten years later
    i speak up
    pronounce my maiden name
    they no longer speak to me
    .
    ashamed
    i doubt it
    disgusted
    more likely
    their hateful flags still wave high above their pristine home
    .
    my unruly native garden welcomes life
    .
    and I do
    not
    write the experiences
    of others
    .
    I have lived
    in the planet
    of my reality
    in my imagination
    and this moment
    .
    I do not claim
    to know better
    .
    though I am capable
    of creating
    life
    if I so choose
    .
    arrogance
    privilege
    .
    not this little mexican gal
    who had no place
    in LA to OC
    nor in the white or Hispanic community
    .
    this planet is my reality
    I have done my best
    to keep it peaceful
    .
    I search for nothing
    I work as best I can
    to make
    peace
    .
    who am i to write
    these wrongs
    as i “pass”
    while in orbit,
    Melissa Adylia Calasanz

    Like

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