By: Jordannah Elizabeth
Shirley Graham Du Bois
Last time I wrote about denial, I wrote a piece here on Publik / Private entitled, “When Justice is Denied” because of a fateful meeting with Baltimore community organizer, Sheila Gaskins. She gave me a quote by Frederick Douglass, which I hand wrote in my notebook and expanded upon it in my post.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about being smart, and a lot about being poor. The moment I set out on my own when I was a teenager, I never had much. I am by nature a pretty simple person. One thing I’ve always managed to have was a guitar and a small collection of clothing, but not much more. These days, I’ve settled in a bit more, signing a lease and I’ve begun to build a nice collection of books which live under the moniker, “Publik / Private Library” where I allow friends to borrow or keep books for free. I have some vinyl records, some simple but aesthetically pleasing furniture and a very small collection of vegetables and organic oatmeal to eat.
That sounds nice right? It is. But it’s hard to maintain while I work as a freelance teacher and writer. My checks are often late and very small. I’m asked to travel often and am lucky if my travel is covered, but room and board many times is up to me. I keep a hairstyle that is low maintenance and inexpensive to thanks to my generous and understanding hair stylist, who struggles and works hard herself as a single mother of four.
I’ve been thinking about success, but I’ve also been thinking about denial.
The word, “no” is a part of life. But as an intellectual Black woman who often teaches for free, offers courses that are free to the public and has lived minimally for many years, the word “no” is more complicated. We get into realms of access, equality, of kindness and respect towards Black women who work closely with their communities. We have to consider what is appropriate in regards to giving back to us for our free literal and emotional labor. Continue reading