“The night is beautiful So the faces of my people.” Langston Hughes #ValentinesDay #BlackHistory

When you have to learn to love yourself and parts of yourself that others are afraid of. When they choose only to see the scary in the night, and don’t connect you with owls and the moon and the dark grays, blues, purples of the night. When they don’t think of the sounds of grass and the cats in the dark.

When you have to learn to see the beauty where powerful others don’t even *notice* that beauty in you. Because they don’t look at you, or can’t even imagine you can be beautiful like they are. Or because they are afraid of one thing about you and they don’t see all the other sides to you that are like theirs, that *can* be beautiful.

When you have to point to the biggest, brightest light and tell people to see you just like that. When you have to point out the kindness, love, strength, weakness, endurance, impatience, fun, heat and love of your soul.

“My People”

The night is beautiful
So the faces of my people

The stars are beautiful
So the eyes of my people

Beautiful, also, is the sun.
Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.

Langston Hughes

 

My Black Me: A Beginning Book of Black Poetry (A Puffin Poetry Book)
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Established in 1970, Glad Day Bookshop is the world’s oldest LGBTQ bookstore and Toronto’s oldest surviving bookstore. In 2012, a group of 23 community members pooled their funds and bought Glad Day Bookshop to save it from closing.

“Our best strategy for survival is adding new revenues streams like food and drink – which means a larger space.
We’ve picked out a great spot on Church Street that would allow us to be a bookstore & coffee shop during the day and a bar at night.
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harriet by Lucille Clifton. (Harriet Tubman)

harriet
if i be you
let me not forget
to be the pistol
pointed
to be the madwoman
at the rivers edge
warning
be free or die
and isabell
if i be you
let me in my
sojourning
not forget
to ask my brothers
ain’t i a woman too
and
grandmother
if i be you
let me not forget
to work hard
trust the Gods
love my children and
wait.

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Lucille Clifton .
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Isabella Baumfree was the slave name of free woman Sojourner Truth. More thoughts about the poem here.

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Connotations to “wait”: psalms, patience, Walt Witman’s Song of Myself that ends with “wait” and that Clifton refers to elsewhere and white people telling black folks to “go slow” and wait for more civil rights as sung in Mississippi Goddam by Nina Simone.
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“… You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

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Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.”

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Walt Whitman.

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Walt Whitman- queer white man on Bumble Bees. Can you even imagine swarms of thousands of them bumbles?!

Walt Whitman was against slavery but held “the widespread opinion that even free African-Americans should not vote.” He believed all religions to be equally important. He was a supporter of temperance, the movement to set limits to drinking alcohol. White, lower middle class, I think.

Walt Whitman, diary entry on Bumble-Bees.

MAY-MONTH… I am out just after sunrise, and down towards the creek.

The lights, perfumes, melodies—the blue birds, grass birds and robins, in every direction—
For undertones, a neighboring wood-pecker tapping his tree, and the distant clarion of chanticleer.
Then the fresh earth smells—the colors, the delicate drabs and thin blues of the perspective. The bright green of the grass has receiv’d an added tinge from the last two days’ mildness and moisture.

Later.— But for the last two days it has been the great wild bee, the humble-bee, or “bumble,” as the children call him. As I walk, or hobble, from the farm-house down to the creek, I traverse the before-mention’d lane, fenced by old rails, with many splits, splinters, breaks, holes, &c., … Up and down and by and between these rails, they swarm and dart and fly in countless myriads.

As I wend slowly along, I am often accompanied with a moving cloud of them. They play a leading part in my morning, midday or sunset rambles, and often dominate the landscape in a way I never before thought of—fill the long lane, not by scores or hundreds only, but by thousands.
Large and vivacious and swift, with wonderful momentum and a loud swelling perpetual hum, varied now and then by something almost like a shriek, they dart to and fro, in rapid flashes, chasing each other, …

As I write, I am seated under a big wild-cherry tree—the warm day temper’d by partial clouds and a fresh breeze, neither too heavy nor light—and here I sit long and long, envelop’d in the deep musical drone of these bees, flitting, balancing, darting to and fro about me by hundreds—big fellows with light yellow jackets, great glistening swelling bodies, stumpy heads and gauzy wings—humming their perpetual rich mellow boom.

How it all nourishes, lulls me, in the way most needed; the open air, the rye-fields, the apple orchards…

…my spirit at peace. (Yet the anniversary of the saddest loss and sorrow of my life is close at hand.)

Almost every bird I notice has a special time in the year—sometimes limited to a few days—when it sings its best; and now is the period of these russet-backs.