Black History Fun Fact Friday – Sundown Towns

BLACK HISTORY

“Beginning in about 1890 and continuing until 1968, white Americans established thousands of towns across the United States for whites only. Many towns drove out their black populations, then posted sundown signs.” – James W. Lowen

When I first published this article in 2017, I got much controversy about it. I didn’t take it personally for two reasons. First, very little literature covers sundown towns, and not much is said about it in the limited topics covered during black history month.

The other reason is, although these towns were known as sundown towns, the people of the town did not call it that. It was only a well-known fact that some blacks were not allowed in some towns, and if they visited, they had better leave before the sun sets or risk lynching. Therefore, when I wrote about it, some people thought I was making it up.

IMG-1223
Follow me on Instagram @yecheilyah

This past week, I posted this image to my Instagram, and I was surprised to see how many more people had not heard of this. For this reason, today, we are revisiting our black history fun fact on sundown towns.


“Is it true that ‘Anna’ stands for ‘Ain’t No Niggers Allowed’?” I asked at the convenience store in Anna, Illinois, where I had stopped to buy coffee. “Yes,” the clerk replied. “That’s sad, isn’t it,” she added, distancing herself from the policy. And she went on to assure me, “That all happened a long time ago.” “I understand [racial exclusion] is still going on?” I asked. “Yes,” she replied. “That’s sad.”—conversation with clerk, Anna, Illinois, October 2001.

James W. Loewen, Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism (Touchstone, 2006),3

Anna, Illinois, was named after the daughter of the town’s founder but got its more derogatory name after the 1909 lynching of a black man in Cairo, IL, and the mob of angry white citizens who drove out Anna’s 40 or so black families following the lynching. It is at this point that Anna, IL became a sundown town.

A sundown town is a town with an exclusive population of non-whites on purpose. They are towns with overwhelming populations of non-whites and are so deliberately.  Sundown towns were also known as “Sunset Towns.”

“A sundown town town is an organized jurisdiction that for decades kept African Americans or other groups from living in it and was thus “all-white” on purpose.”

Side Note: In the black community, black kids are constantly warned to “come in the house when the street lights come on,” so many of us had to be in the house before the sunset. I wonder if Sundown Towns had something to do with this. Not to say black parents are the only ones with this command, but it’s food for thought.

Although signs were posted, forced exclusion was also implemented:

“There were also race riots in which white mobs attacked black neighborhoods, burning, looting, and killing. Across America, at least 50 towns, and probably many more than that, drove out their African American populations violently. At least 16 did so in Illinois alone. In the West, another 50 or more towns drove out their Chinese American populations. Many other sundown towns and suburbs used violence to keep out blacks or, sometimes, other minorities.”

– America’s Black Holocaust Museum, James W. Loewen, PhD; Fran Kaplan, EdD; and Robert Smith, PhD

The Beginning

Sundown towns began after slavery and the Civil War when blacks left the plantations and poured into every city and corner of the country. This was followed by the system we know as Jim Crow.

Jim Crow laws were state and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the southern and northern United States to keep blacks in a state of servitude. It included having to look down and step to the side when a white person walked by, drinking from separate water fountains, entering the rear of the bus, sitting in the balcony of the movie theater (which came to be known as “Nigger Heaven,”), attending separate schools, and more.

While Jim Crow and segregation are most notably known as a southern practice (“The Jim Crow South”), it also existed in the north. In fact, many parts of the north were more segregated than the south, and when it comes to Sundown Towns, these communities mainly existed in the north as the Great Migration brought floods of blacks into northern cities. Many suburbs to this day are mostly white because they were either part of redlining -the systematic denial of various services to black residents either explicitly or through the selective raising of prices – or its white residents ran its black residents out of town, and the descendants of those people kept it that way.

White_only_-_Detroit_1943

I’ll use Chicago as an example, still one of the most segregated cities in America. Yes, I said Chicago. Remember, we started this conversation with Anna (“Ain’t No Negroes Allowed”), Illinois.

Screenshot (14)
From Time .com / Bettmann / Getty Images

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visited Chicago in 1966 due to the high poverty rate in black neighborhoods and rented an apartment on the west side. He was there as part of what he would call The Poor People’s Campaign and the Freedom Movement. On August 5, 1966, King led a march through Cicero, an all-white district, and was hit in the head with a rock by members of the angry mob.

Years later (the early 80s), my brother-in-law and his friends would be chased out of this same area, racial slurs hitting their backs as they rode their bikes out of Cicero.

poster_caa060f6d48c41ae8e6e574b5838f5ed_57654824_ver1.0_640_480

This statue below is of Orville Hubbard, which sits outside of the City Hall in Dearborn, Michigan, was the cause of much controversy when people started to learn more about his past.

Hubbard was the mayor of the then all-white suburban town outside of Detroit from 1942 to 1978 and, in a 1969 speech acquired by the New York Times, said that “If whites didn’t want to live with N–they sure didn’t have to.” He went on to say this was a free country, and this was America.

“City police cars bore the slogan ‘Keep Dearborn Clean,’ which was a catch phrase meaning ‘Keep Dearborn White,’ ” according to David Good, a lifelong resident of the city who is the author of ‘‘Orvie: The Dictator of Dearborn,” a biography of Mayor Hubbard.

“Out here in Dearborn where some real Ku Klux Klans live. I know Dearborn, you know I’m from Detroit, used to live out there in Easten. And you had to go through Dearborn to get to Easten. Just like riding through Mississippi once you got to Dearborn.” – Malcolm X

Over time the name “Sundown-town” faded, but Sundown Suburbs still exist. A sundown suburb is a discrete way in which Sundown-towns live today when large white populations migrate to the suburban part of the city with the express purpose of separating themselves from the minority population. We can see this in our Cicero example.

It’s Okay to Begin Again

I have not been as active on this blog as I need to, but know if you see me less, that’s because I’m doing more!

Although I have not published much, I have a bit I am working on, including a new potential author client preparing to release her book (throws invisible confetti), part two to #TWWBE (Yep. Surprise), the anthology for Black History Fun Fact Friday, and tons of articles sitting in my drafts, waiting to be picked to go next.

Poor babies. Mommy has not forgotten you. I hope to get part two of Signs You Are Not Ready to Self-Publish out this week, time permitting.

Today, I want to give you an update remixed with a lesson I’ve learned in the process.

I am starting over with my email list, and I am deleting my Business Facebook page at the close of this year.

I have had the same author email list since 2015, and hard as it was for me to accept, I don’t have the same audience. Much has changed between then and now.

I received good email opens but very little engagement. It started to feel like people were watching me, although they were no longer interested in what I had to offer. I got little feedback which made drafting and sending emails less fun. I was also getting a lot of spam sign-ups. That’s when I knew it was time for a change.

This morning, I deleted everyone from the old list* except for the two people who emailed me a reply to say they are interested in being on the new list.

*This is not my poetry list, but my general author list. If you are subscribed to the poetry list, you are good!

I started to backtrack, though. Building an author email list isn’t easy, and neither was deleting over four hundred emails I’ve worked hard to accumulate over the years. I started to send one final email asking people to reply if they are interested in being added to the new list.

Then, I realized this was an excuse to hold on a bit longer.

The truth is the interested people had already told me as such, and I had to accept that.

It is also true quality will always be better than quantity.

In the end, it didn’t matter how many people were signed up. What mattered was who was engaging. How is it only two people replied to me? I decided this was unacceptable.

I also decided to change my strategy. It is not lost on me my part in this. I’ve struggled with my list for some time, and I hope to become better at it.

And instead of deleting my email list altogether, I am starting over. I still believe in the value of the author’s email list, especially in light of how many people have their social media pages deleted.

The lesson can be summed up in the following quote:

“You get to change your mind about things that are no longer aligned with or supportive of your growth.”

– Alex Elle

Simply put, it’s okay to begin again.


How You Can Help!

  1. For Author Updates subscribe to my Email List at the link below. This is a new list. If you did not respond to the last email, you were removed and will need to resubscribe to continue receiving updates from me.

http://eepurl.com/c7VtGj

  1. Subscribe to this Blog! 🙂
  1. Follow Me On Instagram: @yecheilyah and @yecheilyah_books_llc
  1. Follow Me on Twitter: @ yecheilyah

Overcoming the Anxiety to Show Up: A Message to Introverted Indie Authors

baptista-ime-james-XfHdVXHe94w-unsplash

I am from Chicago, where kids paid close attention to the shoes you were wearing after winter break.

Everybody was checking to see who was wearing something new. See, in the hood where money is scarce, you got your best clothes and shoes around Christmas, so when kids come back from break, everybody is looking to see what you got on.

I walked into my eighth-grade classroom with my all-blue suede Timbs (what we called Timberland boots), and I didn’t like the way everyone’s eyes noticed them.

The same thing happened in High School.

I grew up poor and didn’t start wearing name-brand shoes until the second round of sixth grade. While I loved Air Force Ones, I had never owned a pair of Jordans.

It wasn’t until High School I owned a pair and joined the other “cool” kids and experienced what it was like to sit on the pedestal of those who wore Jordans.

And I didn’t like it.

I wished I hadn’t worn those shoes. I liked them a lot, but I didn’t like the attention they garnered. I also didn’t like being like everyone else. I quickly realized I wasn’t a Jordan-wearing type of person. As I got older, I learned I am not all that into gym shoes (sneakers if you are not from the Chi) in general. I wear them, and I have them (and I like looking at the different styles), but my personal style is more casual.

But anyway, those Jordans were my first and only pair.

Here’s the truth:

I don’t like the spotlight. Despite what I do for a living, I am not an “out there in front” kind of person, and I get embarrassed easily because I’m shy.

Just as Moses did not want to go to the Pharaoh and tell him to let his people go at first, I do not always want to show up.

But at some point, Moses had to obey the voice that spoke to him and fulfill his purpose which is why I show up despite the quiver in my chest.

Maya Angelou said courage is the most important of all virtues because, without courage, you cannot practice any other virtue consistently.

You can’t be consistently kind or loving, or generous. You can be these things for a time, but not consistently because there is no endurance without courage.

When the threat is too much, you will quit if not for courage. So, while everyone is afraid, those who are courageous go on despite the fear.

“I do what I hate to do, but I do it like I love it. That’s discipline.”  Mike Tyson

What Tyson isn’t saying:

Settle for a life that does not bring you joy.

What Tyson is saying:

Even while doing what you love, there will be moments where you have to be disciplined to accomplish a goal, and this won’t be fun, but it will be worth it.

Quick Tips.

Stop Predicting What Other People Are Thinking

I am pretty sure we are all guilty of this!

The biggest stumbling block to showing up is thinking about what other people would think of you. We make up these stories in our head about what we expect to happen and what we think other people are thinking.

Tell yourself a different story than the one in your head.

People do love you and think about you often.

Readers do want to read your book, and they do care about your story.

People want to hear from you more than you think.

You do matter.

I mean, I know you’re a genius and all that, but you can’t predict what people are thinking. You just cannot do that to yourself.

Attachment-1(3)

“But I don’t want people to think…”

This is a phrase we should all work to eliminate from our vocabulary, and I admit, I have work to do myself. When we say things like this, we are expecting a response that may or may not even be real.

“I don’t want to post about my book because I don’t want people to think ________.”

If you don’t tell people about it, how are they supposed to know it exists? What about this instead:

“I am so excited to tell people about my new book!”

I notice the more I am excited about something, the more excited the people around me are. Take the smile test for example.

Look at someone and smile. I bet you they are going to smile back. If they are extra silly like me, they might even laugh. Then you will laugh, and neither of us knows what’s funny.

Attachment-1(4)

One of my favorite quotes is:

“What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”

Anticipate the best possible outcome instead of the worst.

Release the Need to Know.

Trying to control the outcome is like trying to catch the wind. Get excited about what you don’t know and all the possibilities of a new experience. You don’t need to know the outcome to start.

You Don’t Have to Say Yes to Everything.

You don’t have to drink from every cup handed to you. That’s how you get poisoned. You are only required to accept those things that speak to your soul, nothing more and nothing less. If it does not set your soul on fire, you don’t have to do it.

This, saying no, is more than turning down offers, although that’s important too. Saying no is also about not feeling obligated to do what everyone else is doing, think as everyone else is thinking, or move how everyone else moves.

Saying no is not wearing Jordans if you really don’t like them.

Another quick story.

In my early teens, fifteen-sixteen-ish, my brother spray-painted hats and t-shirts for the neighborhood. He did stuff like this all the time because he’s an amazing artist. He even designed clothing for the entire cheerleading team. Anywho, my brother spray-painted my and my sisters’ and cousin hats to match our shirts. That’s how I got into wearing hats that summer. Eventually, my sisters and cousin let go of the hat thing, but I would still wear mine even at school. My twin thought I looked like a boy, but I wasn’t a tomboy. I just liked the hat.

My High School Pen Pal Program. Me in front, rocking my spray-painted hat and a blue long-sleeve underneath my short sleeve because I was cold, lol.

Saying no is also about not denying a part of yourself because of what other people think.

This means knowing ourselves well enough to know what we want and don’t want.

Sometimes, we accept things we don’t like, things that are not inherently us, and things we are not comfortable with because we don’t know ourselves, and that’s another discussion altogether.

Attachment-1

It can be hard to show up when you are naturally more laid back and reserved, but I challenge you to push yourself. The best way to get used to doing something is to get out there and do it, and the more you do that thing, the easier it’ll be.

And being an introvert doesn’t necessarily mean that you are shy, although many shy people are introverted. 

I took an online quiz before posting this. My results say I am an introvert (not surprised) with the following traits:

Attachment-1(1)

  • You crave alone time. Having time to think, private space, and quiet time helps you feel rested and whole.
  • People can drain you. Even the most well-meaning people can pull a lot out of you. You can absolutely do social situations; they just take a lot of energy.
  • When socializing, you like to observe before partaking. You like to think before you speak and have one-on-one conversations rather than speaking in groups.

You can take your own quiz at: https://www.scienceofpeople.com/introvert/  (And it’s free)


Attachment-1(2)

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

– Marianne Williamson


The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen is here! CLICK HERE TO GRAB YOUR COPY!

The Enemy of Poetry

bookblock-11-15cYOiQc-unsplash

I am not at all surprised I am enjoying Cicely Tyson’s memoir, Just as I am. While I am not an actor,* I try to learn as much as I can from others. Even if it’s reading a book, I want to know what brought us together and what purpose I might piece together that we are intended to serve to each other.

I have had this post sitting in my drafts since the beginning of May. It wasn’t until I read this chapter last night I could finish it and feel comfortable publishing it.

In Chapter Ten, Center Stage, Miss Cicely is recounting her training with Vinnette Carroll playwright, actress, theater director, and the first black woman to direct on Broadway, with her 1972 production of the musical Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope

In discussing art, Miss Cicely (I like saying that) explains in just a few short sentences everything I want to convey in this post. 

“Vinnette taught me to learn technique and then to forget it–and to resurrect it only if it served my portrayal. Technique is important, to the extent that it is undergirded by emotion. I once knew an actress who was a brilliant technician, but her portrayal fell flat. She could create a moment and bring it to fruition, yet it was apparent she wasn’t feeling anything, and as a result, neither was her audience.”

Cicely Tyson, Just as I am, Chapter Ten, pg. 156-57

“Technique is important, to the extent that it is undergirded by emotion.”

I never consider myself an expert on anything. I will say what I have come to know in my experience, both as a writer and listener of poetry, is to watch out for intellect. By intellect, I mean the need to be so fancy you confuse the reader. It is, in my opinion, similar to using technique and forgetting emotion.

That is why I often feel that intellect, if not used in balance with emotion, passion, and heart, is the enemy of sound poetry.

“Watch out for intellect,
because it knows so much it knows nothing
and leaves you hanging upside down,
mouthing knowledge as your heart
falls out of your mouth.”

Anne Sexton, The Complete Poems

I have read poetry so over my head I could not possibly relate to it. Metaphors and similes were so puzzling I am not even sure Maya Angelou could decipher what the poet meant if she were alive. I once read a poem that ended with the author saying he or she had eaten a bird. I do not know who or what the bird symbolized. All I know is a bird at the beginning that ended up eaten by the end of the poem.

Poor bird.

I did feel sorry for the bird to this poet’s credit, so I was not without emotion completely. It is not lost on me that readers can discover their own meanings and interpretations of poems, which is part of the fun. We learn what the author intended for the poem to communicate and what we got from it based on our personal experiences and feelings. I love hearing how a poem I’ve written resonated with readers, even if what they got from it was different from what I thought as I wrote it.

But, I like to think reading and writing is a partnership. While the first person our writing serves is ourselves, I would hope there is something to be gained by the reader too. I don’t want to get so wrapped up in the beauty of language that there is no substance, just pretty words. I expressed this in the poem Give Me Life.

To me, this would be similar to the woman Tyson references, who was a brilliant technician when acting but could not move her audience.

If you know anything about me by now, you know I am a Black Movie Buff. It’s like Justice said in Poetic Justice about having something deep to say, about having a voice.

Lucky: “What you write about in that notebook?”

Justice: “That’s my poetry.”

Lucky: “You trying to say my cousin’s shit ain’t poetry?”

Justice: “It ain’t if he ain’t got nothing deep to say. Gotta have a voice. A perspective.”

Intellect can be a strength or it can be a weakness.

If there is an easier way to say something, write it plainly, and it will reveal its own depth. I like to write the poem as it comes to me and then come back later to dress it up. Ain’t nothing wrong with a little icing once you have the cake.

Here is another quote I picked up from the quote of the day from author and editor Shayla Raquel’s newsletter, which I also just read yesterday.

“Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are. The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences. In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul.” 

— Meg Rosof

*I said at the beginning of this post I was not an actor. I should say I am not a professional actor, as I do have some experience with it. In High School, I was part of a special program to write and perform plays. I cannot remember the program’s name or what the aim was, but this was my first official summer job. I did this for the summer of my Sophomore and Junior year, taking an official drama class my senior year, where I would also perform my poetry live for the first time as a monologue. In 2015, I was featured in a stage play at the DuSable Museum.

But as I reflect, fun as it was, I prefer to write the screenplay. Ya’ll can do the acting.


Yecheilyah's 4th Annual Poetry Contest

Have you entered this year’s poetry contest? I hope I gave you some inspiration! Take your time but keep your eyes on the clock. June will be here before you know it.

Submit your love poem on or before June 1st.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Note: I have not read any of the poems submitted yet! I don’t read any of the poems until the contest has ended and everything is in.

My Favorite Instagram Hacks


Instagram is my favorite place to interact with readers outside of this blog, Twitter follows this, and then Facebook is last. If you are an author on Instagram or have ever thought of using it as a platform, here are some of my favorite hacks for increasing engagement.

Less is More: Pick a Few Kinds of Posts and Stick with It

I heard David Shands of the SleepisforSuckers brand and the Social Proof Podcast mention something like this and realized I was already doing it. This awareness encouraged me to stay consistent with this strategy, which has been working wonderfully. If you’ve been paying attention, I only post four kinds of content. 

  • Black History
  • Books I Read / Recommend
  • Author / Entrepreneur Stuff
  • Family / Travel Stuff

I have incorporated reels, but that’s more along the lines of the medium to which I present the content.

Whether it is in the form of a reel, IGTV video, or image, the core of my content is the same.

It seems like I do a lot, but when you break it down, I really don’t. Everything I post falls into one of these four categories. A poetry contest post falls into the author business category. A t-shirt promo is an entrepreneur post, too, because I am promoting someone’s brand. A post of my twin sister or hubby or doggie is a family post, and so on.

While I still struggle sometimes with what to post, knowing I only have to focus on one of these four (depending on the last time I posted about it) makes it much easier to stay consistent. 

I learned you don’t have to have a lot going on to be productive.

This is a lesson in “less is more.”

I don’t even post a lot. Some recommend posting at least 3x a day on Instagram to stay on top of the algorithm. Welp, I am behind on that. But I will say that has not affected my engagement, and I think it’s because the kinds of posts I publish are consistent. Remember, consistency is not about speed or quantity. To be consistent means something that does not vary.

Use Saves and Shares to Learn What’s Working / Not Working

Instagram, like every other app, is constantly changing. In 2021, the platform’s algorithms favor saves and shares over comments and likes. Below is an image someone posted that sums this up perfectly.

Likes still play a role. It is just not the most important in terms of pushing the algorithm.

You can’t see how many saves someone’s post has or know who has saved your post or shared it, but the act alone helps understand the kind of content your audience engages with the most, which lets you know what types of content to post.

UPDATE: Below is a screenshot of how the save, share, like, and comment buttons look on IG. Saving is not reposting. It’s just clicking that ribbon looking icon on the far right and the post is saved instantly. On the left you have the like button, comment and share.

To view the insights for a post (assuming your page is a business page), click on the insights tab under your post.

It will pull up your insights…

…including the number of accounts you reached, the percentage of people who weren’t following you before, the number of people who followed you, and your impressions.

This will help you see what kinds of posts people engage with the most, which is your audience’s way of saying what types of posts are getting their attention. 

I measure the success of a post based on the number of saves, then shares, comments, and then likes. Notice likes are last, and that is because the algorithm wants to cut down on bots. Some people also buy followers for some strange reason. A bot can like a post, but true engagement is measured by more thoughtful action. Comments of five or more words are better than emojis, and shares and saves are better than likes. The Women with Blue Eyes post did far better than I thought it would, which lead to preorder sales from new people.

Create Folders for Saves

When I come across a post, I like I save it for later—especially a Black History post I may want to repost in the future. 

When you save a post, it will show you something like this. 

Click Save to Collection

The list of your folders will come up. If you do not have folders, click on the plus sign and create one.

To view your saves in folders, go to Saves, and there they are. This makes it easier to go back to those dope posts to share, like, or comment on them.

My folders are:

  • Black History
  • Entrepreneur
  • Inspiring
  • Authors

Separate Business Messages from Personal Messages in the DMs

I don’t know if you know, but many good business deals happen in the DMs. I’ve sold lots of books from the DM alone. Here’s how I keep up with it: I separate my business messages from personal/family messages.

Direct Messages from family and friends go under the general tab, and business messages go under the primary tab.

I also have my messages set up to limit who messages me, so I am not bombarded by spam and freaks. Here’s how to do it:

Go to Settings > Messages > Message Requests On

This means that their message comes in as a message request you can either approve or decline for anyone not following you.

You can see a preview of the message, so you can decline it if it looks weird and then block that person.

We have all heard about the other things I do before, such as always using the best picture possible, including a caption that describes the image and using relevant hashtags. For the photos, make sure they are not pixelated and that the text on the image is not hard to read. Instagram focuses on photos, so your pictures must be eye-catching.

And those are some of my hacks! Feel free to use them and tell me how it’s going. Do you have any social media strategies you use to interact with your readers and strengthen your author brand? I’d love to hear about it!

Follow me @yecheilyah on Instagram!


Don’t forget to preorder your copy of The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen! Releasing June 8th.

Preorder: The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen

Without further ado, I hope you will enjoy my introduction to Urban / Contemporary / Black AFAM Fantasy Fiction.

About.

When Tina’s nephew, Ronnie is killed, she is left to care for his siblings and to solve a series of mysterious murders involving only black men. Investigating each murder thrusts her and her team into a world of deities, demons, and fallen angels, leading Tina to battle a serial killer beyond this realm.

Title: The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen

Author: Yecheilyah Ysrayl

Editor: Dr. KE Garland

Publisher: Literary Korner Publishing/Yecheilyah Books LLC

Genre: Urban Fantasy / Contemporary Fantasy / Black & African American Fantasy Fiction

Release Date: June, 8, 2021

TWWBE: PreOrder a Signed Paperback

TWWBE: PreOrder Ebook From Amazon

Mark as Want to Read on Goodreads

Give Me My Flowers Today

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

I don’t usually post on Saturdays but on discovering a dear blogger friend’s death at the same time the world is mourning Earl “DMX” Simmons, a thought struck me.

“I just wish we could love people when they live the way we do when they die.”

As I scrolled through my LinkedIn page (and I am rarely on LinkedIn), I came across this post and was surprised to learn of Sue Vincent’s passing. 

I know Sue from her promotional posts for authors and her generosity in opening up her space to give others time to shine. I’ve been featured on her blog a few times, and each time that we emailed, she was always welcoming to have me. 

I feel sadness about Sue because I have not been as immersed in the blogging community as I used to be. My schedule is crazy these days, and I have not had the time to dedicate myself to my own blog, much less engage with others. On searching her name, I found tons of posts dedicated to her and posts she wrote about her illness. I am so very sorry for missing it all. 

I also want to note that Sue was a poet, and with it being National Poetry Month, I dedicate this post to her honor.

As per the title of this post, I want to remind us to give people their flowers while they live.

If there is someone you appreciate or someone you love, or someone who has added value to your life in any way, I encourage you to make it known to them now.

Why now? 

Why not now?

Photo by Mel on Unsplash

Last June 2020 was the last time I saw my mother alive. I had taken a quick trip to Chicago to celebrate the life of another person I knew who had passed and stopped by my mom’s place. I was literally only passing through. My husband had to make a run, so I ended up staying with my mother for longer than I had anticipated.

At the time, I was irritated Moshe was taking so long to come back. I did not see how much of a blessing it was he took this run.

Before I left, I put a necklace on her neck that I had meant to ship but never got the chance to. As I snapped it on her, I kissed her cheek and left. This wasn’t out of the ordinary. It is something I did all the time, kiss her cheek and tell her I loved her. The difference this time is I didn’t know this would be the last time I would do it, as she would pass on in September.

I have been away from home since 2009, when we moved to Louisiana. I now live in Georgia, but most of my family still lives in Chicago. That said, I didn’t see my mom daily because we did not live in the same city. If I had not come to Chicago that June, the last memory I would have of her would have been December of 2019 when we celebrated her 60th, and unknown to us, her last birthday.

Photo by Jeremy Yap on Unsplash

We never know when will be the last time we see or speak to someone, but we still take it for granted. We still treat each other like every day is promised. We still love people more in death than we do in life. We see this every time a celebrity passes.

I hope that one day this will change.

I hope that one day we will live with such immense gratitude that hindsight is no longer 20/20 because we will see things clearly at the moment.

I’ll leave you with this excerpt from If My Books Shall Die:

“Give me my flowers today

and accept the life I offer you

in the form of metaphors on silver platters,

for I am feeding you with silver spoons

and all you’ve got to do is eat.

I offer you the best of me.

And when I am dead

no longer among the living

crack open a book written by me

and feel my breath on your skin.

Hear my voice resurrect

from inside an ancient pen,

Watch my tongue dance.

See my lips move

and witness passion soar 

from beyond the grave.

If my books shall die

then my words did not really contain life.

But if my books shall live

What are you waiting for?

Go to your bookshelf,

resurrect me

and carry

my bones.”


Read the full poem in I am Soul

Don’t Forget to Enter this Year’s Poetry Contest. Click Here to Learn How.


PS. I am not a fan of the new WordPress editor. I like the ease of embedding tweets, but I think the blocks are unnecessarily complicated.