Truth is Stranger than Fiction

When I started this blog and chose “truth is stranger than fiction,” as the tagline, it was puzzling to people. Someone even reached out to correct, me, saying, “don’t you mean the truth is stronger than fiction?”

No. Stranger is the word I meant.

What it seeks to communicate is that nothing we can create can be as unusual as what we find in actual life, and speaks metaphorically of the unsettling realness of truth—the “strangeness” of reality. You think something is weird until you find out just how deep the rabbit hole goes. You think my blog name and the tagline is strange until you understand what it means.

Everything that is happening right now, I could quickly put in a novel. Except, there is no story I can conjure up that would be equivalent to the real-life terror that blacks face and have faced every day in this country.

As someone who writes Black Historical Fiction, there is a strangeness about what’s going on because what happened in the 60s is still happening. And as I place my fictional characters amid events that actually happened, I realize that I am a character in the present world, a world that mirrors the one passed. Our children and their children will read about what happened this year, and they will ask the question, “what was it like living in a world with civil unrest because of the mistreatment of blacks during a pandemic?”

The first five months of 2020 have been brutal on every level, and we are living in what will one day be part of America’s history, and it must not be lost to us that we are part of that history.

If America were a house, racism would be the foundation on which this house sits. People don’t want to hear that many of the founding fathers were slave-owners. They don’t want to hear about the Slave Patrols turned southern police departments. People don’t want to hear that dismantling systemic racism means to dismantle that system. And people certainly do not want to hear about the spiritual connections between the afflictions blacks have endured, their real identity and heritage, and their place in America.

But there is no one way of looking at everything that’s going on, but this is also what makes writing a powerful tool for shedding light on these truths, exposing prejudices, and breaking down barriers, and eventually whole systems.

Everyone can’t be on the ground. I won’t say “on the front lines,” because I don’t believe there is one way to be on the front lines. The term comes from the military line or part of an army that is closest to the enemy. To be on the “front line” means to be closeted to the enemy, which is usually depicted as physically facing him. But there are other ways to face the enemy, and one way is to write with accuracy.

Write the truth. Write it as raw and as bloody as it is in real life. Pass down stories to the next generation that will teach them the truth about who they are. Take Toni Morrison, for example, who in the 60s and 70s chose to publish the books of black writers telling the truth and exposing lies. Books play a significant role in educating a people, and miseducation has a lot to do with what is and is not, written in books.

Writers are, therefore, also on the front lines and in a powerful way. In the words of Nina Simone, “you can’t help it. As far as I’m concerned, an artist’s duty is to reflect the times.” 

As devastating as things are right now, what black writers write today, be it a poem or blog post or scholarly article, can make a difference in the next world.

In this 99th year of the destruction of Black Wall Street, I am thinking about ways to improve my fiction, poetry, and other writings to provide a better historical context and learning experience for the next generation.

I hope I can adequately contextualize it in a way that clearly communicates what today’s world was like for those who lived it.


Be Sure to Pick Up Your Copy of my Black Historical Fiction Series, The Stella Trilogy and to leave a review on Amazon. Click Here.

Black History Fun Fact Friday Returns

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As long as you’re trying to change a system within that system it will never work. If you were never designed to be part of the system, you cannot expect that system to treat you with fairness. If you never intended for a people to be free within your gates there will always be laws in place to ensure that they are never freed. Chattel Slavery, Black Codes, Jim Crow, Convict Leasing, Police Brutality and the like are all examples of America ensuring that a people remain as they were intended to be, slaves.

I am just a week in my new place and still without internet and have been blogging from my phone, but Black History Fun Fact Friday is returning soon.

We’ll be starting a series (because it’ll take multiple posts) on:

The History of Oppression in America

We’ll touch on the hidden message behind the #TakeAKnee protests, The relocation of Japanese-Americans into internment camps during World War II, the stealing of Native American land, the stigmatizing of Mexicans in the 30s (the origin of the name Marijuana for cannabis to make it seem like a “Mexican Drug”) the Drug Enforcement Act of 1914, the War on Drugs that promoted crack as the Black man’s drug and the association of Heroin with Chinese American Immigrants in the late 1800s, early 1900s.

Meanwhile, you can catch up on previous Black History Fun Facts by visiting the page HERE.


Stay tuned and enjoy the weekend.

 

Black Slaves, Native Masters

“I got Indian in my family.”

Is something I hear often among the black community. Even in my own family, my mom talks of how her dad was 100% Cherokee Indian and how our family were cow slaughters which explains my maiden last name which is Hereford, a kind of cow.

Black Slaves, Native Masters

However, while many black families are proud to proclaim their Native Heritage, what is rarely passed around our dinner tables is an important fact in American History. This fact being that even the 5 Civilized Indian Tribes held slaves. A lot of black people jump at the chance to proclaim the above statement because oppressed people typically wants to identify with other oppressed people but the truth is stranger than fiction. Native Americans were oppressed by Europeans but they both had black slaves. In fact, Native Americans knew the layout of the land better than anyone else and it was they who taught the Europeans how to track and to capture slaves. (This is why in last weeks Underground Episode the little boy asked the black slave, “You used to live with the Indians didn’t you? And you taught my daddy how to track.” He used to live with the Indians because he was their slave same as he is the slave to the little boys father. Underground is a very well written TV show).

“Though the harsh treatment of enslaved Africans largely paled in comparison to that of white slaveholders, Blacks still were treated as an underclass among Native Americas. The Five Civilized Tribes even established slave codes that protected owners’ property rights and restricted the rights of Blacks.”

(Barbara-Shae Jackson, The Atlanta Black Star)

What’s deep about my family history is this:

Cherokee is one of the tribes who took part in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade (along with Chickasaw and others). In addition, the term “Cow-Boy” is also derivative of slavery. The slave boys who handled the cows were called cow boys. So when you watch Quentin Tarantino’s Django the content is actually not out of context far as the cow boy theme is concerned and my maiden name is potentially much more deep than we know.