Joy

Photo by nappy from Pexels

Call it prayer
Call it sacred
Call these words a psalm
a song
sing
Surrender to serenity
Let the ecstasy of excitement
enter your heart
and nourish you in places
your pride won’t let you admit
still hurt
However, you must
However, you will
in the quiet blooming of the soul
find
your
joy

Black History Fun Fact Friday – Juneteenth

I have not done a Black History Fun Fact in a while because the book requires my time. Soon, I’d like you to have a complete Black History book to read.

For now, with Juneteenth around the corner, I thought this would be a great time to revisit the article below. It was originally published June of 2018 and then updated again last year (’21)

Enjoy.


Many Black Americans are replacing their fourth of July celebrations with Juneteenth. For many, this day is a celebration of freedom. Although, even after Juneteenth, many Blacks were still enslaved and suffering.2154

Born on February 12, 1809, near Hodgenville, Kentucky, Abraham Lincoln is most famous for preserving the Union during the American Civil War and bringing about the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States.

However, before he wrote the esteemed Emancipation Proclamation, several efforts were made to preserve the Union without freeing the enslaved. These efforts included Colonization, or the idea that a majority of the African American population should leave the United States and settle in Africa or Central America.

On August 14, 1862, five years after The Dred Scott Decision that reiterated Blacks were not, and as “a second class of persons,” could not be citizens, Abraham Lincoln hosted a “Deputation of Free Negroes” event at the White House. Led by the Rev. Joseph Mitchell, commissioner of emigration for the Interior Department, it was the first time African Americans had been invited to the White House to weigh in on a political matter. 

Lincoln planned to produce a document that would not only free some of the enslaved but, once freed, call on them to leave the country voluntarily. This idea, Lincoln’s Panama Plan, was not new but had been circulating among white racists, elites, and eugenicists since the 1700s.

“In 1816, a group of white enslavers and politicians in Washington, D.C. created the American Colonization Society (A.C.S.) to promote the removal of free Black people, who would be encouraged to leave the United States and resettle in West Africa.” A.C.S. and its many chapters hoped this would rid them of free Black people while preserving slavery.

-The 1619 Project, pg. 23

These organizations did not only speak on Colonization, but the U.S. government allocated much money for its implementation. In April 1862, Congress passed the District of Columbia Act, emancipating enslaved persons in Washington and appropriating $100,000 to resettle “such free persons of African descent now residing in said District, including those liberated by this act, as may desire to emigrate.” 

To make a long story short, Lincoln’s original plan was to have a document that, while freeing some enslaved people, also required those freedmen to, sum up, “go back to Africa.”

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Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, to end slavery in the States that were in Rebellion. The proclamation declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”

“The Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to slave states that weren’t in rebellion; Kentucky, Delaware, Missouri, and Maryland. It also didn’t apply to territories. It didn’t apply to Tennessee, lower Louisiana, and the counties of Virginia that were to become West Virginia.”

-William Spivey 

With the passing of the 13th Amendment in January of 1865, slavery was officially deemed illegal in America, freeing all people enslaved.

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Well. Wait, except the people in Texas and other places.

Many Texas men, women, and children were still being held in bondage and did not know that slavery was over.

News of the supposed emancipation did not spread as quickly as the movies would have us to believe. Many slave-owners packed up their belongings and moved to Texas in mass.

“Since the capture of New Orleans in 1862, slave owners in Mississippi, Louisiana and other points east had been migrating to Texas to escape the Union Army’s reach.”

-Henry Louis Gates Jr.

More than 150,000 enslaved people had made the trek west, according to historian Leon Litwack in his book Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of SlaveryAs one former enslaved person recalled, “it looked like everybody in the world was going to Texas.” For the next two years, the enslaved would live removed from the updates of the war, and slavery would go on, business as usual.

These men, women, and children were still enslaved until June 19, 1865. Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended.

This, the freeing of the enslaved in Texas, is the reason many Black Americans celebrate Juneteenth instead of July 4th as their National Independence Day.

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor.

The Freedmen are advised to remain at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

The language of this decree is important. Enslaved people are being told they are free two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

They are also being told that they must remain at their present homes (the plantation) and work (continue slave labor) for “wages.” And that any “idleness,” among them won’t be tolerated. 

Much like the Emancipation Proclamation, this order also did not free all enslaved persons.

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“There is much evidence to suggest that southern whites—especially Confederate parolees—perpetrated more acts of violence against newly freed bondspeople in Texas than in other states,” writes historian Elizabeth Hayes Turner in an essay titled “Juneteenth: Emancipation and Memory.” 

“Between the Neches and Sabine rivers and north to Henderson,” she continues, “reports showed that blacks continued in a form of slavery, intimidated by former Confederate soldiers still in uniform and bearing arms.” Murder, lynching, and harassment were common. “You could see lots of Negroes hanging from trees in Sabine bottom right after freedom,” reported one freed slave, “They would catch them swimming across Sabine River and shoot them.”

Celebrations

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African Americans celebrated their freedom with the first official Juneteenth event in 1866, where they read the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and praised Abraham Lincoln (who repeatedly said his intent was not to abolish slavery but to save the union) as the “great liberator.”

“Free them and make them politically and socially our equals? My own feelings will not admit of this; and if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white people will not.”

– Abraham Lincoln, August 21, 1858

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union.”

– Abraham Lincoln, Letter addressed to Horace Greeley, Washington, August 22, 1862

The celebrations continued until coming to a halt with the institution of Black Codes and, eventually, Jim Crow.

These laws essentially put Blacks back into a form of slavery where they were fully disenfranchised. After the Civil War and the end of slavery, southern states, which had amassed great wealth from slavery, found their economy in shambles. They had to figure out how to keep a slave-like system going.

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Black Codes were laws created to limit the rights of African Americans. They subjected them to criminal prosecution for “offenses” such as loitering, breaking curfew, vagrancy, having weapons, and not carrying proof of employment. These were the same “offenses” that would get enslaved people whipped or sold during slavery.

For example, the enslaved could not travel from place to place without a pass signed by their owner. Those without such a pass could be arrested, jailed, and detained as a runaway. Some owners wrote general passes allowing their slaves to “pass” and “repass.”

Black Codes included Pig Laws that unfairly penalized poor African Americans for crimes such as stealing a pig. It was also a crime to be unemployed.

These laws could be imposed on Black men easily, sending them to jail, and thus, former slave owners turned “entrepreneurs” could lease them to various companies that would work them to death and treat them like they were slaves. This made the states tons of money.

In 1883, about ten percent of Alabama’s total revenue was derived from convict leasing. In 1898, nearly 73 percent of total revenue came from this same source. Death rates among leased convicts were approximately ten times higher than the death rates of prisoners in non-lease states. In 1873, for example, 25 percent of all black leased convicts died.

The laws passed in Texas were similar to those passed in every other Confederate state. Modern-day politicians often make comparisons to Jim Crow as one of the worst periods in African American life.

Jim Crow didn’t have shit on the Black Codes, which was the South’s attempt to recreate enslavement and go back to business as usual. Mass incarceration isn’t a recent invention; during the Black Codes, Black people could do little without running afoul of the law with the penalty being sent back to the fields if they weren’t already there.

William Spivey, Why Celebrate Juneteenth and What Did It Accomplish

Juneteenth didn’t make a full resurgence until The Civil Rights Movement when Blacks began to celebrate it fully again. And while many Blacks have celebrated it for centuries, it still did not become an official Holiday until 1980, when it was made a Texas State Holiday.

Still, it wasn’t until 1997 that Congress recognized June 19 as “Juneteenth Independence Day,” after pressure from a collection of groups like the National Association of Juneteenth Lineage and the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation.


UPDATE:

As of today, June of 2021, Juneteenth is now a National Federal Holiday.

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But the question remains, what exactly did Juneteenth accomplish for the Black man, woman, and child? What freedom did it bring about? Some sum it up this way:

“Today Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement and for planning the future.

Its growing popularity signifies a level of maturity and dignity in America long over due. In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today. Sensitized to the conditions and experiences of others, only then can we make significant and lasting improvements in our society.” – https://juneteenth.com/

But, Spivey brings out another good point worth considering:

“Texas after Juneteenth wasn’t an anomaly. Slavery continued to go on in states in the South, North, and West. In some cases, for several years. Slavery still existed in other parts of the United States and did so until the ratification of the 13th Amendment on December 6, 1865, and beyond.

Slavery still existed in Delaware and Kentucky, which resisted all Union attempts to end slavery and refused to ratify the 13th Amendment. In California, slavery was sort of outlawed in 1850 as a condition for statehood. The exception was slaves who had been brought to California and where the possibility they might return one day to their original home existed, even if that state had voted to ratify the 13th Amendment.

New Jersey had as many as 400 people remain slaves long after Juneteenth. Oregon’s provisional government banned slavery in 1844 but forbade free black people from settling in the territory. Settlers continued to bring slaves with them. General Joseph Lane, a former territorial governor, kept at least one slave on his farm until 1878, 13 years after the passage of the 13th Amendment.”

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It is true Blacks were not free on July 4, 1776. But it is also true many Blacks were not free on June 19, 1865, either.

As many African Americans celebrate and reflect this weekend on what this day means to them, there is certainly much to think about.

For now, it is important to understand that Juneteenth did nothing to restore land or citizenship rights to the 40 million newly freed Blacks. Immediately after African Americans in Texas were freed from chattel slavery in June of 1865, they were required to have labor contracts, and many Blacks returned to their former slave-owners. 


Click HERE for more Black History Fun Facts!

Speaking of Freedom, this is a great time to dive into The Stella Trilogy if you have not already! Below is the link to book one. Enjoy!

About.

In book one, Cynthia McNair and her boyfriend, Alex, express some racists’ feelings toward blacks. They visit Cynthia’s Grandmother Sidney McNair, who recounts the story of her ancestor, a slave named Stella Mae. Cynthia has no idea of her African ancestry or how deep this rabbit hole goes.

My Book Review Registry is Open for a Limited Time

Lately, I have received several book review requests, so I’ve opened my registry. However, my schedule is already full, so the space on my list is very limited. If you are interested in increasing the number of reviews for your book, read on.

To apply for a review, click on the link below. This takes you to my Review Policy with step-by-step instructions on how to apply. 

Please be sure to follow the instructions in the policy if you wish to get a response from me. I do not accept unsolicited requests for reviews. Emailing me your heartfelt story, a list of your accomplishments, and book awards will not get me to review your book. You must follow the instructions in the policy.

About Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews:

This blog has been one of Reedsy’s list of vetted active book blogs that provides thoughtful, quality book reviews and has been on this list since 2017. This is because my reviews are honest and thorough without giving away spoilers.

I have six years of experience reviewing books personally and professionally. My authors comprise both Independent and Traditionally published from all over the world. 

However, I am just one person, so space runs out quickly. 

If you have a book you’d like reviewed for added exposure, reach out ASAP to get a top spot. 

New Policy: Because of the limited space, I now require authors to submit the first three chapters of their manuscripts for consideration for a review. Please be sure they are your first three chapters.

For more on how to submit your book, please see the review policy here.

How Do You Approach Writing Black Historical Fiction?|Ep. 116 | The Merry Writer Podcast

I got to sit with Ari Meghlen and Rachel Poli of The Merry Writer Podcast on writing Black Historical Fiction. Check it out at one of the links below.

EPISODE SHOW NOTES

Have you ever tried writing diverse characters and didn’t know where to start? Or maybe you want to dive deeper into historical fiction? This week, author Yecheilyah Ysrayl joins Rachel in discussing how to approach writing black historical fiction with plenty of tips, advice, and fun conversation. As always, thanks for listening, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Pod Link:

https://pod.link/1504502949

YouTube: 

https://youtu.be/Lmufz1WW5l4

Podbean: 

https://themerrywriterpodcast.podbean.com/e/how-do-you-approach-writing-black-historical-fiction-ep-116-the-merry-writer-podcast/?token=04b9284c45a417396afde887ca5a6fcc

And be sure to check out Rachel and Ari’s blogs below!

Rachel:

http://rachelpoliauthor.com/

Ari:

https://arimeghlen.co.uk/

The Women with Blue Eyes 2: Chapter One


Chapter 1: And a Little Child Shall Deceive Them


The young woman smiled and waved at the jeep as it sped by, and her brown eyes turned blue.

Paschar twisted her neck, cracking it as it spun around on her shoulders. She looked down at her hands, stretching her fingers.

“Not bad,” she admired herself, ran her hands across the youthful body, and sat down on the bench. She stared down at her chest. The boobs weren’t much to speak of, but she couldn’t expect much in this form. She had heard stories of humans and puberty, a foreign thing to angels who could masquerade in adult bodies instantly.

Paschar watched the cars zoom by, the school busses pick up children, and the scores of humans rushing off to work. An elderly lady sat down on the bench next to her.

“How you?” she said, looking through her purse.

Pas nodded, afraid to speak. She had never had a body this young before.

Noticing the silence, the woman looked up and clutched her chest with one hand. “Your eyes,” she said in a breathless voice. “I ain’t never seen ‘em that bright before.”

Paschar blushed and smiled awkwardly, thankful to see the bus approaching.

The woman stood, swinging her purse over her shoulder, unable to take her eyes off the young woman with the majestic eyes.

“Go on, baby,” she said, letting Paschar in front of her as the bus came to a halt and opened its doors.

Pas coughed and cleared her throat. “Oh no, that’s okay. You can go.”

“No, it’s alright. And you’re gonna wanna do something about that cough. Put something around those skinny lil arms of yours.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

The woman nodded.

Portrait of Young Woman
Artwork for TWWBE by David Collin

Paschar dropped her coins into the machine and moved to the rear of the bus, and cuddled up to a window seat.

As the bus prepared to take off, it stopped to allow a car to pass and Paschar’s eyes flashed in that familiar way. Her senses heightened as she picked up the familiar scent. Every human had a signature smell to their blood. Like fingerprints, no one was alike.

Pas licked her lips. She didn’t need to turn to see Kayla sitting in the passenger’s seat of Miss Bernice’s car or Micheal sitting in the back. She could practically taste their essence—the purest of energy.

Her eyes twinkled, and her leg bounced up and down. She knew she had to calm herself before she growled. It was all so exciting. Pas could hardly contain herself thinking about seeing Janiyah’s Jeep just moments ago and now Micheal and Kayla. Why had she not thought about this before?

She had had it all wrong. No one cared about Black men. But people were extremely friendly to young humans, naïve even. There were no limits to how far her powers could stretch as a sixteen-year-old in Ethiopian skin.

She felt a coolness come over her as a low, deep throat growl threatened to spill from her mouth.

Paschar leaned back into her seat and exhaled. All was not lost. Her legion might have lost the battle, but she was going to make damn sure they did not lose the war.

She couldn’t wait to start her new job with Janiyah and Tabitha.


twwtbe

This is a continuation of The Women with Blue Eyes series I turned into a novel.

To read sneak peeks of book one published to this blog click here.

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To buy me a cup of coffee, purchase the book by CLICKING HERE.

Shout Out Atlanta

I realize I’ve been a bit MIA lately. Not just on this blog but on social media in general. I have a lot that requires my full attention, which is professional work and personal work. I am in that transition place where I am learning to be patient with understanding what’s next for me, between that place of gratitude for what is but seeking continual growth.

In any event, I am still here, and I do want to try harder to check in with your blogs. I’ve fallen off in the blog world, and I really need to get back to it.

But I am still here. I am well, and I hope you are well too and continue to be so.

To catch up with me, please check out my latest interview in Shoutout Atlanta.

They reached out to me last month, and I enjoyed working with them for the second time.

Click on the link below to read in full, and be sure to share if you feel so inclined!

PS. If you are subscribed to my mailing list, an update just went out. 

Breaking the Silence: Part II

Photo by Nadezhda Moryak from Pexels

Missed Part 1? Click Here.

“I have been in Sorrow’s kitchen and licked out all the pots…”

Zora Neale Hurston

Except, I was not actually miscarrying. I was experiencing an ectopic pregnancy.

“An ectopic pregnancy is not a miscarriage. It doesn’t even qualify as a pregnancy loss under “recurrent pregnancy loss” which is one of the criteria that needs to be met before being referred to a fertility specialist.”

– littlesicilianmemoirs.home.blog/2021/12/12/my-pregnancy-losses/

Ectopic pregnancies make up 1-2% of all conceptions. That’s about 1 in 50 pregnancies in the United States. An ectopic pregnancy is an embryo (fertilized egg) that has been implanted outside of the uterus (womb), the normal site for implantation.

In a normal pregnancy, the egg is fertilized by the sperm inside the Fallopian tube. The embryo then travels through the tube and reaches the uterus 3 to 4 days later. However, suppose the Fallopian tube is blocked or damaged and unable to transport the embryo to the uterus.

In that case, the embryo may implant in the lining of the tube, cervix, or ovary, resulting in an ectopic pregnancy.

Since pregnancies that grow outside the uterus cannot develop normally, and because they can cause the organ they are developing in to rupture, medical or surgical treatment is required as soon as possible.

The Fallopian tube (where 95% of ectopics happen) cannot support the growing embryo and, if left untreated, can result in the death of the embryo and the death of the mother. For this reason, ectopic pregnancies are considered medical emergencies.

Ectopics are at the center of the controversial Roe vs. Wade abortion ban. Although treatment for this condition is separate from abortion care, overturning Roe could be dangerous for women experiencing ectopics.

This was the cause of the pain that sent me to the emergency room on November 13, 2020, with my legs in the air and three doctors surrounding my area. (See part one.)


Described as a spontaneous abortion through a miscarriage (although, as we’ve covered earlier, an ectopic is not quite a miscarriage), they treated me with Methotrexate on November 20, 2020. When I went in to get the injection, they directed me to the cancer wing, which further disturbed me. I didn’t know Methotrexate was initially used to treat certain cancers; some derived from placental tissue.

Methotrexate is given as a single dose in the hospital’s cancer wing. It effectively destroys ectopic pregnancy tissue and allows it to be reabsorbed by the body. It can also kill normal pregnancy tissue.

In addition to avoiding pregnancy for at least three months, I couldn’t drink alcohol, have foods that contained folic acid, and I had to stay out of the sun for a week after having the injection.

I also had to have a weekly blood test to confirm my HCG levels (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) were getting lower. I spent so much time in the hospital at the end of 2020 that the doctors knew me by name.

After enduring weeks of HCG tests, I was almost finished with the process.

And then, on September 23, 2020, my mom died.

I flew out to Chicago for the funeral when I was supposed to be resting and finishing my last round of tests.

After the funeral, I returned home to complete a couple of weeks, and then I was done.

Or, so I thought.


In the summer of 2020, I experienced pain in my left foot that turned out to be Plantar Fasciitis (PLAN-tur fas-e-I-tis), an inflammation of a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. It is one of the most common forms of heel pain and can usually be treated by simply wearing a better shoe.

But like everything in my life, my case was different.

Instead of going to the emergency room, I figured my insurance could be better spent with a specialist, so I booked an appointment with a Podiatrist, a medical professional specializing in treating disorders of the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg.

Nothing they did worked. Not the massages or pain medication.

When the pain continued, and I could barely walk on it, they gave me an injection, which I had tried to avoid. The steroid is injected into the most painful part of your plantar fascia, helping ease the pain and keep the inflammation down.

It worked, and I have been pain-free ever since. I also changed my house shoes (wearing those specifically designed for the condition. They were ugly but wearing them helped.) I have also been sticking to a certain kind of shoe, such as New Balances.

But while the injection helped, I believe it contributed to my miscarriage that summer, which happened months before the November ectopic. (This one was an actual miscarriage.)

2022

A year passed, and in February of this year (22), I discovered I was pregnant again. I was hopeful and had scheduled my confirmation appointment.

And then I felt that all too familiar low abdominal pain.

It was excruciating, and I could not wait for the appointment. It started that Friday, subsided the weekend, and on Tuesday, the pain was back and felt worse. I thought that if I was in labor, this is how it must feel. I called my doctor and went in early for the appointment.

Instead of a confirmation of pregnancy, I was sent to emergency surgery. Not only was it another ectopic, but it was worse than the first time.

They needed to remove my right Fallopian tube.

To be continued…