Do You Know Your Somebodiness?

Crazy to think that in just a few short hours, this day will be part of history. As I write this, I think about how easily today becomes a memory. The question is, will it be a day worth remembering? Will I remember a cold day with clear skies and the birds building their nests in the tree outside my bedroom window?

As I sit here wearing my I am Black History sweatshirt and my blackballed fists earrings, I am forced to ask myself what it means. What does it mean to be the embodiment of black history? 

When I think about it, I think about legacy. Those things we leave behind for others to grab onto. We live in a world where a person’s significance is realized the most after death. Something about the absence of their presence forces us to consider the nobility of the lives they lived and what we take from it.

Toni Morrison once said, “the function of freedom is to free someone else.” I think about the responsibility of that, and I resolve that being black history in the flesh means to live my life in such a way that black people feel free. 

Still, I am constantly contemplating what that means in all its fullness. How does a person feel free? What parameters must exist for an individual to feel uncaged? These are not simple questions to answer, yet I think we answer them daily with our actions. I think we answer them with the lives we live.

Alice Walker said “the most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” I supposed this is why Dr. King talked about holding on to your somebodiness, because your somebodiness is your power. Your sense of identity and belonging. Your truth. 

Do you know your somebodiness? Do you know your mother’s name and her mother’s name? Do you know your people? Do you know from what root you sprang? How much time do you spend investigating how to reclaim your own identity? You say you are black history. You wear the shirts, use the hashtags and pump your black fists into the air, but do you know your name? Do you know what was taken from you? Do you know what was not?

Do you know your own somebodiness

Freedom Ring – Part One

Photo by Ron Lach from Pexels

The Train

Louis pulled the olive-drab wool service cap down as far as it could go. Why he was hiding his face, he didn’t know. It was not like anyone could see him. Louis’s heart fluttered. After all these years, even the thought of her made him blush. His excitement was quickly replaced by sorrow. He had not been the best husband. Maybe if he were, she would not have asked for that restraining order, he would not have joined the Army, and the terrible future he knew was coming would not happen.

But Louis was on a mission, so now he couldn’t think about that. Life was funny in that way. Sometimes you don’t realize your purpose until after you have already lived.

The scream of the train’s horn startled him out of his thoughts. The 63rd Street Station in Chicago was lively, with travelers. He looked down at his watch as the train’s horn sounded again. They will be here any minute now.

“Now, where do you think you are going?”

Louis looked up and smiled. That tiny voice and round, golden-brown face always did something to him. Then, she had the nerve to have those sexy glasses on. But Mamie wasn’t talking to him and had not spoken to him in years. No, Mamie Carthan was talking to their son.

Louis stopped thinking about her beauty and rushed over to stand next to them. There was not much time left, and although he knew neither one could see him, the whole situation still made him nervous. Nerves. Was that even a thing anymore? Louis brushed imaginary lint from his wool, four-button olive coat. It was the same coat he had been wearing for ten years now. The same uniform he has worn since he died.

“Come on, ma. I’m gonna be late,” whined the chubby little boy.

Louis smiled. He knew Emmett would be a handful the day they discovered he was a breech baby. That’s why he gave him his name because he knew he’d be hard-headed, just like his father. Emmett Louis Till. Bursting into the world wide-eyed and feet first.

“Yea, but you didn’t kiss me goodbye.”

Emmett smiled and gave Mamie a peck on the cheek.

Give her the watch.

Louis cleared his throat. He hadn’t realized how long it’s been since he had said anything out loud. He looked around at the people walking by. It was strange the way they seemed to look right at him.

Give her the watch. 

He repeated the command as he stared down at his son.

You won’t need it where you are going.

He could see the boy thinking the words over in his head. He knew he thought they were coming from his own mind. Louis had come to learn that sadness was different in the after-world, but if he could, he would shed a tear. He stood watching his son remove the watch he was wearing and give it to his mother, and his heart ached at the future.

“Here,” said Emmett, “take my watch.”

Mamie frowned as she put it on, “Why?”

“I won’t need it where I’m going,” he said, turning his back to his mother and dashing off in the direction of the train where his cousin Wheeler and great Uncle Moses were waiting.

“Bobo, wait! What about your ring?”

Louis turned away from Emmett to look admirably at his ex-wife. She was the one and had always been the one. He thought she was chosen for him to be his wife this entire time. But the truth is she was chosen to be Emmett’s mother.

He pulled himself away from her face. He was running out of time. Emmett had to be on that train.

Show it to the fellas.

Emmett turned around and pulled the ring from his pants pocket, and put it on, rubbing his fingers across his father’s initials. He lifted his head and stared straight ahead, like someone who had just discovered a new world or happened upon a new invention, and flashed a big grin.

“I’m gonna show this to the fellas!”

Mamie laughed and waved her handkerchief.

“Alright then, boy. Go on ahead now.”

Louis watched his son jump on the train and Mamie staring after him. He remembered the day he got the thing made in Europe, just one year since he had been drafted into the Army. But it was not his ring anymore. Soon, the whole African American community would wear that ring. 

No. This was no longer LT’s ring. Now, it was the ring of freedom.

The quietness of the station alarmed him, and Louis looked around in awe of the now dark, empty station. The Master warned him that time moved differently here. He had better get a move on it if he was going to make it to Money in time.

Louis inhaled deeply as his body disintegrated into the wind for his next mission.


After watching ABC’s “Let the World See” about the role of Mamie Till and how she handled Emmett Till’s death, I was happy to see some discussion about Emmett’s father, Louis. Since grade school, I have been studying the Emmett Till story, when I first learned about it, heard many versions of the story, and have seen countless documentaries. My favorite is the one that aired in 2005, “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till,” on YouTube. I like it mostly because Mamie Till was still alive and could tell it the way only she could.

But in all the docs, even my favorite one, there was never anything about his father. This had me thinking.

What if we tell both of their stories at the same time? 

Louis Till died at the young age of twenty-three when he was accused of assaulting some Italian women in Europe while serving overseas in the Transportation Corps of the U.S. Army during World War II. He and a friend were found guilty and lynched in 1945. 

What if our story doesn’t end here? 

What if the spirit world informs Louis about his son’s death and its necessity to jump start The Civil Rights Movement? 

And what if it becomes Louis’s responsibility to make sure Emmett wears his ring so that they can identify his body? 

And what if his soul isn’t allowed to rest until he does? 

What if we can tell both stories through the power of the ring that binds them?

No Whining Wednesday: Force Nothing

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Welcome back to another episode of No Whining Wednesday! Today, you cannot whine, criticize, or complain.

If you are new to this blog or new to this segment please visit the NWW page here for past episodes.

I am aware there was no NWW episode last week. It is because I did not have a word to give. And I would rather say nothing than to speak just for the sake of speaking. In the words of Obbie West, the poet, “speaking just for the sake of speaking is the same as being silent.”

I almost didn’t post anything today either.

But as I thought about this series, why I created it, and why its existence is necessary, forcing things came to my mind.

IMG-6546(1)We know we cannot force things to happen, but we try to anyway. It is like we are fascinated by the chase. When we cannot get what we want when we want it, we whine and complain because we feel we failed to make it happen.

We stress ourselves out over things we cannot control. We become upset that we cannot force it as much as we try.

It is not until we let go that things happen as they were always intended to. Ever noticed that it starts to move as soon as you forget about something?

Think about misplacing something. It can literally be right in your face as you tear the house apart. Only when you calm down, relax, and focus on something else that you see that thing sitting on the table.

You think, “How in the world did I miss this? I’ve looked at that table four times!”

Or did you?

You looked at the table, but did you see what was on it? 

People are fascinated by my locs. They want to know what products I use, what my routine is, and how in the heck I got my hair to grow down my back.

These conversations are fun, especially for women. We get to giggle and be girly about products and things.

But the only honest answer to this question is nothing. I don’t do anything to my hair.

Of course, I wash it, oil it, and all that good stuff, but for the most part, I leave it alone, and it grows wildly.

Sometimes, you just need to leave that situation alone. Don’t complain about it, don’t stress about it. Don’t even think about it. Stop trying to force the revelations to come. What will be, will be.

So let it be.

No Whining Wednesday: Humility

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Welcome back to another episode of No Whining Wednesday! Today, you cannot whine, criticize, or complain.

If you are new to this blog or new to this segment please visit the NWW page here for past episodes.

Today’s inspiring word comes from Katerina Stoykova Klemer:

In my opinion, confidence is liking yourself. As simple as that may sound, the act of liking ourselves is not always easy. It means appreciating who we are as a person while being humble enough to know that we have strengths and weaknesses. I think low self-worth, however, is focusing only on our flaws and not liking anything about ourselves.

The tricky part is that arrogance is liking ourselves too, but it’s also thinking everyone else should like us. While humility makes us more empathetic to the struggles of others, arrogance makes us more judgemental.

That’s why this quote is so powerful to me, and honestly, I am still meditating on it. As someone who has struggled with low self-esteem, I am always thinking about ways to keep a good balance of confidence and humility.

It makes me think about this series because, in my experience, not being a complainer requires a level of humility. It takes humility to support other people, admit to our own flaws, and accept correction.

I also think of appreciation. When we appreciate something and allow that to show in our actions, we display a form of humility. I believe this makes us more grateful, secure, and less stressed.

If enduring struggle (in whatever form that may be) does not make us more appreciative, then I would predict we will continue to suffer until we have learned whatever lesson life is trying to teach us. Sometimes, by worrying and being anxious, we make situations worse.

Humility helps us surrender the need to control every outcome and strengthen our faith that things will work out as intended.

My National Novel Writing Month Experience

This year, I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month for the first time. With Black History Month around the corner for many (it’s always black history for me), I am pushing to finish the first draft by February. Because it requires a lot of research, this is one of those books with a source page that will probably be thick enough for its own mini book. The discipline required to get this done made #NaNoWriMo more attractive this year to hold myself accountable.

My goal was to write every day and have 50K words down by the end of the month. Let’s see how I did.

Word Count as of 11/30/2021: 30,168.
Chapters: 23
Pages: 113
Sources Page: 3,747 words, 15 pages

While I did not cross the 50K threshold, I am proud of making it this far because I wanted to get 25K down if I could not do the fifty.

I did not write every day. I spent days traveling, and even on returning, I did not get right back to writing immediately. The interesting thing is that I rested a lot, which helped me do more when I was writing. Taking days off actually helped, not hinder me. To quote the Nap Ministry on Twitter: “This idea that you gotta grind yourself into exhaustion and make work the center of your entire existence is not liberating.”

I found the word count ticker and badges (I won 7) on the website motivating. I would look at it and compete to see if I could beat the previous day’s count.

The most significant thing, though, has been ghosting social media for much of November. I am not a good multitasker. If I am to focus on completing something, I have to give it my full attention, and right now, that’s this black history book. I was not posting as much or blogging. I will probably continue being missing in action, except the remaining book review posts and NWW, until the draft is complete.

I’m not gonna lie; I looked at National Novel Writing Month sideways a couple of times. I didn’t think it was for me. I am not for the whole “write a book in ten or thirty days” kind of thing. And while it’s not something I would do every year, having participated, I can say that I enjoyed the push it has given me.

If there is one thing I would do differently, it would be to set my own word count goal and try to stick to writing a little every day instead of sitting at the computer for hours. That ain’t healthy.

This bitmoji is way more excited than I am about this, lol.

Who else participated in NaNoWriMo? How was your experience?

Do Not Publish that First Draft

Starting in 1999, National Novel Writing Month is a challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel during the thirty days of November. It is a good way for writers determined to start or finish their books to hold themselves accountable.

Today (11/30) is the last day of NaNoWriMo. Many of you have met your 50K goal and will have a new book sitting on your table tomorrow. Congratulations are in order. Someone get the wine.

But I wouldn’t be a good friend if I didn’t tell you the truth and the truth is that mess on your table is not ready for publishing.

Hundreds and thousands of writers and aspiring writers will have complete manuscripts by tomorrow (12/1), but these are messy complete manuscripts. They still have to be revised, professionally edited, and formatted. So, please, do not publish that first draft.

In honor of NaNoWriMo, I am republishing this post from 2017.


You have finished your book. This is admirable because so many people never finish. This is an accomplishment worthy of celebration. Congratulations!

But, while this is an accomplishment worth celebrating, you are not done. Do not pass go and do not collect $200.

A rule of thumb is that you do not publish a book you just finished writing. After you have finished writing your book, your manuscript is now considered the first draft. It’s called the first draft because it is the first copy of the book ever in existence where you have made no significant changes. It is a rough draft of the story from your mind to the page.

“In any piece of writing, whether a novel manuscript or a blog post, the first draft is also known as a rough draft. From start to finish, it’s technically a complete piece. It has a beginning that moves to a middle that concludes with an ending. But it’s a messy complete piece. There are still thoughts to ground, sentences to be revised for maximum reader engagement, and spelling errors to fix. Which is why a rough draft should never, ever, ever be your final draft.”

– Innovative Editing

Once you have finished the actual writing part, it’s a good idea to let the manuscript sit for a while. Take a few weeks off from the writing and do something else. Then, return to it with fresh eyes to begin your self-edits. This Writer’s Digest article has some excellent tips for self-editing using these 7 Self-Editing Processes for Writers.

You may also decide to join a critique group or recruit the help of beta readers before sending it in for editing. And by editing, I don’t mean your English teacher friend. You really should hire a professional editor.

Whatever you decide, the point is to make sure the manuscript is as polished as you can make it before publishing. With Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, Lulu, and other POD (Print on Demand) services, I know it’s easy to upload a Word Document or PDF and say you have written a book, but I implore you not to publish the first draft/rough draft of your book. I promise you, it is not ready.

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No Whining Wednesday: Celebrate Yourself

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Welcome back to another episode of No Whining Wednesday! Today, you cannot whine, criticize, or complain.

If you are new to this blog or new to this segment please visit the NWW page here for past episodes.

Today’s inspiring word comes from Michell C. Clark:

I needed to see this quote the other day as I found myself complaining more than usual. Wednesdays have gotten a lot more peaceful for me since I started this series, but I still complain on the other days like the rest of us humans.

The source of my complaint was about the struggle that comes with being a Self-Published author in today’s world. Being an independent artist, in general, is always a challenge. While it’s a challenge I chose to pursue, it does make me sad to struggle for exposure when authors published by traditional publishers release books to citywide book tours and New York Times Best Sellers list. Not to confuse my melancholy at these revelations for a desire to be traditionally published, though I see nothing wrong with it. I am just a woman hoping to make a difference with her work in a way that transcends social media.

“A lot of people won’t celebrate you until your wins feel “big” enough for them.”

I pondered the many ways we do this in society–from rushing out to buy a book recommended by Oprah to not supporting our friends’ “little” business until it becomes a “big” business. There are, sadly, tons of ways we ignore people because it doesn’t seem like what they are doing is a big deal.

“But you can celebrate yourself now. You can be proud of every step you take and every sacrifice you make.”

This is why I post about getting into bookstores and such. It is not to be braggadocious or even make it seem like I am “doing it big,” whatever that means. I do it because I learned years ago the importance of celebrating all wins, not just the ones deemed significant in the eyes of the world.

I have a hope that one day I will not have to count the stores housing my books because they will be everywhere. That vision starts with appreciating where it is now. I know Indie Authors want to be a #1 Amazon Best Seller, but I don’t care much about that. All this online stuff is cool, but I am striving to carve a space out in the real world too.

“And you won’t need other people’s applause to be proud of how far you’ve come.”

This part reminds me of the saying, “you have today what you once prayed for,” or something like that. I don’t remember exactly how it is worded, but it always brings me back. Not only is someone praying for the life you have now, but you once prayed for it too! Isn’t that amazing?

The more we learn to celebrate ourselves, the less discouraged we will be when others don’t see our value, and the less dependent we are on the need to have them acknowledge us.

Today, celebrate yourself. You deserve it even if no one else knows it but you.

PS. I celebrated myself by ordering an expensive Veggie Delight Burger I wouldn’t usually buy but that I had been lusting after for a while. Today, I decided I deserved it. The world will not end if I pay a few extra dollars to eat what I want.