For the last twenty years I have re-read the book shown on the right. Due to all the stuff that has happened in my life this year, I almost forgot about this annual tradition. I would have to say that this is probably the most insightful book I have ever read. It was published in 1994 when both sisters were over 100-years old. These two African-American women lived through an entire century and had a lot to say about their lives.
My category “Having My Say” which is probably the most populated here on RJsCorner is patterned after this book. I am like them in that I don’t parse many words about the circumstances of my life or the world for that matter. They are my heroes in that regard. For this annual review, I just want to pull some of the quotes that seem relevant to our times.
[on how they have lived so long] We never had husbands to worry us to death.
I’ve already helped raise my 10 brothers and sisters, I feel like I’ve raised the whole world, I don’t want to have kids.
“All I ever wanted in my life was to be treated as an individual. I have succeeded, to some extent. At least I’m sure that in the Lord’s eyes, I am an individual. I am not a “colored” person, or a “Negro” person, in God’s eyes. I am just me! The Lord won’t hold it against me that I’m colored because He made me that way! He thinks I am beautiful! And so do I, even with all my wrinkles! I am beautiful!
I was torn between two issues—colored, and women’s rights. But it seemed to me that no matter how much I had to put up with as a woman, the bigger problem was being colored. People looked at me and the first thing they saw was Negro, not woman.
Those were hard times, after slavery days. Much of the South was scarred by the Civil War and there wasn’t much food or supplies among the whites, let alone the Negroes. Most of the slaves, when they were freed, wandered about the countryside like shell-shocked soldiers.
Somebody asked us if we remembered seeing the Statue of Liberty as we pulled into the harbor. Tell you the truth, we didn’t care too much about it. The Statue of Liberty was important to white European immigrants. It was a symbol to them. We knew it wasn’t meant for us.
The whites resented the Negroes taking over Harlem, but eventually all of them had to serve Negroes—including at those white-owned restaurants—or go out of business, because after a while there was nobody left but Negroes. White folks had run out of Harlem like fleas from a dead dog.
If any of this interests you I highly encourage you to get a copy of this book. It will keep you grounded in what is important in life, and maybe even give you a heightened sense of empathy for others different from you.