My grandma, Ruth James was a farm hand’s wife. She gave what little she had to family, neighbors and even the white family she worked for. That was her world. That was her reality.
Below are pages from a book a woman wrote. My grandparents are sprinkled here and there in it.
From the author’s own words, we see how my grandmother influenced her life. Ruth James worked hard and made sure no one left from her presence hungry or in need of clothing. This is documented in the book Backward Glances by Margaret Poole Downing. She cleaned white people’s houses and took care of their children from can’t see to can’t see because she had to. At the end of the night, she walked to their humble little home, only to go back to work when they got home for her own husband and children.
My grandma was not empowered. They were isolated from the Civil Rights Movement. In the rural area she lived in, blacks were severely disenfranchised. They did the best they could with what they had. I asked my mom about the Civil Rights Movement in her area and she really has no recollection of it. She said she felt something in the air but no one talked about “Those Things”, not even in school. She graduated high school in 1968, the year Martin Luther King Jr and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated and Tommy Smith and John Carlos raised their fist at the Olympics. In town, you couldn’t discuss these things openly. They were not empowered.
That’s not my reality nor the reality of my two daughters, ages 17 and 25 years old. We have access to everything at the push of a button literally.
With this new president, #45, women like us have targets on our backs. We are black and we are women. However, I will fight back. I am empowered.
I will fight back for my grandma Ruth. I will fight back for my female ancestors who could not or who were too afraid to do so. I will fight for my daughters and their offspring.
How will I do this?
I will work my businesses until the day I die. Through the highs and lows.
I will empower my daughters to own their own businesses. My youngest daughter owns Doni’s Desserts. Through her business, she financed her own way on an HBCU Tour during spring break.
My oldest daughter, Gabi owns Painted to Filth and Werk In Progress Photography. Her clients are Houston’s Top Drag Queens. You read right: DRAG QUEENS! She is respected and trusted by them and they put much RESPEK on her craft. I want them to know if there is no way, make a way.
For years, I was not empowered to believe in myself and my capabilities. I was told to go to college and get a good job and you will have a great life. It wasn’t until I took a closer look at life, that I found this to be incorrect. No matter how hard I work, there are folks in power who do not have my best interest at heart. In the county I live in, most of it is ran by folks who do not look like me. Our school board does not represent the children who attend the schools. Our county commissioners do not represent their constituents.
So dear sister, I want you to truly reflect on who’s blood is in your veins. What did they do? How can you empower the women and girls in your family? I encourage you to run for office in 2018. If you don’t run for anything, can you support a woman who does? You can write emails to your local senators and representatives. You can help with voter registration. There is so much we can do but we must do something for our kids and their future.
We are empowered, ladies! It’s time to get to work!
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