For some reason, I woke up at 3:15 this morning, checking things off my Daily To-Do List.
Usually, I don’t awake until about 8am or even later, and when I do, I always chastise myself for laziness. I am the daughter of a woman who grew up on a farm, who rose in darkness to order the day.
I remember my mother quietly waking me in my childhood, and it never occurred to me that she actually slept like a real human being, that she didn’t keep the planet safe like a super hero or a goddess. I took my breakfast for granted.
And sometimes, even when I don’t actually play the song, I sing in my head Sweet Honey in the Rock’s version of “In the Morning When I Rise.” It reminds me of the few, tender moments of my childhood and my mother’s voice.
This morning, I still feel pretty high about the beginning of Black History Month. Yesterday, my students chuckled as I raised my arms in a little victory dance: “Happy first day of Afropalooza, Y’all!” (They know their professor is a nerd, so they are indulgent with me, and I am grateful.)
But this morning, as I puttered around my house in the darkness, rinsing off last night’s dishes and putting dirty laundry in the washer–I am not a fan of housework–I asked myself, “Honorée, what IS it about this month that makes you feel so good?”
After all, for most of my adulthood, I spent Valentine’s Day alone. (It’s still not a favorite holiday for me.) And for the past six years, there has been sadness in this month, too, because I lost a great person in my life during this month–the poet Lucille Clifton. And James W. Richardson, my dear, departed friend, has a birthday this month, so I will probably shed a few tears during these twenty-nine days.
Yes, I call this time “Afropalooza,” and I like to think about it as a party, but there is tragedy to the African American experience, to lives of my people in this country. I, of all people, am no stranger to tragedy, though mine doesn’t begin to compare to what others have endured.
But as I thought about why I love this time, it came to me: since I was a little girl, February has been the month where I felt all my African/American ancestors gather around me, in a ring shout. They have been there, my entire life, watching over me.
I feel my strongest during this time. It’s like a church revival, where I become renewed and the Spirit runs through me. That’s such a good feeling, such a reassurance that no matter how hard things are or might be, I have this month to gather myself again, and to try to be the woman I know I was meant to be.
I hope you feel the same reassurance, if not in this month, then at another time. And I wish you strength today, and blessings this morning.