Acclaimed author of the novel PUSH, which was made into the movie PRECIOUS.

This morning while brewing tea and trying to figure out how much I could humanly accomplish in the remaining fourteen hours of the day, I remembered a radio ad announcing that the author SAPPHIRE would be speaking here in Atlanta.

Now that the school year is in full swing, I find myself mostly grading papers and lesson-planning.

This past week, I promised myself [for the millionth time] that I would make a concerted effort to live ART no matter or place. See, I was the kid who insisted on finishing her homework first then going out to play. Well, let’s just say by the time homework is even remotely finished, it’s time for bed.

It frustrates me that I do not make enough time for my husband, my writing, my dreaming — ME.

So keeping to my new promise, I started searching the web for the event. Finally found it on the  News and Talk Radio station 1380 website — The Voice of the Community:

Clark Atlanta University (CAU) will host acclaimed poet and author Sapphire at two exclusive, free events

Friday, Oct. 15.  The public is invited to attend “Lunchtime Literati: A Conversation with Sapphire” at noon in the University’s Davage Auditorium.  At 6 p.m., Sapphire will share from her novel Push.  

Buried under school work and a bit of a recluse, I have to admit that I am still trying to figure Atlanta out. This home of civil rights struggle and southern belles who don four-inch pumps to thump melons at the local supermarket; This home of rap music in repetitive drawl bumped in tricked-out Capri Classics; This home of televised mega-churches and infamous strip clubs. New York does not have one face it puts on  to be proper and an underbelly it hides when company comes calling. It is what it is, so I was actually surprised when I scrolled down and read the comment posted.

I thought, someone who listens to a station that considers itself “the voice of the people” posted this? Dredged up The Color Purple firestorm that even in my teens I didn’t understand because writers are supposed to tell the untold stories? Did they really say [PRECIOUS is] “another movie with some of the same negative characterizations that are associated with white culture, rape, incest, pedophilia, aids, etc are back again being pushed by black faces unto our community?”  Really?

Maybe because I was a quiet kid. Maybe because I didn’t stand up for myself when I really needed to tell people where to get off. Maybe because I learned quickly that people mask themselves to protect themselves and  you never truly know how anyone is doing: Whatever the reason, I always side with the underdog. I write for those who can’t find the words. I piece words together to tell their story.

I felt compelled to respond.  My comment sits awaiting moderation, but I replied:

“What I find most interesting is that both The Color Purple and Push feature victims of ‘closeted and unspoken abuse’ who in telling their story finally break from the abuse. I remember the debates about ‘airing dirty laundry’ when The Color Purple came out and wondered even then —- Well, what do victims do for healing? It is as if the soul of one person has to be sacrificed for the sake of appearances. One person sacrificing their sanity and spirit for the sake of her/his people. But when does the community do for them?

It isn’t as if these issues are isolated to one community, one set of people.

I guess knowing victims of abuse who suffered in silence so that no one would ‘look bad’ gives me another take on the matter. Works like these offer some victims the strength to break the cycle and at the very least start much-needed dialogue.

I am a fan of any work that rattles the status quo and makes every one check themselves, so I will definitely be in attendance.”

—Susana Yvette

And I do know people who opted for silence and imploded, opted for silence and were guilt-ridden because without their speaking up there was just another victim. I know some who sacrificed their very souls for fear of not being believed, for fear of being black-balled, for fear of shaming family…etc.

The post opened by saying that “Her book is one of the reasons that we have seen a cultural set back by another 25 years,” and this just seemed so close-minded on a site that touts ideas and perspectives that differ from the status quo. I am still shaking my head. But  I realize that 1380 WAOK is the voice of the people, I mean the writer immediately had someone agree with the question of why anyone would buy this book, see this movie…

So I did the only thing I could do — speak up.

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