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  • "I've got people in me."

  • So sang the late Abbey Lincoln.

  • I take that lyric as mantra.

  • "I've got people in me."

  • Jomama Jones is the person in me I turn to as a guide.

  • She's my alter ego.

  • I've been embodying her in performance since 1995,

  • and she comes around when she has some insight to offer folks.

  • At this time of radical change,

  • I'm glad to be the vessel for her message to you.

  • Jomama Jones: What if I told you

  • it's going to be alright ...

  • but what if I told you not yet?

  • What if I told you there are trials ahead

  • beyond your deepest fears?

  • What if I told you will you fall ...

  • down, down, down?

  • But what if I told you you will surprise yourself?

  • What if I told you will be brave enough?

  • What if I told you

  • we won't all make it through?

  • But what if I told you

  • that is as it must be?

  • What if I told you I've seen the future?

  • Do you like my hands?

  • They're expressive, yeah?

  • Now look at your hands -- now go on.

  • There's so much history recorded through their touches

  • and marks of the future sketched on their palms.

  • Sometimes hands grip tight,

  • sometimes hands let go.

  • What if I told you

  • it's all going to come undone?

  • Hm.

  • Ladies and gentlemen

  • and otherwise described,

  • I am Jomama Jones.

  • Some call me a soul sonic superstar,

  • and I agree,

  • though even in my past that was from the future.

  • Let me take you back to girlhood.

  • Picture this:

  • it was Planting Day,

  • which was a holiday I invented

  • for the Black youth community group I founded.

  • I dashed home to put on my gardening ensemble

  • when I caught my uncle Freeman red-handed.

  • He was standing over my piggy bank with his hammer raised high.

  • He was fixing to steal my coins.

  • And you see,

  • my uncle Freeman was a handyman.

  • He could fix anything --

  • a broken chair, a shattered pot --

  • even bring grandmother's plants back to life.

  • He had that magic touch with broken things ...

  • and broken people.

  • He would take me with him on his jobs

  • and say, "C'mon Jo,

  • let's go do something to make this world a better place."

  • His hands were wide and calloused,

  • and they always reminded me of displaced tree roots.

  • As we worked he would talk with folks

  • about the change he was sure was just around the corner.

  • I saw him mend flagging hopes

  • and leave folks with their heads held high.

  • His hands stirred the sunshine.

  • And now he was about to break my piggy bank.

  • I said "Step back, man, and show me your hands."

  • You know the irony was

  • he used to give me all the old coins he'd find under floorboards while working.

  • And I put them in the piggy bank

  • along with the money I earned through my childhood side hustles.

  • But by the spring of 1970,

  • Uncle Freeman had lost his touch ...

  • along with most of his jobs.

  • He saw a heavy future

  • of civil wrongs and Black power outages in his palms.

  • The last straw had come the previous winter

  • when they had gunned down Fred Hampton.

  • Overwhelmed with fear

  • and rage

  • and grief,

  • Uncle Freeman tried to game his future.

  • He gripped too tight,

  • and he started playing the numbers.

  • "Well, one of these numbers is gonna hit, little girl.

  • You got a quarter for your uncle Free -- "

  • Now some of y'all have that relative.

  • But I knew right then and there I had to do something.

  • I jumped up and I grabbed that hammer

  • and I brought it crashing down on that pig.

  • And Uncle Freeman started to weep as I gathered up all the coins.

  • "We're not buying no lottery ticket, Uncle Freeman.

  • C'mon."

  • We spent every last cent at the seed store.

  • You know, the kids in my gardening group?

  • They didn't bat an eye when I had Uncle Freeman get down

  • and put his hands in the earth again

  • and start breaking up that soil for our seeds.

  • And my little friend Taesha even came over and started slapping him on the back

  • saying, "Cry it out, Uncle Freeman.

  • Cry it out."

  • "I can't fix this," he sobbed.

  • It's an ancient-future truism, that.

  • He wasn't the first to feel that way, and he wouldn't be the last.

  • Right now, it feels as though everything is breaking beyond repair.

  • It is.

  • But that breaking apart can be a breaking open,

  • no matter how violent and uncertain

  • and fearsome it seems.

  • The thing is ...

  • we can't do it alone.

  • Uncle Freeman cried so much that day as we planted our seeds,

  • he was our very own irrigation system.

  • "I don't know who I am anymore, little girl,"

  • he said to me at sundown.

  • "Good, Uncle Freeman.

  • Good.

  • You're new again,

  • and that's just how we need you."

"I've got people in me."

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What to do when everything feels broken | Daniel Alexander Jones

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/29
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