Exercise in Denial

It was just another

unpainted clapboard house

dotting the rural southern landscape

neglected

ravaged by the elements

long void of human life

 

The winter of 1995 traveling on Montgomery HWY 31 South would change all that

 

A friend seeing a white woman jogging along the highway

decided to ask, “What’s the history of that house”

The jogger answered, “That house has no history; It’s just a niggah house”

 

My brain froze

The words reverberated

“just a niggah house”

“has no history”

“a niggah house”

“no history”

 

This house

walls in tack

windows still paned though a crack or two

rusted tin roof buckling but covering the frame

was denied existence

denied its stories

denied its memories

because the “people” dark of skin

who once lived therein

could not be recognized

 

This house was denied its families

Sunday mornings

holiday cheer

births and deaths

as the design of rocks in the back yard so well establish

 

denied its kitchen

beans w/a hock cooking on the stove

Ba’ Bruh’s bathing in the wash tub

Sistah washing clothes in the sink

and Aunt Lil getting her hair “laid to the side” with the comb hot from the stove

 

denied its children playing “Lil Sally Walker” on a clean swept yard

denied its first new used car parked out front

and the pride that comes from actually getting what you saved two years to get

 

denied its Chinaberry tree now a stump where

Daddy hung a tire swing one summer day

Bo broke his leg, when he fell trying to build a tree house

the family stood in awe of Uncle Joe’s new gray ‘n red

Ford N Series tractor

Daddy carved “G loves E” in a heart after he first saw Mom

 

Just a niggah house?

No history?

 

It’s amazing the lengths

some will go

to deny

a people

existence


 

-Georgette Norman

Georgette was born, reared and educated through grade 12 in Montgomery AL at Alabama State College Laboratory School.  Her further formal and life education was received at Fisk University in Nashville TN, where she earned a B.A. in History, and at Hampton Institute in Hampton VA, where she received a M.A. in Education. She also holds a certificate in Humanistic Education from the University of Miami (Miami, FL).

As the Director of Troy University Rosa Parks Museum, Georgette partnered with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services (SITES) to develop “361 Days: The Montgomery Bus Boycott Story” for the 50th Anniversary of the Boycott. The Exhibit explores the crucial, historic events, which ignited the national Civil Rights Movement and was generously underwritten by AARP. She also works as an independent consultant in the arts, education, program design and implementation and conducts workshops in creativity, cultural diversity and healing history. Georgette sees herself as an observer and active participant in life and believes her life to be her self-portrait, her masterpiece.

 

“Live simply so others may simply live.”
Georgette

Image:  Wikimedia Commons, By https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/al0079.photos.001699p, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33608447

 

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