I watched, because I thought there'd be a better tribute to Whitney Houston than that offered at the Grammys. Nothing against young sister, Jennifer Hudson, but I just felt a coming together of OUR people, would honor Sister Whitney in a way she truly deserved - and I was right.
Lawd ha' mercy! Yolanda Adams took my crisis-of-faith, back-slidin' self - TO CHURCH! And as they said the Lord said during creation - "It was good." Tears rolled down my face as she belted out "I Love the Lord." And as she wove in the sounds of praise like my Grandmama's old-lady-peopled, Edisto Island, Methodist senior choir, I must admit, my hands raised themselves up in the air as I sat at my table. Yolanda, I thank you for that my sister! It dealt with me in an extraordinary way.
My other joy, was my people's full-throated support of Viola Davis and "The Help" (I know, I know - I said I wasn't going to watch it, but did - on the plane to Africa). Though I had mega-issues with this white woman telling our story (including her treatment of the woman upon whom Aibileen was based), I found myself feeling pride in the way Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer paid homage to my now-gone-home, great-grandmother; grandmother; mother; my mother's sisters still here - and to my dear, dear, Miss Dora, all of them, at one time or another having been "The Help."
Ms. Dora was my mother's best friend who, spending most of her entire life being "The Help," sent all her children to college, owns her own home in Charleston and still managed to have a great time with my mother on their annual NFL bus trips, here, there and everywhere! I'm reminded of a church trip she made to DC when I was going to Georgetown back in 2008. I picked her up at her hotel, brought her to my little apartment in NE, and then - I took her to the Kennedy Center to see "The Color Purple." What a wonderful time we both had!
After I took her back to the hotel, we sat and talked about my Mama - and cried til it was time for me to go. Ms. Dora hugged me close and said, "Debi, you're gonna be alright Child." And that too, was good. Viola, Octavia, Miss Dora - all I can fix my mouth to say is - "Thank you all so very much for being our help!"
My cousin, Lesa at home, sent me this link last night and I just had to post it because it was wonderfully inspirational for me! You see, I've been following crumbs of my own for awhile now, trying to piece together my own ancestral heritage in the same way as Alex Haley and Ms. Polite's father in the following video (minus the help of Joe Opala of course - who I'm sure has no idea how much his research into my Gullah Culture kick-started my journey!).My search, now centered on The Gambia, began as a serendipitous invitation from Gerald Pinedo saying, "You should come! Every Black American should go home at least once in their life!" But once I set foot on that soil, the absolutely striking similarities to my Edisto Island roots took over and now, they just won't let me go! Maybe Sierra Leone should be my focus, I don't know. But what I found in The Gambia so far, is surely a part of me as well. I'll be posting much more about it as time passes, but in the meantime, enjoy this wonderful education about "whose we are" which enables us to continue standing: