Gut Truths

Gut Truths

“I think of the oft-touted phrase about being “the descendant of stolen people living on stolen land” meaning that I am indigenous, but not to this place. I am considered indigenous to land that has not been touched by my own ancestors for eight generations or more. My belly understands what it means that I could only be a guest in that place, as well as this one.”

Freedom and Responsibility: Remembering Decoration Day

Freedom and Responsibility: Remembering Decoration Day

Before there was Memorial Day, there was Decoration Day. Decoration Day is the American Day of the Dead, a ritual of consecration originating in the action of African-Americans who walked toward freedom, in gratitude. Decoration Day is an African American holiday dedicated to building acts of memory, justice and repair. It is the annual commemoration of a complex relationship we hold with the history of this land.

Where Are Your People From? Black/Land in Macon County, Alabama

Where Are Your People From? Black/Land in Macon County, Alabama

You got people here?  is often the first question I heard when The Black Land Project spent last week in Macon County, Alabama. Our interviews focused on a region just south of Tuskegee called The Ridge, a series of small communities (Creek Stand, Warrior Stand, Roba,  Hurtsboro) along a geological elevation of soil too poor for commercial farming, but rich in game and pine timber. The Ridge is a place where having people – knowing who you are in the lineage of this place —  is how people define themselves.

Black/Land in the Black Belt: A view from the Ridge in Macon Co. Alabama

Black/Land in the Black Belt: A view from the Ridge in Macon Co. Alabama

This week, the Black/Land Project will be conducting interviews and writing in Macon County, Alabama.

Macon County is home to many black land stories: enslaved African-Americans brought to clear and settle colonial Alabama, and their freedmen descendants (of which this writer is one); the HBCU Tuskegee University; and the black churches where people were rounded up for the infamous U.S. Public Health Syphilis study. Those stories exist at a crossroads, intersecting with  homeland of  the Mvskokie (Muscogee) Creek peoples. A classic novel of the Harlem Renaissance, Ollie Miss, is set in rural  Macon County, where the Black/Land Project will be working.

Narratives of Desire

Narratives of Desire

Many black travel narratives focus on racism, ignorance or exotification. Other damage-centered stories focus on forced movement or displacement. When we only hear and tell these kinds of stories about black movement across land, we showcase narratives of black bondage. One impact of these narrow appraisals is it keeps black people in the same place, preventing us from experiencing the freedom that moving can also bring.