Yesterday morning my Aunt Lorraine of the low silver haircut and the bright gorgeous clothes, of the voice on the phone breaking into light, of the cards she bought in bulk to mail to great nephews and nieces like me...
Yesterday morning my Aunt Lorraine, the last surviving member of "team Auntie," my grandmother's amazing unmarried sisters, made her transition to the ancestor stage. And in honor of Aunt Lorraine and Aunt Elsie and so many others I want to bring honor to the Quirky Black Aunt.
My grandmother's sisters never got married. Aunt Lorraine walked around gorgeous and glamorous with her short hair, endless stamina for dancing and I revel in her example, surrounded in cousin-circulated rumors about her eyebrow raising relationships down at the women's college, or a lifelong relationship with a married man we never remember meeting.
Aunt Lorraine is the person who would dance all night at the one night club in Anguilla (at the time) early into the morning while we waited worn out by the door, laughing "What? It's still early!!"
The first poem I wrote about Aunt Lorraine started:
time is a small thing
sharp shouldered and dancing
and i never imagine you asleep
Aunt Lorraine is the person who on the phone with me after my first break-up did not say the standard heteronormative, "you'll find someone even better," but instead expansively prophesied "my dear, you will have many great loves."
Aunt Lorraine is the person who always really knew what my academic work was about. She would brag on "team Auntie" three way calls with Aunt Elsie. "See, I knew it was about women, about the power of Black women. Right?"
Years ago in that poem I wrote for Aunt Lorraine (the excuse was that she was being honored by some society of somebodies for her work in the community) i wrote:
picture you small and bold
like the typewritten word
hair shaped close to brain and gavel
voice like gravel
clear and punctuated road to walk
How grateful am I to have had an aunt, sure of herself, unconfined, proud of us no matter what. Team Auntie created photo albums for my father and his siblings so they would know their family history and on the last page the included a picture of me and my grandmother playing in a plastic house. Team Auntie bought these strange pastoral cards with round-faced children on them and sent them on every holiday they knew about it. My great aunts, in their wisdom, in their joy, in their overflowing love, taught me that love was everywhere, always available to be cultivated.
In fact, thanks to Team Auntie (for years I couldn't tell their signatures apart) I did not grow up thinking marriage was a normal thing to do. Common maybe. But clearly not necessary.
Thanks to Team Auntie, I have the knowledge base and the responsibility to be a great aunt, not in the sense of aunt to the possible grandchildren of my siblings, but in the sense of auntness as greatness as example as everpresent love. It makes me want to get a move on the quirky black greeting card series so we can get them in bulk to give to all the kids we love and to make calling my cybergodchildren and kids of comrades on the phone a weekly sunday practice. It makes me want to be (with you) one of those Aunties that lets little black girls especially know they can be their fierce and brilliant selves, obviously.
May we imagine our quirky black lineage, our intergenerational nonconformity not only along lines of mother daughter and grandmother miracle, but also through Auntness as greatness.
Join me on team Auntie and we can love a world into loving itself!!!
P.S. This weekend at the Critical Ethnic Studies Conference QBG Moya and I met some awesome folks from Toronto who are making an zine about body image for indigenous queer people and queer people of color called "This Is Our Zine!" check out the details here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/This-Is-Our-Zine-Anti-Fatbodyhair-phobia-for-IndigenousPOC-peoples/142056015856793?ref=ts&sk=wall
and send something! I will be!!!!!
P.P.S. Durham and Trianlce QBG's come out to the Inspiration Station on March 19th for the first official library day. Check out books (or donate books, or both) at the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind Lending Library!!! (Here is the catalog: http://www.librarything.com/catalog/BlackFeministMind)
and come to Rainbow Reclamations on Sunday March, 20th at the Inspiration Station details here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=140741015992927
P.P.P.S. ATL QBGs!!! Come see QBG's Moya and QBG Lex and the legendary Crunk Feminist Collective crew, and the AWESOME Black Women Birthing Resistance folks at the Southeast Women's Studies Association Conference March 24-26th. Details here: http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwwsi/conference.html
I don't think the most current schedule is on the site though so come see QBG Lex wax poetic about June Jordan and Architecture on Thursday March 24th at 1:30 pm and enjoy the Crunktasticalist of Panels at 10:30 am on Friday, March 25th. Can't wait to see you there!
P.P.P.P.S. Don't forget to propose a session for the Allied Media Conference (http://alliedmedia.org/)
contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to do something for the women of color skillshare!
We love you!!!