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By C. Imani Williams
July is here and it is Motor City hottt!
I came home for the birth my granddaughter, McKenzey Marie. Healthy and beautiful, she made her platinum world debut July 3. Weighing in at 7.5 pounds, she has her mother’s eyes and dimple and resembles a Hindu baby. I’m in love. I watched the miracle of her birth and, five minutes later, her eyes were open wide and unblinking, locking with mine. An old soul.
Congratulations, Brittney and Roy.
I also attended a Fourth of July old-fashioned block party thrown, by the N.W. Detroit Griggs Street community. The energy provided soothing salve for this not-so-West-Coast sistah who lives in a diverse community in the LBC. Diversity is great – I love seeing and talking to people from various backgrounds on a daily basis. Sometimes, however, you need to be nurtured in the arms of the community that raised and loved you back in the day.
As I made my way up the block to my friends’ home, it felt as if Detroit was opening her arms to me. I needed every fiber of that feeling. Bouncers for the kids dotted the block while grills billowing smoke held bellies full of meat that I wouldn’t partake in personally but, that I would watch others thoroughly enjoy. The table spreads were impressive and there was a sense of familiarity with a down-home quality.
I haven’t been home since Christmas, and the block party was it! Delighted to be back on my childhood stomping grounds, I shared memories with new and old friends alike.
Seventies jams like the Isley Brother’s “Summer Breeze” took a sistah back. Watching the kids jump up in down in the bouncers and acting like children and not miniature adults was refreshing. Even the frequency of Weezie in rotation didn’t stop me from singing along and clapping with a goofy grin plastered on my face.
Multi-generational black on black love was in full effect. This could have been the top feature weekend story, had the media shown up. They could have written about families taking time to stop and enjoy home and friends, a community coming together – not just this year, but at least the last six – to give and receive love, to display a sense of unity and dispel the myths that say we aren’t about LOVE. This six-hour, all-ages event took place without one infraction. It was civil, loving and truly beautiful.
I have not been spiritually fed by community in some time. In Cali, when I count black people there may be two per every 10. At home, I see myself as part of a village that I am still very concerned about.
Though my hosts are my sistahs and SGL, the day was about love that radiated throughout the entire block for everyone present. This is diversity for Detroit. We didn’t have the gay flag displayed and the brothers and sisters my hosts opened up this special space to were not all SGL. The point is, this was the first time in 10 years that I haven’t felt the need to be branded as gay/lesbian or SGL. It was OK just to be Imani in the awesomeness of being African American and a black woman.
My community is now defined as the place where I get spiritually fed and may mean different things at different times. I strive to drop all labels, as they are simply too confining. I belong to several communities, all of which feed me on different levels. As a social justice activist, I fight to end oppression against all human beings – and animals, for that matter.
As a side note, I need to share a bit.
At this truly community-based event, I got my appetite back. The stress of the last semester left yours truly affectionately nicknamed Snackie Johnson, ‘Snackie J’ for short – unable to eat for a few weeks. Moi, who is always good for a treat or two from a backpack or whatever bag hangs off my shoulder, was unable to eat almost anything. It was not a good look.
My testimony I share is that in the fold of all of that community love, I ate. I had Caribbean peas and rice drenched in jerk gravy, salad grown in my friend’s garden and corn on the cob that was so sweet I swore I was back at my Grandmother’s table in Tennessee as a child. The food and the love that flowed up and down the block were exactly what I needed.
It never fails: Good people, food and music promote change, they can heal what ails you. The fireworks were pretty good, too!