Friday, October 12, 2018

Solange Lillian Wall Has Something To Say October 2018

Living As Another Longing for Others

I was born in another century and now live in the New Millennium. 
As a first generation American; the child of Caribbean immigrants I was raised in an environment of flavor, texture, colors and stories. It was often said "The blood that unites us is thicker than the water that separates us."   
As an African American -- or as I prefer to identify: an African in America.

The spirit of the philosophy of Negritude, embraced in the Francophone world, affirmed connections of solidarity, understanding and identity among Black people globally.  In our home, conversations often included concerns regarding self-determination, human rights and pride in the accomplishments and celebration of culture as expressed in the African Diaspora. 

Born and raised in Harlem which is identified globally as the ”Centre of Black Culture"
This was an environment of holiness and wholeness.  In those times there was little or no distinction between the sacred and the secular.  One aspect of cultural and religious life was the intersection of both. 

The Common Good and interdependence was a shared concern. We understood the fact that "We are Our Brother and Sister's Keeper" in a community of conscience and consciousness. I have been inspired by the stories and recognition of neighbors, and efforts to maintain the essential connections of faith and family. 

As Africans in America we are neither monolithic nor empty handed. The immigrant experience in Harlem was a conscious effort of accompaniment and welcome to those who followed. 
Sustainability was a goal. Benevolent societies were founded and homes were places of hospitality and welcome during transition and resettlement.

Political involvement and strategies were developed around the kitchen table and in the church hall.  Identity and naming (Negro, Black, Colored and African American) was an evolution of being.  For example during the Civil Rights Boycott of Woolworth lunch counter in North Carolina there was a conscious collective boycott of the Woolworth stores in Harlem.

As African American and Africans, we have lived and continue to live parallel lives often invisible. In the dominant culture our existence and presence is essential to American life as an undeniable reality in the fabric of this country.  Our sacred testimony is one of faith, style, transcendence in witness of the triumph of the human spirit.  We use the language of diversity and the "language of the world" in recognition of the ”soul of the world".

I recently visited the Smithsonian Museum of African American History in Washington, D.C. This was a truly worthy pilgrimage to recognize our holiness and humanity. 

In our words as witnesses I see the work of being, becoming and belonging.

Words of Wisdom from the Sacred Space of The Smithsonian Museum of African American History:

* Every person's spice box seasons their food.
*Soul is something creative…Something active.
*Songs of liberation who can lock them up?
*Wherever I go I bring the culture with me.
*Oppressed people resist by telling their story.
*Hard times require furious dancing. Each one of us is proof.

Lillian Wall, who died recently and too soon, was a beloved member of the leadership circle of The Women Who stayed, St. Joseph’s of the Holy Family parish in Harlem, the Grail, Pax Christi, and of UN initiatives to affirm the rights and dignity of indigenous people, to name but a few of her many communities.  This reflection is one of Lillian’s wonderful contributions to Xavier’s social justice study group which met last Fall.  Her humor, wisdom, kindness, work for justice and generous spirit enriched all who knew her.  Her funeral will take place at 10:30 this Saturday, October 6th 2018 at St. Joseph’s, Harlem.  St. Lillian of all the world, pray for us! 

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