Peace and power

Last week I printed out a photo of Detroit’s Joe Louis Memorial, the gloriously enormous sculpture of Louis’ mighty fist. I saw it in an article someone forwarded me and immediately knew I needed it posted on the half-wall of my cubicle. Needed it.

This sculpture is one of my favorite things in the world. The first time I saw it, driving from the airport to a conference at the Renaissance Center, I was so wowed I couldn’t breathe or speak for a minute. It is a thing of absolute, graceful power and beauty. It is magnificent.

Here’s one of the pics I took of it in 2012:

I printed the photo from the article (a slightly more close-up, angled, under-the-fist view) and tacked it to my cubicle wall.

I feel it there, casting it’s dark, black spell, enveloping me in its strength and conviction.

So many times during the days since putting it on my wall, I have hung up the phone after an annoying call or looked up after reading an email that has made me sigh and shake my head, and my eyes go right to that picture, go right to that beautiful bright light.

And I feel myself become calm.

The first time I saw it, I was with the woman who was my boss. She was appalled, thought it was “so violent.” I wondered if we were looking at the same piece of art. Violent? Where? How? Could she really not see the sleek, delicious glory of it, its heavy, soul-filling affirmation?

No, she thought it was angry. Angry.

Maybe it is angry. Maybe that’s why I love it, maybe seeing it then — two years before the finally-and-for-good emergence of Angry Stacie — was the initial push, the moment when my heart felt the vibrating resonance of recognition, felt how completely I would come to embrace my rage.

I don’t think so, though. Yes, to the vibrating resonance, but not in recognition of anger, or not anger as such. Recognition of the fullness, the beauty of being exactly who I was — as big, as loud, as angry, as strong, as emotional, as articulate, as fed-the-fuck-up, as loving, as hungry as I actually was.

Which is what it’s giving me now, too. I have to swallow myself at work sometimes, hold back my honesty, pretend to a version of myself that can be made to fit the space I’m given. Like not lashing out when a superior refers to  formerly-incarcerated youth as “little criminals” and can’t seem to understand the value proposition of creating education and job training programs for them. Like not slapping the hand of the coworker who reaches out to touch my hair.

That fist is a signpost, a reminder that I’m still here. A reminder that, even when I have to walk softly, I can still fight, can still push back. That my voice can still shout, even in the dark, especially in the dark. That fist is my mantra, my affirmation, my vision board all rolled into one.

I need the picture poster-size and on my wall at home. That fist. To wake up to it, to fall asleep under its watch. Imagine.

In 2017, I’m on my #GriotGrind, committed to writing an essay a week … I’ve fallen behind, but I’m still committed to writing 52 essays by year’s end.
I’m following the lead of Vanessa Mártir, who launched #52essays2017 after she wrote an essay a week for 2016 … and then invited other writers along for the ride.


Bring Me to Life (30 Stories — 6)

Emile tilted his face to the shower, feeling the stream of glitter sift across his forehead and down his cheeks. Wearing the glitter always made him happy, made him feel taller and more alive. He needed the glitter before he could dance, and he was definitely going to dance.

He had been a masquerader since he was a boy. The parades were the thing from home that he missed the most this time of year. He remembered nights spent crafting designs, arguing about colors, about ornamentation, remembered the elation that flooded his body after a parade, keeping him awake into the early hours despite his complete physical exhaustion.

No one had told him about the Labor Day parade. His first September in New York, it had caught him by surprise, and he’d had to watch from the sidelines, his body and heart aching to join the crews of dancers.

One parade a year could never equal the parade schedule he had followed at home, but it helped smooth some of the longing for the past. The glitter, especially, reminded him of himself, brought him back to who he was.


This is a photo I took at the Caribbean Day Parade that happens every Labor Day here in Brooklyn.  This is a HUGE event, with thousands and thousands of parade participants on floats and on foot and over a million parade watchers.  Crazy and fabulous and beautiful.  I don’t actually know the significance of the people with the glitter, but I flat-out LOVE the people with the glitter.  Period.  This year was only my second parade.  I’ve always avoided it because I’m not a fan of big crowds, but I finally summoned the courage to go two years ago … and promptly kicked myself for not having gone in the past!  I think I’ll have to put up a slideshow with some of the pictures I took … maybe that’s my tomorrow post!

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