Honor and respect Iya Sojourner Truth

Sojourner-Truth-quilt-by-Ramsess-ramsessart.com_, Honor and respect Iya Sojourner Truth, Culture Currents
Iya Sojourner Truth transitioned to the Ancestors Nov. 26, 1883. She said: “I am not going to die, I’m going home like a shooting star.” Her wisdom, her fight for abolition and faith in the truth remain like stars in our skies. – Art: Ramsess

Sojourner Truth Day is Nov. 26, 2021

by Arts and Culture Editor Wanda Sabir

Sorrow fills my shoes like standing water at dusk. Time does not still. We lose our bearings when day is night. Perpetually seasoned loss. Bodies in white sacks fill holes lined with lime. Anonymity haunts burial sites. Massive grave pinpoints, people’s tombstones, illuminate night skies. 

Sojourner where are you? You who took care of so many. Sing us a lullaby. I feel her footsteps growing closer. 

A woman without boundaries, she put on her shoes. Feet worn. Uneven, she walked upright, yet couldn’t shake white master, her adoptive father whom she loved. It was a kind of love that undoes, loosens the threads before they unravel, before they are pulled together in the back where love marks mar the terrain – that crooked territory she left with baby Abigail, Peter at sea. 

The rugged cross, the road less traveled.

The male bodied white men kept pulling her back, she who wanted to please her white father, a father she loved and hated. Bruised and battered, Sojourner left Isabella, Columbus’s queen. He set sale on another coast. Captured Africans still profitable built that nation from a sea to another sea, Pacific Atlantic.

Why were her boundaries so fluid? She wanted a home. Home was not bondage – wandering, her name Sojourner a fitting title for her inherited life, she published and then sold the rights too. No, she didn’t sell the copyright. She controlled her legacy which is why we know her so well today. 

I am going out like a shooting star, she said to those who wept by her bedside. Don’t you know this person is not me? It’s a house I am renting for a short time. 

I walk too. I can walk without pain. I time myself and can get to the other side of the street in less than 5 seconds. I watch the light turn red just as I clear the sidewalk and cars turn on my heels. 


If I am not safe in a crosswalk on a green light?

Why aren’t woman’s words respected? Why do we or why are we asked to negotiate our property lines, give up our borders for fallow plots where nothing grows except broken promises? Can’t stop now. Too many Black women’s lives line the highways I tread. 

Sojourner traded in her corsets for freedom. Tall, straight and slim, she traded in feminine opportunity for freedom. She traded in wombfulness while white women sold their bodies for marketable trade. 

Stocks fell whenever Sojourner appeared. She, Harriet Jacobs, Hannah Craft, Harriet Wilson. All of them were more valuable as human beings than the plastic wares – wives – she/they knew. 

They sat dusty in the mercantile store where one could carry her home for a nickel. All sales final. 

What is it about a woman’s boundaries that male bodied persons deem negotiable? Is hell negotiable? How does sin get you a ticket to the show? 

I want off the bill. 

Mama Sojourner’s walk was long and the road uneven and circuitous. There were a lot of women on the road after slavery ended. Like traveling salespersons, they traded evidence – humanity – peoplehood for chattel and parcels.

Look at me – they cried. But smoke screens billowed where their faces sat in marble, granite. How does one move from a ledger to a seat at a table one set? 

Sister Abby said: Throw it away. If a thing belongs to you, it belongs to you.

Bay View Arts and Culture Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at wanda@wandaspicks.com. Visit her website at www.wandaspicks.com throughout the month for updates to Wanda’s Picks, her blog, photos and Wanda’s Picks Radio. Her shows are streamed live Wednesdays and Fridays at 8 a.m., can be heard by phone at 347-237-4610 and are archived at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks.