May & June were by far my best months this year. And by best, I mean they were the two months when I felt most successful and when I did the most praisedanceworthy shouting of the words "Thank You!" I think that's the only natural response to the level of ujima that led up to these moments. Ujima means collective work and responsibility. It calls for lots of shared struggle in order to reach a large goal. But it also leads to lots of shared gratitude when the goal is met. I like to think of it as a very Mahalia Jackson How I Got Over kind of principle. And if that's the case, then May and June were my two months to revel in all the people (family, strangers, writers, mentors, & friends) who helped me get over.
I had my poetry published for the second time alongside favorite writers in Auburn Avenue Magazine; closed on our forever home with my husband, Salomon; was named the Octavia Butler Fellow in Fiction at the Jack Jones Literary Arts Retreat; bought my first car (I'm a New Yorker so we do the whole car thing kinda late!); and was a paid guest speaker for a writer's workshop where I was previously a student. I could go on about all the ways my husband and classmates and editors andandand invested in these successes just as much as I did, but for the most part I'd hose it up being extra sentimental. So I'll let the pictures do the talking on this one. They're very ujima that way.
*** Okay I lied. I do wanna give one special shout out to Ms. Beverly - the Black woman who lived in and took care of my dream house since it was built in 1963. I mentioned in a recent social media post that I'm a transplant to Atlanta and since buying this house I'm also a transplant to the rapidly gentrifying southwest side of the city. This was her home long before it was ever mine. I am grateful she was willing to share it with me after 56 years.