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  • Writer's picturebbrianfoster

"We'll be going home." (Mississippi Today, 2021)

Until I was 10 or 12, I spent more time with my grandmother than I did anyone else in my life. My experiences with her (now, my memories of her) continue to shape my worldview—what I value and what I believe.

Until this essay with Mississippi Today, I had not written publicly about that relationship. It was too precious. I didn't know the right words. I still don't know all of them, but they are coming to me.

In this essay, I reflect on the impossible tension of committing your life's work to a place that wants you dead. That's what it's been like for Black folks in Mississippi. The essay is also a commentary on home, an homage to the late gospel great Andrae Crouch, and an ode to what lies ahead.

Here's an excerpt:

The last Census says that there are about 3 million Mississippians. Of them, 1 million are Black. Among them are the legacies of Fannie Lou Hamer who stayed as long as she could, Richard Wright who left as soon he did, and my grandma. Those of us who remain stand where they stood; and those of us who have not been robbed of the choice to choose will have to decide and believe how they did: without knowing.
That is the hard part.
If Grandma was here, I would ask her like I used to. “What do you do when you don’t know?” And she would tell me like she told me. “You believe.” And I would ask her like I never did. How do you hold belief and your breath at the same time?
That is the impossible part.
In order to survive, we must believe that the thing that is killing us won’t, all while not knowing if we’ll live long enough to see what Grandma saw on all them Sundays on the pew behind the front row, when she used to make sure I knew the words.
We’ll be leaving here
When it’s time, I hope I will.

Read the full essay here.

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