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Fiction by Norwegian Women

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Let's Be Honorable...? Remembering Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston

If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.
Audre Lorde

Let’s be honorable and tell the truth is a layered and complex concept that permeates my elementary classroom and a refrain often uttered by eight-year-olds to encourage a fellow classmate, for example, to voluntarily acknowledge a misdeed of how a misappropriated object was acquired.  The goal is not just the return of the Spiderman pencil or the Hello Kitty eraser; the ultimate goal is for the offending party to understand the ramifications of this behavior on the victim and to use that knowledge to add to their growing bank of magnanimity.    And it’s amazing how effective a demand for the truth can be and what benefits it gives to both the seeker and transgressor.
So, with regard to the death of the incredibly talented Whitney Houston, let’s be honorable and tell the truth.   We are a horribly homophobic culture and our own fears and misconceptions too often drive others into the most desolate spaces where what is affirming and healthy and forward-thinking is not allowed to enter. But what is permitted is hurt and shame in all of its ugly manifestations.
You want to honor Whitney?  Simply do so in the most powerful way one can, by being kind and being accepting of the people you so claim to love.
A Litany for Survival
By Audre Lorde

For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
like bread in our children's mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours:

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother's milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid
So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive.

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