Self-Determination

Habari Gani?  Kujichagulia (self-determination) to be responsible for the community and to speak for oneself.

Reader on the shelf

Self-determination is, like food, water, and shelter, a human right. Tragically, many of our most vulnerable young people, especially young girls are unable to determine the course of their lives because they are subjected to sexual exploitation by gangs of predators who traffic them, i.e. sell them to others as sexual slaves.  The problem is thought to be particularly acute at this time of year as the Super Bowl approaches, but statistics on trafficking do not support a jump in activities. Human trafficking is a serious, year-round industry. January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, which is why the issue is getting more attention now than at other times of the year. And, with the Super Bowl drawing large crowds to the host city, outreach groups and activists say they see an opportunity for public awareness initiatives.

image.png

Cyntoia Brown-Long

Cyntoia Brown-Long, author, speaker and advocate for criminal-justice reform and victims of trafficking, writes in The Washington Post about her own experiences of trafficking and about the case of a young woman charged in the murder of the man who held her captive and sold her to other men for sex.

I was jailed for my trafficker’s death.

Brown-Long speaks about the justice system’s blindness to the peculiar, particular horror of sexual slavery. She speaks about the case of teen, Chrystal Kizer, who faces life in prison for killing her enslaver.

image.png

Chrystul Kizer shot and killed the pedophile who abused and imprisoned her and is charged with his murder

free-vector-kwanzaa-icon_101867_Kwanzaa_Icon

Let’s celebrate Kwanzaa by being determined to recognize the needs of our communities and by being willing to stand for justice and dignity and against racism and sexual exploitation.  For more information about Kwanzaa, go toWhat is Kwanzaa

more information about Breena Clarke’s books at www.BreenaClarke.com

River, Cross My Heart, an Oprah book club selection and a classic of African American fiction is now available for your e-reader.

“The acclaimed bestseller–a selection of Oprah’s Book Club–that brings vividly to life the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC, circa 1925, a community reeling from a young girl’s tragic death.”  Amazon.com

River, Cross My Heart, kindle edition

 

 

Kwanzaa 2019

breenaclarkebooks

free-vector-kwanzaa-icon_101867_Kwanzaa_Icon

Kwanzaa greeting: Habari Gani?

Today’s response: UMOJA, Unity.

I enjoy the opportunity to celebrate Kwanzaa, a harvest festival created in 1966 by Dr. Maulauna Ron Karenga to acknowledge African culture in the Americas, not as an angry alternative to Christmas, but as an opportunity to reflect before the incoming New Year. The frenzy of Christmas commerce has made celebrating that holiday a very noisy, frenetic tug of emotions about being there and getting there and wishing to be or get or re-get. If you’re ready to sweep up the wrapping paper and bring out the kinara, use these seven days of Kwanzaa as days for self-reflection and community.

Celebrate Kwanzaa 2019 –  December 26 – January 1

IMG_1105

There are seven principles of Kwanzaa called Nguzo Saba and each day is dedicated to one of these principles:

Umoja (unity) to maintain unity in the family and community

Kujichagulia (self-determination) to…

View original post 608 more words

My Neighbor

matt-zhang-1480850-unsplash

By Breena Clarke

Every morning he walked by my house as I came out with my appealing and peaceable dog. Every morning he pushed his toddler past us. He never looked at me. I was open-faced, accessible, tried to catch his eye. He looked away. I was pissed. I began to shout, “Good morning.” He could not avoid responding. He did try. Next time I shouted, “Good morning,” he mumbled a pleasantry. He looked for a second. Generally, he tried to avoid me. Later with more children and a dog, he caught me unawares coming out of my house. He shouted, “Good morning.”

           
Breena Clarke is the author of three novels, Angels Make Their Hope Here,River, Cross My Heart, an October 1999 Oprah Book Club selection, and Stand The Storm. She is a founder and co-organizer of the Hobart Book Village Festival of Women Writers and…

View original post 17 more words

Personal Blueberry Cobbler

blueberries2

 

 

 

Mountain blueberries, held to have the power of magic healing in these environs, benefited the girl immediately. She gorged on them in a bowl of milk. It was said by lowlanders who had seen the mountain folk that they grew long-tall and lanky for reaching so far above their heads to dine on blueberries on the bushy tufts in the crevices of the highlands. Through the summertime in Russell’s Knob, few of the children’s mouths were colored anything other than dark purple. Each one a contented and laughing face.

——  from Angels Make Their Hope Here by Breena Clarke read an excerpt

Highbush Blueberry

Blueberries are perennial flowering plants with indigo-colored berries. They are classified in the section Cyanococcus within the genus Vaccinium. Vaccinium also includes cranberries. Commercial “blueberries” are native to North America, and the “highbush” varieties were not introduced into Europe until the 1930s. – wikipedia

Dossie waited and let them ride up and tie the horse. She stood when Hat came onto the porch, and Hat nodded to her with formal courtesy as the woman of the house. Hat held out the buckets of blueberries and grinned.

——  from Angels Make Their Hope Here by Breena Clarke read an excerpt

Blueberries are considered a superfood for their anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Arthritis sufferers, get some. Click here for useful Blueberry Facts

I enjoy this low-sugar, portion-controlled blueberry dessert as often as possible.

 

Personal Blueberry Cobblers

for the diabetes-friendly diet

Four small ramekins

Two cups of fresh blueberries

One frozen pie crust

2/3 to 3/4 cup of Truvia baking blend – read the package for complete info

Two tablespoons of cornstarch

One teaspoon of ground cinnamon – also useful for arthritis

Two teas. of lemon juice

Two tablespoons of butter

Combine cornstarch, Truvia and cinnamon, add rinsed blueberries and lemon juice. Stir to coat the fruit. Fill each ramekin halfway. Cut four circles of dough with a large biscuit cutter or cup. Put strips of dough in berries. Fill ramekins, dot with small bits of butter, cover each with a circle of dough. Brush tops with melted butter. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 40 minutes until filling is bubbly and crust is lightly browned. Let cool.

For more about Breena Clarke’s books, go to www.BreenaClarke.com

 

 

 

Spotlight: Breena Clarke

I’m celebrating the fifth consecutive year of The Hobart Festival of Women Writers. I’m presenting a workshop, reading my work and selling books. For more information: http://www.hobartfestivalofwomenwriters.com

Hobart Festival of Women Writers 2020

Hobart Festival of Women Writers announces a presenter change. Breena Clarke, novelist, teacher and Festival co-organizer will replace Sonya Huber. Ms. Huber is seriously ill and unable to attend Festival 2017.

_DSC5344         Breena Clarke is the author of three novels, most recently, Angels Make Their Hope Here, set in an imagined mixed-race community in 19th century New Jersey. Breena Clarke’s debut novel, River, Cross My Heart (1999) was an Oprah Book Club selection. Her critically reviewed second novel, Stand The Storm, set in mid-19th century Washington, D.C., was named one of the 100 best books for 2008 by The Washington Post. Her short stories have appeared in Kweli Journal and The Stonecoast Review among others. Breena Clarke is a member of the board of A Room Of Her Own Foundation; is a member of the fiction faculty of The Stonecoast MFA Creative Writing program at The University of…

View original post 305 more words

Maroon New Jersey

Tim Knox interviews Breena Clarke for the website, PLACING LITERATURE, about the setting of ANGELS MAKE THEIR HOPE HERE 

Clarke-AngelsMakeTheirHope

http://bit.ly/1oi1cLM

ANGELS MAKE THEIR HOPE HERE is set in an imagined community in a mountainous area roughly north and west of Paterson, New Jersey in the 19th century. Russell’s Knob is a hidden, secretive place settled by people who might be described today as bi-racial or tri-racial. The inhabitants describe themselves as runaways and stay-aways. They are people who reject the limiting definitions of racial identity and character of 19th century, mid-Atlantic, North America and live outside of the “white” towns. They are spoken of derisively as “amalgamators” and “race mixers” though their true history is as complex as is the history of settlement in the region.

 

for more information on about BreenaClarke’s books: www.BreenaClarke.com

 

“Whose baby child are you?”

A SPECIAL BLACK HISTORY MONTH RE-POST

Anne Rasmussen speaks with Breena Clarke for  LATE NIGHT LIBRARY 

Breena Professional Photo           Fugitives i color

http://latenightlibrary.org/breena-clarke/#wrap.

They’re discussing ANGELS MAKE THEIR HOPE HERE and its depictions of fathers, surrogate fathers, patriarchy vs. matrilineal constructs and parenting in the time of slavery.

Featured Image -- 1085

. . . the most damaging aspect of the institution of slavery is the destruction of familial relationships through separation and the inability of enslaved parents to protect their children. It is in the interest of preserving families that the people of Russell’s Knob built a community, preferring to live apart from the mainstream in order to stay together with loved ones.

Parenting in the time of slavery is necessarily fraught with peril. In Breena Clarke’s novel, ANGELS MAKE THEIR HOPE HERE, young Dossie’s parents do the most difficult thing imaginable. They send their child off to uncertainty rather than have her suffer as an enslaved person on the Kenworthy plantation. They embrace a hope that, with the help of others, she can become free and live a better life (even if they don’t actually know what that better life would be). For them, the knowable horror of Kenworthy plantation is worth risking this child’s life and separating from her forever.

for more information on Breena Clarke’s books: www.BreenaClarke.com

IMG_3709

 

Face Values

Why are people STLL in a tizzy about racial identity in the 21st century?  Is there anything else that Americans talk about and talk about and talk about? However, until now, the topic of white skin privilege was never put on the table. Passing judgment on the racial identity of others is a traditional American sport. A great many people imagine they can do an adequate job of doing the math on race. How much yellow, brown, red or black skin color does an individual have relative to the default white? And myriad other calculations help us decide on a person’s racial identity.

Alfred Clarke

Passing across racial boundaries is a longstanding theme in American fiction.

In the imagined 19th century town of Russell’s Knob, which is the setting for the novel, Angels Make Their Hope Here, race identification is fluid. In a town of amalgamators, race mixers – the complex national and racial identities of the inhabitants do not hinder their cohesiveness, community and camaraderie. But the maroons of Russell’s Knob hector white skin privilege in this small community because of their ancestors’ experiences of the First European Contact, the Middle Passage and chattel slavery in the Americas. In Russell’s Knob you are some combination of what your parents bring with them. You are, in appearance, a blend of the physical characteristics of all of your forebears. If being white-skinned confers no special privileges in this tri-racial town, forays into the wider, whiter world are fraught with danger.

“Maybe you could get in, Pet,” Jan said.

“What? Oh, shut up, Jan! You probably could, too.” Pet    said. “You got the price.”

“But not in the Alta Club. That’s a place for pale white-skinned men like you and your father,” August said to Pet, “only.” August looked straight into Pet’s face. He had the eyes all the Vanders have that people call molasses bullets because they’re the color that molasses becomes in the deep wintertime and they are hard like ice.

“What does it matter?” Pet asked. He felt the one glass of whiskey he’d drunk sear his stomach and roar to his head. He chose to be dumb to August’s provocation. But a realization crept up on him that his pale face had kept him from knowing some deep tenets that Jan knew – that August knew – because their faces said something different from his face in the town. And he didn’t know what they knew, or did he? 

 “I ain’t white,” Pet said.        

“Well, you look white,” Jan came back at him.

You and your papa.” Again August spoke in a sly voice of instigation. “You the only ones look white enough to pass through those doors.”

“I aint no white man,” Pet said as he’d said so many times before. 

“Pet, don’t be dumb about it. You know what you look like. You know what people take you for.”

from ANGELS MAKE THEIR HOPE HERE

Now available in paperback with Reading Group Guides including a Conversation with Breena Clarke http://bit.ly/1K09XEZ

BLACK HER-STORY MONTH, TOO

Nevertheless, she persisted. Maria Stewart, the first African American woman to lecture about women’s rights. Black Her-Story Month, too!

breenaclarkebooks

maria-stewart

NEVERTHELESS, SHE PERSISTED

Maria (nee Miller )Stewart was the first woman to speak before a “promiscuous” audience, i.e. men and women, black and white in early 19th century America. She was the first African-American woman to lecture about women’s rights. Stewart focused particularly on the rights of black women, religion, and social justice among black people. She also became the first African-American woman to make public anti-slavery speeches and is one of the first African-American women to make public lectures for which there are still surviving copies.
Maria Stewart newspaper
 
“Most of our color have dragged out a miserable existence of servitude from the cradle to the grave. And what literary acquirements can be made, or useful knowledge derived, from either maps, books or charm, by those who continually drudge from Monday morning until Sunday noon? O, ye fairer sisters, whose hands are never soiled, whose nerves and muscles are never strained, go…

View original post 409 more words