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Evelyn C. Fortson

African American Author of Women's Fiction

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It’s funny how reparations to descendants of the enslaved are not discussed, even during Black History Month. America has paid reparations to Native Americans, Japanese Americans, and Holocaust survivors. America indirectly assisted Japan in rebuilding its economy after World War II. Every year, billions of dollars are spent on Humanitarian, Developmental, Military, and Economic Assistance to foreign countries. Still, America cannot bring itself to right a wrong that it embraced as an expedient means to birth a nation allegedly based on personal and religious freedom.


America would have been a failed ideology if it were not for the strength and knowledge that the enslaved brought with them from Africa.


Reparations would not be hard to do, but America does not have the will to do it. Paying reparations would be acknowledging all the lies that America has told itself. The truth about the founding fathers, the distortion of religion, how racism and classism work to maintain the status quo, etc.…. The U. S. Government used slaves to build the White House and other federal buildings. The government also used slaves for canal improvements. Every area of American life benefitted from slave labor. Banking, shipping, railroads, insurance, textiles, universities, etc.....


Reparations should be paid by the families that accumulated generational wealth from slavery but also from the government and institutions that made money off the broken bodies, hearts, and spirits of people torn from their homelands and worked to death on American plantations. Reparations to the descendants of the ones that survived the beatings, near starvation, rapes, separation once again from familial ties, and the denial of basic human dignity. These are the truths that reparations would acknowledge and begin to right a devastating wrong.

 

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There are pieces of us that others will never know, stories that will never be told, but each of us has an origin story.


My book, “Rolling in the Deep,” was written over a year ago. I have since written another book, with the working title of " Looking at Me.” I thought I would have self-published “Rolling in the Deep” or been fortunate enough to have had it traditionally published by now. I sent the manuscript away to be edited and worked on another book, and when I got it back, I queried a few agents to no avail. When I looked at the book again, ready to publish it myself, I reread it, and it spoke to me again. The book was incomplete; I needed to go deeper.


In my books, I leave pieces of myself and pieces of us, African American women, on the pages. My books are markers to remind the world that our stories are unique and unifying. I link the past with the present by including folklore, sayings, speech patterns, and words some of us may no longer use. I do that so we do not forget the people who came before us, what they went through, and how strong and wise they were.

I encourage you to tell your mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, and anyone you love to check out my blog and my books, Bittersweet and “Finally, Doing Me!” by Evelyn C. Fortson. My books are available on Amazon and www.store.bookbaby.com.


I’m so looking forward to announcing the publication date of “Rolling In The Deep,” but like momma used to say, “A watched pot never boils.”

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I just finished reading Wallace Thurman’s novel, “The Blacker The Berry,” and was astonished at how deeply the book affected me. The book is an unapologetic portrayal of colorism in Black culture. Colorism is not a problem solely found within the African American race; it is prevalent in every race. I was initially drawn to the book because of its title. I had heard the saying, “The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice,” when I was a girl. The saying was said to defend the blackness of the speaker’s skin. But when I heard it, it resonated and made me proud to be as dark as I was. That saying was embedded into my psyche that day and would arise when people or the media told me otherwise.

Growing up in America, where Eurocentric standards of beauty are promoted in magazines, books, and on TV, obviously skewed how I saw myself. Not only was my concept of what was beautiful distorted, but negative values were also placed on racial features and color. That was my experience growing up in the 1960s and 70s. 1967 was the first year that the big toy companies made Black dolls, and that was the first Christmas I received a Black baby doll. As a little girl, I didn’t care much for them, maybe because they never looked like me. So, when I received my first Black one, I was seven years old, and I don’t remember playing with it. I think that doll meant more to my mother than to me. She knew I wasn’t a girlie girl, but I think she bought the doll for me as a way of fighting back. She was telling me without uttering a word that I, too, was beautiful, valued, and loved.

In the book “The Blacker The Berry,” the protagonist laments that her life would have been easier if she was a boy because dark skin was more acceptable on boys. The book was first published in 1929, and by 1934, the author would be dead. Wallace Henry Thurman's life was short. He only had thirty-two years on this earth, and it is a wonder to me that at such a young age, he could write a book so full of pain.

Ninety-four years later, this book is still relatable. Colorism, the by-product of racism, would not exist if not for the need of one race to exalt itself over another did not exist. I hope in the next ninety-four years, colorism will have become an ineffective weapon. That it no longer divides us. I hope that we will be able to look in the mirror and no longer need to look like someone other than ourselves.

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