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Evelyn C. Fortson

African American Author of Women's Fiction

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My mother taught me to look at people when I spoke to them. I remember going to McDonald’s with my mom and she had me order my food. I was a shy kid, so I was afraid to talk to strangers. I walked up to the counter with my head down and speaking very softly begin to tell the lady what I wanted. Mom stopped me and had me look at the lady as I spoke to her. I remember that lesson and the subtlety of my mother teaching me to look people in the eye. Looking someone in the eye helps you discern whether what they are saying is the truth or not. It is easy to lie with your lips, but your face will often times give you away.

There have been many times I have looked up into someone’s face and caught them rolling their eyes or looking at someone else with a look on their face, as they spoke to me. You know that look that says that they have been talking about you, and you just said something that confirmed what they said about you.

Before the days of cell phone, Uber or Lyft, people ventured out into the world untethered to their home base. You had to actually remember your telephone number if you wanted to call home. So, as a girl my mom taught me to always have a dime to call home. As a young woman she taught me to have money for a rainy day, and as a woman in a relationship with a man she taught me to always have my own money.

My mother taught me so many things that were simple yet so wise, things like, 1. Do not lie or steal because no one will believe you or trust you. 2. You can’t find money in the house, because the money is not lost. 3. If you lay down with dogs you will get up with fleas. I think we all know what that means!

Mom would always tell me to be happy. It took me a lifetime to figure out that one, but I think I know what she meant by that. No one else can make you happy, how you feel is often a choice. You can look at the glass half full or half empty, so she was telling me to choose happiness.

When I hide money around the house, or I tell my grandson to look at people when he speaks to them, I smile and remember how much I have learned from my mother, and I wonder if my grandson will remember the things that I am teaching him.




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I am sure you have heard the expression; I’m doing me! My second book entitled, “Finally, Doing Me!” is the story of four women who are recently retired and are determined to finally live life on their own terms.


Effie is married to her husband Monroe, who has been unfaithful more years than he has been faithful, but that is not why Effie wants to live her life without her husband. Effie has come to the realization that time to, “Do, me.” Is running out. After years of ignoring the indiscretions and living in a world where she manufactured happiness for everyone else, Effie is now seeking happiness for herself. Before Effie can tell Monroe that their marriage is over, an unexpected illness may not allow Effie to tell anyone that she is, “Finally Doing, Me!”


Mrs. Georgia Bennett is married to a man that has provided her money, a big house, vacations, jewelry…everything that she never had as a single mother of two young boys. For years, the prestige of being Mrs. Georgia Bennet concealed the fact that her husband Lawrence Bennett had no intention of being a father to her sons or help them to become men. Years of benign neglect of her son’s emotional needs results in Georgia’s desperate quest to have a real connection with her adult sons and their families. Georgia desire to connect with her sons, has her declaring that she is, “Finally Doing, Me!”


Leah is happily married to her high school sweetheart. After years of working hard to raise their daughter, buy a home, pay their bills, Leah is finally retired, but Big Joe will not retire until Leah makes a necessary change. The plans Leah has for her, and Big Joe’s retirement years may be spoiled by her daughter Jemila. Leah must risk alienating her relationship with her daughter if she wants to be able to say, “Finally Doing Me!”


Phoebe has long given up on living life, she is merely existing. After years of drug addiction, and the loss of her child, mother, and Tyrone she is afraid to move forward. After Phoebe has overcome drug addiction all she wants from life is banality. Phoebe finds comfort in the sameness of each new day and may have lived the rest of life in that condition if she had not had a chance encounter with someone that looked like her Tyrone. Phoebe’s boring little life is forever changed, forcing her to finally forgive herself and live life, so she too can say, “Finally, Doing Me!”


“Finally, Doing Me!” is the story of four girlfriends of a certain age, who live quite different lives but have managed to stay connected for forty years. The ladies get together annually for a girl’s trip, and it is on those trips that they learn of each other’s desires to live however many years that they have left on their own term.


“Finally, Doing Me!” is currently in the editing stage and will hopefully be published before the end of the year.


Doing you means different things to different people. It can be a positive or negative act depending on the others things that are going on in your life. If you are a young mother it is probably not the right time to "Do, you." If you are a young woman just starting out in life, this may be the best time to "Do,you."


I am excited for your feedback on this project and the answer to the question, are you finally, doing you?



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I am hoping this is an asinine question. I am hoping that no one thinks like this anymore. There was a time when people that you loved and trusted felt the need to inform you that you were too black to wear red, yellow, coral, orange or any color that was too loud for your dark skin. Do not laugh because I am sure that women of a certain age have heard this before, especially if your complexion is darker than a paper bag.

I do not remember my mother telling me that I was too black to wear loud colors. I am sure she was more subtle. The message was insidiously ingrained in my consciousness by the time I was old enough to buy my own clothes. I was an adult with a child when I finally got the courage to wear a red sweater to work. I was feeling good, and I thought I was looking good, when a co-worker gestured for me to come to her desk. She leaned toward me as if she were going to tell me a secret.

“You know you’re too dark to be wearing that red sweater.” She declared.

And just like that I was that black little girl who was too dark to wear red.

I am a grandmother now, and I am ashamed to admit that I do not own a red sweater, blouse, dress, or shoes for that matter. I wear loud colorful clothing now, but somehow, I

have managed to steer away from the color red. I have made a promise to myself that the next time I see a pretty red dress, shoes, lipstick, etc. I am going to buy it and wear it proudly, because I owe it to the little girl in me to be fearless. I owe it to her to reject the dominant culture’s standard of beauty.

I would love to hear your story. Have you ever been told that you could not wear something because of the color of your skin?




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