Thursday, November 03, 2005


BLACK ISSUES BOOK Review (BIBR) has named yours truly as thee “Christian Novelist to Watch” for 2005! The acknowledgement is in the November-December issue, “BIBR Best of 2005” (page 37).


(THANKS TO MS. Angela Benson who brought it to my attention; if it wasn’t for her, I never would have known. Thanks, Ms. Angela!)

IN TURN, I would like to bring attention to a fellow Chicago artist. Her name is Cecelia Colón whom I met at the El Barrio Art Fest 2005. Her innovative art is called "Abichuelas Sin Arroz" (Beans Without Rice), which is like sacriligious in Puerto Rican culture because "we" never eat beans without rice. It's like eating turkey without dressing, cereal without milk, steak without potatoes -- you get the picture. Cecelia creates pieces with different kinds of beans and her art is selling like crazy.

THE PIECE SHOWN above is entitled "Y Tu Abuela Adonde Estas?" (And where is your grandmother?") It's based on an old Puerto Rican saying geared toward lighter-complected (I try not use the term "white" when referring to skin color) Latinos who deny their African heritage. As the story goes, when people used to visit the homes of fellow Puerto Ricans, they would "hide" their darker-skinned grandmother (or older relatives) in the kitchen, prompting their guests to ask, "Where is your grandmother?" In other words, "why are you hiding your grandmother (your dark past)"? Cecelia created several pieces which pay homage to her Afro-Puerto Rican grandmother who, like my own grandma, worked as a housekeeper/washer-woman for rich folks back in the day, just like many African-American women did for centuries, and many immigrant women continue to do today. What I love most about Cecelia's art besides her novel use of beans, is that it makes me appreciate the African in me and the sacrifices that women like my grandmother made. It humbles me.

MY GRANDMOTHER, ARSENIA Morales Rodriguez, is 94 years old, bless her heart. She still lives alone, washes and sews her clothes by hand, and cooks on a fogón (makeshift fire of bricks and wood).

GRACIAS, MAMI (I'VE always referred to my grandmother as "Mom"), for everything.


At December 30, 2005 1:41 PM, Blogger Mirtika said...

I have to admit, I prefer my beans without rice most of the time. I like a big bowl of frijoles negros (Cuban style) or habicuelas coloradas (Puerto Rican style) and some olive oil on rice. YUM.

Of course, it's gotta have some nice starchy veggies--malanga is my fave, or some potato. And chorizo and ham. Mmmm.

I just made myself hungry.


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