In Black American Her/History, there are those “Nanas” and “Big Mommas,” who always made sure that community was centered. Always made sure that family, friends, and neighbors positioned themselves in a way, where things were centered. Children were always fed. No neighbor or visitor ever went to bed hungry. That was the blessing and beauty of such mother figures within our community. They had a sharing Spirit. That Spirit caressed and nurtured the communal Spirit. It was during those particular times when people took care of each other. Forget about homelessness and neglect. None of that existed within Black American communities-within those gardens of Black American soiling. There was always love and joy. In fact, Black American people had no other choice, but to band together, and care for each other in the way as other communities, currently do. It was done more out of necessity, and for the wellness of what it meant to be a Negro within the United States of America. Culture and our sense of togetherness made Black Americans appreciate each other. It made us value each other in a way, where we understood that each one of our presence was valuable. Each person was valuable because we reflected the dreams of our ancestors, who prayed for freedom-even if they couldn’t see it. That was who we were. That was community.
Listening to the stories of my great-grandmother Essie Mae Metcalf-Howell, from my grandfather, James Howell, it became clear to me that generous Spirit was prevalent within our family. Those stories of how she gave and took care of others during the Great Depression. Those countless stories in how she took other people in, and assisted in feeding other children, who came by. That was her way. That was the Howell Family way! And it was she-ESSIE MAE METCALF HOWELL-who inserted the level of greatness in what it meant to preserve and take care of family. Such is the legacy that I come from. This is the legacy of Howell women, which exist within my very core and Being. It is a legacy of family her/history, in which I am proud of.
Thinking back and reflecting upon those kind of giving women, within Black American women’s her/history and culture, there was a very Earthly and water-like element about them. They were filled with the beauty and sense of growing gardens; giving, in order to expand the success and strength of the community. To a great extent, such women had a business mindset, but through a Motherly perception. This was their way. This was their understanding. They gave through the goodness of their hearts. Simultaneously, they understood that giving was a form of business. It was a methodology of seeing potential within each and every person living in the community, or visiting it. Recognizing their talents and gifts, in order to water them into fruition. Planting the seeds of greatness, and cultivating the fruits from them. Of course, many people don’t see the art of giving, in such a way. Nevertheless, its exactly what is happening. Giving is a mechanism of growing abundance. It creates a unique aura, which is akin to growing gardens. There is a unique vibe for such. In a terse amount of words, Mother Nature creates a blue print for business. Mother Nature, and those tending to them, have a way of understanding the very foundation of business. Why is it? Why are their minds so keen, in this regard? Its because gardens are the fountain of creativity. They are the very source, concerning how they are able to move and mobilize greatness. There is a symbol of abundance. We could go to even state that the term “abundance,” is an understatement. Gardens are infinite wonders for productivity and creativity. For some reason, it is apparent that some of the greatest business minds are intertwined with gardens. Its holistic and nourishing. When a person operates from a business sense, in the manner of communal cultivation, and Mother Wit, wonders happen; as it relates to the worlds of productivity and creativity.
When examining, and reflecting upon the legacy and story of my great grandmother, Essie Mae Metcalf-Howell, there are certain dynamics, auras,and style, concerning her ability to maneuver throughout the current society, at the time. How did she do it? How did women such as Essie Mae Metcalf-Howell exhibit grace, knowledge, wisdom, and communal preservation, during such difficult times? When you didn’t live within a certain time period, all you can really do is listen and imagine! That’s the most a person is able to do for that very moment. You just imagine how such women were able to carry on, through difficult times with the wonders of grace and wellness. It wasn’t easy. We have to admit that. Nevertheless, it was possible. Building, designing, creating, and producing community, from a business sense, are the workings and teachings of giving women! Women, who understand the power of sharing are those who empower community, the most. They understand that there is a business relevance and sense to planting and sharing seeds of goodness and wonder. Underneath growth, abundance, and prosperity-in its authentic origin-is the wellness of giving, sharing, and caring for others. It was once told to me that truly successful people want others to prosper. They want to see other people rise, in order to experience that level of success. This is something that is often missed in today’s society. Yet, those loving and wise women created the wellness factor of building- of moving through its dynamics of love and wonder.
Who would have ever imagined that business building and corporate establishment comes through the wisdom of an elder woman? Who would have ever understood that the tedious work of community and cultural preservation are the blueprints for creating successful businesses and corporations? Furthermore, such knowledge and wisdom comes through women, who were wise and courageous enough to build and grow their own gardens. All of the complexities, agony, hardships, pains, and turmoil in growing one’s own gardens, are the foundations of creating a greatness, and multiplying creativity. Such teachings are also Biblical. Spreading and sharing the wellness of productivity is at the core of what Black American communities have been nourished in-within our authentic culture. Its rooted in the wellness of authentic, Black American Church-based culture, and its notion to truly bring wellness, success, and growth for a community.
Looking back and reflecting upon the stories and lessons of sharing and giving, in which I heard from my late Grandfather, James Howell, it became very clear, why my own grandfather worked in growing his own garden. He was simply reiterating the teachings and wonders of what his own mother had done. Working daily in his gardens, and those countless times of journeying up to Muskegon, Michigan for the summer, the garden was always there. His garden was always in fruition. Tended to. Cared for. Watering it. Removing any of the weeds and unhealthy energies, secretly creeping up to overtake it. And there was the gardener, lingering around to ensure that the fruits of the labor are allowed to blossom and bloom.
There are great lessons and teachings to be learned by the current generation of Black American youth and culture. Much of that pertains to the lessons of the elders. Those sacred teachings of sharing, and the power of giving. One of such principles as it relates to communal sharing and giving is that it releases toxicity. It releases excess energies, which are designed to overtake one’s wellness, mental, and emotional health. Sharing and giving creates a senses of communal responsibility. Forget about the competition, jealousy, divide, and other factors, which leads to the breakdown of a community. Forget about the level of violence, which arises when communities, or a culture of people, are removed from the necessity of sharing; while intertwining one’s celebrations, victories, and successes with each other. Sharing and giving are the very pillars of communal building. Furthermore, they create a unique lens in navigating through different settings and timings. Learning how to overcome the harsh realities, and inhumane practices, within the business worlds. These things are as natural as growing gardens. When women of gardens are permitted to bless the community, and are honored with the community, there is a wealth of knowledge, which is to be planted.
During these current times, as it relates to Black American communities and culture, its time to revert back to the gardens. In fact, now is the time for the younger generations, and youth, within our community to collect that planted knowledge-embarking on the path of sharing and giving. Celebrating in the successes of each other, and providing different mechanisms for the wellness of a people . When we return to our country roots, within US soils, when we return to our gardens, we regain that collection of knowledge, for the productivity and growth of our people and culture. And so, as I allow the memories and teachings of my great, grandmother, Essie Mae Metcalf Howell to linger, my mind becomes overwhelmed by the blessings of endless possibilities. It is through such designs, which permits a community to flourish and to rise. Furthermore, it provides a culture of people with the power of stillness; in one’s ability to navigate the climax of “the impossible,” in order to rebirth for, anew!