The Sacrifice Dinner


My church has a tradition.

Every January the saints gather and eat a dinner called the sacrifice dinner.

It’s cooked by the church cook.

The recipe is passed down from the saints of old.

Beans, fatback, potatoes, bread, water and Jello…the red jello to be exact

The beans are called great northern beans.

The fatback is there as the meat. It’s the only meat some of them growing up in the south had. They would kill the hog, hang it in the barn and then, eat the fat.

The potatoes are the white potatoes. No special way to cooking them. Boil and season them. Sometimes depending on who is cooking they may be fried with onions.

The bread is called fritters. It’s made with cornmeal that comes in a yellow bag. It’s mixed with water and eggs.

The water, it’s usually taken from the faucet. This year the saints were served bottled water.

The jello. Well, it wasn’t always sold in a box. They used to make their jello and the tapioca. Coming up, there was always a dessert on the side.

Then the church made rules for the dinner:

The Senior Missionaries Cook.

The Junior Missionaries Serve.

The Brotherhood Clean.

All sisters, not on the choir, wear all white.

We eat in silence. No talking or laughing.

We eat and remember the saints of old.

How they were poor and did not have much

How they prayed on cold wooden or stone floors

How education did not come freely

How the church family did not have a church building to keep them  warm in the winter or cool in the summer

How they had to walk miles to worship or learn

How they had to labor a bit longer and harder than  us

How they had to endure

How some had to carry seats on their head because there were no chairs

How their life journey took all the smiling and laughter away from their aged stricken bodies

We think about their names: Mother Longjourney, Mother Havingahardtime, Mother Lukus, Mother Nixon, Mother Chisem, Mother Hammond, Bishop Goodwin, Bishop Johnson, Bishop Dixon, Mother Woods, Mother Frazier, Minister Richards, Mother Claudia Dixon, Mother Gussie, Mother Virgeous Bridgett, Sister Amy Hurley, Sister Rose Jones, Bishop Belton Green, Bishop Melvin Samuels

We are told it was started in Bishop Johnson days and then it was discontinued

Then, it was started under Bishop Goodwin sometime during the 80’s by Mother Lukus, Mother Claudia Dixon and Mother Virgeous Bridgett

Then, we think about us and how blessed we are.

We say peace be and go home.

~Thank You to Mother Virgeous Bridgett for helping me with the history

The Hijab

Taliyah who loves to pay attention to diversity and others asked Asrar to teach her how to make her scarf into a hijab. Mr. Sylvester was there to capture the moment.


Volunteering at the Langston Hughes Home


A week ago during the snow storm, I left my warm apartment and went to Harlem and volunteered with i, Too, Arts Collective which is a  non-profit organization committed to nurturing voices from underrepresented communities in the creative arts. They are responsible for renovating  the Harlem renaissance poet, Langston Hughes, home.

When I was in college, I went on a date with a young man who grew up in New Orleans. He was crazy about the Harlem renaissance because of his high school teachers. I, who grew up in New York, was crazy about Harlem because of the books I read alone (my high school  curriculum skipped majority of my history…really America’s true history). In any case, he took me to Harlem for a date and I remember us standing outside of Langston Hughes home taking about his poems. Then we spoke about what it would take for his home to become a museum. Then, we stopped talking so the conversation pretty much died like a raisin in the sun. However, the dream didn’t because I am now apart of a team of people who are preserving Mr. Hughes legacy by opening up his space and reserving it for writers and other artist to gather.

Sam & His Friends


Last Sunday, my brother friends took him up on his invitation to church.

Little did they know that that night they will have to fix a flat on the mini volkswagen they were riding around in.

Something Sweet from D.R.


A second grader named Brianna went to the Dominican Republic for the holidays and brought me back something called a raspadura rellena.

The middle part is sweet. It tastes like fig or grape. But the circle part is hard as a rock! The outside part is paper that I think was placed there to hold the rellena into shape.

I looked up the sweet on the internet but other types of foods came up when I typed in: “raspadura rellena dulceria rodriguez”.

I asked some people at my job about it but still was not clear what it was outside of a type of sweet.

I asked Brianna about it and she shared with me that she thinks it’s nasty.  I wanted to ask her why she didn’t just get me a key chain?!

I am going to ask my friend grandma about it, maybe she will be able to help me.