Note: I've been busy working on the last book in the Simp Trilogy, The Misadventures of Captain-Save-A-Hoe. I'm about 2/3s the way to finishing that book and I'm working on a new blog for next week.
I've also been busy putting together the School of Hard Knocks: The Re-Education of Jim Reid paperback for Lawrence Cherry. It's a great looking book, you should give it a buy. Larry and I put a lot of work into that one.
I have some articles posted on StopTheCoonery.com (Two all-new articles)
to So until then Here's the third chapter of Isis: Death of a Theta.
I know stepping down as the leader of the Thetas is the right thing to do. But I still wish I could have gone on a little longer. There’s still so much more work for me to do.
Sure Negroes have made a lot of progress over the last decade or so. With Jim Crow abolished, Black people are finally getting jobs in places they never got before, going to colleges they never could get into, and they’re able to go shopping and eat in places that were once White only. But during this time of great change, I feel that the Theta Sisterhood still needs my guidance more than ever. With the Black woman being the one who teaches culture and history to her children, someone older and wiser needs to help her teach our daughters and granddaughters what they need to know in order to preserve their families and their households from the numerous corrupting influences of that decadent progressive White society.
The Sisters gracefully ease out of their chairs and approach me with proud smiles. I paste on a smile as they shift out of their formal roles as Theta officers back into my closest friends.
“We’re gonna take care of you Andi.” Alma says.
“You don’t have to do that.” I reply.
“You deserve something for all your hard work.” Edna replies. “If it weren’t for God working through you many of us wouldn’t be the women we are today.”
Seeing them become the women they are today is all the reward I want for my hard work. “But you don’t have to give me anything Doc. I’m pretty well taken care of.”
“We know your father is an Egyptian god, but I doubt he’s going to be able to pay your bills here in the United States.” Edna says.
He could cover me, but I like being able to take care of myself. “I’ve got a pretty good pension and Social Security payments from my years teaching at Spelman.”
“That can’t go on forever.” Alma continues. “Sooner or later you’re going to have to retire this alias. “You may as well have the money ready to take care of your heir whenever she decides to appear.”
Good old Alma. Always thinking five steps ahead. Even in her old age she still understands the game is chess, not checkers.
“And it’s better that we take care of the paperwork now rather than later.” Millicent says. “It’ll keep people from asking questions.”
“I don’t know. I don’t want to take money from the pledges-”
“I doubt they’d miss it.” Edna says. “Besides, you earned most of that money. Don’t you think you should enjoy some of it?”
“If I enjoyed my money, none of the sisters would be able to have fun here when they pledge.”
“I believe we’d find a way to have a good time.” Edna continues.
“So what are your plans for after you retire?” Millicent asks.
“I’ll let you guys know in a few weeks. Right now I just want to see the baby.”
Mille smiles back at me. “I just put Colleen down for a nap. But I think she wouldn’t mind seeing a visitor if she were quiet.”
“I’ll be light on my feet. I’ll be back to talk shop with you in a minute Doc.”
“We’ll be out on the patio.” Edna says.
After we all leave the ballroom, Edna and Alma head further down the hall out to the patio while Millie and I head towards the tall mahogany doors that lead out to the vestibule. As our heels pound into the parquet floors, Millie’s eyes wander around looking up at the ornate carvings in the ceiling. “Wow.” She blurts.
“The architecture here is breathtaking.” I reply.
“I used to think we lived in a church when I was little. When did you buy it?”
“Buy it?” I snicker. “We built it.”
Millicent’s eyes grow wide. “Built it?”
“Hey, it was the twenties. Money was flowing like water back then. Alma inherited the land and I built her a house as a birthday present.”
“Where’d you get the money?”
“Oil, gold, diamonds in foreign countries, and investments in Black businesses during Jim Crow.” I answer. When Alma’s father passed away, he gave her this plot of land and the hill it was on.”
“This is Grandaddy Blackfoot’s land?”
“Yep, this little hill is sovereign Indian land. Which means the government doesn’t have any jurisdiction over it.”
“Man, you ladies were really clever.”
“Well, you had to be during Jim Crow.” I continue. “White folks were always looking for ways to take colored folks money back then. If you had a business that was doing well, they’d try to use their laws to shut you down unless you did things on their terms. And if you stood up to them, they’d send their Klansmen after you.”
“Wow. They sound worse than the Mafia-”
“We didn’t have to deal with those Italians much.” I continue. “Before that, our biggest problem up here were the White folks and the Iroquois who sold out to them.”
“All this was Indian land?”
“Pretty much. The remnant of Tribesmen that was left sold their property off for a fifth of whiskey and a night with a White whore.”
“Except Grandaddy Blackfoot.”
“Yes. Your grandaddy was one of the last of the Braves. The White Men would own all of this valley if it weren’t for him. Now he really didn’t like the idea of his daughter marrying a Buffalo man, but he realized your daddy was a better choice for Alma than some alcoholic who’d piss away his people’s legacy in the gutter in a few years.”
I can tell from the way Millie’s eyes are lighting up she’s really into my story. “The way you tell it you sound like you persuaded him to see different.”
I did twist his arm. Literally. “Earl truly loved Alma with all his heart.” I continue. “And he wanted to use his education and business skills to preserve this valley for his people and ours.”
“Is that how you met Mom and Dad?”
It was my first stop on the way to building my fortune in America. “I thought I’d be safe coming up here to start a new life. But I ran into the same old racism I ran into in the south.”
“The same kind of people like the Klansmen who killed your husband and son.”
“Yeah.” I sigh. “But this time I knew how to fight them.”
“Did Daddy know your secret?”
“Secret?” I laugh. “Come on, you got me sounding like one of those superheroes from the comic books-”
“Well, you kinda are. I mean the way you tell it sounds like some fantastic adventure-”
“Hey, we were people just trying to live. The only fantastic thing was God working to help us back then.”
“It still sounds amazing.”
I take a deep breath to choke back tears. I’m gonna miss moments like this. Being able to connect with my students. Being able to share our history and show them can see how it’s relevant to them today. Being able to show them how people like us can overcome the greatest adversity with only our courage and our faith in God.
“Nothing amazing about it. The greatest deeds are done by ordinary people who have the faith to believe they can do extraordinary things.”
“I doubt anything I do could be as extraordinary as what you and mom have done-”
“It’s not about big things Millie. It’s the little things people do that have the greatest impact on others. You’d be surprised how you make a difference in the lives of others.”
“Maybe one day I can be as great a woman as you are.”
“I believe you already are.”
Millie gets the door for me as we step out into the vestibule. When we walk out onto the white marble floors she pauses to study the two portraits of a younger Alma and myself hanging on the wall underneath the plaque that says: HONORING THE FOUNDERS OF THE THETA SISTERHOOD.
“Is that what you looked like when you were younger?” Millicent asks looking at the elegant picture of me sitting with my hands in my lap wearing a black dress and pearl necklace.
“It’s what I look like right now.” I reply.
Millicent gives me a piqued look. “You must be hiding all that beauty behind those wrinkles.”
“Nah, just a magic spell. But you’re just as much the looker your mother was in her prime.”
Millicent gives me a smile on the compliment. “I’m hoping Colleen will inherit our beauty.”
“From what I saw in the hospital, it looks like she’s on her way.” She’s got her mother’s face and her grandmothers’ eyes.”
“And her father’s appetite.”
“She’ll outgrow that.”
Millicent turns to approach the stairs and notices the empty space on the wall across from the sofa. “You know, this wall over here could use something to balance out the room.”
“We’re saving that space to put up the portraits of Sisters of exemplary character.”
“No one meets the standard just yet?”
I definitely would say she’s in the running the way she’s spent the past ten summers here giving back by helping other pledges. “There are some sisters who show promise. We’re just looking over their records before we commission their portrait.”
Millie smiles at me eagerly as we head up the grand white marble staircase upstairs. As we make our way up to the second floor she picks up her pace. I know how she feels, being away from your baby for just a minute feels like it’s too long.
We turn the corner and stroll into Millie’s suite. Millie’s husband Jack watches dotingly over his sleeping daughter in her bassinet until he hears our soft footsteps treading onto the carpet. The handsome caramel colored man dressed in a tailored black business suit, white shirt, and red tie smiles as he gently slides off the bed to greet us.
“Is the meeting over ladies?” Jack asks.
“Yep.” Millie replies.
“Doesn’t look Andi here is too broken up about things.” Jack says.
“I take things in stride Jack.” I say flashing him a smile.
“I think I’d be pretty upset being asked to step down from an organization I helped found.”
“When you’ve lived through watching your house burned down, your watching your husband getting lynched, and seeing son your son murdered before your very eyes, being asked to retire from a job you love is hurts about as much as a skinned knee.”
Jack smiles back at me. “When you put it in that perspective it sounds like you deserve a nice long retirement.”
“I wish I didn’t have to take a break right now.” I sigh. “There’s still so much work for me to do-”
“Yeah, I know those women’s libbers.” Jack continues. “We have a few of them in the secretarial pool at Anderson Financial. Giving me fits-”
“You fits?” Millicent says. “Try dealing with one of them when they pledge. That Linda Carver girl almost drove me crazy a year ago-”
“You sound like you’re getting stressed-” I say.
“You don’t know the half of it Andi.” Millicent sighs. “Dealing with that girl was like trying to deprogram a cult member.”
“I have a feeling that they’re going to get worse before they get better.” I say.
“I don’t think I have it in me to deal with any more of those Black feminists if they’re all like Linda was.” Millicent continues. “Those women are just so adamant about fighting for a political cause that’s just nonsense. That women’s lib fight is between that White woman and her White man. It ain’t got nothing to do with us.”
“We need to stay focused on Civil Rights.” I say.
“That’s the way I feel about it.” Millicent continues. “Since when does a Black man have the power to oppress a Black woman when he’s getting his skull cracked open by a White cop? Since when did a Black man ever get the power to hire and fire anyone from a job when he can’t get any job at a White Man’s company but a janitor?”
Hearing his wife’s rant, Jack gives his wife a sly smile. “Er…Is present company excluded from that list?”
Millicent smiles back at her husband then gives him a kiss. “Wasn’t talking about you Pumpkin. You do right by us.”
“You’re only saying that because you’re married to the boss.”
“But Black people have never had the economic power or the political power to oppress anyone let alone each other.” I say. “Most of the people I knew who didn’t have fortunes like me and Alma were barely keeping their heads above water in those maid and porter jobs.”
“And the people in our class both men and women were doing their best to keep what little money they had in Black hands.” Jack says.
“That’s what makes it so ridiculous for Black women today to start embracing feminism.” Millicent continues. “There’s still so much work for us to do in getting our rights from these crackers. I just know this detour is just going to set us back.”
“If it doesn’t divide us.” Jack says.
I peer down at the sleeping Colleen resting soundly under a pink blanket on the bed. “Let’s just hope we can keep that feminist nonsense out of Colleen’s head.” I say.
“I’m going to do my best to raise her to be a lady like you and Momma.”
“Is she going to pledge Theta when she grows up?” I ask turning to Millie.
“If I’m living she’ll be pledging. I just wish she could meet you when she gets older.”
I wish I could be there for her. But with my alias being so old, by the time she turns eighteen or nineteen, I’d have reached the age where Andrea Thomas Robinson should have died a long time ago. Maybe God will make a way for us to share the same close relationship that I have with her mother and grandmother one day.
“Maybe you can tell her stories about me.”
“I don’t think they’ll be the same thing as experiencing you in person.”
“Depends on her imagination.”
“Have you imagined a future for your new alias?” Jack asks.
“Haven’t thought that far yet Jack.” I reply. “The girls here want to take care of my “descendant”, but I’m afraid taking care of her would take money away from the pledges-”
“An annuitized monthly stipend wouldn’t take too much money from them if you established a trust.” Jack replies.
“It’d be just enough money for you to pay your bills.” Millie says. “You could even adjust it for inflation every few years or so.”
Okay, that sounds fair. All I really need is enough money to pay my rent, bills, and groceries and maybe buy myself a trinket or two when I’m in the city. My new alias can eventually find her own way to making a living.
“I think I could live within a budget of twelve hundred dollars a month to start.”