Summer Heat

The Weather in North Carolina has finally cooled off, but mid-July was a scorcher. When I walked outside last Sunday afternoon, it felt like I might be baked alive on the sidewalk. The thermometer said it was 100 degrees, much hotter than I count on it being here. It felt more like July in Texas and reminded me of the summer weeks I spent in Grandview with my beloved grandmother, MamaMay, where it was literally hot enough to cook things in the sun.

When I’d visit her, I liked to watch big flat pans of peaches bake in the sun on the back patio. My mother never cooked anything outside in Oklahoma, although it was hot enough there to fry and egg on the pavement there. It was really hot in Texas, though I don’t remember minding it much, and while I’m not sure there was a pool in Grandview, I do recall lots of afternoons spent playing outside in the sprinklers with my cousins.

My youngest cousin, Anne, recently sent me a picture of me with our grandmother, our Aunt Mary Anne, and cousin Lee. I’m about two in the photo and have the middle fingers of my left hand in my mouth. I was smart to pick my left hand, since I kept those fingers in my mouth until I was seven, and I needed my right had to do other things. I’m grateful to Janice Dokes who found this picture among her old photos and shared it.

Janice’s grandmother, Inez Hardy, worked for my grandmother when I was little and was like a angel to me. She’d bake extra little strips of pastry for me and put butter and sugar on them for a treat. But I had best not wax too poetic about those days, which were roasted in Southern heat and flavored with a racist system that found ever more ingenious ways to wrest power, rights, voice, money, land, and life from African Americans.

Amid the summer heat of this year, 2017, and the antics of an administration that seems hell-bent on depriving immigrants, people of color, the poor, the disabled, children, and the elderly of voice, rights, access to assistance, and life itself, I want to remember the labor and the kindness of African American people long ago who built this country, took care of people like my grandmother, my mother, and me, and were never properly compensated for what we stole from them. We need serious conversations about reparations. If my grandfather had stollen money or land from yours, wouldn’t you think I owed you something?

My sweet summer memories are still sweet and the knowledge of the system of repression that undergirded them is sour indeed.

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Duke Divinity School & Diversity

photo Duke Div 3Duke Divinity School is in the news again. This time a conservative professor was critical of diversity training and urged his colleagues to stay away: ““Don’t lay waste your time by doing so. It’ll be, I predict with confidence, intellectually flaccid: there’ll be bromides, clichés and amen-corner rah-rahs in plenty. When (if) it gets beyond that, its illiberal roots and totalitarian tendencies will show.” Now it seems the resistant professor will be retiring early. Read about it HERE.

I commend Dr. Thea Portier-Young and Dean Elaine Heath for their support for the diversity training.

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Just Keep Going

I’m pleased to announce the publication of my latest book.just-keep-going-for-rc-web

Just Keep Going: Advice on Writing and Life
by Jeanette Stokes (RCWMS, 2016)
$20.00 (includes tax & shipping)

“In this book you’ll find a wise guide, a skilled writer and artist who will help you discover your most creative self. As she charts her path toward writing and creativity, Stokes encourages you to envision the outlines of your own path. She offers tips on how to start where you are, take things one step at a time, figure out what works for you, set and keep a writing schedule, confront blocks, let your creativity flow, and relax and enjoy the process. Most of all, she conveys the joy in opening to the raw material of your own truest and deepest inclinations.” —Liz Dowling-Sendor, writer and Episcopal priest

Jeanette Stokes is the founder and Director of the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South and the author of five other books.

To order: Send $20.00 by mail to RCWMS, 1202 Watts St., Durham, NC 27701
Or order here: (for $20.00)
Or visit

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My father was arrest in 1972

NYT reports today: “The Oklahoma Legislature on Thursday passed a bill that would effectively ban abortions by subjecting doctors who perform them to felony charges and revoking their medical licenses — the first legislation of its kind.”

This is why the following story about my father ran in the Daddy & Faye arrest last Sunday. He was and ObGyn who was arrested in 1972 for providing safe abortions at a time when they were still illegal in Oklahoma. Here’s the story about my dad: HERE

(Photo credit: Dr. E. Malcolm Stokes is shown with his wife, Faye, in Pawnee, OK, where he was arraigned on March 28, 1972, on abortion charges in connection with operation of an alleged “abortion mill” near Lake Keystone. Stokes was a prominent obstetrician in Tulsa. The photo is taken from microfilm. tulsa World archives)

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Following a Female Line

JANE pc FRONT w bleeds LIGHTERFollowing a Female Line by Jeanette Stokes
(Words & Spirit, 2015) Regular price $20.00
ISBN 978-0-9821848-7-5

Jeanette Stokes began to suspect that values she found wedged in her psyche were an unwitting inheritance from the women in her female line. How in the world did her Scots-Irish ancestors manage to leave her with their stubborn faith, their tenacious hold on land, and their deep attachment to family? Join her as she searches through archives, history, and family lore to find out.

Jeanette Stokes is the founder and Director of the Resource Center for Women & Ministry in the South and author of Hurricane Season, 25 Years in the Garden, 35 Years on the Path, and Flying Over Home. She lives in Durham, NC.

Order via PayPal:
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Or send $20.00 by mail to Words & Spirit, 1202 Watts St., Durham, NC 27701
Or order here: (for $20.00)
Or visit

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There is such great sadness in the wake of the murder of three beautiful young Muslim adults: Deah Barakat, 23, his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, an3 shootingd Abu-Salha’s sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19.

I had this thought:
If the gunman in Chapel Hill had had a baseball bat instead of a gun, he might have hurt one of the three young people, but he could not have killed them all. Guns + male violence + prejudice IS deadly. We’ve got lots of work to do, friends. Lots.

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Ferguson & Durham

I wish I could say I was surprised by the miserable decision from the grand jury in the murder of Michael Brown case. But I wasn’t. I read Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow this fall, so I guessed what was coming. If you haven’t read her work, put it at the top of your list. She carefully explains how law enforcement, searches, arrest, indictments, and sentencing are tangled in a racist system that was supposed to be a “war on drugs” but functions as a war on black and brown people.

What I didn’t know was that 99.99% of the time federal grand juries offer an indictment. So what happened in the Michael Brown case was very unusual. You can read about it here.

Durham protest for Ferguson

Citizens gathered in downtown Durham for a protest on Tuesday night after the grand jury’s decision was announced on Monday. Here are a couple of  Durham pictures. You can read the N&O article about the local protest, here.

Durham Protest lizzie mcmanus

Folks in Durham have been working to address racist practices in law enforcement. They engaged the help of researchers at UNC who studied more than a decade of data on stops and searches. You guessed it. Black men are stopped and searched in Durham more than anyone else. Read The New York Times story here.

I’m grateful to Ta-Nehisi Coates for getting me started reading about the new Jim Crow. Read Coates’ latest here.  I suggest you check his page weekly.

(Photo credit: upper, J. Stokes; lower, lizzie mcmanus-dail)

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