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TERRI LYNN JEWELL 1954-1995 Terri Lynn Jewell, a self-described "Black lesbian feminist poet and writer," died on Sunday, November 26, 1995, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Jewell's work has appeared in more than 300 publications, including Sinister Wisdom, Woman of Power, Sojourner, Kuumba, The American Voice, Calyx, The African-American Review, and The Black Scholar. Her writings have also appeared in the anthologies Riding Desire and A Lesbian of Color Anthology. Her calendar of Black women's history, Our Names are Many, is scheduled for publication by Crossing Press in 1996, and at the time of her death she was editing a collection of Black lesbian poets. Jewell was the editor of The Black Woman's Gumbo Ya Ya (Crossing Press, 1993), an anthology of quotations by Black women. In her introduction, she writes: "This collection was born out of my personal need for affirmation as a Black woman. I needed a coping mechanism for the growing conservatism in this nation... We are all here, calling out to and reaching one another, gathering at one another's feet and sharing the sustenance that has kept us alive and moving in the directions we must go." The quotations she selected are a testimonial to the values she expressed in her life and in her writing: "There's nothing neat and tidy about me, like a nice social revolution. With me goes a mad, passionate, insane, screaming world of ten thousand devils and the man or God who lifts the lid off this suppressed world does so at his peril." - Bessie Head "From my own study of the question, the colored woman deserves greater credit for what she has done and is doing than blame for what she cannot so soon overcome." - Fannie Barrier Williams "... victory is often a thing deferred, and rarely at the summit of courage... What is at the summit of courage, I think, is freedom. The freedom that comes with the knowledge that no earthly power can break you; that an unbroken spirit is the only thing you cannot live without; that in the end it is the courage of conviction that moves things, that makes all change possible." - Paula Giddings "The woman who takes a woman lover lives dangerously in patriarchy." - Cheryl Clarke
"If there is a single distinguishing feature of the literature of black women and this accounts for their lack of recognition - it is this: their literature is about black women; it takes the trouble to record the thoughts, words, feelings, and deeds of black women, experiences that make the realities of being black in America look very different from what men have written." - Mary Helen Washington "Being a black woman means frequent spells of impotent, self-consuming rage." - Michele Wallace "... I know that we must reclaim those bones in the Atlantic Ocean... All those people who said "no" and jumped ship... We don't have a marker, an expression, a song that we all use to acknowledge them... we have all that power that we don't tap; we don't tap into the ancestral presence in those waters." - Toni Cade Bambara "A Home where we are unable to voice our criticisms is not a genuine Home. Nor is a genuine Home one where you assimilate, integrate and disappear. For being invisible is the same as not being at Home. Not being at Home enough to be precisely who you are without any denials of language or culture." - From the Introduction to Charting the Journey "I am both Black and a woman... And yet I am continually asked to prioritize my consciousness; is race more important; is gender more important? Which is more severe, etc.? The fallacy lies not in struggling with the answer, in trying to figure out which is the correct answer for the group at hand, but the fallacy lies with the question itself." - Patricia Hill Collins "We exist as women who are black who are feminists, each stranded for the moment, working independently because there is not yet an environment in this society remotely congenial to our struggle - because, on the bottom, we would have to do what no one else has done: we would have to fight the world." - Michele Wallace "... right to life is not inherent, but is by grace of... an enemy. I think that those who so loudly proclaim perfect freedom call out triumphantly before being out of the difficulty." - Mary Shadd Cary
"Homophobia divides black people as political allies, it cuts off political growth, stifles revolution, and perpetuates patriarchal domination." - Cheryl Clarke "Manasa lambda manify: atao mafy, rovitra; atao malemy, tsy afa-tseroka." (Like washing thin fabric: wash it hard and it will tear; wash it gently and you will not get the dirt out.) - Malagasy proverb "One of the greatest gifts of Black feminism to ourselves has been to make it a little easier simply to be Black and female. A Black feminist analysis has enabled us to understand that we are not hated and abused because there is something wrong with us, but our status and treatment is absolutely prescribed by the racist, misogynistic system under which we live." - Barbara Smith "After distress, solace." - Swahili proverb A scholarship fund has been established in her memory. Contributions may be sent to: Terri Jewell Scholarship Fund, Box 1721, Lansing, MI 48826.