Friday Speak Out!: My Heart Hurts, My Pen Heals

Friday, June 12, 2020
by Jeanine DeHoney

My heart hurts. Lives have been lost. Families tragically torn apart. Injustice. Systemic Racism. Intolerance. Police Brutality. When will it end? When will Black people matter? When will others see our humanity?

My heart hurts. Some days, especially during these current times, it is difficult to want to pick up my pen to write, or sit at my computer and press the keys to finish a story because of the wrenching pain. But I know I must. I know I need to. I know words, spoken or written can heal. Words can influence how others think. Words can affirm those who have been constantly disparaged. Words can offer someone faith. Words can offer wisdom. Words can help you garner courage, and do what you never thought you were capable of doing, but know you must. Words can bridge a gap. Words can offer you a warm embrace. Words can preach to you like a minister's sermon come Sunday morning. Words are a psalm and a fervent prayer. Words can spark a movement that “Changes the world.”

My heart hurts. But I keep pushing on and sit and write and hope that my words will fall mightily like a boulder in someone’s front yard so they have no choice but to take notice of it. I hope my words will make them feel uncomfortable so that they clutch their fists and say “No more, I must speak up against bigotry and racial injustice. I can no longer remain silent!”

My heart hurts. But I write. Sometimes just one word like “Justice” or three powerful words like, “Black Lives Matter”, not because other lives don’t matter, but it is black lives that are facing racial inequality in all segments of society, oppression, violence and death. It matters because they are mothers, fathers, husbands, sons, daughters, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, sisters, and brothers, who were loved and whose lives were just as treasured, just as worthy, as other lives.

My heart hurts. But I trust my pen will heal. Not just me, but others whose hearts hurt too. I trust that the words will come that I need to say, and when I write them down, as imperfect as they may be, they will be perfect enough to plant a seed of hope and love and integrity, and cause a great transformation.

My heart hurts. But I can’t stay knee deep in pain. Action. Advocacy. Voting. Encouraging. Uplifting. Acknowledging. And Writing. That is my purpose. That is what assists in my/our healing. That is what changes the world as we know it. Will you join me?

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Jeanine DeHoney has had her work published on several blogs, in magazines and anthologies. Among others her writing has been published in Essence, The Children's Ark, Metro Fiction, My Brown Baby, The Write Place At the Write Time, Literary Mama, Mutha Magazine, True Stories Well Told, Parent. Co., Brain Child Magazine, Jerry Jazz Magazine, Today's Caregiver Magazine, and Rigorous Literary Magazine. She is an essayist in the anthologies "Chicken Soup for the African American Woman’s Soul,” "Here in the Middle: Stories of Love, Loss, and Connection from The Ones Sandwiched in Between," “Theories of HER-an experimental anthology, in the anthology, "In Celebration of Sisters," and in the Chicken Soup For The Soul Anthology, The Power Of Yes.
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


Sioux Roslawski said...

Jeanine--I enjoy reading your posts each time you write for WOW. I was excited when I saw your photo pop up... you're like an old familiar friend, even though we've never met.

I saw the mayor of D.C.'s interview last night, and she said that now--thanks to videotapes from eyewitnesses--Rupublicans AND Democrats are uniting and protesting. It's hard to doubt that horrible things are happening when you see it elapse--over 7 or 8 minutes. It's hard to deny someone's intentions when they are choking someone to death while they have their hands in their pockets... not caring that they're being filmed. It's hard to maintain that "they were resisting" when a knee is jammed on their neck and they're saying, "I can't breathe."

As a white person, my heart hurts as well. I'm ashamed. Love is easier than hate. Peace is easier and takes less energy than violence.

Congratulations on all the pieces you've had published, but where is your book, Jeanine? One, you have a message to spread. Two, you are a gifted writer. Three, you have a wonderful name for an author.;)

Consider yourself nudged (or prodded... or pushed) if you aren't already working on a book.

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Yes, Sioux, it is so hard to watch what is going on, and even harder to live through it as people of color, but I'm praying through the outrage and advocacy globally we are seeing after George Floyd's tragic death, a change is gonna come. And as always thanks so much for your inspiring message and comments about my writing. I'm working on two books,a collection of essays and a novel but at times I do indeed need a big nudge, so thanks for the nudge. And good luck with your book's publication. It is a book that is relevant and so needed today, so have faith the right publisher will accept it soon.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Jeanine ~ I love your speak out! The powerful imagery of a boulder in someone's front yard stuck with me.

I wrote about using our words for change for last Friday's Speak Out. I feel now more than ever it's so important for us to use our voices because the words from the top aren't cutting it. Without getting political here, why aren't the words we need to hear to unite us as a nation being spoken? I was listening to Marc Maron's WTF podcast last night, and I've had a terrible time sleeping lately, when he replayed a clip from five years ago of him interviewing Barack Obama right after his Ferguson speech. What the 44th president said then is timely now, and anyone who's interested can check out June 11th's Stacey Abrams episode (and she has some amazing things to say as well). He talked about the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, and discrimination, and poor communities that have been locked out of opportunity--all of it casting a long shadow--and the ways we can break it up into component parts for change. Things like police/community relations, helping low income communities, and early childhood education and development. His words were so actionable, specific, and soothing to me that afterwards I finally got some sleep! There's no quick fix, but change is possible when we examine what has to be done and take steps forward.

I'm definitely joining you! When writing about everything feels overwhelming, I break it down into small parts and remember the saying that the more personal, the more universal. Our own personal stories have the power to move people.

Thank you for this post, Jeanine! I'm also excited to hear you're working on two books. Maybe we can nudge each other. :) I've been working on a memoir but lost steam since the pandemic started, and then started wondering if it would be better as a book of essays because it seems more manageable.

Margo Dill said...

Jeanine: Thank you for sharing your words today, and I hope they are healing for you. They are inspiring to me to write even during difficult times.

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Thank you Angela and Margo. Yes, it is so true. Our personal stories have the power to move others and inspire others to use their craft for change.

Renee Roberson said...


I hear you. I see you. And I stand with you.

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Thank you Renee. We stand together.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for speaking out.

One, this platform is a place from which your words will be heard and you need to be heard.

Two, we need to hear.

Thank you for putting yourself out there.

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Yes Sue. And thank you for listening.

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