Gumbo for the Soul
Rejection. Loss. Confusion. Pain. Our past and our future are intertwined. Each distinct memory becomes one life. What once hurt, eventually heals, and the lesson (or lessons) to be learned becomes one with our soul and our spirit. Our experiences provide strength instead of destruction. Our greatgrandmothers, grandmothers, mothers all women of power who came before us were great descendants of the coastal lands of West Africa. They arrived in strange lands with their Gumbo their memories, rhythms, ingenuity, creativity, strength, and compassion. Their lived stories and conversation were recipes mixed with unique combinations of ingredients, dropped into the cast iron pot stirred, dropped in, seasoned, dropped in, stirred again, and again, and again, until done. This Gumbo is savory like the soul, carefully prepared, recipes rich with what our foremothers brought with them from their homeland. They brought the best of what they had to offer Gumbo or Gombo is a Bantu word meaning 'okra'. Okra is a rich vegetable that serves as the base (or gravy) for a delicately prepared stew. (Today's Gumbo cooks use a 'roux' as the base see the recipe on page 3). Gumbo's West African origins have been modified over the past two centuries by people of varied ancestry: Native American, German, Spanish, and French (Moss, 2014). It is essential to understand the manner in which Gumbo is prepared: each ingredient must be placed into the stew at its specified time so that it can cook in and savor its own flavor. When completed, Gumbo is usually served over grits or rice Gumbo has become a cornerstone of life in Africandescended communities across the south and southwest spanning from South Carolina to Louisiana and Texas. Gumbo is a treasure... a reminder of the greatness that lived in the village in a time of strength and abundance...a reminder of the resilience and richness of our people over generations. This book a collection of memoirs written by Women of Color is shared to inspire and motivate readers. The authors of these precious, soulful stories are from across the globe and represent various backgrounds and professions. What these women have in common, though, is their drive to tell their story. Stories of pain, discovery, strength, and stories of beginnings. Many of the experiences, as difficult as they may have been, made the women who they are today. Telling these stories to a new generation will empower and encourage them in their experiences no matter how troubling or challenging (Harris, 2015). These stories, like our foremothers offering their Gumbo, present the best these women have to offer. These authors want the world to know that deep inside of each of us is a rich, vibrant, purposeful beginning. As our lives develop and we are "stirred and stirred again", like Gumbo, our experiences begin to shape who we are and who we become. When the stirring is complete, a comforting meal one that says no matter what has gone into the dish, it's going to be amazingly magnificent!! The authors hope these stories will inspire and motivate girls and Women of Color to trust their experiences whether good or bad to help them become. Our becoming means that after all that life has thrown our way, we are strong, purposeful, and powerful people who are a great treasure to a world that sometimes rejects and ignores our existence. Embedded in this book are stories of abuse and triumph, sadness and victory, disappointment and resilience, discovery and victory. We are very proud to be the keepers of these rich recipes. They represent the first in what we hope will become a collection or series of inspirational memoirs that will be shared to help others live out their destiny and become the women they were born to be.
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