To Him, who is able to do considerably more than I can ask or think, I give you thanks.
To my wife: thanks for giving me the time to write, always knocking before entering my office, and cooking healthy meals when my health demanded it.
To my mom: thanks for teaching me to tell the truth from a very early age. It has been invaluable over the years. Thanks for all the motherly advice, the four o'clock in the morning conversations, and the great food; especially the sweet potatoes.
Special thanks to my agent, Donald Maass. I didn't think we were going to get the deal done for
Little Black Girl Lost 4
Due to your many years of experience, we were able to hammer a deal both parties could live with. Special thanks to your wonderful staff, particularly Cameron McClure and Stephan Barbara, who helped secure the audio rights to
PRETENSES, Sugar & Spice,
Special thanks to Carl Weber for taking on all the
Little Black Girl Lost novels.
To my man, Phillip Thomas Duck, author of
Playing with Destiny
Grown & Sexy,
in stores now: thanks for all the laughs you provide and the invaluable wisdom. I had a ball when you came to Toledo, bruh! But you forgot to remind me to write that story we talked about at BEA 2006 in Washington, DC. Shame on you!
To my good friend, Kendra Norman Bellamy, author of
Because of Grace
More than Grace,
in stores now: thanks for being a great woman of God and always having a godly, listening ear, and offering godly advice. It is always appreciated.
To Alisha Yvonne, author of
Lovin' You Is Wrong
I Don't Wanna Be Right:
thanks for being such a gracious and accommodating host when I was in Memphis. You definitely know how to get people to come to signings. Hopefully more authors will come to Memphis and see how the women in the South do things.
Special thanks to Tabitha, manager of Borders bookstore. Thanks for always looking out for me from the beginning. I won't forget you.
To all my coworkers who
and read every single book: I can't thank you enough, and I appreciate each of you.
To all my fans: thanks for all the emails, and thanks so much for buying and reading
Little Black Girl Lost 1, 2,
and making them perennial Black Expressions bestsellers.
To all the beauty salons in Toledo: thanks for allowing me to put stand-up posters in your shops.
And last but not least, special thanks to my man, Fletcher, Word of
The Sojourner's Truth
newspaper in Toledo, Ohio. BIG, BIG THANKS for all the articles and publicity.
“Pay more attention for free speech is
George Clinton of Parliament
During slavery there were several Negroes in the South, especially Louisiana and South Carolina, who would be accounted millionaires today. Most of them were slaveholders. These rich Negroes were treated in nearly every respect like white people. They could marry white wivesâat least many of them did; they could buy white men and womenâthey did in Maryland and Louisiana until 1818, and in all probability, Florida, too; and even in the stage-coaches they did not ride Jim-Crow.
Joel Augustus Rogers
Sex and Race Volume II, p. 242 & 243. 1942.
s many of you know from the last novel, the diary of Josephine Baptiste was finally delivered to me. I've read it several times. No matter how many times I read it, I'm always amazed, stunned even, at how one decision can change the course of a person's life and consequently, the course of an entire family unit. Such is the case with the Wise family. More than two hundred years ago, long before I, Johnnie Wise, was born, long before I met Lucas Matthews, Napoleon and Marla Bentley, George (Bubbles) Grant, the Beauregards (my white relatives), long before I talked Earl Shamus into purchasing a house for me in Ashland Estates, my great great grandmother rebelled against the wishes of her father and set her progeny on a collision course with a destiny that was riddled with hardship, disrespect, and ultimately murder.
My ancestors were never ever supposed to be a part of the Wise family; they were never ever supposed to be Americans; they most certainly were never to be of mixed blood. But because my great great grandmother, a free woman of Dahomeyâbehaved foolishly in her native land, her imprudent splash in the ocean of life continues to ripple throughout timeâtoday even.
If she had thought of someone other than herself; if she had thought about the consequences of her actions instead of dwelling on what she hoped would prove to be beneficial; if she had considered the benefits of the protective hedge of obedience before forging ahead into the abyss of uncertainty, I'm convinced that what happened to her, and what eventually happened to all the female family members born after herâthose being Antoinette, Josephine, Marguerite, and me, Johnnie Wiseâwould never have happened to us.
Yet, I'm torn by her decision; torn by how it affected me and my own decisions. If the matriarch of our clan here in the Western Hemisphere doesn't rebel in the Eastern Hemisphere, am I born in New Orleans, Louisiana? Or am I born in Nigeria? Am I her first child? Or am I the last? More important, am I even alive to begin with? And if I am alive, am I who I am? If I am alive, am I of noble blood with all the privileges that accompany those who are? Or am I born at a time when my ancestors' land is pillaged and left destitute, leaving me in the same miserable condition as they found themselves? They say God works in mysterious ways. Given the way that my ancestors were brought to North America, I'd have to agree.
If she were alive today, I think Ibo Atikah Mustafa, my great great grandmother, would agree that the temptation to eat is sweeter than the eating itself. Unfortunately, she could not discern that truth from thinking of running away. Only the experience of running away could reveal the hidden nature of the temptation.
Thoughts of stealing away had first tickled her mind and then danced in her every imagination, making promises it could never deliver. Eventually, the temptation arrested and bound her hand and foot. Being in that state, fettered like a common criminal, much like Eve, the mother of all living, she too yielded. She
and only then did she
own folly; only then did she see how she was lured by her own ungoverned libido; only then did she understand that it was her own lust for the forbidden that landed her on the deck of a Dutch ship, a thousand miles from shore, making its way through the horrible corridors of The Middle Passage.
I can certainly sympathize with her and the rest of the women in my lineage.
For I, too, have behaved foolishly.
I, too, have rebelled and suffered the hardships of my own rebellion.
Hopefully, the diary of Josephine Baptiste, the fourth edition of the
Little Black Girl Lost
series, will shed some light on the plight of many women who, because of one selfish decision, suffer a lifetime of hardship.