Archive for the ‘GIFTS OF RESISTANCE 2017: creative writing’ Category

  • My neighborhood Cub – a safe(er) space?

    Date: 2017.01.29 | Category: GIFTS OF RESISTANCE 2017: creative writing | Response: 0

    I shop for groceries at my neighborhood Cub in South Minneapolis, on the corner of Minnehaha and Lake. As grocery stores goes, it is unfancy, even by Cub standards. A hood Cub, as many have called it, but it has the lowest prices and is convenient for us who live around it. I’m not a grocery shopping fan (or any kind of shopping fan), so even though I can currently afford it, I do not make a trip or extra trips to the co-op or Whole Foods a part of my routine in order to acquire fancier, healthier, better sourced foods. I go to Cub, zip up and down the aisles for what I need, pack my bags up and go home. Sunday after Sunday afternoon.

    I have lived in near-South Minneapolis for over 40 years, so I’ve watched our neighborhoods and stores evolve. We’ve always been a diverse mix along Lake Street, and I honestly don’t know when shoppers at “my” Cub or Target became typically more brown than white, but it’s been that way for a very long time.

    Like everyone else getting their shopping chores done, I don’t normally think philosophically about these stores, who is in them, or anything symbolic or political at all. I just get my groceries, or toothpaste and toilet paper, and go to whatever is next on my list of errands.

    But the Sunday after the election I went grocery shopping feeling completely raw and started noticing we the shoppers, gliding up and down the aisles in our many languages, our after-church wear, our hijabs, our sweats, our ink and asymmetrical haircuts – our carts spilling with our kids and grandkids along with our foods.

    And we appeared unbothered. I imagined us collectively feeling safe(er) – or at least able to focus on just shopping. That may not be true. Folks may have been been feeling all kinds of ways, and “safe(er)” may not have been one of them.

    But I’m wanting to believe folks that day were not worrying the way I’ve heard others worry since the election while shopping in their whiter neighborhoods and communities – fearful of being targeted because of speaking a language other than English, for wearing clothing that identifies them as Muslim, about the possibility or actuality of being hurled hateful words. “Go back where you came from.” “Build the wall.” Or having to see confederate flags in trucks in the parking lot.

    Of course crap goes down at that Cub – people are profiled and insulted – this is the U.S./Minnesota/Minneapolis, and I’m not that naive. I’ve been insulted and called out many times myself, not so much for being queer, but mostly years back when my children were young for being a white mother of brown kids (everything from being called a n-word lover to having serious shade thrown at me for being us).

    Let’s not be delusional. We live in the same old days. But it’s new day, too, with a sharper, harsher edge and even more terrifying possibilities ahead. Maybe I’m being my sentimental older white woman self looking for hope wherever I can find it – a self who I love. But maybe – just maybe – places like a neighborhood Cub can actually feel like a safe(er) space in a new kind of way.


    copyright Ann Freeman
  • Lessons from my mother – lead with love and kindness

    Date: 2017.01.29 | Category: GIFTS OF RESISTANCE 2017: creative writing | Response: 0

    My mom passed away from pancreatic cancer when she was just 70. Pancreatic cancer is one bad cancer. When you learn you have it, it’s too late. It kills you quickly and painfully. My mom fought like the warrior she was and lived for over a year after her diagnosis. As she fought, she taught everyone around her lessons for life; lessons she embodied her entire lifetime made even more powerful as she experienced pain and dying.

    To lead with love and kindness.

    Even in excruciating pain, my mother embodied love. She was kind to everyone. She led with gracious dignity until her last breath.

    This early morning I am swimming in those memories, perhaps a gift from her angel-self, as I battle with a different kind of pain. As we approach election day, my heart hurts and I can barely breathe.

    Hate has never left our troubled country, but eight years ago, for a shining moment that manifested itself on that magical night in Grant Park, we led with hope. Since then, since the visible marker of another barrier broken, since the promise that if a Black man could be elected president all things might be possible, another man – a terrible white man – has given voice to the ugly mobs that were lying dormant just under the surface and invited them to rise up once again. The mobs of whiteness that once gathered with their children under the hanging bodies of lynched Black men for entertainment, the ones that bombed churches, the ones that put masks on their heads and terrorized innocent people, have been awakened and feel emboldened.

    Sometimes it feels like hate leads now. Not hope, and certainly not love.

    I know the truth is that love and kindness, respect and caring, are everywhere. But how easily their evidence is muted each time we learn of something new – a church burned, a football game where people felt (what did they feel; that it would be fun, funny?) to costume themselves as that terrible white man with nooses around the necks of others costumed as our current lovely president and our – hopefully – next first woman president. A man who hangs “fake” Black bodies from the tree in his front yard, a sign supporting the terrible white man just below them. How far are we from the day we learn of real bodies hanging once again? And on my own college campus, targeted hate at our Muslim students and our immigrant young people – who perhaps come from families who perhaps have fled unspeakable terror and hardship to come to this country with hope for a better life.

    I want to scream. Not on my campus. Not in my community. Not in my country.



    BE LOVE.

    I will go to polls on Tuesday and vote. Of course. Hopefully enough of us who want to fight this evil unleashed will go vote, too. And we will win. At least we will defeat the white man with the voice of bitter hate.

    I just hope it’s not too late. With the mobs and their kin no longer dormant, how do we slay the beast? How do we keep moving forward? How do we interrupt this madness, this terrible danger?

    I am going to follow those lessons from my mother. I’m going to rise and rise until my last breath, no matter the pain, to fight with love, fiercely.

    To protest hate wherever it manifests.
    To insist Black Lives Matter. That water is life.
    To center other voices.
    To love across difference.

    To honor my beautiful mother.

    copyright Ann Freeman

    Date: 2017.01.29 | Category: GIFTS OF RESISTANCE 2017: creative writing | Response: 0



    Fear of not knowing is a chilling

    fear, a cold war fear, green walls,

    bowed heads, the fear

    baby boomers might have experienced;


    I wanted suicide pills in my pocket, just in case

    I didn’t want survival. Fear of what:

    a nuclear weapon, a bomb? No bomb

    shelter. I was clueless.  I wasn’t fit

    to be a living martyr.


    But, that was then, pre-Kennedy.  I was

    eleven or twelve, without words.  Intellect

    was government food on the table, cradled

    by child support and a fearless, single




    2017, fear is hot, fear an inferno.

    Fear deeper than a sixth grade girl,

    green walls, a cold war.


    THIS fear is smart fear.  Aware.

    Listens.  Questions.  What is

    An Executive Order?  Grand

    Standing, a stance set in brick

    walls?  Walls do eventually

    crumble or get knocked down.

    I like my walls to be fences,

    fences to be metaphor, satire,

    and cost nothing—but wisdom.

    Free words rumbling

    and tumbling wild.


    This fear knows too much.  It weighs

    heavy with take aways and prophet




    I have known prophets. Who hasn’t believed

    they were Jesus? I was a flower child, more

    child than prophet, more disciple than deity.

    Some of us deserve empathy.  Call it



    Some say mentally unstable,

    deranged.  Don’t be fooled.

    One has to be worthy

    of psychiatric labeling  as excuse or definition.

    Evil.  Out of control narcissist. Evil.

    I’ve seen it before, but never this pronounced.



    Greed is unbelievable and unbecoming.  Greed will be

    Undone.  I call for a bell bottom revival, tie

    dye shirts, and love-ins.  “The Mystical Magical Tour”

    and the “White Rabbit.”


    Reefer is everywhere, we’ve got the weed.  At least,

    until another Executive Order.


    “Mystical Magical Tour,” Lennon–McCartney, 1967, 8 December 1967

    “White Rabbit,” Grace Wing Slick (Jefferson Airplane)


    ©Sherry Quan Lee

    January 26, 2017


  • All American Baby

    Date: 2017.01.29 | Category: GIFTS OF RESISTANCE 2017: creative writing | Response: 0

    Ann Freeman


    My beautiful baby grandchild exists because of the courage of her grandparents on her Cambodian side who fled terror, genocide, the killing fields, and sought refuge here, in this country, in this cold northern state. They started over, raised a family here. A family that included a daughter who met my son who found love in each other and made a baby together. A baby descended from at least three Asian cultures, refugees, African slaves, European colonizers. An all American baby.

    This country

    Founded on genocide and slavery

    Yet the Statue of Liberty

    And millions of proud immigrants and refugees

    Indigenous people rising up

    No water no life

    Black Lives Matter

    The is us

    Messy and difficult

    Facing a new terror from a demagogue who could be our undoing

    But we the people

    We the people



Artist Statement

Sherry Quan Lee approaches writing as a community resource and as culturally based art of an ordinary everyday practical aesthetic. Lee is a Community Instructor at Metropolitan State University (Intro to Creative Writing, Advanced Creative Writing), and has taught at Intermedia Arts, and the Loft Literary Center. She is the author of A Little Mixed Up, Guild Press, 1982 (second printing), Chinese Blackbird, a memoir in verse, published 2002 by the Asian American Renaissance, republished 2008 by Loving Healing Press, and How to Write a Suicide Note: serial essays that saved a woman’s life, Loving Healing Press, 2008.








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