Sweet Honey in the Rock

By Bernice Reagon and Sweet Honey in the Rock sweet honey 09

“Founded by Bernice Johnson Reagon with Carol Maillard, Louise Robinson and Mie in 1973 at the D.C. Black Repertory Theater Company, Sweet Honey In The Rock, internationally renowned a cappella ensemble, has been a vital and innovative presence in the music culture of Washington, D.C., and in communities of conscience around the world.”

Oughta Be a Woman

Washin’ the floors to send you to college
Staying at home so you can feel safe
What do you think is the soul of her knowledge
What do you think that makes her feel safe

Biting her lips and lowering her eyes
To make sure there’s food on the table
What do you think would leave her surprised
If the world were as willing as she’s able

Hugging herself in an old kitchen chair
She listens to your hurt and your rage
What do you think she knows of despair
What is the aching of age

The fathers, the children, the brothers
Turn to her
And everybody white
Turns to her
What about her turning around alone
In the everyday light
There oughta be a woman can break down
Sit down, break down, sit down
Let everybody else call it quits on a Monday
Blues on Tuesday, sleep until Sunday down
Sit down, break down, sit down
A way out of no way
It’s flesh out of flesh
It’s courage that cries out at night
A way out of no way
It’s flesh out of flesh
It’s bravery kept out of sight
A way out of no way
It’s too much to ask
It’s too much of a task for any one woman

No Mirrors in my Nana’s House
There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house,
no mirrors in my Nana’s house.
There were no mirrors in my Na’s house,
no mirrors in my Nana’s house.
And the beauty that I saw in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).

I never knew that my skin was too black.
I never knew that my nose was too flat.
I never knew that my clothes didn’t fit.
I never knew there were things that I’d missed,
cause the beauty in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun);
…was in her eyes.

More Than a Paycheck

I wanted more pay.
But what I’ve got today
is more than I bargained for
when I walked through that door.

I bring home
asbestosis,
silicosis,
brown lung,
black lung disease.
And radiation hits the children before they’ve even been conceived.

On Children

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and the daughters of life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but
They are not from you, and though they are with you ,
they belong not to you.
You can give them your love, but not your thoughts.
They have their own thoughts
You can give house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in a place of tomorrow
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You can strive to be like them but you can not make them just like you.

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