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Root Work Journal - Navigating the Ocean - Volume 1, Issue 2


Stephanie Joy Tisdale




Stephanie Joy Tisdale is an educator, writer, and vocalist. Born and raised in Philly, she attended Howard University and Lincoln University where she studied literature and education. She is currently a PhD student at Temple and spends her time cooking, reading, practicing yoga, listening to music, and studying nature. She hopes to give voice to the experiences of her Ancestors and would like to learn from and collaborate with other writers in this journal. The call for submissions for Root Work was so compelling that she knew she owed it to herself and her people to offer a potential contribution.

Enslavement and freedom are sometimes waves in the very same ocean. Titi, Ma, and NaNa are "swimmers" whose powers go beyond the conEnes of the world designed to control them. They create freedom for themselves by way of their magical abilities: ebbing and Gowing like the river stream.


“How do it feel?” “

How do what feel?” Ma replied.

“It” she asked shyly.

She kept shucking the corn and never looked up but could feel Ma’s eyes on her.

“Hmmm” Ma stopped moving her hands and got real quiet like she always did when she was thinking.

“It be kinda like when ya go for a swim ‘cept you never rise up for more air.

You just stays there. You let the bubbles mix with the water and breathe on through it.”

Ma picked up another piece of corn and began pulling the green layers away.

 She threw down the husks but the silky shreds underneath

seemed to sparkle as they floated towards the pile below.

“Tha’s when ya use ya magic” Ma whispered.

“You swim wid all da life ya have inside a you.”

She turned towards Titi and grabbed her face in her hands.

“Wid all da life ya have, hear me?”

Ma leaned closer, connecting her daughter’s forehead with her own.

Quiet tears streamed down her face and Titi closed her eyes.

[continue reading]

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