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The Legacy of Hattie Finney Banks

10 Aug

 

Secret

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/secret/#like-244527

Would you have kept this secret for two generations? Maybe my Grandmother Hattie Finney Banks kept secret the fact that my grandfather Hugh Banks killed my Great Grandfather Daniel Finney (Hattie’s Dad) so that she could keep her sanity.  Guilt, embarrassment, shame, humiliation. I’m sure in the beginning after the murder it was all there deep within her soul, mind and spirit. But My Grandmother Hattie Finney Banks kept the secret so she could raise her three daughters (one of whom Mable was to become my mother) in relative peace, quiet and safety without passing this terrible haunting to future generations.  No judgment from me, only understanding.

 

The Legacy of Hattie Finney Banks

Hattie Finney Banks

Grandmother Hattie Finney Banks

Hattie Finney was born Feb. 1905 in the poor coal mining hamlet of Davy, West Virginia.  A real looker in her youth blessed with a great sense of fashion and good taste Hattie though living in poverty was able to enhance her beauty through thrift and the ability to create something out of nothing.

With African and Sioux blood running through her veins her beauty soon caught the eye of the young men in the town. One named Hugh Banks seemed to have good prospects. Hugh like her Hattie’s dad Daniel R. Finney worked as a janitor. Not a high living job but one that could support a wife and future children. It also didn’t hurt that he was a strong strapping young man who was easy on the eyes.

They married sometime in the late 1920s when Hattie was in her early 20s looking forward to a bright future. Their first born child Mable Banks, (My Mom) was born May 2, 1930, and then came Helen on September 13, 1931 and finally Gladys on May 2, 1935. However as time progressed and the marriage wore on the initial first joys of wedded bliss gave way to drinking and horrible physical abuse from her husband Hugh. He regularly stayed out late getting drunk, spending the food and rent money on booze. A spirit of anger possessed him and he took out all the days slights on Hattie and their young children. Hattie always put herself between Hugh and the kids when he went on these violent tirades taking the brunt of the physical beatings and verbal abuse.

Finally on April 30, 1939 after a particularly horrible beating Hattie couldn’t take it anymore. In fear of her life she grabbed her three little girls and ran to the shelter of her parents’ house not far away. A very drunk Hugh Banks in hot pursuit of his wife followed her and demanded that Hattie and the girls return home with him. Hattie’s Dad, Daniel James Finney told Hattie to stay indoors while he went out to confront Hugh. Daniel Finney seeing Hugh in a violent drunken rage refused to allow his daughter and granddaughters to go with Hugh. An argument ensued and Hugh took out a pistol shooting Daniel Finney in the chest killing him instantly. Daniel’s brother Charlie Finney saw the murder, called the police and Hugh Banks was arrested.

Hattie and her mother Mary were devastated and in addition for many years Hattie carried the burden of guilt and shame that if she had not ran back to her parents’ house for protection perhaps her Dad, a strong healthy man would have lived even longer than his age of 75 years at the time of the shooting. Her choices haunted her for a long time but at least she found peace knowing that she had protected her three innocent young daughters and pride in the great love her Dad had for his family laying down his life for them.

Newspaper Clipping of the Murder

Daniel Finney Murder Newspaper Clipping

My Grandmother strong in her Baptist Faith eventually forgave her wayward husband supplying the information for my grandfather’s death certificate after his untimely death in prison from tuberculosis at age 30. No one from my grandfather’s family came to claim the body and he is buried  in the Potters Field attached to the prison.

Hugh Banks Death Certificate

Grandfather Hugh Banks Death Certificate

Daniel James Finney

Daniel James Finney Death Certificate

Shortly after the trial my Great Uncle Clarence came for Hattie and her daughters taking them to Dayton, Ohio where my mother grew up and later met and married my Dad Edward G. Palmer a union of 40 years that produced me and my brother Stephen.

Fast forward to the year 2000 when by then both my parents and my grandmother had gone onto glory. I met my common-law husband who like my grandmother’s relationship with her husband started off with great dreams and hope for the future but gradually deteriorated into an abusive relationship from which I too sought escape. For our final year together when the emotional, physical and psychological abuse was at its worst I prayed to God that this man would leave me and he did. He left me for a younger woman. A sigh of relief. A burden lifted from my shoulders. However though his physical presence was gone his psychological presence was rooted in my mind and soul. Though I had forgiven him it took years to dig up the roots and weeds of self-doubt and self-hate he had planted within me. Spirit never fails and after a brush with death from a minor stroke at age 49 and being Blessed to see 50 I began to experience a Change of Life. Not just from menopause which began physical changes within my body but spiritual and emotional changes. During all this upheaval my ancestors were with me, guiding me every step of the way. Each succeeding year as I progress through my 50s has brought me greater enlightenment and spiritual growth. Once I made the decision to answer my calling in this life doors open, thus here I am today to carry forward my Grandmother’s Legacy and be a blessing to survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

But unbeknownst to my Grandmother and Great Grandmother a little girl cowering in front of a dusty little used attic window had peered out becoming an eyewitness to her Grandfather’s being shot to death by her Dad. Mable was always the quiet one of the three girls who took in many things but let out little.  As the Bible says  of conversations concerning Mary and Jesus, Mable Finney Banks was a small girl who took in and absorb all the things around her and pondered them in her heart……………….  From now on the events of that day would follow her all through childhood, young womanhood, and as a married woman with children and as she battled her own demons of schizophrenia. I shall take up Mable’s story in the next segment.

Thank you Sisters and be Blessed!

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Prophetic Calling ~ Higher Ground

4 Aug

Prophetic Calling- Higher Ground

Knew that I was in the right place from the moment I walked through the door. Experiencing regeneration and renewal.

Higher Ground – Stevie Wonder (1973)

I have stepped into my Destiny. I did not choose the path, the Path chose me. The Ancestors knew what I needed and sent me the gifts of the spirit. As I wrote about in a previous post (Genetic Memory) my ancestors have begun to visit me with greater frequency.

As a child I was more open to the spirit world and I can recall from ages three to six I had many visitations from alternate universes. At age four I was looking at a baby photograph of myself and my brother on the living room wall and being able to go back to my origin or source and return at will. Around age five bedtimes became of time of numerous visitations but by then these creatures or creations began to frighten me. I did my best to will them away since it wasn’t something I could tell my parents.

Still the spirits attempted to get through some of them not so good. During my twenties I had some horrible nightmares of not being able to breathe or demons trying to choke or strangle me, but that may have been the result of too much fire and brimstone sermons. I was always impressionable and unbeknownst to some preachers sensitive spirits in their congregations pick up on the fear and punishment side of Christianity opening up a portal to hell as opposed to salvation and redemption. Now with my explorations of the Gospel of Inclusion (Bishop Carlton Pearson) Buddhism and discovering I’m a Clairsentient I’m learning better mind control and discerning the whys, wheres, and whats of my ancestors wishes.

DeBorah ~ MMC 2002 Grad

DeBorah ~ Marymount Manhattan College 2002 Graduation

Shinnyo-en Buddhism

Knew that I was in the right place from the moment I walked through the door. Experiencing regeneration, restoration and renewal.

I have stepped into my Destiny. I did not choose the path, the Path chose me. The Ancestors knew what I needed and sent me the gifts of the spirit. Clarity of Vision. Opening my spirit to distant Galaxies.

One of the guided meditation teachers spoke a word of knowledge over me that could have only come from God. Another step along the path of purification. This is the beginning of understanding the many spiritual events in my life. I have not left Christianity but I believe I was led to this type of Buddhist thought and teachings as a compliment to my Christian faith.  Shinnyo-en has fed my mind, spirit and soul.

Psalm 42

New International Version (NIV)

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,

    so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember
    as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
    under the protection of the Mighty One[d]
with shouts of joy and praise
    among the festive throng.

5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

6 My soul is downcast within me;
    therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
    the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.

8 By day the Lord directs his love,
    at night his song is with me—
    a prayer to the God of my life.

9 I say to God my Rock,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
    as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”

11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

In fact many Bible verses and the words of Jesus come to me more frequently and with increased clarity!  I must study to show myself approved and to grasp the teachings. Realizing now that both mind and body must be purified and the ability to focus must be cultivated. So far have been to two Guided Meditations and the effects are Amazing! I’m calmer in mind, spirit, soul & body and am better able to handle difficult situations. Remember me as the one who woke up.  As my Japanese girlfriend who introduced me to Shinnyo-en practice You will find Yourself.

Shinnyo-en

enjoy-engage-enlighten

Shinnyo Meditation Center

19 West 36th Street,

New York, NY 10018

www.shinnyo-ny.org

Not everyone will understand where you’re going in this life. The revelation for this time is only for you. They are not yet ready. John 13:34-36

King James Version (KJV)
34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

36 Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.

Galatians 5:22-23

New International Version (NIV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

1 Corinthians 12:7-11
The Message (MSG)
4-11 God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful:

wise counsel
clear understanding
simple trust
healing the sick
miraculous acts
proclamation
distinguishing between spirits
tongues
interpretation of tongues.
All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.

 Baptist Buddhist

In the very short time I’ve committed to following the Shinnyo path I began to realize how hungry I was. Even though I was born and raised in the Christian faith when I was introduced to Shinnyo-en Buddhism I was as one starving and thirsty suddenly finding herself seated at a banquet table filled with delicious food and drink. It has been a process for me to throw off the shackles and chains of dogma and doctrine and allow new thought to enter in. For years I tried to suppress the spirit world with anti-depressants and other prescription drugs. Now I’m free from the constraints of my religious straitjacket empowered to put my truths my faith into action.

My parents were never committed to any church. In fact though they both believed in God they never attended church. I was brought up as a Freethinker and was always driving my parents’ crazy asking questions. Of course like nearly every Black kid growing up in the 1960s church was pretty much a non-negotiable. Every child in the neighborhood went to church. Since my mother was raised Baptist that’s where I went. If for some reason I did not make it out to Sunday school you can bet the Sunday School teacher would be calling my parents asking why I was not in church.  As I grew older I was swept up in the Evangelical movements of the 80s & 90s.  Even with the growing schemes and scandals I held onto my beliefs even though I was living a lifestyle contrary to the Bible. Only in May 2010 when my beloved Aunt Helen passed away did I realize that I had only attended church to please other people and did not believed most of what was preached from the pulpit.

In the back of my mind were questions, confusion, shame & guilt. I was a walking, talking living dichotomy.   Then right before Christmas 2006 not only did my life hit the fan but was completely shredded. I lost my “good job”, was unemployed for a year, my common-law husband left me for a younger new and improved woman. Finally in 2008 I started a new job that paid a lot less but at least I was working and had benefits.

More changes 2009 I turned 50. Am I really a card carrying member of AARP? The Change of Life. For a woman turning 50 is traumatic in more ways than one not only do we have to cope with physical and hormonal changes, there are the changes in society’s perception of older women. Sure Black don’t crack but age or maturity don’t lie. I’ve had to come to terms with what to do for my next 50 years on the planet. I’ve realized my calling as a writer.  Life is a walk by faith and not by sight experience.

One of the best things about being in one’s 50s is not caring what others think but following the path meant for me.  I’m still a Buddhist newbie and I’m struggling with some of the terminology but now my soul is being fed and even the Biblical scriptures have taken on new meaning and devotion. This Baptist Buddhist is beginning to find peace within her soul.

Learning to Encourage Myself

18 Apr

How to Encourage Yourself

Donald Lawrence & The Tri-City Singers

http://youtu.be/JbEaftzaFWA

Black Unicorn Rainbow

Black Unicorn moving towards the Rainbow

Extreme anger, panic attacks, uncontrollable crying and/or apathetic/zombie like fluctuations are defense mechanisms produced by our damaged psyches to protect ourselves emotionally. Just after I separated from my abuser in 2007 I went through a gamut of emotions. I was extremely high strung, angry and would lash out sometimes at total strangers. Now I do realize that a lot of that was a form of PTSD, stress and hormones since I had started to go through the Change of Life. Many times I felt like Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde. Other than my estrogen going wild I believe the basis of my negative emotions was fear. Fear causes the fight or flight response and unfortunately I often got angry at the wrong people. However once I stood up to my inner demons and toxic family/co-worker bullies I began to feel better. I realized I had options. I did not have to feel this way. Another therapy for me was and is writing.

I wrote about all my emotions; the good, the bad and the ugly. There were times when I wanted to kill myself. I wrote an entire heart wrenching story on all the evil locked up inside my head. Words gave that insanity somewhere to go so it would not destroy me. I became stronger. Then this year more healing came, peace came through being a part of V-Day/1 Billion Women Rising and through joining groups that focus on domestic violence and sexual assault. Then I saw that my trials and tribulations were not in vain and not for my destruction but for the upliftment of not only me but all women who are going through and have gone through this horrible experience. I’m here to encourage and support. We Lean on and draw strength from each other. We Find Sanctuary among and within our tribe.  Love is a Helping Hand and a listening ear.

Bill Withers — Lean On Me

http://youtu.be/QPoTGyWT0Cg

Sometimes I still have panic attacks but they do not last as long nor are they as powerful or as strong as before because I’m able to defuse them. I tell myself that this fear I feel at the moment is only that, a temporary moment in time. I’m made of survivor and victory stock. Some of my ancestors settled the Americas, most came from Africa, and survived the middle passage, slavery, Jim Crow and all other types of bullshit. My ancestors lift me up above the fray. Then my genetic memory recalls that I am descended from the Queens of Mother Africa. I carry within me the DNA of women who sat on the thrones of Egypt, Ethiopia & Mozambique. They reigned and I reign. I’m stronger than my flaws, weakness and shortcomings. I’m an Overcomer. I’m stronger and more powerful than the words of deceit, anger and hate my ex- the abuser tried to sow into my soul. I will no longer allow his words of defeat to take root within my mind. Now I listen to, absorb and plant the words of my maternal ancestors within my soul, my psyche and my spirit. Courage, Boldness and Determination grows and manifests itself to and for my SisterFriends!

Judith Beheading Holofernes

Judith with the Head of Holofernes

Not perfect but able to move through the pain. I do not deny the pain but I refuse to give pain, sorrow, sadness or depression any authority in my life. I walk in my authority as a Victor not a victim.  I will not allow my life to spiral out of control. I don’t have to live in defeat. I have choices. I have options. Living my life like it’s Golden!

Donations and Freewill offerings can be made directly to my PayPal account deborah.palmer280@gmail.com. Thank you and God Bless

The Cruelty of “Christianity”

5 May

The Cruelty of “Christianity”

Tekahionwake

“Oh, why have your people forced on me the name of Pauline Johnson? Was not my Indian name good enough? Do you think you help us by bidding us forget our blood? By teaching us to cast off all memory of our high ideals and our glorious past? I am an Indian. My pen and my life I devote to the memory of my own people. Forget that I was Pauline Johnson, but remember always that I was Tekahionwake, the Mohawk that humbly aspired to be the saga singer of her people, the bard of the noblest folk the world has ever seen, the sad historian of her own heroic race.”

Nobody knows my name or the real me except Jesus and him alone. Some ancestors unwillingly pulled from the breast of Mother Africa the others walked the “Trail of Tears”. Both had forced upon them the indoctrination of Euro-centric Christianity to the detriment of each noble culture.

A few months ago I traced my maternal ancestry back to Mozambique. When I made that discovery something in my spirit clicked and I knew that one day I had to return to the birthplace of my Great, great, great, great, great Grandmother, her birth name lost to time and eternity. Other ancestors born in this great land have yet to be revealed. Many times I wonder, “What was my African and/or Native American name.”  The names of Finney, Halstead, Gordon, Palmer were all given by some distant slave-owner. Who were they and who were they 500 years ago?

Like Tekahionwake I live my dichotomy every day even in my spiritual life wondering about the respective faiths of my African and Native American ancestors. Thinking about how their own unique worship was torn asunder only to be replaced by a Euro-centric “Christian” god who relegated them to a lesser status, below that of their European captors.

Children of an accursed Ham? (Genesis 9:20–27) I think not for the descendents of the great Realm of Ethiopia have risen again to the rightful place in the Diaspora.

Matthew 12:42

New King James Version (NKJV)

42 The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.

The cries of my people would not be extinguished. The voices of my Native American ancestors called to me for redemption. Through an experiment called Carlisle Indian Industrial School History, really internment in re-culturalization concentration camps Richard Henry Pratt sought to erase the cultural identity of Kiowa, Cheyenne, Arapaho and other tribes through forcing children into complete immersion in Eurocentric culture and identity, effectively erasing their own. Take away a person’s language and belief systems, telling them that how God created them was wrong and had to be fixed only serves to create indwelling images of self-hatred within those lost children. If eradicating my indigenous and African American culture, traditions, ethnicity and exchanging them for dominant white culture will I be closer to God?  Will Jesus accept me in this new form?

As I gaze in the mirror as many Native Americans did 150 years ago neither my face nor my features as God made them can be erased. The efforts on the part of European conquerors failed. Nor were the colonizers able to erase the connection to the Great Spirit as he was known long before the white man touched our shores.

White man you tell me that only your version of Jesus can save my soul and deliver me from sin. And just what is my sin? Being born with a brown face, high cheek bones, full lips, long flowing Jet Black hair or locs that rise to kiss the sun. Does my sin lie in the dances my people perform to honor my ancestors and Mother Earth who gives us all sustenance? Am I or my ways at fault because we revere Nature as opposed to destroying the land, fouling the waters, polluting the environment in a never ending obsession to conquer, convert and control? Now who is the savage? Who is the so-called heathen?

Oh European who comes bearing the sign of the cross who is this God of yours that lifts up your customs and traditions but disparages mine? He is not the Jesus depicted in your Old Master paintings from Italy, Spain, France or the Flemish Masters. No, more than likely he was a swarthy man with kinky dark wooly hair, skin darkened by constant exposure to the sun. Jesus was someone whose looks paralleled the populations most of the indigenous tribes of Africa, North and South America.

Revelation 1:14-15

New King James Version (NKJV)

14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters;

We Sisters and Brothers from what you named the “Third World” now know that Jesus came for us just as we are. God accepts us in all the richness with which he created us. We Black and Brown followers have redefined and returned Christianity to its original intent and meaning.

No longer do we walk the “Trail of Tears” or the Via Dolorosa. Now we stand together arm in arm marching onward to Zion that beautiful city of God taking our place among those who have been redeemed.

 Woman Ancestor from Dad's Side

Donations to this thought provoking Ministry for the Housing Fund can be made in U.S. Funds via money order or bank checks made directly to  Paypal using my email: deborah.palmer280@gmail.com.

Thank you and God Bless.


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