Performed by Tiff Beatty for The People's Church of the G.H.E.T.T.O

Hey love. What’s happening with the land, do you know what’s happening with the land, love?

 

#1: CHA handing out vouchers like Halloween candy on trick or treat night. 

#2 Townhouses and mini malls poppin up like popcorn in a microwave.  

#3: Southern Illinois poppin like, Champagne? 

#4. It’s too early for a toast ain’t it?

 

What’s happening with the land, love? (we all need to be asking more questions)

 

Praise the Lorde Church. Audre Lorde. 

 

My name is Tiff Beatty. I'm with the People's Church of the G.H.E.T.T.O. The People's Church of the Greatest History Ever Told To Our People. The P is silent, but we are not, ase.

 

This is service is illuminated by the life and work of the great black lesbian mother warrior poet audre lorde.

 

The acronym in our name comes from Beauty Turner's Ghetto Bus Tours, which in the early 2000’s we’re often imitated, but never duplicated. And so in this case it’s necessary to reiterate it, "Nothing is better than the original authenticity," which was created, curated, and orchestrated by the blessed and highly favored Ms. Beauty Turner, a self-proclaimed "writer and a fighter. Voice for the voiceless!" Ase

 

Before passing in her sleep, after an aneurysm

The ancestor Beauty Turner survived 

Poverty, segregation, gender based violence, humiliation....ase.

Beauty is a name she grew into with patience.

Or perhaps Beauty’s mother was a prophet too

To name her daughter. Beauty Turner was a mother of 3. Beauty was Larry Turner's mother. She was Maple Turner's sister ase. She was a Robert Taylor resident, where she lived for 16 years. Before outside journalists, academics, activists canvassed

Before the publications and cameras

Outsiders, including reporters came to Beauty

For the scoop on the project news. ase.

 

“Get on the bus and learn from us!” Says Beauty.

Here’s the history:

Its 1999 winter is always nigh. The world is ending and

The plan for transformation in Chicago is just beginning. 

In Bronzeville public housing residents are spilling 

Like blood from wounded highrise buildings. Explosives demolish

Property like prophesy without apology. Gentrification came in 

Like a wrecking ball. Dislocation, what a spectacle! 

Beauty Turner must’ve muttered to a friend, 

A sociologist filmmaker, possibly? All speculation. Obviously.

 

Shh! What’s happening with the land?

 

Beauty spoke the softest when violence was imminent. Beauty saw innocence 

In the young cobras she spoke of. Abundance 

In the depths of hole they controlled, love in the 4,415 family units

Filling 28 high rises for generations before spilling 

Like sour milk from, 16 story carton shaped communities 

In a government sponsored mass dislocation. And that's 

Just the tip of Beauty’s Black belt.

And here’s where it gets personal church

Before our Bronzeville apartment 

With the backyard garden boxes we're too busy to harvest and the 2nd bedroom we converted into a closet .

Before 4015 S a Bronzeville street 3S, these steps

This view, this love, it’s true Po'Chop was somewhere 

On the Kimball bus

Or maybe Belmont while I was on 

47th and Woodlawn. 

Between Vic Mensa and Minister Farrakhan. 

Still living with my ex, not building a nation. Taking 

Long walks, long drags of wine flavored Blacks, trips to the gas station

Across from the Sunni mosque. 

surrounded by synagogues. 

I swear to god, I meditated, I burned, I prayed, ashe. 

I moved 27 things. Found feng shui 

Before summoning the strength to give the devil back his keys. 

Praise the Lorde. A Mac Apartments lease is the devil 

And the Landlord is a lie. Ase. 

Do you hear that?

Somebody’s making plans. The devil has many hands slinging shots from the skies, flinging families to foreign lands, 

Without a glance. 

South loop to Chatham, without a Chance 

Like Bronzeville Goddamn. 

Before Woodlawn, we were in another Mac apartment on Drexel, 

East side of the Park, Hyde Park's western border, trees on every corner. 

Before Drexel, back to Sue’s studios on 53rd for the second, or maybe 3rd time. Who knows? 52nd and kimbark 54th and Everett. Student housing on Dorchester and 52nd back in 2007.

 

Looking back, I only remember the ceilings, and the soil, the uprooting, the pulling

Digging up dandelions 

In Aunt Vicks small piece of the cul de sac like ritual

Plottin in Pat's garage freshmen year like 

“Can’t nobody take my pride. Can't nobody hold me down. Oh no, I know I got to keep on moving.”

Gambling like trading a house of sisters

A neighborhood of aunties, uncles, and play 

Cousins for a studio in a singles dorm ironically called 

The Village. I was the first fool in my family to go to College. 

I remember thinking I knew what I was doing. 

I was clueless. All I knew was 

1415 S Grant

2010 S J. 

801 S M

615 S Cedar

7th and Cedar

17th and L

11th and Jeanette

48th and Park

38th St, 

The shelter on the Hill

The Y downtown. 

And I didn’t know then but I know now 

When Rocco got caught selling whatever bought 

My new Macintosh desktop the cops 

Could come through

Not even knock

Knock over everything and take home away. 

 

I knew eviction more than twice. I’ve been dislocated more than mice.

I knew motel rooms and dishes you throw away, gas station beef sticks and cereal cups. 

I knew what them noises meant when the sheet was hanging up. 

I knew being locked up in a dim house, surrounded by babies, oldest of five, barely escaping. 

I knew sitting Emilio’s full diaper on the window sill, child hands clutching baby pits. 

I knew we wasn't supposed to be in the window. 

I knew sneaking out to ride bikes around the block. 

I knew a church that served food hot. 

I knew how to slide out from the foot of Granny’s bed.

How to find the pee pot, in the dark,

How to crawl back into my spot between her warmth and the wall. 

I knew how to pray and have faith in someone we both called Lorde. 

 

Now you lay me down to sleep 

I pray the Lorde my soul to keep. 

If I should die before I wake. 

I pray the Lorde my soul to take.

 

People’s Church of the GHETTO

We are Bronzeville residents and workers

Indigenous and migrant, living American dreams 

And nightmares in black ink and brown paper 

We modge podged to bedroom walls like we create 

Our own limits and boundaries like trees, growing deep and tall outside 

Granny’s green house, bending like granny’s porch rules, passing like daddy and trees, like puff 

Puff pass. Rebuilding these

Glorious Churches of the Air 

In our breath and our bodies

In our living rooms and kitchens

In our hallways

Like embodied bridges to memory

From The Mississippi to the Puget sound 

I-5 to Lake Shore Drive 

King Drive to King Drive

We survive like legends

Like mama Yemaja is one of us

Like Ms Beauty Turner’s GHETTO bus is filled with us and questions

And Beauty repeating the same speech like a prayer. 

Like Granny praying us home safely. 

Like her legacy speaks to and thru me. Like if I should die before I wake. 

I know Beauty and Granny knew what’s at stake. I knew big earrings, bigger dimples, lipstick

And Black Velvet kisses. Bright smiles and signature hats. 

Now you lay me down to sleep, If I should die before I wake

I pray the Lorde, and Granny, and Beauty my soul to take.

 

Our labor has become more important than our silence

says the Lorde.

 

Our labor has become writing, teaching, speaking, learning, discerning, charming and disarming, meeting even the devil with a compassionate greeting like,

Hey love, what's happening with the land?


 

Tiff Beatty

September 2019

Bronzeville Goddamn