Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Deep South

I am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger | Rhiannon Giddens

In the last few weeks I’ve noticed a small, steady stream of visitors to an earlier post on Rhiannon Giddens. It featured “Julie,” Giddens’ song about a black daughter and a white mother living in North Carolina during the brutal 1898 uprising against and slaughter of Black people. As she put it, “Julie” is her way of conveying the complexities of her own life as the daughter of a white mother.

A few days ago I listened to Giddens’ rendition of “Wayfaring Stranger” (above). I heard this haunting song frequently when I was growing up the Deep South. Now, having heard Giddens’ stunning interpretation, it’s playing at will in my psyche, night and day.

I’m guessing most of us struggle with multiple identities, as well as what it means to be human in one setting or another. I find myself bouncing back and forth between the ignorance and naivete of my childhood in the South, and my radically different experience of life here in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Especially when I was working at the seminary, and now experience in my home church.

In many ways, going home sounds like heaven. Partly because it would be the first safe home of my life. The first place where I know I don’t have to prove who I am and am not, or endure the agony of not knowing who I am. To say nothing of concerted attempts to put and keep me in my place. Or the internal desire to look the other way when someone else is supposedly being put in his or her place.

The difference, of course, is that I’m not mixed race, black, or facing the realities my black and mixed race friends and their families face daily. This human-made, aching chasm in our nation is begging for attention and understanding. The kind persuasively conveyed in music that softens us and invites us into a stranger’s perspective and our own self-examination.


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 June 2020
Video found on YouTube

1951 | Memories

Rural Free Delivery
pulls into her yard
Stench in his nostrils

Chunky rotting food
steams swimming in slop

Grunting rutting hogs
Apples of her eye
Food on her table

Money in the bank
Sweet smell of success


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 January 2016

The Air I Breathed | Part 2 of 3

For years I knew Daddy’s beatings and rules didn’t give the full story about how I was groomed to be a victim.  Yet I’ve never spoken publicly about the full story.  I didn’t have a clue how to talk about it safely.  Besides, who would believe my report?  Especially if they knew my father. Read the rest of this entry »

aging southern belle


aging southern belle
matriarch of the river
beckons me homeward

* * * * *

Summer 2009
the day of my father’s memorial service
three cars full of family members drive out to the old house
at the end of the road Read the rest of this entry »

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