Author: Dionne Ford

My Struggle With God Ended on a Plane

It was my best friend, Brenda, who introduced God and me. I was four. She was eight and lived in my grandparent’s trailer park with her mom, dad, several rabbits and a dog that scared me. To say that I worshipped her is to put it mildly. She knew everything, and, if I were lucky, she would teach it all to me. When Brenda fell in love with Shaun Cassidy, I was determined to fall harder, even though I still thought boys were sweaty and full of cooties. When she picked out cowl neck sweaters and velour V-necks from the Sears catalogue, I begged my mom for the identical style and color. And in the summer of 1977, when Brenda signed up for Bible Camp, I tagged along without hesitation. Before school started up again that fall, we were both saved. Jesus was our new crush, and we competed to be his biggest fan. We never swore, never took the Lord’s name in vain, always respected the Sabbath by going to Sunday school and always, …

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The Drug Talk I Never Needed to Have

I’ve never had the drug talk with my twelve and fifteen year old daughters because I’ve never felt like I had to. So many people in our lives have died from alcohol and drug addiction that discussing the point seems moot. Death has been talking loud and clear. My daughters’ first life and death lesson with addiction came when they were eight and eleven. I was picking up the youngest, Dev, from an after school activity one early fall afternoon. A bunch of us parents were waiting in the school parking lot for the kids to be dismissed, when a young girl ran up to me. “Excuse me, Dezi’s mom,” she said, tears about to spill out of her eyes. “My dad drove me here to pick up my brother, but he was driving weird.” Her dad was drunk, she said, and she didn’t want her or her brother to have to get back in the car with him. Stacy was a sixth grader like my daughter, Dezi. Her brother and my youngest daughter were …

Letters to the Editor, From the Daughter of a Slave

In the late 1800s, my great-grandmother Josephine started writing to the Southwestern Christian Advocate, a newspaper based in New Orleans that primarily served black Methodist Episcopalians in the south. At first, her notes were two or three line missives – “I am a girl sixteen years old. I take the Southwestern and enjoy reading it. My sister died April 18, 1889.” But by the time she was almost 19 and soon to be married, she was writing editorials. They’re very spicy. She says stuff like, “A bold and specious humanitarianism is destroying worship” and “Heart sins that are not opposed, not warred against arrest prayer.” I’ve spent long passages of time rereading her words, trying to understand what exactly was destroying worship, twisting my hair and equating her editorials to wars against all the things she must have been up against. She was the youngest child like me. Her parents were a former slave and her former master. One of her brothers was lynched in a manner so dramatic that news of it appeared in …