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Aug 18, 2004


Amber Morehouse

Tim and others on the journey,
I am excited and blessed to hear that we are together in the struggle to seek a godly understanding of poverty in our community and in the world. I am reminded of how powerful and omnipotent God is that he would be teaching my brothers and sister some of the same lessons in Durham/Chapel Hill that he was teaching me this summer in Mound Bayou, MS. As a very brief description of Mound Bayou, I’ll say that it is a former utopian community started by ex-slaves in 1887. The population has now diminished to under 2,000 African Americans and suffers severe, nearly universal poverty.
The first thing that reminded me of my work this summer was the part in Tim’s entry from 8/2

“But there were, as expected, some difficult moments. The most difficult involved observing interactions of some of the camp counselors (teens who regularly lead the camp) with the campers. On occasions these teens used intense and condescending language with quick threats of expulsion to manage the kids even in circumstances where the kids were being attentive and engaged.”

Hopefully Tim and others handled this situation better than I did. On my second day at the community/youth center where I was working, I got so frustrated and upset by the adult’s interaction with the children (calling them lazy, threatening violence, telling them they weren’t obeying directions when they were) that I sought out my supervisor and went on an impassioned, long-winded diatribe about my philosophy of teaching and how the things I had observed were harming the children and crushing their spirits. My supervisor took my comments as an attack on her culture and it took a good two weeks to rebuild the bridges of peace and friendship. A few days later, after I had begun to realize that there was a lot I didn’t understand about this culture and the adults and children’s behavior, I had another episode with my supervisor and mentor. In the middle of our weekly meeting, I suddenly burst into tears and sobbed uncontrollably for at least 10 minutes while I tried to explain that despite my disagreement about philosophy and behavior of some of the people at the center, I was sorry for my arrogance and insensitivity as a white, outsider in this community. Talk about a lesson in humility! I share all of this because I truly hope that it will help others avoid some of these mistakes. We should expect that we will continue to make mistakes in our engagement with people who are different from us socially and culturally. I will continue to pray for all of us at CHBC that we will be able to accept God’s mercy as well as the forgiveness of those we offend and continually seek to walk more humbly.

This only scratches the surface of what God taught me this summer. I hope we can continue to share our joys and struggles as we experience how God uses our feeble hearts to express His overwhelming love to the world (rich and poor, urban and rural, black and white alike).

Peace and Blessings,
Amber Morehosue

PS- I have funny stories about things my kids this summer expressed about race as well as foot in mouth situations I’ve been in I can better convey in person.

Since I've been back in NC, I've written some poems about my experiences in MS. I think they are the best way of communicating some of the situations. Considering the similarities I saw between Tim's description of some of the difficult things at Antioch, I think it's safe to say the ideas and situations in my poems will relate to Durham in many ways. I hope they inspire thought and even prayer.

Deceit and Defeat

They prey upon the innocent
But a portrayal of innocence
Is only acceptance of defeat

No one will admit
Innocence is a lie

They know where you at
They know only fools
Don’t guard they back

why you lookin’
at her like that
do you know
how old she is?
Eleven years old
Innocence is a lie

She knows where you at
She knows only fools
Don’t guard they back

don’t let me see you
walking down the street
in that little Hawaiian dress
i know
Eight years old
Innocence is a lie

We know where you at
We know only fools
Don’t guard they back

i take my pit-bull with me
when i walk by
the guy selling crack
can’t bring him to the playground though
Twelve years old
Innocence is a lie

He knows where you at
He knows only fools
Don’t guard they back

listen up children
sheriff says he’s watching you
make sure you don’t stay out
past curfew
and if he sees you

every other time of day
make sure your mamma
knows where you at
This is what grown people do
To watch your back

Driven by deceit
They prey upon defeat
No one will admit
Innocence is a lie

Delta Blues
Delta green
Sun-scorched brown
On soybean

Yellow corn
Eat it fried, boiled, or baked
Mosquitoes swarm
Sucking red

The past stares back
in black and white
Along comes white with green making machines
And cotton pickers are left to glean

Delta rich
Delta poor
Now children dream
In cash money green


A silent stare
With tears welled up
She fit’a cry

We sink down
Side by side in a big chair

sometimes people
sometimes people want me to do things
i don’t want to do

i have to do things
and fix people things
like drinks

pour them something
mommy and daddy

and my sister and i both have to
and we don’t like it


Where’s her mama at?
Had to go to the hospital
Find out who the daddy is

Shuffle here
Drag there
Push; pull
Desired and rejected

Where’s the baby at?
she’s too bad
she is
you have to know her real well
Where’s she at?
i had to take her home
she’s too bad
i don’t know
she real bad

But she’s only two
With a smile that could melt stone

Grown People

Little girls watching babies
Little girls cooking dinner
Little girls worrying about mama out on the street
Little girls thinking about food stamps
What are these little girls doing?
Playing all the games grown people play.
To the Kids at St. Gabriel’s

You sunk in deep
Way down deep
Past the pasty surface
Of the skin that separates us

The mosquitoes couldn’t
Suck you out of my blood
If they tried

You didn’t evaporate
With the sweat
Coming out of every pour
As I walked around town
For the last time
Trying to set every memory
In stone

You weren’t shaken
From me by the tears
I cried when I didn’t have
The words to explain
This was goodbye

Like every memory
Rich and sweet
You are a part of me

You sank in deep
Way down deep
Into my soul
Note: this is intended to be a light-hearted but in no way disrespectful poem. It was inspired by a church I went to while in MS I absolutely loved and was incredibly blessed by.


We’re a clapping church
With the occasional weeping woman
We get gospel goose bumps
Every Sunday morning
And sometimes we get so full of
Spirit speechlessness
We go Holy rolling
Right down the aisle
To put in our
Thanksgiving tithes
Then make a quick stop
At the born-again baptistery
Before we go back to our seats
Where we stand-up, sit-down,
Turn around, nods our heads
And say AMEN.

Tim Conder

Amber, you are a gift to our community! Thank you for your vulnerability and artistic graces. Your passion for justice, gospel, and Christ continue to inspire me. I hope many will read your poetry. Vivid images. Beautiful words.

gayle thomas


Your words and cadences are beautiful! I sense your love for the people you were with.

I just finished a book you might want to read called Motherwit, about a black midwife in the South. It is written in her dialect. I enjoyed it very much, especially "To the kids.."

Thanks for sharing your poetry! Keep it up!


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