The beautiful lady above is Mrs. Shalanda Sims.
We’ve been friends since the 4th grade (30 years baby!).
She is my longest, lasting BFF.
From the pressing of our hair, surviving pimples, attending parties and proms -to bible studies, babies and broken dreams-we’ve experienced some of our greatest joys and deepest sorrows together. And yes, biggest fights too?!
Only a true friend can cuss you out and love you up all at the same time! LOL!
She is one of the very few people in my life that will tell me, if I have a booger in my nose. You know what I’m saying? She is not afraid to tell me if I am wrong, being selfish or acting like a wimp. I know how to make her laugh and I know how to pray when she’s crying.
When she is prospering and accomplishing her dreams, I feel like I am too. She is an extension of the places and spaces that are not mine to walk. I cannot sing like her (seriously y’all she sounds like a angel) nor can I direct a show like she can (love you Tyler Perry but it’s time to share the stage) and she wouldn’t want me to.
What I love most about our friendship is that we have never competed against each other. We have honored, celebrated and promoted each others strengths and successes. At the same time, we know how to cover, protect and shield each other from our own weaknesses and intentional darts of the evil one.
Our friendship is as close as blood-it has roots that have gone deep. When I am missing the “old” NE Portland-the people, the history, the legacy of stories told on Alberta, Killingsworth and Prescott-I call Shalanda. She is from my “hood” that is no longer. It is in the preserving of story we have found a way to deal with gentrification. We can no longer live in the vibrant black neighborhoods that grounded our childhood but we can create, commute and communicate our history through the arts. Educating and empowering our children to know themselves in deeper ways like we were challenged by our elders. I believe Dorothy Mackey and Joe Frazier and all our Vanport forefathers and foremothers would be very proud of our commitment not to forget our past.
We are cut from the same cloth-yet we are uniquely tailored into our own styles.
We finish each others sentences, read the same poetry and have fallen in love with our families, faith and forefathers.
This week, Vanport her newest play will be hitting the stage. It is a work of art, sacrifice and labor. It is also the story of our native history and how we got here. Had it not been for our descendants who migrated to Oregon in hopes of a better life our paths may have never crossed.
I am grateful for our shared history, legacy and longing to preserve where we are from.
I adore you Sis.
To learn more about Vanport and Shalanda R. Sims productions go to http://www.shalanadasims.com