An Ode

This will not be an obituary. Our dear sister Leah, the true boss of our immediate family and youngest among four siblings, bless her heart, despises the term. The finality of its true meaning is much too dark, way too formal. And Ma had no time or space for formality, despised it completely. Instead, we uplift her spirit in glory and salute our true “Black Power Queen”, Janice Elizabeth White Janey, daughter of the late Elmer and Doris White, sister to the late Bob White and Phyllis Davis.

(“If you don’t know...”)

She grew up in Lenox street projects in Roxbury where music echoed throughout the brick lined hallways and stairwells, while raucous family laughter filled the void between each song belted out by “the Love Notes”, as they rehearsed in their living room (thank you Uncle Bob). She graduated from Jeremiah Burke High School, excelling in Latin and English, took a few writing courses at UMass Boston, further honing her poetic flare and love for story telling, and later wrote an 80 page book of wonderfully witty and powerful poems, giving us a window into her tender soul that will live forever in our hearts.

( you know.)

Ma fully embraced the movement in the sixties with fire and fearlessness, always speaking her mind. Clad in a short army fatigue jacket and a long denim skirt that didn’t quit hide her “kick a...” combat boots, she made sure we understood the importance of adhering to our blackness, OUR community. A true warrior, she was.

As the sixties closed out, a group of very bold and innovative educators, disgusted with the inequities of Boston Public Schools, established “the Néw School for Children”, where Black kids finally saw positive images of themselves in teachers and administrators who looked just like them. Ma was “all in”. She enrolled us and joined their ranks as a teacher to make certain, among others things, the revolution remained televised in the minds and fabric of ALL the students. Just a two year stint but indicative of Ma’s commitment to the upward evolution of self.

She was a dreamer,

a thinker

a doer,

a realist

Ma retired from University Hospital in Boston where she worked for a handful of doctors (typing well over 90 words a minute), and in between time, cooked meals for a halfway house in “the hood”. She did what she had to do and instilled that work ethic in us all.




in every sense of the word.

Redirecting the fire that stirred in her belly, Ma exchanged the African spear that hung on our living room wall for the Bible, and attended the Kingdom Hall to serve and spread the truth as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. And that she did. She soared in the ministry, finding peace and comfort in knowing that God will truly provide. Her immediate family grew to include all the wonderfully dedicated, loving and truly awesome spiritual freedom fighters at the Hall, a true army to reckon with.

Forever embracing, loving to all those she reached out to and to those who sought refuge in our home, where the door was always open and the kitchen never closed,

We salute you Janice, the ultimate survivor cause you loved unconditionally laughed wholeheartedly; told us where to go some days with a smile And other days... let’s just say quite colorfully (creativity and brutal honesty reigned supreme in your book).

You cooked for days (thank you New Orleans) and made sure all the fruit on your “tree of life” your five children...

Charles, the twins Greg and our deceased brother Geoffrey, Mike and Leah,

Your six grands

Michelle, Quianna, Geoffrey, Faby, Michael, Angelo and Najee

And your six greats

Ryse, Malik, Makhi, Niyel, Mila and Ayra...loved and respected every chapter of your

evolution, the artist, the nurturer, the vegetarian, the fighter, the soul searcher.

Thank you for the jars of granola and the 15-pound chocolate cakes, for the plate sized butter drenched pancakes, too. Thank you for making up “Janice songs” when we were bored, and for the hugs that never stopped.

You made us all feel safe…

Always believing that we could be…

And assured us, over and over there was ALWAYS room in your heart to share the love.

To all the mighty, mighty sisters in the ministry, who stepped up and committed themselves to caring for our mother during this very difficult journey, we embrace you, adopt you and love you all as our own, for real.

That would be you, the front line warriors:

Gloria, Chiffawn, Sarcha, Nicole, Marcia, Sheila, Taunda, Yolanda, April and Eurita

and so many others who supported us with cards, lots of food, and most importantly prayer.

We send love to our dear cousins, new members to the team, who stepped up when it counted. We see and feel you, forever.

And to Michelle, our “tiger boo bear” and sunburst of energy who always held it down,

praises for your strength and undeniable commitment to your Grandmother as you truly became your Aunt’s right hand. Only you could make your grandmother laugh at your twisted rendition of “redemption song”, and dance to “Missy Elliot” without skipping a beat. Absolutely hilarious!

Lastly, on behalf of our entire family and extended members, we lift up our dear sister Leah Renee in GLORY and PRAISE! Your super human strength, boundless energy and devotion in directing Ma’s care was absolutely awe inspiring, a true God send. Hands down and without question, you have all the incredibly beautiful qualities of our mother and then some.

Big ups

much luv

and God Bless

(Remember, this is not an obituary. Janice despised formality.)