Saeed Jones on a painful memory of visiting his grandmother when he was a teenager—and what then happened at her church:
“My grandmother and I still haven’t spoken about what happened during the summer of 1999, or why it was the last time I visited her by myself, and how it came to be that she watched a pastor put a curse on her youngest daughter.
“Mom, a single parent working two jobs in Lewisville, Texas, sent me to Memphis each year because she couldn’t afford to take care of me when I was out of school. During these summer visits, my grandmother took me to Ebenezer Baptist Church every Sunday. She introduced me to people as ‘Saeed, my grandbaby visiting from Texas.’ Her friends would lean down with one hand holding up their extravagant church hats and slip me a strawberry hard candy. I didn’t miss those candies or church introductions until they were suddenly replaced with a new introduction the summer I was 13: ‘This is my grandson, Saeed. His mother is Buddhist.’ She said it like she didn’t know a sentence like that could electrify the air in any Southern church.”