• “No Mirrors in My Nana’s House” Sweet Honey in the Rock LYRICS BY YSAYE MARIA BARNWELL Sweet Honey in the Rock is a Grammy Award–winning vocal group of black women vocalists founded in 1973 by Bernice Johnson Reagon. The group’s members have changed during its long tenure, but it retains a core of five vocalists and a sign-language interpreter. Their performances are deeply embodied celebrations of black women’s lived experiences. The group’s name is derived from Psalm 81:16: “But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” Sign-language interpreter Dr. Ysaye Barnwell joined Sweet Honey in the Rock in 1979 and appears in more than thirty recordings with the group. She is the author of one of the group’s most popular recordings, “No Mirrors in My Nana’s House.” It is a stirring piece that reveals how the loving protection of black women can shield black girls from a painful world that seeks to negate their beauty and worth. In 1998 the lyrics became a children’s book published by Harcourt Brace. There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house, no mirrors in my Nana’s house. There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house, no mirrors in my Nana’s house. And the beauty that I saw in everything was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun). I never knew that my skin was too black. I never knew that my nose was too flat. I never knew that my clothes didn’t fit. I never knew there were things that I’d missed, cause the beauty in everything was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun); . . . was in her eyes. There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house, no mirrors in my Nana’s house. And the beauty that I saw in everything was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun). I was intrigued by the cracks in the walls. I tasted, with joy, the dust that would fall. The noise in the hallway was music to me. The trash and the rubbish just cushioned my feet. And the beauty in everything was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun). . . . was in her eyes. There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house, no mirrors in my Nana’s house. And the beauty that I saw in everything was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun). The world outside was a magical place. I only knew love. I never knew hate, and the beauty in everything was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun). . . . was in her eyes. There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house, no mirrors in my Nana’s house. There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house, no mirrors in my Nana’s house. And the beauty that I saw in everything was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).”

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