My Transformation

blacklivesmatter, Faith, God, hope, humanity, hurt, institutionalracism, pain, Racial Reconciliation, relationships, Transformation

In July I had an anxiety attack that landed me in the E.R. It was brought on after listening to the amazing women of a podcast called Truths Table. The episode was called “Strange Fruit”. I had also been reading up on a lot of information on racial injustice. I remember the subsequent days vividly. My breathing was shallow, chest felt tight and just not right. These episodes lasted for a couple of days until I found myself in the E.R. This was the beginning…the beginning of me understanding my transformation.

If you have read any of my previous blogs over the past year you will see that I have gone through an identity crisis of sorts. It’s been an incredible year. I’ve been exposed to so many different people and I’ve been given a platform that I never asked for and certainly never expected. For some reason people have found that I have a message that is worth hearing.

I’m going to spare you the details of my past, but in a nut-shell, the identity crisis that I speak of comes from a past that was filled with a colonized, revisionist and hidden history that created a woman who did not see color and wondered up until four years ago why there was a Black Breastfeeding Week or black anything for that matter. I was clueless when it came to systematic inequalities and institutional racism. I lived in a bubble and I most definitely was not #woke. Not at all. I was just as blind as the many ytpipo that so many talk about.

But I woke up.

The past few years have been a roller coaster emotionally. With so many POC dying at the hands of people who are supposed to protect them, I’ve become desensitized to news of another death of a person of color. None of it surprises me. At times I am enraged. The more I learn about the history of my brothers and sisters of the diaspora and the senseless deaths of black women and children at the hands of careless medical practitioners who hold implicit racial bias, the more driven I become in doing something about it.

Don’t get me wrong, I have had some very dark moments. I pride myself on my bridge building reputation but I must be honest. There are times when I want to be just like some people who I know. I want to throw my hands up and say to all white people,           “I DON’T NEED YOU”.  But it’s only by the grace of God that it has not happened, and it won’t. Why? Because I don’t believe that any one person is beyond redemption and I believe that racial reconciliation is yet another beautiful representation of Christs love for His bride…the church.

I was telling my girl Destiny that not a day goes by without me thinking of my race. She asked me if I wished I could go back to how things use to be and I said, “No”.  I said no because in the past I was like the walking dead, completely unaware, and with that lack of awareness came a tremendous lack of true identity, empathy and compassion.  You see, before I was conditioned to think and be a certain way, but now it’s like….damn.

Where do I begin.

Nothing is mine.  My true culture was beaten out of my ancestors. My last name comes from the people who owned my family. I had my beautiful thick and long hair relaxed as a child because my God given hair was too difficult to manage(society). That’s just .00001% of what I could share about me. What about all the black women injured or dying in childbirth at 4x the rate of all other women, or black babies dying at 3x the rate of others before age one. What about redlining, black cemetery’s desecrated to build shopping centers (Lemmon Ave.), black communities moved to flood zones(West Dallas and Bonton)? Food deserts? How about the fact that if it weren’t for my ancestors, this country would not be what it is economically. Yet, what do we own? And I still get people mad because I want to support black owned businesses? Ya know, like we are on even footing. If only we would just work hard. How about the prison industrial complex aka The New Jim Crow?

Oh and #thesunkinplace…..I have found myself in it often this past year. It’s a horrible place to be and it plays a major roll in the struggles I’ve had.

I listed those things because I want you to know where I’m coming from.  I live in the south. As I reflect on my history, it’s not golden. When I go on road trips my mind literally looks out at the trees and imagines the strange fruit that once hung from so many that are still standing.  That’s MY reality.  So yes, I get mad. But more than anger I get filled with a pain that is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. My mind has been overloaded with so much that it came to a point where my heart literally hurts.

But now…

Everything above is raw, but the reality is this. My identity has always and will always been found in Christ. Now, I know I may have lost some of my atheist and agnostic friends, but the thing is,  if you have known me… you know that transparency is EVERYTHING to me and transparency is what you will get. The past couple of months God has been doing something in me. Calming me…slowing me down and helping me to see that there is a reason I was blind my whole life to injustice of so many kinds. It was so that I can hold compassion in my heart towards those who are still walking in darkness, as I did for so long. It was so that while each layer of ignorance is stripped from me, I can then still remain humble. It was so that I can truly feel what he feels.

May my heart break for what breaks His.

My heart is broken, but my will is strong.

 

I’m still healing, in fact I’m certain I will always be in a state of healing. But as I learn to navigate this world in a constant state of transformation, my hope is that I become a woman who seeks radical racial reconciliation that results in bridges built and walls of oppression torn down.

My prayer is that hearts are healed, lives are transformed and God will use His people to bring Shalom to my community and beyond.

#recess

words

 

Living in the Grey

activism, advocacy, Faith, feminism, Focus, hope, humanity, institutionalracism, Jesus, Racial Reconciliation, racism, relationships, Uncategorized

As I sit here alone in my room listening to India Arie’s “Beautiful”, while enjoying the rain and grey sky, I find it fitting to write about my life…in the grey.

I want to go to place where I am nothing and everything
That exists between here and nowhere
I want to got to a place where time has no consequence and oh yeah
The sky opens to my prayers – India Arie, “Beautiful”

The grey is a tough place to be. That black and white life that I used to inhabit was actually a pretty comfortable place. It was was very me vs. them, right vs. wrong, no matter the situation. I had a cut and dry no nonsense type of mentality. Over the years I have learned that my heart was pretty hard and I lacked a tremendous amount of knowledge. I most definitely was not an independent thinker.

I was the first to say “embrace relationship (with Jesus), reject religion”, yet religion still had me bound. It had me so fixated on looking right, living right, giving no appearance of the mess that I really was.  I was one way in the public eye but quite another behind closed doors.  Over the years my faith has been tested on a massive level. Spiritual warfare is real. A few years ago I was brought to the very edge of losing it all. But something happened. I was reminded of God’s faithfulness. This changed my life.  Now I know what it truly means to “embrace relationship, reject religion”.  I see the word of God through a new lens. I no longer see black and white ink. I see a God who walked among the broken and was the perfect example of compassion and empathy. Where black and white ends at salvation and grey begins at living life in a fallen world.

The example was right in front of me all these years but I was so focused on being right that I did not take in to account the human condition. We are all a mess! Every single one of us. The Lord knows this, which is why He gives us examples of His mercy and His grace throughout His word. He knows we are complex individuals which is why the relationship is so vital. Imagine a world where we loved as He loved His disciples time and time again. They walked with Him and yet some rejected Him, doubted Him and were flat out cowards even upon His death. But you know what? He loved them with a love I will never fully comprehend.

I want to go to a place where I am suspended in ecstasy
Some where between dark and light
Where wrong becomes right – India Arie “Beautiful”

How do we go about cultivating relationships with each other that lead to reconciliation?
How do we find the bridge between polarizing topics and reconcile them?

Step into the grey

In the grey you will see the person behind the policy.
In the grey you will feel what they feel.
In the grey you see the layers, and work to peel them back.
In the grey it hurts because it’s not about you, but about everyone else.
In the grey you become compelled to seek justice and believe it can be done righteously.
In the grey you see Christ in a whole different light.
In the grey you deeply desire to build bridges and tear down walls.
In the grey compassion and empathy drive you.
In the grey you learn to lament.
In the grey you don’t quite fit in.
In the grey transparency is vital.
In the grey you seek consistency…..

Living in the grey can be challenging because in your attempt to comfort the disturbed, you also disturb the comfortable. People don’t like that. They hate being uncomfortable. They don’t like the nice little bubble they live in poked and prodded.  But in our mind we aren’t poking and prodding for nothing. We are simply trying to get people to look beyond their perspective.  To step into the grey.

Shades of grey

The grey that I live in is formed by my experiences as a black woman, mother and wife who is still trying to figure out her identity. Decolonizing my mind from a particular standard of beauty, thought and action all while embracing a hidden history, stripped culture and new perspective.

This separates me from my white counterparts living in the grey.

The grey I’m in has it’s challenges because in an attempt to be a bridge and bring about racial reconciliation, healing and truth I’m are also faced with the brutal truth behind white supremacy and the mess that it has created within society’s structures. The grey helps us to see how things intersect and it’s heartbreaking. It takes every ounce of grace from the Most High not to give every descendant from the oppressor a big fat F U.

I understand why some of my beautiful melanin rich brothers and sisters turn their backs on even the white ally. Because some, still refuse to just listen to the black voice.

Our voice is still silenced, questioned and ridiculed. Our experiences are not taken seriously and in the end #whitefragility is the biggest hurdle. If only those who live in a constant state of fragility at the mere mention of white supremacy would stop, listen and understand that they are contributing to the problem by refusing to comprehend that what we are dealing with is systemic. We’ve all been infected. It’s not a surface wound, it’s in the blood. White supremacy (the disease) has affected EVERYTHING. The descendants of the oppressors were gifted with privilege. Imagine what would happen if that privilege was acknowledge and used for good.  All of us have some form of privilege and reconciliation can be determined by what we do with that privilege.

One thing I know about my ancestors is that they were and we are a resilient people. We have no time to be fragile.  There is much for everyone to learn from POC and the immigrant. 

Please understand that it’s not that I don’t care
But right now these wall are closing in on me
I love you more than I love life itself
But I need to find a place were I can breathe
I can breathe
I want to go to a place were I can hold the intangible
And let go of the pain with all my might – India Arie, “Beautiful”

I will end with this.  The potential for beauty is there if we can all take off the shades that blind us to other people’s pain. When I say all, I mean it. All people across racial, religious, socio-economic and gender lines. Let’s begin to see each other, rather than discuss each other. When we step into the grey we see humanity. It comes with a tremendous amount of pain but the pain is much like a mother in labor, it has purpose. It makes us more compassionate and, in the end more like Christ whether you choose to believe He exists or not. It will make you want to stop and retreat back to your bubble (trust me) but you can’t. Once you’ve entered the grey there is no turning back, no matter how hard it may be the truth compels us. Pull out your inner woman and push through, for the results are nothing short of…beautiful.

Varying Truths

activism, advocacy, assumptions, blacklivesmatter, feminism, God, humanity, LGBTQ, pro-life

As I sit here in a relatively empty house feeding Ezra while drinking my coffee and hearing the birds chirping outside, I am suddenly reminded that this is not my daily truth. My truth is beautiful in a different way but it’s still…..so different.

This reality further helps me to understand that we all are living a truth that many are unaware of. I was just talking to my sister about how at times I wish we could live in a place like this that is incredibly peaceful. A place surrounded by God’s creation. A place where I hear a variety of birds and a stream over the sounds of cars, horns and gun fire. A place where my sensory’s are more inclined to experience the creation of God rather than the creations of man.

This leads me to further thought on key issues that become polarizing within varying movements.  Social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter, feminism, LGBTQ awareness, trans rights , abortion etc…..

I find that there is something that we all could use a little bit more of and I’ve learned this through not only having children of my own, which challenge me to ask “what if?”. But also through having conversations with people, which in turn pulls me into their truth and forces me to empathize. I have felt the Lord strip me of my dogmatic approach and fill my soul with a heart of compassion towards the complex nature of humanity.

I challenge you all to get from behind the movement(s) and be intentional about having personal encounters with people who you do not agree with or lack a tremendous amount of understanding. Reading articles isn’t all it takes to understand the complexities of human nature. If we could only begin to see people over rules, laws and policy. Let’s see how our decisions and the lives they affect intersect.

As I finish my time here in PA I am further encouraged by the many truths I’ve experienced here. Those of my sister, friends and myself. They vary on so many levels and they are real. Now take a moment to not only be aware of your truth but step into some one else’s.

It’s easy to put in the work to maintain your own lawn while simultaneously criticizing your neighbors over run yard across the street. Why is it so easy? Because we are viewing their lawn through our own personal lens. I guarantee you would be more compassionate and understanding once you saw things from their perspective. The thing is, we have a history of not doing this. We want to fix things to fit our agenda and line up with our own perspective all while ignoring the very valued human being behind the over-run yard. How about we slow down, breath and take a moment to value all life over the messed up lawn. Let’s….#rehumanize.

#recess

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