Am I a house negro or a field negro?

activism, advocacy, blacklivesmatter, Consistent Life Ethic, corruption, feminism, pro-life, race, Racial Reconciliation, racism, Transformation

Am I a house negro or a field negro?

I will boldly say that I am neither.

I stand in a position that is often times…..lonely.

A position that on one hand those who hold a form of privilege by having white skin are offended by my blackness and on the other hand the very brothers and sisters that I fight for, question my blackness. I’m either “aggressive” to some or a “token” to others.
Well, damn.

As my girl Destiny said…

“Oppression is oppression is oppression. Anytime we dehumanize members of the human family, it is dangerous AF.”

It is….

So what are we going to do about it?

I refuse to live in the echo chamber of pro-life politics which fuel the policies that have little regard to the actual PEOPLE affected by those policies.

And I refuse to be in the field screaming, “YES! LET MASSA’s HOUSE BURN!!!!”

NO.

Don’t be fooled by my pro-life feminist stance. I stand in a position that highly respects those who are fighting for the lives of the unborn AND respects the many black women who are fighting for reproductive justice.

Don’t peg me as someone that’s ignorant.
I’m just a unicorn who actually is more interested in building bridges and finding common ground.

I’m going to scream this…

PRO-LIFE ACTIVISTS! THERE IS MUCH TO BE LEARNED FROM BLACK FEMINISM AND REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE ACTIVISTS!

PRO-CHOICE ACTIVISTS! THERE IS MUCH TO BE LEARNED FROM MEMBERS OF THE PRO-LIFE COMMUNITY!

PRO-LIFE, PRO-CHOICE, BLACK, WHITE, LATINX, DEMOCRAT, REPUBLICAN ETC. THERE IS MUCH TO BE LEARNED FROM THOSE WHO UPHOLD A CONSISTENT LIFE ETHIC!

Back to me….

What I am doing is standing in the middle attempting to be authentically me…

And that me is a black woman breaking free from the influence of white supremacy. A Black woman who will call out bigotry and racism, a black woman who is constantly seeking to understand MY culture and MY history and the impact the past has on the present. A black woman who seeks to dismantle systems fueled by hate and create a world where every.single.human being is valued.

A black woman who can forgive and think independently from the tribe.

Today my pastor had a great word coming from Colossians 3:12-17

“12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

How do we bring about change? How? Without compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience we may as well keep doing what we are doing.
The divide will continue and people will die.

I’m sitting in the middle with the complete understanding that without Christ…

I’d be in the field.

Don’t get it twisted. There is such a thing as righteous anger. I’m choosing to combine the rage that the field produced, with the compassion, kindness humility, meekness and patience that only Christ can provide. This combination shatters walls of oppression and only then will we see radical unifying change take place.

Listening to respond does nothing. Listening to understand saves lives.

#recess

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

home-design

 

 

 

 

 

 

Identity Crisis

activism, blacklivesmatter, feminism, pro-life, racism

Who am I? My name is Cessilye Smith. I am a black woman who grew up in an amazing two parent household with a younger sister and a dog. My life as a child was pretty much drama free. My parents are two beautiful human beings who are still married and very much in love. My mother was my most spiritual influence and my father was present and affirmed that I was both black and beautiful.  My sister and I fought a lot but now we are closer than we have ever been. I am now married to an amazing man and we have three children.

The uncomfortable stuff

Growing up I was surrounded by white people. There are only a few instances of racism that I recall in my life but my first was when I was in kindergarten. A little red head girl did not want to hold my hand on a field trip because she thought I would rub off on her. My parents handled that. No doubt.

I remember going to a convenience store when I was in middle school in Sulphur Springs, TX. and the cashier didn’t want to touch me so I was forced to put my cash on the counter. No one had to tell me what happened was racist. In fact, I don’t know if anyone knew what had just happened. But what I do know is that I felt it…and it felt horrible.

My sister from another mother, father and culture lives outside of San Antonio. I met her at track camp at UT in Austin when we were teens. We hit it off and we have always called each other sisters. Not friends, but sisters. We were so innocent about things such as race. I remember us putting on each others makeup to see what we would look like(that evidence will never go public;). I would go visit her and vice versa about once a year. Well, in 1998 I went to visit her and I found myself terrified. You see, my sister friend is from a small Polish town and although I grew up very comfortable around white people I was actually scared of them for the first time in my life.

Why all of a sudden?…..

James Byrd Jr.(Jasper,TX)

I’m actually in tears typing this.  I’m thinking about my sons. I’m thinking about the loss of innocence and the current reality of not going a day without thinking about the color of my skin and how it affects so much around me. From the way I raise my sons and my daughter, to activism.

In my early twenties I dated this white man about 16yrs older than me. I managed a store in Granbury, TX and we were hanging outside the Walmart there when a group of white men in their car yelled out “Nigger Lover!” to my then boyfriend.  I was terrified to drive back home that night…..so I didn’t.

I grew up protected from the world around me, completely unaware of the realities that people of color (POC) face every single day. Due to the “protection” that I received from my parents I believe it contributed to the happy, healthy, relatively uneventful pregnancies and fat babies that I birthed at home….for that I am incredibly thankful.

Protection=ignorance

Ignorance regarding my culture. Black American Culture.

I was teased a lot. I “talked white” did not understand slang or much about my history beyond MLK, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman….slavery.

“What school do/did you go to?”…private school…”Oh!…..THAT explains it”…yeah…it did.

*Side note. Have you ever researched the history of private schools? I’m not saying they are all like they use to be, but private education was a way to defy integration. It was a way to keep us brown people away and to some extent it still is. They let us in if we have the money to attend and/or the athletic ability to make their schools look good(it’s so obvious). This goes into the inequalities of education based on socio-economic status which ties into racism. That’s a rabbit trail I’m not going to lead you on right now.

I was a conservative, right winged, Bible thumping, Obama hating(not quite hate, just dislike) woman. I talked about the black community negatively. “They only vote democrat because mama did and granny did, so on and so forth.” It was a lot of “they” talk. There was such a disconnect.  I was pro-life because why wouldn’t a Bible believing Christian be? Funny how I attributed the behaviors of a specific community based on how they were raised without looking at myself.  This is in no way intended to paint my parents in a negative light. I will to this day attest that they are the most incredible parents I could have ever had. Flawed? yes, and so am I. I apologize to my children almost daily.

The thing is…..it has taken me becoming a parent for my eyes to be opened. I believe we are products of our environment. Our parents influence us in so many ways. I still do believe that often times people vote (among many things)based on what their mama did and their granny did and it does not matter what socio-economic environment or political affiliation you come from.

Open eyes create relief and heartache. 

My season of infertility was the beginning of my birth work/activism journey.  You can read that here  https://xrossxulture.wordpress.com

But let’s go back a little. The very beginning was Project M.I.C.A.H.(Molding Identities in Children through Art and History). The mission…”Project MICAH  is dedicated to enhancing the lives of low income and under privileged youth by providing quality education in the area of dance and various art disciplines while promoting creativity and spiritual growth”

You can see the old site here http://projectmicah.blogspot.com/

I founded a non-profit….WHAAAT! I truly had a passion for dance and I LOVED youth that looked like me. I wanted them to have the same opportunities that my parents offered me. Project MICAH was my first child and I believe it provided me a door into the realities of black life and essentially parenting. Looking back, it also revealed a “savior” complex that I was unaware I had until I began reflecting.  You ever hear the term “white savior”? Well, obviously I’m not white but what did I really know about the community aside from how “under privileged” it was?….nothing. But I say that not to discredit the work that was done. It was beautiful and I believe there was purpose behind the organization and it’s telling by how far I have come today.

I can write about this stuff because I am not the person I once was. In fact I can say with confidence that my intentions were pure.  I just didn’t know much. Through years of my husband working in youth ministry, living in the hood, witnessing the gentrification of our communities, learning of the preschool to prison pipeline, the prison industrial complex, having children of our own and learning of the disparities in maternal and infant mortality of POC…. I was forced awake!

With this new found wokeness came relief and heartache.  Relief because I now know who I am. I am confident in myself as a black woman and I am continually empowered by the long lineage of black women and men that made it possible for me to be who I am today. The #hiddenfigures in my ancestry. The black bodies that literally built this country. This is exciting because I’m learning daily and my children will know their history and will be part of it.

#thatheartachetho

It’s awful. The more I learn the more pain I feel because of what I see around me. My community is riddled of generational poverty and oppression. I see how the past affects us. Just as in feminism we fight against the view of holding the male body as normative, we as POC are fighting against whiteness as being viewed and held as normative. I feel like screaming! Some days I just want to go outside and scream until the whole world FEELS not only my pain but the pain of every oppressed person in this country. Every dead black mother and child due to systematic inequalities that span generations.

I want people to understand that “There is neither shame nor glory in being among the privileged/powerful (who can do great things when they become accountable stewards of their power/privilege) or among the oppressed/marginalized (who are a prophetic witness to injustice in the world, as well as the justice and mercy of God)” – Judy Wu Dominick

Who am I now?

I’m still trying to figure that out. I know that Christ is continually pruning me and making me new. I know that I don’t quite fit in anywhere and I suppose that is ok. For many I’m a bit TOO BLACK and for some I am not BLACK ENOUGH. I’m behind the ball and there is still so much that I have yet to learn.

Because I identify as a pro-life feminists with a consistent life ethic, people aren’t sure what to do with that. But the cool thing is that people are a beginning to at least listen to me….which is weird.

You CAN be both Pro-life and Pro-black….in fact you should be. In other words you can be both Pro-life and have a clear understanding of the oppression of people of color, marginalized people groups and see how things intersect.  You CANNOT be Pro-life and ignore the very laws that make it impossible for people to choose life to begin with. You CANNOT be pro-life and not be actively dismantling the structures of white supremacy that essentially kill black babies whether that be through abortion or through food desserts, gentrification and institutional racism. We have a national crisis at hand within the black community. Infant mortality, maternal mortality and abortion are linked in more ways than many care to realize and I believe we all can choose to be part of the solution or be part of the problem.

What am I saying?

I mentioned above that I’m not quite sure who I am…Well, I’m learning. I know that I’m not the person I once was. I know that I can generally bounce between heavily saturated black and white environments with ease and I have my upbringing and life experiences to thank for that.  I know that my life’s purpose goes beyond being a wife and mother. I know that part of my purpose it to leave a legacy of truth, freedom, justice and mercy.  I know that I am a sponge and I want to surround myself with empathetic, compassionate and most of all transparent people who seek to be consistent in their life and the lives of others. I know that I love to garden and I have this backyard that keeps growing weeds. And I believe these weeds are symbolic of the work that still must be done. That…

“In order to get rig of the weed you must pull it up by the root. Let’s uproot the system and plant a seed that bears fruit.”

I pray my seed (children) see my rooted faith along with the efforts that have been made and choose to be fruit bearers for future generations.

But most importantly……I pray that my children live.

#blacklivesmatter #representationmatters #prolife #prochoice #prowoman #newwavefeminist #doulaforlife #consistentlifeethic #trueprolifefeminist #rehumanize

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RE-A-CESS

advocacy, Birth, corruption, Faith, feminism, Focus, God, health, hope, hurt, pro-life

When I came up with the title of this blog I did not notice my nick name in it (Cess), or how in this current season of life I would be re-assessing how I do…life. I truly was blind to it and went way deeper into the definition of what a recess is and how each letter represents each member of my family.

Well, here I am. Re-assessing so much. Shall I begin?

I took a random break from that place my friend Brianna calls facey-space and it has been AMAZING. In a way I’m dreading getting back on but I’m also excited about how I will utilize my time on social media and how I can better the world around me through my words.

Through this time I realized I allowed the burdens of this world to cloud my vision. Now you may be wondering what my vision is. Well…..I envision creating a better world. Most specifically a better world for not only my children but for women and children. Yeah, I also have a bent towards women and children of color. As a chocolate skinned woman I am well aware of what is going on around me. I see, feel, taste and smell the poison that this world is pouring into our lives. I’m especially sensitive to racial inequality, systematic racism, and anything that places people of color(of any color I might add) as secondary to our white brothers and sisters.

Anyways, I’m re-assessing so much. Like for instance. How much negativity do I allow in? “Protect your space” is something I hold dear and I encourage you to do the same.  We could never abolish all of the corrupt sinfulness of the world but we can limit how much we allow in our sacred space. We could allow it to drown our thoughts to the point of self devaluation and hatred toward others or we can tighten the knob on the faucet and just let a few drops in every now and then. This allows you to process it all and then decide what you will do with it. You might let it sit there for a grip. But it’s a slow fill.  When the knob is loose the faucet is wide open. You then run the risk of a flood. Let that $hit drip.

Focus. When I allowed the faucet to remain open I then lost my focus. I wanted to do everything to make a difference all while doing nothing.  So, now that I’ve got that faucet dripping and darn near closed I am able to focus on things that matter.  What are the things that matter to you and what are you doing about it?

Well currently the focus has been on self-care, marriage and children. Through my work as a doula I have become more vocal about my pro-life stance and have since been pushed into this wold of advocacy. During my time away I finally opened the drain and let the problems of the world flow down through the pipes all while stopping up the plug and leaving the few things that I can manage in the sink of my heart and mind.  What am I going to do with it? Well…. a lot.

I’m kind of nervous but I’m overwhelmed with so much anticipation for what the Lord has in store. I see change. Change in feminism. Change in healthcare. Change in what pro-life means. I see structures that lead to the oppression of people torn down. I see women being helped through the crisis so that they have hope during their pregnancy and beyond. I see empowerment and a change of heart. I see woman and children saved. I see many more advocates. I see a NEW WAVE of empowering women and understanding what that means.

I feel this is the time for a shameless plug. Have you heard of Doulas For Life or New Wave Feminists? How about The Guiding Star Project?  Well, if you haven’t you should check them out right now. We are in the aftermath of a storm. Generally a storm brings destruction but in the end it’s up to us to figure out how to pick up the pieces and put everything back together.  So instead of putting them back where they use to be we are making new buildings that are more structurally sound. Instead of everyone re-building their own structure alone, we are building together. We are assessing how and why the buildings were not able to withstand the storm, and our hope is that the new buildings we create will not only withstand future storms, but will provide shelter for those who are in the midst of their own personal struggle.

“If you want to get rid of the weed you must pull it up by the root. Let’s uproot the system and plant a seed that bears fruit.” – Cessilye

#RECESS

https://www.facebook.com/doulasforlife/

https://www.facebook.com/NewWaveFeminists/?fref=ts

http://www.newwavefeminists.com

https://www.facebook.com/TheGuidingStarProject

 http://theguidingstarproject.com/