Disturbing the Peace

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Besides getting a workout, the gym has become a place where I can go to find peace and escape from the everyday hassles of life. On yesterday, however, my peace was greatly disturb by the ignorant and racist remarks of one man. And, yes he was a white man.

Feeling like I needed a little energy boost, I thought I’d pour myself a cup of coffee before starting my workout.  Not more than a couple feet from the coffee machine sat three white men.  I’ve sat at that same table at least a hundred times since joining this gym. It’s a great place to sit, enjoy a cup of coffee, chat, read, or just catch your breath after working out.  So seeing them sitting there did not raise any red flags for me. However, that would quickly change. Not only would I see red flags.  Those  flags would be damn near hitting me in my face causing my blood to boil.

By the time I finished pouring my coffee, I overheard one man say “Why would anyone eat a snicker and coke for lunch? I mean that’s toxic. Who eats that stuff?”  He then proceeds to explain to the other men that the students shared with that sometimes they can win coupons from the principal to get McDonald’s for lunch.  As an educator of twenty-six years, the flags are starting to wave ever so gently. I’m all ears, because I’m sensing some foolishness going here.

Now, this next remark is the kicker. The man goes on to say “These are intelligent students. Their black, but they are intelligent.  Mind you, at this point, I’m stirring the cream in my coffee ever so slowly while at the same not believing, but BELIEVING what I’m hearing. I’m not naieve.  I know there is a toxic mindset out there about black and brown students. I’ve been in education a long time. I’m also a mom too. However to hear someone so blantantly spew such garbage (in my presense) was emotionally and physically overwhelming. I literally stood there stirring and stirring my coffee, trying to decide whether or not to say something to this man. My sneakers felt glued to the floor. I just couldn’t bring myself to move.

After what seemed like two to three minutes, I noticed there were a couple of people waiting behind me to get coffee, so I left and made my way to the stretching room. There I laid on the mat staring blankly at the ceiling, beating myself up for not speaking up.  I was angry. I was hurt.  I was disappointed. In. Myself.

There was so much wrong with this man’s comments.  First, the obvious. Most black people are not intelligent, at least according to him we’re not. Second, only black kids eat snickers, drink cokes, and eat McDonald’s.  Now, you know that’s BS.

Mr., all kids like junk food. – Black kids, White kids, Asian Kids, Latina kids. Most kids given the opportunity to eat junk food will jump at the chance. That’s what kids do. This is not a club to which black kids exclusively belong.

Now, I don’t know what this man’s relationship was to the black kids he was discussing. I hope to God that he’s not their teacher. This is just the kind of person that does not need to be working with kids, because he has already made up his mind that not all black kids are intelligent. It’s this sort of racist, deficit thinking about black and brown students that contribute to the racial and socioeconomic divide in this country. It’s why we find America to be as fragile as it is today.

Grow your mindset. Change the world.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Birthday Reflection

Another birthday I celebrate today. And I’m thankful. Thankful for another  year of life. To come full circle to this annual birth-grimage; journey to life is a blessing. To know that first God chose me to enter into this world to fulfill a purpose that is his and his alone grounds me. It centers me with Him from whom I came.  His decision to select my parents as my pathway to life was intentional, but he is my life (this life and after life) guide.

Before writing this post this morning, I was lying in my bed quietly going through my mental checklist of all the things I want to accomplish today.  Then suddenly my daughter tip-toed into my bedroom singing the “Happy Birthday” song. Feeling her cheeks up against mine; feeling her breathe made me feel so alive and fortunate to know that I am still here fulfilling God’s purposes.  Yes, I believe I am here for more than one purpose. Feeling my daughter’s skin up against my skin made me realize that this life of mine is bigger than me and that just like He used my parents as my pathway to life, He has also used me as a pathway for my children and so much more.  And I realize that I am also a pathway for his purposes. His purposes are mine.

I will admit I haven’t always felt this way. So close to God.  I guess age, which also comes with life experiences has a way of bringing you to such closeness and intimacy with God. Because if you live this life long enough, you soon realize that life can throw you so many curve balls and landmines that God has a way of showing you that you need and want Him in your corner, on your team.

This morning I am thankful for those curve balls and landmines and I would be remiss if I did not say I was also thankful for the confetti He has thrown my way as well.  The beautiful, colorful confetti that he showers upon me like snow falling in the twilight of a day.  I accept all of it, the good and the things I have questioned (What are you doing God?  Why God?) have made me who I am today – a work in progress.  Being in this state of mind brings me peace.  For with this mindset, I embrace who I am, where I am, where I am going, and who I am with.  I’m with Him.  And he is with me.

Now, it’s time to go for a morning walk.  It’s my birthday!  I can do what I want.  I mean He wants. Walk with me God.

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Seximacy

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“Love recognizes no barriers.  It jumps hurdles, leaps fences,

penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” – Maya Angelou

If you’ve been married for some time and have children, it can be especially challenging to carve out quality time for you and your spouse. Those intimate candlelight dinners you used to effortlessly plan and enjoy are far and few. Let’s face it, we love our children, but they have a way of taking over our lives.  After the carpools, play dates (It’s called hangouts if your child{ren} are age 8 and over.), music lessons, dance class, games, homework, school functions, and all that comes with running a household, at the end of the day, you’re most likely running on empty. You only have enough energy to crawl into bed, to refuel, so you can begin again the next day. And, so you do just that. BUT, then you might feel a tug at your pillow, a kiss on your neck, a pull at the bedsheets, or a fondle of your ass. Soon your husband, snuggling closer, whispers in your ear “Let’s make love.”  In turn, you mumble “Baby, I’m tired. I’m so exhausted.”  Turning over, you say “Tomorrow.” All, too often tomorrow never comes and the intimacy you once shared, as well as your sex life is reduced to a once a week romp or maybe a monthly sex meet. Deep sigh…

This scene is often played out in many marriages. For many married couples, this is what married life has become. When you and your spouse were dating, you enjoyed many impromptu intimate moments together. You didn’t have to necessarily schedule your dates or your sex life. Those were the days when your relationship was filled with seximacy. One minute you’re sitting across the dinner table from each other. The next minute you’re gently reaching across the table to caress each other’s hands; quietly slipping your shoe off to secretly rub the small of his leg with your foot under the dinner table. Feeding each other bites of food while undressing him with your eyes was the ultimate invitation. Nothing else needed to be said, but “Check please.”  No dinner.  Nothing. You lost your appetite. At least for the food you have.

Fast forward to married life. Your seximacy, the interaction that can increase sex and intimacy in a marriage can be as rare as finding a needle in a haystack. But, you and your spouse can have it again. It’s not going to be easy, because as a married couple you now have a lot more demands on your time.  Being intentional and with some planning, you can breathe life into your marriage. Below are some tips for getting started.

  • Agree on a love night (or two) for starters.  Show each other seximacy leading up to those love night(s). Think of it as marinating your love.
  • Seximacy ideas include making eye contact.  Remember the eyes are the window to the soul. Write notes of anticipation, i.e., “I can’t wait for our night together.” “I’m going to rock your world.” “You still look hot.”  “Just ____ more days!”  You can text the notes or leave them in your spouse’s lunchbox.
  • Other seximacy ideas include having a treasure hunt. Hide the lingerie you’re going to wear, putting each piece in a different place. Better yet, buy her lingerie. Buy him some sexy underwear.
  • Cuddle on the couch while watching a movie, a favourite sitcom, or other TV program.
  • Cook dinner together. No time to cook dinner together? How about preparing an appetizer together? Here is a link to some quick and easy appetizer recipes.  http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/summer-appetizer-recipes.html
  • Give your spouse a massage. Try using some essential oils as you work your magic!
  • Arrive home early before the kids. This is a great time to sneak in some quality time.
  • Surprise you spouse by bringing him or her  lunch to work or if you can’t bring lunch, order it to be delivered.
  • This one’s simple. Ask “How was your day?”
  • Candles. They can change the mood of any place. Be sure to put some in your bedroom and on the dinner table.
  • This one requires a bit more discipline, but if you can establish bedtime routines for your kids, the first of which should be a consistent time for ‘lights out,” you’ll have more uninterrupted time with your spouse.
  • The old reliable date night. You have many options here. Hire a babysitter. College students, family, or responsible teens of friends are all good choices.  Some PTAs have Friday night movie night. You can drop you kids off to school to watch a movie for a free. Usually they have a concession where kids can buy snacks. If your child’s school does not have a movie night, you might want to suggest it. It’s a great PTA fundraiser and provides an opportunity for couples to escape.
  • Pillow talk. Sit down together and create a list of topics you want to discuss during the week. There’s two exceptions. You can’t talk about the kids or money. Write each topic on a slip of paper. Put the slips of paper in a container.  Each night, pick a slip from the container. Lights out. Heads on the pillows! Time to talk.
  • Hug often and for no reason!
  • Remember the song you walked down the aisle to.  Dance to it often.
  • Share common goals for your marriage by creating a vision board. This board should contain images of what you both envision, hope, and dream for your marriage. Start with a large picture frame and poster that can be sized to fit the frame. Gather magazines that contain content of interest to you both. For example. If you want to renovate your kitchen, use home improvement magazines. Cut pictures out.  Once you have all the pictures that represent your common vision, glue them on the board. Your board will look like a collage.  Let dry and afterwards slide the poster into the back of the frame. It’s ready to hang in a prominent place in your home.
  • Cuddle in bed.  Spooning is a great way to fit as tight as a glove with your spouse.
  • Finally, if you and your spouse share a common faith or spiritually, pray together. Pray for your relationship and your family.  There’s a saying: “A family that prays together, stays together.”

These are just a few ways to breathe life into your marriage.  I bet you could come up with many more ideas. Share your ideas in the comments. Don’t overthink it too much. Have fun. Be creative. Feel the love.

 

 

 

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Frederick Douglass’ Crystal Ball: Truth Telling for the Ages

This, Frederick Douglass’ speech given during the  mid 19th century on a 4th of July day is powerful, yet haunting. As I read it, tears flowed from my eyes. I guess because it feels both surreal and real. It feels like I’m straddled between these two worlds, his and mine.  Our world. Your’s and mind.  The truth is neither are worlds that I want to dwell in; that I want my children to live in; that I want you to be in. But, we are here.  Sadly, we are here.  And, it’s as if Douglass knew we would be in this place, because his words are so poignant, raw, current and relevant to the crisis we find ourselves in. It’s as if he had a crystal ball. I wish he saw something different in that ball.

“The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro”

Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men, too Ñ great enough to give frame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory….

…Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold, that a nation’s sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation’s jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the “lame man leap as an hart.”

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common.ÑThe rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can to-day take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people!

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! we wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? If I forget thee, 0 Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.”

Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, “may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!” To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then, fellow-citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave’s point of view. Standing there identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America.is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery Ñ the great sin and shame of America! “I will not equivocate; I will not excuse”; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just.

But I fancy I hear some one of my audience say, “It is just in this circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more, an denounce less; would you persuade more, and rebuke less; your cause would be much more likely to succeed.” But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the anti-slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is conceded already. Nobody doubts it. The slaveholders themselves acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their government. They acknowledge it when they punish disobedience on the part of the slave. There are seventy-two crimes in the State of Virginia which, if committed by a black man (no matter how ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while only two of the same crimes will subject a white man to the like punishment. What is this but the acknowledgment that the slave is a moral, intellectual, and responsible being? The manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact that Southern statute books are covered with enactments forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the slave to read or to write. When you can point to any such laws in reference to the beasts of the field, then I may consent to argue the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a brute, then will I argue with you that the slave is a man!

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are ploughing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver and gold; that, while we are reading, writing and ciphering, acting as clerks, merchants and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators and teachers; that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hill-side, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives and children, and, above all, confessing and worshipping the Christian’s God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!

Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? that he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question for Republicans? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to be understood? How should I look to-day, in the presence of Amercans, dividing, and subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to freedom? speaking of it relatively and positively, negatively and affirmatively. To do so, would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to your understanding. There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.

What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their mastcrs? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong? No! I will not. I have better employment for my time and strength than such arguments would imply.

What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman, cannot be divine! Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may; I cannot. The time for such argument is passed.

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival….
…Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation which must inevitably work the downfall of slavery. “The arm of the Lord is not shortened,” and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from “the Declaration of Independence,” the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age. Nations do not now stand in the same relation to each other that they did ages ago. No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference. The time was when such could be done. Long established customs of hurtful character could formerly fence themselves in, and do their evil work with social impunity. Knowledge was then confined and enjoyed by the privileged few, and the multitude walked on in mental darkness. But a change has now come over the affairs of mankind. Walled cities and empires have become unfashionable. The arm of commerce has borne away the gates of the strong city. Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe. It makes its pathway over and under the sea, as well as on the earth. Wind, steam, and lightning are its chartered agents. Oceans no longer divide, but link nations together. From Boston to London is now a holiday excursion. Space is comparatively annihilated. — Thoughts expressed on one side of the Atlantic are distinctly heard on the other.

The far off and almost fabulous Pacific rolls in grandeur at our feet. The Celestial Empire, the mystery of ages, is being solved. The fiat of the Almighty, “Let there be Light,” has not yet spent its force. No abuse, no outrage whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide itself from the all-pervading light. The iron shoe, and crippled foot of China must be seen in contrast with nature. Africa must rise and put on her yet unwoven garment. ‘Ethiopia, shall, stretch. out her hand unto Ood.” In the fervent aspirations of William Lloyd Garrison, I say, and let every heart join in saying it:

God speed the year of jubilee
The wide world o’er!
When from their galling chains set free,
Th’ oppress’d shall vilely bend the knee,
And wear the yoke of tyranny
Like brutes no more.
That year will come, and freedom’s reign,
To man his plundered rights again
Restore.

God speed the day when human blood
Shall cease to flow!
In every clime be understood,
The claims of human brotherhood,
And each return for evil, good,
Not blow for blow;
That day will come all feuds to end,
And change into a faithful friend
Each foe.

God speed the hour, the glorious hour,
When none on earth
Shall exercise a lordly power,
Nor in a tyrant’s presence cower;
But to all manhood’s stature tower,
By equal birth!
That hour will come, to each, to all,
And from his Prison-house, to thrall
Go forth.

Until that year, day, hour, arrive,
With head, and heart, and hand I’ll strive,
To break the rod, and rend the gyve,
The spoiler of his prey deprive —
So witness Heaven!
And never from my chosen post,
Whate’er the peril or the cost,
Be driven.
The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass, Volume II
Pre-Civil War Decade 1850-1860
Philip S. Foner
International Publishers Co., Inc., New York, 1950

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Five Hundred Ninety-Five: Way Too Many

Five hundred ninety-five. That’s not a big number to some.  But, when 595 quantifies the loss of lives, it’s always hard to stomach, because ALL LIVES  MATTER, right? However, when that number symbolizes the loss of another black life at the hands of police, it feels almost epidemic; viral – because it feels like once again BLACK LIVES DON’T MATTER.

The latest killing, Alton Sterling. He is the most recent black man to be killed by police, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.   Sterling, the father of five was killed while standing in front of a convenience store selling CDs (with the store owner’s consent).

News outlets are reporting that police were called to the store front, because Sterling threatened the caller with a gun. I get this. If I were threatened with a gun, I would call the police too. Still, what happens next defies logic and it’s what causes outrage in the Black community. It’s what moves people of all races to march in the streets.  It’s what causes the clueless, those who are so far removed, and who have zero empathy to ask “Why?” “Why are those people so mad?” “Why are they so fucking hostile?”

Video footage shows police wrestling Sterling to the ground; Sterling struggling with police – which by now Black people know is a no-no. Never wrestle with the police. Don’t place your hands in your pocket. Ask if you can remove your license from your wallet. Put your hands up. Stay in your car. Be polite. Say, “Yes, sir” and “Yes, mam.” NEVER run from the police. These are all the things I have told my sons (and daughter) to do should they find themselves interacting with the police.  These are the types of conversations taking place in Black churches and around the dinner tables of many Black families. Sad. But, an undeniable fact.

Sterling was pinned down by two police officers.  Their actions were not enough to subdue him, to control him. Instead, a gun was used to silence him. Forever.  There are reports that Sterling had a gun in his pocket.  Although, the video does not show Sterling reaching for a gun. Eyewitnesses say one of the police officers, who was on top of Sterling, yelled a warning: “He’s got a gun! Gun!” Then a police officer removed his gun from his holster and shot Sterling multiple times in his back and chest.

I know a lot can transpire in the heat of an altercation between police officers and citizens, or during any altercation for that matter.  But, they had already pinned Sterling to the ground, right? If they feared Sterling would reach for his gun, why not shoot Sterling in his leg? Arm? Then grab his gun. Why shoot him in the back and chest multiple times?  This is just common sense. Our police officers are sworn to protect us; to conduct themselves as professionals; to value all human life.

Even so, violence has historically been the relationship that Black people have had with police. You don’t have to go very far in our nation’s history to learn that Black people were lynched; hung from branches of trees. Police sprayed us with water hoses and their dogs barked and bit us as we marched for civil rights. When Black people see the images of police brutality and killings sprawled all over news, it is bound to stir up feelings of anger, helplessness, and yes, sadly violence.

If you are a police officer… No let me preference this, because I know there are good and law abiding police officers out there. If you are a police officer who is afraid of Black people and you believe that all Black people are violent, are animals, and you hide your fears of us behind your badge and gun, then you need a career change. Minimally, you need cultural sensitivity training or training on how to de-escalate.  You also need to know that Black people are just as afraid of you, as you are of them.  You don’t need your gun.  Just the sight of you is enough to cause our palms to sweat; our hearts to leap out of our chests. I repeat. We are afraid. Deathly afraid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1776: Independence for Some

Nothing says the 4th of July like the smell of burgers on the grill, the donning of red, white, and blue, and the magical displays of fireworks. Annually millions of Americans and non-citizens who treasure freedom come together around picnics, parades, concerts, and other events to celebrate the anniversary of our nation’s independence from Great Britain, our mother nation.

Before I go any further, I want to make a disclamer. I am a black woman. I was born and raised in America. Politically, I consider myself to be a moderate, containing neither all liberal or conservative viewpoints, but rather meshing what I consider the best of both to shape my own political perspectives.  Even though I don’t always like my country’s policies or its politicians, I love my country, period. I have traveled a few times outside of this country of ours’, and I can personally say that just as I am always eager to explore foreign lands, I always enthusiastically anticipate returning home. There is just no place like America, this land I love.

Now, that I have gotten that out of the way, let’s get back to the subject of the 4th of July, a celebration of independence. Here, some historical context is in order.

Prior to 1776, there was strife between the 13 Colonies and Great Britain. This led to a political revolution which ultimately was the fuel for the start of the American Revolutionary War (1775-1784).  In June of 1776, agents of the 13 Colonies declared their independence from British rule. This declaration led to the birth of The United States of America. What this post seeks to point out is the deliverance of this nation, did not deliver or free all men.  One nation under God had not yet been realized.

revolutionary war

Let Freedom Ring?

While it’s important to celebrate the sovereignty of our nation and all the privileges that we enjoy because of it, it’s also equally important to recognize that the colonists weren’t the only people seeking independence during this time period. Many of the Africans who were forcefully and brutally taken from Africa and who endured the inhumane transatlantic  voyage to the New World were also seeking independence from the European Colonists, their Masters.  However, as history would tell it, “legal” freedom would not come for more than a hundred years and would be resisted even after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, changing the legal status of more than 3 million enslaved Africans from slave to “free.”

Even after the drying of the ink on the Emancipation Proclamation, freedom trickled in, in drops and drips and very much depended on where Blacks lived. For example, it wasn’t until 1864 that Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri abolished slavery. Other States like Tennessee didn’t abolish slavery until 1865.

False Hope

Enslaved Africans who fought in the American Revolutionary War for both the King of Britain’s royal army or the 13 Colonists hoped their participation would be paid for with freedom. “It was not that they were pro-British; first and foremost, they were pro-Black; prepared to support the side that held out the greatest hope for them to improve their life.”   However, little did they know, they, nor their children, or their children’s children would reaped the benefits of their sacrifice for years to come.

A Nation Influx

It has been said, “While the American Revolutionary War created our nation, it is the American Civil War (1861-1865) that determined the kind of nation we would be.” This is true to some degree. However, I would argue that it was the subsequent struggles of the Civil Rights Era and those of our modern day that continue to shape the nation we hope to leave for future generations. We have more work to do; more independence and freedom to be gained if we as a nation are to live our creed.

Happy Birthday America.

 

 

 

Posted in 1776, America, Independence, July 4th, Slavery, Uncategorized, war | 2 Comments

Toxic High School — Discover

Abandoned Southeast is a photoblog that documents the history and haunting beauty of abandoned buildings from Georgia to Louisiana, like the once-vibrant Booker T. Washington High School in New Orleans.

via Toxic High School — Discover

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