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Ushering in 2015

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2015

We’re just a couple days away from the New Year and like many, I am reflecting on what 2015 brought …
and took away ;-). Here is my short list of things I learned in 2014:

  • LOVE never fails. Of all the challenges, all the long nights of homework, all the job endings and new job beginnings I learned time and time again that love never ever fails. Love keeps. Love prevails. Love heals. Love mends. I am so very thankful for LOVE.
  • I am stronger than I thought. In many regards, this has been a long and challenging year – not as challenging as some others – but challenging nonetheless. When I look back and think about the commute to class, the late nights, balancing working and home I am reminded that my strength sometimes exceeds my belief in my own ability.
  • My friendship circle remains small intentionally. There are times when I see social media posts or run into old friends and for a moment, I have prolonged thoughts of rekindling those relationships or imagined feelings of what my life would be like with much larger friendship circles. But then I am reminded of why I keep those I love so very close to me and why so many others remain at arm’s length. There is such beauty in friendships with fault, or distrust, or malice … I treasure those and have remembered that they are few and far in between.
  • Forgiveness heals. There is not much more to be said here.
  • If I can dream it, I can do it. This has been a HUGE year of dreams!!! Graduating and starting school again, continuing to blog, starting my book club, becoming an instructor … and so much more! I now know more than ever that if I can dream it, if I want it bad enough and if I am willing to work endlessly for it – I can achieve it. AND I have also realized that some things will miss the mark – I’ve accepted that they either simply aren’t for me or something better is on the way.
  • My family means to world to me. This hasn’t changed and I doubt that it ever will.
  • My faith still sustains me.
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Being Black …

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http://blackartinamerica.com/

http://blackartinamerica.com/

It’s the end of the semester and I so badly want to celebrate, but how can I??? I find myself struggling daily to find hope in what seems to be a season of despair and hopelessness. As I continue to watch responses to the Eric Garner verdict and ongoing responses to the Michael Brown grand jury verdict, I am convinced that there are some people that just don’t get it. While I want more than anything to join my former classmates in a die in, I am stuck finishing homework so I write instead. Sidebar: I am reminded that life is a series of choices. Last week friends gathered to protest but my mom was visiting and at home sick. Today I have chosen to stay at home and finish my homework – I have mixed emotions about my choices and often wonder where I would’ve been during the 60s. If the whole aim is to interrupt, do we not gather in spite of our regularly scheduled programs (schedules)? Food for thought …

My hope is that someone who really wants to understand a different perspective will take a moment to read this post.

I am a 30-something year-old Black woman. I have 3 college degrees and am working on a doctorate. I DO NOT have a criminal record. In spite of the aforementioned, this is what it is like for me to be Black in America:

  • There are neighborhoods that I refuse to drive through after dark.
  • While traveling with my family, friends or white colleagues, I get nervous if we eat at restaurants in neighborhoods that are not diverse or stop in stores that I fear are not accustomed to seeing and serving Black clients.
  • I have entered a room after completing a phone interview and am pretty sure that the people did NOT expect a Black woman to walk through the door.
  • When I travel home to visit my family I am EXTRA cautious about obeying all traffic laws and being at or close to home afterhours for fear of being pulled over by the cops and any subsequent results
  • I often struggle with when and how to comment in class with an acknowledgment that I may be labeled as the “angry Black woman”.
  • I have been the only Black woman in several classes and felt very strongly that the aforementioned is true.
  • I enter high-end retail stores with a presumption that I will be looked at and treated differently because I am not wearing a particular (or often visible) label or other physical status symbol.
  • I often dine at restaurants and wonder if another table will be treated differently than mine or if our service will vary because the waiter/waitress believes that “Black people don’t tip.”
  • I believe the American education, legal and healthcare system has failed Black people on multiple occasions.
  • I THINK ABOUT RACE, THE IMPACT OF MY ACTIONS, HOW I AM PERCEIVED, WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I AM INVOLVED IN SOME SORT OF LEGAL INFRACTION OFTEN!!!

As a Black woman in the U.S. who has participated in many of the things that other  think guarantee equality – higher education, work force contributions, extensive travel in the U.S. and abroad – I am WELL AWARE that on any given day I AM Mike Brown. I AM Eric Garner.

Bitter Sweet

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Ferguson1

The last 7 days have brought on a flurry of emotions! Just last week as we were at the gym, I remained glued to the television screen: “Ferguson Grand Jury to Announce Decision”. I vacillated between wanting to stop my workout and head home and not wanting to get in the car for fear that I’d miss the reading of the decision.  8pm CST the decision was to be read. We sat there … 9pm EST … 9:05 … 9:10 … 9:15 … the minutes seemed like hours. And finally, the county prosecutor arrived and began reading. As I sat there it almost seemed predictable – the setup was so clear – but I held on. And there it was – no indictment. My heart dropped. Just as I’d hoped for a different outcome with the Zimmerman trial, here too I wanted something different – I longed for an ounce of justice for the family and for this young man whose life was taken way too soon.

I watched the news for hours, literally unable to peel myself away from the screen or social media.  I tried my best to listen to and read both sides of the story, but was unable to bear many of the racist and insensitive remarks. I watched protects spark and unnecessary looting – graciously caught by the media, but remained thankful for the thousands of peaceful protects not only in the US, but across the globe!

On the days leading up to Thanksgiving when I thought I’d be relaxing and enjoying a much awaited week off from classes, I grieved. I grieved and continue to grieve for a country that seems lost. I grieve as the evidence continues to be released and I am further convinced that this process was not followed properly or orthodoxly. I grieve for those who dare not take a second of their day to even attempt to understand what it is like to be Black in America. I grieve for those that believe that money, education, or a reputable job somehow creates a color blind society. I grieve for those who think that a young man who allegedly commits petty theft deserves to die and lay dead in the street as a spectacle. I grieve for those who remain voiceless and opinion-less on matters of justice. I grieve for those who think this is an opportunity to exclusively focus on Black on Black crime and not address police brutality, the policing of Black and Brown bodies, the use of excessive force or the criminalization of Black men! I grieve for those who dare not protest for one day and stay at home to share solidarity on Black Friday. I grieve for those who remain unbothered and unchanged by what is happening all around us. And I grieve for those whose hearts are not the least bit softened by a mother and father who have to spend the holidays without their son and watch replays of an interview with an officer who seems not even the least bit remorseful.

In the midst of all of this we did have dinner with our family on Thanksgiving and on yesterday we attended one of the most beautiful weddings I have witnessed in a long time – the marriage of my very dear friend to her long time sweetheart. So in the midst of tears, anger, resentment, confusion and chaos, I also found solidarity, love, celebration and thanksgiving. Truly bitter sweet.

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