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#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #29

Written January 11, 2017 at 1:36 AM (It’s a little lengthy because I let it flow that day. No apologies.)

To The Obama Family:


I cried.

Not the sniff-sniff sentimental cute cry. The ugly one. A lamentation even.

I kept asking myself “Why am I crying?! Why… am I crying?” I’m a firm believer that tears have a name. They speak when your words can’t, so I was trying to hear what these were saying. My voice got softer as the tears got bigger and my face crumbled like an unwanted piece of paper. I didn’t understand where the tears were coming from. Here I was — watching the farewell address of a current president as I had done before, only this time, my soul was weeping and I couldn’t put my finger on the origin. Then, I asked again aloud in frustration, “Why am I crying right now?!” I heard the Lord say “Because someone had to do it. You’re mourning the end, but you’re glad to see it.”

I couldn’t have agreed more.

I was so overjoyed to see with own eyes the historical manifestation of what I taught to hundreds of students. I was proud of our technological age as I absorbed the spirit of the moment through my cell phone. I was grateful to hear the passionate sincerity in your voice, President Obama. My president. My ownership of the political process was just as real as my ancestors. In essence, I was crying with my late grandmother that used to clean the homes of White families. I was crying with my late great-grandparents and my uncles who experienced discrimination in the military. I can’t describe how anointed it felt to be in this moment, full of grace and momentum, simultaneously.

I was in awe.

Photo by Aaron Schwartz on Pexels.com

I felt the love toward your wife and daughters. I absorbed the gratitude extended to the vice-president, cabinet, and staff. I witnessed the appreciation toward the volunteers and voters that got you there (at this moment I could see the tear wiped from your face with a handkerchief). To acknowledge the torch was burning for a new carrier and that you had taken it as far as you could. Despite the surge of overt racism, death threats, and emphatic defiance, you made it to this moment. And it was true — somebody had to do it. And I wasn’t looking for perfection — I was just looking for someone to try. Someone that looked like me.

And First Lady Obama… to be painted as an angry Black woman in the midst of raising the standard of America’s children as well as your own was no feat for the average will, but again… somebody had to do it and do it well. So much so, that the second go ’round was even more beautiful to behold than the first. Your blossoms of security, passion, and focus were bigger and brighter. As a result, the pollination of other Queendoms ensued and there are gardens all over the world. You were and still are remarkable in your own undeniable right and I love you for being brave enough to remain authentic. Authentically in love with your husband, authentically protective of your children, and authentically passionate about justice and solidarity. I appreciate that. A blueprint beautifully unscrolled for other women to follow and cherish.

Sasha and Malia — Bless you for growing up under such a judgmental microscope. When people picked you apart, I shook my head and spoke up. You were children living in a world you didn’t sign up for, not on a reality show with a contract. You were not “fair game,” as I heard someone say. Despite all of this, you rose to exceptional heights and I am so proud of you. You’re intelligent and you stand unapologetically in your womanhood. Keep doing just that.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

I’m still amazed how those sporadic tears jumped down my face, but they were definitely shed without regret. I admonished them to have their way and for my soul to speak its peace without restraint. And it did. Again and again. A lamented song with bars I had never heard. I let it out without penance. I was sad to see you go, Obama Family, but so happy to see the completion of this chapter. There were many times I prayed no one would kill you as you waved to crowds with heart and hugged with compassion. I prayed often for your protection because the threats were out there. I’ve always prayed for leaders as the Bible says so, but this time was different. On several occasions, I feared for your lives and your optimism. I didn’t want the vile of a few to dilute your hope and strength. The past, present, and future needed you.

In closing, I appreciate your steadfastness toward each other and for displaying balance of life. You have a few more gray hairs there, Mr. President, and you earned every one. There’s no telling how many backdoor conversations you had to stomach and pep talks you had to give and get.

I’m sorry to see you go, but I’m glad to see you live.

Somebody had to do it. Somebody had to stand in the middle of time and history. Somebody had to be you in this lifetime and I’m so glad it was you. Thank you. For everything seen and unseen. You did it well and your heart spoke for you in every footstep toward your belief for better. My tears today are well spent and I appreciate the opportunity to let them fall. Thank you for being you and may God richly bless your days and the lives of your family.

Sincerely,

Christina J. Wade

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #26

To my United States of America:

Don’t worry — this isn’t a bash letter. I can’t truthfully say that all parts of you are horrible. There are some beautiful moments between us and your landscapes are breathtaking to say the least. The way your camaraderie comes through in times of tragedy is amazing. When an actor or a farmer can become president, you know there’s something magical here. I love you; otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.

It’s because of that love that we need to have this conversation. Our garden has some weeds in it that we can not ignore. Some could say there’s full-fledged forestry. In this domestic relationship, my face has bruises that you don’t want to see. You’d rather I be silent and keep smiling for the pictures than for Truth to stand in the middle of our living room.

When corporations can make unlimited donations to control their candidate’s voice and society is celebrated for working on fumes, we have a problem.
When gerrymandering is normal and public health doesn’t serve the public without some bureaucratic blowback, we still have a problem.
When it’s 2020 and women are still paid less for the same caliber of work and indigenous persons must protest for the sanctity of their land, we definitely have a problem.
An age old problem.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Just because there are great opportunities doesn’t mean there aren’t great opportunities for growth. Progress takes time, I know, but you can’t keep wining and dining me thinking that I’m going to forget the repeated black eyes of injustice and the dismissive nature of our union. The truth is we were unraveling way before this year began. Our jaded bubbles of reality were actually being held together by tattered strings and I kept saying that I wanted us to work out, but I don’t feel like you hear me… that you want to hear me.

Photo by Josh Hild on Pexels.com

From the bottom of my heart, I love you. I hate the mess and I know we aren’t perfect, so all we have to do is acknowledge and adjust. You have to be willing to do that before anything gets better. The land we built wasn’t ours to do so. It’s been watered by the blood of so many. Our home needs the beautiful truss of Truth. I believe we can get there. I have to believe we can get there, but I won’t stand to be a victim in these four walls.

Can we work on this? I want better for us. Our inception didn’t start out so fair, but we have control over our future. Do you want us to work? Do you want us to live together? Do you want us to live?

I hope so. Let me know.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #10

Dear Beautiful Black & Brown People,

I love us.

Our variance in skin color rivals the rainbow. The texture in our voices is unmistakable. We have seemingly endless creativity. Our stride over the last 50 years has been remarkable, let alone the last four hundred.

We are ridiculously resilient.

Repeatedly, we are broken and crushed beneath the heavy boots of injustice and stupidity, yet we soar past the smoke and wipe the mud off our glasses to see the future.

Repeatedly, we provide delectable food, incredible art, and exceptional existence. It amazes me that there is someone from our culture still breaking boundaries post-slavery. The First Black this and the First Black Woman to do that… it gets me every time.

Photo by Wherbson Rodrigues on Pexels.com

It should make us stand taller and put guns down more.
It should make us stand up for equity in public education more than standing in line for sneakers.
It should generate wealth for our children more than indebted sorrow.
It should make us remember that we come from kingdoms.
It should make us look at each other as kinfolk.
It should make us look at each other — period.

I love us; I just don’t understand us sometimes. To celebrate our magnificence seems easy, yet on the day-to-day we forget to uplift our neighborhoods. I’m not talking about a “I hate White people” mindset here. I’m referring to the unfortunate misdirection of some of our energy. If we took half of the potency we pack into the arts and food and circulated it into other channels of empowerment, it wouldn’t matter who is President (refer to the Greenwood district in Tulsa, Oklahoma circa 1920 or Wilkinson County near Toomsboro, Georgia in 2020) — we would still be fine.

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

So, can we fix that? I love us too much to let it go. Even if it’s tutoring a student in your friend circle or attending a webinar together or supporting one another’s businesses (and stop wanting everything for free)… every stretch in our community’s arm will strengthen us. Yes, there are disadvantages and they are emphatically in place to mute our voices or press down our equity. I am aware of gerrymandering affecting our voting, schooling, and housing opportunities and so much more. Unfortunately, the best way to overturn these moldy practices are to change the system from the inside out. That’s where local government and Congressional elections come in. I know it’s disheartening, but whew, chile… if there’s one thing we know how to do, it’s how to rise from the ashes.

Photo by Nathan Martins on Pexels.com

I love us.

I love our brilliance in the midst of darkness. I love our cookouts and our confidence. I love that our fingerprints are on every genre of music and our footsteps are etched into every continent. It’s OK that others want to sanitize our watermarks. They will never go away because they live in everyone on this planet. So, drop that off your shoulders. Just keep doing what is in OUR control — monitoring our time, talent, and resources. Stay truthful. Stay well. In some cases, just stay. Stop criticizing. Start doing. Start living. Start protecting. Start being. Start loving. In most cases, just start. That’s what everyone before us did… that’s how we got here. That a Black Woman with Native American roots can live in a South that used to hunt and breed her like an animal and she is now using the World Wide Web in the same South to reach thousands is a miracle that had first steps.

Everything is just a matter of time and effort, my Loves. Everything. Let’s keep going so we can be the elders our children speak highly of.

I love you,

CJW

Wednesday Wind Down: TBD

Hi, Sweethearts.

I hope you’re doing OK out there. It’s rough in some places; I won’t lie. There’s a lot of hurt in the world… a lot of anger, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of anguish. Before today, I had another message in mind, but the only I could think to share was what I said on Sunday. How crazy is that? I just posted about Love (the real stuff, not that fake mess) being the foundational solution to our divisive American society and here we are days later… another life added to the list of fatal injustice.

So, Love is what circulated in my psyche all day. I scrolled through my phone and reached out to as many Black/Brown men that I could. Violence, racism, economic dishonesty… it won’t go away tomorrow, but I could at least check on my tribe. My people. The ones that have been my friends and my family. I could extend a listening ear, an empathetic heart… I could show Christ. Despite the rampant racism that continues to spread like wildfire, there are people like my diverse group of friends who say enough is enough. They are teaching their children that discrimination is wrong and how to spot it. They are having difficult conversations with their loved ones. They are standing with people of color in solidarity.

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

I have to hold fiercely to the fact that Love can multiply just as much as hate…. just as much as the supremacist rhetoric. After all, Jesus came to save the world and he was hated by those who kept asking for the Messiah’s arrival — totally missing that the Messiah was Him.

So, what inspiration/motivation do I have for you this week? To keep going. To speak out. To keep working. To defy the stereotypes. The defeat the odds. To go to college. To pick up a trade. To invest in your community. To teach your children. To serve the less fortunate. To love the unlovable. To vote. To pray. To read. To listen. To hold yourself accountable for your own biases. To listen to God’s Voice and adhere to His directions over your own opinion.

It takes work, but it’s worth it and it’s the only way we fight to win and not just yell to be heard. Like I said in my post 50 Shades of Fight, There are boxing gloves that can fit every hand for the fight against injustice. The question is whether you are going to use yours.

Here’s some prior posts that may help you get through the week.

I’m thinking about you all and, as always, you are in my prayers. Stay safe and stay well. You matter here.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #20

Prayer: “Lord, please help our President. Be with him. Show yourself strong for his belief’s sake. Surround him with wise counsel. Dispel darkness around him and keep him safe.”

Yes, this is a real prayer I’ve prayed. Yes, it was for our current leader. No, I’m not kidding.

I pray for every President. No matter what. It’s not an allegiance to the person; it’s out of obedience to my faith. After all, his decisions directly affect me. My arrival to this sentiment stems from my family. We have military blood in our veins and my love for social science rounded off my respect to the nearest election. This has been difficult lately with the lewd and ludicrous verbiage that grazes my ears from our President and his like-minded followers. At times, I felt my tolerance plummet to a negative numeral. One day, I was furious at what I heard from his lips and I heard God say “He’s mine, too.” That was such an eye-opening, gut-wrenching thing to say. I just shook my head and said “And grace extends to him too. I gotta pray for him like everybody else.” *sigh* I didn’t like it, but it was the Truth. I had to separate the person from the persona.

One lesson I taught my students was that the President and the Presidency are not the same. The President is a person; the Presidency is an office. In social science, it includes him and his Cabinet because all fall under succession of the executive branch. So, no matter who sits in the seat, the authority is the same.

That’s why my prayers can’t change on this one. God charged us to pray for our leaders. Hold them accountable, sure… but don’t let the prayer be tainted with your opinion of the person. The seat is the same.

So, dig deep. I know it is difficult for some and easy for others, but pray nonetheless. Everyone needs it especially the ones you don’t think deserve it. After all, what good is it to pray for only those you like?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Bricklayer

Hi, Sweethearts!

OK, I am still on a high from watching Boss: The Black Experience in Business – a documentary about African-American history in entrepreneurship and business industries. If you haven’t seen it, please do. Definitely a must-see. Here’s a play-by-play of how it all went down in my world. Special Shoutout to Carmen Mays, Founder of Elevators on 4th, and my alma mater UAB for hosting this event and reminding Birmingham of the juggernaut of Black entrepreneurship she was and will continue to be.

boss film uab

BEFORE THE FILM

20190716_175221.jpgI have a confession to make. Networking events are not at the top of my social list. It’s where my introversion leaps out to block my smile and I have to overshadow her by scanning the room for people I know and introducing myself to people I don’t. In all that I do that involves others (blogging, dancing, and massage therapy), solitude is where I am cozy.

So, what did I do? I made my introverted nemesis attend the pre-film reception. I’m also recovering from a knee injury and walking from my car to the event space was the longest distance I had accomplished without using my crutches. Needless to say, I was ready to sit down. While familiar faces wove in and out of their elements, I shared sincere laughs with another great businesswoman in my state and we decided to sit together during the film.

Me – 1
Nemesis – 0

DURING THE FILM

I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. I tried to capture a few notes, but only if the visual stayed the same. As soon as it changed, I looked up fast like a little kid with a bad case of FOMO before bed. Throughout the film, I was infused with strength. It would have been easy to be angry at the injustice, but I was undoubtedly empowered. Fortified. The stories of my ancestral heroes sealed the natural cracks in my entrepreneurial foundation. Some of the stories, I knew and taught my students. Others, I learned for the first time. I sat forward with my hands clasped at times and in other moments I smiled in awe.

What a beautiful rocky road of Black determination, I thought. Seriously. We were given manure and we made it grow – over, and over, and over again. Our money was stolen and we generated more like a prosthetic limb. We pumped the life-blood into ourselves after being left for dead. Agriculture. Banking. Hair. Clothing. We are a force to be reckoned with no matter which decade you decide to slice. I recalled my first time reading Ebony, Jet, Black Enterprise, and Essence as their humble beginnings were told in front of me. To see bursts of Color in a monochromatic printed world was lifechanging. Seeds of cultural self-esteem were planted within me at an early age and watching these gladiators of vision and ingenuity reminded me of their fruits manifested through today’s industry moguls. I sighed and smiled again to see such relentless prowess right before my eyes.

AFTER THE FILM

20190716_195315.jpgI sat up straighter. My back was stronger and my neck held my chin a bit higher. My hearty handclaps might as well have been among a sea of applause at Carnegie-Hall.  I felt so proud. So tall. As an African-American Woman Entrepreneur, I am walking on the bricks of hard labor and I get the immutable opportunity to place my own brick along that historical trail.

Black business owners have proven that skin color should never override intelligence and passion. We are beyond capable of building a present and a future for ourselves and others – nationally and internationally. Regardless of the opposition of ignorance, we continue to showcase dexterity and incredible resilience. Can you imagine the escalating levels of repeated faith it takes to accomplish such feats? I can’t imagine. To create decades of legacies without an Ellis Island is an irrefutable honor that should never be undermined or forgotten. 

Lastly, I also realized that I am exactly where I should be. To be reminded that those pillars of strength began with pennies in their pockets was just the juice I needed keep my energy going. Six months ago, I plunged into full-time entrepreneurship after my school closed, and it has been an exceptional journey. I have no complaints, but people often romanticize the life of owning a business and I couldn’t help but smile to know that my grit was in good company. My scars were in the right place. My tired eyes could still see my ancestors rooting for me. My hands were still capable of facilitating my dreams just like their cotton-picking fingers repeatedly reached for hope. My heart was still able to incubate their fire for economic freedom. My spirit was still synonymous with theirs and my feet could still walk forward on the bricks of their backs — one day, allowing someone to step on mine. Let’s keep building, America.

You don’t have to lose who you are to be successful.
Cathy Hughes, Founder of Radio One –

Peace & Thanks for listening! Keep shining!

boss film pbs

Wednesday Wind Up: Make It Stop

I knew what I was going to post tonight. I had it all planned out; then, I saw Prayers Up for Jussie Smollett in my inbox and everything about my Wednesday Wind Down changed. I simply couldn’t wait. This isn’t about creating a literary bouquet of flowery words on my blog for lament and catharsis. Despite the disgust I experienced, this post is about obedience and attention.

Before I explain, let me share my immediate reaction. My mind kept trying to compute the Essence article because I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The man who stopped to speak to me and my Sorority sister in a Michigan airport had been attacked. The same human being who was on his way to advocate for Flint’s water solution. The same spirit that smiled and said that I looked like someone who knew and wasn’t walking with an entourage. The horror and hurt grew exponentially as I saw the slurs he heard and the pain he felt. My heart cracked in a matter of seconds and I cried inside and out. The worst sting was reading the end of their rationale – “This is MAGA Country.”

I had thought of Jussie Smollett all day yesterday, and not in the way of an admiring fan. I kept being compelled to pray for him, for his heart. Now, I pray for celebrities all of the time because the weight attached to their gifts, talents, and purposes can be too much to carry, but this time was different. Throughout the day, before I knew anything about the hate crime, I prayed for his spirit… that it wouldn’t be downtrodden, that he would be well and not tarnished by evil things around him. I prayed for his peace of mind and his strength. Never once did I pray for his physical health. I wasn’t led to. It was all about the pain that couldn’t be seen and didn’t need to stick to his soul. Then, to run across that article right before I was going to bed, it was gut-wrenching and I couldn’t sleep. The last moment of serendipity was that this photo was taken on January 30, 2016, three years ago today. I was speechless, then I prayed again. Lord, just make it stop.

Screenshot_20190130-133426_Instagram.jpgJussie

Jussie, I am so sorry that happened to you. I hate that you were the subject of their spew. My heart is with you and please know that while I can’t explain where God was to prevent the experience, I can truly say that He had you in the spirit of someone miles away from that horrific moment in time. Your spirit can not be broken and what you are doing in life matters in more ways than you can possibly imagine. Apparently, you are breaking boundaries that need to be broken and making demons float to the surface. That’s the only way I can see anyone trying to hurt you in such a repulsive way. Even though you were tired, your heart was brighter than the sun that day at the airport. My Soror and I could feel it well after we left. I had to share how much I appreciate you and that you are covered. My prayers will continually be with you.Sweethearts, we have to do better at spreading Love. We teach those around us by living it out. Every day. No matter what. We have to teach our children, our co-workers, our neighbors that hate is not allowed to multiply near us. To have people physically assault one’s life is an act that should unsettle us all. Regardless of your religious or political affiliation, hate is not a validated battle cry and somehow the current temperament in America has created this warped sense of safety for ignorance to run free. The invisible seething waters of hate are tumultuous enough to reach out and grab us while we’re simply walking down the street. And don’t pretend that you don’t hear it in your cubicles, coffee shops, churches, and around your dining room tables. We do and we look away. We make excuses for it. We say it’s free speech, but is it liberating anyone? We say to just pray for them, but do we actually do it? You do realize that Jesus came so that individuals such as the ones who attacked our brother could not only receive the opportunity to turn from hate and receive Love but to also know that judgment was near, right? This MAGA mantra has nothing to do with Christian values. Stop sewing them together. Be careful to the extent to which you stretch your loyalty. Claim Christ more than your political party, more than your social justice agenda, and more than your generational ideology. We can’t stop hate forever, but we can stop it wherever we are, whenever we hear and see it.

This moment in time has rocked me to my core and taught me that absolutely nothing happens by chance, not even prayer. Be diligent and keep fighting using whatever means you were born with.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I love y’all.

Pomp & Circumstance

In March of this year, I witnessed a beautiful blend of past and present.

IMAG2424My fraternity brother was inducted into the Birmingham Police Department after graduating from the academy. Be it that he is my little-big brother (he towers over my 5′ 4.75″ frame), I was so proud when he shared the news and invited me to come to the ceremony. I had attended military and law enforcement events before, but unfortunately, most of them were funerals. This time, I was in the audience as a member of his support team and I was honored.

Upon arrival to the designated room, it was clear that this was a family affair. Many people were just as excited as I was to be present for such a special occasion. Even children that may not have understood the magnitude of the moment were all smiles seeing blue police uniforms everywhere. There were sergeants, captains, and city officials waiting to honor the new graduates with their new badges and priceless pearls of wisdom. I found a good seat and waited with expectation for what would happen next. I’m used to attending events by myself, but this time was different. I felt out of place for a minute because I wasn’t with a pack. I didn’t come with a 15-piece cheering section, yet, I cleaned the lens on my camera phone and checked the front and back doors in hopes of getting a good photo on the first try.

Families and friends were buzzing around like paparazzi waiting for celebrities. To us, that’s exactly what they were. They were our heroes and we were excited to see their debut.  A short, petite female officer stood in front of the cadets like she was six-foot-four.

BPD Academy Grads 2017

I was immediately proud and wanted to raise my feminist fist. As she gave orders to stand at attention, recite prolific promises, and march forward, the room absorbed her command as well. Everyone seemed to be at spiritual attention. My fraternity brother marched by and I felt the wind of his maturity and pride. He was seriously motivated to uphold his vow and relieved to finish the first leg of his municipal marathon.

I smiled.

Then, I got emotional.

The tears almost fell from my face when I realized that this was the same police department that tormented his ancestors – with water and other horrible means. The history of what I was watching flooded my soul and a for a brief moment, I was overwhelmed. Dignity arose within me for every freedom fighter, foot soldier, and civil rights leader ever to grace this God-given Earth. I didn’t feel militant. I felt regal. I felt strong. I felt American.

My vision was blurry with teary pride as I watched each officer shake hands with superior officers, some of which were parents initiating their children with a solemn salute. This was the dream so many slaves had when their heads fell upon their pillows made of dirty cotton after surviving lashings they didn’t deserve. When marchers stood in the streets locked arm-in-arm, singing and chanting in the blood thirsty faces of evil, they imagined a mirror image of liberated faces on the other side.

I couldn’t breathe easy for a few minutes. I couldn’t stop smiling for a few more. There was nothing more American than what I was feeling right then – a dream realized and an honor bestowed simultaneously. I blessed them in my spirit and prayed over their lives… that God would keep them alert and ready at every call and even when no one was in need of their service. I prayed for protection and wisdom and for the understanding of their families.

The fact that something so ugly could metamorphosize into this moment made me proud to the recipient of their sacrifices. It was a social spit in the face of centuries of racial injustice.

I was grateful. I was proud. I was filled.

What makes you “feel” American? Moments like these do it for me. 

Peace & Thanks for listening!

kelly-ingram-park-59e7f8e524b9c99b
AP Photo/Butch Dill

Independence Today!

In the spirit of the 4th of July, I decided to pose this question to myself for today’s WriterUNblock (see my Instagram for more of those).

The answer:

I’m definitely free of some things… more than I was a couple of years ago. I have a few stragglers still tagging along on my full-length skirt, but they’re losing their power by the month.

If you’ve ever heard that freedom isn’t free, you received wisdom. You may have to slay some demons within your soul or prune the weeds that are stunting your growth, but you can get it. You can be free. From whatever is clutching your potential to run and fly, you can fight AND win. Battle scars just show your strength, so get some. Get free. And don’t apologize for loving yourself enough to live.

Peace & thanks for listening. ✌

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