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Wednesday Wind Down: 2 for 2

First, I pray that you and your family are doing OK.

I know there’s a lot going on in the world, so I decided to take a practical approach with this week’s post.

Emotional digestion has been on my mind. Here are 4 things that can help with that process — two for my fellow Black community members and two for members of other races and/or ethnic groups.

MY BLACK COMMUNITY

  1. Breathe. No, seriously… breathe. You need oxygen between the sprints toward racial equality, past due justice for lives lost to racially-motivated crimes, and police brutality. None of these are going to stop tomorrow, so be careful about overwhelming yourself and taking on the good fight 24/7. You’re human… and I get it, you’re also a soldier for the cause. So am I. Even soldiers need to rest and recoup. Why else would they have “lights out,” “chow time” and “rations?” Taking it further — how else will you have enough oxygen to forgive when the time comes? Yes, I said the f-word. I know right now that is not swirling in your soul, but if a friend pleaded for you to forgive him for his bias and culturally insensitive actions, would you do it? Would your heart be so full of rage that you would be deaf to his cry? This is what happens when we don’t breathe. We die of asphyxiation by racial trauma and emotional bondage. It’s not worth it. Keep fighting for basic human rights, but don’t die from your own anger. Take a minute from social media. Pause the news if needed. Breathe so you can fight again.
  2. Don’t judge each other’s gloves. There are different shades of fight that can work toward the same goal. The worst thing we can do is judge each other’s fight style. Some acts are foundational, such as voting and teaching our children what to do if they feel like their lives are in danger during a traffic stop. Other acts are forged with specific passions to deliver a powerful punch in the wall of racism, such as songwriting, education, science, public speaking, or marching in the streets. Whatever it is, we can’t afford to judge each other’s punches because they don’t look like ours. If they land, they’re working. I know it’s difficult not to see everyone express themselves like you, but take heart in knowing that the collective approach will be effective for generations to come.


COMMUNITY BROTHERS & SISTERS

  1. Listen. You are being asked to lend your ear and your heart right now. Yes, I know that you have experienced disgrace in some form, but you are not in our skin and your children’s/brother’s/sister’s/mother’s/father’s name isn’t on the growing list of police violence. So, take note of this Chinese symbol for “listen.” I have used it in my communication classes to reiterate one simple principle – listening and hearing are not the same. It requires effort and sincerity. It requires a pause on your feelings to highlight the concerns of others.
  2. Acknowledge and explore. We all have biases — this is a fact. Would you not want to hire your cousin over a stranger? It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a nepotist; it could be that you truly want to see your cousin be successful. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem arises when the stranger is the best fit for the job and she is denied the position because of that familial tie. The problem comes in when you won’t let your child sleepover at your neighbor’s house because they don’t look like you. The issue may come to the surface when he brings a Black woman home as his girlfriend. You may not know how you feel until it’s right in front you. So, one thing you can do (that won’t require a Facebook fight everyday) is acknowledge that you are an imperfect human that may have an ancestral seed of racism. It’s OK. I know that’s asking a lot, but if Black communities can assimilate into predominately White board rooms by changing their hair, speech, and demeanor, certainly our fellow brothers and sisters can take a magnifying glass and do a spot check on their souls. Here’s a couple of verses that may help as you explore yourself. I allow the Holy Spirit to take a deep dive at least once a year. It helps greatly and I always discover something that needs removal.

Maybe you’re inundated with opinions. Maybe you’re overwhelmed with social media. Maybe you’re exhausted from empathy. Whatever it is, you deserve to be healthy enough to handle it. I pray that these notes help you function at a higher level.

Another name of God is Jehovah El GemuwalThe LORD God of Recompense. As a Body of Christ, we do pray for righteousness to be served for lives that have been lost unnecessarily. Here are just 110 of them. There are many more and in most cases, they resulted in delayed justice or no charges at all. I place them here so you can pray for their families and remember that they did not come home to them one day. I also hope it serves as a somber reminder that one of these names could be mine.

Peace & Blessings, Sweethearts. Breathe. Heal. Serve. Fight. As always, Thanks for listening.

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

50 Shades of Fight

Businessman with boxing gloves
Businessman with boxing gloves. Courtesy of California Ticket Masters

There are boxing gloves that can fit every hand for the fight against injustice.

Without the tempered pen of Phillis Wheatley and Ida B. Wells-Barnett… the beautiful creative prowess of Katherine Dunham and Debbie Allen… the cat eyeglasses and church shoes worn by civil rights activists, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do each day. So, I started thinking… if everyone fought the same way, something would go untouched. A collection of varied punches is the only human force that can defeat an enemy of this magnitude. The slobbering rabid dog that it is.

With the crimes that have transpired in the last 2 years (shootings and bombings and murders, oh my…), I decided to challenge myself by compiling a kaleidoscope of ways that people are fighting injustice on a regular basis.  Could I do it? Could I come up with 50 persons that swing in the ring as differently as their fingerprints? Whew! What a challenge!

Though their gloves look different to the naked eye, their fight against what’s wrong in the world sends ripples through history. I made a point to also include people that you may not know, and some I didn’t know until this post.  Their work isn’t always glamourous and may be overshadowed by their fame or “Clark Kent” 9-to-5 identity, but this list is comprised of some heavyweight champions… some, I am honored to know personally. They came to the forefront of my mind and I’ve included their method of fighting as a link within their name. If someone that you admire isn’t on the list, respectfully add it in the comment section below along with a link to provide details about their fighting strategy as it wasn’t meant to be exclusive. Just a segway for conversation and inspiration.

Wouldn’t it be cool if these names were in the history books

so the future can inhale their greatness?

Thank God for alphabetical order. *smile*

  1. Al Elliott – Educator, Rapper
  2. Alicia Keys – Musician, Songwriter
  3. All Military Branches & Law Enforcement – Service
  4. Arise Citizens Policy Project – Non-Profit, Advocacy
  5. Bertram Young – Non-Profit Unit Director
  6. Bill & Melinda Gates – Philanthropists
  7. Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program – Legal Counsel
  8. Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins – Entrepreneur, Poet, Activist
  9. Calvin Littlejohn – Non-Profit Regional Manager
  10. Carmelo Anthony – Olympic Athlete, Basketball
  11. Clint Smith – Educator, Researcher, Writer
  12. Clinton Green – Educator, Musician, Producer, Songwriter
  13. Debbie Allen – Actor, Author, Choreographer, Dancer, Director
  14. Denzel Washington – Actor, Director
  15. Gabby Douglas – Olympic Athlete, Gymnast
  16. Gateway Family Church Leaders – Pastors
  17. G. I. Magus – Rapper, Songwriter
  18. Griena H. K. Davis, Ph.D. – Counselor, Educator, Non-Profit, Advocate
  19. Hadiyah-Nicole Green – Educator, Physicist
  20. Hedwige “Didi” Saint-Louis, M.D., MPH – Educator, OB/GYN, Advocate
  21. Javacia H. Bowser – Educator, Writer
  22. Jay-Z – Rapper, Producer, Entrepreneur
  23. Jarvis Escott – Entrepreneur, Marketing Professional
  24. Jim & Rose McChesney – Birmingham Homeless Ministry Leaders
  25. John Hall – Restaurateur
  26. Kevin P. Turner – Educator, Pastor, Producer, Songwriter
  27. Kimberly Bryant – Technology Education Advocate
  28. Lisa Price – Entrepreneur, Hair & Body Care
  29. Magic Johnson – Athlete, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist
  30. Malala Yousafzai – Non Profit, Activist
  31. Mark Bustos – Hairstylist
  32. Maya Penn – Entrepreneur
  33. Mellody Hobson – Investments Firm President
  34. Minority Owned Banks – Financial Service Providers
  35. Nadia Richardson, Ph.D. – Educator, Mental Health Advocate
  36. Patrick Packer – Advocate, Consultant, Entrepreneur
  37. Rosemary Amposah – Welder
  38. Ruby Wax – Comedian, Mental Health Advocate
  39. Serena Williams – Olympic Athlete, Tennis
  40. Shawn Wade, Ph.D. – Educator, Consultant
  41. Sherman L. Young – Author, Pastor
  42. Sherry Shine – Entrepreneur, Hair Care
  43. Shonda Rhimes – Director, Producer, Writer
  44. Steven K. Webb, Ph.D. – Educator, Investment Broker
  45. Tarra Wilson – Law Enforcement
  46. T. D. Jakes – Author, Movie Producer, Pastor
  47. T. Marie King – Community & Youth Advocate
  48. Tyler Perry – Actor, Director, Playwright, Producer
  49. Uawanna J. Day – Administrative Assistant, Sunday School Teacher
  50. Warren Buffett – Entrepreneur, Investor
  51. Will & Jada Smith – Actors, Directors, Producers, Musicians
  52. WNBA  – Athletes, Administrators

So, I thought of 52… who knew?!

10 Ways You Can Fight Too

  1. Be a youth/young adult mentor. Don’t freak them out by smothering them. Just love on them. Speak life into them. Mention their interests every now and then. Show up. Support goes a long way.
  2. Go outside and be cordial to your neighbors. You can’t criticize who you don’t know. Also, if all eyes are watching for crime, the community creates a line of defense.
  3. Learn the names of the officers that police your community. They’re people. Humans live behind that badge. All law enforcement are not bad, just like all vegetables don’t taste gross. Don’t let anything shade your perspective.
  4. Read a book. Besides reading God’s Word, I love reading various materials. It helps to maintain healthy conversation when you know what you’re talking about.
  5. Discuss a book with others. See #4. Can you imagine what this would do for us all?
  6. Be excellent in your craft. Don’t be mediocre because of a paycheck. Be the best. You being your best will make someone else’s life so much better.
  7. Excel at the small things. Little things count. Smile. Offer help. Call instead of text. Even if you’re sweeping the floor, remember the corners.
  8. Give a compliment to a stranger. Lighten up someone’s load by giving them a smile.
  9. Love the unlovable. I know they can be weird and mean. Love them anyway.
  10. Bathe yourself in goodness before you go to work. It’s a jungle out there. Be prepared before you walk in. Clothe yourself in righteousness and be ready for whatever. That’s how you don’t flip out.

I hope those names inspire you as much as they did me. Some of them do not receive nearly enough accolades and appreciation, but they fight anyway. Everyday.  Driving their best race in the passionate lane of their career path.

Click on every name. Explore them. If you can, reach out to them… honk your virtual horn and say “Hey. Thanks for fighting.” You may be just the boxer’s corner they need to keep regroup, clean up, and keep going.

Peace & Thanks for listening. *runs to ice fingers from typing*

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