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#bloglikecrazy: Day 28 – Speak Up

The Good

#28 – I performed spoken word pieces at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

There’s something you should know. I don’t like to share all of my words. Yes, I’m a writer and public speaker, but sometimes I hoard my words like a squirrel stores acorns. I know why I do it too. It’s because I don’t want to be disregarded and misunderstood. That residual flaw still lives in my bones when it comes to sharing spoken word pieces. Well, this year, I decided to begin the extraction process by accepting the opportunity to perform at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute for a social justice event. One piece commemorated the Children’s March of 1963 and the other addressed the water contamination in Flint, Michigan. My friend was supportive and the best part was having my mother there to witness my nervousness and my courage when she had the same emotions living through the Movement. I won’t lie to you, it was difficult to stand there and perform as museum attendants waited for something profound to fall from my lips… but I did it and I walked out of the BCRI 7-feet taller knowing that I was standing on the backs of those of which I spoke. Many people of different colors said how much they enjoyed my craft and who wouldn’t feel the Good after that?

The Lesson

You have a voice and it’s worth hearing. You don’t have to scream and shout if you don’t want to, and to the same degree, you don’t have to be quiet either. Just use your voice in the capacity that God gave you. That’s how the world gets better, feels different, and becomes an enriching place to live. Your voice may be through your pen, your tablet, your sewing, your outreach, your teaching, your janitorial work… speak up so everyone can have the opportunity to better than they were before they joined your company. In light of everything going on locally and nationally, it would behoove us to speak up in as many ways as possible and not judge the sound of each other’s voices. I learned that my voice is light, but it is strong. It is assertive and it is compassionate. However I choose to use it, I have nothing to be ashamed of and neither do you.

Peace & Thanks for listening. Don’t worry… I’ll share them online in February 2019. See you then.

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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!

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AP Photo/Butch Dill

#bloglikecrazy: Day 8 – It Feels Good

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I like to write down my number(s).

No matter the political climate, I always get a natural high on voting day.

There’s something different in the air and I take it all in. Sure, people have putrid intentions and spew malicious words back and forth, but I walk in that designated voting location like a boss. Too many bodies hung on trees for this right, so I vote as I please.

I’ve taught students about the Trail of Tears and the Middle Passage and watch their immaturity show when I asked them to put pen to paper. At times, it made me angry. And yes, I’ve walked into a voting booth with a chip on my shoulder heavier than a cannon ball. I also must admit that I’ve secretly begged for someone to cross me sideways during any part of the voting process just so I could inflate my pride after marking my ballot.

Then, I got over myself. Prayer makes one do that, you know.

I asked God to make me smile with gratefulness instead of a scour and a side of gravitas. It’s a serious freedom to choose one’s leaders, but it doesn’t have to be muddy and grotesque. Everyone thinks they’re right and everyone gets the opportunity to say so. That’s a blessing (and a curse sometimes, but still).

When I look at my voting sticker, I instantly start beaming. I know what it took to get it, especially when I vote in the very spot where others were denied.  I will never take that lightly. Their feet were blistered from marching and they obliterated sexist demands in order for me to hold my head high today. Threats didn’t shut their mouths, so why should the smallmindedness of others close mine?

It’s a blessing no matter who the candidates are and what are amendments are up for review. I have the right to choose. And it feels good. Impeccably good.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

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