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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

Wednesday Wind Down: Great Expectations

Happy Wednesday, Sweethearts!

How have you been? Glad you made it.

Let’s look at the connection between what we pay for and the quality we expect.

At a restaurant, we will return an unsatisfactory plate. We will refuse a hotel room that is subpar. We will share a social media post about incompetent service from a clothing store associate. Our extension of payment is related to our expectations. We like quality. We like an even or greater exchange.

Photo by Artem Podrez on Pexels.com

When it comes to voting, I see it as civically paying for an expected service. We expect for elected officials to represent our voices behind closed doors. Here’s the thing — I don’t think we truly expect what we pay for. Maybe it’s that they are out-of-sight and out-of-mind. Perhaps it’s because we’ve lost faith; nevertheless, they are our representatives. You may think all politicians are evil or incompetent. You may believe there is no point in voting because your voice will never be heard. You may think that faith transcends politics and voting is futile. I don’t know your reason, but I encourage you to use your expectations as your weapon. If we can expect divine promises from God, why can’t we hold our fellow humans accountable to our civic expectations?

After all, American colonists fought for their right to make their own governmental decisions and various ethnic groups have even died in the pursuit of this opportunity.

I’ve often wondered what my ancestors would think if they saw some of us not cashing in their blood, sweat, and tears. One of my favorite movie lines could possibly describe their sentiments. If you’ve seen Madea’s Family Reunion (2006), you must recall Cicely Tyson’s invigorating soliloquy on the steps of their ancestors’ home. It was sparked by the following question from the Simmons’ 96-year-old matriarch named Ruby who was disappointed at her family’s behavior.

“Is this what we paid for?”

– Ruby (the late Actress and Educator Georgia Allen)
Madea’s Family Reunion
Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

Lately, I’ve asked myself this question while imagining my elders’ perspectives. Their civil rights marches. Their sit-ins. Their clocking into work for disgraceful pay. Their face freshly spat upon. Their back sprayed with lashes from their masters. The lies defaming their character. The many times nothing was done against their accusers. Then to look into the future to see people say they aren’t voting or that they don’t care; they’ll just pray about it and love everyone. We must not forget that the church was the heartbeat of the American civil rights movement approximately 60 years ago. They prayed and they organized. They prayed and they boycotted. They prayed and they voted. Their faith and their movement went hand-in-hand. They held the government accountable to its purpose and the elected officials to their word.

Sweethearts, let us be motivated to get what we civically pay for — to receive the quality of service we expect. If we can do it for tangible products, we should expect as much for the greater good. Simply put, we can’t expect more from a restaurant than we do from our elected officials.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

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

#bloglikecrazy: Day 9 – Band-Aids or Surgery

surgery
Photo courtesy of The Atlantic

“We keep changing the chefs never noticing the oven is broken.”
– T. D. Jakes, Sermon: Destiny Flocks Together

Disclaimer:
This isn’t a political piece. It’s bigger than that.
So, since you’re here, you might as well come on in and keep reading. *smile*

I was teaching my Introduction to Communication class today and something flew out of my mouth like a free bird. I can always tell when the Holy Spirit takes over because the faces of my students look like someone punched them in gut and the echo of my words surprise me when I hear them.

We were discussing conflict resolution and communication styles. The students’ conversation turned into how the value of the relationship and a person’s stage in life can affect conflict resolution strategies. Then, I said something that made the environment change. I’ll paraphrase below since I don’t remember the exact wording.

“Sometimes, you have to admit that there are no more band-aids in the box and it’s time to agree to do the surgery. It may not be a pretty quick-fix, but if you have placed a high value on the person and the long-term health relationship, you have to agree to do the work and have a common goal of achieving a shared understanding.”

I felt it. It was a slight shift where my students thought about their personal situations. So, I gave the “pregnant pause” before continuing my lesson plan.

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Clip Art courtesy of ClipArtBest.com

Depending on the value you both have placed on each other and the relationship (whether platonic, familial, or romantic), the conflict resolution outcome will vary. And just because the outcome isn’t a win-win (which isn’t nearly as feasible as people think in most cases), it doesn’t mean the issue was not resolved. Perhaps you have extended every option in your emotional storage and the other person is stuck on fueling the fire. The resolution is to accept the loss of the relationship type and get used to a new normal (lose-lose). The outcome doesn’t always have to be rosy to be the best option.

Let’s take this communication theory further. In the case of our most recent presidential election, I found Pastor T. D. Jakes’ quote most fitting. At times, we place too much responsibility on one person to fix our problems. Just like a surgeon has technicians and a team of doctors to consult, so does anyone that sits in the president’s seat. Unfortunately, just like in a medical situation, we put an unrealistic divinity on one human to heal our diseases. As Pastor Jakes said, we never put the microscope on the systemic leaks that need to be addressed. We simply change the person in the seat. On a personal level, instead of surgery, we opt for the band-aid of another partner, another friend, another job, another state, and all the while, the best option is to dig deeper for the source of the problem and attempt to resuscitate our lives.

Since we’re all created by the same God, shouldn’t we all get along? Shouldn’t everything be perfect and no surgery be necessary? hmph. Take into account the following verse:

1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. – Ephesians 4:1-6

Everyone is living in a tainted shell; therefore, we have to do the work to keep peace abounding in our communication…and in our country. Diligence is necessary. Patience is a prerequisite. Tolerance is essential. We’re in a time where the band-aids are peeling because the problems are too great and the blood is running freely. Let’s do better and choose wisely in speech and in our political footsteps.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

 

 

#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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