Making History 2020

In a time like this, when it is your duty to take a stand, will you?

Today I did. I took a stand in what will be the history for my children & the continued strides of my ancestors. I walked with over 1000 people from one town to the next- amongst political figures, police officers, white people, black people, adolescents & children. We were all walking in protest for the same thing:

BLACK LIVES MATTER.

Quite frankly, I am speechless. I cannot even articulate the thoughts running through my mind & the raw emotions coursing through my body. Even if I tried, I cannot begin to express to you the extent of solidarity & pride moving throughout the protest today. I am full of gratitude for the people who do not look like me but walked with me, talked with me, shouted with me, & supported on the sidelines. The message was clear- real clear.

BLACK LIVES MATTER- TOO!!!

It is extremely important that we do not stop here. That we keep going & we continue to have our voices heard. Not just during this Black Lives Matter protest, that fights back against police brutality & systematic racism; but forevermore in the face of any & all adversity. By utilizing our First Amendment right to assemble; protests have ignited & inspired positive social changes, advancements in human rights & a vast spread of information to be delivered by the masses to the masses. We see this in the examples before now such as the Women’s March, Gandhi’s Salt March, Boston Tea Party, March on Washington, March of Our Lives, Million Man March, Berlin Wall Protests, Iraq War Protest, etc… & even if the desired result was not achieved, people of like-minds, came together & had their voices heard. That alone speaks volumes. Volumes that one individual person cannot do alone.

Make your voices heard. Make your ancestors proud, pave the way for the generations after you & fight for your lives by taking a stand against the injustices so many of us face every day. Do not be deterred. Push forward. Stand Tall & DO NOT GIVE IN.

Sitting idly is NOT option.

Remember their names:

George Floyd, Christian Taylor, Dante Parker, Sandra Bland, Akai Gurley, Oscar Grant, Mya Hall, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Salvado Ellswood, Rumain Brisbon, Eric Gardner, Kimani Gray, Jonathan Sanders, Joseph Mann, George Mann, Eric Harris, Jamar Clark, Natasha McKenna, Michell Cusseaux, Laquan McDonald, Jerome Reid, Anthony Hill, Breona Taylor, Matthew Ajibad, Christopher Davis, Trayvon Martin, Rumain Brisbon, Akai Gurley, Brendon Glenn, Anthony Hill, Samuel Dubose, Philando Castile, Sean Bell, Alton Sterlin, Freddy Gray, Walter Scott, Troy Robinson, Sean Monterrosa, Botham Jean, Oscar Grant, Philip White, Amber Monroe, Ahmaua Arbery, Terrence Crutcher, Aiyana Jones, Ezell Ford, Dominic Hutchinson, Rumain Brisbon, Bill Ray Davis, Ahmaud Arbery, Jamar Clark, Kevin Hicks, La’vante Biggs, Tyree Crawford, Anthony Ashford, Alonzo Smith, Michael Lee Marshall, Michael Noel, Bettie Jones, Frank Smart, Michael Sabbie, Peter Gaines, Patterson Brown, Randy Nelson, Nathaniel Harris Pickett, Felix Kumi, Tony Robinson, India Kager, Miguel Espinal, Richard Perkins

& the countless others I have missed.

Because their lives matter too!

Why Black Lives Matter…

The last thing I wanted to do was write about the climate we are currently in. Not because I want to avoid the topic but because it hurts. I have a tendency to speak out of turn with rambunctious emotion before I have taken a full moment to process all that is happening & has happened. However, I will be a fool & will not be of service if I shy away from difficult topics like this one. #blacklivesmatter & I refuse to be apart of the problem that says otherwise. 

Let me preface this memoir by stating what should be obvious: If you THINK this topic does not affect you; you are sadly mistaken. Because it does. Whether you are brown, black, white, blue, yellow, green- of african decent, hispanic decent or asian decent – IT AFFECTS YOU! If you, yourself have not experienced the effects of the oppression imposed on black & brown men & women in the United States; I can guarantee that someone you love, someone you hold dear to you will not have the same testimony. If by some unlikely possibility, this still holds false– there is still a high probability that THIS will greet you at your doorstep. So do not be fooled. Don’t allow yourself to be oblivious to what is going on around you because THIS MATTERS!

BLACK LIVES MATTER.

Now when WE say #blacklivesmatter, we are not saying other lives don’t. What we are saying is- #blacklivesmatter TOO, ALSO, AS WELL, TAMBIEN. However, the events that have occurred & continue to occur remind us that expressing this is extremely important & in these circumstances- the rest…

DO NOT MATTER.

It is the black lives being targeted & slain. It is the black lives that have to question the trustworthiness of the very individuals in place to “serve & protect” them. It is the black lives who are yelling for their mothers during the last breathing moments of their lives. It is the black lives who have to continue to watch as guilty individuals continue to be acquitted for the murder of their loved ones; while jails are overpopulated with black lives that have done less.

Need I say more?

Racism is very much real & despite the strides of our ancestors; it is still very much a reality. It is this fact alone that has us rowdy, fighting back & unrelenting with various ways of expression. Do I necessarily agree with the looting? Nope. However, can I understand why? Most definitely. People are tired! Fed up! Scared & scarred by a system that continues to profile, victimize & disregard them as individuals time & time again. Efforts for peaceful & silent protests have occurred & have disheartened protestors & supporters when another guilty man is acquitted for a murder streaming all over the internet.

With that being said, you cannot be silent & be a supporter. You cannot be a supporter if you turn your cheek to all that is going on around you to avoid conflict or confrontation. You cannot stand up for what is right if you refuse to speak up about what is wrong. Silence in these very moments speak louder than your words ever could. Speak up! We are in a social pandemic & it is not going anywhere; especially if your silence is all you can offer to “support” in this time.

I am sorry that this even has to be a topic of conversation. I am sorry that my friends & loved ones have to be scared to watch their children grow up; unsure how they will protect them. I am sorry that a script has to be provided to our young men in case they ever get pulled over. I am sorry that people lose their lives in order for us to wake up to the injustices of what is going on around us. I am sorry for all the stories we did not hear about. You know, the ones that happen in broad daylight without the presence of a video camera recording the footage. I am sorry that the criminal justice system still functions with enough systematic racism that justice is hardly served for those needing justice. I am sorry that it is so hard to be optimistic in these times. I am sorry that we have to feel the need for war in order to have peace. I am sorry that despite all that is going on around us- people still do not get it.

I am sorry. So very, very sorry.

But please hear me when I say…

Black Lives DO MATTER!

Learn to do good. Seek Justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. Isaiah 1:17

Why do you look the other way? Why do you ignore our suffering & oppression? Psalm 44:24

 

Narrate Your Own Life

We give people too much mandate over our lives. We act as if what they say truly determines the outcome of our lives. We give people too much credit- we treat their opinions as if they are a true testament of our character; as if their positive or negative experiences put the final stamp on who we are destined to be. That can not be further than the truth.

In my spiritual pursuit I learned something extremely valuable; it has already been written. Our lives have been envisioned before we even came to be. However, we have the ability to make choices. No man can influence the overall outcome of our lives by the negativity they try to sprinkle over our magic. Knowing this; move accordingly. Walk in purpose, pursue your passion & claim your destiny. You have the final say over what your life turns out to be & the footprint you leave behind on this earth- no one else.

I have experienced this first hand from those I loved & those I have cared little about. But they all had the same affirmation- I would not amount to be the very person I am today. They decided that what they had to say about my life carried more weight than what I wanted for my life. They were wrong. Yes, I have made mistakes. Yes, I was not always the best representation of myself. But when I decided that I was going to lead a life I would be proud of- I did just that. Their opinions, their negative affirmations held no weight & as I continue to pursue this life of mine, their words still lack substance. What matters is that I know it has been written & what has been written will not change.

You are the true narrator of your life everyone else; bystanders.

Oh, Sis… You Betta

Women are capable of many things. We bare children, we keep up with our homes, our families, careers & our social lives. We we wake up everyday, throw on our capes & start the day without skipping a beat. We continue our day with a tenacious “I got to do, what I go to do” without even a second thought. However, if there is anything I believe we fail miserably at is our ability to accept compliments.

Give a woman a compliment & she does not know how to receive it. If she isn’t skeptical, she has a story or a negating comment behind every “thank you”. Somewhere in our conditioning, we have decided that despite what we do, compliments are not ours to keep. That ends today.

We have been conditioned to take the negative before we can ever accept the positive. We work hard. Yet, somehow someone noticing that we do, that we look nice, that we are enough; is not warranted. Honey, you are worth every compliment & more. Start receiving & accepting with a bright smile & a confident “thank you”. Becausd what they say, does not even begin to scratch the surface of how amazing you truly are. You are capable of many things – let tooting your horn be one of them.

Survive Through Bitterness.

Let me tell you.

I have had my share of unfair relationships. You know, the ones that require you to put more in than you get out, where you are the lover & the best friend, the confidant, the unbiased advisor & genuine supporter. The relationship that drains you until the person you were before the relationship is almost unrecognizable. I been there more times than I would like. However, because of these experiences my perspective has changed significantly.

With each time I had to build myself up after a relationship, I did so begrudgingly. My pain came with a cost & I waited until the moment those who hurt me came to grovel back so that they can feel a small fraction of the pain they caused me. I allowed them to have too much power over my pain & what I did with it. I allowed myself to become bitter instead of taking the lesson for what it really was; a lesson. In some weird way I thank them, now. If it were not for what they have done & the grace of God; I would not understand that all things that have been placed against me – painful or harmful – will be flipped for my gain, my win & my favor.

Now I encourage you to to do the same. Reclaim your power. Do not bow your head down in shame or resentment. Look at these hurtful experiences as opportunities to grow; to be a better version of you for you. No one deserves the credit of what you become. No one deserves your happiness. With each one of these experiences, a part of you chips away but not forever. It hurts badly, but it is up to you to make it work for your benefit. It is your life to claim; make all the moments count.

It will get better.

2019 Can Keep My Depression

Hello Babes!!! Happy New Year!! It is only 5 days into the New Year & I am extremely eager to see what the rest of 2020 has to offer (despite how cliche’ that may sound). Because these past 5 days are a complete turn around from what the last 6 months of 2019 showed me. The truth is, I spent that last 6 months of 2019 anxious & depressed. Both feelings I promised I would not allow myself to succumb to ever again. I struggled severely with keeping my feelings under control & not letting the heavy burden of depression take me out. I look back today, still fighting my own battles grateful that I was able to recognize the signs & act on them before this battle became significantly harder for me to win.

I lost the desire to live. I sacrificed the philanthropic missions of my brand, I stopped praying, struggled to read & meditate on the word, go to church, failed to engage with my loved ones, avoided social gatherings, stopped going to the gym, did not eat, did not want to write memoirs & lost the desire to do all the things I loved. It felt like the internal battle that told me to “give in” & the other that told me “not to give up” was going to take me out one way or another. Because it is so much easier to give into negativity than to keep fighting when the positive seems so far away. It was in that moment that I realized that I needed reinforcements.

Reinforcement that did not include bogging my friends down in my sorrow. Because although they are supportive, I was fearful to dump the extent of my issues on them. So I sought help. I reached out to a spiritual, African American therapist who understood my desire to be replanted spiritually & who helped me manage my anxiety & attack my depression with strategies. With her encouragement & my tenacious desire to see the end of this, I have progressed significantly. I also became apart of the mentorship program at church- which helped me continue to stay rooted spiritually & reminded me that God did not leave me but is instead walking right along side me.

Although I still have a way to go, I will not take from the fact that I am significantly further in my walk than I was when I first started it 7 months ago. I laugh now, I am reading again, driven & motivated to see tasks through & my schedule has been booked with social gatherings with the people I love. I made it; I am making it & I pray that you see my testimony as a means to see that you can make it too. Depression is not your friend & it is not something you should get use to living with. Do not be ashamed to seek help. We get use to coping with our trauma & experiences a certain way that we do not understand when those coping mechanisms do not work anymore. Sometimes we need to be able to just dump that on someone trained & skilled to help us master new ways to cope. As we get older we need to be able to find new ways to survive.

Do not be ashamed. My proudest moment in all my life is that I was able to recognize when enough was enough & seek help. I fought for my life back & although some days may be difficult I do not accept that those difficult moments are more than just that – moments. Do it for yourself. You will be grateful you did it in the end. Trust me.

Buh Bye 2019… Hello, 2020

As we leave 2019 & embark on new adventures with 2020; I want to encourage you to remain humble, be grateful for your blessings & make time for the people you love. Leave behind old grudges, be open to new experiences, make new friends & tackle the goals you have kept putting off. Although we look on to the new year with optimism; we often carry in the old baggage from the year before. We express excitement initially & eventually fall into old habits. However, we deserve more than carrying the things that do not bring us joy into the new year. Despite being unaware of the lessons, challenges & losses the new year may bring us; we must live it to the best of our ability. Because it is ours to make worth while.

Welcome it with open arms.

You deserve all the GOOD it has to offer. Be ready to embrace it.

Outgrowing Others

As we go through life, we have experiences that force us out of our comfort zone & that inevitably requires us to grow. However, sometimes our experiences cause us to evolve in ways that require us to outgrow things we were once interested in & people we couldn’t live without; without any apparent reason. Many times we recognize when this is occuring & feel guilty for feeling this way. But today I am encouraging you to accept this part of the journey when it happens.

Our lives go in different directions & unfortunately everyone can’t go. Sometimes keeping the company you once kept will keep you in a box you have long outgrown. Because the truth is, as your life changes so will your circle. But if you limit yourself to only your “day ones” you will likely limit the opportunities & experiences that will further promote your advancement. As harsh as this seems, the truth is, we outgrow people who are not growing. You can still love them, wish them well, pray for them, be kind when you see them but their lack of growth should never limit yours. You must be mindful of that.

This occurrence is normal. We all experience it & it is nothing to feel guilty about. As we get older our perspective changes along with the way we receive & process things. Sometimes it takes recognizing that some people need a little more time & we can’t wait for them. Where your life is going may very well not be the same direction they are going. That’s ok! Love them for the time they contributed to your life but love yourself more to let it go.

Exodus 14:14; Be Still.

Two Thousand Nineteen is rapidly coming to an end & although I am not a “New Year’s Resolution” person; the lessons I have learned this year have equipped me to focus on building a skill that otherwise I have never put into practice my whole 30 years of life.

That skill is to BE STILL.

I am not & have never been the most patient person. I struggle when things do not appear to go in the way I expected & I become extremely inpatient when things happen at a slow place. I realize that my need to react quickly & control various aspects of my life has caused me to settle or find myself in less than ideal situations. But what I learned is that the reward for being patient is always more beautiful if I just remain still.

This week a friend & I had a conversation about waiting & letting God do his thing. We discussed how difficult it is for us to accomplish this sometimes & then she received confirmation in such a beautiful way. She had a potted plant outside that she brought in her home from the harsh winter weather. In the plant was a cocooned caterpillar going through the evolution to become a butterfly. When I think of the butterfly, I instantly think of process of evolution to become so beautiful. However, what she said to me resonated significantly with this part of my life I am currently in.

The butterfly is significant in that it knows how to be still & let nature take its course until its done! Like you said… it doesn’t come out a second sooner. Such is with God’s timing. We want things to happen on our time or work on something & expect immediate results. Not so! Sometimes (we) just need to be still & let God work for (us) & through (us) instead of trying to do it (ourselves) or rush! There are alot of lessons to be learned from caterpillars & butterflies. In watching them develop, it would appear that they’re not “doing anything”. But we know once the transportation is complete that they have been doing a lot of internal & still work. It takes a lot to be still in this world that pushes people to be constantly engaged in activity & to “take the bull by the horns” etc.

So with that loves, I encourage you to take this example & apply it to your life. Assess when it is a time for you to act & when it is not meant for you to remain still. Be patient with yourself & the process. Our lack of ability to just be still can be insulting to God & I am starting to understand that. Because it implies that we much rather believe in our plan than his infinite plans for our lives. So when you feel the need to make rash decisions, remember the benefits of being still. After all, he did promise that he will fight for us, we need only to be still.

Spread Joy…

The holiday season has arrived & Christmas is quickly approaching. Stores are promoting sales, lines are long, packages are delivered in shorter time frames & traffic is everywhere. But along with these things we have been conditioned to accept; there is something else that is inevitable with the holiday season- depression. I hate to put a damper on such a cheerful time of the year, however, this season is not so cheerful for everyone & seasonal depression is real.

I know we can get caught up in our own lives but please take the time to reach out to your loved ones. Many people struggle silent battles, especially during this time of the year. What is meant to be a joyous time decorated with lights & bliss is a dark abyss for others. Therefore, we have to be sure that we do not forget them by letting them know we are here.

Small gestures go a long way- phone calls, text messages, loving pop ups, friends-mas get togethers, movie times, etc. Sometimes it is not about talking about the issues, it is just feeling that someone is there. So if you have not heard from a friend in a while, please just take a few moments to check in on them, tell them that you love them & make your presence known. The possibility that they have been busy is there; but in the off chance that it has been a struggle for them; you have just become a glimmer of light in their dark tunnel. Remember, the holiday season calls for togetherness & inclusivity not just gift giving & holiday hustle. Use this time to empathize & spread the joy others may be missing.