Doorposts & Pillars


img_1291It’s always easy to be strong when everybody is looking. It’s not such an easy thing when no one is watching.

There are aspects to activism and advocacy that can only be replenished when you take time to realize what it is you are trying to do and accomplish. You can be busy doing a myriad of things. But what have you accomplished? What is done? What is there left to be done?

And…can you do it?

There are people that I know that have this extreme grace and gifting of baring up under pressure–the gift of non-collapse. The honorable and terrible thing about that is, people that don’t know them, or know of them, would think that well of strength is inexhaustible. These are the people that I know, and that I love, whom get the constant phone calls, inboxes and invites, because what they have projected is phenomenal and inspiring.

IMG_1292.JPGFor that very reason, those that embody such strength are seen as pillars. But pillars are only as strong as their foundations, and the structures around them.

There was a friend of mine that worked in construction, and specifically, he hung doors. His job was legit to make space, and grant access. When I asked him about his gig, he told me that the best way that you hang a door, it to make sure the foundation is settled and stable. You have to make sure what you’re building on is sound, otherwise nothing else can be built.

Part of the desire to be an activist is the desire to build and settle; he desire to make better and restore–grant access where there was none. The key also is to know when to grant it–and whom to grant it to. Moreover, the reason why you grant it.

Nothing about activism, space-making is meant to be trendsetting. It’s meant to invade and expose all that is dark. It’s meant to be circumspect, it’s meant to be wondered after, and stewed over and meant to include and gather and reassure.


Activism and advocacy are the foundation of change. Without them, there can be no progress, no love, no justice. When we choose to pay attention to the wrong in the world around you, challenge all that is wrong, you allow  yourself permission to be the hands and feet of change, fueled by the voice of that recognition.

That’s why most trends in social change are called movements. As we change the society around us, we pour the foundations to all things to be built and rebuilt as new. We allow space to give voice to what is needed, and what shall be changed, and how to make these things amicable to whom change would benefit.

We stand in the door of change, because we have decided to grant it.





The Burnout

If we faint not. If we faint not.

What happens when it’s so much easier and safer to faint?

With all the running and saving and doing for at times for the thankless and crazymaking, that is commonly referred to as ‘the work’, burnout is inevitable. It’s inevitable because the human condition is fragile.

Because we tire, we ache, we run out, we run dry, we get frustrated, we dislike people, we argue, and we get so tired of being strong. We get tired of being the resourceful, the civil ones, the damn adults in the room and in conversations on a constant basis.

We get tired. It gets tiring.

Indeed it is daunting to be an adult.

In caring for others, we often forget to do the same for ourselves. We forget to take time to enjoy the sun, the moon, the flowers, love and the stars. We forget what good there is, remains in, the world.

If we faint not.

Remember that even the strongest warriors must rest, they cry, they eat, the laugh and they continue to live. They must live, not to continue to fight, but to enable those that follow not to die in that fight, that fighting.


That word implies choice, it invites focus, and the implementation of wisdom. You must be able to see to it that you care for yourself,  for if you don’t you can be of no use to yourself, let alone anyone else.

“…reap, if we faint not.”

We. WE.

The work, the movement, service is never done in a vacuum. I cannot be done alone, it cannot be done thinking you can do it alone. The load is too great, and journey too long.

Reap. REAP.

There is a harvest, and return on all that you have invested. For every drop of sweat, every ache, every curse word, every time you wanted to walk away and never come back, every ounce of you donated, stolen and sown…there is an expectation you are owed something for your work and it is coming…it must come.

You have worked for it…it hasn’t been given to you.

Before you quit, remember what piece and peace are owed.

You won’t die, not here, not in this.

You’ll live because now you know how.


Guest Post: The Why I Do -Marissa Southards

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I’ve been called many things in my life.





I’ve also been called an activist.  While I’ve had causes I’ve supported through my adult life, no event compelled me more to DO something than the shooting of Mike Brown in 2014.  In that one moment, my world completely shifted.

As a mother, the thought of my baby laying in the street, unprotected, for nearly 5 hours, left me shaking with outrage.  After years of working as an advocate against child abuse and shaken baby syndrome, I felt the need to move in a different direction.

I educated myself on white privilege and the new Jim Crow.  I talked – at length – with other white people about what systemic oppression looked like.  I supported and lifted up voices of color to bring light onto injustice and the absolute tyranny of our system.  I marched.  I rallied.  I protested.  I attended countless city council meetings in hopes of seeing a “win”.  I inserted myself into situations that I shouldn’t have.  I had hard conversations that I should have had.  I learned.  I grew.

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I saw the outright bashing and death threats against people of color.  As an ally, I was told to get a job, to get a life, to get screwed, to get lost.  I was a race traitor, a disgrace to the white race, and oh yes, would I like a side of sexual assault as well?  Because certainly no white girl with a “respectable” upbringing could ever stand side by side with “them” right?  This is where I call bullshit.

White people showing up for black lives is happening.

It’s happening everywhere.

Quite honestly, Ferguson is everywhere.

Whether you call yourself an ally, a co-conspirator, or doing that “white folk work”, it’s up to white folks to tear down the systems of oppression against people of color.



White men in power built a system meant to oppress anyone that didn’t look like them.  The justice system is right now working just as it was designed.  Let’s examine some recent history:

Tamir Rice – no conviction.

John Crawford – no conviction

Walter Scott – pled guilty to civil rights violations in order to avoid the murder charge.

Eric Garner – no conviction

Michael Brown, Jr. – NO CONVICTION

And what will happen to Officer Jason Stockley?

Will he walk too?  History says he will not be convicted in the murder of Anthony L Smith.

Yet society tells people of color to be calm.  And to be peaceful.  How can we expect people of color to remain calm in the face of decimation? How can any semblance of peace be found in the face of state sanctioned extermination?  The judicial system is giving its blessing with each and every non-conviction.  How are we not outraged?  It’s that outrage that keeps me moving forward.


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Now, there are times when I want to give up and walk away from this activist life.

But the thought remains that for my friends of color, they can’t walk away from being black.

There are times where I’ve definitely retreated so that I can regroup and revive.  But the life will always call me back.

Calling oneself an activist doesn’t just mean you attended one protest.

It’s a way of life, and a specific calling within ourselves.  It’s constant conversations and education, not just for others, but for yourself too.  It’s learning about concepts like intersectionality and intrinsic bias.  But it’s that warrior spirit within that drives us forward to keep at it.  I cannot sit idly by while part of our beautiful humanity is systematically decimated by those in power.  I cannot stay silent when broken window policing is being voted in as a societal norm.

So for those who choose to stay in their suburban privilege and fear for their safety when driving through downtown St. Louis, I say – if you’re not outraged by now, I’ll keep talking to you.  I’m not giving up.  I see you, and your silence is your consent.  And trust me, I can talk all day.  I can really talk all day about white supremacy and our complicit role in it.



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Pro tip:

Just because you didn’t own slaves, doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. The more silent you are, the more I’m going to talk, in fact.  My spirit and love for humanity is what drives me.  And it may drive me right to your community to do a bit of that “white folk work”.


-M. Southards,


Artist behind The Awakenings Project

August 20, 2017, 9:04 pm







I have been in awe of few people, and feared even less. Aside from my Aunt Linda, the only other women under 5’6″ that I have feared are my grandmother, my mother, and State Senator Maria Chappelle Nadal. I adored State Senator the moment I saw her on television before her now undoubtable afro.  I respected her because that same power she housed was the same power I had grown up with and around. That roar, that passion, that element of being nonfuckwitable? Oh, yes. I was familiar with.

Oh, I was familiar with and had that same iron-pushed will bestowed upon me since birth. One portion of that nexus of necessary, saged power that fuels black women.  She is definitely a shero.

After the sweeping tragedies in Ferguson, Riverview and the Shaw neighborhoods in 2014, when all we could do was fight, cry and organize, the only tethering force in the local politics arena was, State Senator Maria Chapelle-Nadal and Alderman Antonio French.

There was a palatable sense of being alone that was perhaps best identified after the first lynching after Emancipation:  free, and trapped.

The realization that your life, those you love are tethered to the will of unstable man and the laws made. The horrible realization that those laws may not protect you, when they are easily used to snare you.

I had met her in passing, during the pig roast in Ferguson, right across the street from the Ferguson Police Department. She wore white, sandals, and her afro and shades were impeccable. She had this presence about her, reminiscent of the what you see in matriarchs. You had to know what you came for to come to her, she was unavailable to foolishness.

I shook her hand as my husband introduced us, and she gave me this warm smile. I wasn’t intimated, not like most people would count being intimated. I didn’t shrink away from her, but I studied her. There was this energy about her that I knew. Hear me now. That I knew.

There was this energy about her I noticed, even in that causal setting, that made me want to know and be wherever she was. This Naomi like presence, this Deborah power, that made me respect her just because she was there. Because she was there.

For so many, local and long distance, #Ferguson was a lucrative and a source of exploitation. “Somewhere people went” to say that they went, and they got their pictures, and cursed out the police, became part of a hashtag, and flood timelines for a day or so.

Even the other legislative membership blew through like so frequent St. Louis thunderstorms, one of the anchoring people I saw, was State Senator Chappelle-Nadal. Whom I called Mother Maria.

There was no Stenger, no Slay, No Dooley, no Dotson, no Belmar, no Chief Tom…

It was us. It was the most isolating, impairing feeling ever…

It will take more than a Facebook comment to make me walk away from her. It will take more than some folk chattering and muttering about said comment to make me forget the woman that called Gov. Nixon a coward (because that’s what he was), stood in stead for a community that was dual exploited on the floor of a state legislature, the woman that sat on West Florissant and was tear gassed because the sitting protestors she was with ‘wouldn’t disperse.’

This is the same woman that I saw on a consistent basis, listen and do, and give and speak when no one else would. Or would be bothered.

We have all said something we wish we would take back because of its interpretation, but not the passion behind it (as my grandmother would say, “Wishing don’t make it so.”).  I have seen other people lash out with worse on social media, especially in matters of race and politics. Sometimes our words give people the key to our Ivory Tower, they allow other people to check us. But…that doesn’t make me walk away from Mother Maria.

In the tradition of leadership before her, like Rosa Parks, Barbara Jordan, Harriet Tubman, Mary Cady Shadd, Mary Church Terrell, and Ida B. Wells Barnett, she has put herself in her constituency, been included when it was or easier to be removed–trading right for easy. Much like Ezekiel, she has sat where we sat. That fact cannot be lost or erased.

Her presence lifted, her voice reminded and her actions among the people whom counted on her gave hope to the strength offered as we press towards justice, peace and recognition that indeed Black Lives Matter.

Thank you, Maria. Thank you.






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I’m tired.
I’m tired of being tired.

I’m tired of defending my humanity to animals.

What happened in Charlottesville, Virginia is evil. You cannot dress it up, or explain it better. It was evil. And even after that, a young woman was murdered because some hopped-up Nazi rammed his car, RAMMED HIS CAR WITH THE VISIBLE PLATE, through a crowd of people whom had the same right to protest, and be visible as the people that wanted to quiet them.

The strangest thing? These Nazis and Neo-facists, wore ballcaps and sunglasses. Whatcha scared of? If you riding with this foolishness, and you believe like your know God is real, why hide?  See, that’s this bullsh-t behind this. You wanna be bad, but don’t want anyone to know? Nall.

The “POTUS” took 3 days to call this evil. I expect nothing from a bigot except to do bigoted stuff. His Daddy was a racist, so why would he do anything but what he was taught?

I’ve said before, train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it goes both ways. IT GOES BOTH WAYS.

When people feign ignorance about why people are ‘outraged’ by the American Southern Confederacy or Confederate history, I ask them to imagine this.

Imagine the person dearest to you.

Imagine and remember how much you love them.

Now, imagine that person hurt, dead and maimed.

Imagine that you found out who did this/that to them.

And the moment you try and find out why they did it, bring them to some sort of justice, you’re told you can’t. And after you can’t, you’re told you’re gonna have to just get over it. Not just get over it, but you’re given a picture to look at of the perpetrator everyday.


And when you try and remove the picture, tell why you need it gone, how much pain it causes you just to look at it, you’re told that it doesn’t matter. When you throw it away, try and move on, dedicate your life to trying to do better and forgive, it’s thrown in your face because your pain, your memory, your life is seen as irrelevant.

Ergo, you are irrelevant.

Your pain.

Your life.

Your fear.

The lives of the people you love.


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None of you matters.

When that is told to you, over and over again, it is meant to strip your humanity from you. It’s meant to drown out any part of you that is enraged, upset and hurting–this viscous Novocaine that is injected into the lives of people, my people, to soften anger and suck tears, and make painful memories bearable, so that we may feel nothing.

Because if we feel nothing, we can do nothing.  

And in doing nothing, nothing can change.

We who are alive and remain aren’t going to do nothing.

Don’t expect us to do nothing especially when you wish and will to do everything to ensure I can do nothing.

No amount of bad haircuts, websites, and ball caps with flags of evil eras will shut me up, or other people whom have had their fires lit and rekindled over that they know is right.

We ain’t going no where.


Do It Like Their Dads

The romance surrounding the inception of this nation is nauseating and inspiring. 

There are some, including the current presidential administration, whom have latched on to that peri-post colonial gubernatorial ideal, and made it God, and gospel.

There are some people in this nation, white people/Caucasian people whom have no idea how to handle life going forward:  their world has been shattered.

 The things that were whispered about in tobacco fields, around water coolers, and in small kitchens—the myth has been busted. This thing called ‘whiteness’ has been reduced to a phantasm. 

The nation looked in its collective closet, and told the last one to get out when President Barack H. Obama was elected. Whiteness lost its power and with it, the right to be deemed special to be white. 

By no means, am I saying racism ENDED with  his election. What I saw then was the same fear I see now that fuels racism. 

What I saw was this unveiling of what racist, bigoted white people saw as their ‘right to be special.’ They were exposed as not to be special, select and diety as they had lied to others as being. 
The world had become a little more fair, and they couldn’t stand it. 

Moreover, the predominately non-POC, white male Congress had to ANSWER to a BLACK PRESIDENT. The myth of  this being a white man’s country was being busted and broken right before their eyes and they had to do something. Anything to regain that stance and stature. That behavior is no better than any other addict.

Racism has its roots in fear and power. How better to exercise both than politics and policy?

But the most sinister thing? The need to regain this power, this ability to wield death and confusion at hunches, same way their forefathers did? It would seem they lusted for the chance to call minority people the names they would get fired for at such prestigious positions now.

 They seem turned on by the fact that because Cinnamon Hitler Voldemort is now president, the legacy of President Obama can be obliterated and the non-desirables and other miscreants can be vanquished so whiteness can regain its rightful place.

And where is that exactly? 

This country was inhabited by native people when the colonists landed. It was those people that if they had not helped them, they would have died. There is no America without immigrants, especially people of color and other native peoples.

The fact of the matter is, I feel sorry for racist people and point at bigots. Why? This is energy spent frivolous. You hate people over something that they cannot control. 

And you expect that to happen and not meet resistance, but are shocked at the resistance? No.  #Snowflakes.

There will be vicious resistance. My humanity is not limited or balanced by you or popular opinion. It is not up for debate because you can’t cope because you’re not longer special and the world is fair. It is not up for debate because humanity isn’t a debate. Whiteness is a social construct, just like race–it, too, can be dismantled through time and effort.

The guard indeed is changing, and it seems like something out of the Twilight Zone. There is the guard that is adamant to continue to be the rock that suffocates and snuffs the life and change around it…but frustrated that life finds a way, pushing around the rock, and flourishing in spite of opposition. 

In that sustained, growth and resistance, there is change.

There are pictures  made postcards of monstrous activities at barbeques, and smiling faces pointing towards the strange fruit handing from swaying branches of quieter trees around these necktie parties.

These sheeted figures that grin with pointed hoods, looking salient and radiant as if what they are doing is righteous. How indignant their descendants are now that within the last decade, they have had  to call a black man, sir. 

That intoxicating fantasy is what they chase after, what they long to regain. Why they occupy certain seats of power in politics.  Even why a man Corretta Scott King warned us of 30-some years ago is now Attorney General. 

Again, racism is only concerned with power.

 Always power. 

It is when that power is taken, threatened, and stripped down to the stale, sorry corpse it is, there is this shrill backlash to cover it back up…and make it all go away.

Truth is, we know racism isn’t going away. 

Truth is, the opposition and exposure of it isn’t going away.

  In quoting  Roland Martin from TV ONE, in reference to one of his Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity brothers, I believe this could not be a more apt quote in how I view this situation:

“We will fight until Hell freezes over, and then we will fight on the ice.”