Tag: activism

Our Sister Erica

At 27, Erica Garner is now an ancestor.

In hearing of her passing this morning, I thought of my life at 27 and then her mother, Esaw. I am in an active state of heartbreak. There was a tweet through my Twitter timeline when she had her asthma attack and subsequent heart attack earlier this week which mentioned the craziness you have to go through in order to prove you are human.

I, like Erica, am a part of the fatherless tribe. Only difference is Erica’s father was stolen from her by the worst of the NYPD and the world saw it all happen. The world watched her mourn, her mother all but shatter and her family be subject of the 3/5 human theory in regards to the life of her father.

People often fumble with that to say when people die, master at feigning ignorance of what to say, where to be and being intentional in times of grief after saying if you need anything, let me know.

There is something that is needed and can no longer wait. Coretta Scott King said this in from a place of wisdom and experience:

Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation.

The thing that people forget to tell you is that struggle is not sexy no matter what people tell you or what you see on social media. Struggle costs something, it will take something and always require more than you may willing to pay. Worst part? There are even fewer who will understand or help you.

Erica was a daughter, a mother, sister, friend, and activist. She was entitled to all her years with her children, her mother and all those that loved her. She traded peace for progress. She tried to help is all to speak louder when it was so hard for us all to breathe after the murder of her father.

Erica put a portion of this thing called movement and struggle on herself and her children and other people’s children she won’t see.

Don’t let her age fool you. Lionesses wield power and presence before 40.

I celebrate Erica today, pray for her family and make a resolve to demand all my freedom, too, for the children I won’t see and because I still can’t breathe.

Rest Erica, we gon keep going.

Validating

In this life, the only thing you own, is you.

Today I meant to write about something uplifting, but that was before the onslaught of this week and the case of Cyntoia Brown.

For those unaware, see here for the complete article.

Twenty-nine-year-old Cyntoia Brown has been locked up in a Tennessee prison for 13 years, after she was convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in the killing of a man who hired her as a prostitute when she was 16.

At trial, Brown’s lawyers argued she was a runaway who was raped, abused and forced into prostitution by a man known as “Kut Throat.” She will be eligible for parole after she turns 69.

I saw her documentary on her a few years ago and was astounded. The documentary was on YouTube. Before reading further, I suggest you view it.

I know you may be thinking this deviates from my topic of influence this month, but I assure you it doesn’t. Influence is only as potent or insidious as those who wield it. The more I looked at this story (before Kim Kardashian sent her lawyer after it), the more my heart grieved for her.

“Kut Throat” used his adult influence on a then 16 year old girl to force her into prostitution. In new millenium terms, we would call this sex trafficking.

He sold a 16-year-old girl for sex to the highest bidder. He put a child in an adult position by sheer force of will–ergo ill influence.

After she was violated by all these paying monsters, “Kut Throat” pimped her. A John took her to his home to have sex with her. When she thought she was reaching for a gun, she shot and killed him. She took his guns and whatever money he had and ran.

Now, should she have killed him?

Probably not.

Was he going to let her go?

We will never know.

The dirty fact is this: she did what she had to in order to live. With all she had endured, all Kut Throat did to her, on top of her life before the pimp found her–Is unbelievable. However, this nation likes its black girls docile or ratchet. Controllable and predictable or whorish and savage.

The favorite is the silent, suffering mammy.

The incredible thing? She now wants to use all that has happened to her to help everyone whom will listen. She wants to tell what happened to her so that the same trick that trapped her will not ensnare someone else.

Now, the third tier of this influence is the legal system–a system never designed to benefit or serve women, people of color or immigrants or the poor–God help you if you intersect any of these.

The legal system saw Cyntoia Brown like many of us see feral cats: Something for someone else to deal with and when dealing with them, do so harshly so there will be no others like those. The legal system decided her life was inconsequential and irredeemable in the face of all that had happened to her, so they decided to throw her away. The influence, the power and sway of the rule of law, let those in power do as the mob wished with her.

There has been new effort for her release and I am overjoyed. She deserves a chance at life and to impart and yes, to live. If all you own in this life is you, then whom are other folk to tell you whom you are or the limits of what you can become?

——————–

Contact Information:

Ms. Cyntoia Brown #410593

Tennessee Prison for Women

Unit 1 West, D-49

3881 Stewarts Lane

Nashville, TN 37218

#NeverthelessShePersisted

In Self-Defense

(These were taken from my Facebook timeline on Tuesday 10/31/2017. They can all die mad.)

I’m not about to apologize to make people comfortable. I’m not about to sweeten the narrative to  make people in my city (read:  St. Louis) think it’s more palatable to support a lie.

I’m not about to shut up because people are tired.  No one is more tired than the women whose young sons occupy the graves of old men. No one is more tired than the women whom bear sons and watch and pray for them to return every day. 


Damn that.

Speech, resistance and  money are the only thing  oppression understands and notices. The facts remain thus:

The current permutation of law enforcement is corrupt and either untrained or oblivious to deescalation. It is not acceptable for law enforcement to be murderous when it comes to the lives of African-American people. The protesting is not for the comfort or maintenance of the status quo. No one cares if other scary, bothered white people are upset. Our blood and pain is not for sport or profit.  They can all die mad about it.


There will never be a good time to speak up. Justice comes at the cost of convenience and inconvenience of self. We, those who are alive and remain to record, fight, organize, heal and remain, won’t be good Negroes.
They kill them too.

Pray With Your Feet

I am an activist.

I am a believer in Christ.

Ergo, I am a rebel.

In the current slice of the world I inhabit, there is no reason to be silent. I cannot afford to be silent. The church can no longer be silent while graves are filling and the gravediggers say they are only serving while others call these gravediggers peacemakers.

I have seen the empty eyes of those whom have run out of tears, fists bruised from the fisted tension, and look to this God we tell them exists and is ever present. Yet, there are not enough of those collared and called willing to acknowledge this pain, this anguish, this dispair.

The one thing seen in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke (my favorite), and John) is Jesus was among the people.

He was out among the people.

There are clergy in this movement, in this era of social change, that are willing, able and available to lend ear, heart and body to the overall societal better. And for that I am grateful.

I am grateful, in this march towards justice, that our faith, this faith, is a launch pad by which Christ is displayed in the most public fashion. When the church is displayed in its majesty outside of brick and mortar, we see how the church does change the world.

The thing that sticks out to me about Jesus Christ in the gospels is His accessibility and Him not being bothered about the multitude which hung around Him. He wasn’t ashamed of whom He was or whom they were.

This critical element, which cannot be overlooked, is His attention to the needs of the people He served.

He was attentive to the people He served.

In this fight, in this portion that is uphill, hard and dark, those of us called to serve cannot afford to watch those whom have headed protests and righteous agitation to not have help or soft places to fall. We cannot pretend that protest, unrest and injustice are outliers to the support, notice and strength of the church.

Sometimes all you need to go forward is someone to go with you, to see a face beside you, or to have hands on your back telling you to keep going.

That, those hands, should be the church.

Revolutionary Is Christlike


I don’t know this docile Jesus Christ people speak about. I don’t know who this passive Jesus is. I don’t know who this Christ they mention whom never had an emotion, a reaction or passion. I don’t know Him, and to be frank? I couldn’t worship a God that was like that or be familiar with that sort of robotic person.

Years ago, there was this WWJD movement. This acronym meant, “What Would Jesus Do?” Okay, that’s pretty alright, we can roll with that. This acronym was supposed to promote Christ-like thoughts, ergo similar behavior.

That’s always a good thing.

In the matters of justice, freedom, truth and activism, there are some in the faith whom seem less able to ask such holy application of wisdom to these situations.

My husband says he believes if Our Lord, the one we call Jesus Christ, were alive and among us, He would be an activist—out with the protestors.

For proof look no further than the Book Of Micah, chapter 6, verse 8:

 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.


In these instances and opines, it is easy or even customary to associate the iconic, oft referenced Christ flipping tables as it relates to revolutionary behavior or disturbing the status quo.

Where this space is not appropriate or sufficient to discuss this passage in the Gospel of Luke, I will ask you to consider the parallels between what Christ did and what the activism community is trying to do.

Call attention to what is wrong. There can be no struggle without progress, but for progress to come there must be acknowledgment. If you acknowledge it, that means you’re paying attention to what is going on around you. If you’re paying attention? Well, the revolution can use you.

Not accepting the mistreatment of what and whom is important. What you accept, you allow to continue. What you do not accept, you will make concerted effort to change.

Revolution through forward motion. In flipping the table and chasing money lenders, in protesting, in organizing, in economic boycott, we are putting effort and energy behind what we are determined to do and showing exactly how serious we are about this myriad of things that are happening, have happened and are to come. It’s what my Father calls making a believer out of you. 

I don’t know this quiet Christ, this conservative (whatever that means now-I think it’s coded language meaning Jesus is white), Republican Jesus. The Christ of the Gospel, of the Bible I have read, the One I serve, tells me that to be silent in the face of what is wrong is not what He has called us to do.

Since He was not quiet, don’t ask me to be.

The Strength To Wonder


There is a portion of faith that is driven solely by imagination.  Even the Scriptures remind us to ask for what we want, not doubt, and to believe that we have what we ask for even as we ask for it.

Sometimes, as adults, that is a constant reminder of the necessity of having child-like faith:  it’s the coin of the realm of belief. Sometimes in order for new things to happen, believing that they will is the first step.

However, there is an esoteric nature to telling what you want or need to the Creator, to a High Power, the Almighty.  While doing so, have the audacity to believe that the being, with all power to sustain full utilization of the universe seen and unseen, will acknowledge you. From that acknowledgment, He will answer you in accordance to the greater plan and purpose for your life.

Incredible.


What I have found, especially in the position in Christian ministry I occupy, is that sense of hope and wonder you fight to maintain. You fight to maintain it because the onslaught of the world contends with you to siphon out any sense of love, hope, faith or wonder.

It is by hope that we can we believe and seek the better. However, if we cannot see the better, no hope exists. If there is no hope that exists, there can be nothing else that will exist outside of it.


In the space which God’s grace allows me to occupy, I have learned to maintain that sense of hope—from it, I cultivate gratitude. I am grateful for the minuscule and the grand because my hope lies in the sustainer of all those things given to me.

It is in that hope that I can and do wrap myself when life becomes overwhelming.  In that time away from the diverse temptations of the world, I get to see as children do again:  the world as open and accessible. I get to ask for what I want, beyond a Santa Claus capacity.  The relationship forged in those moments results in an intimacy incomparable.

It is the intimacy that grants me strength to believe for better and know that better will come. With the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune accosted as an affront to my person daily, I am settled to know I don’t walk through this life alone.

Even if I were to give in to that, as I sometimes have, I am reassured it is only for a short time—and He whom sustains the world by desire of thought is never far from me…neither will He take me where He cannot be, for that is not His nature.

Of this knowledge, in this space, I can recite one of the first scriptures I had ever learned, from the book of Esther 4, verse 14 (I learned it in the King James Version):

Called Black Female


The first woman I had ever seen preach was Dr. Juanita Bynum.
I was raised in a household with a semblance of faith but noncommittal in its practice, meaning I knew there was a God and went to a family church on associated important holidays, and that was it.

At 16, I was baptized, and at 19, I got serious about my faith. It was at that age that I saw Dr. Bynum on TBN.  I thought she was—incredible. She was unlike anything I had ever come across, and I was mesmerized.  Her sermon, her voice, and her presence made me remember what I had told God soon after my baptism:  “I want to be a mighty woman for You.” I didn’t want to be a clone of Dr. Bynum, but I was more confident that I could be like her—I had an example to follow.

There have been moons and years past that TBN viewing, and I have been blessed to meet women who look like that preach the Gospel, indeed the Good News, of Jesus Christ. As I found my own footing in the preaching of the Gospel at 31, I encountered what most women have when accepting this same call:

This blog, and its associated space, is not adequate to disseminate and exegete this scripture, neither is it to debate it from the standpoint of Joel and what he references in regards to daughters or the importance of Deborah in the Book of Judges.

What I can say is there are women that are called to preached the Gospel, and it was a woman that trained and taught me how to operate (read:  work) in a ministerial capacity. It was a woman that affirmed me in my call and taught me this one piece of information that I cling to:

Stand flat-footed and say what God has to say and let that be it. It’s not your job to make them believe, only be obedient.”

-A. Marie Bell

This is a journey I never envisioned for myself. I have found myself in heated discourse with people whom don’t believe I am who I say I am because of my gender and wish to muzzle me because of gender and color.

In this hewn space, indeed, you have to be made and taken from some sort of rock to be both called and black in the same space. One does not seem to overrule the other.


In times of great distress and wanting to give up, I am thankful that God has seen fit to give me a core group of women that I can cling to and glean from and follow their example. From that group, I find the following:

1-Reassurance. I’m not alone nor crazy, and I am needed and necessary in this, the Body of Christ.

2-Strength. I have seasoned women of God in my midst that remind me that I have more in me that I ever thought— I can be tired, but I can’t give up. These women give me practical advice along with the knowledge that the path to my destiny is indeed a process:  I will not die in the getting there.

3. Balance. From these sage mother figures, I learn from their examples, are privy to their failures, and learn that my first ministry is to my family. Ministry is not something that should throw your life off so much that you cannot give to anything else.

4. Hope. From these women that look like me I get the sense of community as well as the understanding and reassurance that I don’t have to be perfect. I get the example of what grace looks like when allowed to operate in other arenas. I get the responsibility of becoming my own person. The most precious thing? I get affirmation that being me is enough. I don’t have to become anyone else or change myself to do what God has called me to do.

From these pieces, I can go in difference spaces retaining my personhood, embody my call whether I’m asked to speak or teach or preach, and be settled in the question of who I am. From that, I can do anything.