Tag: black lives matter

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.

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Blood Signs Our Name


I have never been ashamed to be black. I was never taught to fear people that looked like me or to hate my mirrored complexion. In times such as these, it is easier to shy from it to be able to blend in and make no waves.

I’m glad that I don’t live in that time and am not that person.

I am reminded of a story Buck O’Neil told about Jackie Robinson. There was a gas station the Kansas City Monarchs stopped at where Jack wanted to use the restroom while the team filled up. The white man that owned the gas station wouldn’t let Jack use restroom, so Jack told him to take the fuel pump out of the team bus’s tank.

The conclusion? Jack used restroom, and the team got gas. Hold on. I know the wheels are spinning, so let me help you.

It’s simple economics:  supply and demand.

And now, black blood is a commodity to be sold and marketed. Supply the murder, demand justice, supply a settlement.

My people are not chattel. We are not property. The lives of my people aren’t secret commerce nor our bodies red meat to appease and assuage white supremacy’s jackals whom wish to will us all away, paying blued foot soldiers to do their bidding.

The blood of husbands, wives, sons and daughters, and extended family is not a traded commodity. Law enforcement does not get God status for a job they applied for to harangue POC whose skin color was never a job choice nor a weapon.


They will hear us.

They will stop killing us.

We understand the only way this unjust system will recognize our humanity, our rightful citizenry, and our full personhood is the removal of black dollars and complete  resistance to white supremacy.

It is understood now that economic disparity is institutional and systematically stacked towards the financial immobility of POC. However, with those monies redistributed in our communities, the repairs within our own social/financial infrastructure can begin.

There is not enough money to buy or replace life or its delegated, selected promises that life will now leave undone. There is no settlement that can be given to settle a murder at the hand of those that protect and serve.

We haven’t forgotten.

We indeed, like Sunni Patterson, said, “We know this place.” We know it like the end of the horror movies we saw where the black kid doesn’t make it.

This time…we will.

“I believe that we will win.”

-Rep. Bruce Franks, Jr.

MO-(D), House Of Representatives

Shepherding


Growing up, one of my favorite things about the Bible was the stories about shepherds. I loved that God used these people that the world around them didn’t see or value. One of my favorite shepherds? Jesse’s boy, David.
However, my affinity towards the shepherds of the Bible doesn’t stop with David but blossoms from it. From the life of David, we see what God hides inside the lives of those same people ignored by the world they inhabit.

There could be no greater humility than to be called what other people call a fisher of men:  a shepherd. A person charged with the protection and leading of all those charged to their care. There is no greater humility, no greater honor, than the Creator calling you from the obscure to the open.

What has been lost to a vast portion of the population is the humanity that houses this divinity.

Modern day shepherds are pastors. Often, they are all seen as either superhuman and infallible or corrupt and money-seeking. Both are wrong.


I ask you to consider what it is to be called a shepherd. I want you to consider what goes into following what God has told them. I ask you to consider what they grapple with, wrestle with and walk away from to do what God has asked them to do. Consider the people whom leave, lie and don’t stay, and do all in their power to doubt what God has told you—determined to pull the draw of God from you or you away from God.
I ask you to consider what is required of such people whom have their lives flipped and uprooted. I ask you to think about what provokes the fall we see from public pulpits and how redemption comes…and how those they are charged to lead won’t go, can’t stay, and won’t come back to the fold.

I won’t even get into the people that will heed your advice and run for your prayers but won’t follow you in a leadership capacity as God would lead.

Now, I ask you, in all earnestness—can you do it?

Before you point and ridicule or judge because of what you believe your pastor should have done, I ask you remember they are not God. I ask you remember they are doing a job people die running from or die while trying to do!

Be patient.

Be prayerful.

Be faithful to what God has told you considering being under certain leadership and obedient to His voice.

Sometimes the people who need the most prayer, empathy, and understanding are also the ones giving it.

Why I Do It

“Trust life a little bit.”

-Maya Angelou

 

My favorite movie when I was a little girl was Firestarter, the movie with Drew Barrymore as this pyrokinetic little girl. When I began to really delve into my black girl geekdom (#blerd), I was drawn to Marvel Comics, especially the X-Men, especially, Jean Grey, the Phoenix herself. I was drawn to these unassuming people, characters that harness all this power, and used to protect all they cared for. I was drawn to the fire, despite being a water sign. How convenient?

My first brush with activism was actually when I was much younger, around 8 or 9. This was with the treatment of Ryan White (Google him, it will bless you), and the treatment of people with AIDS. Again, being  born in 1981, I am old enough to remember this, and even the AIDS quilt. Every year, even now, I try to participate in some AIDS related activism.


I remember talking to my mother about these things, these events I saw in the news, even now. I never could sit with that feeling of being helpless and immobile. When I saw something that disquieted me, I wanted to do something. No matter what it was. Was I born an activist? I don’t believe people are born activists, but your grow into being an activist. I have grown into being an activist.
There is an ability given to man that we have a desire to do better, to want to improve the condition of the world:  leave it better than where you found it. For the most part, we home have a moral anchor want to make it better, not rip the heart out of the life ahead, spoiling anything good for anyone else.

I, personally, want to add to the beauty of this life, I do that by pointing out all the things that are ugly and evil in it. The things that cannot stand, cannot progress, cannot be allowed to return and regrow and be morphed into something else because people think we aren’t paying attention.

I protest.

I speak.

I write.


I show up because life demands it. Life demands that I say something, because I have no luxury to lay in quiet. I am not afforded the peace of being ignorant and oblivious.
I am not afforded to not to recognize my own intersectionality or the intersectionality of others, and how it can be erased or minimized depending on audience and its attention.

Why I do what I do?
The better question:  why don’t more people?

That starts when you cease to be silent, and are willing to see more to the world around you than what is easily accessible to you. It starts when you can empathize and sympathize, and put hands to what it is you wish to change, no longer is speech sufficient.

You must be willing to see what is ugly, hurtful, unfair and hidden in acts of treason, murderous intent, malice and avarice, as well as apathy and lust for power, hidden under in exposed teeth that are not always smiles. You must see it and not look away because it ‘it someone else’s to clean up.’ From this, can all change come.

Yes, it’s important to be the change in the world you wish to see, but you must be willing to see what is in the world you wish to change.

#IAmAFirestarter

 

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.

img_1290

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.

 

 

 

And We Speak

“Mike Brown saved my life.”

-A. Templeton, 2015*

 

August 9, 2014:

My husband and I were headed to our Saturday night service in South St. Louis. We were living in Ferguson, and had lived there with our kids for about a year. We were new pastors and our church plant was Spirit Of Life Church. We left home, and he was driving. There was so much traffic on West Florissant. It was backed up and we were upset about the possibility of being late. My husband, the meticulous one of the two of us, was eager to get where we were going.

I remember having this cold feeling. It wasn’t dread, but something was wrong. It’s a feeling I have had only since I have become a parent. This sense that something within me, part of me, a thread of my being was pulled and I could not catch it to cut it. I told my husband something bad must have happened. I took out my phone, and looked through what was trending. It wasn’t until I got to service, that I had found out what happened:

Officer-involved shooting. 18-year-old African-American male. Dead.

His name: Michael Brown, Jr.

 

They left him outside in the street for four hours. We had been in that traffic. We had been within the net of all that had gone on, and complained about being late for service. We had just seen people strewn along the sidewalks and streets, confused and angry, clutching one another and I had fussed about the traffic and wanted to get to service.

What followed from that day was the beginning of what has become no less than a tidal wave. We were swept into this roux of people that we would have never passed on streets, avoided in stores and never spoken to in public. Our neat bubble was broken, yet we had not died. I remembered how loud I cried, how hard I prayed, and how I cried to God not to let them kill all of us.

There is a scripture in the book of Isaiah that reads as follows, in part:

Here I am Lord, send me. (Isaiah 6:8)

This resistance, this activism is service. It is this that compels me to speak and to be a vessel for such speech. Such amazing things happen in the course of hours, and days, and it was this single event that has unlocked portions of my faith that I had only whispered about.

Part of the prayer I shouted as my biblical foremothers, in their strength, their passion, was, “Lord, you see what they are doing! Don’t let them kill all of us!”

There is something to be said for that type of endurance born from such a place. It ignites. It unlocks. It unties. And most of all, it UNITES.

Here. I. Am. Lord. Send. Me.

It is sometimes in the the face of lions, that you discover that you, too, can roar. And you must. Sometimes, your voice, hands and feet are the tools God uses and sends to be change and the answer to prayer. Indeed, He does move in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.

And sometimes we are His instruments.

 

*-This a direct quote taken by a young woman I have been blessed to know that I will only identify as A. Templeton. When she first said this quote, I remarked on how open it was, and how candid it was. And as I reflect, this quote became applicable to and for the people I have encountered since this day 3 years ago. The wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. echoes through it: 

Our lives begin to end the day be become silent about things that matter.