#DearBlackMen: A Word of Love

I love black men. When I heard about the #DearBlackMen effort to share love letters following recent happenings, I knew that I had to participate. As the year closes I wanted to take a moment to send some love to the men in my life, most of whom happen to be black.

To my father and father figures…

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I think about the men that have raised me, from my biological father Walter, to my step father and to my godfather. Each of them came from hard lives, lives that were rife with trauma and despair. Yet, they all seemed to persevere, to rise from ashes and truly become roses that have grown from concrete. They have taught me the importance of hope – of believing in the impossible, in the unseen. They have created lives for themselves and their families that many within our society believe is not possible for the Black man.

To my brother and those who have allowed me to be their sister…

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My brother Cole is my best friend. He is the Yin to my Yang and he has introduced me to a collective of young men whom I have grown to love as brothers. I count my cousin Nathan in this group as we are more like brother and sister than cousins. Even though these men are younger than me, they embody unconditional love and respect. They constantly teach me the importance of loyalty and bring abounding joy to my life.

To my uncles and those who have nurtured me from afar…

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I think about my uncle Karl and my uncles from the “rooms” – the men of AA and NA who became family and watched me grow. Their wisdom has been invaluable and I am often reminded of how they loved me as one of their own. I thank God regularly for the love that they lavished upon me and as some have gone on to eternal rest, I carry each of them in my heart.

To my friends…

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I have a couple of male friends who have spoken hope into my life during the darkest moments. Brady and Ulysses are men of honor. They are men who care for the women in their lives without limits. They are respectful and giving and kind. They show me what it means to be a man today and continue to hold me accountable to becoming the person I have said I want to be and the person they know that God has called me to be.

To my lovers, who shall rename nameless…
I have a deep and abiding appreciation for black men that I have had the honor of being in romantic relationships with. I love their skin and their smell and their pride. I love the way they protect me. I love how they love me – mind, body and spirit. I love them.

To all the black men I have encountered and I have yet to meet:
Remember that you are made in the Imago Dei, in the image of God. That the Creator and the Creator alone defines your worth and identity.

Remember that you come from a line of ancestors who survived the Middle Passage and that this reality makes you stronger and more powerful than you could ever imagine.

Remember that your passion, compassion and creativity have inspired generations upon generations and that you have changed the course of history.

But most importantly, remember us, your dear black sisters, who have held you down, had your back, supported you, nurtured you and will continue to lift you up, regardless of what happens. And you know why? Because we love you. Forever and always and there is nothing you can do about it. Period. End of Story.

Love,

Me

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A Word on Lessons

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This post is actually about my most recent break-up, which has taught me some lessons. I’m pretty sure the reflection will continue, but so far, there are a few things that stand out. I am no longer a child. When I was a child, I acted like a child. As I have grown older, I have put away childish ways of being. For me, maturing and becoming an adult means that I understand the ability that I have to make choices. I understand that my choices have consequences; that there is a cause and effect relationship between what I do and what happens. I’m choosing to learn from my choices. That being said, I made a choice to enter into a relationship, even though my gut was telling me something different. And there were consequences. Lesson number 1: Always follow your gut.

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We Belong To Each Other

By: Maya Mineoi, Nicole Newman (Author of New Black Girl Rules) and Rozella White

This reflection on race, faith and justice was written by the 2015 team leaders of the Multicultural Youth Leadership Event (MYLE), a pre-event of the ELCA Youth Gathering that empowers young people of color and those whose primary language is other than English to claim their story as a part of God’s story, in order to move toward healing and wholeness as transformational leaders in the church and in the world.

Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

As we write this, our hearts are breaking. The events of the last few months, the extreme responses from some and lack of responses from many have left us questioning. For such a time as this, we are uncertain about the role of the church and our own roles as women of color within the church. When some people are left thinking that our social patterns of hate and fear are the only way and others know of more life-giving ways but are paralyzed from realizing them, how do we speak hope to all? How do we speak out against injustice? How do we address the issue of racism? How do we use our prophetic witness of the gospel to not just speak out but live out our commitment to transnational justice in this world? Click here to read more.

 

A Word on Breath

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As I took the train home tonight, I had a hard time catching my breath. Tears fell from my eyes as I thought about all that has happened in the past week. Here’s the thing – at any given time in our world, trauma and death and suffering occur. It’s not lost on me that so many of our global community suffers and we turn a blind eye, ear and heart away from them. But this week…this week, has been too much. It has hit so close to home. It has become home.

I am an anxious person. I took medication for anxiety for a few years and now only take it as needed. Today, for the first time in a while, I felt like I needed my anti-anxiety medication. The symptoms I was experiencing reminded me of my last panic attack. It was the only time I’ve ever felt like I was going to die. My heart raced. The world around me was spinning out of control. My palms were sweaty. My head pounded and my lungs constricted to the point of me wheezing out, “I can’t breathe. I can’t catch my breath.” I thought I was dying. I think this is how Eric Garner felt  in the moments preceding his death.

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A Word on #Ferguson

It’s been a while Shadow Lovers… I haven’t written anything in 6 months. Life has been moving and each day that goes by that I don’t write makes it harder to sit back down to do so. It’s funny though – not writing makes me feel some type of way. I feel like things are shut up in my bones and my mind won’t stop racing. Writing has always been a release but I’ve been putting it off and I feel the difference it makes in my life when I don’t do it.

So I’m back. And unfortunately, my first post has to deal with the never-ending phenomenon and sin that is racism. Leading up to last Monday, I had intentionally stayed away from social media and the news because I didn’t want to see what I know to be true: racism is a thread in the fabric of society that we continue to ignore to the peril of human life. And I’m not just talking about the deaths of Michael Brown and Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin and numerous other lives taken too soon. I’m talking about our collective humanity. Every time we reject the reality of racism and we choose to continue to be complicit, we kill each other. I worry what this does to our souls, because we are murderers. What does this do to the souls of black, brown, red and yellow folks who not only are on the receiving end of racism but to those who perpetrate it? What does it do to the souls of those who refuse to acknowledge it and cry with indignation, “I’m not racist!” What does it do to those of us who have lived with the reality of internalized, interpersonal, institutional, and structural racism? I wonder what it does to us all when we can repeatedly see how racism seeks to divide God’s humanity and we do nothing about it.

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