I find myself at a crossroad. As I mentioned in my previous post reflecting on my latest break up, I’m realizing that I am facing a particular decision at this time in my life. I have a choice to make and it’s probably the most profound choice of my life…
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have come to a place where I fully embrace my shit. I’m not talking about metaphorical shit – I’ll get to that later. Right now, I’m talking about actual shit.
I’ve had stomach issues my whole life. It wasn’t until early adulthood that I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and realized that my issues with shit were connected to my physical, mental and emotional health. Anyone who is in my intimate circle knows that I’ve struggled much of my life with managing this part of my health. There are plenty of stories of Roze running to find a restroom in public places or having to pull over on the side of the road. My brother affectionately refers to my issues as insane bowel syndrome, because in his words, “That shit’s insane!” You are probably learning more than you ever wanted to learn about me but all will soon be revealed… As someone who has had lifelong issues with shit, I’m not embarrassed to talk about it and have spent a lot of time thinking about it.
In prepping for this post, I reached out to a doctor friend of mine to get some facts. I learned that we have to shit or else we will die of sepsis. If our bodies do not expel waste, the shit will literally enter our bloodstream and infection will occur leading to multi organ failure and eventually, death. How about that shit?
I’ve also learned that there is a correlation between how bad our shit stinks and our diet. Because it’s waste, shit will always stink, but there are some of us whose shit (and farts) can literally clear a room. This is caused by bacteria that is present in our waste. The odor however is exacerbated by our diets. The worse our diets, the worse the smell. What we put into ourselves, the things we ingest, will literally show their true colors AND smell when we expel it.
Enough about actual shit. Let’s talk about metaphorical shit.
“Any act of violence is a negation of life and humanity.” – Rev. Ken Wheeler
I live in the city of Chicago. Anyone who pays even the slightest attention to news headlines knows that Chicago has a problem with violence. A Google search on gun violence in the city will return a link to Huffington Post that lists a variety of stories on violence in Chicago. The Chicago Tribune also has a page dedicated to Chicago crime statistics and interactive maps to help residents figure out what crimes happen in various communities. Now that the weather is warmer and young people will be out of school for the summer, many of us lament the fact that there will be an increase in violence. It’s a fact – warmer weather = more death in Chicago.
I don’t think growth happens without pain.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think pain is something that is prescribed in this life. As a person of Christian faith, I don’t believe that God desires us to go through painful situations, nor do I believe that God causes pain in our lives. I believe that pain is an inevitable part of living because we are human, we are broken and we care.
That being said, it is been my experience that times of growth are painful. Continue reading
My devotional reflection was on forgiveness this morning. I am reading Radical Grace, a collection of daily meditations by Franciscan contemplative guru Father Richard Rohr. I appreciate his take on so many things and this particular book has been an often used part of my devotional collection. The meditations are divided by church season and for the week after Easter, Rohr writes prayers to be recited by the reader. One such prayer is on forgiveness and the opening line resonates deeply with me:
Lamb of God we ask that we might be defense free people, that we might be able to live a truly disarmed life, that we might be able to be secure enough in your love, Jesus, to be insecure in this world, to let go, Lord.
The overarching theme of this prayer is about learning to forgive ourselves, but I’ve been thinking a lot about letting go and forgiving others recently. And I’m beginning to realize that forgiveness is all about vulnerability. Continue reading
I have come to believe that the people we share intimate space with reflect back to us how we feel about ourselves. As I think about my romantic relationships throughout my life, I can honestly say that each one served as a mirror, reflecting how I viewed who I was at that particular time in my life. I can see a difference in how I relate to men now as I have matured and dealt with issues of self worth versus how I related to men during times in my life that I was less aware of my inherent worth. I thank God everyday for growth in this area of my life because, truth be told, my relationships were a doozy.
There have been many comments and commentary on the recent comments made by the owner of the L.A. Clippers, Donald Sterling. Sports commentators, cultural critics, community leaders and bloggers of every ilk have weighed in on the tape that has been released which provides a peek into his psyche. What is revealed is that he has strong opinions about black folk. He’s been called a racist, a redneck, a bigot, a modern day slave owner, with the the Clippers and the NBA playing the role as a 21st century plantation. I would agree with all of these sentiments based on the language, imagery and vitriol that he shared.
However, the most disturbing thing for me has nothing to do with Sterling. It has to do with the fact that a mixed race woman was in an intimate relationship with him. I cannot wrap my mind around how a person who literally embodied that which seemingly disgusts Sterling could be in relationship with this man. Continue reading