A Defining Moment: Racism and Double Consciousness

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My mother and I at one of our favorite spots.

Being young, black and southern must be synonymous with experiences of discrimination, fear and hatred. Show me a young, black southerner who hasn’t had to deal with direct racism and I’ll show you a severely unaware individual.

With that being said, one of my earliest memories of racism came Halloween 1997. My mom had allowed me to go trick or treating with some kids who lived in a local housing project. My mother had taught the girl and she was close to my age.

In our small town America, (voted best small town to visit btw) has always been and still is divided by a railroad. For their reasons, white people prefer to live separate from us. And even when black doctors and judges moved into their neighborhoods, they either move, or erect an enormous, thick cinderblock wall to serve as a fence.

My mother had dropped me off with this girl, her mother and a few other children. Her mother had said we were going trick or treating on the “other” side of town, noting that they had “better” candy; however, I’m sure there was a thought about it possibly being safer as well.

Smile BIG!

We stopped at an apartment building really close to Delta State University. Our small group walked up to this door and knocked. An old white, lady with grey hair opened the door. When she saw us, her mouth gapped open and she began throwing candy at us. She yelled, “yall are not supposed to be over here!” Then, somehow she noticed me. A little fair-skinned (I was much lighter when I was younger) girl with long, wavy hair (likely from my mother’s long “dookey” braids) and she paused for a moment. She gave a sort of blank stare, and slammed the door shut.

LOVE THAT SWEATSHIRT!

This was one of the first moments that I realized how deep and serious this divid really was. It made me wonder. Why did she hate us so much? Was she scared? If so, why? We were just children hunting for candy. We weren’t trying to harm or scare anyone. This was when I started to realize that not all black children had the same experience. A part of me wondered why she paused and stared at me, before forcefully shutting her door.

This was a defining moment. It was when I began to realize I must be aware of my surroundings. I must be aware of myself, and how others may perceive me. As a 7 year old, I must prove that there is nothing to be afraid of. #doubleconsciousness

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Self Work, Self Worth and Internal Dialogue

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For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.”

                               -Psalm 139:13-15 ESV

Self examination is a big part of my personality. I’m not sure if it came from the many times I’ve been rejected in life or the fact that my mom always found ways to encourage my improvement (research internal dialogue and how outside influences affect it). Either way, I became one who’d sit in a corner and examine my life, actions and words with a fine tooth comb. I didn’t always find my faults by the way, sometimes it wasn’t until long after I was removed from a certain situation that I was able to see how wrong I was.

Sometimes this habit was a good tool, and other times it wasn’t healthy. Sometimes my internal dialogue could be quite mean. If you can imagine what an army sergeant might sound like, sometimes thats me. I realized at some point that wasn’t the most inspiring voice. I had to change that voice to something more motivating. Maybe that method works for some people, but I learned it was much better to come from a place of love and encouragement.

I have so many questions. But I always do. In the past, I’ve always tried to rush every stage of my life (I finished college in three years and I took two “light” semesters). I catch myself focusing on the destination and getting there as quickly as possible. This must be  another reason time is so valuable to me and I could rarely ever justify “kicking it”.

In all this, I realized something integral to my existence. I connect my self-worth with what I do. I attach my worth to what I produce. If I’m not doing anything I deem meaningful I feel lost. I’ve also learned from past ventures that even if I’m doing something “good” it matters not if my heart isn’t right. Sometimes my questions waste time, and keep me from progressing. But other times my questions have helped me to learn so much.

My worth and my value isn’t in how generous I am. It isn’t measured by the works of my hands. Because before I donated any of my money, time or ideas; before I gave my love and passion to anyone or anything; before I decided that I was only as good as my efforts, God died for me. Before I accomplished any goal, before I took my first breath, before I inspired a smile on any face or warmth in any heart God thought I was worth EVERYTHING He had to give. My worth shall not be connected to anything other than what my heavenly Father says it is.

People use works as a way to try an earn salvation; to feel good about themselves; to get recognition; to try to earn love and so much more. Whatever the case may be, I now know that if I don’t do anything in this world, (not that I wont) God would still love me and He would still view me worth His life.

“He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit”

                              -Titus 3:5

THREE QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT

  1. What does your internal dialogue sound like?
  2. What do you attach your self-view/self-worth to?
  3. Do you value self-evaluation? If so, what does that look like to you; how do you go about it?

AN INTERESTING GOOGLE SEARCH ON INTERNAL DIALOGUE CLICK HERE.

Be anxious for nothing?

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 “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

                                                       -Matthew 6:26

This past week felt like almost a total loss. I barely got anything accomplished. For some reason, early this week all of my motivation was gone. I didn’t want to do anything accept eat(a lot), sleep (a lot) and pray.

It wasn’t good for my mental, physical, emotional or spiritual health. Not getting things done negatively affects my mood. And not being purposeful with my time and decisions, this week drove me deeper into this stump.

I believe I was instructed to stop teaching, but when I asked God, “What do you want me to do?” I always felt writing is what I’m supposed to be doing in this season. But this presents me with a couple issues:

  1. Write what? I write poems/spoken-word, lyrics, stage-plays, screenplays, articles, presentations and I’ve been flirting with the notion of writing a book.  So, with that being understood, there must be some focus and direction here, right? I kinda need to know what I’m writing. Or do I need to just write for a few hours a day and see where He takes me?
  2. Though, I’ve saved up some money, I need to be replenishing what I spend at least at the same rate of my expenditure. When I looked at my income recently, I was quite shocked at what I counted. God has been continually blessing me, it’s only been a couple months but I’ve been receiving enough funds to pay my necessary bills and I haven’t had to tap into my savings at all (This alone is more than enough reason for a praise break!). I’ve received random checks and people always find something they want to pay me to do like marketing, designing, speaking, trainings, singing, acting etc (and I’m happy to do it and give it my all from a genuine place). I have been helping businesses market their products and services, and implement best practices within their infrastructure. Often, business owners are too overwhelmed to do their own marketing and an outside perspective can help them to reach their internal goals. With all that beautiful stuff I just noted, I’ve been experiencing anxiety surrounding not having a “job”. I’m sure this has contributed to my recent stand still. This reminds me of the Hebrews wondering through the wilderness. God was providing them with manna from heaven. He told them not to take more than they needed, that He’d provide them manna in the morning and quail in the eve. Though they saw He was making provisions for them, they were still afraid to go hungry. Check the 16th chapter of Exodus. My plan was to spend my time helping my mother grow her business, developing my own personal wealth (my intellectual property and business) and doing whatever it is the Lord leads me to.

I know the things I want to accomplish are great, but I know it has to be tackled bit by bit. I must prioritize, focus and commit. But more than that, I know I must change my thoughts, to the thoughts God has towards me. A daily dose of reading and meditation is in order.

Me, recently at my grandfather’s funeral in Chulahoma, MS.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

                               – Phil 4:8-9

I just want to be sure I’m in God’s Will for this set time in my life. I know how important it is and what happens when I’m not led by the Spirit. I know I can end up in the middle of nowhere. I also know, I won’t be happier doing anything other than what I was created to do.

Cultivating a habit of writing everyday is slick intimidating. Though I enjoy writing, I’ve yet to see myself be consistent in any area of my life, even when I know the benefits. Pray for me and I’ll do the same for you.