I Prayed About Tithing and Then This Happened…

I was literally just going through my monthly expenses. I have a monthly line item, “tithes.”

In full disclosure, my finances are not the best right now. So I thought to myself, maybe I shouldn’t tithe this month. But because I am a true church kid and as churched as they come, I felt guilty for even thinking that and in my head, I could hear Malachi 3:8-12 (“Will a man rob God?…”) being read from the pulpit. So, I was like, let me pray on that.

FullSizeRender (1)I went back to laying in the bed (cause for the first time in the longest I don’t have anything to do on a Saturday). A little while ago, I picked up my iPhone and used my fingerprint to unlock it. I kid you not that this video was open on my phone, in landscape view. I was like, what is this and how did it get opened? Then I read the caption, “Should Christians Give Tithes?,” and was like, wow. So I hit play.

I believe I just got my answer about tithing this month, and a new perspective on tithing in general.

There are so many scriptures that we have taken and used to establish church/Christian “norms” that are to our liking/advantage. We then repeat them over and over and make people feel that if they don’t do whatever is being stated, they aren’t a “good Christian” and God isn’t pleased, when the fact of the matter is: this was never God’s requirement– this is just us, at best, misinterpreting scripture and, at worst, using scripture to get people to do what we want.

We do this with so many other aspects in society and all it does it cause Christians to be/come off as super judgmental and push people away for the church and Christ.

So I say all that to say, let’s be more careful with our interpretations of scripture and stop passing down these rules and regulations of Christianity that really are not required by God.

Christ set us free.

 

I’m Not Here to Tell You What to Think about Jesse Williams…

I’m not here to tell you what to think. I’m just here to help you think critically.

There’s been a lot of discussion around Jesse Williams and Aryn Drake-Lee’s divorce. This very unfortunate situation has rendered various responses, specifically from the black community and especially because Jesse is now dating Minka Kelly, a white woman. While this dialogue started around Jesse and Aryn, this blog post is less about them and more about unpacking what our reactions/responses mean for “the movement,” and expressions and definitions of blackness.

Do personal shortcomings discredit one’s advocacy work/activism?

Some believe that Jesse’s actions show poor character, a lack of integrity, and warrant us to revoke our support of him. It is important to acknowledge that this perspective is based on the assumption that Jesse cheated on his ex-wife, which he has denied. However, this brings up an interesting notion: do we expect activists and leaders of “the movement” to be faultless? Is perfection required for them to be credible and receive our support?IMG_0407

I think about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. While we hold him in very high regard for his work and advocacy for civil rights, we’ are aware of his infidelity allegations. Does Dr. King cheating on Coretta Scott King discredit his work? Should we cancel Dr. King?

With great power comes great responsibility so leaders will be held to high standards. However, no one is perfect and we all (continuously) make mistakes. While one may be an “expert” in one area, they may not have it all together in another. So where is the threshold? What shortcomings will we tolerate and which will we not?

Can a black person be pro-black but date/love someone who is not black?

Some are challenging Jesse’s (pro)blackness, finding his divorce from a black woman and/or dating a white woman to be hypocritical and negating of his advocacy for black lives, and more specifically, for black women (listen to his words about black women during his 2016 BET Humanitarian Award acceptancIMG_0409e speech).

Blackness is often put in a (small) box.  Depending on how you speak, eat, your hobbies, neighborhood, being multi-racial…your black card comes into question and it just may be revoked. Could this be another example of this? Does dating/loving a non-back person get your black card revoked? Can a black person be pro-black without dating/loving someone who is black? Do we see black people who date non-black people as credible activists and advocates?

 

Do black men really get on and leave our a** for a white girl?

IMG_0412

Now that Jesse’s relationship with Minka is public, some black women suspect that this is another example of a black man leaving for a white woman. The fact of the matter is that it may not be. Maybe this is just how love is happening for Jesse— maybe this is truly someone he has hit if off with and who he cares about. And he is totally free to pursue that.

However, that fact that this thought crosses the minds of many black women speaks to something with much deeper roots.

After quoting Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” lyrics, Michael Harriot explained,

There is always truth in humor. The reason Kanye West’s line is so memorable is that we’ve all seen it happen. The idea that white women have always been a graduation present or lifetime achievement award for black men has become an accepted trope among black people. We quietly talk about it among ourselves, in barbershops and at cookouts.

The thought that rich, successful and famous black men eventually trade in black women for white women is such an acknowledged fact that we don’t even bother pointing out that the guy who wrote and rapped it left our ass for a white girl.

 

IMG_0410Again, this may not be what’s going on in Jesse’s situation, but it is still something to think about. How do we react to black men dating non-black people? How do we react to black women dating non-black people? What causes those reactions?  Why do some black men get on and leave our a** for a white girl?

 

 

 

And after you’ve thought through all of that, ask yourself, would we even be having this conversation if Jesse was now dating a black woman? What does that mean?

I’m not here to tell you what to think. I’m just here to help you think critically. We must think beyond the surface. Take this information, think, and determine your truth.

2 Years Later: Anniversary of the Murder of Mike Brown, Jr.

8.9.14. The day that changed everything. 2 years.

I’ve been anxious about this day coming ever since August arrived. I could feel the heaviness of my heart as soon as I opened my eyes today.

I’m thankful for Mike, and for everyone who refused to be silent about his murder. I’m thankful that the movement (that’s always existed) was ignited on a new level. I’m thankful that we are no longer tolerating the racial injustice that very much exists in what so many want to believe is a “post-racial society.”

But I’d be lying if I said I’m not impacted or concerned by the trauma that black people have relived over and over in just these 2 years alone.

2 years of police murders, hashtags, protests, non-indictments in a never ending cycle.

2 years of listening to the media criminalize the victims and prove they deserved to die, in a way that we never see done to non-black victims.

2 years of our friends, people we grew up with and love, showing us their bias and racism through social media posts.

2 years of the overall society constantly reminding us that our lives don’t matter, through the condoning and justification of our murders.

2 years of selective grief, where America can mourn and show empathy for the deaths of animals, police officers, and victims of foreign terrorism but show not an ounce of those feelings for black lives.

2 years of people bringing up “black on black crime” as if black people have this phenomenon of killing each other when statics tell us that the majority of ALL crime is intraracial (not to be confused with interracial…I literally have had to explain this to people).

2 years of debating #BlackLivesMatter and all lives matter but then those same people say blue lives matter, proving that it’s solely the ‘black’ that’s the issue.

2 years later, all these feelings are pouring out of my eyes. I’m tired. I’m traumatized. I’m hurting. I’m grieving. Im educating. I’m fighting. And I’m thankful for all the people who are on the ground, organizing, educating, running for office, and any other effort towards freedom.

2 years later, the movement lives and we will win.

Your Unity Posts Aren’t Saying What You Think 

I’m struggling so I’m gonna have a vulnerable moment with y’all, and I know many won’t agree and that is totally fine.

 

 I can’t take much more of y’all posting these pictures and videos of black people hugging and praying with (white) counter protestors, black people smiling with the police, little black and white kids being friends, etc. I mean, it is wearing me out.

 

 

It’s not because I don’t believe these things happen or should happen. It’s just that clearly, these things do not keep black people from experiencing injustice. So clearly, they are not the solution. Even with “good officers” and black people and white people being friends, black people are still being murdered by police, receiving harsher sentences in court, going to under resourced schools, making lesser wages in the same positions as white people, and experiencing many other forms of injustice. None of these posts and videos acknowledge or address this. These color-blind, “we’re all one” videos and posts are not going to get black people free.

 

They actually are keeping us from freedom. Every time you post these things (and I see both black and white people doing this), you give people the opportunity to ignore the plight of black people. You are sending the message of, “see, it’s not that bad. There are still good people.” And that causes you and others to ignore the injustice and issues that ARE actually happening. This only causes people who don’t understand #BlackLivesMatter to further believe that this movement is not necessary. These messages are so neutral and we know that if you’re neutral, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

 

Stop being neutral. Your neutrality does absolutely nothing for those being oppressed. Your neutrality is not helping the families of #AltonSterling, #PhilandoCastile, or any other police brutality victim get justice. It’s actually making it harder for them to because you’re countering what their loved one experienced. You’re basically saying, “yeah I know an officer killed your family member but look at this officer playing with this cute kid…everything is fine.” This stuff is the biggest slap in the face to these families and this movement.

 

Change will require us to acknowledge and call out these issues directly, not generally or subliminally (that’s the problem with #AllLivesMatter). If you were at work or having an issue at home, you would not go about developing and identifying a solution in a indirect way. If you were sick, you wouldn’t want your doctor focusing on less relevant, indirectly related parts of your body to heal you. You would want them to address the problem head on. So why do we think this is an appropriate solution when it comes to the injustice of black people?

 

Some of you need to realize that you are in denial. And honestly, I get that. No one wants to accept that our world is this messed up. It’s hurtful, depressing, frustrating, all of that. But we know that the first step to overcoming a problem is admitting that we have one. So please, if you really want change to happen, please get out of denial and call it what it is.

 

I am not anti-unity but what I am not going to do is promote (a neutral) unity as the ultimate solution at the expense of us ignoring the real issue. No. Not when people are being murdered. Unity is necessary but what’s really going to bring justice and keep more people from becoming hashtags is acknowledgement and change to the systems, like police organizations, that are systemically racist. Not your little touchy, feely video.

 

If you want to promote true unity, unite with us and stand up against these racist and unjust systems. People coming together and fighting against wrong, regardless of their race, socio-economic status, religion, nationality, sexuality, and any other identity, will show organizations and our government officials that it’s truly time for change. And that’s the radical type of unity we need. 

 

3 Ways to Share Our Stepping & Strolling Traditions without Giving Away Our Culture

Aleidra’s piece is featured on watchtheyard.com.

Should Black Greek-Letter Organizations (BGLOs) teach white, non-BGLO people how to step? This is an ongoing question and debate within the BGLO community, and honestly, I understand all the various perspectives.

With that, I understand that teaching stepping and strolling to non-BGLO members has become a popular collegiate norm. So for our members that are partaking in this new college tradition, here’s my piece,  3 Ways to Share Our Stepping & Strolling Traditions without Giving Away Our Culture, to help you do so in a meaningful way.

Can White People Talk About the #StateOfBlackAmerica? 

There was some controversy over SamWhiteout‘s appearance on #StateOfBlackAmerica. I tweeted Sam about it, and you can check out my tweet in this article.

The topic of the panel was “Confronting Race and Privilege.” Allyship is important and necessary to deconstruct white privilege and white supremacy. White people cannot and should not speak to the black experience; they have not lived it. However, white people can acknowledge how they benefit from white privilege and white supremacy, AND intentionally work against those systems.

What do y’all think about this?

#EverydayBlackHistory Day 9- Who were the Black Panthers?

bp.jpgSince Beyonce’s Super Bowl 50 half time performance, there has been lots of conversation around the Black Panthers. Many (white) Americans seem appalled that Bey would pay tribute to such an organization,  falsely comparing the Black Panthers to the Ku Klux Klan (the Black Panthers were NOT terrorists who bombed, murdered, and lynched innocent people like the KKK). But do we really know who the Black Panthers were? Unfortunately, the American education system has a way of painting historic black leaders and organizations in a negative light, and/or watering down the truth to fit its preferred narrative. So let’s educate ourselves and learn who the Black Panthers truly were.

Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party. The two had worked together for years prior through activism in black politics. Bobby  Seale was involved in RAM (Revolutionary Action Movement) and both of the men were in the Soul Students Advisory Committee, a collegiate organization. The philosophy for the Panthers was developed through these experiences.

But the Panthers were not just about philosophy. They had demands and outlined action to achieve them. Recently, people have talked about the Panthers possession of guns. The Panthers did indeed exercise their constitutional right to bear arms. This was done to implement Malcolm X’s self-defense philosophy and patrol the police. At the time, police brutality was rampant, with officers beating and killing black people randomly. Police departments were even recruiting officers from the racist south to police the northern ghettos.

The Socialist Alternative recalls this instance:

On one occasion, whilst on patrol, they witnessed an officer stop and search a young guy. The Panthers got out of their car and went over to the scene and stood watching their guns on full display. Angrily, the policeman began to question them and tried to intimidate them with threats of arrest. But Huey P. Newton had studied the law intimately and could quote every law and court ruling relevant to their situation.

During these situations, the Panthers made it clear that they did not want to have a shoot-out with the police and that they would only use their guns in self-defense. They would also hand out information, to the crowd that formed, about the Black Panthers philosophy and meeting details.

Outside of their self-defense, we rarely talk about the notable community programs that the Panthers organized. They organized many “revolutionary program,” as they called them, such as free breakfast for children, health clinics, and shoes for children. Bobby Seale explained, “A revolutionary program is onset forth by revolutionaries, by those who want to change the existing system for a better system.”

The Black Panther Party grew to have 5,000 full time employees and 45 chapters throughout America. They sold 250,000 papers a week. At the time, polls showed that the organization had 90 percent support from black people in major cities. The group was largely impactful, with the FBI describing them as “the number one threat to the internal security of the United States.”

Today, we remember the Black Panther Party, for being one of the most widely know black political organizations that protected and met people’s needs through programs that provided food, clothes, medical care and more. We thank them for showing us what we can accomplish through organization. Today, unfortunately,  we still see many of the same issues that they combated. We can learn much from them.

#EverydayBlackHistory

 

 

#EverydayBlackHistory Day 8- Visual Artist John Jennings

jjThere’s a space and place for all of us in this movement. How we express our perspectives and seek justice and freedom will look differently for each of us, and that’s okay. Some of us will educate, some will protest, some will open non-profit organizations or businesses, some will meet with government leaders…and the list goes on. But one man, John Jennings, is using his art to start a revolution.

John Jennings is a visual artists who challenges the typical portrayal of black expression by creating work that goes outside of that confine. He bases his work on these questionsHow can we show the work of underrepresented artists, especially those who do comics (see list of books below)? How can we go beyond the racial stereotypes of traditional comic art to show the rich expression of black artists, past and present? John Jennings explains, “we have to understand that stereotypical images are designed to function in a particular way. They all have purposes in how the Black body is perceived. The work that I do and that my colleagues create offer alternatives to those constructions and gives the Black audience choices on multiple levels.

Black TwitterYou may have come across some of John Jennings work withoutmother even realizing it. John Jennings is the creator of #BLKPWRTWITTR, a remake of the Twitter logo that was created after the murders of nine innocent black lives at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. John Jennings was looking for a way to express his range of emotions and show unity. He also created the piece, Tears of Mother Emanuel.

Today, we celebrate John Jennings for using his gift to tear down stereotypes, create a space for underrepresented artists, and giving us a visual component to the movement. We are thankful to experience this black history in the making.

#EverydayBlackHistory

Here are some books by John Jennings:

Black Comix

What “black,” “art” and “culture” mean to a group of African-American artists.

 

 

 

Graphic novel is science fiction/horror story about buying and selling of race.

 

 

 Out of Sequence

 Underrepresented voices showcase their imaginative comic art.

 

 

#EverydayBlackHistory Day 7- Whitney Houston Performs National Anthem

whitIn the spirit of the Super Bowl , Lady Gaga’s beautiful rendition of the national anthem, and Beyonce and Bruno Mars slaying the halftime show, I cannot help but remember one of the greatest Super Bowl performances EVER by the one and only Whitney Houston.

In 1991, 25 years ago, Whitney Houston sang the national anthem at Super Bowl XXV. To this day, Whitney Houston’s rendition is still revered as the standard for performing this song. Whitney Houston performed the national anthem at the hight of the Persian Gulf War and captivated the patriotic spirit of the country so well that Artista Records released the recording as a single. The single made it to the Billboard Hot 100, reaching No. 20. The performance remained iconic, so much so that it moved to the top 10, reaching No. 6, after September 11, 2001.

So let’s all take a few minutes and bask in the glory of Whitney Houston’s (arguably) unmatched rendition of the national anthem:

Today, we remember Whitney Houston for singing the national anthem like never before, and for just being the greatest of all time. Period. She’s no longer here with us but her legacy is and will continue to live forever.

#EverydayBlackHistory

#EverydayBlackHistory Day 6- Black Sanitation Workers’ Strikes

i am manMany of us are aware that Dr. Marin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, TN. But do you know why Dr. King was in Memphis at that time?

On February 1, 1968, there was a severe rainstorm in Memphis, TN. Echols Cole and Robert Walker, two black sanitation workers, took cover from the storm in the trash compactor of their truck. Somehow, the compactor mechanism was triggered and the men were crushed to death. A bereavement fee was paid from the Memphis government to the families of Echols Cole and Robert Walker but it wasn’t even enough to cover the costs of their funerals.

Also on February 1, 1968 (timeline), due to the weather, 22 black sanitation workers were sent home without pay. However, their white supervisors continued to work and were paid. So on February 12, more than 1,100 out of 1,300 black sanitation workers began a strike for job safety, better wages and benefits, and union recognition. The mayor at the time, Henry Loeb, was completely against their demands.

As the strike continued, the black community of Memphis came together to support the strikers. Organizations like COME (Community on the Move for Equality) developed food and clothing banks in churches, collected donations to pay the strikers rent and mortgages, and recruited marchers to participate in demonstrations. Then Reverend James Lawson, pastor of the Centenary Methodist Church in Memphis, invited Dr. King to join in support of the strikers. Reverend James Lawson was an experienced activist in the Civil Rights Movement and trained activists in nonviolent resistance.

On April 3, 1968, Dr. King delivered his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech to strikers and supporters. He was scheduled to also lead a march while in Memphis but on April 4, 1968, when he stepped onto the balcony of his room at the Lorraine Hotel, Dr. King was assassinated.

On April 16, 1968, two months after the start of the strike, an agreement was reached between city and union officials and the strikers, and the strike ended. While Dr. King played a role in the success of the black sanitation workers strike, we must acknowledge and commend the 1,100 plus workers and their families that sacrificed their means and livelihood to gain fair treatment and equality. Marchers often carried the iconic “I AM A MAN” signs, demonstrating that they not only wanted better wages and safer working conditions, but they were fighting for the recognition of their humanity.

Today, we remember the black sanitation workers’ strike and all the unsung heroes and heroins for their resistance and commitment to equality. We admire the black community of Memphis for the indescribable coming together and support that they demonstrated that led to their success.

#EverydayBlackHistory

 

 

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