Entertainment, Reading, Relationships, Uncategorized

Gaffes, Misinterpretations and Intentional Offenses

No Comments 02 March 2015

angerAs much as I love Facebook and Twitter I decided to pull back a bit during this season of Lent. Why? Because reading them will invariably lead to me getting angry about some injustice in the world or something said by somebody I don’t know or somebody I wish I didn’t know.

Scrolling through my news feeds and friends’ posts as I sat on the train during my morning commute consumed my thoughts. What the hell is wrong with these people? Why do people say such mean things? Don’t they realize you can’t just say stuff like that without public backlash? Boundless rudeness. Sexism. Racism. Homophobia. Gee thanks. I really needed that dose before starting my day. And…really? You know sometimes people really do make mistakes. Absent sufficient evidence to the contrary, let’s just call it an innocent gaffe and…let it gooooo!!! And other not-so-innocent-people make the mistake of digging in when they are called out on their bigotry. Wrong move. The bloggers will be all over your craziness. Say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong.” and say it right away.

Lent is a time of self-evaluation and penance; a time of preparation for that great day commemorating Christ’s resurrection. It reminds me of my imperfections. This year it moved me to consider how imperfections are regarded in this age where we are all impacted by the virtual soup bowl. Not much is left to the imagination anymore. But don’t get it twisted: reality is not always reality. Reality can be photoshopped; reality can be scripted; reality is a set up of social constructions.

Rather than soak up gaffes, misinterpretations and the language of angry webcam gangsters (aka trolls) sometimes you just gotta lean back and watch the real life dramas unfolding on public transportation.  Selah.

Family, Relationships

For the Mother I Didn’t Choose

1 Comment 12 May 2013

There are some things I can depend upon. Of my most favorite is waking up on a special day to plenty of texts and missed phone calls from my family and friends. Today, my cell phone has been filled with beautiful messages wishing me a “Happy Mother’s Day!” I’m so thankful for them all. They help me put one foot in front of the other on this bittersweet day.

For me, Mother’s Day is a strange collection of joyful and painful memories. Of being beaten, cursed at and weekly ridiculed by my own mother, who quite frankly became a mother as a child and had only the example of her mother who raised her children similarly. Knowing what I know now, I bless my mother’s memory only through the daily act of continuing to speak the truth to myself: my mother hurt me but my mother also taught me how to survive. I have learned to forgive my mother because I have learned to appreciate all she did within a context of deep racism and a nation that didn’t give a damn about black mothers and their children. I forgive her recalling the dangers of young black children being deemed as “getting out of hand” by white folks during antebellum and Jim Crow days, I remember my beatings and assuage myself with this understanding of “I beat you so they won’t kill you” mentality. I forgive her knowing now that she really did need psychiatric care but the tremendous layers of challenges to her ever even getting diagnosed! Nowadays, the Black community is far more sophisticated about mental health care. My mother was mentally ill, socially oppressed, and handed down parenting skills which she had neither the time nor ability to overcome. And yet, she loved her children with all her capacity largely reflected in hard work and ensuring our material wellbeing. Hugs and kisses, I can count on one hand. Her going to work everyday of her life…bank on it. Her insisting we were “presentable” in public; straightening our hair, prohibiting us from wearing wrinkled clothing, ensuring we went to school and “learned sumphin’.” Some of you dear friends will have no idea of what it is like to live under these conditions and for this I am thankful.

The abuse I have tried to overcome in the parenting of my own children and even other mothers’ children so that they would have better examples of the love and wisdom teachings of a loving adult woman. I cannot express fully the joy I have when I read and hear such things as “Every moment is a blessing with you” from my son; “Happy mothers day auntie I love u bunches” from my niece/daughter of my best friend who died suddenly while I was in seminary; “We had two of the best examples ever! Ya’ll showed us the true meaning of love…I’ll be forever GRATEFUL” from my daughter speaking of not only my love but that of my late best friend.

The survival skills, I thank God for! My mother raised me to be a survivor and to thrive in whatever space I am placed. What many call my “courage” is simply the remnants of having grown up poor and abused. There’s not much you can do to me that scares me from asserting my rights and freedom. I don’t “speak truth to power,” I live in freedom having known what it’s like to be restrained. My oppressors have to figure out how to keep a soul such as myself down. I don’t fear poverty; I know how to be poor. I don’t fear shame; I have been despised. I don’t fear physical attacks because someone doesn’t like what I have to say; I took the last corrective beating of my life from my mama. In large part, because of my mother, I have become the social justice advocate I am today.

I prefer not to attend church on this day because there is no way to nuance all these and other truths of motherhood in a one to two hour plus worship experience. We live in such an age where those things we once took for granted are being reevaluated. Such is the case with Mother’s Day. We are questioning the normative definition of “mother” and “father”; we have become more sensitive to those – like my own daughter – who have lost a child either during or after birth; we are speaking of the gender dynamics of such celebrations keeping in mind the many single parents. Some clergy and laypersons do these services with much care and thoughtfulness; others with little less but certainly with kind regards; and then there are some whom you just want to walk out on. I pray for them all realizing my own reluctance to lead these services.

Finally, I think of the children, the very reason for this day. Children across our world who are forced to become adults far too soon because of wars, pandemic diseases, murders, slavery, rape and colonialism. I love you wherever you are and I pray that my life and work somehow chips away at the evil that holds you in bondage.

These are my reflections written while many of you were at church. God and the presence of the ancestors have been with me, here in this room, surrounded by books, a floor lamp and my laptop. Now, for the hours and days to come, Lillie Mae’s daughter turns again to truly trying to be a good soul.

For the Children of the World, May You Know Love,

Relationships, Sexual Orientation

Methodist Black Scholars and Clergy Say “No More!”

No Comments 19 April 2011

In an unprecedented move, 9 Black scholars and clergy of the United Methodist Church have released a statement urging the denomination to end its ban against ordaining non-heterosexual persons. The endorsers are seminary professors, scholars, leading church and civil rights leaders. The document encourages diversity and makes an important critique against homophobia within the Black community. Releasing the document during Holy Week is an intentional act, as the endorsers know Christians across the globe are reflecting upon ways to witness the love of Christ and to denounce acts of intolerance and oppression.

View the statement »
Add your name to the petition »

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