Segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever.

wallace-for-prezI’ve been pondering these words by then Governor George Wallace intermittently for years. Often wondering how evil and hateful Wallace must have been to want to separate himself and all whites from Blacks now, tomorrow and forever. On a day where I took the deep dive and read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “The Case for Reparations” and the 3-part AP series “Torn From the Land” exclusive about how whites and corporations systematically stole farmland,  homes and lots from blacks – I find myself drawn to segregation for very simplistic reasons. I don’t feel evil, like Wallace, but I do feel rage and strong dislike.

In raising a family of two young children, I am constantly wondering what kind of community I want to raise them in. Witnessing the rise of Donald Trump and his hate fueled supporters, he often reminds me of a modern era George Wallace being fully supported by the Klan and avowed white racists. The growing number of outlandish comments, remarks and flat out threats this presidential candidate in 2016 is able to make is literally frightening. And this is the Republican front runner for President of the United States. Of course, this persona, this Trump fever that is present and shows no signs of dissolving has always been a part of American history for whites. What we are seeing is just an example of what my 78 year-old mother saw in the 50’s as a young woman when she tried to walk from Albemarle County into Charlottesville to work for a white family as a domestic. It’s the same type of white hate that my grandmother saw in the 1920’s as a young girl in Rose Hill, Virginia and it’s the same white evil that my great-grandfather saw in the 1890’s as he was trying to make a life for himself as a young man in Charlottesville, the son of homeowner, a rare situation to be in at that time. The hate that is ginned up in these Trump rallys represent the America that Blacks have always known existed because we’ve lived it. It’s not new, but it is frightening because we know what this particular kind of talk and actions mean. These words can be delivered upon. Action can follow these words. And if they have their way, America will be just like it was during Governor George Wallace’s heyday.

Which leds me to segregation. In the year of Flint, Michigan and the purposeful poisoning of a predominantly Black city, the non-indictments for Mike Brown, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, John Crawford and Tamir Rice, among so many, many others – I found myself wondering what it would be like to be ensconced within a predominantly Black community, today, tomorrow and forever. What it would be like to live in a Black community that focused on African spirituality – forever breaking the ties of Christianity that have oppressed the Black community into submission since 1619? What would it be like to live in a community where Black mothers and Black fathers raised their children together, supporting each other in marriage and then showing the same strength and solidarity to their children? What would it be like to live in a Black community where the schools were afrocentric in nature, being honest with our history, including our African greatness in every facet of life with an emphasis on eating healthy foods, non-processed foods, seeded fruits and beneficial vegetables for our growth and well-being? What would it be like to live in a community where Blacks were owners, job creators, inventors, educators, community activists, doctors, lawyers, politicians – all striving to uplift and maintain the success of the Black community, today, tomorrow and forever? What would it be like to feel safe within this community to travel, free from police brutality and murder because we police our own? We rehabilitate offenders, we take care of our mentally ill. We are not poisoning our bodies being constantly on medication for diseases that can be cured through our diet. No one is popping a pill just to live another day. We strive for excellence in everything we do. What would solidarity and closeness amongst the Black community feel like? Would it be possible to open your windows to your home and hear the Black children playing and dancing on the lawns and playgrounds? Would neighbors come outside to greet you, maybe help you with your flower garden or offer to watch the children while you go make dinner? Would we banish all nursing homes, instead, taking exceptional care of our elders, with the love and dignity that they deserve at home? Would our Black culture allow us to see live art performances in jazz, blues, rhythm and blues music and hip-hop on a community stage for US to enjoy and relish? Would there be fashion houses, salons and designers creating wonderful style and wares that uplift our community and keeping everyone styled to perfection? Would there be libraries filled with books and articles about our Black history, our African roots and culture? Would dancing, ballet, tap and any other forms of expression we could conjur up be welcomed and viewed as essential to our sustained happiness and contentment? Would our technological abilities create an internet realm where we were untouchable, trolls could not break through, racists would not participate, it was exclusively our internet, our flow. Could we capture romantic nights at amazing restaurants and cafes, sampling delicious foods and beverages prepared from the best chefs and cuisine creators the Black community has to offer? What would it be like if Black athletes decided to remain at historically black colleges and universities and compete among the best of the best, winning championships year in and year out with their known dominating styles? What would it feel like to be safe, connected by melanin, blessed by the ancestors to be loved and cared for within a network of blackness that was far and wide?

I don’t have the answers to any of these questions. I understand that when we tried to be successful within the constraints of segreation, the whites burned, terrorized, maimed and killed us. With our own militia, I believe we could protect ourselves within a voluntarily segregated Black community should those threats come to our door. But I don’t have the answers, that’s for sure. All I know is I’m tired of integration, We Shall Overcome, #OscarsSoWhite, #ArrestGovSnyder, #AllLivesMatter, #MakeAmericaGreat #Whitesplaining, #Whitewashing #WhiteSupremacy and misquoted #MLK speeches. I want to come together with other like-minded Blacks, it’s something that I dream about and will probably always dream about today, tomorrow and forever.

The Black Equivalent of the Confederate Flag

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For many days I’ve had this constant lingering thought about what would an equivalent symbol be, that Black people can shove into the faces of racist, bigoted and prejudiced whites, like the Confederate flag? What symbol can Black people use to show whites that we hate them? Meaning we hate all white men, white women and white children. What symbol can be used to instill fear in whites, to make them feel less than, to ensure they feel uncomfortable all because we want them to disappear. What symbol can Black people use to make whites feel like this is not their country and they do not belong here.

What Confederate flag like bumper sticker could Black people affix to their car that evokes the same kind of reaction that this symbol evokes? What license plate holder or back up car plate that Black people could buy that blatantly shows passersby that the Black driver and occupants of this car — definitely hate white people? What can Black people do, similar to a Confederate flag run? These runs begin with usually dusty pick up trucks, jacked up high with oversized tires and humongous Confederate flags dragging behind which are then hitched to some pole in the bed. These trucks then “proudly” rally or parade into communities, neighborhoods, cities, counties and towns along highways and state roads intimidating those who encounter them. When the rally is done, they meet up in places like Wal-Mart or a local volunteer Rescue department to hang out. Obviously these are welcoming destination sites for their hatred but where? Oh where can Black people rally in unison behind a symbol like the Confederate flag?

What symbol can Black people use, like the Confederate flag that means to these racist, bigoted and prejudiced whites that slavery was right, the south was right and white is right? What symbol can Black people showcase and attach a corny slogan like “Heritage Not Hate” knowing damn well it should read “Heritage is Hate”. What symbol like the Confederate flag can Black people use to make whites bristle, flinch, gasp, hold their breath a second or two and reminisce about the KKK, lynchings, murders, beatings, rapes, systemic racism, unfairness in housing, education, jobs, criminal justice, police murders and brutality, even high interest car and home loans?

Where can Black people go to shop, for Confederate flag like memorabilia, that has a hateful image plastered on any and everything from ball caps, books, swim shorts, beer huggies, salt and pepper shakers, shot glasses, baby bibs, buckles, pacifiers, shirts, bikini’s, aprons and car seat covers? Where in the United States of America, can Black people pay homage to Confederate historical like monuments and sculptures, murals, street names and bridges, or school names from elementary schools to high schools? Where can this be done?

The short answer is this: our black skin is it. Our black skin is the only symbol we have, that we can use to constantly remind racist, bigoted and prejudice white people that we aren’t going anywhere no matter what the hell they think of us. We do not have a hateful flag that we fly. We should – but we don’t. We don’t have the deep seeded hatred for whites that will make us rally in our cars, on the streets behind a flag or any symbol en masse to let whites know that we hate them. Some Blacks may deeply dislike, distrust and do not want to be anywhere near white people, but the level of devilish hatred and racism that whites have for blacks just is not reciprocated. If we had a symbol or a hateful flag, I doubt 1,000 of them would even sell. It’s not in our nature.

So for now, the only thing I, as a Black person can do, is remain strong, steadfast, intelligent, educated, aware, AWOKE and willing and able to protect myself, my family and my people from the racist symbols and people that exist all around us. I don’t expect these whites to change, for far too long, hatred lives on generation after generation. I do not anticipate that will ever change. I don’t expect these racist whites to ever like me, nor do I want them to. I don’t want to be associated with any thing that possesses that level of hate.  I don’t want my children around anyone that uses that symbol in any way shape or form. For now, the black equivalent of the Confederate flag is black me.

#blacklivesmatter…to me

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Breathe. Exhale. Sigh. Deep breath. Exhale, watch my chest sink deep into my spine. What is this I’m feeling? I’m heavy hearted and I am deeply concerned. Life as I have come to “know it” is slowly turning into something that is terribly unfamiliar to me. I don’t know if it’s A) the power of social media that brings daily events to international attention in a matter of hours or B) the fact that nothing much has changed in many pockets of America – ever. For me, the turning point in my awareness of the blatant injustices for Black boys reached a boiling point when Trayvon Martin was killed in Sanford, Florida. At that moment, the power of social media and the knowledge that other voices nationally and internationally were responding to this child’s death in the same way as I was. My underlying thought was really odd however. I wondered how on earth the black community and citizens of Sanford, Florida could remain so “calm” despite the glaring racism that was taking place in their town. I actually expected an outpouring of rage but eventually chalked it up to perhaps the Black residents of Sanford were more “docile” and “complacent” and did not want to make waves in their town where they would have to remain living. Once George Zimmerman was acquitted, I made a vow to my family that we would never step foot in Florida as a consumer- no matter what. There wasn’t anything I felt I could so but keep my money out of the pockets of that racist state and to this day, I mean it. That was the least I could do. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I’m generalizing. So be it. For me, staying out of Florida is the only thing I can control and the only thing I can do to support the Martin family. It’s my act of rebellion against a system of injustice.

Eventually, I managed to work through my emotions following Trayvon’s death and reflected on my own son, who was in Kindergarten at the time. Although he owned several “hoodie” sweatshirts that he loved wearing, I always felt a tinge of apprehension whenever I put one on him that he asked to wear because I recall the outright ignorance of some white people (and black people) proclaiming that the “hoodie” was indicative of criminality. Clothes now. So I allowed my 5 year old son to wear his hoodie to school as we walked to the bus stop those crisp fall mornings and continued to pray for God to continue to be hedge of protection around him. My thoughts began to focus on what I, as a mother, had done to birth this child and what in the world I would do if someone looked upon him as a criminal and took him out of this world based on his skin color. My. son. is precious. to me. Let me repeat that. My. beautiful. black skinned. smart. delightful, witty. gorgeous. heaven-sent. son. is. absolutely. the. most. precious. thing. to me. I will protect my son with my life at any time and on any day without a nanosecond of thought. I began to see the world entirely differently when I began to realize that as his mother, his father and I planned to have him. We waited until we were ready to have children, owned our own home, traveled where we wanted to travel, purchased whatever we wanted to purchase before we actually settled down to have children. Our son entered this world with loving parents who anticipated his very breath before he even took his first gasp. This child is loved. I know for a fact the majority of parents, loving parents, feel the exact same way as I do. I know for a fact there are some parents who clearly do not feel like I do about their children. I’m not considering those parents in my thought process. I am only acknowledging that there are many, many parents who love their children as deeply as I love mine. That being said….when Mike Brown was murdered, my heart sank again. By the time Mike Brown was murdered, I now was the mother to a beautiful daughter as well. My baby queen. My range of emotions were enormous but most importantly the emotion to protect my children is paramount. Mike Brown and Ferguson changed me completely as a parent.

For that child to lay on the pavement for 4 hours for being basically “disrespectful” to a likewise disrespectful police officer was absolutely mind-blowing. I watched intently as Ferguson grew into a movement. Yes, I saw the images on some livestreams of various aged teens, young adults, men and women riding atop roofs of cars pumping music, swinging fake ass hair, “turnt up” and seemingly taking pure advantage of what looked like a block party at different points throughout the night. I observed real time the looting and destruction of private property but I did not feel outraged by it. I felt most outraged by the circumstances that prompted the looters to act. No one just walks randomly down the street and busts into a QT store to loot and burn it for no damn reason. Tell me where that has happened? Exactly. Duh. There was a triggering event and all hell literally breaks lose. Ferguson started a movement for #blacklivesmatter that I have followed closely ever since. So much so that over the course of several months, I have become knowledgeable of several other deaths of black men, women and children at the hands of police officers. There. are. so. many. names. Names like Dontre Hamilton. Eric Garner. Ezell Ford. Tony Robinson. Akai Gurley. Tamir Rice. Tanisha Anderson. Eric Harris. Walter Scott. Freddie Gray.

The murder of Freddie Gray was pivotal, in my opinion. All of the building rage that was brewing in Baltimore came to fruition with the death of Freddie Gray.I knew Baltimore would not stand from afar like Sanford did. No way in hell that was going to happen in Baltimore. To see the movement grow by leaps and bounds in Baltimore also made me ultra sensitized to what reality is for me, my son, my family and any black person or person of color in this country at any particular point in time. If ever I felt different from the rest, it is now. If ever I felt like my upbringing, my family background, my education, my personality, my manners, my empathy, my humanity was different from a white person –  it is now. If ever I was apprehensive of being in the presence of law enforcement, a security detail, some ultra conservative gun-toting domestic terrorist/good ole boy or off duty “crime fighter” it is now. I have already decided that if I need to call 911 for any reason at all – my first choice would be handle the situation myself. If I am unable to do that, then I would call my Marine father-in-law to come help me out. The last option would be to call 911 and ask for an unarmed EMT or Firefighter to come to my aid but under no circumstances would a police officer be allowed on my private property for any reason. Simply because I do not trust them. I do not trust their prejudices and I do not trust their training and I do not want to invite a potentially murderous tax funded individual into my home who has the full support of a Fraternal Order of Police validating his/her every move.

So today, I viewed the camera phone video of the McKinley, Texas police attack a group of teens, and target the Black children in the group with violent restraints and pointing a damn gun in their faces. Once again, I am vividly reminded that until the police departments are overhauled nationwide, McKinley could be here. Ferguson could be here. Baltimore could be here. North Charleston could be here. Cleveland could be here. Sanford could be here. So I close my writings to say that yes, #blacklivesmatter and most importantly, #blacklivesmatter to me and it always will for as long as I live.

The Pursuit of Failure

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Whenever my mind decides it wants to focus on the future, the images that are concocted in my head really have me feeling a few steps away from hopelessness. Maybe hopeless is too strong of a word, but feeling sad is certainly fitting. One has to understand the whole picture in order to understand exactly what I mean. Growing up in the 70’s I was a “tom boy” and an unapologetic one at that. My parents allowed me to climb trees, ride the lawn mower, run as fast as the wind and basically do my own thing and be my own person. Yes, I wore dresses and sandals but my hair was always a mess. Humidity growing up in Virginia was unforgiving. No matter how I styled it, it would be a puff ball by the end of the next hour. So ponytails and plaits were my go to style until I aged out of that awkward phase and matured. Through it all, I learned to be an independent young person. I felt like I could compete with anyone, I felt compelled to be challenged, I wanted to achieve, I wanted to be successful. I wanted to make my parents and myself proud. I envisioned myself being a leader, a strong person capable of great things. I wanted to be an architect, I wanted to be a lawyer. I put action behind my desires by taking community college classes in high school for drafting so that I could pursue college as an architect major….but the math component and a budding romance distracted me and I gave up. Then I decided law would be my profession and I entered college as what was the closest I could get to a prelaw program – a Political Science major but I waited over ten years to take my LSAT and only applied to one school because I didn’t want to move from the city I was living in….needless to say I didn’t get into the law school of my choice and did not pursue that goal.

Eventually I found a career that I loved in the wireless industry and moved up quickly within the ever-changing business. I reached a point where I was offered a favorable relocation package to work in Texas with a company I had been with for ten years. I reluctantly decided not to pursue it and took a severance to become a wife and a stay at home mother to my first born son. While raising this beautiful child I believed that I needed to earn an advanced degree, in some industry that would be stable enough for me to help raise my family with my hard working (and understanding) husband. Once I decided on a major, I then earned a Master’s degree in what would lead to employment in healthcare (specifically mental health) and/or education.

After pursuing my first job in this field, I realized how corrupt, physically and emotionally taxing and financially unfit that decision was with this particular company. I turned my back on ever doing something in that field again because it was not at all what I expected. Frustrated and realizing I was headed toward less and less options I began to think that having a career may not be in the cards for me and that raising my now two children would be where my commitments lie.

It was a decision that seemed like I would enjoy, heck, I really did not want to punch a clock every day and ask for days off, sick time, yet be at the beck and call of an employer if I really did not have to. So the thought of seeing every step my children make and watching them learn and grow would be memories and experiences that truly are priceless. The only caveat is what is needed to raise these blessings…has a price. It was increasingly getting more expensive to productively raise a family of four on one income as the children grew. So like any capable, independently minded wife and partner would do, I knew I had to help my family. So when a past co-worker reached out to me with an incredible opportunity to work in the wireless industry again at a tremendously strong corporation doing something that I loved to do – I just believed in my heart that my ship had come in.

I claimed the position as the end-all, be-all and “THE” career move that would make me whole again, lessen the incredible load on my husband and provide for my children in ways that I knew they would deserve. I envisioned being out of debt, buying a new home, saving for retirement, paying for college in ten years, heck – taking a vacation. To actually live a middle class lifestyle instead of a middle-class-in-appearance lifestyle which was crafted to fail at any hint of a financial blow.

So after pursuing this position, interviewing, discussing and redirecting myself many times to accommodate this opportunity, working with recruiters and then directly with the employer over the course of two months, news finally came. This position evaporated literally into thin air and my family’s future along with my self-esteem, confidence and career goals plummeted into the ground based on one single line – he wrote to me the following: “I was pushing for you…but I did not have the final say-so.”

So that was that. No further comment, no detailed explanation would come. Just me left to wonder what happened and why? Was it because I failed to impress a director, did I come on too strong? Was it my age, was it my race? Was it my gender? Was it my lack of steady work experience within the last 7 years? Did I tell too many people about it? Did I jinx myself in some way? What could I have done differently to change this outcome? I have no answers to these questions because I just-don’t-know.

Now my mind decides it wants to focus on the future, the images that are concocted in my head really have me feeling a few steps away from hopelessness. Now I envision myself working at a place like Target, facing customers each day with a plastic smile on my face, and there is nothing exciting about punching that clock. I envision myself working for minimum wage or at best, a few dollars more and doing something that I am not proud of, doing something that I hate. I envision myself bitter. I envision myself feeling like the only thing I have successfully pursued is failure.

Will You Say a Prayer for Me?

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How many times have I asked a dear best friend, a sister or mother to pray for me? How many times have I written, “keep me in your prayers”! Yes, I’m always asking someone to pray for me. I believe prayer changes things. I’ve prayed to God so many times to thank Him for continuing to bless me, to protect my family and my sweet children. I prayed for every one of my siblings, I have prayed for complete strangers. I’ve prayed for peace and justice to come to the hearts and minds of those in need. I’ve prayed for bright sunny days, I’ve even prayed for rain. I’ve prayed for safe travels, to keep the divided line on the highways an invisible shield of unfailing protection. I’ve prayed for people in foreign lands, who may be suffering and seeking to find access to basic necessities like food, water and shelter. I’ve begrudgingly prayed for people I do not like. I’ve prayed for racists, sexists, ignorant ass people because I want them to do better, be better. I’ve earnestly prayed for those I love the most, digging deep into the Bible for scriptures that provide strength and understanding. I play spiritual music, gospel music, that fills my house as I walk around and pray. Yes, I know how to pray for others. I know how to pray for family, friends, acquaintances and strangers. I absolutely know how to ask for prayer. I can ask just about anyone to keep me in their prayers. But when it’s all said and done. I just don’t think I know how to pray harder for myself.

Weary

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Naturally, my first blog will be about weariness, feeling weary and tired. I’m a blaqintrovert and I keep lots of things bottled up inside. The dilemma that I frequently confront is my mind being the strongest part for me, but my emotions surging to take over that number one spot. Emotionally, today, I am weary. I have sadly come to the realization that half of my life has been spectacularly lived but the ending chapters are uncertain. Trying to maneuver through these emotions, I find myself reflecting on decisions I made years ago that are affecting my life right now. It’s the old saying, what to do when you encounter the fork in the road? Do you go left, or do you go right? One thing for sure, you have to make a decision. Well, I decided to go left…. and looking back on it, I should have went right. So I find myself in a hole, one that I dug for myself and one that I did not secure with a sound foundation. My hole is not like a well, solid, made of concrete. No, my hole is surrounded by clay, hard in some places, mushy and gushy in others. I don’t have anything to hold onto, I’m actually sinking a little as I speak. As I look up towards the heavens, I do see a little light. As I reach high above my head, my fingertips are stretching every muscle to try to grasp the top of the hole, where there is level ground. The ground above represents some peace, some stability and security. I want to hoist my entire body up to the ground. I want to plant my feet there and feel that the Earth below me is not going to sway, buckle or break beneath me. I want to plant my roots in this soil and grow a strong trunk that will support the people and things that are so important to me. I want to branch out and become the conqueror that is fighting to get out. But today, I am weary and I am sinking a little as I speak.