Who Colored My History?

Who Colored My History?

Note: This blog is one that I published in 2013, but I thought it needed a repeat.

 

black-soldiers-2

 

February is the month officially designated to celebrate all that is Black in history in America. This is the time that the rest of the nation steps back, acquiesce to our request for alone time and watch us step out in unhinged celebration. There will be dinners and functions, programs and marches; books will be read that that are normally tucked away in seldom visited sections of libraries all over this country. For all of this I am grateful but also puzzled.  I ask, is my history really Black?

Consider this: the contributions made in America by slaves and their descendants are no more apart from American History than are those made by slave masters and their children. Our contributions are woven tightly into the fabric of American History; the strands brilliant and outstanding, courageous and strong and without them, the dynamics of America would be vastly different. Our history is American history; equally, American history is mine.

Although we are often divided on issues; we sometimes deprecate one another, insult and misunderstand each other, our hand in building this America is singular. What former slaves and their children have done in and for this country contributed to the building of America–my America. Your America. We helped to build this institution.

We all strive for the same things: freedom, a right to be seen, heard, respected and treated with dignity. Our way of getting such things is often unalike and sometimes even hostile but our humanness should transcend our hostility. And it is true that racism is apparent; a social strategy to keep us oppressed. But we cannot oppress one race or group and remain a “free nation,” because of our undeniable connectedness.

 

polish-and-black-workers-factory

 

We all thrive on the provisions of one another, even when we refuse to acknowledge the souls that have made such provisions.

The babies my great grandmother cradled and fed, the big house she cleaned and the clothes she scrubbed were not her own. But those children grew to be strong and viable; the house was kept immaculate and the way of living for her master was made easier. We all benefit from the work of those Black teachers and tutors, doctors and researchers that rose from the trenches of their enslaved parents and grandparents. They gave us light in the way of inventions and findings and educated individuals.

Likewise the language we speak and the laws by which we abide were not created by Black Americans, yet we abide by those laws and seek to create equality through them. It has taken citizens great and small to establish a nation that has remained a bastion in the world for more than 200 years. We cannot deny each other.

American history isn’t sweet or flowery. No, in many aspects it is brutal, despicable, embarrassing and painful to remember. But it is truth and cannot be changed or altered. But it is the way in which we face such truths that uproots us from our comfortable spaces and causes the scales to fall from our eyes. It is only when we begin to look at each other and see a reflection of ourselves that we can begin a sincere dialog. It is when we acknowledge this truth that we will begin to understand what makes us think and feel and act in the manner in which we do.

To join us as we celebrate those who endured much hardship and bravely adopted this country as their own is not a separate celebration. For as you recognize our history you also celebrate your own.

To deny the contributions Blacks have made in history as American history is to broaden an already growing disparity between our races. A people who will not be heard will always be misunderstood. Celebrate with me, learn with me, discover and be in awe. My history is American.

O.K. Here’s the deal: you’re going down

O.K. Here’s the deal: you’re going down

Maybe I am the only one, but I doubt it. Every night before sleep takes over I hear these voices–crowded, in each other’s way, unrelenting.1muhammad ali

Now, wait a minute, I don’t need to be medicated.  I speak of these accusatory voices reminding me of, incidents for that day not resolved, things I should’ve done but instead  stupidly decided to do something else. They read me a long list of reasons why everything I did over the last 24 hours was useless and the real work begins tomorrow. Only thing is, they tell me the same thing every night. Maybe you hear them too; voices, taunting and telling you that you are absolutely making no progress. Your venture sucks. No one will read or listen or buy whatever it is you’re selling, saying or even giving away.

They send their cousins over to greet me in the morning before I get the sleep out of my eyes, before I’ve had my tea. They remind me that I am out of my league, off my rocker and hey didn’t my cousins warn you last night you are useless at this? Why do you even keep at it?

When I first decided I was going to be a published author I have to admit, my naiveté boarded that of my nine-year-old. This is how it was supposed to happen: I would sit hunched over my computer for hours every day, sipping coffee or lattes or whatever it is that real artists drink. And when I emerged to show the world my fiction master piece, some editor would sit up all night reading, so enthralled she’d be with my work. (Seriously, I heard this happened with Mary Higgins Clark.)  So, we know it is possible but not probable and probably didn’t happen with me because it took my editor months to get back to me.

Anyway, none of that happened at least not that way. Nope. I went something like this: I stood at my computer for a few hours at my night job writing this novel. At home I didn’t have time to put pen to anything except to sign the check for the bill collectors. It took me a year to write and I collected rejection slips like baseball cards. It was all I could do to keep from giving up altogether and I would’ve taken up drinking but I ‘m really not a fan. My hubby told me to get a real job and then he rattled off the someday speech. My kids forgot that I was even writing anything.

So, here I am months later and it’s going to be published next month. And the voices, like out of nowhere (kinda like how maggots seem to mysteriously grow out of rotting meat) assaulting and accusatory telling me what I failure I am, before I have even failed.

What I have noticed is that negative thoughts don’t just go away because they are ignored, no more than a fly would that is sitting on your nose. Just doesn’t happen. Negative thoughts are conquered through positive words, godly words. These words change your thoughts and your thoughts change your actions and attitude.

So, with that in mind, this is how it’s gonna go down. I speak to those voices:  Your entire clan will back off. You have no idea who I am. You don’t own or control me. My God is bigger than you. My will is stronger than yours. My authority is greater than yours. I am not, and never will I be a failure, no matter what happens from here on out. I am walking in my gift and calling. I have studied my art and prayed and worked my….butt off. So. There it is.

Push Past Failure: Victory is on the other side

Push Past Failure: Victory is on the other side

I love new things don’t you? What can compare to the feeling of launching a new project? A new job or a fresh start? But new gets old quickly. It is our nature to give up on things quickly, to grow bored and tired of what use to excite us.

God places within us dreams and visions; we are made with purpose and on purpose. He is not a creator of accidental inventions or experimental concoctions. He is the embodiment of intent and destiny. We awaken when we hear that voice urging us to get up and do.And when the vision becomes clear—oh my!In the days and weeks that follow we move and are excited and can barely behave. With the newness of this energy our capacity to create, build and motivate is limitless. We start that business plan, book or play or seek investors for that new business.We cannot fail.Furthermore it seems like the entire world is on our side cheering us on and it’s as if we can do anything but fly. Success belongs to us.

And then inevitably it happens—the pangs of life come into play.The work is hard—sometimes grueling, the folks that said that they would—don’t.The investment of time, work and energy seems daunting and takes its toll.And we think—it shouldn’t be this hard afterall I’m gifted and God said this was mine. We begin to back paddle or worse yet we seek out a new venture (remember I said everybody likes new).

Listen to this—just because it’s God-given doesn’t mean it’s not work.Remember Jesus’ great sacrifice?That was not a pretty sight up there on the cross. He knew we were worth it. Your dedication and work is worth it.You will fall, get tired, grow weary and do a lot of sighing—maybe some crying. But grab hold to his hand and move. Move even when your cheerleaders pack up their pompoms and go home, when folks question whether or not this really was a smart move.Move, push, push. Learn to become your own motivator and listen to that voice. Whatever you do, don’t stop. You will not fail. Success belongs to you.

 

What do you do when love isn’t enough?

What do you do when love isn’t enough?

There was a couple struggling to keep their marriage together. They’d had counseling, tried to revive their romance and nothing, absolutely nothing seemed to be working. The Valentine-8husband was discussing his relationship with a friend. And the friend asked if he stilled loved his wife. To which he replied ‘Yes, I do.’ And then after thinking about it some more the husband says to his friend, ‘What do you do when love isn’t enough?’

It would be amazing to think that the foundation of all healthy and sound relationships isn’t…enough. Well what do you do when love isn’t enough?

I say that it is always enough. Love perfected is all you will ever need for a healthy and happy relationship. It is not that something is lacking in love, but that something is lacking in us.

The question becomes is that person the one to whom you want to give it all too? Are they worth it? Deserving? Do we trust them with all of us? Will they trample on the best part of us or misuse the greatest gift of all?

When you trust someone with all of you are, when you love them completely and wholly, yes, it is enough. According to scripture, love:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end. (I Cor. 13:3-7)

Yes, that is a lot! But it is love in its purest form. When you love someone in this manner, it is more than enough. But when we shrink back because we don’t trust or believe or aren’t ready to give our all, well, that’s another issue altogether. If you are not ready to love so fiercely for whatever reason, that’s cool too, but you really can’t blame it on love.

Dream Killers: Confessions of a Writer II

Dream Killers: Confessions of a Writer II

the_hyenas_by_mareishon-d1vv3y7_zps85fb92d3I try to remember that dreams are not concoctions of our own volition. Dreams are God-given, which explains why as children we often had these wonderfully wild hopes and ideas that seemed to come from some obscure place. It is actually the simplest and purest part of us, which holds all that matters in life. It is that God place.

As we grow older, the dream killers grow too, noxious weeds, chocking the life out of these pure aspirations. Yet they only work when we allow them room. Remember your dream is in you.

Just like we protect our bodies from the elements we must also protect our dreams from these sneaky killers. I’ve had so many. Yet, I will categorize the few that seem to be the most aggressive:

Jealousy:  This is a painful one. This killer moves on you slowly like the first pangs of child birth (sorry guys) and escalates with such fierceness we become blinded by its intensity. We stop making sound decisions…

Wait a minute.

I’m not talking about those who are jealous of us. I’m speaking of our own longing for the stuff of others. Jealous is based on our insecurities and rooted in fear. Fear that we will never get what is due to us. For years I watched as others around me seemed to soar and embrace their passions and live their dreams. Some were much younger, some, I thought, didn’t even deserve it. Yep, as if this was my call.

What I failed to see was that through the years, I’d made some bad choices, used poor judgment, but not only that, it just wasn’t my time. I wasn’t ready. It is only as I look back on it now that I realize these truths. But jealous will try to drown out truth and kill off your dreams like a heart attack; that’s what happens to your heart when you’re running trying to keep up with someone else.  Not to sound cliché (which is also a cliché) you can only be your best, not someone else’s.

Keeping friends we’ve outgrown:  Often we have a hard time letting go of those that begin to poison or clutter our path. And sometimes it’s not that they say negative things outright, but they are unenthusiastic at best, and apathetic, at worst. Yep, I’ve had them–friends, boyfriends, coworkers. They just don’t get it. They nod, become bored or even humored by this kind of talk that doesn’t line up with their life’s mantra. They have not changed their way of thinking very much, in all the years you’ve known them.

People who believe that all they see is all there is:  These are the faithless folks. They tell you that writing fiction, or what ever it is you dream is way too much work. Not even worth it because it may not even work out.  Or, People would kill to have a good job like you have!  What is really the problem? They only believe what they can see.

The bible says the enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy. I believe it.I know it.

Well, I’m off…Dream killers have been spotted.