The Day Our Unicorn Died

For as long as I could remember, she was an idea.  She was the elusive fantasy that my mother held closely.  She was someone who my mother had never met, except in the time and space before she had memories – but she was her deepest longing.  I remember her talking about this mysterious woman as if she would make all things right in the world…or at least in her world.  Something about my mom had been buried under clouds for much of the time that I remember, so if this mystical unicorn woman would right those feelings of discontent, loss, unrest, and disconnect, hey…bring on the unicorn!

In 2010, I moved back to Tulsa.  I’d been back for just a few months when I received some shocking news – my mother found her unicorn!  You see, my mom was adopted.  Not only was she adopted, but she found out she was adopted at the funeral of the woman she thought was her mother.  She was 22 years old, and I was 1.  Not only did she find out she was adopted at her mom’s funeral…but the manner in which she found out only added layers to the trauma.  Her world and identity were COMPLETELY disrupted, and trust was obliterated among those who were supposed to be her family.  After this point, she determined that she would absolutely seek out her birth mother.

The search was only passive for many years, and it wasn’t until 23 years after the initial “revealing” of her adoption that it was indeed confirmed by the Bureau of Vital Statistics. But then 12 years after that confirmation, she got the call she’d dreamed of her whole adult life.  Her cousin – the daughter of her adoptive father’s sister – called to let her know she knew her birth mother. [Follow me carefully…otherwise, you’ll get lost as the relationships are mapped out.] Turns out that my mom’s aunt (this particular cousin’s mom) was best friends with my mom’s birth mother.  Did you get that?  Basically, my grandmother was never “out of reach” for my mother, except for the commitment her entire adoptive family had to keeping the adoption a secret.  My mom’s cousin was sworn to secrecy by her mom.  And when her mom died, so did her contract to keep the secret…so she called my mom and gave her her birth mother’s contact information.  My mom was introduced to her unicorn.

After carrying the pain of betrayal and broken trust around for so many years, it all seemed to disappear when she spoke to her mother for the first time.  I wasn’t a part of that sacred moment, but I remember speaking to my mom after she spoke to hers…and she sounded like a completely different person.  I’d never heard “healing” in a person’s voice before then…but I heard it in hers.  She sounded whole.  She sounded restored.  She sounded checked in.  I felt her love be replenished, and all doubts and fears about who she “might have been” vanished.  These two women connected and melted into each other in the same way that butter melts into bread, adding a savory richness unlike no other.

My grandmother flew out to meet her baby within a month of their first conversation.  Then my mom and one of my brothers flew out to visit my grandmother, and to meet the rest of our unicorn family.  As the daughter of two only children, I used to be jealous of my friends who talked about having aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Because any time I referred to those, it was always 2nd generation…which wasn’t quite the same.  But lo and behold, my mom had siblings with children…which gave me COUSINS!!!  (Don’t judge my excitement, y’all; cousins were valuable connections where I grew up.)

I was so excited to know that this whole portal of family connection had been opened to us.  I started planning to go visit and meet everybody.  From the phone conversations I had with the few members of our “new” family, everyone was so warm and inviting.  The proverbial air was so refreshing with them!  My mom and siblings were SO welcomed…and it was indeed healing.  It was indeed restorative.  And it did the hearts of me and my siblings good to finally see our mom smile not just to keep from crying, but genuinely, from her heart.

I couldn’t wait to finally meet my grandmother and observe her in action.  I looked forward to seeing the little familiar nuances of her personality and gestures that were like my mom.  I looked forward to learning her vibe and way of being, and having the opportunity to learn and grow from just sharing time with her.  Were there things that I did intuitively that I picked up from her somehow?  What traits of mine would I find in her?  I didn’t know, but I was looking forward to finding out.

The subsequent 7 years flew by.  Every year, I’d put it on my list of trips to make for the year, meanwhile enjoying hearing from my brother and mother about their trips to see “Mama/Grandma J”.  Last year, I felt really strongly that I needed to really get out there to see her.  And I kept saying I “needed” to do it.  Then I learned of a diagnosis that would make all my “needing” a compelling priority…but I still hadn’t figured out how to make it happen.  I knew I didn’t want to “meet” my grandmother for the first time at her funeral.

Today, I got the call.  Our unicorn passed away.  She held on as long as she could, but she was tired.  She was ready to release the pain and the frustration of not being who she knew herself to be.  And I missed my opportunity.  I never met her…and my heart is stinging.  So now, I’m preparing to say hello and goodbye to my family’s unicorn all at once; although she’s more like a pegasus now…

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Re-Birth of a Nation

I just saw the “new” Birth of a Nation movie. There were so many thoughts and emotions I experienced as I was watching the movie…but not the ones I was expecting. I expected to feel some angst, but also a sense of victory. I expected to feel pride in the familiarity of the internal fortitude that brought about urgent action. I expected good to win and to feel a sense of “so glad we’re better now”.

But as I left the theater, I felt strangely heavy. For a split second, I actually paused and looked over my shoulder to make sure it was “okay” to leave. And as I pressed the bar down to open the door and walk out into an AMAZING midsummer night-like breeze, I felt a deep sense of gratitude for my freedom – the freedom to come and go as I please, without having to get a “pass” to go 10 feet away from my front door. But that gratitude was followed by anger that not so very long ago, freedom for my ancestors was “optional” and up for discussion, debate, and decision.

Another human being was capable of deciding whether their freedom would or could be granted, and even if freedom was given, yet another human being could take it upon themselves to nullify the previous decision, by finding some “loophole” by criminalizing the newly freed slave and put him/her right back in chains. That anger was followed by frustration and fear that these same tactics are still VERY alive and well at putting black and brown bodies in cages, AND at the unveiling of thousands (actually millions) of people who exist in 2016 who blindly yet boldly support a person who actually lauds and sanctions the abusive treatment of women and those who disagree with his spewn vitriol. And many of these throngs have publicly avowed themselves to him no matter what he says or does.

It has become frighteningly clear that no amount of logic, reasoning, or even emotional appeal will change these staunch supporters. Why? Because it’s not about him. He represents a SYSTEM. It’s the only reason that he’s made it as far as he has without anyone being able to stop him. While he may not have political experience, he is acting as a living, breathing representative of a centuries-old system…and we’ve ALL supported it.

We supported it by thinking it was a joke and not giving credence to his campaign announcement. We supported it by laughing and waiting for him to bow out and seat himself. We supported it by not adequately securing or being prepared to defend the fairly new liberties of black and brown bodies. We supported it by assuming these bodies could sufficiently defend themselves in a system that was carefully, deliberately, and strategically designed to work against them – the more they fight, the stronger the system becomes. We supported it by calling those who speak out about the injustices against these black and brown bodies – and the systems created to reinforce and defend these injustices – “too sensitive”, “race baiters”, or “radicals”.

We are at yet another crossroads as a nation…and this time the whole world is watching. Who in their right mind would have ever thought that other countries would be looking at the “land of the free” and pitying US??? Wondering what the hell is happening, and why no one is doing anything about the horrific state of the nation. How can we fix this?? How do we heal???

I’m reminded of the scripture “if my people which are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sins, and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) But before anyone goes and tunes up the Hammond B3, please hear me…because this is where that “humbling” begins.

To break it down in terms we can all understand, here’s an appendix or “glossary” of sorts:

  • “My people” = ALL of God’s children…which we all are – whether we’re aware of it or not;
  • “Humble themselves” = [does this really need translation? But I’ll indulge…] Everybody quit thinking they have “the” answer, and rather surrender to Love & understanding;
  • “Pray” = speak to God and specifically express a request or desire;
  • “Seek my face” = look for God/Love;
  • “Turn from wicked ways” = stop doing intentionally damaging or hurtful things;
  • “hear from heaven” = connect to original Intention/Purpose;
  • “Sins” = Missed marks; inaccuracies;
  • “Heal” = make sound, healthy, or whole; alleviate distress or anguish

 

The reason this scripture comes to mind is how it breaks down. In light of the trauma we have been experiencing as a nation, it is beyond apparent that we need to FIRST, SEE each other and the divine nature we ALL inherently have and are. This goes beyond our outer coverings and abilities, our socioeconomic situations, our demographics, our differing religious sects and all other superficial walls that we let divide us.

If we will humble ourselves by dropping our pre-constructed and pre-destructive ways of being with and toward one another, we can stop judging (which causes damage and allows us to act hurtfully toward) each other. What would happen if, instead, we spoke to God on behalf of one another? Repetition is the mother of all learning. If we humble and discipline ourselves to constantly and repeatedly advocate FOR the highest good of those we don’t understand, we actually become invested in the outcome. We’d actually WANT to see them succeed, and we’d be willing to play an active part whenever and wherever we could…we’d actually find Love where previously there was only fault. This doesn’t mean we wouldn’t hold each other accountable, but rather it means that we seek the truth in Love and find ways to support positive change and healthy growth. We’d stop dealing in misunderstandings, fear and inaccuracy, and instead make sound and healthy choices that promote community. We would reconnect to original Intention, live in alignment with our chosen purpose, and alleviate the distress and anguish that we have erroneously associated with “living with human beings”. Life does NOT have to be traumatic! Again, repetition is the mother of all learning…and since we’ve been living it, we’ve grown to expect it. We CAN live healed. We CAN live in peace. We CAN live in Love.

But we have to do more than just talk about it. ACTION must be taken. I’ve heard it said that “riot is the language of the unheard”. We can talk Love and peace and healing all we want, but if we don’t act in accordance with those who truly wish to see and facilitate it, uprisings will continue to happen.

So tell me…what will YOUR next move be?


Déjà vu

The most recent tragic events with victims Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the Dallas shooting are reminding me of what we previously, in our slumber, thought were the “dark ages” (no pun intended) of slavery…”loooooong ago”. The accounts indicate that when we (black people) were plucked and trafficked to this stolen land from our African roots, we were perceived as “troublemakers”…”wild” and “untamed” (as if we were savage animals). So, wait a minute…you mean to tell ME that those who were manipulated, trapped, captured, sold and tortured were the ones who were the beasts??? Aw okay. So if that is how truth gets spun, then let’s spin it. IF, now since these hostages have been locked up, beaten, pissed and defecated on (by themselves), they DID exhibit beast-like behavior…who made that happen? Whose black magic transformed those warriors and builders of productive societies into maniacal menaces? They didn’t ASK to come here. They didn’t sign up to be the foundational cargo of the “founding” sociopaths who needed their creativity, expertise and strength to create this so-called “great” nation we now live in. They were DRAGGED into the “system” literally kicking and screaming.

But alas, they get here. The “taming” of the descendants of previous warriors had already happened. They had been “broken in”. They had witnessed enough consistent and persistent beatings, lynchings, rapes, and murders of their sons, daughters, wives, and husbands that they’d chosen to LIVE rather than continue to fight the new reality they were thrown into. Remembering the ways of their native land was dangerous, could cost them their life, and cause pain beyond the humiliation, degradation and denigration of the daily burdens they were forced to bear…so they eventually chose to forget. And when the “new blood” came in, that group was attacked from BOTH, the sociopaths who needed them to find their “place” and settle into it, AND from the black slaves who needed them to basically sit the hell down and NOT make trouble for the rest of them while being broken in.

Now fast forward to the FIRST civil rights era. We managed to unite our factions of blackness to self-advocate. Some of us learned how to “play nice” and “ask politely” (peacefully/non-violently) for those “inalienable rights” which had ALWAYS been “alienated” (literally “made alien” and absolutely unattainable) for us. Others were militant and didn’t give a damn about how they were perceived. At times these groups sabotaged each other out of fear that the other’s process (whether “too meek” or “too forward”) was causing us unnecessary suffering. But somehow we eventually got our rights…so we thought. We finally had the approval to be HUMAN. To sit among other humans. To drink out of the same fountains as other humans (…even if it did eventually get RE-segregrated underground and our portion pumped full of lead). And go to school with other humans. I mean, it was written that we got them…kinda like being told we were “free”, while really just contorting and constructing new ways to fashion the chains to let us know that the oppressor wasn’t readily giving up the possessions that we had become…basically putting into place a new “leash” for the beasts they originally created.

Leap forward to today. We are called “thugs” instead of “savages” or “beasts”. Raped, as our men and women are hypersexualized, and our style and culture is appropriated. We are disproportionately locked up, beaten, proverbially pissed on in the workplace (i.e., wage inequality), and defecated on (BY OURSELVES – i.e., colorism, socioeconomic judgment)…and those who don’t live in our skin wonder why we’re so pissed off. So “hostile”. So unable to “cooperate” or “comply”. So suffocated and unable to breathe. So on edge. So quick to play the “race card”…that’s the f*ckin deck we were DEALT! Every damn card in that b*tch is a JOKER…perceived to have no rank. [UNLESS, of course, you’re playing Spades…in that case, a takeover of those holding “normal” cards is imminent. But I digress…]

The ground is swelling from the insane burial rate of black bodies…and distended from the lack of justice. And to add insult to injury, we fight each other about our process for seeking it, while the Establishment is only too happy to continue to withhold it while we figure the sh*t out amongst ourselves…throwing distractions (“All Lives Matter”) in for good measure. Meanwhile, another black life is snuffed out. And just as we grow enraged about how the victim is portrayed; about the killer(s) not being indicted, let alone seeing the inside of a prison; about another daughter/son losing a dad; about another brother, husband, uncle, cousin, mentor, etc. is assassinated…yet ANOTHER black body gets added to the toll count and hashtagged.

I’m over knowing “my place”. I’m over being polite. I’ve over not calling a thing exactly what it is. I’m over having to bridle, tame, and explain myself. The writing is on the wall, and it’s written in blood: Let’s be honest…black lives have NEVER mattered in this country. That’s why people get so up in arms (LITERALLY) about those who declare they do. Those who are content in the privilege of perceived dominance have waged all-out war on black lives and character…physically, economically, and psychologically. Slaves aren’t bought…they’re made. The challenge we have now is to NOT get “slaughtered” into compliance again. The power structure is threatened. And what’s happening now is a last-ditch effort to restore its security. We can’t yield to the shenanigans.

They’re TRYING to push us into primal survival mode…because THEN their accusations appear to be accurate, and open season becomes sanctioned and justified.   Yeah-NAW. They’ve sabotaged themselves by their own greed. Too much, too often…and it’s triggered allies and co-authors in rewriting this narrative to wake up, speak up, and stand up in ways they never have before.  And HEAR ME when I say this: As MUCH as my humanity wants to point a physical finger at a physical person/group of people, it’s really not a “person” or group of people I’m referring to when I say “they” – although white privilege IS real…but at this point, it’s beyond any person.  This system has been FIRMLY established, and the white people of today are just the beneficiaries of the original intricate setup…whether they like it or not.  But it’s only a matter of time before the whole thing implodes on itself…and now warriors (black and otherwise) have been mobilized to accelerate the process. I hope I live to see the day it utterly falls.   #STAYAWAKE #endofanera


Oh, no you DI-N’T…!

In a recent intercultural development and training workshop, I learned about the concept of “Oops, Ouch, and Educate”.  I don’t know who came up with it, or if that’s even the exact title, but the spirit of it is this: if someone says or does something that is offensive to you (“Oops!”), you tell them.  It might sting or being uncomfortable (“Ouch!”), but then you educate them on why it was offensive AND share with them what might be a better way to be in communication with you going forward.  So in the spirit of that, I’m writing this post to offer support and encouragement to a very special group of people that I’ve encountered throughout my life.  If you see yourself or someone you know in these words, feel free to ‘fess up and/or share!  No judgment past admission…we are ALL works in progress…!

 

As much as I can appreciate the attempt to “relate”…it baffles me when a non-black person automatically assumes that I speak “homegirl”…then commences with the “mmmhmm”s, “girlfriend”s, soul food/music references, neck rolling, lip twisting, or (THE WORST) COMPLETELY UNRELATED references to their mixed children or black [WHATEVER; i.e., boy/girlfriend, spouse, best friend, college roommate, grocer…you get the point].   While I’m glad to know that you are “down for the cause”…you’re going about it ALL WRONG, and further widening our gap of communication.  Not to mention, really annoying the sh*t outta me.  Because NOW I’m in my head, trying to figure out what the hell in our interaction (besides my skin color) made you break out into this alter ego that was non-existent in your communications with other people groups.  And I’m also wondering if you think you’re somehow mirroring me…which is the subject of an altogether different rant.  But for now, I want to encourage people of color the world over (and “white” IS a color…for those who seem to have missed that memo; so YES, this is for you too…ESPECIALLY, actually): the best way for you to relate to ME, is to let me see YOU…the REAL you, not the “my friend’s grandma’s fried chicken” you.  Nkay, pumpkin? K. Thaaaaanks.


Whatcha Lookin’ fer?

Postcards_and_magnifying_glassHave you ever been looking  – and HARD too! – for something…that was already in plain sight?  Yep, this just happened: I’m rummaging through my purse (which has WAY more crap in it than I will EVER need, anyway) looking for my dental floss.  I’d already taken out my travel toothbrush (because I didn’t have time to brush my teeth before darting out of the door, so my nephew  wouldn’t be late for school because of me) and laid it on my desk.  So, I’m just a-lookin’, lookin’, lookin’ for my dental floss…*wait for it*…that I had already taken out WITH my toothbrush, because what I was really needing was my toothpaste. Wait…WHAT?  Damn.

Needless to say, as soon as I stopped shaking my head and rolling my eyes at the foolery that had just happened, it hit me.  This “phenomenon” of looking for things that are in plain sight happens on many levels, in everything from dental hygiene tools to business ideas to life partners.  We actually ALWAYS have everything we need within our grasp…really.  It may not always necessarily what we think we “want”, but we have everything we NEED for whatever moment and season in which we happen to be.  Just think about it.

Ever heard the phrase “Necessity is the mother of invention”?  Well, you can’t “invent” from lack.  We can only invent and make manifest (or call into being) things that we psychokinetically KNOW are already there for us to manipulate…we just have to figure out how.

So if I may, let me encourage you to join me in slowing down, taking inventory, and being intentional in our “search” for the things we believe we need.  More often than not, they (be they ideas, prospects, or other seemingly elusive objects) are usually “right there” in front of us.

What are YOU looking for?


Challenge Accepted

The following is a poem I wrote in response to a friend’s (Mia Wright) challenge on FB to write a poem about love that doesn’t have similes or the word “love” in it.  Here’s what I submitted…

I feel you.

You saturate my being

And cleanse me of my fears…even though sometimes I’m afraid of you.

I breathe you.

I inhale you each time my lungs fill

And you nourish every cell of my being…even when you take my breath away.

I dream of you.

You dance through my mind

And occupy my thoughts constantly…and yet allowing myself to experience you is probably the most mindless thing I’ve ever done.

I long for you constantly.

Because when you’re with me, everything else makes sense.

And the stuff that doesn’t…doesn’t matter.


I’m Sayin’ It

I never felt the need to “carry the cross” for racial equality because I, like many who were lulled to sleep by placating political gestures and distracted by “shiny” things like the American Dream and the right to pursue happiness, I thought “they” (the leaders who led the FIRST round of demands for civil rights) handled it already and that we were “past that”.  But more and more I find myself fighting the overwhelming urge toward indignation because shit is absolutely NOT okay and I don’t feel BLACK voices are being heard. My poise thus far is not because I feel like I need to continue to pacify and “stay in my place”…but rather because once I come out of the box, Pandora won’t have JACK on me. So I’m studying balance…and learning when and how to strategically tip the scales.

But today is not a “study” day.

And I will admit that I was tempted to “qualify” the BLACK voices that “should” be heard. You know, the educated, non-criminal, articulate, “plays well with White folks” voices. The ones that aren’t intimidating, know how to scout out “when to speak” and when to “…remain silent”, what dialect they need to adopt in order to “relate”, and voices dressed in smiles, suits, straightened or neatly curled and coiffed hair, and “tastefully” jeweled. But DAMN THAT.

The BLACK voices that ALSO need to be heard are the ones who, because of pulled funding and pornographically underpaid educator pay, might not put sentences together “good”. The ones whose pants may indeed fall off their ass, or whose skirts may look painted on. The ones who may even have upwards of 3, 4, or 5 children with different “baby mamas” or “baby daddies” and show no evidence of having been introduced to a condom or birth control method. The ones who have a “record”…and I ain’t talking about on iTunes. Why? BECAUSE THEY STILL MATTER! And if you actually listen to what they may not be so-called “articulate” enough to say, you MAY learn about the conditions (and conditionING) that brought them to where and how they are.  Who are YOU, person who is content to perpetuate an overtly racist system masquerading as opportunity, to “qualify” which BLACK life “deserves” to have a voice or “matter”? PLEASE go sit down and take whatever justification you feel you have with you.

Generation after generation of degradation, disrespect, disregard, belittlement, humiliation, second-guessing, and systematically imposed poverty…and you want to tell me that if my brother just pulls his pants up, he’ll “stand a CHANCE” of being heard? So you’re telling me that aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall of this is about some damn PANTS??? Aw okay…

Listen. I’m not saying burn the shits down. BUT it’s hella hard to stand by and watch the frozen molasses of justice make its way down to us. BLACK LIVES MATTER. Period. No laws which can ever be passed will remove racism from the hearts and minds of people. We know this. But still…BLACK LIVES MATTER. This doesn’t take away from any other people group, because YES “ALL lives matter”…but “ALL lives” aren’t being profiled. “ALL lives” aren’t being killed without indictment or prosecution. “ALL lives” aren’t in communities that are self-imploding because more liquor stores and payday loan stores are being erected than schools. “ALL lives” aren’t still haunted by the ghost of slavery, which brought BLACK lives to this stolen nation.

So I’m saying it again… BLACK LIVES MATTER. We are not the “animals” that we were (and, in many cases, still are) labeled. BLACK LIVES MATTER. And I shouldn’t have to build a case to justify why my life matters. Or why my brother’s life matters. Or my sister’s. Or my father’s. Or my mother’s. Or my niece’s. Or my nephew’s. Or my son’s. Or my daughter’s. Or my aunt’s. Or my uncle’s. Or my grandfather’s. Or my grandmother’s. Or…you get the point.

BLACK LIVES MATTER.   I make absolutely NO apology for my indignation. I make no apology for how many times I inserted BLACK LIVES MATTER into this writing. Because “BLACK LIVES MATTER” makes waaaaayyy more sense than “get out of the car!”, “fuck your breath!”, “we found her that way”, slamming a 14-year-old BLACK girl in a bikini to the ground with a knee in her back, killing a child for playing with a TOY gun, evicting a 90-year-old Navy VETERAN from his 60-year-old home (no, not all injustices perpetuated against BLACK people are violent), or COUNTLESS other monstrosities. BLACK LIVES MATTER.  I’m saying it, and will continue to say it…for myself and every other BLACK person who feels the need to be “taught” how to live in BLACK skin without becoming a fatality.  BLACK LIVES MATTER.

I’m not writing this to make anyone uncomfortable. On the same count, I refuse NOT to write it because it does. BLACK LIVES MATTER. This is not a marketing campaign to “convince” the masses…BLACK LIVE DO MATTER!!! I don’t care what the circumstance, what the living condition, what the mindset, what the challenge, what the “attitude”, what the…whatever. BLACK LIVES MATTER.

There…I said it.