Tag: movement

Mike & Jemele & Me


So…ESPN cowed.
The network with few female journalists and fewer journalists/anchors of color, cowed to the red meat-sated viewers who just wanted her to ‘shut up and stick to news.’

(Aight. Okay.)

So, she’s suspended for two weeks.

(Oh, word?)

Yet, her co-host for The Six, Michael Smith, went with her.

(Waitamin…*record scratch*)


Yes, Michael Smith on the day her suspension was handed down did not host The Six with the co-host the network offered as a suitable stand-in.

What did our girl Jemele do to get all this tension and static? What all black women do when shenanigans is afoot:  SPEAK UP.

This was taken from http://www.variety.com, the article is dated October 10:

“…ESPN on Monday suspended Hill for two weeks. The move came in response to statements the anchor made on Twitter encouraging fans to apply pressure to NFL advertisers as a counter to mandates from owners of the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys that players stand during pregame performances of national anthem. The suspension came one month after ESPN became embroiled in controversy over a tweet by Hill calling President Donald Trump a white supremacist.”

So for resisting, Jemele was told by her employer to shut all that up. Call it what it is.

I don’t like it either.

However, what gave me hope, in this GOP Reign of madness, chaos and suffering? Michael “He just might make all this aight” Smith.


When he didn’t go on without her? All of me as a black woman was encouraged and strengthened. He’s hosting it solo.

Why is this?

He supported her.

This is one of those basic things that go into being a complete person:  receipt of support and deserving of respect.

This here? I was elated over.  We as black women sometimes eat each other alive before we support one another. Or that support isn’t what we’d hoped it would be from whom we wanted.

It was phenomenal to see him support her. PHENOMENAL. In the adversarial nature that can be male-female relationships, where support is rarely-traded commodity, the simple act of him saying to himself, “Nall, they ain’t about to do my girl like this and me not say nothing,” and put that into action?

Bruh.

Monumental.

It’s not about who I’d always have in front in matters of support, but who will have your back when the knives and flames reach there while you stand in the front for and with everyone else.

The world needs more Mikes.

Called Black Female


The first woman I had ever seen preach was Dr. Juanita Bynum.
I was raised in a household with a semblance of faith but noncommittal in its practice, meaning I knew there was a God and went to a family church on associated important holidays, and that was it.

At 16, I was baptized, and at 19, I got serious about my faith. It was at that age that I saw Dr. Bynum on TBN.  I thought she was—incredible. She was unlike anything I had ever come across, and I was mesmerized.  Her sermon, her voice, and her presence made me remember what I had told God soon after my baptism:  “I want to be a mighty woman for You.” I didn’t want to be a clone of Dr. Bynum, but I was more confident that I could be like her—I had an example to follow.

There have been moons and years past that TBN viewing, and I have been blessed to meet women who look like that preach the Gospel, indeed the Good News, of Jesus Christ. As I found my own footing in the preaching of the Gospel at 31, I encountered what most women have when accepting this same call:

This blog, and its associated space, is not adequate to disseminate and exegete this scripture, neither is it to debate it from the standpoint of Joel and what he references in regards to daughters or the importance of Deborah in the Book of Judges.

What I can say is there are women that are called to preached the Gospel, and it was a woman that trained and taught me how to operate (read:  work) in a ministerial capacity. It was a woman that affirmed me in my call and taught me this one piece of information that I cling to:

Stand flat-footed and say what God has to say and let that be it. It’s not your job to make them believe, only be obedient.”

-A. Marie Bell

This is a journey I never envisioned for myself. I have found myself in heated discourse with people whom don’t believe I am who I say I am because of my gender and wish to muzzle me because of gender and color.

In this hewn space, indeed, you have to be made and taken from some sort of rock to be both called and black in the same space. One does not seem to overrule the other.


In times of great distress and wanting to give up, I am thankful that God has seen fit to give me a core group of women that I can cling to and glean from and follow their example. From that group, I find the following:

1-Reassurance. I’m not alone nor crazy, and I am needed and necessary in this, the Body of Christ.

2-Strength. I have seasoned women of God in my midst that remind me that I have more in me that I ever thought— I can be tired, but I can’t give up. These women give me practical advice along with the knowledge that the path to my destiny is indeed a process:  I will not die in the getting there.

3. Balance. From these sage mother figures, I learn from their examples, are privy to their failures, and learn that my first ministry is to my family. Ministry is not something that should throw your life off so much that you cannot give to anything else.

4. Hope. From these women that look like me I get the sense of community as well as the understanding and reassurance that I don’t have to be perfect. I get the example of what grace looks like when allowed to operate in other arenas. I get the responsibility of becoming my own person. The most precious thing? I get affirmation that being me is enough. I don’t have to become anyone else or change myself to do what God has called me to do.

From these pieces, I can go in difference spaces retaining my personhood, embody my call whether I’m asked to speak or teach or preach, and be settled in the question of who I am. From that, I can do anything.

Blood Signs Our Name


I have never been ashamed to be black. I was never taught to fear people that looked like me or to hate my mirrored complexion. In times such as these, it is easier to shy from it to be able to blend in and make no waves.

I’m glad that I don’t live in that time and am not that person.

I am reminded of a story Buck O’Neil told about Jackie Robinson. There was a gas station the Kansas City Monarchs stopped at where Jack wanted to use the restroom while the team filled up. The white man that owned the gas station wouldn’t let Jack use restroom, so Jack told him to take the fuel pump out of the team bus’s tank.

The conclusion? Jack used restroom, and the team got gas. Hold on. I know the wheels are spinning, so let me help you.

It’s simple economics:  supply and demand.

And now, black blood is a commodity to be sold and marketed. Supply the murder, demand justice, supply a settlement.

My people are not chattel. We are not property. The lives of my people aren’t secret commerce nor our bodies red meat to appease and assuage white supremacy’s jackals whom wish to will us all away, paying blued foot soldiers to do their bidding.

The blood of husbands, wives, sons and daughters, and extended family is not a traded commodity. Law enforcement does not get God status for a job they applied for to harangue POC whose skin color was never a job choice nor a weapon.


They will hear us.

They will stop killing us.

We understand the only way this unjust system will recognize our humanity, our rightful citizenry, and our full personhood is the removal of black dollars and complete  resistance to white supremacy.

It is understood now that economic disparity is institutional and systematically stacked towards the financial immobility of POC. However, with those monies redistributed in our communities, the repairs within our own social/financial infrastructure can begin.

There is not enough money to buy or replace life or its delegated, selected promises that life will now leave undone. There is no settlement that can be given to settle a murder at the hand of those that protect and serve.

We haven’t forgotten.

We indeed, like Sunni Patterson, said, “We know this place.” We know it like the end of the horror movies we saw where the black kid doesn’t make it.

This time…we will.

“I believe that we will win.”

-Rep. Bruce Franks, Jr.

MO-(D), House Of Representatives

In Order To Become

We know we can’t pick our natal family, or even the environment our family is in. The wondrous thing about this like is, what is natal isn’t permanent.

You go through this life and make your own way and gather your own people. 

Whether they be queer or trans, emo, geek or goth, the finding of your tribe is really you finding whom you are.

So, who are you?

It makes no sense to go through this life and not change or conform. But the power of that dynamic is that it is dynamic. Life itself is intersectional! Don’t shy from that. Accept those things of you that are important or strange to you.

Me? I’m a married black woman that writes and loves art, old movies and comics and Jesus. My community overlaps. I accept that.

I like the dark and the strange and revolutionary along with all these other aspects as well.

So, how do you accept those things to find your tribe?

Easy.

Self-acceptance. The answer to the all-important ‘who are you.’ 

Whoa. I know, right? 

There are things that you immutable about your existence. Your race, your parents, your blood type, where you grew up. But there are things about yourself that you discover as you travel through this life. Things that spark and inspire, unravel you and infuriate, or make you better.

You are the voyager of this ship. Your passengers are up to you. Who will you include? Exclude? Help steer? 

You will never become whom you’re supposed to become until you identify whom you are and find those that see you the same way.

Be brave. Look deep. Be unafraid of what you see or what you find or what is said when those inner treasures are found. All that you find is all you find and yet there will be more.

Journey safely beloveds, the world needs you.
 

Why I Do It

“Trust life a little bit.”

-Maya Angelou

 

My favorite movie when I was a little girl was Firestarter, the movie with Drew Barrymore as this pyrokinetic little girl. When I began to really delve into my black girl geekdom (#blerd), I was drawn to Marvel Comics, especially the X-Men, especially, Jean Grey, the Phoenix herself. I was drawn to these unassuming people, characters that harness all this power, and used to protect all they cared for. I was drawn to the fire, despite being a water sign. How convenient?

My first brush with activism was actually when I was much younger, around 8 or 9. This was with the treatment of Ryan White (Google him, it will bless you), and the treatment of people with AIDS. Again, being  born in 1981, I am old enough to remember this, and even the AIDS quilt. Every year, even now, I try to participate in some AIDS related activism.


I remember talking to my mother about these things, these events I saw in the news, even now. I never could sit with that feeling of being helpless and immobile. When I saw something that disquieted me, I wanted to do something. No matter what it was. Was I born an activist? I don’t believe people are born activists, but your grow into being an activist. I have grown into being an activist.
There is an ability given to man that we have a desire to do better, to want to improve the condition of the world:  leave it better than where you found it. For the most part, we home have a moral anchor want to make it better, not rip the heart out of the life ahead, spoiling anything good for anyone else.

I, personally, want to add to the beauty of this life, I do that by pointing out all the things that are ugly and evil in it. The things that cannot stand, cannot progress, cannot be allowed to return and regrow and be morphed into something else because people think we aren’t paying attention.

I protest.

I speak.

I write.


I show up because life demands it. Life demands that I say something, because I have no luxury to lay in quiet. I am not afforded the peace of being ignorant and oblivious.
I am not afforded to not to recognize my own intersectionality or the intersectionality of others, and how it can be erased or minimized depending on audience and its attention.

Why I do what I do?
The better question:  why don’t more people?

That starts when you cease to be silent, and are willing to see more to the world around you than what is easily accessible to you. It starts when you can empathize and sympathize, and put hands to what it is you wish to change, no longer is speech sufficient.

You must be willing to see what is ugly, hurtful, unfair and hidden in acts of treason, murderous intent, malice and avarice, as well as apathy and lust for power, hidden under in exposed teeth that are not always smiles. You must see it and not look away because it ‘it someone else’s to clean up.’ From this, can all change come.

Yes, it’s important to be the change in the world you wish to see, but you must be willing to see what is in the world you wish to change.

#IAmAFirestarter

 

Doorposts & Pillars

 

img_1291It’s always easy to be strong when everybody is looking. It’s not such an easy thing when no one is watching.

There are aspects to activism and advocacy that can only be replenished when you take time to realize what it is you are trying to do and accomplish. You can be busy doing a myriad of things. But what have you accomplished? What is done? What is there left to be done?

And…can you do it?

There are people that I know that have this extreme grace and gifting of baring up under pressure–the gift of non-collapse. The honorable and terrible thing about that is, people that don’t know them, or know of them, would think that well of strength is inexhaustible. These are the people that I know, and that I love, whom get the constant phone calls, inboxes and invites, because what they have projected is phenomenal and inspiring.

IMG_1292.JPGFor that very reason, those that embody such strength are seen as pillars. But pillars are only as strong as their foundations, and the structures around them.

There was a friend of mine that worked in construction, and specifically, he hung doors. His job was legit to make space, and grant access. When I asked him about his gig, he told me that the best way that you hang a door, it to make sure the foundation is settled and stable. You have to make sure what you’re building on is sound, otherwise nothing else can be built.

Part of the desire to be an activist is the desire to build and settle; he desire to make better and restore–grant access where there was none. The key also is to know when to grant it–and whom to grant it to. Moreover, the reason why you grant it.

Nothing about activism, space-making is meant to be trendsetting. It’s meant to invade and expose all that is dark. It’s meant to be circumspect, it’s meant to be wondered after, and stewed over and meant to include and gather and reassure.

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Activism and advocacy are the foundation of change. Without them, there can be no progress, no love, no justice. When we choose to pay attention to the wrong in the world around you, challenge all that is wrong, you allow  yourself permission to be the hands and feet of change, fueled by the voice of that recognition.

That’s why most trends in social change are called movements. As we change the society around us, we pour the foundations to all things to be built and rebuilt as new. We allow space to give voice to what is needed, and what shall be changed, and how to make these things amicable to whom change would benefit.

We stand in the door of change, because we have decided to grant it.

 

 

 

Guest Post: The Why I Do -Marissa Southards

Image result for ain't nobody's free until everybody's free

I’ve been called many things in my life.

Mom.

Wife.

Professional.

Artist.

I’ve also been called an activist.  While I’ve had causes I’ve supported through my adult life, no event compelled me more to DO something than the shooting of Mike Brown in 2014.  In that one moment, my world completely shifted.

As a mother, the thought of my baby laying in the street, unprotected, for nearly 5 hours, left me shaking with outrage.  After years of working as an advocate against child abuse and shaken baby syndrome, I felt the need to move in a different direction.

I educated myself on white privilege and the new Jim Crow.  I talked – at length – with other white people about what systemic oppression looked like.  I supported and lifted up voices of color to bring light onto injustice and the absolute tyranny of our system.  I marched.  I rallied.  I protested.  I attended countless city council meetings in hopes of seeing a “win”.  I inserted myself into situations that I shouldn’t have.  I had hard conversations that I should have had.  I learned.  I grew.

Image result for keith haring peace

I saw the outright bashing and death threats against people of color.  As an ally, I was told to get a job, to get a life, to get screwed, to get lost.  I was a race traitor, a disgrace to the white race, and oh yes, would I like a side of sexual assault as well?  Because certainly no white girl with a “respectable” upbringing could ever stand side by side with “them” right?  This is where I call bullshit.

White people showing up for black lives is happening.

It’s happening everywhere.

Quite honestly, Ferguson is everywhere.

Whether you call yourself an ally, a co-conspirator, or doing that “white folk work”, it’s up to white folks to tear down the systems of oppression against people of color.

Why?

WE BUILT THEM.

White men in power built a system meant to oppress anyone that didn’t look like them.  The justice system is right now working just as it was designed.  Let’s examine some recent history:

Tamir Rice – no conviction.

John Crawford – no conviction

Walter Scott – pled guilty to civil rights violations in order to avoid the murder charge.

Eric Garner – no conviction

Michael Brown, Jr. – NO CONVICTION

And what will happen to Officer Jason Stockley?

Will he walk too?  History says he will not be convicted in the murder of Anthony L Smith.

Yet society tells people of color to be calm.  And to be peaceful.  How can we expect people of color to remain calm in the face of decimation? How can any semblance of peace be found in the face of state sanctioned extermination?  The judicial system is giving its blessing with each and every non-conviction.  How are we not outraged?  It’s that outrage that keeps me moving forward.

 

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Now, there are times when I want to give up and walk away from this activist life.

But the thought remains that for my friends of color, they can’t walk away from being black.

There are times where I’ve definitely retreated so that I can regroup and revive.  But the life will always call me back.

Calling oneself an activist doesn’t just mean you attended one protest.

It’s a way of life, and a specific calling within ourselves.  It’s constant conversations and education, not just for others, but for yourself too.  It’s learning about concepts like intersectionality and intrinsic bias.  But it’s that warrior spirit within that drives us forward to keep at it.  I cannot sit idly by while part of our beautiful humanity is systematically decimated by those in power.  I cannot stay silent when broken window policing is being voted in as a societal norm.

So for those who choose to stay in their suburban privilege and fear for their safety when driving through downtown St. Louis, I say – if you’re not outraged by now, I’ll keep talking to you.  I’m not giving up.  I see you, and your silence is your consent.  And trust me, I can talk all day.  I can really talk all day about white supremacy and our complicit role in it.

 

 

Image result for black lives matter

 

Pro tip:

Just because you didn’t own slaves, doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. The more silent you are, the more I’m going to talk, in fact.  My spirit and love for humanity is what drives me.  And it may drive me right to your community to do a bit of that “white folk work”.

 

-M. Southards,

Activist/Collaborator

Artist behind The Awakenings Project

August 20, 2017, 9:04 pm

 

 

 

 

 

#ImWithHer

I have been in awe of few people, and feared even less. Aside from my Aunt Linda, the only other women under 5’6″ that I have feared are my grandmother, my mother, and State Senator Maria Chappelle Nadal. I adored State Senator the moment I saw her on television before her now undoubtable afro.  I respected her because that same power she housed was the same power I had grown up with and around. That roar, that passion, that element of being nonfuckwitable? Oh, yes. I was familiar with.

Oh, I was familiar with and had that same iron-pushed will bestowed upon me since birth. One portion of that nexus of necessary, saged power that fuels black women.  She is definitely a shero.


After the sweeping tragedies in Ferguson, Riverview and the Shaw neighborhoods in 2014, when all we could do was fight, cry and organize, the only tethering force in the local politics arena was, State Senator Maria Chapelle-Nadal and Alderman Antonio French.

There was a palatable sense of being alone that was perhaps best identified after the first lynching after Emancipation:  free, and trapped.

The realization that your life, those you love are tethered to the will of unstable man and the laws made. The horrible realization that those laws may not protect you, when they are easily used to snare you.

I had met her in passing, during the pig roast in Ferguson, right across the street from the Ferguson Police Department. She wore white, sandals, and her afro and shades were impeccable. She had this presence about her, reminiscent of the what you see in matriarchs. You had to know what you came for to come to her, she was unavailable to foolishness.

I shook her hand as my husband introduced us, and she gave me this warm smile. I wasn’t intimated, not like most people would count being intimated. I didn’t shrink away from her, but I studied her. There was this energy about her that I knew. Hear me now. That I knew.

There was this energy about her I noticed, even in that causal setting, that made me want to know and be wherever she was. This Naomi like presence, this Deborah power, that made me respect her just because she was there. Because she was there.

For so many, local and long distance, #Ferguson was a lucrative and a source of exploitation. “Somewhere people went” to say that they went, and they got their pictures, and cursed out the police, became part of a hashtag, and flood timelines for a day or so.

Even the other legislative membership blew through like so frequent St. Louis thunderstorms, one of the anchoring people I saw, was State Senator Chappelle-Nadal. Whom I called Mother Maria.

There was no Stenger, no Slay, No Dooley, no Dotson, no Belmar, no Chief Tom…

It was us. It was the most isolating, impairing feeling ever…

It will take more than a Facebook comment to make me walk away from her. It will take more than some folk chattering and muttering about said comment to make me forget the woman that called Gov. Nixon a coward (because that’s what he was), stood in stead for a community that was dual exploited on the floor of a state legislature, the woman that sat on West Florissant and was tear gassed because the sitting protestors she was with ‘wouldn’t disperse.’

This is the same woman that I saw on a consistent basis, listen and do, and give and speak when no one else would. Or would be bothered.

We have all said something we wish we would take back because of its interpretation, but not the passion behind it (as my grandmother would say, “Wishing don’t make it so.”).  I have seen other people lash out with worse on social media, especially in matters of race and politics. Sometimes our words give people the key to our Ivory Tower, they allow other people to check us. But…that doesn’t make me walk away from Mother Maria.

In the tradition of leadership before her, like Rosa Parks, Barbara Jordan, Harriet Tubman, Mary Cady Shadd, Mary Church Terrell, and Ida B. Wells Barnett, she has put herself in her constituency, been included when it was or easier to be removed–trading right for easy. Much like Ezekiel, she has sat where we sat. That fact cannot be lost or erased.

Her presence lifted, her voice reminded and her actions among the people whom counted on her gave hope to the strength offered as we press towards justice, peace and recognition that indeed Black Lives Matter.

Thank you, Maria. Thank you.

#WeGotUs

 

 

 

And We Speak

“Mike Brown saved my life.”

-A. Templeton, 2015*

 

August 9, 2014:

My husband and I were headed to our Saturday night service in South St. Louis. We were living in Ferguson, and had lived there with our kids for about a year. We were new pastors and our church plant was Spirit Of Life Church. We left home, and he was driving. There was so much traffic on West Florissant. It was backed up and we were upset about the possibility of being late. My husband, the meticulous one of the two of us, was eager to get where we were going.

I remember having this cold feeling. It wasn’t dread, but something was wrong. It’s a feeling I have had only since I have become a parent. This sense that something within me, part of me, a thread of my being was pulled and I could not catch it to cut it. I told my husband something bad must have happened. I took out my phone, and looked through what was trending. It wasn’t until I got to service, that I had found out what happened:

Officer-involved shooting. 18-year-old African-American male. Dead.

His name: Michael Brown, Jr.

 

They left him outside in the street for four hours. We had been in that traffic. We had been within the net of all that had gone on, and complained about being late for service. We had just seen people strewn along the sidewalks and streets, confused and angry, clutching one another and I had fussed about the traffic and wanted to get to service.

What followed from that day was the beginning of what has become no less than a tidal wave. We were swept into this roux of people that we would have never passed on streets, avoided in stores and never spoken to in public. Our neat bubble was broken, yet we had not died. I remembered how loud I cried, how hard I prayed, and how I cried to God not to let them kill all of us.

There is a scripture in the book of Isaiah that reads as follows, in part:

Here I am Lord, send me. (Isaiah 6:8)

This resistance, this activism is service. It is this that compels me to speak and to be a vessel for such speech. Such amazing things happen in the course of hours, and days, and it was this single event that has unlocked portions of my faith that I had only whispered about.

Part of the prayer I shouted as my biblical foremothers, in their strength, their passion, was, “Lord, you see what they are doing! Don’t let them kill all of us!”

There is something to be said for that type of endurance born from such a place. It ignites. It unlocks. It unties. And most of all, it UNITES.

Here. I. Am. Lord. Send. Me.

It is sometimes in the the face of lions, that you discover that you, too, can roar. And you must. Sometimes, your voice, hands and feet are the tools God uses and sends to be change and the answer to prayer. Indeed, He does move in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.

And sometimes we are His instruments.

 

*-This a direct quote taken by a young woman I have been blessed to know that I will only identify as A. Templeton. When she first said this quote, I remarked on how open it was, and how candid it was. And as I reflect, this quote became applicable to and for the people I have encountered since this day 3 years ago. The wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. echoes through it: 

Our lives begin to end the day be become silent about things that matter.