The other day, I saw a very disturbing video… had I know what I was about to view, I probably wouldn’t have watched it. The first time the sound was off… the second time too… I didn’t want to hear the gun cock, I didn’t want to hear the gun shots… I didn’t need to. I’ve heard it too many times before. You’ve probably seen the posts, and if not, I won’t rehearse the story here, but anyway…
After doing what I could from afar I decided that I wanted to make my own statement. My narrative never changes. God. Love. Creativity. Social activism. That’s who I am, generally with much laughter in between. Yet, I couldn’t laugh that day, so I made a shirt. If you follow me on social media, then you know what the shirt said…
I asked my brother if he liked my shirt. He said, “You can’t wear that.” I get it. I understand the sentiment, but I have never been and will never be the person who does NOTHING. In that moment, that’s what I needed for my mental health…to once again force a choked hashtag past my lips. As many of the people I know are, I was simply tired of the same conversation over, and over again…
I went to pick up my sister, so she could take pictures of me in the shirt, and my Mzazi said, “Be Safe.” It was a firm statement. As if the thought of me leaving, wearing something I felt from the core of who I am, could be a reason for me to end up in an unsafe situation…
It reminded me of a healing event I went to Brooklyn, NY, where an officer had gunned down a young man in the community. The community had come together to do art projects, massages, meditation, a community chat, and a balloon release. During the community chat, one of the mother’s said that every morning before leaving for work, she looks at her boys and she says, “Come Home!” It was her way of speaking by faith that they would be safe one more day and make it home that evening.
How can we live in a world where that is the reality of a mother! And to think that something as minuscule as a tshirt, if for only a second sparked a similar fear in my Mzazi. If my family knew of some of the rally’s and events I attended in the name of activism, they’d probably fear more… not because of anything illegal, but because of their perception of what “safe” is…
I can only be who I am. I can’t fear tomorrow, I can’t fear an hour from now. I can’t let the constant anxieties that rest in the heaviness of my blackness consume me.
I’ve been on the opposite side of a drawn gun, for no other reason than being born who I am. Being born black is the most dangerous thing that has ever happened to me, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
So to you reading this, if you’ve made it this far… maybe you can identify, maybe you can’t, but equality, justice, truth… that’s all of our burden to carry. Be safe, and make it home!
In Second Timothy 1:7, Apostle Paul says to Timothy, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Before that though, he speaks of the faith, the sincere faith, that ran through the women in Timothy’s family, his grandmother and his mother and because of that he says, I am sure it dwells in you.
So if nothing else, take the advice of Apostle Paul and rekindle that faith, not in man, but in God. He will not disappoint.
As always, feel free to reach out…
To the reader, I love you.
To the creative, I am inspired by you.
To the thinker, I am learning from you.
To the doer, I am encouraged by your fearlessness.
P.s. women are always at the forefront of progression.
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