Fascinated by Fantasy (as Reality)

I’ve been wondering why I have been feeling so heavy. Why I cannot simply enjoy the privilege of now being able to purchase my latte, in line right next to a white person, from a corporate conglomerate profiting from modern day slave labor largely at the hand of men and women who look like me in prisons, and skip off to work and be happy and satisfied with the fact that none of the people in management look like me, and no one being hired looks like me, but I’m supposed to be satisfied with the payment for my compliance every two weeks.

I’ve found my way from working in corporate spheres where I experienced the monument of power and influence that multi-national corporations wield in their ability to pay hefty salaries to all of their employees, spare no expense at throwing over-the-top events thanking their employees for catapulting their owners into deeper seas of wealth. And it was all ok, because what they spend on these meager employees is a drop in the bucket to the profits they make on their backs. They’re ok with diversity at the entry level, sure! Maybe a few faces of Color are allowed to sit in senior roles (a step up) from staff level, and even fewer at the manager level. And then one day I had to ask myself – after a 40 hour workweek- what am I accomplishing? How does making white men richer improve the world I live in?

So I moved into education, from which my parents had also dedicated their lives. Considered teaching, but craved broader systemic impact so I began in administration. Entering the system knowing full well the whisperings people had told me about the “machine” that ran the system which was constructed to ensure the demise of children of color. I was determined to be the change from within. Sneak up on them unsuspectingly. And I did what I could do within my sphere of control, but of course my hands were never anywhere near the controls of the “machine”. The heart of that beast was centuries old, with roots that run deep in our city’s history. There were good running starts with some initiatives, and when they reached any level of momentum there was swift action to knock them down and crush hope. The end game remained the same, to keep communities of color hopeless.

And so I moved on, into the non-profit world where there was some separation from the corruption of well-paid politicians with predetermined agendas, and I hoped that here is where real progress could be made. Schools, managed by people who looked like me, and who were truly making progress, producing students who were prepared for college and careers, growing teachers who truly loved and respected kids….I hoped. But found disappointment again. Once more behind the curtain, white hands at the controls with disconnected views of “those kids” who told stories of bleeding hearts for saving our kids.

So I switched organizations and careers paths from operations to programs. Having observed that “programs” is where the work and magic really happens. That is where the rubber meets the road. Here is where I will find “my tribe” of people moving towards a common goal, academics who are smart enough and who have read enough studies to know the necessity of diversity, who understand and have been driven to this work after grieving over their forefathers role in driving this country to the violent and hateful racial dichotomy that we live with in today. “These” people are here because they “get it”…they have to! They could spend their money and time a million different places, but they’ve chosen to serve black and brown communities across this country- they have to get it!

But alas, here I sit…at the precipice of turning 39, still wondering how.
How is it, that as a society we can wake up and face each other everyday, not speaking a word to each other about the vile atrocities that are happening right beneath our noses?
A black child was just shot last night, in the city we live in. And you want me to care about the frustration of your commute in this morning?
How am I not supposed to be enraged, depressed, traumatized, hopeless, helpless, fearful and paranoid all at once? And how do you question or label me for being anything less than chipper and unintimidating?
How white advocates can be more motivated to action to save an abandoned or battered dog, than when they hear news of a black boy being killed senselessly?
How all of us still go to work like brainless cattle when citizens are being rounded up and deported? (And again, why there wasn’t this much of an outcry when young black men are being slaughtered in high definition video recordings with NO punishment while the public tax dollars pay these murdering police officer’s salaries and pensions, the judges the attorneys and everyone in the system who failed to deliver justice.)
How “Love & Hip Hop” caricatures became the idols and icons of our black girls and black boys?
How I explain to my daughter why black men call each other ‘nigga’ but it’s not ok if a white person does the same?
How we are not shutting down the entire country with the knowledge that slavery is still alive and well in 2017?! How many ways do we need to be told of the injustices and oppression that we are inherently exposed to on a daily basis to FEEL something enough to change it?

But what I have been feeling for a long time now is finally settling and cementing as truth. Our collective society is intentionally asleep. The overwhelming majority of the United States would much rather hide behind the screens of their cell phones than engage in any real human interaction. Weekly lightweight comedic sitcoms, fake “reality” shows, and the absurd truth that nowadays ignorance is king and idiots that display their unique talents can be overnight celebrities and live better than your uncle, or aunt, or grandfather who has dedicated their life to working hard everyday, without taking sick days or shortcuts, just to make a decent life for their family. But this is what reality is to the majority of the U.S. Mix this with a daily doses of alcohol, weed, prescription pain killers or anti-depressants, and wa-la = an unconscious America.

I get weary of living among the walking dead. And while I know progressive and impactful work is being done in pockets of our society, there are times when I cannot help but feel like we are punching our fists against a stone wall.

Nevertheless, Malcom who was much younger than I facing much greater challenges than I – never quit. Martin, faced the same and never quit. Harriet faced far, far greater risk and though she couldn’t undo the entire system or free everyone- she never quit. Angela still hasn’t quit. Huey never quit. Marcus never quit. Our journey is a process, and we each play a role in moving it forward.

“Land of the Free, Home of the Brave” – Let’s Build a Wall(?)

In 1886 France gifted to the United States the Statue of Liberty which has since rested at the shore of New York and New Jersey. At the foot of this green shackled figure is an inscription that reads

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This gift was intended to be symbolic of Lincoln’s “abolishment” of slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation at the conclusion of the Civil War with the south. What we know to be true however is that slavery was not abolished by Lincoln’s proclamation as it only applied to the 13 border states. Even in 1865 with the passing of the renowned 13th Amendment Abolishing Slavery in the U.S., there was yet still a catch. There is always a catch.

The 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution which still stands today in the year 2017 reads as follows:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

“Except”…you are free “except”… You are now no longer captive, have been stripped of your language, culture, family, spirituality, and your spirit & body have been beaten and pummeled for the last 400 years, but you are ‘free’…”except“….

For African descendants in this land we call the U.S., the majority of us first of all we’re not brought here by our own choice. While Africa’s children were on every corner of this planet before it was “discovered” by any European, the only groups of people in the narratives of this country that are considered to be “founders”, “immigrants”, or “poor and tired” are those of European origin. So the premise of this now patriotic symbol of this country that claims to be a democracy, though in all legal documents and political foundations that originated today’s operations was always intended be a republic (of the appearance of involvement of the masses), was never intended for all of us. There’s that catch again…

Then on the heels of this grand gesture of symbolic “liberty and freedom for all”, here we have the 13th Amendment passed that speaks to the conditional emancipation of African people in this country, and in the same breath immediately throws in an exception to this declaration. Where else in history have we seen statements of perceived goodwill and human consciousness, only to be followed up with an alternate manifestation of the very inhumanity that was just declared intolerable? Well…sadly this tends to be a familiar story when we learn the real truth about the history of African descendants on this planet versus his-story.

And even now, in an age of digital expansion, the Information Age, humanity has been around longer and therefore should be wiser…we have this great “land of the free”, this “land of milk and honey” whose inhabitants (who were largely European once again) vote into office a leader who ran his campaign on doing the exact opposite of what this “great country” is supposed to represent; building a wall. Not a wall of protection against invaders, as you’ll see when you travel around the globe. All brown and native countries have now historic forts around some area of their perimeter to protect and defend themselves from the European tyrants that they knew would come to take all that was theirs and destroy their culture and way of life which they often completed successfully. (Don’t believe me? Look it up!)

But the wall proposed for the U.S. is not protection against invaders. No. It’s to keep out brown brothers and sisters who are seeking opportunities to create better lives, for themselves and their children. That’s all. Not to mention, when did this country change its mind about immigrants?? The United States were established by immigrants, but now we as a country aren’t willing to accept any more? Oh no wait…just “brown” immigrants, right? Because once again there’s that catch…there’s no wall being built to keep Canadians out, or Europeans. Why is that?

Any other rationale that has been purported about the need for a wall is a lie from a habitual liar. And yet of the 241 million people of age to vote in this country, 61 million voted in support of oppression, racism, elitism, irrationality, and masogony. In fact the campaign was run on a tag line promising regression. And people held up signs excitedly.

The consciousness of our country is asleep at the wheel, and this is largely because we have not been told the truth. What do you believe to be true about what this country stands for? Why do you choose to live here versus anywhere else? What evidence do you have for those beliefs? Are they true? Are they really? Or is that what you have been told and you’ve chosen to accept it as truth?

I challenge you to examine your beliefs about not only the his-story you’ve been told, and the actual systems and structures of this country and who they are designed to serve (because it’s not you), but also examine where we are headed given the current state of our society. What do you think is about to happen? Honestly…think about it. Consider all of the possible outcomes, good and bad- and do they align with your beliefs and who you are?

If so, congratulations you’re in for a ride. If not, I suggest you get busy.

Pulling Yourself Out from the Darkness

img_0323Life is pressure.

Each day you open your eyes to a new day, what first comes to your mind? For the majority of us, it’s the work day ahead, bills that need paying, kids to feed, reminders around your home of projects you need to get to, etc.

We turn on the news and we are flooded with images and information aimed at slowly picking us apart; bombarded by a circus act labeled as the democratic process in this country that is a republic, another black man slaughtered by a police officer, ads for life insurance just in case you die (a response to the countless subliminal messages received about the ways you may go), reports of the FDA now revealing some foods we’ve been eating for years will kill us, news of another officer who will not be charged for murdering a black person, pop these pills to lose 50 pounds in a week, pop this pill to make your body respond to sex because the food is silently shutting down body system functions, a pill for the side effect of the other pill you’re taking (with a possible side effect of death), reports of another government corruption scheme unveiled and no one will be punished…and it goes on and on…

I have come to believe that life can be like a pressure cooker. The elements around us adding stress and expectations of what we should do and how we should look. I’ve felt lately that several of the friends close to me have been feeling the pressures of life weighing heavily upon them, and I myself have shared in this same mindset. Feeling like the world is just too much, too heavy, too hard. These moments come. When you’re in it, it’s hard to recall how you got out before. If you are in that place now, here are your instructions. And if you aren’t there now, just bookmark this page to guide you when you find yourself in darkness again.

1. Lean on the Creator

It is usually when I am trying to do it all on my own, and trying to weild control over things much bigger than me that I feel overwhelmed and my worries swallow me up. Our Creator sees all, knows all and is just awaiting your conversation with Him. The strength of prayer is greater than any other power of this world. Use your power! Let God hear what you cannot say to anyone else and watch how God guides you out of your worry, loneliness, sadness, etc.

2. Pull on your “rocks” 

We all have that one person (maybe you are blessed to have 2-3) that knows you as well as you know you. They are the person you unflinchingly call family. The friend you don’t have to clean up for, or act as a host for when they come over because they don’t require it. This person is your rock, they love you, support you, and honor who you are with no intent to try and judge or change you. This person is who you need to go to when darkness surrounds you and you’re feeling low. Your rock can speak to the places in you that you’ve lost sight of at the moment. Your rock can be a shoulder to cry on, and an ear to listen; and then they can pull you back to yourself.

3. Remember Your Purpose

Your purpose, the reason you are here, the mission you are here to fulfill. The world will not be as it should be if you do not carry out your cause, so remember it. Recommit to it. And if you don’t know yet what your purpose is, then use that as your fuel to press on.

Stay strong beloved. You are not alone and you are loved.

Peace.

Letter to the Deaf, Dumb & Blind Politicians

I am writing to ask for your immediate advocacy on behalf of our city on a number of issues that are killing our city.
1. The behavior of the Chicago Police department which has been documented on cell phone cameras recently is outrageous. But unfortunately, there is a long history of horrific behavior against people of color by CPD in this city. (I came across this site as a resource for this data in the event you need some evidence http://invisible.institute/police-data/) I am asking that you support efforts for an independent review board and legislation that prohibits access to city pensions for officers with excessive issues reported of racist behavior and violent aggression against people of color.
2. The violence in our city is raging out of control. Why is it that we have cameras on every corner and every CTA bus in these “high crime areas” but cannot prevent, convict or stop a single shooting? How is that possible unless CPD is turning a blind eye? This HAS to stop. This needs to stop immediately because no one on our city, no matter what neighborhood we live in, are safe. We are one city. When one of our neighborhoods is hurting, our entire city feels the pain. Our highest need communities have been neglected in this city for decades. First, deplorable neighborhood schools that do not adequately prepare them for college or employment, then lack of employment opportunities. Then due to low or lack of the ability to earn a living wage, people are trapped in high crime neighborhoods because those are the only areas of the city you can afford to live – what the hell do we expect will happen?? How can we in good conscious allow anyone in our city to live like this? No child in this city should be faced with death as frequently as our children on the west and south side are. They are literally living in a war zone. Losing friends, family members, and stepping over blood stains on sidewalks everyday. This cannot be our reality and it has to stop. I am asking that you make your voice heard to require this city to utilize every resource available especially as it relates to utilizing the many thousands of cameras (blue cameras, red light cameras, speed cameras, security cameras, CTA cameras, satellite cameras, etc) and put the tax payers dollars to work for our own safety. As John Bills continues to enjoy life and live as a free man after he misappropriated and profited millions by using taxpayer dollars from these cameras. This is overdue and needs to be done immediately.
3. Denounce and reject legislation currently pending that would cause UBER and Lyft to leave the city, and remove the option for income to thousands of Chicagoans. Again this is a tale of two cities, with UBER and Lyft being penalized for providing jobs, income and transportation to families on the west and south side that are NOT currently serviced by cabs!! (Or grocery stores, or road maintenance, or snow plow services, or streets and sanitation…but let me stay on the subject at hand).
This city is home for ALL Chicagoans, not only the residents in the wealthy areas of the city. Your elected post requires you to serve at the behest of the expressed priorities of your constituents. I urge you to carefully consider the points detailed above and take appropriate action to carry forward the actions outlined above. Fight on behalf of the citizens of this city. Every single resident deserves to have the opportunities that are available to residents in “wealthy” areas of the city; a safe neighborhood, good schools, clean streets, and a healthy economic ecosystem. I urge you to demand respect for all citizens in our city, regardless of their zip code.
Thank you.

Whisper Like A Child

image

We are all seeking permanence
Some way to let the world know we existed
We carve our names on trees and wet cement
Conscious that they’ll outlast us
Have children who will live on for a time when we are gone
But the truly indelible are the 4 elements
Who wear no names
All of our dna, all of our works of art,
All of our dancing and music and writing,
Our words spoken
Dissolve into air and earth
We chase fruitlessly an end that cannot be achieved
There is no you or me
We are but a whisper
In the passage of time
Seeking the acknowledgement of other whispers
Feeling validated and exalted as a result
A self created prison of perception
I’d rather live free
Free of judgement
Free of acceptance
Free of awareness
The likeness of a child
Free to be, whomever and whatever I was moved to be
Our children fly with powerful wings
And we at the ones that clip them and teach them to walk
But rebirth is always possible
So I choose for the rest of my days
To whisper like a child
With a heart full of joy
And a spirit free


The Dream Is Dead

imageWhat are we to do when we are violently and definitively shaken from the dream we have been building and living within, to face the cold, harsh nightmare of reality? All of the rules we have been taught, all of the straight lines and correct posture and presentation, all the accolades for jumping through hoops..and they don’t mean a God dam thing.

We are taught on one side that we are all unified and interconnected; we are equally entitled to love, peace, freedom and justice. Yet in our functional reality we wake up each and every day, get our morning dose of heartbreak and suffering from the news, radio or paper, and without flinching march robotically to the nearest Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts for a shot of caffeine to numb us from feeling and shock our bodies into slaving for master another day. Where is the inter connectedness? Where is the heart? Where is a trace of human decency to feel a desire, need, want, or responsibility to help your fellow human being who is suffering? To stand in opposition of injustice without asking permission?

I do not understand how the world keeps spinning and we have no reaction to the tragedies that abound around us everyday. Yes I do. It’s called modern day enslavement. It’s the unequivocal dependence on the almighty dollar. There isn’t an action made in this world that is not motivated by the green. Not out of love or kindness or righteousness or fairness or laws or duty- just money. They even have us believing that those with the most green experience the most freedom. I’m beginning to see that the opposite is true.

Without green you are not bought. No one owns you or your time. You do not have allegiances to people or things outside of you  and your family’s interests. No one owns your voice or your actions in this highly publicized fake-social world. All of the measures that keep us bound, running, and constantly feeling unworthy are non factors.

But what is the purpose of this nightmarish dream? Because it’s very clear to me that suffering is the only constant I see. So we are taught to choose a focus and ignore reality. Chase green harder. Drink more to numb it. Smoke more to escape it. Live reckless and inflict more suffering on yourself as punishment for feeling powerless, or to others because you can. Pray harder. And then what? Reality doesn’t change.

I’m seeing battles waged everyday with most of them lost and evil wins. The few wins provided hope. But the war has been raging for centuries…do you think we are winning?

Chasing An Illusion

imageEven the greatest among us have vices. We all require a space in which we can be imperfect. We struggle to live up to the standards that have been set before us; to achieve success within the construct of what society defines for us. But our humanity finds a way to bleed through regardless of the height of our achievements. There is not one of us who is not seduced to surrender to the ecstasy of impracticality, illogical behavior or out right foolishness. It is hard to live in an upright fashion 100% of the time. But so foolish of us to believe that any one of us can.

We all have this vision of “success” “happiness” “beauty” “normal” “correct”…and all of them are merely fantasy. Who is it that we have seen that has achieved all of these visions we chase? What do they look like? What is the quality of their life? What is the depth of their character? But ultimately, are you them?

Obviously you cannot be them and still be you, so that question is absurd. However the idea of chasing a set of circumstances that you perceive to bring another person any one of those “visions” (happiness, success, etc)  is NOT seen as equally absurd!! You are not them. I am not you. Your happiness will not cause the same reaction in my life as it does in yours, because my whole journey has been a different & unique one.

We get so caught up in measuring ourselves against one another, when none of us are on the same scale. Even those perceived as the wisest, prettiest, bravest, most athletic, most ambitious, etc of us all; they all – we all – have those taboo imperfections.

But how else can you identify an original, without an imperfection?

 

 

 

 

*Love Abundantly. Peace*

 

 

The Perception of Our Youth

It is worth considering, how we perceive and treat our children. Not speaking biologically, but our children as a society. As we become adults- which is typically determined by reaching a certain age- there is an inherited pressure to have all the answers, assume all the responsibility, and definitively separate ourselves from “childish things and behavior”. I would argue we do this to our own detriment. We trade innocence & wonder with stress & hardness.

Why is it that when we become adults and seemingly “mature” to higher heights, we forget about how much we ourselves wanted to be seen, understood and heard as kids by the adult world. From the perspective of a child, adults are disconnected. We humored their ignorance about the reality of our lives, and sat through their lectures and then found ways to still do what we wanted to do. Ultimately, if there was ever a voice that truly wanted to hear what we had to say, and spoke to us with a level of respect, those were the voices we listened to. How do we become “grown ups” and shake our heads at the behavior of the youth instead of relating and understanding it? Yes, the world looks very different from what it was when we were growing up, but the core of the issues remain the same. Why not tap into that uncomfortable awkwardness that we all struggled through as we tried to find ways to cope, relate, identify ourselves, defend ourselves, and find our way in this world? Wouldn’t it have been nice to have a person in your corner who can show you the light at the end of the tunnel? Guide you on certain pivotal decisions and spare you from learning some things the hard way?

Well, we can be that for a younger version of ourselves everyday. The timeless saying “It takes a village to raise a child” is as relevant today as throughout the course of history. This is what our original cultures used to do. Parents are the biggest influences on a child, but it doesn’t stop there. Everyone in a child’s environment has the potential to plant positive (or negative) seeds inside of that child.

What’s even more relevant is that forming positive relationships with our youth is not just beneficial for them, but absolutely for us as well! We need to stay in touch with our youthful self. We don’t grow up and kill the child in us. What happens most frequently is we suppress our inner child. Then what do we do? We spend thousands of dollars on therapists to tell us to “tap into our inner child”. We go to yoga to get into all sorts of positions that we naturally did as kids. Having fun as adults is really just returning to the place where we release our inhibitions. (Some adults use alcohol to return to achieve this end quite regularly.)

The truth is as adults we NEED to stay in tune with our youthfulness and our youth; to help them in areas we wished we had gotten help in and so many other areas as well. And our youth need us. Though they may not appear in some instances to want our involvement, if we are genuine in our aim to really hear and understand them, they have A LOT to say. And we must listen. If we all committed to this end, we would see our whole world change.

I encourage you to start now.

Every Woman Deserves A Space Like This

A Woman's Space

 

I took a trip to Puerto Rico for my birthday. On the evening of my day of celebration, my daughter and I went to a La Barrachina in Old San Juan for some delicious food and a live flamenco performance. Watching these boriquen ladies & men dancing brought forth so many ideas and cultural connections for me. The hand clapping that echoes what I hear during baptist church praise. The varying intensity of stomping inherent in this dance style, reminded me of stepping that I see from sororities & fraternities. The decorative hand movements with clear bloodlines through Indian & Asian dance as well. But more than anything, what grabbed me was how each of these women, stepped to the center of the stage, and for that dance, she was the Queen of the Universe.

As women, our experience is unique and different from men. Throughout the years, cultural norms and religious practice has pushed women to the back and off to the side. We live in a world where these ancient and outdated practices are still adamantly enforced. Women not allowed to ride a bike or show their hair. Women not allowed to speak their mind. Women being mutilated to remove any pleasurable sensation from sex. Not to mention the well known fact that women are paid 78 cents for every dollar men earn (regardless of profession, educational achievement, or familial status). That statistic gets even worse for women of color with Black women earning only 64 cents to every dollar earned my men, and Latina women at 54 cents to every dollar men earned. (http://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/) Our history on this planet as women has been a struggle for acknowledgement & our due respect.

Despite being divinely chosen as the bearers of life, somehow we still have found ourselves in a fight for recognition of our worth from men. We fight to not just be revered in quiet places behind closed doors, not just for our heart shaped hips, shapely thighs and breasts. We are the first teachers, the first voice to new life, first touch, the first example of womanhood. We are the first comfort, the first safe haven. We lay the foundation to a loving union between man & woman, a healthy, loving household & family.

A review of history will reveal a long list of “great men” attributed as the first inventors, scientists, explorers, philosophers, etc. However, what is pushed to the back and off to the side is the phenomenal women who stood beside them and nurtured greatness out of them. She spoke life into him when he was down and ready to give up. She served as his motivation, his inspiration. She is the secret heroine.

Have you ever noticed how feminist thought is often viewed as taboo and militant? Or worse yet, lesbian! Because of course it only stands to reason that any woman looking to make her presence known and highlight her contributions must think she’s a man! (SMH) Whether it is overt or subconscious, these efforts to subjugate women are deliberate. But why? What is the fear in allowing women to shine brightly and be equally acknowledged for our contributions? What do they fear would happen?

In consideration of all these things, as I watched each of the female flamenco dancers command her will in the room, I resolved that every woman deserves and needs a space like this; where she commands her space, the room, and the whole universe with her light. This is the space where spirit runs free. It is in this space we are no longer us, we allow the Gift Of Divine within us to completely take over. In this space we are fearless. We take flight with our massive wings. We ascend far beyond the reach of judgement or any other human measures. We become timeless. We become truth.

God vs Intelligence: You Don’t Have To Choose

For many years now in my life as I have ventured to gain more knowledge of self, knowledge of my culture and history, and explore spirituality & religion;  there has been an unspoken dichotomy forcing a choice to be an “intellectual” or a “sheep”. I have also observed that this can generate some shame, confusion, or outright feelings of hatred towards both religion and God, so I feel the need to address this.

Generally speaking 85% of us grow up with exposure to a religion in our households. Nine times out of ten being raised by the values inherent in that religion becomes a part of who you are raised to be. As kids we are all forced to do things we don’t necessarily  want to do at the time (cleaning our room, eating our veggies, going to bible study, etc), and sometimes our level of distain for these things grows to a point that it creates resentment. For example, a child who grows to despise going to church because it is forced upon them as a requirement with very little explanation, and as they get older, they vow to separate themselves from this institution that has them bound. It can be that simple, a kid who just wanted to play video games on Sunday, or just wanted to play outside with friends on Wednesday’s instead of going to bible study, and that’s where the seed germinates. (My examples reference Christianity mainly because the majority of the U.S. population falls into that category.)

So then what happens as that seed takes root and the child grows? Separation from the traditions of church becomes an expression of their independence as a young adult. As they “become more grown”, they will also declare they have “outgrown” church, and/or that religion altogether. This is why you will see many young adults who transition from Christianity to Islam, referencing the fact that Christianity left too many things unanswered for them. Or, as a Black girl or boy growing up in America, race starts to become very real right around the time of adolescence if not before. Questions about a white Jesus, or where the Black and Brown people were during these biblical stories, or why catching the Holy Ghost is necessary when nothing about life’s reality seems to change as a result…these are questions that begin to form and depending upon the responses given and the conclusions drawn, the response can often lead to a need to look elsewhere for more.

In this seeking process, as young Black girls and boys there are more choices to be made. First off, in the quest for truth about OUR history, the fundamental golden rule in that journey is to erase 99% of what we are taught in school and question everything. Everything. This is fundamentally contrary to believing by faith. The quest for truth about our culture’s rich history of innovation, expansion, depth, complexity and the series of events that lead us to the present day, is mind blowing. Without exception it will ignite something inside that will burn fiercely. Anger is a natural response, among many others. Inevitably there will be an intersection with our history and religion as we search for answers, and it’s at this point we are often called to make a decision between truth or God.

Now this is the crux of the issue. The crucial point in this that is often overlooked is that God and religion are not one and the same. They cannot and should not ever be misconstrued as one contingent on the other. However the very nature of the institution of religion requires this to be true to ensure its survival. If you can find God outside of your church/temple/mosque, then why would you need them anymore?

On the flip side, as our journey around our history evolves and our intellect grows, the logic is appealing. Why lean on faith when you can apply logic? With logic you always find an answer. Like mathematics you only need to define the equation and solve it, there are no mysteries. There is comfort in that. But it gets slippery when you start to apply that logic to the mindset that decides to believe that God does not exist. We can see and understand all of the complexities of the human body and its intricate systems working without any conscious effort on our part. We can draw some conclusions on what makes these systems fail, which result in disease or death, but we cannot definitively identify what makes them run. What is it that keeps our heart beating instead of simply stopping without any precursory notice? Before we even delve into the millions of species of life that we live among on this planet, even just considering the human race. The amazing & wonderful things we can accomplish, seemingly all by ourselves. But how does one believe in all of the wonderful  within all of us, without believing in the wonder that we derived it from? That same logic will force you to reason that all of this, was not and is not the result of an inconsequential “bang”. There is an over abundance of proof of that truth.

The answer is you can have both. You can be a highly intelligent, critical thinker, and believe in God. Any entity that shuts down your intellect, your ability to think and ask questions, discuss and debate, etc is not of God. If we weren’t meant to question and analyze we would not have the gift of reason. And ultimately yes, we choose (free will). It is my belief that we come from the pure essence of Love. God allows complete freedom including the right to never believe in its own existence! It is your choice, always. But my purpose is to make it known that it is not an either or choice. In fact it is very much both, if you opt to see it.

Love & Light to you.