Monday, April 26, 2010


I'm supposing, by the fact that you are able to read this post, that you survived the 28-day minimal infusion of black heritage into popular culture and the month of Feb. known as Black History Month. Yes, I know, that was in February, but let's flash back. If you are black, all of your white friends were nice to you, you watched a few PBS specials and you might have even attended some gala, dinner or prayer breakfast for other culturally astute folks. I tried my best not to fall into a routine this year. I did so by purposefully glossing over it. I wanted, instead, to look at what the new frontier of racism is. And while you may figure that I'm about 2 months late on analyzing anything having to do with black history. I beg to differ. The issue of race is always relevant. Or is it?

Since its seems that less black people are being lynched, denied access to drinking fountains or Public universities, I have to wonder if there are other issues to focus attention on. (Notice I didn't say full attention. I recognize that issues of race still require attention and occasional outrage.) Or rather, issues underlying perceived racism. Through my observation, I have noticed that what we are dealing with some equally toxic isms. Classicism, sexism, capitalism... Sure, these isms have always existed, separating the haves from the have nots, the guys from the gals and those who own from those who owe, but the recession has placed a microscope on the matter. The recession has caused role reversals in households and a shifting of our views on poverty. I'm aware that there are entire anthologies of study on the topic and that there is a great deal to unpack in this discussion. My friend even suggested writing this blog in parts....we'll see. For now, let's opt for a quick definition of "ism" shall we?

(1) A belief that can be described using the suffix ism (Gee, thanks Google search!)

(2) Doctrine: a belief (or system of beliefs) accepted as authoritative by some group or school

Ex. Classism is prejudice and/or discrimination on the basis of social class. It includes individual attitudes and behaviors, systems of policies and practices that are set up to benefit the upper classes at the expense of the lower classes. (Courtesty of the illustrious Wikpedia )
**For complete list of ISMS visit:**
There are even websites devoted to the cause of dismantling social classes and consequently classism. But strangely enough these "sub-isms " as I call them dont seem to bother most of us. I think that many of us are less threatened by the idea of classicism and sexism because we think, "Well, its not as bad a racism." Oh really? So discriminating against someone because they are black is worse than doing so because they are poor? Or a woman? Hmmm. Sounds the same to me. I think that many of us are either untrained in spotting "sub-isms" or unconcerned about eradicating them. Perhaps it's because some of these "sub-isms," particularly classism, rely heavily on personal and community values rather than one specific trait. If the mistreament of a woman on the basis of sex is not important to you, or your neighbor, you are least likely to act. But if the issue is race, everyone is up in arms. There appears to be a greater level of justification for all "sub -isms" than there should be. It's a big umbrella under which we all stand from time to time. Pointing fingers and trading places.
What I love most about the examination of "sub-ism" is that it answers many questions that racism cannot. Like why black people in the ATL who live off Camp Creek are better than black folks on the West End. And why two black girls, same color skin can have two very different experiences going through the "system." and consequently engage in conflict regarding which of them is "more or less ghetto." In essence, sub-isms build a bridge in our society, reminding people that we all judge on some level, or presume on another level. Our isms drive our way of thinking. For those of you still completely and utterly confused about how this actually applies to your life. Read on.

Since President Obama took office people have been very selective about the ways in which we discuss race and the conclusions that we draw regarding race. That, in my opinion, is a good thing. I'd much rather believe that all of the Marcus', Dre's and Antwan's of the world could be the next Barack instead of the next Lil Wayne. The question is, how has the President's term changed our notions of all of these other "sub-isms"? While that's a tough question to answer, we've had healthcare reform as well as the steadily tanking economy as recent litmus tests. While it seems that stimulus and healthcare debates were just episodic duels between the Dems and Republicans, what we really saw was a modern day class struggle. It wasn't as much about white people vs. minorities as it was about haves and havenots. Meaning, there were plenty of people of all colors out of work and plenty of people, of all colors, who go to work everyday and do not have access to basic medical care *raises hand* So, for one of few times in their lives, a black family from NC who's primary source of income is cut when Dad is laid off and the white family from Michigan who falls on hard times because Mom is a recently out of work teacher have something in common. Perhaps they always have.
I bring this issue to the table because I am beginning to recognize what I called to to do in life. (By the way, the best thing about your 20's is having those daily "I figured out what I want to be when I grow up" moments). The world is living in a factionalized and fractionalized state of "isms." I believe in the reconcilliation of the pieces of the whole. Details coming soon...
My friend once said to me " Don't worry. We're all a bit classist." He's right, but we are still so very wrong. Because unless it's ok for us to tote our own predjudice around like a vile of sociological poison, we're responsible for breaking the cycle. And once again, don't get me wrong, I'm not at all suggesting that issues of race and racISM are irrelevant at this point in our history. I am suggesting, however, that sub isms deserve consideration by more than scholars and CNN pundits. We have much work to do on the front of "sub-isms" everywhere. And you, with your racist, classist, sexist, capitalist, anarchist self, are just the one to do it! :-)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Valentine Shmalentine...

This is a post that should be categorized under the "Better Late than Never" heading. I'm fully aware that Valentine's Day happened more than a week ago. I do, however, have a few thoughts to share. :-) I'd like to extend a hearfelt CONGRATULATIONS to the numbers of single women (of which I am one) who managed to ward of the inevitable bitterness that prevades the population during this holiday known as Valentine's day. Valentine's Day, for me, used to be like a shot in the arm. You know that it's coming but there doesn't seem to be anything that you can do about it. This year, I had my own tactics my own strategy to combat feeling lonely. So, I give you, 14 Reasons why valentine's Day didn't suck: The belated version

(1) You got to spend money....on yourself instead of buying some dude some overpriced cologne that he may or may not have been grateful for.

(2) You didn't have to buy anything to wear. It's 30 degrees outside. A sleeveless, red satin cocktail dress is not the move.

(3) 2 couples at my church got engaged, proving that love is still alive.

(4) You don't have to nurture flowers for another 2 weeks only to watch them die and shed brittle leaves all over your counter.

(5) You get to spend some quality time with fellow single friends and celebrated being SINGLE. There is nothing wrong with that. Which is a gift that I'm told you only fully appreciate once you are married :-/

(6) V-day was followed by a federal holiday, which meant a PAID day off from work....for most of us.

(7) Two of the most important people in my life had Valentine's so I didn't have to listen to them complain.

(8) You didn't buy in to a consumer driven holiday that bankrupts those who want to be truly impressive. So, in essence, you STUCK IT TO THE MAN. Plus, single folks get to buy all of the candy half off the next day. :-)

(9) You didn't get one of 180 million greeting cards that was a completely unoriginally expression of how much someone cares about you.

(10) You didn't have to build unreasonably high expectations of a night and maybe even a relationship only to be disappointed and maybe even pissed at the possible outcome.

(11) There are plently of fun things for singles to do. After all we ARE in the majority

(12) It's 1 day out of the WHOLE year. Whining about it is pretty much pointless.

(13) My mommy still buys me valentine's day gifts :-)

(14) Because true love doesn't come in boxes of chocolate, it comes from this:1 Corinthians 13:4-7

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves."

And as long as this is the standard and I'm striving toward it, I'm good. So while I definitely wouldn't have minded being snuggled up next to the love of my life, at least I didn't feel the need to crawl into a whole for 24 hrs. Win-win, I guess.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Blog is the new Black...or not

We live in a world that puts a high premium on what people think. This is both a fortunate development and an unfortunate reality (some people's inner thoughts are best kept to themselves.). What better way to let the whole world know how you feel about a topic or range of topics than starting a blog? Putting your feelings, ideas, and notions about the inner-workings of the world on the public chopping block. The idea itself is harmless and pretty much mindless. Find a topic of interest, -a theme if you will; a trendy blogger site to host your content, rack your brain for a witty title and WUA-LA! You've got a blog. Why then is there is such a high blogger attrition rate? And by attrition rate I mean, a decrease in the numbers of people, everyday people who don't blog for a living, writing blogs. Without loosing much sleep over this particular enigma, I decided to take a look at what it REALLY takes to run a successful blog. NOTE: These suggestions come from perusing lots and lots of blogs, I don't consider my blog to be among those considered "successful."

1) Convictions and Boldness- Ha! Herein lies the #1 reason-besides time- that people don't blog. They are intimiated by their own thoughts. Because with convictions and boldness come vulnerability. We THINK that if we only had an opportunity and a platform to give people a piece of our minds, we would. Truth is, many us are SCARED to submit their thoughts and ideas to public judgement. To be an effective blogger, you must go where no man has gone, talk about something that none is talking about....yet. Either because it's a controversial issue or because some folks just don't have the right words. You'd be surprised how many people are waiting to say AMEN to something they were afraid to say in the first place.

2) A Denial of Self- There are certain parts of yourself that will be exposed either consciously or subconsciously when you write a blog. Be prepared to have your subconscious leaked on paper. Some things that need to be said have nothing to do with you, other times, something that needs to be said causes you to disagree with yourself.

3) REGULARITY!- Unless you run a food blog, no one wants to know what you ate for breakfast, or which sidewalk your dog pooped on during your daily walk... unless, of course you're Kim Kardashian. Write with the sense of urgency, that the world needs to hear what you Having said that, your readers should expect to hear from you with some level of frequency.

4) Relevance: The best writers, and I'm sure this has been said before, are those who read. I read-not as much as I'd like to- everything from Cosmo to CNN online to a number of other blogs. It's funny how reading an article or some trivial piece of gossip can spark a 4 paragraph dissertation on what's wrong with the world.

5) A Unique Voice- There are lots of blogs out there. And unfortunately, alot of people talking about the same thing, with no real distinct voice. Taking a side on an issue, stating an ambition, or using your background (cultural, economic, or educational) to defend your position puts an inherently interesting spin on things. What's your vantage point?

6) Passion- Starting a blog because everyone else is doing it pretty much ensures that your blog will be around for about 3 months. Find a REASON to write and make sure that it's some that you are passionate about. I'd say that to be a blogger you have to be passionate about writing, but I'd probably disagree with myself. It's your topic that you must be passionate about.

7) Measure success on your own terms- You don't have to write a post everyday, and every entry doesn't have to be a ground breaking solution to the world's problems. You don't have to have 100 followers, you don't even have to have 10. Measure the effectiveness of your blog my what you aim to accomplish. Is it spotlighting new restaurants in Atlanta? Following fashion trends in culture? Or is it sparking dialogue about tough societal issues and trends? Whatever your aim, go at it! And you can consider yourself successful!

**Notice that I didn't list excellent technical writing skills or natzi-like attention to grammar** A basic understanding of such things is, of course, necessary; however, skilled writing takes time. So, for all of you out there considering joining the blogosphere or picking up where the blog entry that you wrote 10 years ago left off, welcome...and welcome back! For those of you observing the world, taking it in breathing it back out into the blogosphere, BLOG on! :-)

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Have you ever seen those Facebook statuses/rants by someone who has a reckless past...or present recounting a recent encounter with some haters/naysayers/people with common sense and claiming, at the rant's end, that "Only God can judge." For some, they bypass the rant and list that as their Religious view. I'm always skeptical of anyone who uses this as a catch-all for behavior that they should be held accountable for. Let me back up for a moment. I am to assume that someone who use the phrase, "Only God can judge me" has a belief in God. A belief, I'd also assume, that includes an understanding that your behavior reflects upon the faith that you profess. In terms of Christianity, a Christian's behavior should reflect the lifestyle of Christ. This is not subtract human nature from the equation and replace it with legalism, but let's consider what would happen if every Christian decided that they were going to throw all standards of living out the door and leave it all simply to God's judgment. What a mess the body of Christ would be!!

Let me say that I am not in any way suggesting that anyone should be judging anyone except for God. In fact, any judgmental person is a hypocrite. Unless, of course, they are perfect. Not likely. I am suggesting that people NEED accountable relationships ( See my entry: Count the Cost) . The idea that we use blanket statements like “God knows my heart” to cover our indiscretions is troubling. It also begs the question: “How accountable should we other other Christians? If we refer to ourselves as the body of Christ, that means that what one of us does affects how all of us are perceived. With the exception of one of us curing cancer, that’s usually not good. If one of us, for example, has a drinking problem, it doesn't mean we need to stage a church-wide intervention. It means, that someone, a friend of the afflicted, perhaps, needs to lovingly intervene and see what can be done to help them instead of letting them slip off into a a dark future. If you reject help. So be it. But if you are a friend of mine, being left completely along, on the brink of what appears (from my point of view) to be poor choice, is not an option. Not because I'm always right, but because you are my friend.

Let me turn the tables for a minute on those who make being in an accountable relationship, absolutely drudgery. Unfortunately, I'm speaking very specifically to some of my Christian brothers and sisters. Many of you are ready to judge your friends at the drop of a hat. If not with your words then by your look of disdain or the shift in the way that you treat them? If you find yourself doing this, ask yourself the following questions: Who are your convictions really for? You or the person next to you? Do you use them to uphold a certain standard of living? Or to make sure that other people are? Let's face it, most of us only judge to make ourselves feel better about our own indiscretions. To ensure that we remain on the pedestal of righteous morality. I call it, the Dichotomy of Indiscretion: The degree to which you feel bad about what you've done, it the degree to which I feel better. We we open our minds, we realize that people have a different way of dressing (actually feel comfortable showing their ankles and collar bone and maybe a little more); a boyfriend to whom they don't mind showing affection (Ooooo. Scandalous). PEOPLE HAVE DIFFERENT STANDARDS of living. Nothing excuses recklessness. But before you cast someone into the sea of wretchedness remember that YOU have been forgiven....time after time and only to the degree that you forgive others.

And just when I was looking to put a bow on the subject, Damian Boyd preached an awesome sermon about GRACE, which covers each and everyone of us, even the "WRETCHED". We are, as he says, "trophies of God's grace". Confused. Read the book of Ephesians: The Story of God's grace.

Yes, it's true. ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE YOU. But if you know what I know, you wouldn't and shouldn't want to wait until then.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Do You Want a Revolution??

Wait. Before you answer that, let's take as moment to pick apart this request, this petition that basically says that if turning everything in the world upside down and inside out is what it takes to bring peace and justice, let's do it. Years ago, I would have answered that question without hesitation. I was that down with the man, fight the power chick. For a long time, I didn't understand why, when we disagreed with what was going on with the world, we couldn't just put on some Marvin Gaye, or Sam Cooke bust out some windows, and light cars on fire. This is all coming from a girl who first saw the movie Malcolm X at eight years old. :-/I told a friend a few weeks ago that I didn't believe in rights, only REVOLUTIONS. It's only after some careful contemplation that I have a better understanding of what the status quo means and the consequence of countering it is. Any suggestion, implication of a revolution must be followed the following questions: Whose status quo are we trying to overturn?? What does a world post-revolution world look like? Is it safer, better, and more just for EVERYONE, and not just us as individuals?

While most of those answers are hard to come by, a healthy, thorough, diagnosis and prescription for a revolution, requires us to acknowledge a number of things that we just may not be ready to. First. we must realize that each one of us owns a piece of the status quo. I don't care how righteous and rebellious you are. We are ALL protected and supported by SOMETHING that makes someone else extremely uncomfortable. For example... If you are a white American, no matter how "down" you are with the other race, there must be an acknowledgment that many of the folks in leadership (people who make decisions) in our country, whether you agree with all of them or not, are white. Disrupting that structure with the premise of achieving equality, may have severe consequences for you. Black people (and other ethnic minorities)-yes, I had to make this a fair and balanced argument-should understand that ousting all of the "white" people from power, doesn't mean that the world will be an immediately better place. While we search for perfection in the opposite of reality, we really should strive for balance and equality.

On the topic of political revolutions...I hate to go here, but now that we have crossed the 1 year threshold on Barack Obama's presidency and I've had a chance to commemorate it and have all of the standard warm and fuzzy feelings, I feel the need to comment. It's been a loooooong year in politics, which seems like an odd thing to say considering that we've been talking about the same 3 issues all year. It seems like forever since we started this love affair with Barack (really-I have a bag with his face on it), jumped the broom and sailed on to our honeymoon on a cloud of democratic victory.If we, supporters and non supporters are honest with ourselves, we'll agree that we are not as far along on this continuum of CHANGE as we'd like to be. Some of us feel bamboozled, some of us got the chance to reinforce our political cynicism with YET ANOTHER example. Whatever the case, at some point, pre-November 4, 2008 we were in agreement that we needed a mass overhaul of the system.....a....uuum...*snaps fingers* What do you call that??...REVOLUTION. We voted for a man who we thought could get the job done. He was, essentially, the ELECTORAL MESSIAH. The one we had been waiting for. THAT ONE. It was only in hindsight that we realized that he had very tough political soil to plow and that he would have to pull Congress uphill in a wheelbarrow. Now, we've got REVOLUTION based on hard-fought consensus that no man, no matter how charismatic, can overcome. So we see the revolution take a detour from the oval office through the doors of Congress. Bummer.

And last, but certainly not least, the spiritual revolutions. My church recently entered a period of praying and fasting, accompanied by a curriculum called Fresh Encounter. The idea behind this particular fast and curricular devotion was inviting revival into our lives so that our nation would be changed radically and turn back to God, instead of pursuing all of these earthly rabbit trails (money, relationships, status) that all turn into dead ends. Over 21 days, the book talked about this idea of Revival and what that means to a nation. A revival is basically a personal revolution of sorts. The reading emphasized that personal revival requires a level of sacrifice, discipline and self-denial that we haven't seen in recent times. The circumstances that brought people to the point of revival for their nation also broke them spiritually and physically. Case in point, REVOLUTIONS are NOT self-indulgent movements with ME/MY IDEAS first mentalities. We often fail to realize this. They are much more about future generations.

A heartbreaking, while relevant example of a people in limbo, on the verge of REVOLUTION would be the recent earthquakes in Haiti. Typically characterized as a poor country, it has captured the world's attention for the time being. Soon enough there will be white kids in the burbs rockin t-shirts with phrases like SAVE HAITI. With thousands of people dead, thousands more wounded and orphaned, one has to wonder what the next generation will look like. What will it's values be? Will the flood of foreign humanitarian aid (minus the bottlenecks and red tape) change Haiti's world view?? And in the end, can we expect a social, political, and economic REVOLUTION?? Time will tell. And IF, just IF, Haiti makes a 180, to what do we credit the success? Mother nature? Foreign aid? Or to the possibility that a country, a people, can take destruction and despair and make the future bright and promising? That, to me, is the essence of a revolution.

The only REAL point of contention with REVOLUTIONS is that they are hard to sustain and quite costly. We often don't, before hand, calculate the cost. It's like starting a construction project in your house before you asses the cost of repair. You just start to demo walls. Just as it is with REVOLUTIONS, one must take take EVALUATE, FIRST. This is not to negate the need for immediate action, but we have to understand what we are getting ourselves in to. Price tags for revolutions are more than than the sum of angry citizens, it is the projected loss of life, freedom (s), and comfort; the number of hours spent in prayer; the slew of nurses needed to treat the wounded; and the scores of people willing to rebuild despite the odds. Oh! And suppose that the revolution doesn't yield the desired results,according to us? It's back into a cave of realism, regretting that we had ever tried to change the world in the first place.

These things are all, undoubtedly, very complicated. REVOLUTIONS are not respecters of persons. Sometimes we invite them, sometimes they just show up. Examine your life, examine our world. Before you say your prayers at night, and ask God for a REVOLUTION to come sweeping through your life, your family, your community, your careful what you ask more specific. Because some of you SAY you want a revolution and can't even handle a President who hasn't met all of your demands.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Passion 2010: Don't Hit the Snooze Button

What does it mean to be awakened? Not from a REM sleep, or a cat nap. But rather a spiritual, mental awakening. Some people would say that it means to exist, to live, on a higher plane of truth. I'd agree. But this is not an intellectual truth I am speaking of. Actually, it's a truth that confounds every bit of earthly knowledge that we can amass. It makes all human intellect seem pretty inconsequential. We all deserve to have those moments every once in a while. The awakening that I am referring to happened to me right along with 20,000 other people, inside of the Phillips Arena. It was, none other than, Passion 2010.

While Passion 2010 was a conference, it was apart of a much larger, global movement to ignite the hearts and lives of young people (18-25), believing, undoubtedly that we are the future of the planet, not by default, but by designation and design. Whose design and designation? (you might ask). God. He did something so amazing, so mind-blowing, so soul-stirring, so DIVINE that it has taken me a week to digest it, but more importantly to APPLY it, which thankfully crushed my attempts to write this entry with anything but sincerity and earnest reflection.

What I discovered about myself over the conference's 4-day span and I'm sure my fellow conference attendees will testify, is that, I, in all of my perfectionism and stifling legalism, was asleep. I was going through the motions of what I thought it was to be successful and to have a life that people would envy and emulate. I had no clue what it mean live. And just because I'd chosen the career of community organizing, and devoted my life to causes much greater didn't mean that I was any more humble or that God was any more pleased with me, or that I was any more alive than the Hedge fund manager or the poor employee chained to their cubicle. Why? Because we were created not to live lives as social climbers or mere do-gooders or star employees. But rather as PASSIONATE BEINGS, enraptured by the notion that God wants us to be apart of this story most commonly known as life, everyday of which he orchestrated PERFECTLY. All weekend, the conference organizer and guest speakers challenged us. To DIE to all the things that distract us from the real reason we are on earth. Because even if they spanned through your lifetime, they would still be temporal in God's eyes. Just like beauty, and swag, and money....just to name a few. And what, then, could be said about your life? We should aim to live lives that have as little to do with us as possible. And more to do with freeing people from their oppressed state and serving justice through our deeds. The urgency with which we live should reflect the desperate state of our world and not just our country. I attened a session on Worship and Social Justice and was heartborken over Uganda's child soldier problem, where 12 year olds were forced into prostitution and countless crimes were being perpetrated at the hands of children. I wondered, where was God? The truth is....anytime we ask God that, he asks us the same question....

What really matters then? Catching hold of God's glory and following him no matter where that takes you. It's the walk of faith. And He has intended us all to take that walk. But to say that it is a walk is to speak mildly of the the AMAZING thing that God wants to do inside of each and every person who is willing to give his/her life away. It's a thrilling chase. A bumpy road. One for which God equips and prepares us for everyday. But just who are we signing over the deed to our lives? A God who's glory, love, grace and mercy completely eclipse every great thing on earth, every best laid plan. So, I'm resolved. Because while your approval may last for a few moments, my parents approval may last me a little while, and the worlds approval will last until I screw up, I'd rather follow Christ. Isaiah 26:8 says it best: " "Yes Lord, walking in the way of Your Truth, we eagerly wait for you, for your name and your renown are the desire of our souls."

Perhaps you have you have your whole life figured out. Maybe you know where you'll be in 20 minutes, 20 months, or 20 years. I know you. I used to be you. Then I discovered who God was and it completely ruined me (in a good way). He wasn't some superhero in a book that had been translated 100 times and repeated over 1,000,000 times. We wasn't some super-brainy college professor. He wasn't some hippie magician who created the earth with an abra-cadabra. Or a big bang. He's more than you can ever know. More than your brain can comprehend. In fact, such knowledge would make you tremble. Literally. And if, for some reason, whether it's because of your own intellect, or because you have been "burned" by a church, or because life happens and you walked away from God, or because you know "of" him and really don't know him like that; I'd like to encourage you. Challenge, even. To find out who GOD really is. Not who you think he is. I assure you that the revelation will awaken you soul to something greater. Just promise me that you won't hit snooze.

P.S- This blog entry, despite it's length, doesn't fully capture the Passion experience. No words really could. My sincere prayer is my life transformation says more than my words ever could.