HOT TOPIC: Why We Can’t Wait

Truth is: The past couple weeks have been filled with internal wrestling that include pain, hurt, and anger. I haven’t written much because I still don’t quite know what words to say. I understand that as a black woman, I am not alone in my suffering. I’ve been going before the Lord in prayer, reading his words, and I find myself drawing on the words, hope, and intestinal fortitude of our African American heroes and modern-day faith leaders, peacemakers, and activists.

 

I’m not very interested in sharing my opinions in this sacred moment. However, I do want to help my readers by encouraging them to listen well, and try to understand the painful history and trauma that people who look like me feel and experience in this country every day.

 

Even if you have friends who are from a different racial or ethnic minority group, you won’t know or understand these truths if the level of trust hasn’t been built, or if they don’t find you a safe person in which they can fully be themselves. That’s not your minority friend’s problem. That is a reality for you to explore.

Continue reading “HOT TOPIC: Why We Can’t Wait”

What we need now is Grace and Justice

In light of last week’s events, many are asking the questions, “What can I do now? Where must we go from here? What can my church and community do to move the conversation forward?”

 

I have been mostly silent online because my emotions were running high, and in the public arena I feel a responsibility to speak what is true and only what is helpful. I’m still not ready to write or dialog publicly about the events regarding the killing of African American males, #AltonSterling (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) and #PhilandoCastile (Minnesota), by police. Both of these events preceded and seemingly motivated the #DallasPoliceShooting. Additionally, there was a black man, 22 year old Michael George Smith Jr. of New Jersey, who was found hanging from a tree in Piedmont Park in Atlanta, Georgia around this same time. The medical examiner has called this death a suicide, though social media reported through the hashtag #PiedmontParkHanging that the KKK was rallying or handing out marketing materials just 30 minutes prior to this death. So I have questions.

 

If folks really want to be a part of the solution, then we all have to do the hard work. That work includes education, listening, and learning from others who are different from us. In includes expanding our relational networks, and it includes tearing down unjust systems and structures.

Continue reading “What we need now is Grace and Justice”

Too Close to Home: Why Charleston Matters to All of Us

On the one year anniversary of the Charleston Massacre, I had the opportunity to share my reflections with Christianity Today The Local Church alongside:

Patricia Raybon who wrote about “Charleston and the Resilience of Wednesday Night Church,”

Dawn Araujo-Hawkins who shared “What It Means to Burn Down a Black Church,” and

Derek Rishmawy who contributed “What Emanuel AME Taught Us About God’s Unrelenting Love”

My contribution, “Too Close to Home: Why Charleston Matters to All of Us” is extremely personal and I’m so glad to share it.

Charleston_Black Lives Matter3

“Who are you?” When someone asks a question about my identity, the first response that comes to mind is “I am a black girl from Orangeburg, South Carolina.” Long before I became a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, a US Marine, an author, or a minister of the gospel, I was a black woman. And the root of this knowing was in the heritage of my family, the soil of Orangeburg, South Carolina, and the waters of the Edisto River.

Orangeburg is a community filled with black people and culture, the home of two historically black colleges and universities: South Carolina State University and Claflin University. There I tailgated at college football games and enjoyed HBCU homecomings that included the “battle of the bands” and step competitions. Little girls played in the backyard with their cousins and devoured home-cooked meals made at the hands of their big bosom mothers, grandmothers, and aunts.

During the summer months, we would run through the sprinklers in our bathing suits and swim caps (because there was no way we were getting our hair wet). We would spend countless hours enjoying the sunshine on those hot summer days in June, studying the moss hanging from our trees. Sometimes we would sit inside and watch TV as we listened to the violent summer rain.

On Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, we would go to church. Sundays were for worship; Wednesdays were for Bible study, Vacation Bible School, or hanging in the back room until mom finished choir rehearsal. These precious times were filled with sacred artifacts: pews, wooden floors in old Baptist churches, the sides of brick store fronts or white slab buildings with small crosses that showed passersby who we were and to whom we belonged. We belonged to Jesus. Our simple songs clearly proclaimed this truth.

These small churches most likely had dirt or gravel parking lots and a small cemetery off to the side, the tombstones surrounded by uncut grass and ant hills, with fading names above the birth and transition dates of those who had gone on before us.

When I heard about the pain and suffering Dylann Roof inflicted on the families of Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, DePayne Middleton-Doctor, US Senator and Reverend Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel L. Simmons Sr., Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson by murdering them in the sanctuary of God that is Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, I was not shocked because of the reality of the deaths that took place on June 17, 2015. These things happen every day.

I was shocked because I have family members who knew people who died in Emanuel AME Church on that Wednesday night. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton was a graduate of South Carolina State University. I was stunned by the overwhelming history and mystery wrapped up in this racially motivated massacre that took place in 2015.

This was too close to home.

Continue reading at The Sanctuary.