I do it, and I do it big. Here's to not forgetting about it.

Posts tagged ‘racism’

Fully Engaged, Fully Free

The June 17 Charleston Massacre has moved me in many ways. I have been moved to prayer. I have been moved to anger. Perhaps most interestingly, I have been moved to remind my fiancé of something that is still, apparently, a big freaking deal.

I am black.

Now, it’s not as though this something of which he was unaware; in fact, I believe he possesses a hyper-awareness of this as we are out and about. He’ll tell me that he notices people looking at us when we are together. While I choose to pretend that it’s simply because we are unbelievably good-looking, I know that I’ve just developed an immunity to such looks, which are on the spectrum from curiosity to hatred. When you live life as a racial minority, being weird is normal. Adonis is choosing to join the club by marriage.

When you eat chocolate, you manage your calories. When you marry chocolate, however, there is a lot more to manage. Are you prepared to be the father of a black son? It is my desire that any child that God gives us will embrace all parts of their heritage – Greek, Jamaican, African, American. The reality will be that if I have a son walking home from school, the ‘Tyrone’ part of his heritage will be seen, not the ‘Onassis.’ What are we doing as a couple, as Hyphenated-Americans, as good citizens who profess to love Jesus – to make this less scary?

Yesterday, the two of us were buying fireworks and we saw someone wearing a hat with two flags. One was the American flag, and why wouldn’t someone be wearing his country’s flag on the day the country’s Independence is celebrated? The other was the flag of a country that attacked the United States, the irony of which I’m sure was missed by the bearer. I stared at him as he proudly spoke of his rights to be able to wear what he wants because this is his MURKA. I was ready to leave before I realized he didn’t work there but was simply a blessed patron. How remarkable it must be to wear something that represents hatred and freely walk about while Jamal Onassis will have to be reminded that he’s taking his life into his own hands when he wears a hoodie and keeps his hands in his pockets.

In the meantime, I am happy that the most important freedom is not in the hands of anyone who perceives me, the choice of my fiancé, or our babies. Surely that fool at the fireworks stand is shackled by ignorance – at best. I am free in Christ and am thankful that no one can take that away from me. God help us figure out a way to engage the culture so future mothers don’t have to heave a mournful sigh at the thought of buying her son a sweater.

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See all this melanin? I STILL got pre-checked by TSA. Racism must be dead: Part Two

So, I went to Jamaica and ran. The trip was exciting to me from the get go, y’all. I looked at my boarding pass and saw something I had never seen before: Pre-checked by TSA! Pre. That seems important. As I walked toward security, I noticed that there was the line for the proletariat and the line for pre-checked. Friggin’ sweet. I was through the line within moments instead of wondering if I was going to make my flight. Ah, the good life.

If this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone, right? I mean, I AM darker than a brown paper bag. If you see “Lady J” on a flight manifest you probably won’t think ter…see. I don’t even want to finish the word because I want to be pre-checked again. I know y’all are watching, WordPress. Of COURSE the government doesn’t screen people based on race, sex, or religious affiliation. Because people are fair everywhere, right? Especially those with power.

I found it ironic that soon after I was in the air, I watched the video of Eric Garner’s death in sheer horror. Apparently, selling loose cigarettes warrants paying with your life. I say this is ironic because I know with great certainty that like my amazing TSA pre-check, that would not happen to just anyone. There are classes in this country that are simply more privileged than others. Who is the most uncomfortable with this? The privileged.

It’s like the feeling I got today when I was getting my nails did at the salon. My tech and I come from VERY different backgrounds. I am definitely more Hilary Banks than Florida Evans and the tech was talking about not having earned her GED. I don’t want to pat myself on the back for not having pat myself on the back, but I will say this – I understand that many things were in place for me to be able to achieve what I have. The vast majority of those things were completely out of my control – the family I was born into as well as the way my parents raised me. Yes, I absolutely have free will and I’ve made some pretty good choices. The environment was set up for me to do so. It is by God’s grace that I am where I am. If tech were to say to me, “Lady J. I could be where you are if I had had the opportunities you did,” what could I say? “Probably.” You know what I wouldn’t say? “Where you are is your fault.” I don’t have enough knowledge to say that. However, I DO know enough to know that I, Joan, am incredibly blessed.

Why is it that many who purport to follow Christ have such a problem admitting they benefit from things over which they have no control? I thought when you accept Jesus into your heart you acknowledge that there’s no way you could receive grace and mercy by your own doing. You know why some people were less disturbed by the video of Eric Garner’s death? Imma tell you why. Because some people KNOW it will never be them or their child whom the police would kill like that. And it’s not because no one else’s child is above selling loose cigarettes.

Those of you who insist you have everything that you do because you’ve pulled yourselves up by your own bootstraps seem to take for granted that you were given shoes in the first place. Not everyone gets Pre-Checked, y’all.

And perfect eyelashes, apparently.

And perfect eyelashes, apparently.

 

The muzik teecher hoo whishes she sang gooder: Part One

Sic. Sic. Sic sic sic sic.

There was this one time I wrote about wishing I had a nicer voice so I could, like, totally wow Jesus with it in church each Sunday. I mean, why shouldn’t I be golden-throated? This music teacher has received thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of training over the course of her life. That means I should be able to sing any note in any song, regardless of whether I’ve heard it, immediately, amirite? Really, that’s the whole point of going to church – to prove that I’ve earned the Master of Music that puts a few extra bucks into my paycheck. Worship. Meh.

The music education that I’ve received not only entitles me to some rights (yes, my dislike of Justin Bieber means more than the average civilian’s) but also comes with some responsibility. No, I don’t have to sing perfectly in church, but you’re probably not going to see me there sporting a “Certified Music Teacher” t-shirt either. I understand that certain things are expected of me because I am a formally trained musician. Not only should I be skilled at playing instruments and singing, but I am also expected to be able to share that knowledge in a way that is most likely to encourage learning and retention. If there is a piano at a party and someone who took lessons for six months because mommy said starts playing heart and soul, they will get all the claps. If I sit down and do the same thing, I will get some funny looks. Why? Because more is expected of me. This is not something about which I should complain. The horrendous spelling in the title of this post should not come from a teacher of any kind. Why not? Because more is expected of me. It is my job to set an example. I embrace it and walk humbly.

I say the above to say that it puzzles me to read things to the effect that people seem to care more when civilians, regardless of alleged crime committed, are killed, than when law enforcement are killed. I will always be more upset when the police screw up than when a criminal (not saying those who have been killed are criminals!) does because guess what? That’s what criminals do. They commit crimes. They are doing their job and doing it well. A policeman killing someone wrongfully is always going to be more unjust because of the responsibility of the badge. The life of the criminal is not worth more, but the screw up of the cop is more significant. Why is this so difficult to understand? Don’t parents lecture older children more harshly because “they should know better?”

My heart breaks for the families of the two officers that were killed on duty in New York. My question – why aren’t more people upset that this dude killed his girlfriend as well? She didn’t swear to serve and protect so to hell with her? A lot of these jokers shouting “All Lives Matter” don’t seem to be too concerned with hers. Why are the people who chant this seem unperturbed by young black men being shot for absolutely nothing? Perhaps it’s like Animal Farm where the pigs eventually confess that while four legs are good, two legs are better…

Now THAT – is sick.

 

More than any other musician. Yeah, I said it.

More than any other musician. Yeah, I said it.

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