i couldn't think of the right words to express my thoughts for today. So i let Maya Angelou say it. she was always the best. Thank you Ms. Angelou. "You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise. Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? ‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells Pumping in my living room. Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I’ll rise. Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops, Weakened by my soulful cries? Does my haughtiness offend you? Don’t you take it awful hard ‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines Diggin’ in my own backyard. You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise. Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I’ve got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs? Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise Up from a past that’s rooted in pain I rise I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise"
on wednesday kelli and i celebrate four years of marriage. somehow we’ve managed to build an amazing life together. it hasn’t been without chaos and stress and moments where we think the other has lost their mind. i’m only pretty sure that she has had plenty of those thoughts.
but we have grown incredibly since the day we met, six years, three months and two days ago. i feel like to be where we are now is somewhat miraculous, and not because the odds were against us because that’s not the case. just in the concept of living and growing and making this family and a home together, there is a miracle to it. when human beings can forego their innermost senses of selfishness and individuality to build a family, it’s an incredible reality.
we have such different ways of going about life, such different ways of processing our thoughts and emotions and opinions. i’m an outward thinker, the way i process my thoughts is to spill them on the table and then sift through them to see if any of it makes sense. kelli is an internal processor, which means i never know what she is thinking. i envy that ability to keep thoughts and opinions inward, she wishes she could vocalize her feelings the way i can.
now, when i look at our daughter jade, i wonder what type of personality that she will grow into. will she be strong willed and opinionated like her father? will she be a helper and have a sweet soul like her mom? will she be like me and naturally oppose whatever is the latest trend? for example, people think it’s crazy that i’ve never seen an episode or any movie of the teenage mutant ninja turtles. why? because when i was kid, that’s all any of my friends would talk about, so naturally i just was turned off to them. weird right? i think i was about ten years old when they came out. it’s just the way i am.
last night i heard a quote that i think works great for marriage and life in general…”there is no ‘supposed to'”. i think we are usually under the impression that we are supposed to be certain people, supposed to have certain beliefs and supposed to like certain things. i’m learning as a husband and father that it’s okay to not be what others think i am “supposed to be, that i don’t have to be a certain person in order to feel fulfilled. it’s actually incredible how hard it is to put this thought in practice. the beautiful thing about life is being natural, being real and not pretending to be people we aren’t. that’s the lesson i hope jade learns from us as parents. i pray that she is open minded and free spirited enough to not feel burdened by expectations. i hope kelli and i are mindful enough not to burden her with those expectations.
being committed in life to another person while raising a tiny human can sometimes be overwhelming. our moments aren’t always graceful and picturesque. sometimes you just have to figure things out as you go along. there are plenty of self help books but there really isn’t a manual. there is plenty of chaos around us that we cannot control, but we can dictate our own responses. i’m pretty lucky to have my partner in life by my side as we try to figure out how to survive this world.
i didn’t start this blog as a way for me to tell you what to think. it’s not my style. i may have strong opinions, but they are mine and not yours and i know the difference. usually, my goal is to guide my readers to think in new ways, to gain perspective in areas they’ve never thought of before.
this time is different.
this time it has to be said.
not now. not ever.
not if we believe in humanity, in the idea that we all have been created equally in the eyes of God. not if we believe that we, the people of the united states of america, have unalienable rights. not if we remember the long roads we have traveled to get to this point.
not if we believe in properly honoring the men and women who have served in our military. not if we truly respect those who have given their lives to protect this nation. what type of commander in chief actually says “it’s easier this way” when given a purple heart from a veteran? “i always wanted one of these”… really??
we cannot elect a man who has denigrated women for decades. we cannot elect a man who feasts on the decaying ideas that one race is better than another. we cannot elect a man who seeks to divide a nation with fear tactics instead of rallying a democracy built upon the concept that we are all in this together, despite our differences, not separated because of them. we cannot elect a man who has suggested that russia hack our computer systems in search of potential state secrets in emails. nevermind what we believe regarding hillary, this public invitation proves yet again that trump lacks the mental capacity to be a leader of our nation.
the values that we believe in here in america, at least the values that i believe america to be about do not include encouraging countries led by dictators to hack us. they do not include electing a man for president who, when he does not get what he wants, decides he won’t pay or threatens to sue. not a man who, when questioned by the media, revokes media credentials rather than answer the tough questions. we cannot elect a man who says that because of his business record, he is qualified. not when his business record is littered with bankruptcies and lawsuits. not when his record is filled with destruction and workers without payment for their services. that is not how america operates. that is not how a leader leads.
i know that there are some who think that hillary would be devastating for this country, specifically for our armed forces. every one has a right to an opinion. but consider how damaging a president trump would be for our troops. he has suggested not supporting our nato allies. the very notion of not supporting allies is incredibly dangerous and immediately puts our troops in unnecessary danger. he has mocked a known war hero in john mccain for being a prisoner of war, essentially calling him a loser for being captured. this is who we want as commander in chief? at different points in time trump has praised the leadership styles of vladimir putin, saddam hussein and kim jong un. is this the model for our troops to follow? let us not forget that bluster is no substitute for coherency. being the loudest and most boisterous voice in the room does not qualify a person as a leader.
we have our faults as americans and even a checkered past. we have had troubling times. we have fought through slavery and we were late to allow women the right to vote. it took later than it should have to establish even the basic of civil rights. we have seen depressions and sometimes we have responded too late to global threats and persecutions. but we do have a brighter future, because we have overcome these things. now is not the time to turn back, to become dark and sinister versions of ourselves. now is not the time to build walls and close our doors.
when i look at my infant daughter, i have a vision of an america where she can flourish. i want her to be able to have same opportunities that men have and to be compensated equally for her work. i want her to see a kaleidoscope of people, from skin color to religious and ethnic backgrounds to the diversity of opportunity that we all strive for. i hope that she questions why we would have even doubted that a woman could be president. i hope she asks me why it took so long for a black man to be elected president. i don’t want her to read in her history books about president trump and the legacy behind deserting allies and troops and the lunacy behind ignoring facts in favor of bluster.
as we consider our options this fall, before we make our decisions, take the time to really think about who we are as americans. when we go to vote, i hope that we remember that our humanity is worth more than being true to a political party affiliation. this time is different.
do all lives matter?
i’m not sure that’s ever been the argument.
yet somehow that’s the debate we are having now.
we have such a dualistic mindset in our culture. it’s either A or B… nevermind that C might be our best option. And if we say C is the best option, it must be because we hate A and B.
but let’s talk about lives. black lives. tell me, why is it so difficult for some to admit that they matter? why must the counteraction be… “yea well all lives matter!”?
we know that.
we know that blue lives matter. it’s not against some rule to believe in the necessity of police officers. it’s not against some law of humanity to believe that those who have sworn to protect the peace, are actually capable of protecting that peace. i believe it, i know it happens and can continue to happen. saying that black lives matter does not and never has negated any of this.
the insistence upon stating that all lives matter is fine. if in fact there was an argument against the sanctity of all lives. the concept that black lives matter is meant to be inclusive of black lives into all lives, not in spite of all lives.
#blacklivesmatter is a movement calling for dignity and respect for black people. the refusal to acknowledge this is why such a movement is necessary. i was on the fence regarding this movement for awhile. not because i thought it was racist, as some have claimed. i was just not educated enough to make a decision one way or another.
but i started to wonder. why is it so hard just to acknowledge that black people deserve dignity and respect and most importantly, the right to fair justice? yes, there is much that should be done to curtail black on black violence. of course. there is much to be done about white on white violence. there is much to be done about violence. it is okay to acknowledge that black lives matter in a manner that is inclusive of all races, not exclusive of others. it is okay to state that those killed by police deserve justice, including black lives, not just black lives.
i’ve grown tired of all the back and forth, of the finger pointing and name calling. it’s a tired tradition to suggest “my way is better than your way”. as if there are only two ways to begin with. it’s foolish to make decisions without knowledge and scary to lay a belief system upon a set of untrue narratives.
do all lives matter? of course they do. all walks of life matter. the poor and uneducated lives matter. the sick and weak lives matter. the uninsured lives matter. the homeless lives matter. the single mother’s lives matter. the prostitute’s lives matter. the transgendered lives matter. #alllivesmatter shouldn’t be a convenient hashtag because you don’t like the narrative you see on social media. if all lives truly matter, why is there such vitriol against so many lives? why so much hatred and name calling against people who don’t look and sound like us? why is there so much angst against those who don’t make as much money as we do? don’t tell me all lives matter, and then fight to keep even a portion of lives out of our country. don’t tell me that all lives matter if you don’t think all lives deserve health care. don’t say that all lives matter if you think everyone in this country should speak the same language as you.
if all lives matter… act like it.
if all lives matter, don’t live an exclusive lifestyle.
if all lives matter, why are we so willing to fight wars and send teenagers to solitary confinement?
of course, all lives matter. so do black lives. that’s the point. black lives don’t matter more than other lives. as a black man, i just want to be acknowledged that my life matters. i sincerely do not believe that my request is too large.
being silent really hasn’t worked.
i took another break from writing the past few months because, silly as it sounds, i felt a little too worked up to write coherently.
funny thing is, now i’m mad as hell and i can’t help but write. if you aren’t mad as hell, then maybe you should just exit this post now.
for perspective as a black man, i’ve lived in predominately white culture my entire life. honestly, i’m pretty comfortable in this culture, because it’s all i know. i’ve gotten used to the way white people live. i’ve gotten used to how white, middle class people live.
i’ve gotten used to the comments and innuendos and the “i’m not racist… but…” type jokes. i’ve gotten used to people telling me that i’m too smart to be black, that i talk really well for a black man. i’ve been called nigger while walking down the street with my white wife. i’ve gotten used to people pointing out the color of my skin like i had a band-aid on my forehead. i’ve always thought… whatever, people are just dumb and moved on with my life because i know that i’m better than that or them. i have never had time to engage in ignorance.
i can sense the tide shifting.
it’s not just that i now have an infant daughter. it’s not just that i’m devastated to have to come to terms with reality that the world she will grow up in will not be much better than the world i grew up in. although that plays a huge part in my furious anger.
it’s more than that.
it’s that being silent doesn’t work anymore.
how can i be silent when police can execute civilians out of fear and without basis? how can i be silent when a simple traffic stop turns into murder in front of a four year old girl? how can i be silent when a man’s life is taken from him while screaming that he cannot breathe?
how can i be silent when the very same fears i have had, my daughter will most likely live with too?
here’s the problem. i see a lot of white people saying, “let’s not jump to conclusions just yet.” that’s easy and convenient to say, but that simply doesn’t work today. i’ve lived in fear of “being black in the wrong place” my entire life. because of the events we continue to witness, my daughter may feel the same fears, and that just isn’t okay.
this is not an attack on white people. what it is an attack on is the culture that allows pervasive racism to continue. it’s an attack on the culture that is outraged by the death of a gorilla and cecil the lion (which i’m upset by too as an animal lover) but turns victims of violent police murders into the criminals by broadcasting prior records as if that has much to do with the actual incident. it’s an attack on the attitudes that have developed into saying “well, they must have done something wrong” to deserve being executed in the streets.
it’s an attack on a “justice’ system that time and time again fails to recognize that these acts are crimes. these are murders. yes, we know that these are murders by “bad apples”. we know that there are good cops. i know good cops. it doesn’t, however, excuse behavior. it doesn’t change the fact that men and women die at the hands of these “bad apples” without repercussions.
it no longer is an option to remain calm and keep quiet. it no longer is an option to look the other way and hope it all settles down one day.
being silent doesn’t work anymore.
expecting a baby is a phenomenon.
it really is.
the fact that my wife is growing a human almost leaves me speechless, which if anyone knows me, is hard to do. kelli is only about 14 weeks pregnant, but each week builds upon the anticipation of our little one’s arrival.
i also struggle with what to call this baby, since i don’t know whether it’s a boy or a girl yet. calling the baby… it… i don’t like that so much. so i guess i’m just gonna keep saying baby g. if it gets annoying, well… i’m sure you’ll get over it.
it’s funny the things i look forward to:
finding out baby g’s gender… the suspense is killing me.
introducing baby g to the world, and the world to baby g. i have high hopes for both and i expect them to be good friends
buying little things for the baby. i’m sure that my wife is thinking about all the practical things like changing tables and diaper bags and what color to paint the nursery. my mind is on making sure baby g is properly equipped with just the right amount of sports gear. baby g’s gonna have to represent our teams in style! yes, i have looked up pacifiers and onesies with my favorite teams logos on them.
on that note, is it weird that i’m already looking forward to watching baseball games and other sporting events with my kid asleep in my arms? k, i didn’t think so.
i think finally the overall realization that this is happening has sunk in and the excitement is starting to take over. i’ve waited a long time to become a father and when it became a real thing, all i could do was kinda freak out a little.
on a little more serious note, i’m pretty sure that i won’t always be the world’s best dad, or even the coolest one. at some point baby g won’t be a baby anymore and won’t even want to hang out with me. but i’m pretty sure that even if my kid doesn’t like sports or maps or writing or panda bears and is into things i have no clue about, i’m going to be a proud dad. i’m pretty sure that writing about my kid will be the easiest topic, and maybe the toughest too. i’m sure i’m going to be tired a lot and there will be plenty of nights when i lay awake wondering when this kid will come home. i know that because my parents did the same thing. i know that starting in about 6 months i’m going to start appreciating my parents a whole lot more than i do at this moment, and i’ll have a deeper admiration for mothers and fathers who have been doing this for a lot longer than me. i’ll probably finally start asking for advice on things because baby g will get the best of me at times.
i’m excited about being a father, it’ll be the most important task ever given to me. someone asked me the other day if i’m ready for it, well, i don’t know that it matters if i’m ready for fatherhood. either way, it’s happening.
the best thing is knowing that no matter what, it’ll always be okay. even when things aren’t going the way i would like, it’s always well with my soul. it’s a motto i try to live out and now i get to pass that down.
there is so much commotion in the world these days.
sometimes it seems like the world has turned upside down. you know what i mean? we are living in a world where donald trump is a front runner to lead the free world, the gun debate rages people more and more and the water in flint, michigan has potentially destroyed the lives of many of its citizens.
there are so many lies to be told. we hear them everyday.
“obama is coming for your guns”
“only those who deserve healthcare should receive it”
“i’ll make america great again”
it’s just a bunch of loud noises.
i’m sure you’ve picked up my opposition to the trump campaign. for me, i guess i assume it’s an obvious choice for all of us. clearly it’s not. but what i have a hard time deciphering is the idea that christians are more accepting of someone who has been documented speaking against other religions, races and economic classes than someone who wishes to stand in solidarity with those different from her.
what i don’t understand is how loud the clamor to fight for the ability to carry a gun is, despite the main point being that no one really wants to take away guns from people who carry them legally and responsibly. it truly is amazing that we can be a society that ignores crucial elements of a text or story, just to bend the narrative the way we want it to be told.
i’m tired of the loud noises, even if right now i’m heaping coals onto the burning embers.
the loud noises scream for freedoms, even at the expense of freedom for those different from them. does that make sense? christians want freedom to discriminate against other religions. that’s essentially what it boils down to. instead of understanding the narrative, many christians have decided that all muslims are bad and shouldn’t be allowed into the country.
gun owners, terrified of losing their guns, are willing to let innocent people die in the streets, as long as their guns aren’t taken away. though that option has never been on the table, nor has it really ever been discussed.
loud noises discourage an appropriate discussion. loud noises distract from the truth.
in flint, political authorities decided to save money and draw water from the flint river, instead of from lake huron treated from detroit. since then, high levels of lead has seeped into the water. this is water that men, women and children drink, bathe in and cook with. despite tests proving otherwise, officials insisted that the water was safe. now, it’ll cost over a billion dollars to correct the problem and the city is under a state of emergency. was it worth it?
instead of blustery speech and blowing smoke, we should be able to have transparent and honest discussions. differences in opinion doesn’t mean we can’t work together for effective solutions. even if we don’t have the same religion or agree on all topics doesn’t mean we have to be on separate sidelines. we all have our beliefs and it’s good to stand firmly with them. but we shouldn’t be foolish about it.
instead of the loud noises, maybe we just need to quiet down a little.