TRIGGER WARNING: This poem was written May 25, 2020 after the heinous murder of George Floyd one year ago today. This poem depicts violent imagery, yet not nearly as violent as what the world witnessed on the day (now) 7-year old Gianna Floyd had her father ripped from her life. The contents of this poem may be haunting and are not meant for young audiences, those who have witnessed or have directly experienced forms of violence. Please be advised.
The Mothers Have Come
Our Mother Ancestors are enraged.
The pillaging of Black bodies at the hands of
white supremacist tyrannical delusions,
acts of violence and psychological warfare
have resurrected the spirits.
The Mothers have come.
There is more to be atoned for than white delusions can understand.
Our Mother Ancestors have grown weary from
their lineage being hunted down as prey
and hearing their last breath calling for their mother (we heard you)
or for air (we heard you)
or for change (we heard you).
Tears of blood running down our Mother Ancestors’ cheeks
as they hold in their hands each precious Black pearl
that they have been so careful to surround with love, power and hope.
Only to have those pearls drowned and suffocated in their own blood.
20 year-old Daunte Wright and his son, Daunte Jr. Daunte Wright, Sr. was killed by an officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo should be alive today. They are not. Their lives were taken from them by those who are supposed to “protect and serve” the communities for which they are paid to serve.
For my international readers/listeners, last week was another week of trying to balance trauma with hope here in the U.S. As an educator, it is growing more difficult to shore up an inspirational message for our next generation leaders.
However, I am fortunate that I have a community of leaders to engage in these conversations who can provide empowering words in those times when my motivational reserves are low. Feel free to watch or listen to the following episodes of the “More Than Metaphors” podcast to start your week off on a good note:
Episode 12 Part 1: Politics, Hip Hop and Re-Membering Home
Sociologist, Author and Higher Education Leader, Dr. A. Rafik Mohamed reflects on the intersections of storytelling and politics in remembering (recalling) his journey from D.C. to California, while re-membering (putting together again) a feeling of home. He and Dr. Kecia also square off on a hip hop trivia challenge to (possibly) end their 20+ year East Coast/West Coast beef [Timestamp: 53:45-1:04]! P.s. Ms. Lauryn Hill has more than one album, Dr. Mohamed!!!
Rafik’s More Than Metaphors Playlist contributions:
Episode 11 – Part 1: Being All the Things: Beyond Expectations and “Instagram Ash”
This is the first part of a conversation with one of the co-hosts of the “The Adjacent Self” podcast and Principal of Kendra Dorlenda Coaching & Consulting. Kendra Stewart reflects on her evolution into supporting the personal development of others. She also talks about the importance of re-connecting to the world around us while keeping “Instagram Ash” at bay.
Are you “Instagram Ashy?” Listen to this episode and find out!
Kendra’s More Than Metaphors Playlist contribution: Alive by Sia
Episode 10 – A Poetic Love “After the Snap”
Our very first More than Metaphors interview is with Author, Poet and Inglewood’s Mahogany Son, Kian A. Furnace and his amazing wife, ReShockie Furnace! This lively and thought-provoking conversation looks at what and how we can learn to love ourselves and others after experiencing divorce.
Kian and ReShockie share their truths (and lots of laughter) as they discuss how they went about their healing process and eventually found their way back to each other. They also share their musical choices for the brand new More Than Metaphors Playlist.
Kian and ReShockie’s More Than Metaphors Playlist contributions:
Happy 2021 to you! I pray that you and your loved ones are healthy and safe.
Whew! Am I glad I took a few weeks off to process 2020, because it was starting to look like 2021 was coming through with some of that “hold my coat” energy! The Georgia Dream followed immediately by the Capitol Conundrum were so disorienting that it made this amazing artist turn her songwriting gift to a plea for the extraterrestrials to do a fly-by and take her away from this planet that we are destroying
You have to admit, it is a catchy tune.
Processing the Destruction
After a number of social media posts, and conversations with friends, families and colleagues processing the insurrection, I began to resist the urge to blame Time for the chaos we humans have created. Yes, people are responsible for the decisions that have led to the destructive, chaotic, psychotic, oppressive conditions we are living in. The Earth and Time are not responsible for the lies we tell ourselves and others to create systems of mental, physical, spiritual, and economic destruction. We all have played a part in the destruction we are seeing–and yes, some of us are much more responsible for the destruction than others.
I am not going to delve into the destruction of January 6th. There has been and continues to be enough commentary and indoctrination that the news cycles are carefully disseminating. Plus, as someone who intimately understands the inverse relationship of Black joy to White rage/disenchantment that exists in dysfunctional relationships, I made a conscious decision to stay firmly planted in the joy of celebrating the wins in Georgia and preparing for the Inauguration.
Maybe you have seen this inverse relationship play out at work, in the community or even in families: Whenever one person is living their best life, the other person seems to be on the brink of ruin? Yes, that is one of the dynamics that play out in dysfunctional/delusional dependent relationships. We had a chance to watch it play out while a group of adults worked towards their Spider-Man club badges scaling up the side of the nation’s Capitol, while others were finding ways to hold virtual galas.
I had the pleasure of being a part of a podcast discussion recently (Available on Apple podcast and Spotify) where I talked about…well, everything. However I mostly elucidated on some of what I meant in my last post around reclamation resistance. I also talked about how white supremacist delusion is antithetical (or at least it should be) to conscious leadership.
If we are truly focused on being spiritual and spirited leaders, we cannot concurrently champion those ways of being and doing that are spiritually destructive. Essentially what I am saying is if we are going to be followers of [insert a spiritual Teacher, or practice], then we cannot be followers and agents of oppression. Said another way: If we are clear that the flesh is “temporal and the spirit is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18), then divesting from systems of oppression would be an active part of our practice.
The Battle (Fatigue) is Real
As for those who are knowingly or unknowingly (with a wink) contributing to racial/oppression battle fatigue, they need to focus on cultivating authentic and meaningful relationships and stop making “The Work” they need to be doing so transactional. An example I gave is when you are in an intimate, loving, nurturing and mutual relationship (so reciprocity has to be actualized in the relationship), you care about how that person is doing. You are tuned into their needs AND what they have in their reserve. You have a sense of when they are depleted and that depletion matters to you and vice versa. Again, that is when you are tuned in.
Part of the problem is The Work has become traumatically transactional. Those of the dominant culture are not tuned in and have allowed themselves to be tuned out for more than 400. Now that white sisters and brothers are seeing that their survival is dependent on those people forced into the margins, they want a Cliff Notes-like summary on the experiences of marginalized communities. They give the perception that they are only working to understand others and their experiences to earn their “Certificate of Wokeness” and they want to earn it now, “chop-chop!
Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.
So please, don’t engage with others with your transactional need to know about what it is like to be a Black Woman from the ‘hood, when you already know the atrocities Black people have faced in this world. If you come to me with your NEED to know in order to check off your Woke Box, I’m going to quote blessed brother James Baldwin and tell you quite simply “I am not your negro” and finish sipping on my homemade Decaf Vanilla Chai. I am not at your service. I am here to serve my Creator and love on others and receive love in return. Periodt.
Oppressed people do not have to ask about what it is like to be part of the dominant culture. Our study of whiteness came and comes as part of our survival of the traumatically interdependent nature of our relationship(s)…and of course colonization. I recommend reading any of the works by Psychoanalyst and Political Philosopher, Frantz Fanon to gain a better understanding of these dynamics.
Analogy: Power and Abuse
To use an analogy that may illustrate the sociopolitical dynamics, I have heard the relationship of the dominant culture and exploited communities being likened to that of the abuser-abused. I think it is important to think critically about that comparison for its applicability. For instance, those who have been abused learn to anticipate the ways of their abuser, because forecasting the ways of the abuser is a trauma response and doing so keeps them safe (or safe-ish). Sounds familiar?
Considering the abuser, in order for them to end their dependence on the power gained from abusing others, they will need to live through some disorienting dilemmas. They will need to realize they are not alone in their identity as an abuser, critically examine the identity built (and awarded) for abusing others, and so on. If what I am listing sounds a bit like the work done in Alcoholics Anonymous, great. That connection is intentional. I am also directly connecting the journey towards becoming more aware, more humane and more just (what I believe the real Work should be) to what we in the adult learning and leadership community refer to as Transformative Learning theory developed by the late scholar, Jack Mezirow. Along with the video I have shared with you, here are Mezirow’s 10 Phases of Perspective Transformation:
Critical assessment of role assumptions
Recognizing that you are not alone
Exploring options for new ways of acting
Building competency in new role(s)
Planning a course of action
Acquiring knowledge and skills for new role
Trying out new roles and assessing feedback
Take some time when you can to research Transformative Learning theory online. It is a pragmatic theory and may prove useful as you are navigating the various realities you are experiencing.
“Back to the lecture at hand…” (To quote the misogynoir of “Ain’t Nuthin’ But a G Thang” by Snoop and Dr. Dre)
Back to dismantling white supremacist delusion…
If we are going to move forward as a nation, The Work needs to be done to dismantle our relationship, dependency and identities formed through white supremacist delusion as well as:
oppression of women birthed from delusion
oppression based on SES birthed from delusion
oppression of those persons with disabilities birthed from delusion
oppression of people in the LGBTQIA+ community birthed from delusion
oppression of people who are gender nonconforming/gender expansive birthed from delusion
oppression based on religion birthed from delusion
oppression based on language birthed from delusion
oppression based on immigration status birthed from delusion
You get the picture. Add any group of people who have been oppressed as a way to sustain the destructive, delusional dependence of the superiority narrative to maintain power.
Opportunity Knocks Hard
We have an opportunity for transformative learning of epic proportion in this country. January 20, 2021 is proof of that opportunity:
As I took this time of rest to reflect and prepare for the road ahead, I am inspired by the possibilities and the power that are bubbling up around the country. I am not naive or ignoring the undercurrent of rage and fear that exists. To the contrary, what I am choosing is to not go into caretaking or placating mode, thus hindering this opportunity for a transformative learning experience.
Plus, I have canceled my subscription to enable destructive behaviors in others. I am not your enabler, nor am I your “Lives of the Oppressed” tour guide. Like Vanessa Williams sang, we all have “work to do” (slurps tea unapologetically). Mmmmm, tastes like joy!
Love, Justice and Liberation (With extra caramel)!
Recapping everything that has occurred since my last post seems futile. It almost feels as if the character Thanos from the Avengers is snapping his fingers, however his fingers are wet so he just keeps snapping because he’s not getting the full effect. We’re not seeing a loss of half of humanity. Yet, with every inaudible snap there is more loss and more injustice to dismantle.
Supreme Court Justice and voice for justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, died on September 18th. Five days later, Attorney General Daniel Cameron in Louisville, Kentucky delivered another blow to justice: Not one of the 3 officers responsible for the death of Breonna Taylor would be charged with her murder. Breonnna Taylor was a First Responder who was asleep in her home when officers tore through her home shooting, looking for someone they already had in custody. One officer was indicted on first-degree wanton endangerment charges; he was accused of blindly firing shots that went through Breonna Taylor’s home and penetrated the walls of a neighbor’s apartment.
If the walls could talk, they would say Breonna deserves justice. They would manage just fine with some stucco and a good paint job.
Devastation, heartbreak, hopelessness and betrayal encapsulate only a few of the feelings of grief expressed as Daniel Cameron, a Black man by birth, regurgitated the decision for the world to hear. Calls for his resignation and cancellation were swift, given his affiliation with those who have a proven record of activating injustice against the Black community specifically and communities of color in general. Personally, I was grappling with how I was going to explain this decision to my 10-year old daughter who had just returned home from being with her father on the East Coast for a month. In a world that has been abundantly clear what “they” think about us (that Black Lives do not Matter and are detested, defiled and are expendable); I, like so many grown-ups are trying to turn the Truth Narrative volume up even louder in order to drown out all that hate noise. Black Lives Matter. They always have and they always will.
Something else I was wrestling with is how I too have unintentionally caused harm to my own community in the form of seeking solidarity as a form of justice. Or working to have Black Folx included in organizations and institutions that I know full well are so toxic that you can feel your humanity draining from you when you step through the door. No, I have never done a D. Cameron. However, I have inadvertently done damage.
Sis, you actually gon’ put that in writing for people to read? Are you trying not to work again or…?
I have always intended for my blog to be about love and liberation. Part of that goal is realized by excavating how and what we learn, challenging unhealthy thoughts and actions, while leading ourselves and others out of oppression and into liberation, both personally and professionally. You know, the stuff our Ancestors fought and died for and want for their descendants. So yes, this requires me being honest with you AFTER I have been honest with myself, because we know that substantive healing happens in community with others.
So yeah, I messed up during what I will call my “Emergence from the Sunken Place:” 1 Part leaving a toxic relationship and 1 Part re-learning that Justice, true Justice is the foundation of DEI work.
Once, I thought I was being useful by trying to help bring Black and Brown students to work together in solidarity to combat White Supremacist Delusions (see @sonyareneetaylor on IG for her brilliant views on W.S.D.). I was a part of solidarity work during my time at USD where we conducted these educative, cathartic and life changing experiences with a diverse group of student leaders called Human Relations Workshops (HRWs). They were dope! Surely bringing these students leaders together after a botched student election to re-imagine leadership and liberation on this campus would be just what the institution needed, right?
Crash and burn. I learned that before solidarity can ever be truly realized, there must be…
The 2nd time came when I was asked to support a department-wide conversation examining the impact of Anti-Black racism perpetuated by the department and the institution at-large. Due to my strong familiarity with the institution (my way of qualifying that I intimately know the pain caused to Black minds, bodies and spirits by said institution), I was slow to re-injure Black community members on that campus by talking with them first about their pain. “I know their pain and I know it is valid. Let’s get to work so we can make sure they are heard and give the organization their marching orders. The department needs to get busy in order to transform the experiences of Black community members, which will also make a better living/learning/working experience for everyone else.”
Yes, I said that *bleep* out loud.
Add to my decision to not talk with members of the Black community being a single mom and being strapped for time, you can imagine the reception during the community discussion.
Sidebar: Something I tell all of my emerging and seasoned leaders to make time for are Listening Tours. “Listening tours are not about you” I say. “They are all about you making space for those who have been voiceless, they must be heard and seen.” Listening, seeing, and loving on others is a form of…
Yes you guessed it, that discussion was cringe. Luckily, the Associate I had working with me was so amazing that she was able to create a brave space for the community that was in real pain, while I was able to observe the leadership to provide next steps to lead the department into the new millennium.
Back in my early 30’s, I remember being reprimanded for providing too much support to Black students on a university campus (I kid you not) and not providing enough support to our Asian/Asian American students. My supervisor at the time was someone who identified as a woman of Asian/Pacific Islander heritage. She led an office that was designed to support students from various cultural backgrounds. I recall a particularly contentious meeting where she informed me that there were “places for people like me” whose primary focus was supporting Black students.
“Word?” I thought. “There’s a place for people like you who have a problem with people like me. It is very, very, VERY hot there. Let me help you pack a sack lunch for the ride.”
I eventually quit that job.
We all have our biases. And, if our biases get in the way of justice for those who experience the most extreme forms of injustice, then we have to rethink our relationship to social justice, possibly time for a new line of work. As The Notorious B.I.G. astutely pointed out “UPS is hiring.” Go do that; don’t call yourself a social justice activist if you are not about…
To be clear, my goal in this post is not to try and garner sympathy. I have sown enough good seed in my community during the past 3+ decades that I haven’t been cancelled. Maybe I was on a “Cultural Time Out.” Nonetheless, my goal is to have you, the reader, think critically and honestly about ways that you may have unintentionally and/or intentionally worked against justice: Justice within your own family, community, places of worship, work environments, the gas station…wherever. A few questions you may consider asking yourself:
Do I know what justice is for myself? My community? Those communities different than my own?
Do I know what injustice looks like for the various communities around me?
What is hindering me from being able to actively hear, understand, appreciate and bridge the Justice Gap for those who may not be empowered or privileged in areas where I have power and privilege?
What stories have I been taught about what might happen if a particular group receives justice?
Am I doing true justice work, or am I engaging in covert-oppression exercises for those who have historically been in power?
If I am really about that Justice Life, am I learning and doing more to support the work that needs to be done?
One of my favorite quotes by Dr. Cornel West (that I often transpose) is “Justice is what love looks like in public.” Justice is still calling out too many names of loved ones whose lives have been taken, unjustly. #JusticeforBreonnaTaylor #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd #JusticeforTooManytoName #JusticeforReal #JusticeFirst.
Check your state and local election sites for registration deadlines and voting details.
We have a complicated relationship with the truth. Whether it is speaking our truth, believing the truth, or telling the truth, something that should be the norm just is not. It has been force fed to us for centuries that it is more advantageous for us to lie and uphold lies that destroy us than to fight against them. We’re not buying the bs anymore. Tear down the lies because they have choked the life out of us for far too damn long! Rest in Power: Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. ~KCB journal entry
I have been putting off writing this post for weeks now. Technically, I began writing this post before my Mother’s Day post. However, like so many other people, my heart has been beyond heavy with all of the racial injustice, murders/lynchings of Black Women and Men and the stoking of hatred we are seeing politically (Please vote on November 3rd).
In two words: I’m angry. In four words: I’m afraid and angry. Psychologically, I am using my anger as fuel in order to function beyond my fear.
I had a whole set up for this post on Lies. There’s this cute vignette I had about my daughter, Christmas, and the Elf on the Shelf. A quick aside: Our elf is still here freeloading…and it’s June. One day there will be a proper time to talk about the cycle of lying -> telling the truth -> lying -> final truth. That story will be told at another time.
No, today I simply implore you to look at the lies told, the lies we uphold, and examine the ways that we have intentionally and unintentionally caused harm. I will serve as a model for the work I’m recommending:
I want to acknowledge the pain I have caused within my own community as I dwelt in the Sunken Place of the Most Toxic. Being married to a white man, no matter how “aware” and freedom fighting his views, still sent a message of self-loathing and cultural betrayal. In addition, I made major missteps when trying to fight for us because I was unable to fight for myself (and was “crazier than a Betsy Bug” as we say in my family). Now that I am free (Honey, I’m free), I am very clear about who I am and what the Creator is requiring of me during this time of Revival.
First Nations People/Muscogee Community
You are family, too. I see my great-great grandmother’s BIA number and wonder what she would say about everything we are seeing now. I believe she would say that Black Lives Mattered before we were brought here in chains.
I thank you for seeing and speaking out against the injustices perpetrated against Black and Brown bodies, especially given the historical scars of White Supremacy on Indigenous Peoples. The lies you endured that set the stage for the genocide of the First Keepers of this land need to be addressed in a more substantial way than a few casinos here and there. Hopefully, many of you will live to see that change come.
People of Color
You have been lied to as well. That is the calculation of systemic racism, its sleight of hand moves quickly and it can be hard to recognize when People of Color use the lenses of the oppressor on one another. We uphold the lies without even questioning them (Colorism being one of the lies we have been told and continue to uphold). We need each other. Our kids need a better world. We have to work together in dismantling the lies AND building new structures for the generations to come.
[Deep sigh] I have insider knowledge that White Supremacy is spread by small lies that uphold the larger structural lie: White skin makes you better than everyone on this planet. Which is simply not true and you know it. You needn’t go any further than your own families to see that some of your own family members did not get the memo about being supreme beings. Part of the issue is the Culture of Silence that exists. “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” has been a part of white family systems long before the military revamped the meaning to address (not address?) sexual orientation within their ranks.
Look. Tell the truth. Tell the whole truth and ask God to help you, not your Black colleagues or that one kinda-sorta Black friend that seems to be brought up when racism is mentioned. If you can figure out how to use ever-changing technology, I want to assume your commitment to lifelong learning as an adult has not completely disappeared.
In essence, I’m telling you that you cannot call Tyrone to ask him how to dismantle racism. He has turned off his phone and so have I.
. . .
I could go on, but I will not. I want to encourage each of us to do whatever is necessary to dismantle what is killing all of us, figuratively and literally. Let’s continue to ask ourselves:
What are the lies I tell (inadvertently or as the current system mandates) and who do they benefit? Who do they harm/destroy?
How or in what ways am I upholding the lies that reinforce White Supremacy, White Privilege and Anti-Blackness?
What does being an “Anti-Racist” mean in my world and…what will it cost me to become an anti-racist?
What resources will I need to engage and who will hold me accountable during my anti-racist skill development?
What will I do to sustain myself when I meet opposition?