Stop Invading Our Spaces

I went to a Jazz Festival recently, a very popular one in my state called the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival which is four days long. I went on Friday and despite these two incidents I did have a good time. I am not a fan of public drunkenness and a drunk guy fell on the side of me and dented and eventually broke my chair when I tried to fix the arm. The other incident that occurred I was quite taken aback by.

A white girl was going around dancing and coming up to other Black girls trying to twerk on them saying “hey girlfriend” and trying to be “hip and in with the Black people.” I don’t know if she was drunk of what but when she came up to me and did that I was highly offended.

  1. We are strangers. I have no issue with people of whatever race attending festivals that may have a cultural majority minority but I do take issue with someone thinking they can just come up and dance on anyone without consent. I don’t care that we’re both girls, I don’t want anyone, guy or girl, Black, White or otherwise, coming up to me out of no where and twerking on me. I don’t know if she was drunk or sober but I was definitely annoyed and felt that my space was invaded and disrespected.
  2. Why did she assume I was going to twerk along with her? I hate the stereotype that all Black girls twerk on command. I am not a performer nor am I here for anyone’s entertainment, let alone some drunk White girl’s. I did not appreciate it in the least. Would she have done that at a White party with White people? I don’t know, but for whatever reason she did it I didn’t like it one bit. There are Black people who don’t feel public twerking is appropriate and I am one of those people. I personally think that’s a trashy low-class thing to do and I am not alone in that.
  3. I don’t like when people try to act out of character to try to fit in minority spaces. True, I don’t know this girl. Maybe she authentically likes to twerk on random strangers and that’s just how she operates but personally I don’t think that’s an ok thing to do. Secondly she is a White girl doing this in a predominantly Black space. It’s not a good look. It’s like me going into a predominantly Latino space, screaming “Arriba!” at the top of my lungs and trying to salsa dance on people. I’m not saying I cannot participate in cultural dances, but there’s a difference between acting a fool with strangers vs. dancing with friends you already know or asking to dance with someone who may or may not want to dance.

It has just happened too often that I see some White attendees at festivals act this way. They take this opportunity to try to show how “stereotypically Black” they are by showing of dance moves that are in reality quite mediocre and invading people’s private spaces by acting as if they are close family member or best buddies. Even Black people don’t usually just run up on one another like that when we’re strangers. Even if it were Black person to Black person I would look at anyone funny trying to dance up on me that I don’t know talking about c’mon girlfriend! Ewe! No! Get away from me!

If I come off as stuck up or a stick in the mud I don’t care because everyone’s space and consent should be respected. I’m not a touchy feely person in the first place. I like to have a certain amount of space between me and people I don’t know. If I had a white bestie and I actually did do those kinds of dances then maybe I could and would dance that way with her because I would know her and know that she respected me.

So all I’m saying is PSA please don’t come to cultural festivals, get inebriated or soberly act a fool around minorities simply because you’re in their space and it’s a party doesn’t mean there is suddenly a pass to act like “you’re cool and hip and in with the Blacks and Latinos.” I just don’t like that attitude at all. Respect the space. There are boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed. I’m not saying we can’t be friends. I’m not saying that cultural festivals cannot be attended or enjoyed by White people but what I am saying is don’t assume that everyone there is going to dance and don’t come up in someone’s space, touch on them and goad them to dance on command. I am not here for anyone’s exotic entertainment.

End Rant.

Reflections of a CaMethodist Teen

“You’re lookin’ mighty fine this morning Ms.Freeman.” I turned around because I didn’t want to look this man in the eye. I started to serve the next hungry person. The man behind me got louder. “I said, you’re lookin’ MIGHTY FINE this mornin’ Ms.Freeman. Why don’t you come over here and hand me another biscuit.” I didn’t want to look at him or hand him anything more. “We only give out one biscuit per person.” I mumbled reluctantly under my breath. “What was that sweetheart?” he called out to me. “Just one biscuit per person mista’, sorry, it’s the kitchen’s rules.” He huffed under his breath. He could tell I was trying to ignore him. “Well, if ya’ outta buscuits, you got any muffins back there, or betta’ yet, some nice, warm, chocolate cookies?” I had it. I couldn’t take this man’s disrespect any more. I turned around and I looked him square in the eyes.

“Listen here Mista’, say one more thing to me and I can have you removed.” He was appalled at my boldness. “Oh, I thought you was a sweet Christian gal, why you yellin’ at me so?” He and his buddies were smiling wickedly. I knew they were trying to get a rise out of me. “It’s too early in the morning for this mess. Get your act together and behave yourselves or I will have you removed from this place permanently.” I huffed off and I heard them snicker and whistle as I walked away. Here I was trying to do a good thing and serve these men, many of them, hungry and homeless. All they could see me for were my “warm biscuits and cookies.” It wasn’t every man that came in, only a few. There were the ones who were vocal and the ones who just creepily leered in silence. Both were uncomfortable.

My own father, the pastor was no help. He was so focused on his various ministries that he never seemed to have the time to consider my feelings about the situation. Sure, I was all about giving back and helping the community, but the characters that came through those doors every morning weren’t always the friendliest or most respectful. I get it. They are coming directly off the streets, some from jail, some addicted, some of them still presently high, I get it. Still, I would have appreciated some proper decorum considering the fact that I am serving them when I don’t have to. I get up extra early every morning, before the crack of dawn, to serve these people. Sometimes it’s with reluctance, because I got plenty of Christian friends who don’t even bother with the mundane routine of church going.

However, being the daughter of a father in clergy, it would have been impossible for me to refuse to attend. After all, they fed me and clothed me. Going to church and serving the community without a fuss was the least I could do right? After all, the breakfast ministry was only one event that was troublesome for me. There were so many others that I did thoroughly enjoy, such as choir practice. Some people would lethargically trudge through the hymns, but I very much enjoyed singing the songs of my ancestors. I was in love with gospel music, so much so that I would watch all the Sunday Best Gospel singing contests religiously.

It was time for bible study and I knew that I would have to see that idiot again. One boy in particular in our bible study was just full of himself. He had the most foolish tattoos and once grabbed my phone and put his photo as my front wallpaper screen. What the hell? Who does that? He reminded me of the Disney character Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. I found him to be quite irritating, arrogant and mediocre. I also knew however that none of the cute boys in bible study of which there were very few, would ever dare, come on to me. Being the pastor’s daughter had its perks and its downsides. The perks were that our family always got served first and we got the best food first too. The downsides as a pastor’s daughter, I would never be approached by any boys in the church because they feared the wrath of my father one step from the wrath of God.

I might as well have been a nun in my teen years because I never was allowed to date and no one dared to date me. I was asked out once at sixteen but it was by a boy I didn’t want and at the time I wanted to say yes only to gain the attention of the boy I did want who didn’t want me. I know it sounds too cruel and the typical drama of a teenage romance. However, romance was not something I had much of during those times, but rather, much heartbreak, unrequited love, infatuation and crippling loneliness. I pondered joining the convent several times in my life because quite honestly, I didn’t believe that anyone would ever have the guts to ask me out or pursue me. I was too holy, too nice, too much of a goody two shoes, too smart, too strong, too talented and too intimidating.

At first glance I seemed like a sheep. If anyone provoked me however they would soon realize that I was anything but. I was quite an aggressive girl in elementary school. I harassed the boys often and played pranks on them. They would retaliate but it would never stop me. One time I stole the one ball we had from them during recess. Every time I would do these things I would get a hot blooded rush of adrenaline at my victories. It was my mission to defeat and one up the boys in my class every chance I got. I was very vocal about my opinions and I truly believed that boys were dumber than girls. I could out run them, I could out smart them, I could out do them in almost anything except sports simply because I didn’t like sports. If I had liked sports and trained, I would have beat them at that too.

Subsequently many of them saw me as a threat. I was that one girl that would try it. One day I remember going down a recess slide and the boys trapping me at the top and the bottom. I was stuck in the middle and they grabbed my ankles and dragged me into the mulch while pushing me down. They all banded together against me. It only further encouraged me. Once I wrote a death threat to one of my enemies. At the time I didn’t realize how serious what I did was. Of course I wasn’t going to actually kill one of my classmates, but because of unstable assassins the teacher had to take it seriously. Nothing too terrible happened, but I got a stern talking to.

I would poke boys in the back with mechanical pencils, I would put tape inside of their jackets in the closet and I would be a hellish tormentor of sorts. Why did I do those things? I did it because I could and because I wanted to. I liked upsetting them and I was extremely thirsty for attention, even if it was the bad kind. I had a reputation that protected me. People usually pinned me as a goody two shoes and because of that I knew that anything bad I did wouldn’t be believed without concrete evidence. I always had an alibi. My best friend would even assist me in my crimes. Her mother worked as the secretary in the office so if I was ever sent to the principal, I knew she would bail me out. I was only sent once, and since I saw her first, she told me sternly to seize and desist and sent me on my way.

I was bad. I liked being bad. Being bad was fun. Being bad was especially fun when almost everyone thought that you were good. When I altar served during mass, there was this boy that I had the biggest crush on but it was a strange emotion because at the same time he was my rival and my enemy. I hated and loved him. We called each other names. We teased one another terribly. I wanted to tell him that I liked him so bad but I didn’t want him to know, tell everyone and be humiliated. I showed him through torment. Perhaps it wasn’t the best method. I honestly didn’t know how to deal with such strong emotions at a young age. From the beginning of birth I had always been full of passion, Passionate rage, passionate empathy, passionate yearning and passionate wrath.

That passion has been the bane of my existence my entire life. So many nights I have prayed to God to take my heart away. I wished for numbness, for indifference, for coldness, for apathy. I wished for these things because I was the type of child to see a commercial on television for the starving children in Africa and instantly begin to bawl my eyes out because just knowing how much people suffered from hunger abroad broke my heart. What broke my heart even more was knowing there was nothing that I could do to help them as a little Catholic city school girl.

I emulated Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King and Ghandi. To me they were who I aspired to be. I aspired to be a peace maker, end all war, suffering and pain and make it my life mission to heal all wounds and unite all peoples. I know that seems pretty ambitious for an elementary school girl but it was truly a dream that I hoped for and believed in wholeheartedly. At the same time, I wanted to kick butts on the recess yard, male butts. Interestingly enough, even though I had female enemies, I didn’t want to physically attack them, I wanted to be them. I wanted to have the popularity and attention they had. It seemed that because I was tomboy who watched wrestling with my dad and did martial arts twice a week; that the boys weren’t looking for a girl like that to date. Go figure.

I found other girls to be quite dull in their interests and activities. I grew up in a strict household that barred me from using makeup, playing with Barbies or watching channels like MTV and BET. My parents chose what music we could listen to which mostly comprised of seventies cds. I knew all about Funk and barely realized what era this music came from and that the present world was two decades ahead of what we were exposed to as children. When I say we, I must include the fact that I did indeed have a younger sister, one for whom I dearly loved but quarreled with frequently. We never seemed to see eye to eye until the time came that we both wanted something from mom and dad and we would band together to get it.

We built many forts and tents together. She was my play mate and my friend. We explored the world around us. We tried to dig our way to China once in the back gravel parking space my mother parked in. We had to stop because her tire kept sinking into the pothole we had created. Whoops! It took my father two whole weeks to teach me how to bike ride and I could not and would not accept that a bike with nothing holding up the right or left side could stand up and not fall. He kept trying to explain that in motion it would stand but logically and visually I couldn’t accept the concept. I was only allowed to ride to the end of the alley and no further. We were very protected and for the most part were only at school, home or church for most of our child and teenage hood. Some people may say that kind of sheltering is harmful, but on the other side of that, I have seen children and teenagers permanently damaged by parents who insisted on being cool mom and cool dad and trying to be their best friends or live a vicarious youth through them.

In truth I wasn’t missing anything by not dating then. None of the boys in school are serious then about any girl. I wasn’t missing anything by not wearing makeup that I didn’t need or have the money for. I had no one I needed to impress and even though I would sneak peeks at the magazines in the grocery store, the ones I wasn’t allowed to read, I found that I could never relate to the stories inside them. There would be stories about kids skipping school, cutting themselves, smoking or drinking for the first time, going farther in bed with a boy, being grounded, running away from home or shoplifting. None of these experiences I could relate to at all with which I do not regret but it did make me feel abnormal. I sat around hearing numerous conversations from peers that I knew I could not participate in because I had no idea what they were talking about.

Since I wasn’t allowed to read any magazines except Highlights or Christian Family friendly magazines, I was left out of the loop when it came to pop culture and celebrities. My first cd was NSYNC Pop and I received my first cd player on my eleventh birthday when I had my first sleepover. We watched a Sailor Moon film and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I never did have a sweet sixteen because honestly I saw no importance in turning sixteen. The only thing that changed at that age was that I was now old enough to wear high heels. Prior to that my feet were always firmly on the ground, unless I wore the black church buckle shoes and that was all the heel I got. To this day I still love Sailor Moon and I watch anime and am even part of the cosplay community. I plan to continue all these hobbies until I am in the grave.

Church is my second home, I make sure to tell everyone that because it’s true. At one time, I was attending church three times a week. I have participated in so many ministries, community service and volunteer opportunities I have lost count of all I have done. It feels good to help others, but if I’m being honest, burn out does set in, church people can pressure lay people into doing too much, especially if they do it well and I don’t always feel up to sacrificing my time for the service of others. Even now I struggle with spiritual maturity as most people do and I find it to be an almost impossible task because we are called to go beyond our flesh as human beings. How on Earth can I be more than what I am, more than what I was created to be?

Altar Girl and the Pastor’s Daughter

I became an altar girl and I remember not liking it because I had to go to a boring mass and hold a heavy book for the priest to read from. I wanted to do other things than spend my evenings on the altar. It didn’t matter. My mom told me that I was fortunate to have the opportunity she did not. She always wanted to be an altar girl, but at the time she was a little girl, being on the altar was reserved for boys only. She tried to live out her dreams vicariously through me. It’s not the sort of thing that I’m seething about, it was just moreso an annoyance. I was being forced to do something that meant nothing to me and something I didn’t like.

I also was born a pastor’s daughter. It isn’t something that I resent, I resent the target it made me. For some reason people would either attack me or try to corrupt me or interrogate me. It was also something that annoyed me very much to the point that I wanted to avoid telling people my father’s occupation because it came with so much weight. Me trying to live a “modest and chaste” lifestyle, seemed to intrigue people all the more to harass me sexually and I did not like it. I couldn’t understand why I was getting the negative attention I was getting because I covered up plenty but any opportunity boys had to sneak a touch or say a nasty comment they would.

One theory was that they liked pulling my chain and getting a rise out of me. I would either get terribly upset and offended or I would be left terribly confused because I was ignorant of what those things meant. One boy said, “I wanna flip you like a pancake.” Another boy said, “I wanna be your gynecologist.”

I went home and asked my parents what these things meant. When they told me I was horrified. You know Sandra Dee from Grease? That was totally me back then. I still have a little Sandra Dee left in me though.

It’s just so interesting stepping back and reflecting on my “past” life. It all seems so far away now. I just wish that I would have had the guts back then to shut down the nonsense that I dealt with.

I wish I had had the strength to say no. Even if I did however, I was just a child and there were certain things I was obligated to do. I’m not going to say that when I become a parent that I will do things different because I don’t desire to be one. Also I’m afraid just like most parents I’ll end up trying to live vicariously through my children, try to do opposites of my parents to the extreme and end up letting them grow too free and too wild since it opposes my strict upbringing.

It was strict in some ways and in others it wasn’t. One of the most liberal things my parents ever let me do as a teen was wear my colored braid extensions. I wore such alternative colors like electric green and blue. Other parents would ask why they let me do that. They just smiled. It meant a lot to me that they let me express myself artistically.

At the same time this was the same home that wouldn’t let me go out the house in skirts above my knee. They had to practically cover my knee to be honest. I couldn’t wear make up until I was a woman. I couldn’t be on social media till I was an adult. I couldn’t wear heels until I was sixteen. I couldn’t date until I was eighteen.

Do I regret these things? Some I do, some I don’t.

In the end we can’t dwell on the past. I am finding myself more and more each day and I am happy that I am making the efforts to find out who I am apart from my family culture. I believe that everyone ought to do the same for their own sake.

Black POC Jesus Reflections

Being born into the body I have been born into means that when I see certain images of people or entities I am supposed to emulate that I will have different perspectives than those who look exactly like them.

Even though I am aware the Jesus was not a White man, but was probably tan or brown and Middle eastern & African or some kind of POC mix the White images of Jesus are so prevalent that it is very hard to un-see and undo the frequent images that I have already been indoctrinated with. In fact, within my grandfathers home there are images of White Jesus or Colonizer Jesus as I would prefer to refer to him as on the walls.

Because it’s his house and I respect his right to decorate his home as he pleases I will not take any of those images down even though they are toxic.

I understand that some people won’t understand what the big deal is. For the longest time I didn’t understand what the big deal was. I personally did not care what color Jesus was, it didn’t matter to me. However I would note that whenever I spoke to my White friends about what Jesus could have looked like, whenever I proposed that Jesus could have been Black there was so much push back like “Oh hell no, there’s no way in hell that Jesus could have ever been a Black man!”

Even though I pointed out the fact of the geography and the major unlikelihood that anyone from those areas would have been blonde with blue eyes they were absolutely convinced that Jesus looked exactly like them.

I was so convinced by this constant denial that I started thinking to myself, maybe I just want Jesus to be Black so badly so that I won’t feel so isolated as a minority. Maybe I want the superhero savior that I worship to be just like me so I will know that he not only cares for me but understands what it is like to walk on Earth in a targeted Black body.

I resonated very much with crucifixion because society crucifies Black bodies daily. It’s tragic and unjust. Instead of resonating with something so awful, I desired to resonate with something powerful. I wanted to resonate with Protestant Resurrection Jesus, not Catholic suffering martyr Jesus.

The Protestant church is good for promising immense prosperity, to the point that they completely ignore the reality of suffering within a Christian life. In fact bringing up suffering is so stigmatized that people sometimes will insist that people are suffering because they aren’t simply praying enough, they have done something bad, or they aren’t believing hard enough and their doubts are causing their downfall.

The Catholic church however focuses on suffering. It focuses on sacrifice. In that aspect some people get in their minds the idea that they deserve to suffer. To minorities this means forgiving and not fighting back. However this is quite unrealistic to some of the fighting back that Jesus did. Jesus did fight back several times and so did God.

Actually there have been some very harsh backlashes in the Bible like when God took the first sons of the Egyptians when Pharaoh wouldn’t free the people. When I heard that story at first I thought, but that’s not fair to kill an innocent child. The Egyptian children were simply born into an evil Empire. At the same time it also wasn’t fair that he Hebrew sons were slaughtered. I know that God has vengeance, but even though it is forbidden for humans, if I’m being truly honest, I desire it too, very much so.

I thought to myself well, when is our Exodus going to happen? Where is the Moses of Black people? I want to witness a sea split in two. I want blood on the river. I want those magnificent things. In my mind I think, I know there are people who are reading this thinking, wow, what a religious fool. However, these are my feelings, my own exploration and my own perspective on what I have been taught. If I don’t take the time to critically analyze it I won’t grow. I don’t want to just up and leave. I want to consciously think things through first before making any concrete decisions.

So getting back, when I realized that my friends were wrong and that Jesus is not in fact a blonde haired, blue eyed European, I started to wonder why they were so opposed to the idea that Jesus could be and is POC? If they would insist that race didn’t matter, that I was somewhat racist for insisting that he was POC and that who cares if Jesus is purple?
(I hate those analogies by the way, purple isn’t even a human color nor a color of marginalization gtfo with that mess!)

There are still people who absolutely avow that Jesus is White, all over the world. I know why this was done. It was done so that White Supremacy would remain deep in the hearts and minds of Christians worshipping a White savior.

Since I am also aware that this is a false narrative, I figured, I will worship the Jesus that I know to be true, POC Jesus or Black Jesus.

So I searched for images of Black and POC Jesus and on top of that I incorporated African Adinkra symbols from Ghana of “GyeNyame” making Jesus cultural.

I much more enjoyed drawing and being surrounded by GyeNyame’s then crosses and crucifixes. In fact the crucifix is such a grim reminder of how Jesus suffered. I don’t like looking at crucifixes, it has always freaked me out, which, is very un-Catholic of me.

I was honestly frightened by the giant life size crucifix at mass I would see every other Sunday. It just looked so awful and I’d think to myself honestly, I know God loves us but I don’t think a flawed humanity is worth the sacrifice of his only son. Honestly I don’t think we are worth it. We don’t deserve it. I am disgusted with humanity most days.

I certainly wouldn’t have sacrificed my only child for humanity, hex naw!

Anyway I recall a friend of mine posting a question that rocked me to my core. He asked, “Does praying to Black Jesus make your prayers get answered any faster?”

For me prayer has worked sometimes, and I know that prayer isn’t magic, it’s not like wishing on a genie. However sometimes I feel like God takes too long to answer prayers if at all sometimes and it’s incredibly frustrating. Sure, I live a great life, but what about all of the other people who aren’t?

It’s hard to accept that we live in a broken world, and it is especially difficult to accept that it’s due to two human’s mistake? I mean I don’t get it, if you’d punish us for what Adam and Eve did so harshly but then sacrifice your only son to save us, do you love us or do you hate us?

I know there are people who hate, you know who, because honestly I can’t really even write that. Not out of fear but out of respect. I know there are those who think, how can you respect such a cruel, fickle God?

Because even though I don’t understand everything and never will, there were times in my life that God really came through for me. It wasn’t my own strength saving me and I know that.

I need to be honest about what I feel and tune out what others are trying to tell me, on both sides, the religious and non-religious. In the end, I want to know what I feel without those influences. One is in the right ear, one is in the left, but really I want to listen to what is in the center of my head and my chest.

And I will find truth, I will find love, and I will figure this out, no matter how much time it takes.

 

 

At a Spiritual Crossroads

I’m coming to a spiritual crossroads right now and yes it is very frightening but I am doing what I need to do to find myself. I am doing some deep soul searching and trying to figure out how I want to identify and what I truly believe.

I am exhausted fighting the church on social justice issues and it breaks my heart to become aware of just how many Christians are indifferent or in favor of others’ oppression. Even though I have had many wonderful experiences with people who were loving towards me who are Christian, how would I know if they would love me the same if I were to hypothetically not be Christian anymore?

I am afraid of being treated like non-Christians get treated. I am afraid of not belonging to a supportive network. I know that they are supposed to love me and support me the same but will they? I am afraid to find out.

I am afraid to be cut off and to be rejected yet again. I am already rejected by society in so many ways. I don’t care to be alone. I have loved all my friends, my atheist friends, my Christian friends, my agnostic friends and my spiritual friends.

For me I feel like I am on a journey. I currently identify as Christian but that might change. It might not change. What I truly want is to know that this is what I truly believe in not because people pressured me or because I have the bias default of my upbringing. Many people do not understand how hard it is when you cannot undo it. I don’t wish my Christian upbringing to have been undone.

What I do wish to know is this me or am I just reflecting what I have been taught? Do I really believe it myself, or am I just a mirror? I am about to turn twenty-seven years old. I am a grown woman and I don’t want to do anything simply because. I have never been one to follow the crowd just because. Sure there have been doubts I kept to myself but those doubts are coming to the surface now that I’m older and I need to face them to become my authentic self.

I have no doubts about God’s existence. I have doubts about the institution of religion and the church. That’s ok because church and religion are man-made structures. To be honest for awhile now I have been thinking that spiritual is something that I more so identify with. I believe in God, I get stuff out of church sometimes when I go sometimes but as far as being a devout bible thumping Christian? I am quite far from that.

I remember when I was about to leave for Guatemala and I was so conflicted. My Catholic mother handed me a rosary and said here take this. To me rosaries and Saints are like good luck charms. Do I really believe they will work? Maybe, but I figure hey I can use all the luck I can get, might as well. It’s more of a take it or leave it kind of thing. I don’t feel a need or urge to pray to saints or pray the rosary which is hella long ugh.

Mom gave me rosaries when I went to college. Stuff was done out of habit. I took what she gave me because I saw it as a sign that she cared for me deeply and wanted to to give me whatever she thought would protect me. Whether it really worked or was just a symbol didn’t matter. I knew that her intentions were benign and coming from the concern of a loving mother.

But I felt bad because this time, when I went away to Guatemala, I didn’t accept the rosary she offered me. We didn’t fight, it was casual, I simply said, no, I don’t need that. I got to thinking to myself, why did I not take it, even if I didn’t believe in it, if taking it would have made my mother’s feelings put to rest about my safety wasn’t it worth lying to her and accepting it?

This is one of the reasons I have so many tears in my paintings. I have a lot of internal conflict going on and a lot of things to think about in a spiritual sense. I know there are those that would say I ought to abandon all of it but that’s not what I want to do. At least, I certainly am not ready to do so yet. I would say at this point, that no I have little to no desire to be an athiest. I believe deeply in the presence of spirits and the supernatural. I feel auras and vibes and I am an empath. I cannot deny those truths because they are my truths whether someone else acknowledges them or not.

Whether it is God or some other entity or entities or forces in the universe, I do believe strongly in that. However, do I agree with most Christian dogma and doctrine? No, I do not. I agree with some, but certainly not all.

There are those who say, one cannot be a part time Christian, it’s either all or nothing. I wouldn’t refer to myself as a part time Christian ever. Every day I do what I can to better myself and to help other people’s lives for the better and I swear if that isn’t good enough for God than I most definitely could care less. That is the best that I can do. Be a good person and be good to others, to love and to give and that’s primarily what Jesus taught. I think even for non-Christians that Jesus is a good figure to emulate and to admire. There are some non-Christians who do.

Anyway I am on a journey. I ask myself deep questions. What will I do if I wake up one day and I don’t believe in anything or anyone? I don’t want to become jaded and empty. Some people see that as freedom, but that’s just not my stance. I am doing what is considered dangerous in most Christian communities. I am asking questions and wondering and thinking and exploring.

I think even though it’s scary in the end I simply don’t want to hurt anyone. I know it’s not my responsibility to sacrifice my well being for the pleasure of others but I come from a family fill of clergy. I honor what they do. I admire them for what they do. Even the two nuns who are my great aunts, at one point I considered becoming a nun because I thought it was so beautiful how much they loved God and people.

I know that in the end I will find my right path whether that involves leaving or staying or leaving and coming back. Everyone has their own journey to self discovery and at the end of the day all I request is that journey be respected. I know some people will reject me for ever moving, but I want to grow, and I want to know, what my heart believes, what my mind believes, what my body feels, what stirs my soul and what my spirit needs and everyone doesn’t have the same binary path.

I am on a journey. Respect my journey.

 

 

Racial Bias Within Children & Racial Attractions as Adults

If we do not acknowledge that children form racial bias at an early age we will miss a critical time in their lives when we can address the problem when it begins to form.

One issue we have in society is that people do not want to acknowledge that anything can ever be wrong with children, even their own behavior. We want to believe that there is something pure in this world and that children are innocent, blissfully ignorant, and incorruptible.

It is also common knowledge that children are sponges. If children are sponges and they all grow up in a broken world, with broken people even in broken homes, then wouldn’t it make sense to say that they absorb that broken-ness in a concentrated manner?

Children watch adults and mimic what they do, what they say and what they think and even though children may not feel the same way on the inside, they eventually do absorb those things and go from being mirrors, to being pools with deep issues beneath the reflection.

It frustrates me how much adults insist on being purposely blind to what children absorb and some adults will act and speak inappropriately in the presence of children. I’m not simply talking about doing things that are inappropriate for their age, like letting children watch South Park or cursing like a sailor in front of them, I am talking about completely avoiding any discussions or exposure the racial diversity.

I know that currently, as an African American childhood educator that I have a unique opportunity to have a significant impact on children before they solidify some toxic ideas about who Black people are. Some people will insist that positive images and actions are futile and that those thoughts inevitably form. Think of all the kind, sweet Black “mammies” who took care of White children, nursed them, loved on them, cared for them more than their own parents, and still, the child grew to hate them because society told them too.

The difference is however, I am far from a mammy. I am not only a positive image, but a successful one. I am a highly educated woman, and it also shows in the vocabulary and lessons I expose the children to. The personal relationships outweigh images shown on television. Children and people in general, even those in adult education, remember their teachers. Teachers spend a significant amount of time with kids and for childcare, we are like second parents to them.

I am not going to say that there is no purpose in educating adults or teens, but what I am saying is that as a society we need to not only stop avoiding race but also we need to address it early and there are ways of doing that without explicitly pointing it. I am aware that schools and parents in general are not comfortable with race being brought up to their children, even though the kids are already recognizing, pointing out and teasing one another for their differences.

Prejudice forms around the age of five and before that children already recognize feature differences. They see that their skin and eyes and hair etc. are different and simply ask why? Why do we look different? I watch them touch one another, ask questions and analyze these differences trying to understand.

When we don’t answer these questions and avoid it altogether we leave it open for the world to tell them and those answers are ugly lies.

I have had some bad experiences where I witnessed multicultural education being done in a very inappropriate manner. Of course, their are opinions across the board about how it should be done, but one concern is that we have people who are 50+ who may be non POC now required to teach diversity in their curricula and these are people coming from a segregation era.

These people are coming from a segregation and integration era that was ugly and is not talked about with the children. There are children who grow up thinking that Barack Obama was always a possibility and that we were always united. That sounds all nice and good, but Trump is an ugly reminder of the lie that we try to hide. Eventually the blood under the carpet will seep through the white lies and the white sheets and we keep saying it’s a little white lie, but there is no such thing, it is a farce, one that has cost the United States so much.

We need to be honest with ourselves.

One of the activities I do in my class is I order multicultural paper with varying shades of different skin tone complexions. I free hand cut out faces, different eyes, different noses, different lips and hair. The kids get to pick from various features and glue them together to make a human face.

Sometimes the children want purple skin, or seven eyes or the lips to be on the neck. In early childhood education we are supposed to let them be free in their art. It is hard for me because I am a perfectionist and I try my best to resist from telling them how to do it strictly. Their Picasso pieces are beautiful and random but they are only random to me. Their people make sense to them and they are beautiful just the way they are, even though they look alien to my adult mind.

The kids White, Black or otherwise when given several options have picked dark browns, light browns and other browns. I presented various browns as an option. That makes a difference. Too often diversity means white, off white, a little bit white, a paler white, tan white and one brown. That’s not diversity. That’s a token.

Some people might get uncomfortable that I present more brown tones than light tones but there is a reason for that. We don’t live in a world that exposes children to an equal amount of brown as they do pale. That is a problem.

Black girls are going to see pretty White girls in the dolls they play with, the princesses they desire to be, the movies, the magazines etc. My class might be the only place that they ever even get to see their skin color represented at all. I have decorated my class with fantasy characters with brown skin. I have brown skinned mermaids, fairies, princesses, and superheroes.

I have received a lot of good feedback for how diverse and multicultural my room is. I have globes of people holding hands in colored robes and different outfits. Do I have an agenda? Hell yes I do! My agenda is to break the cycle and introduce the normality that yes the world is not default White, but rather the world is of color, and brown is plenty prevalent, we just don’t see it properly or equally represented.

I think of all types of ethnic television that I watched. The telenovelas are White, the Bollywood films are White, the Korean dramas are White, the Black films are colorist too, only highlighting lighter skinned women. What I mean by these things being White without actual White people is that they use actors that are the closest to being as ethnically appearing to White people as possible.

If you don’t believe me, flip through the channels for an hour and count how many dark skinned, and I don’t mean people my complexion who are tan, I mean dark chocolate brown people are on television. Count how many are in Black relationships. Too often Black characters automatically get paired in interracial relationships and we almost never see dark brown with dark brown relationships. I am sick of seeing darker skinned people with lighter skinned people or White people all the time. Look, love is love and I am not against interracial relationships but I am against the absence of Black ones and the promotion of interracial ones as a “level up” to make the Black character “elevated” or “relevant” because they were “fortunate” enough to get a White partner and have “beautiful mixed babies” and hopefully “bleach” the Black out of their family for future generations.

It is sad to say but there are people I know who will not understand my perspective at all, who do not see this, do not acknowledge it and do not see White promotion as a problem. There are non-White people who don’t see it as a problem. I will admit that as a child, I did not see it as a problem. In fact I used to celebrate it.

I used to have major crushes on White boys, I wouldn’t say exclusively, but I saw them as different and different intrigued me. They stood out from the rest because I went to a Black school growing up, and there was only two White boys in our entire school who were brothers. Well out of all the Black boys guess who I had a crush on? The different one. Plus he was bad and I had a thing for bad boys too. I was kinda bad then too but I hid it well.

I am attracted to people who stand out and look different whether they be different races or alternative. I have nothing against what features Black men have, it’s just, since I am already Black and I am around Black people often, I am not deeply intrigued by what is pretty much default. I am used to those features, it’s normal and regular for me so I don’t usually see a Black guy and I am like Woah! So different!

I like to say that in general I don’t even find many men that attractive in the first place. Me not being an exclusively heterosexual woman, (I identify as bisexual) my attraction to men is more emotional than physical. I like “Peacocks” or pretty men. I like men who show off and really care about their appearance like “Metrosexual” Men. I’m not that attracted to macho lumberjack hairy bear types.

That being said I have actually gravitated to Latino men in my adolescence. I very much liked the multicultural varied look of the Latino men that I encountered. I don’t go around saying that I have a racial preference or type because I know that becomes a generalization. When I picture a hot Latino man or a hot White man or a hot Black man or a hot Asian man, there is a specific type I see as my first image.

That being said, I believe it is features that we are attracted to, not races. If someone says that they are attracted to Black girls exclusively and they desire a “chocolate Nubian queen” I don’t fit that description: I am Black but I am caramel colored. If someone is attracted to dark skin, I wouldn’t be that type of Black girl.

Anyway I feel that this blog has gone on long enough. I will make more posts about racial attractions and features and how I feel about preferences in a later post.

Enjoy my thoughts and ponder them.

 

 

Faith in God, Not the Church

-This blog will be finished on a later date

This is a very hard one to write because it is very personal to me and I held on for so long and I fought for so long too.

I have participated in Annual Conferences and witnessed how voting occurs, church law, church politics etc.

I have been to many different churches throughout my life too.

I have had good experiences and bad experiences. I have had overall what I would consider an equal amount of good experiences and bad experiences at church.

If I truly allow myself to acknowledge the racism and homophobia I have witnessed, the classism, the elite-ness, the sexism, the misogyny etc.

Church experiences may slightly outweigh bad to good by a 60% vs 40%.

But again it’s very difficult to acknowledge these things because I grew up one, not even knowing the word misogyny until tumblr in my 20’s.

I grew up not fully understanding what sexism was either or really racism in the sense of the power imbalance. I simply thought for the longest that it was either people of any race hating people of any race or people of any gender (when I was only aware of two exiting ones) hating people of any gender.

In fact I considered myself sexist for the longest. I had some toxic attitudes about men and boys and I truly did feel that women and girls were superior because I felt that they were smarter because from my observations in school it was a majority of girls who were in Honor Society, it was girls who graduated, it was girls who seemed serious about their academics.

I was basing my thoughts on that reality. I wasn’t aware however of what boys were fighting against, the concept that being smart and being male is a “wussy” thing to do. I wasn’t fully aware of how much pressure boys are under to be aggressive and full of braun rather than brains and the teasing and shunning that smart nerd boys get. Smart boys don’t get pus*y apparently.

But I digress.

If I really sit down and think of every time I felt uncomfortable, sad, depressed, anxious, nauseous, attacked, excluded, unwanted, vilified etc. in church, that would be a lot of times and honestly, of all the societal separations, the one that stood out to me the most was actually the ageism.

I felt plenty of times that the older adults in church literally hated that we were there, and truly were annoyed with out presence. Anytime that youth proposed new ways of worship, new concepts of what God is to us, new anything, change for anything it was met with hostile criticism and condemnation.

In fact, I was so used to this I was afraid of proposing new things for that very reason, but I felt so full of new, exciting possible ministry ideas bubbling over I got very tired of them getting shot down simply because it wasn’t tradition and it wasn’t what people were used to.

This is not to say that there weren’t times that people did accept my new ideas, there were, all I am saying, is that is was much less than when they weren’t.

Some of the ideas that were accepted by churches I attended I will list below and these times meant a lot to me.

There was a book called, “The Christian Atheist” by Craig Groschel that I thought was an excellent read and really allowed for Christians to analyze our own spiritual doubts. It is a book about Christians who fully believe in God but not aspect like prayer or have faith in earthly things like money. It is a book about Christians who worry which makes no sense because we are supposed to have to reassurance of Christ in our lives, worry has no place for us.

The church took on that book for bible study and had a reading of each chapter each week. No book I have ever proposed was ever studied by older adults in a bible study before. I felt incredibly validated in that moment like my ideas were honored and were respected. Even though I was a young 20’s something, I was still an adult and being young doesn’t mean that we have nothing good to offer. Also I will say, I am quite wise for my age actually. Anyone who meets me realizes that within the first five minutes of speaking with me. I’m not your ordinary basic cup of tea, I am robust espresso.

Another time church allowed me a space was a church that let me decorate their entire basement with Christmas decorations. These weren’t any ordinary church decorations. These were multicultural church decorations. These church decorations weren’t simply the nativity but focused on illustrations about giving and generosity. Theses are values that we ought to be celebrating during the season of Christmas and really all year. I had illustrations about people giving different gifts like the gift of respect, the gift of kindness, the gift of love. It’s the intangible gifts that matter the most, not the material ones.

One more time I will share is when one of the Latino churches I attend let me do a praise dance in their church. This was a church that never did praise dance and each church has it’s own church culture.

Another time was when one of the churches I attended had a jazz vespers night and they allowed me a space to do my spiritual poetry. I have spiritual poetry but it’s not light hearted at all. My spiritual poetry is pretty robust and calls out crimes within the church and is honest about spiritual struggle. I have even been invited twice to perform this poetry at Annual Conference twice. It has been on their website and recorded to reach thousands of people online and during the event.

So why am I saying I no longer have faith in the church? It’s not all bad right? Of course not. Church is not all bad but it’s certainly not all good either. That is due to the face that church is run by humans and like any institution, religious or otherwise it will not be perfect. However not perfect is an understatement. The church has some SERIOUS work to do. To me it’s a broken, dying child that I feel very attached to that I want to rescue.

But I also want to birth a new one. Some things and some people with old thoughts have to die for new things to grow and that’s just the truth. Old ways and old people will eventually pass and it will be the youth who takes over and will decide what church will be and what it will look like.

I certainly hope that it doesn’t die completely and it’s hard being young, Christian, liberal and isolated. I only have a handful of friends who are still walking with me and participating and fighting. I don’t think people want to go to church to fight for it, fight with it or fight against bad practices. It gets very exhausting, trust me.

Church is supposed to be a body of human beings who love on one another in a sacred sanctuary space of fellowship, of family, of support.

It’s sad to say but we are too far from that far too often. Am I in love with an unrealistic idea? Am I in love with what the church should be, could be, would be?

I even thought of becoming a minister or deacon for the longest, but it’s the sort of thing you should only do if you are called to do it, not simply out of desire. I have felt spiritual stirrings to do things but perhaps not that route specifically. My spiritual poetry is already a ministry right there. My art is a ministry too. My language classes are a ministry as well. I am bringing people together.

The reason I want to give up on fighting the church is because I am tired. I am weary. It’s exhausting. Every time Annual Conference votes on things, the proposals and resolutions and amendments are shot down. I get hopeful all over again just to get let down again and reminded just how conservative, how rigid and how firm that systematic structure is. I have performed my raw poetry before audiences of people whom I know do not want me to speak and say what I am saying. I did it with fear and with bravery and I had many people give me very positive feedback for saying what needed to be said and hasn’t been.

I did the hard things, but I do not want to wait. I do not want to act at fifty years old when the old people and the old ways are dead and it’s easy. I want to be a trailblazer and I want to be part of the group of people who started a movement to change for the better. I want to be one of the ones to begin the new church, the new birth of something beautiful and inclusive.

But I am very, very, very tired. It is hard to stay motivated, especially when I am one of the few youth left. Our numbers are so low and they drop and drop. Even if the new church ends up becoming a small minority I think it is worth fighting for.

But I am tired and I want to be honest. Sometimes I really want to quit. Sometimes I really want to leave. I can love and follow God without going to church. I know that. Still however I believe that strong community and fellowship with our Christian brothers, sisters and non-binary family can make a lot of difference. Christian organizations and churches can do a lot of good and I have seen it on mission trips, code Purple housing the homeless etc.

I recently went on a mission trip and translated Spanish to English and English to Spanish for the American staff in Guatemala. That meant the world to me and we complete 50+ surgeries in less than a week. We were able to physically heal people. We were able to see the results of that love and care and people were eternally grateful. Everyone on the trip was not Christian, and I know that people don’t have to be Christian to be good loving people. However I found it interesting that our pastoral leader said that it was the non-Christians on the trip that asked him so many questions about God and Christianity rather than the ones who were.

But I think if we really want Christianity to mean something authentically, that we ought to deeply explore it. We ought to deeply explore what God means to us, what church means to us, what humanity means to us.

Too few people do that and so many are afraid to but Christianity isn’t a default. It may have seemed to be in society for a long time, at least, here in the United States, but it certainly is no longer default now. We are still in the majority but people are beginning to ask questions: What does Christianity mean to me and does it mean anything or is it something I did out of obligation, cultural pressure and anti-Christian shaming?

Anyway…I will finish this blog on a later date, but just some thoughts to share. Hope you enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections on Marriage & Relationships within a Societal & Religious Perspective

-this blog will be finished on a later date

I have been wanting to tackle this issue for some time now. I have many varying feelings on this loaded topic, but I will leave a few down here below.

I have been bothered by the toxic messages that the church has permeated about marriage and relationships for many years.

What I am about to say would probably infuriate some people but I think that it is very important to speak my mind.

The first thing that bothers me is how marriage is elevated in society and religion as the ultimate goal, epitome of happiness and accomplishment for women. If marriage takes two people to complete, how will that goal ever be reached if societally it is stigmatized as the end of freedom for men? The double standard would make it very hard to get people to come together without obligation.

Marriage doesn’t automatically equal happiness and it is sold and marketed to us through society to feed capitalism as well as shoved down women’s throats so that they can be owned by men, nonetheless after men have had all of their sexual fun prior while we’re expected to stay chase.

Hell to the naw!

Sexually I am not in support of people period, men, women or non-binary people sleeping with every single body they desire, unprotected and without selectivity because in a health defense in the least, it is dangerous to be that free.

Even protected I do not agree that the ability to have casual sex is something that every individual is able to have simply because our attachment is a mental concept that can be broken. Sex is intimate, perhaps not for everyone, but chemical reactions do release during the act and so it is untrue to say no exchange is occurring. For many women, emotionally sex affects us deeply.

I will not nor cannot speak for every woman but I have witnessed many girls emotionally being destroyed not by sex itself but having had sex with someone for whom it did not mean the same thing.

This is not to say that men do not get hurt by sex or that men do not form emotional attachment, it’s just that there are tendencies among men to be able to walk away from sex and move on to the next one without been harmed in a deep emotional sense. All of these points can be argued. Isn’t it also a drug like coping mechanism to go from body to body to try to get over a girl who has broken one’s heart?

I don’t really want to argue about who is more emotionally scarred from sex than the other because some people will argue that’s all due to what society tells us to think. Until an experiment can be conducted with individuals not raised with those beliefs I think it would be very hard to ascertain if it’s simply society or inherent.

Still there are so many problems that we have in this world that marriage cannot fix. Marriage for one thing, does not complete an individual contrary to what we are told. If someone enters a marriage broken or un-whole, that other person cannot fix you or give you the self esteem and confidence you need to fully know yourself. Too many married people become dependents on one another.

I think too many people in general marry too early. People should wait to fully know themselves before marriage. Some people might argue that one they would like to take the journey to getting to know themselves and growing together. Me personally, I would like to enter a marriage fully aware so I don’t have any surprises. Sure, we’ll both change but there is a major difference between 16 year old me and 26 year old me. Someone who fell in love with teenage me, probably would not even recognize adult me.

Marriage doesn’t prevent STD’s, cheating or abuse. This is one of those cold, hard truths. Marriage is not an automatic happily ever after. This is one of the reasons that religious folk hold in high regard the fact that God must be involved in a marriage, that it is not simply the union of two people, but a godly marriage involves three entities: the two people and God in the center.

Having God in the center doesn’t mean that mistakes won’t happen or partners aren’t going to hurt one another from time to time, but it means that, above all else, mercy, forgiveness, and consultation with the most high is at the fore front and foundation of a relationship.

It means that the exploration and dedication to unconditional love will be a priority. At least it ought to be if someone is in a godly marriage. I don’t want anyone to mistake however that unconditional love does not mean if someone is abused, they are required to stay with that abusive partner.

Unconditional love can be done away from someone. It can be done towards strangers. It can be done towards people who are enemies and hateful. I have always struggled very much with the concept and action of unconditional love but one can have it and still set healthy boundaries of respect.

My father always told me, “One hit, that’s it!” and he drilled that into my head. However abuse is not always physical and I think we really miss the mark on that when we educate people about what abuse looks like.

Point 2: Everyone does not want to get married, and that’s ok. I actually identify as one of these people. I am not against marriage. I think marriage can be a wonderful thing, however I am against making it an arbitrary goal just because. If I get married, because marriage is an option, I want it to be at the right time with the right person for the right reasons.

I do not want to get married simply out of obligation. That’s one theory I have one why so many people have gotten divorced. How many people married for love? How many people married because they had to because someone became pregnant and could not live through the societal shame? How many women got married because society told them every day since they were a little girl that was the ultimate goal and happiness?

I don’t even understand the concept of “settling down.” Why? Life is short. Why would I want to ever settle down? Sure, I am 26, and maybe, just maybe I might feel differently when I get older, but for most my life, I have been pretty alternative when it comes to what the masses want and I highly doubt I could ever be satisfied in a marriage.

Most people bore me, and I find most people to be basic lemmings and uninteresting. Too many people are afraid to be their authentic selves. I could never live let alone marry someone like that.

Whomever I marry would have to be someone extraordinary like myself. Even then, I can’t guarantee that they could keep my attention for very long because I am a go getter and I spend a lot of time trying to achieve things.

I have many big plans for my life and I do not want to be held back by having a family to support and raise. Sure family can be supportive too and it is hard to do things by oneself but I do not want to be at home raising children or cooking for my spouse.

I want to be out in the world living life, exploring, visiting different countries, learning different languages. Youth doesn’t forever and I intent to spend the rest of mine seeing the world and no matter what anyone thinks, I do not think I’ll ever regret that choice. So many women have said to me that they wish they were in my shoes, doing what I am doing. I am 26 and I have already traveled to 3 different countries, one being on the other side of the globe!

Sure, why couldn’t an individual do these things and still be married and have kids? They could but it would be more difficult to do so. At the same time, there is just something about being alone that is incredibly freeing. When you are with someone else, be it a spouse, family relative or friend, one has to think of their needs and want and compromise.

If I am in Beijing, China for example I don’t want to be held back by going wherever someone else wants to go or not getting to go where I want to go because the other person doesn’t want to.

I have experienced bad relationships and I am very averse from being told what to do by anyone. I follow the rules because there are consequences and I do not like conflict but for the most part, I have a rebellious spirit at my core.

Without consequences, I would break a lot more rules than people realize and not arbitrarily but with purpose. Some rules are just not right and some rules are just plain stupid too.

Thank You to New Followers

Honestly I am so grateful to have a platform to express free speech because I know that not all people have that opportunity.

I am also grateful to have had the education I received to be able to express that to an audience that otherwise may not have been aware of certain cultural and linguistic differences that exist.

I want to bridge those gaps and educate the academic community on how we can better reach our students who come from backgrounds and environments that may differ so much from our own.

It means a lot to me that others would like to listen and I think I have some very important information to share. When we take the time to listen and better understand one another it truly does make a difference.

Thank you for following, thank you for sharing, thank you for being open to learning and understanding.

You are awesome!

No guarantees but I will begin taking requests. If there are blog topics you would like me to cover if you comment them below I will consider a few.

Thank you!

Bi-dialectal Identities of Black People

What does it really mean to be bi-dialectal and what societal weight is carried with that reality?

Although African Americans speak English, there is a different kind of dialect of English that is spoken among groups of some African Americans. It is referred to by several names: “Ebonics” short for “Ebony Phonics”, “A.A.V.E.” or “African American Vernacular” or “Black English.”

The use of these terms are all controversial because they imply that the English spoken by Black people entirely is different from the English spoken from other racial groups. There are plenty of African Americans who speak standard English that is the same as the English spoken by other groups of people. Creating a separate category in essence can become a crude generalization rather than an identification of an existing dialect.

However there does need to be a word that can identify the differences of dialect because it exists within various communities. That dialect also varies by region as well. There are “Ebonics” spoken with a DC accent, an NY accent, a Georgia accent with the vocabulary of those regions added in as well.

However I think to myself that people don’t generally say that Latinos speak “Latino English” or that Asian people speak “Asian English” even though some members of those groups have thick accents. Why is it then that African Americans would be labeled as speaking a different kind of English as a whole?

I am not offended by existing realities being identified and labeled. It is true that some African Americans speak this way. However, how many do? If I said that a majority of Black people spoke that way, would I be making a crude generalization or an accurate analysis?

What about the African Americans who are bi-dialectal? Plenty of African Americans code-switch and can speak standard English just as well as Ebonics. For some reason there is a belief that if an individual speaks Ebonics that they are incapable of speaking standard English and that is not true.

There is a lot of stigma surrounding that dialect of English. A lot of negative perceptions surround it due to historical and present realities.

One historical reality is the fact that African American slaves were not allowed to read and write. If someone is living in present day with the opportunity to be educated then shouldn’t they move away from a type of speech that their ancestors were subjected to without choice?

Economics plays a big part in the social stigma of speech. Speaking advanced and superior levels of standard English is associated with a higher education, intelligence and higher economic status, whether it be true or not. This should not be the case, but it is an existing societal perception.

On the other side of the argument, there are people who have pride in speaking a dialect that formed as an adaption to such a restrictive environment. Some individuals prefer to hold onto a language and call it their own and reject the standard English forced upon us. This dialect has it’s own flavor, it’s own unique-ness, and it belongs to a group of people, or does it?

Then the question comes into play: who is allowed to speak this dialect? Is this dialect of English only reserved for African American speakers? There are plenty of other individuals of other races and ethnicities that I have encountered who speak in this dialect.

When people grow up in certain communities and are expressing their authentic selves, they tend to speak the way people around them speak. For example, there might be a poor White girl or a Korean child or a Latin male who have grown up in an Urban Community or a “Hood” or “Ghetto.” In this area the majority of the people around them might speak this way. In that scenario they are being their authentic selves, if that is how they grew up speaking.

However what about the African American child who has grown up economically privileged in the suburbs and was taught standard English only and all of the sudden adopts that dialect to fit in with their peers? Aren’t they being inauthentic?

Aren’t the children of other races who are enchanted and embrace hip hop culture also being inauthentic when they adopt a dialect that they have never been exposed to except for the music they listen to?

Still, African American people who grow up speaking advanced and superior levels of standard English are ostracized by their Black and White peers for not being “authentically Black.”

There are generational differences between families who wholeheartedly disagree with one another. There are older African American people who feel that absolutely, standard English ought to be spoken at all times with all people wherever and whenever. Some of the older generation believes that we as a people should embrace the opportunities we have to be educated and display that with pride.

Some however become so prideful that they look down upon and isolate those brothers and sisters who speak differently. This is not the right thing to do. We ought to work together, even if our dialects are different.

But what if we don’t understand one another? I will admit that there were times that I encountered people at my HBCU whose speech I truly did not understand. If I tried to speak Ebonics I would have embarrassed myself because it sounds so unnatural out of a mouth that did not grow up speaking that way.

I use some Ebonics, some of the time, such as double negatives or dropping “-ing’s” and “er’s” at the end of words. I use this dialect at home sometimes or with certain friends but for the most part I speak standard English most of the time.

My grandfather is so strict about speaking standard English that when I address myself at the door he will correct me when I say, “It is me.” He will say, “You mean, it is I.” Now I say, “It is I” because I was sick of being corrected by the grammar police. I understand why he corrected me because grammatically it should be I, but honestly, does it really matter? Saying “me” is a grammatical mistake that most Americans make, African American or otherwise.

Apart from that, plenty of people from various races and ethnicities use daily slang and colloquialisms. Yet, if they are not African American they are not judged as harshly for using it because it is not associated with a racial stereotype of perceived inability to speak standard English correctly.

If I said that this did not matter, and that speaking a certain way did not affect hire-ability or social hierarchies, that would be an outright lie.

What I will say is that I think that both sides of the argument have good points. I understand why someone would want to show off the education they have through impeccable speech that their ancestors had no opportunity to have.

I also understand why someone would want to hold onto something different, something self created, something not fully colonized but rather molded for our own lips and understanding. I think that both parties have justified feelings.

But for some that dialect is a cruel reminder of what were barred from having, a right that is denied to so many: a proper education. Some individuals do not want to be haunted by that past and so for them the voluntary speaking of this dialect is extremely taboo.

So when it comes to the debate on which type of English ought to be spoken, I feel that for me personally, due to not wanting to miss any opportunities, that Ebonics should be spoken with friends and in casual settings, but in the office, for communication’s sake at least, standard English ought to be spoken.

I think that bosses do have their clientele to think about and if their clients and co-workers cannot understand one another, they can’t be hired and have successful communication. That reasoning is not a racist one, but a linguistic one.

The purpose of language is to communicate. I believe that being bi-dialectal is alright, while others are against it altogether. For me, I was raised against it and so, I would have to learn how to speak Ebonics fully, but honestly, I have very few friends that speak it. If feel that there would be little to no purpose in me learning that type of speech apart from being able to understand the stories of people who speak it in a tertiary sense.

However, as an educator, I will be exposed to this type of speech and so perhaps I ought to make an effort to understand it more, because if I have students who are speaking this way, and I do not understand them, how can I adequately teach them?

It doesn’t necessarily mean that I have to change my speech but at the same time, even if I make an effort to understand their dialect, what is my motivation to do so when all my life I have been ostracized for speaking the way that I do? Neither party respects the either one.

There in lies the problem: the disrespect.

Can we respect one another’s dialects? Can the standard English only speakers respect the Bi-dialectals? Can they respect the Ebonics only speakers?

Can the bi-dialectals respect the Ebonics only speakers? Can they respect the standard English only speakers?

Can the Ebonics only speakers respect the standard English only speakers and bi-dialectals?

Sometimes this dialect is spoken in protest against colonization. Why speak a type of English that was forced upon our ancestors when people generally don’t listen to the voices of African Americans in the first place? My English can be impeccable and a superior level, but still fall on deaf ears because of racism, prejudice and discrimination.

It hurts so much to be terribly isolated and misunderstood by both parties. To be told how exceptionally articulate one is as if one were a dog who just stood on it’s hind legs. To be told that one is not a real Black person and one is catering to White people’s wishes and that one is a traitor who speaks the “King’s English.”

Especially in education, Ebonics, A.A.V.E., Black English, whatever you call it is looked down upon as inferior, unintelligent and low class. Yet, I have witnessed plenty of HBCU students who speak that dialect earn their Bachelors, Masters and Doctorates and still stay true to themselves.

Will their speech affect their job opportunities in a negative way? Should they stop speaking the way that they are?

Or is the sacrifice worth it?

For me, this is really not an issue simply because, I grew up my whole life speaking a certain way, so speaking standard English is being true to myself unless, my family has been convinced to not be themselves for so long that they have brainwashed me into the same thinking.

These kind of questions hurt, but they are important to ponder. Know thy self. If I start all of the sudden at age twenty-six trying to learn to speak a certain way out of the blue for arbitrary reasons because I feel culturally pressured, it’s not authentic either.

Is being authentic, even at the risk of locking oneself into a box and shutting doors of opportunity, worth it? Can that person reach more people at the end of the day? Isn’t it worth the sacrifice to mask oneself and then reveal their true selves once they have reached a higher position of power?

That’s the question of the day? What are these sacrifices worth? Sacrifices of authenticity, language, culture? In the work place, at home, among friends?

I will continue to explore these questions further as well as the points on both sides of this linguistic issue.