Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Rage Against the Machine

On April 12, 2015 Freddie Gray, an African-American male was arrested by the Baltimore City Police Department.  On April 19th, Freddie Gray died as a result of the injuries that he suffered while under the care of that same police department.  This event sparked a series of events in Baltimore. Most were peaceful and unifying.  A small portion, heavily focused on by the media, were violent. But it is the death of Freddie Gray that has added another dimension to the discussion of police brutality, racial inequalities and the communities that are effected.  But this post is not about police brutality.  It is about Baltimore and other urban communities in the like.

You see the scenes from Baltimore really weighed heavily on my heart.  I used to work in Baltimore.  I interned there, I was a law clerk there, and I  was an attorney there.  As an attorney I represented children in child abuse and neglect cases.  My clients, children, lived in communities that have been ignored by the "leadership" of the city for some time.

These children represent the rage against the machine.  Cycles of poverty are generational.  Insufficient educational systems, lack of jobs, lack of access to proper health care, homelessness, and just a general lack of hope lay the foundation for a city of rage.  I have seen parents who go to the Department of Social Services for help and who then ended up being involved in the system for years.  The children I represented have lived in an environment where they have been forgotten for many years.

So it has taken rage and anger for people to finally listen. It has taken damaged vehicles, fires, and broken windows to remind the world of the people who they can no longer conveniently ignore.  No longer can you visit Baltimore and walk along the peaceful inner harbor, catch a game at Camden Yards, or stroll throw the cobble stoned streets of Fells Point without remembering the images that became emblazoned upon every tv set around the nation and around the world.

Let me make this clear.  I do not condone violence.  I especially do not condone children, yes children, not thugs, to commit crimes.  I understand the anger.  But I also understand that the police are taking all these pictures and videos and are using them to identify each person including, juveniles, who were involved.  As a result, these same kids will now be entering the system that they were trying to fight.  And let me tell you, once you are in the system it is very hard to get out.  It is a system with cracks.  A system that I have been trying to fix, so I know it well.

So why I am I writing this now?  So that we don't forget.  Change in Baltimore is not going to come from the prosecution of the officers involved.  Nor will it occur with body cameras for officers.  Change is going to take a multi-disciplinary approach with the community spearheading the change.  Not Al Sharpton.  I am talking about the men and women who have lived in the same house for 30 years.  The aunties and uncles who know the community.  We need young adults to step up and and claim their neighborhoods.  But we also need lawyers, doctors, teachers, police officers, scientists, architects, nutritionists, social workers, everyone working together to create several systematic changes.  It is going to take a lot of dialogue, a lot of time, and a lot of money.  It is going to involve moments of discomfort, but change usually does.  There are people who have already been doing the work, but they need help and resources.

Some people are tired of talking about race.  But the issues of race, poverty, and economic status are intertwined.  We need to keep talking.  We need to keep healing.  And we all need to have conversations that will stretch our understanding and tolerance of others' feelings and cultures.  Fear can serve as a catalyst for negative behavior.  It is time to erase this fear that we all have of each other.

Let's not let Freddie Gray's death be in vain.  No more teachable moments.  This time let's start a real substantive change in Baltimore that can be replicated across the country.  Let us no longer turn a blind eye to those issues that might not effect us on a personal level.  Because the truth is what happens in the inner city of Baltimore effects us all.  We are an inter-connected society and it is time that we start acting like it.  Their rage is my rage too.  I can't wait to see what comes out of the ashes...

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Un-Christian-Like Behavior

I am mad.  I am angry.  And I am not sure why no one else is.  You see several states have decided to pass laws allowing businesses to openly discriminate against homosexual people.  They write and enforce these laws under the guise of Christianity.  And that's the problem.  Discrimination is un-Christian-like behavior.  Allow me to explain.

Jesus spread a message of love.  Jesus hung out with the lowest of the low.  The biggest sinners of them all.  Yet he accepted them.  He practiced love.

When we openly discriminate against others that is not practicing love.  We are all sinners.  For some reason people think that there is a hierarchy of sins.  The truth is there is no hierarchy.  Adultery, gossiping, jealousy, homosexuality, murder, they all are sins, without a rank.  Yet people act like homosexuality is the top priority in which we should focus.

I must admit, my views on homosexuality probably don't align with the teaching of the bible.  That is a topic that I need to do more research on.  Regardless of my views, as  Christians, we are taught to love thy neighbor like we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39).  To me it is obvious that the people who think it is ok to deny homosexuals business services on the basis of Christianity are falling short.  Are these same people openly discriminating against liars and cheaters as well?  I highly doubt it.

The irony is that Indiana is one of the states to pass a gay discrimination law.  Ironically, Indiana also just declared a state of emergency over the high rate of HIV in the state.  I think that perhaps the state should take more time figuring out how to eliminate poverty, hunger,  and create economic stability rather than drafting discrimination laws.  I mean really?  Really?!?  I think that prevent people from dying might be a little more important than letting businesses discriminate against gay people.  As Christians we are also charged with the task of taking care of the sick and elderly....

As a follower of Christ, people look to us and our behavior.  To worship God is to live a life and behave in a way that honors his teachings.  When people see discrimination laws crafted by so-called Christians they are turning people away from developing their own relationship with Jesus.  In fact Christianity has been declining.   This is no surprise.  Why would you ever want to be part of a religion that openly treats people like this, that practices hate.  For centuries people have used the bible against each other.  We should instead use the bible to love one another.

Can you imagine what type of world we would have if everyone practiced loving each other instead of hating each other?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Escaping

I have a confession.  Well I wouldn't say it is a confession.  Confessions imply guilt and I don't really feel guilty.  Anyway, I have a a truth to tell.  My truth:  I still talk to my exes.

I am one of those people who would like to actually remain friends with their exes.  Now this is not always successful.  And usually it is the least successful right after breaking up.  But in time a friendship of sorts can be possible.

It has come to my attention that I tend to talk to my exes a lot more when I am lonely.  Up until earlier this week I thought it was simply because I was lonely.  I thought that I wasn't meeting anyone who made me excited so I was trying to re-kindle the flame with someone who I at one point had feelings for.  But this week I figured it out.  I didn't want to get back with my exes.  What I really was longing for was an escape (an possibly a free meal).  Let me explain.

Dating for me is like an escape.  For a few hours a few times a week, I can escape my life.  When I am with someone else I am not the daughter taking care of her mom, I am not an employee, I am not volunteering, I am just me.  I don't have to think about how I will divide my next check or what I am going to get my mom for her dinner or whether my mom needs a nurse during the day.  I don't have to figure out how I am going to pay for the next car repairs I need or when will I finish paying off my student loans.  Or maybe when I am I going to figure out how to utilize my talents to help people.  No, on a date I get to be that flirty, sexy yet intelligent person who I love being without all of the responsibilities.  I can talk about my hopes my fears my interests.  For a few hours when I am on a date is about me.  It is an escape.  And the escape is what I need once in awhile so that I don't totally implode from stress, worry, and fear.

It might seem so simple, but it is a really big deal to me to understand this.  So now I realize that I need to make an attempt to unapologetically schedule in "me" time.  I always tell everyone else that you have to make sure to take care of yourself or you won't be able to take care of others. But the truth is, I don't practice this enough myself.  So now I am going to work on it.  Because I don't need a man for my escape (unless he is paying for a trip to a tropical place then I will consider it at least lol).

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The One Who Got Away

Every time that I have some sort of break up I long for the day that the other person will realize how big of a mistake that they made.  For so many years  I have been waiting to hear someone say that I was the who who got away.  Yesterday my wish came true.  Someone from my past told me this very same thing.  Was it magical?  Was it exciting?  Was it a grand romantic gesture?   Honestly, it was rather anti-climatic.  The fairytail that I had had in my head that true love would work out in the end was a farce.  For the message was stale and its delivery was a few years too late.  But still my wish came true.  At least one person realized that letting me go was their bad.

Not to toot my own horn here, but I am pretty awesome.  I know I know, every person thinks that they are awesome or unique and different.  And it is true everyone is unique and different in their own ways.  But me, I am really different.  For as long as remember I was always just a little bit different than everyone around me.  I am a black girl who loves all types of music and movies.  I love to read and write.  I love sports and I love to grill food.  I like museums.  I enjoy asking my co-workers random would you rather questions.  I am a proud former band member who attended many summer camps.  I think that deez nuts jokes never get old.  I make faces at kids when their parents aren't looking.  I compliment strangers with ease.  I got to happy hours by myself and make friends with men old enough to date my mom.  Blame it on being an only child or having a experienced the death of a parent at a young age, I have learned to embrace my quirks instead of apologizing for them.

That is why I would like to think that my "exes" view me as the one who got away.  Because who else are you going to meet that is my blend of confidence, silliness, intelligence, and sexy all in one?  I am the woman who can hang out with the girls or the guys.  For me everyday is the possibility of a new adventure and every person who I meet is a new potential friend.  I can be fun.  I can be a cheerleader.  I can be caring and loving.  I can be a bitch.  I can be a mother.  I can be confidant.  I can be a coach.  And sometimes in the rarest of moments I can actually be quiet.  I can be all of these things.  Apparently I am just never what they want when we are actually together?

Sure an ex verbalizing my importance and value is flattering.  But you know what would be more flattering?  If an ex was willing to fight for me in the moment and not look back 10 years later with regret.  I want to be the woman that men fight to keep instead of being the one who got away.  How do I make this transition?  Who is going to realize how special I am now, in the moment?  Why can't I be the girl who DID'T get away?

Unfortunately, I don't have those answers.  All I can hope is that by continuing to be the person who I love,  I will find the person who loves me because of it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Seasons of Friendship

People come into your life for a reason, season, or lifetime.  When you figure it out you know what exactly to do.
-- Michelle Ventor

I. Can't. Let. Go.  There I've said it.  I have an extremely hard time letting go of friendships.  Maybe even at the expense of myself.

Friendships are an important part of my life.  You see, I grew up as an only child in a small Midwestern town.  My parents were both sick at the same time and the nearest family members were hundreds of miles away.  To me, my friends were my family.  They were the only people who made my life feel normal.  So, the end of the friendship can sometimes feel like the death of a family member which is why I have so much difficulty letting friendships go.

I don't give them up without a fight though.  I am that person that can see the good sides of most people.  And even those friends who may have some major flaws I still empathize with them because I know that they are inherently good people. I will try to work on the relationship often trying to tailor the way that I say things.  I will continue in my sympathy for that person even when others around me wonder why I even bother.  But the truth is, in everything I do I like to say that I tried and I did everything I could before giving up.

But sometimes there is nothing you can do.  Friends lose touch.  We grow older.  We change.  And the changes do not all have to be negative.  The longer you are friends with someone the more that the nature of your friendship will change.

But sometimes those changes can hurt.  Someone who you considered to be a good friend will stop talking to you.  Or sometimes a friend will say something that you don't agree with and decide that you are no longer worthy of being in his or her inner circle.  Still other times you may be a part of someone's past when they are trying to forget about that part of their lives.  Sometimes in all the good will and all the trying friendships cannot sustain these types of life changes.

There are times that I look back and I feel sad about some of the friendships that I have lost.  Sometimes they were my own fault.  Sometimes I decided that I finally had to let it go.  Sometimes I am not even sure why such and such and I stopped talking.  But I still feel like that piece of me is missing.

Not everyone wants to be friends with me and that's ok.  I am not everyone's cup of tea.  I have my own issues and flaws which I probably know just about as well as you do.   I try to be the type of friend who I would want in return.  Even if that means sometimes saying or hearing things that I don't like.  But the thing about friendships is that you have to trust that your friend has your best interests at heart.  That if someone tells you something that you don't like that it does not come from a malicious place.  Friends are supposed to pick you up when are down, hold you accountable, and help guide you on the right path when you are wandering towards the wrong.  And if you have a friend who doesn't fulfill all these qualities then maybe it is time for you to let it go.

I am blessed to have some friends who I consider my family, who I believe were put in my life for a lifetime.  And because I have those lifetime friends perhaps it makes it easier to let go of the reason and season friends who are on their way out of the door.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Pass Me a Drink

Pass me a drink.  This last month I felt like having a drink just about every night.  Don't worry I am not becoming an alcoholic.  And no I am trying to drown my sorrows with a nice glass of Malbec or two.  For me a drink after work or on the weekends is a chance to socialize, and that's what I miss.

How can you blame me?  The weather is starting to get nice.  I have finally ditched my pea coat that is at least two sizes too big.  I am buying new spring clothes and showing off my new figure in the process.  I am single and ready to mingle.  I am waiting for the opportunity to flirt with a gentleman caller of reasonable character if not just for a laugh.

I miss the chance of opportunity.  That opportunity that the next guy I meet might be the one who will give me butterflies again.  I like to be out so that I can forget about my friends who are getting engaged/married/having kids.  So I will not think about being single, again.  But at the same time my singledom gives me the freedom to be the real me:  sassy, flirty, silly, fun, loud, sexy, funny, intelligent and coy all at the same time without feeling one single ounce of guilt.  For when I go straight home after work no one can see this gift in their presence.  At home I go to sleep, wake up early, and live for the weekend.  But I want to live for life.  I want to live for everyday.

I remember those days when I could call up any random friend at the spur of the moment to grab a drink and catch up.  Now it seems that everyone has to schedule an outing days, weeks, and sometimes months in advance.  I miss the days of spontaneity and not needing to drink coffee at 4 pm to stay awake until 10 pm.  

Don't get me wrong, sometimes I go out by myself.  But lately when I do I walk around for an hour because I can't decide which crowd I like better.  And by that time I am just starving and tired and the crowd doesn't matter and I didn't get to flirty with anyone because I was just looking for a seat any seat.  Yeah sad life.

So today is Thursday.  But I am just going to go home and maybe buy that bottle of wine I keep talking about which I will sip while watching Scandal.  At least that is something I can count on.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

My Ex's Wedding

One of my exes got married this weekend.  Of course I was not invited.  I happened to see the pictures on Facebook.  Am I mad?  No not all.  I am happy for him.  I always thought he was a great guy.  I still do actually.  I think nice people deserve happiness.  And I wish him well.

Am I jealous?  Yeah, probably.  Sometimes I wonder if that could have been me.  I sit around and look at my friends who get engaged, get married, and have kids one, two, and three (although I could do without kids one, two, and three).  I can't help but think why aren't I married?  And I know I am not the only one out there.

Everyone always says that you can't judge people's relationships based on what you see on Facebook and on Instagram.  I know that's true.  They say the grass is greener on the other side.  I believe it.  Some of ya'll have some messed up relationships and I thank God that is not me.  But still..  Still I want want my own "the one."  And as I get older I wonder is that still a possibility?

Don't get me wrong single life can be fun.  I like meeting new people.  I love flirting.  I love flirting and getting free things from said flirting.  I love feeling like when I am in a room I dominate the eyes of all the men and the women.  I like having a schedule that is wide open.  Being able to go where I want when I want.  I love my girlfriends and all out our crazy shenanigans. But still.  I want to be married.

Do you ever wish that you could see into the future?  Sometimes I do.  Because if I could I would want to know if I was ever going to get married.  If  I knew that it wasn't going to happen, I could live a very different life.  But without that reassurance there is always this thing called, Hope.  And because of Hope I keep meeting people and going out on dates thinking that surely God will send me my prince charming or someone close to him.  But to be honest, with each failed relationship, each time I suffer heartbreak, every time I make a decision that I know will only lead to hurt only to be hurt one more time, I lose a little hope.  And I just wonder how can you keep shining when your hope is disappearing?

I don't want to hear the usual.  That you should be happy on your own.  I am happy enough.  Or that you will meet someone when you least expect it.  I don't expect much these days so there should be a man popping up every minute right?  

And I don't feel guilty or ashamed to say all this because I am not the only one.  And I know there is nothing wrong with feeling this way, because I am not the only one who does.

In the meantime, till I do meet Mr. Right., I know that I can't compare myself to others.  That's in the bible right?  And I can't beat myself up for desiring a real love, the good, the bad and the ugly.  So I will just keep hoping.  I will congratulate my ex.  I will congratulate all of my friends who get married even if it is through my own sadness.  Because I have hope that soon people will be congratulating me.