I’ve waited a really long time to write this. I felt like this is such an important topic that I wanted to wait until I had a broader reach, in hopes that I had the chance to open more eyes. I thought that if I could earn enough respect in the eyes my peers that maybe my words wouldn’t be tossed aside, as they so frequently are whenever I broach this subject. I realize now that I haven’t met anyone with that kind of influence. Most of us tune out when the dialogue no longer fits our ideals, regardless of who’s doing the talking. To change the hearts of men is a task. Consider this my contribution to opening up the dialogue to a conversation that’s been often misunderstood and at the very least, unrepresented.
Let’s get the stereo types out of the way up front, shall we? Some will dismiss my comments if I lean too far one way or another politically. I’m right in the middle – a compassionate conservative that votes independent. I believe in people’s ability to overcome insurmountable obstacles, and I believe there is no better place to do that than America. I love my country. My heroes in life – military, police officers, teachers and nurses. Quite frankly because they get paid the least yet do the most to contribute to our society. That’s a lot of character in my book. Enough said.
When they laid Anthony in my arms almost 24 years ago, he truly was a miracle. After so much abuse and suffering in my own young life- I held someone completely untainted by the world. There was hope in that…in him. For most of my life, love had eluded me. Yet here it was laid before me – in the shape of tiny brown fingers and tiny brown toes. Anthony was truly the first love of my life. To learn to love and nurture someone along was the hardest yet, most beautiful gift in the world. Every positive change I made in my own life was because he gave me something, or rather someone, to fight for.
Throughout our country there consists a great debate on whether to kneel or whether to stand. A lot of you have come to the party late my friends, because I’ve been doing both for almost two and a half decades.
To preface -I have always viewed the world through rose colored glasses. I’m serious, they are glued to my face. While raising Anthony, I never thought his brown skin would be an issue. I was convinced that racism was a thing of the past. I mean, we had all out grown that right? Yeah, there were some older folks that had some whacked ideas – but it was easy to put those aside. My son had all doors open to him, and it was up to him to decide which ones he would walk through.
Anthony grew up being taught the following values:
- You are smart, important and have great worth.
- You have a special place in the family. You are the oldest, the leader, the example.
- You can do anything you set your mind to. Dream big and work hard.
- You aren’t a victim – you are a victor. There may be people that do not like you because of your nose, your skin color, your personality – it can be a host of different reasons. It’s not fair, I know – but learning to navigate difficult people is part of life. Although their actions may hurt, don’t be crippled by it. You get to choose your own destiny. Don’t let anyone rob you of that. Either win them over or find a way to move around them. If you let someone stand in the way of your dreams – the blame is on you. This is YOUR LIFE and no one holds more power over it than you.
- You have been bestowed a beautiful gift through your heritage. You are black and white. Through that you have a lens that can transcend two different languages. In all of the great debates you can show people love and a perspective they didn’t even realize. That’s one of the most precious gifts you could ever be given.
Honestly, I felt like I was rockin’ the whole mom thing. I was giving my son a strong sense of self, right? Yet as time went on…I started to notice some things. I continued to push them aside…thinking that there’s always going to be a few people in society that don’t get it, right? But then the older he got…the more it was there. The more I could no longer “rose color glasses” the situation. I was forced to see.
Now the second I say “white privilege” white people are going to wince. Some people think it means that white people have never struggled, don’t know suffering, or didn’t earn where they are in life. That everything was handed to them on a silver platter. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There is no “participation trophy” for being white. White people have it hard too. I did. I fought like hell to get where I am. I think most people do, in one way or another.
However, as the mother of two black babies and six white ones…I’m here to tell you that it’s different. There are things that my white kids will never have to know. There are things you will never have to know as a white parent to white children.
And here they are:
You’ll never know what it’s like…. to have families take their kids out of daycare when they find out their children are playing with your black baby… and then have them offer the owner more money if she’d get rid of the “problem.” Anthony was one at the time.
You’ll never know what it’s like to have your son come home crying from school because he’s been told his black skin was a curse – or when he volunteers in the lunch line, some kids refuse to accept his service because they “don’t want brown people touching their milk.”
You’ll never know what it’s like to have a nurse curtly send your five-year-old back to the waiting room because “he doesn’t look like he belongs to you.” Then go on and on about how dark he is compared to your other baby – right in front of him.
You’ll never know what it’s like to have your black son be forced to empty his pockets at church in front of all the white kids because something came up missing before he even entered the room. No one else emptied their pockets. Then when you confront the teacher he says right in front of your son, “Why do you care…does he live with you or something?”
You’ll never know what it’s like to have your son participate in your church’s Pioneer Trek only to be called “Nigger*” for three days and asked to do extra chores because that’s “what he would have been doing during that era.” It was super spiritual. (*I’m not calling it the “N” word either, cause it never sounds that nice coming out of someones mouth. If it offends you by reading it, then it gives you some sense of how hard it is to be called it. I hate this word!
I can’t even have my mouth form it.)
You’ll never know what it’s like to have your son be called “Nigger” every day, several times, all throughout high school.
You’ll never know what it’s like to have someone give your son a campus tour and as they survey the grounds, his “friend” tells him, “Isn’t it amazing that fifty years ago you’d be hanging from one of these trees?”
You’ll never know what it’s like to have “team” sleep overs where your son gets called “Monkey” and “Nigger” all night long. Finally after asking nicely several times, he gets so angry he pushes the ring leader up against the wall and says, “STOP IT.” To which the kid responds, “We’re only joking man…you know that we’re your friends, right?” Yeah, cause that’s what friendship feels like.
You’ll never know what it’s like to have your son come home on the bus with all of his “team mates” and have someone behind him make a hangman’s noose out of athletic tape, dangle it in his face in front of everyone while saying the words, “I’m gonna rope ya boy.” as everyone laughs. I do thank the one kid that stood up for him. <3
You’ll never know what it’s like to have to make a million uncomfortable phone calls to parents because their kid called my son a “Nigger” only to have them not believe that little Johnny could ever say such a thing. When little Johnny does finally apologize, it’s “Sorry, Nigger.” And you call back only to be told you are raising your son as a “victim”.
You’ll never know what it’s like to have someone say to your kid, “I’d shoot some Niggers,” or “I can take care of the racism problem at our school with five bullets”, because there were five black students.
You’ll never know what it’s like to have coaches rave over your sons athletic ability, but not want to be burdened by his problems. To have his playing time directly related to his willingness to take being called racial slurs by most of the team. To have a coach get angry and up in your face when he’s forced to punish a white kid who’s a really good player… because your son’s respect and inclusion isn’t worth losing a game. To have your teenage son lay his head on your lap night after night, sobbing because his coach told him, “As long as I’m coach, you’ll never touch the ball,” cause that’s the punishment for being a “whiner.”
You’ll never know what it’s like to have a person’s eyes go from friendly to hatred because I’m saying something that causes them to acknowledge their own bias.
You’ll never know what it’s like to be a woman who’s physically intimidated while standing up to an angry man – yet you choose to stand firm because your black son is watching you defend him – and you can’t afford to have him see you flinch.
You’ll never know what it’s like to have a police officer stop your son as he waits on the sidewalk for us to join him at his state wrestling tournament, only to be asked if he’s there to cause trouble and then be warned that they have their “eye on him.”
You’ll never know what it’s like to have to make 21 years worth of phone calls, schedule meetings with coaches, teachers, administrators throughout the entirety of your son’s life and school career. Meetings where no matter how awful things get for him, it’s always chalked up to – “Boys will be boys.” or “They didn’t mean it.” or “It was just a joke.” To have every single thing he goes through constantly minimized.
You’ll never know what it’s like to sob because you realize there are some circles in your son’s life that will never be open to him. To certain people he will always be less. To realize he will always have to work twice as hard to get the same respect as a white kid. To have that so clearly evident as you raise your own white kids.
You’ll never know what it’s like to tell your white friends all of your struggles and have them be so shocked and outraged that “all of this still goes on.” Yet never once offer to come and stand with you, because it’s not really their problem.
You’ll never know what it’s like to be “one of THOSE people,” Because you are only allowed to complain so many times about the treatment of your child before you’re labeled “sensitive” or a “special snow flake”.
You’ll never know what it’s like to have your child cry and wish he was white so he didn’t have to deal with this every day… and have times that you secretly and shamefully think those thoughts too, because you are just so damn tired.
You’ll never know what it’s like to have most of these people share your faith or even go to church with you. To find yourself praying every Sunday that God will help you forgive them of their offenses, or of their silence.
You’ll never know what it’s like to raise your child to not be a victim, only to eventually realize that he is – and there’s nothing you can do about it.
If that’s not a privilege, then I don’t know what is.
It has to be said that Anthony has also had amazing white coaches, teachers and mentors in his life. My son’s life has been and continues to be filled with incredibly good white people. I thank God every day for their positive contributions in his life. They will never know how much it truly means to him, and to me. So, how many amazing people does it take to reverse the damage of the “few”? I still can’t answer that, because it’s not like it won’t ever happen again.
What I do know is that for 24 years I have knelt in prayer trying to find the strength to keep having the same talks over and over on endless loop. For 24 years I have stood in rooms and fought for the voiceless and the unrepresented. We can talk all we want about whether or not it’s appropriate to stand or kneel at a football game, but does that even matter?
It does beg the question however, when IS IT an appropriate time to have a discussion that everyone refuses to have because it’s so uncomfortable? When is it a good time to participate in dialogue that actually leads somewhere? There are problems on both sides of the aisle. Both blacks and whites need to take ownership of that.
However, so many white people are quick to say – “Well, I’m not prejudiced, I’m being judged for the actions of others,” and wash their hands of the situation because their feelings are hurt. It’s not only your feelings that are hurt..and it’s not your actions, friends. It’s your silence. Silence is the great betrayal. It feels like you don’t care, or at least you don’t care enough to say something. You quite literally don’t have skin in the game.
Part of your privilege is that there is nothing forcing you to participate. You get a choice. That’s great for you…. but where does that leave me? Where does that leave my son? More importantly, where does that leave our country? When you are in the minority, the only way change is ever going to happen is if the MAJORITY helps.
Anger, resentment and hate only come when you don’t love someone enough to be phased by their suffering. At some point they start to self-protect. I see that in the faces/attitudes of my black brothers and sisters and it’s heartbreaking. They are worn down and feel defeated. Yet, I also know that my white friends are incredibly good people. Amazing people. They just haven’t been forced to see. Neither was I for the first half of my life.
At the end of the day, we all want the same things. We have just lacked the work ethic to get there together. It’s time to rip off the bandaid and let this wound bleed until it starts to heal.
Do I still believe in all of those things that I taught my son every day as child? I do… but I also believe that he shouldn’t have to fight so hard to be an equal. That skin color shouldn’t play a role in respect, and that he shouldn’t have to take a certain amount of abuse in order to be accepted. That’s the part of the playing field that isn’t level.
So the question isn’t whether to kneel or to stand. It’s will you speak up?
If you’ve taken the time to read this article, consider yourself educated. With that knowledge comes accountability. I pray you’ll use your powers for good.
I love popcorn. I do. It’s been my favorite snack since I was a little. I’ve raised my children with this little love affair as well. Every movie night is celebrated with a great big bowl of this buttery yumminess.
Lately, I’ve been using it as my nightly snack. My son Julian will pop me a big bow full of it and I’ll eat it over a few days time. Last night was Ethan’s Halloween Orchestra Concert, so I made dinner early. By the time it was over I was starving and I was on the hunt. After rummaging through our pantry, I went upstairs defeated – resounded to going to bed hungry. As I entered my room…complete joy flooded my memory!!! I remembered I still had a half a bowl of popcorn!
Wait…did my kids get to it? Is it already gone? I was panicked, hoping the kids had not sniffed out my treats like the bloodhounds they typically are when any kind of goodness lurks within the walls of my room. Just as I was about to give up, I noticed the bowl on the floor behind my office chair and jumped for joy! “Woo hoo!!!” I cried out. Craig was already in bed and laughing he said, “What’s got you so happy?”
“The kids didn’t eat my popcorn!!! Now I’m about to get in my bed, snuggle up to my honey, and watch a movie til I fall asleep!” The lights were all out and I climbed into bed about to snarf down my bestie snack with a vengeance. Then…the thought came to me- I better go wash my hands first. I can’t stand putting things in my mouth with the thought of dirty hands. I set the bowl on the counter and went to the bathroom while I was at it, cause ain’t nobody got time to interrupt a deep sleep because of a full bladder.
Ok….Handled my business, check. Washed my hands, check.
I grabbed my bowl of yumminess off the counter and went to shut the lights off. Just as I was flipping the switch, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. Double take….was something moving in my bowl? So I turned the light back on for better inspection. I leaned my head into the bowl and again had to adjust my eyes….what is thaaaaaat?
Is that a WORM? Oh my gosh, YES!!! I continued to scan the bowl and there lied a second, but smaller worm!!! I refused to look for anymore at this point… but I can tell you from my observation, they were the happiest worms I have ever seen. They were practically dancing all over the place as they mounted the various kernels of popped heaven clouds. Soooooo GROSS!
Now a word of warning, I’m not typically a cussing type person – however I reserve the right to belt out profanities in times of extreme fear, extreme pain or creepy crawlies in my food.
I screamed out, “Craig!!!!!! There are worms in my damn popcorn! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Ewe ewe ewe ewe ewe ewe ewe ewe ewe!!!!!!!!”
Craig, “the hero” comes hopping in to save the day… (he’s only got one leg) and is like,
“Whoa…those are huge!”
Grabbing his arms I was like…. “I KNOW….!!! I almost ate them! I almost ate these nasty things! What if I wouldn’t have stopped to wash my hands?
What if I would have just jumped into bed in the dark and started chowing down?!
WHAT if I picked up a kernel with a worm on it and it touched me?
Or I put it in my mouth and squished it?
Oh my gosh Craig! I could have died!
Where did these worms come from?!
I bet they hatched in the bowl! Ewe! Wait?!
I’ve been eating that BOWL for two days!
WHAT IF I ALREADY ATE SOME?
What if they are alive inside of me?
What if I ate some kernels that’s had worm eggs in them and now they’ve are hatching inside me while we speak?
What if they crawl up my throat with all of their disgusting little succor feet and come out of my nose or mouth? I almost died Craig! I almost diiiiiiieeeeeeed!”
Craig laughing at my ridiculousness (that’s a daily affair for him) tried to convince me that they must have gotten in there somehow. That they didn’t hatch. Blah blah blah.
“There’s no way dear, that one worm was HUGE. He couldn’t have gotten that big in a day.” he says.
“Craig, of course they can! They’ve been eating my popcorn!”
Sorry, I just couldn’t take his word for it. So I took to the internet. Low and behold, worms and popcorn are a thing. Even found pictures of my worms. They are the ones in the photo below. 🙁 And for your viewing pleasure I have included a video on youtube of little larvae that hatched inside a movie theatre popcorn bin. That’s what these worms look like before they fill up on popcorn. 50 shades of nasty.
The tiny worm on the left was the size of one of the worms. The second worm was the size of the one of the far right. I want to cry right now.
I spent the entire night paranoid….thinking of how many worms I had ingested over the course of my popcorn loving life. I’m probably infested and they are swarming through my intestines as we speak.
Craig thinks the acids in my stomach would probably kill them, but I’m not convinced. I mean if they have survived pesticides, harvest, treatment and packaging facilities, transport, storage, sale and cooking at high temperatures in oil….then what are my little ole stomach acids gonna do? Nothing. I’ve probably been pooping worms my whole life. How can I even move forward after this?
This morning, all I could think about is how I can get rid of my critters.
Some ideas are as follows….(warning! DON’T try these at home – this is dangerous crazy talk)
1.Drink the equivilent of worm drano – hopefully clean all the “pipes”.
2. Drink through a firehose. Maybe the sheer force and velocity would blow them all out the back side. But then I’d probably need a colostomy bag for the rest of my life from all the damage.
3. Colonics (poop shoot irrigation) to lure them out nicely. That’s a lot of trauma for them and for me.
4. Taking deworming/parasite pills and swearing a blood oath to not to look in the toilet after doing my business until I know the coast is clear. Maybe a life time. If I so much as see a worm in the toilet….
I’m still deciding on the most effective form of treatment, but there is one thing I know for sure.
Popcorn – it’s over. We’re through. We had a good run, but you’ve crossed a line- and sometimes there’s just NO. WAY. BACK. This is the ultimate betrayal. It’s time we part ways.
Team Moms and Room Moms – this is no longer funny. It’s traumatic and PTSD inducing.
Oh and hey God- when you were up there’s creating worlds and such, I know it’s alot. I also know that when Adam and Eve ate the apple, you had no choice but to give us thorns and weeds. And then of course, now we all have to work by the sweat of our brow – I get it. I really do. It all just kinda makes sense, ya know?
But doing this to our popcorn? Now that’s just rude. I’m not being disrespectful God, but this has to be for your own amusement. I know you’re laughing at me. I’m sure you get bored up there with all the problems and the whining, and the evil doers…..but why you gotta do me like this? Sigh.
PS. Wash your hands before you eat! Good Hygene literally saved my life! Happy Halloween. Don’t eat this if someone tries to serve it to you. You could be getting more than you asked for.
if you liked this post….read the one next for a good laugh!
Throughout my life, my past and current career, I have spoken to literally hundreds of thousands of women. Women from all walks of life, the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor. Highly educated women, and women who could’ve been killed for having learned to read. Women at the top of the corporate ladder and women who scrub toilets for a living. (I’ve been both of those) Women who are mothers and those who aren’t. Religious women from all sects, and women of no faith at all. Every shade, size and background represented.
It’s a cherished space I get to share with women, as they confide in me their deepest wounds. I’m in awe of all that they’ve come through. I haven’t met a woman yet who doesn’t have some battle scars. These warrior women have become my heroes and sisters in arms. It’s been a privilege to wipe thousands of tears as they share their stories with me. It’s through those tears I’ve found that some of the most constant sources of a woman’s pain, has come at the hands of each other. I’m here to tell you ladies, the number one problem of women isn’t men, it’s women. That may come as a shock with all of the marches and women’s initiatives constantly flashed before our eyes in the media. I’m here to talk about what happens when we go home.
First, I think it’s important to acknowledge the fact that there is still a lot of room for improvement in the advancement of women in this world. Men undoubtedly hold a lot of keys to that. However, that’s a conversation for another day. Today is about holding ourselves accountable. If the advancement of women is what we truly seek, then it’s time we turn that pointer finger around to our own chest and acknowledge the role we play in stunting our growth.
Somewhere in recent years, we’ve gotten off track. Are we crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s of high achievement? Sure. Women continue to knock down every door that lays before them. At no other time in history have we shared more power or been more represented as women. It’s beautiful, really. Give me an instance where so much of this world is isn’t tempered on the attitudes of women- I think you’ll find there’s few. Other than in cases of abuse or severe oppression, we can count on women to set the priorities, the standards, the examples and most importantly – we set the mood in most arena’s. There’s a lot to be proud of.
However, when it comes to the treatment of each other, a lot of us have gone back to the school yard. We’ve lost the soul of what it means to be a woman. What happened to unity, loyalty, nurturing, mentorship, friendship and love? Some women do those things incredibly well, but not enough of us to stop the bleeding. Ladies, we have forgotten our roots. It’s time to retrace our steps and correct our footing. This is a beckon to higher ground.
Whether it be in at work, school, religious communities or neighborhoods, women express a deep struggle with unity. If you look at the history of women, the key to any substantial advancement was unity. Women laced arms as they fought for the right to vote, to own their own wages and property, and for the power to choose their own destiny. We are the benefactors of centuries of sacrifice. I think it’s time we ask ourselves, how are we honoring their legacy?
In recent years, unity is something that eludes us as women. Even feminism has not been the great unifier that we hoped it would be. I think it’s actually brought to light how divided we are within the ranks of women. Feminism used to be about standing together for equal rights. Now it’s about how worthy you are to wear the uterus. What happened to us?
Women of the past didn’t have the luxury of division amongst them. We do. We now hold the power they fought hard for, and it’s a power we don’t always use for good. I think social media has left us all feeling that we are forced to compete with each other in every arena. Now that are lives are on constant broadcast for all to see, too often we find ourselves in the judgement seat of our sisters. Where there is a lack of unity, there is always suffering. We’re all paying that price today.
The Price of Success – One of the biggest surprises in talking to women is what can only be described as “success scars.” You give me a successful woman and I’ll give you a woman that’s got an identity crisis. It’s true. Being successful is a navigation nightmare for a woman. In order to protect the confidences that women have entrusted me with, I’ll share some of my experiences that reflect the sentiment of what I hear every day from legions of women.
Understand that it’s a little daunting to share this. From my own experience – I can say that the more I knocked down the personal barriers in my life that lead to achievement, the harder it is to thrive within my own tribe – women. Now, I love working with women, I do – but it comes at a cost. I’ve learned to stomach that cost, and I’ve got the ulcers to prove it.
In order for you to truly appreciate the struggle – Picture the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” except insert me for Will Smith. That was my life twentyish years ago. Yes, it was that desperate and worse. Shame kept me from telling anyone how hard it was just to survive every day.
From the beginning stages of my career, women were hard on me. One thing I had to learn quick, was that women have a really hard time making room for each other professionally. Especially the seasoned women. Regardless of how hard and long I worked, there was little I could do to earn their respect. I think they felt my ambition to change my circumstances got in their way. Both metaphorically and physically – I hadn’t eaten for a long time. I was hungry and I longed to be fed. That insatiable hunger drove me to high achievement. Yet that achievement offended the women in my life. How do you reconcile that, when you need both? I was so young. I had no family other than a tiny little boy who was counting on me. Their acceptance and mentorship would have meant the world to me. I wasn’t there to offend them. I was there to save me, to save us. It was my deep seeded fear of failure that propelled me forward, but my humility never left. That’s the thing about having good doses of abuse, neglect and homelessness – rock bottom and I became good friends. Honestly, I don’t know which offended them more – my advancement, or the “kill em with kindness” I exhibited during the process – which also made me weak in their eyes.
I loved my career. I cherished my patients. It was truly the most beautiful work. 13 years later, a lot had changed in my life. I left to stay home with my babies. They needed me more than my career did. It was also time to support my husband’s career. His had taken a back seat to mine for the whole of our whole marriage. As I write these words, I can’t help but smile – for that was criticized too.
Fast forward to my current career.
Speaking, writing, loving people. It’s seriously the best job ever. I love this work. I think it’s important to share this piece because it’s so reflect of the stories I constantly hear from women. No matter what their station in life – here in lies the struggle. We’ve zipped up the straight jacket of expectation so high, that none of us can hardly breathe. Entering a room full of women is hard, no matter who you are or what you do.
Whenever I walk into a room full of women who know my background and story, it’s intimidating. People knowing your “junk” isn’t easy. As I greet women, I am always received with one of two attitudes – admiration or indifference – with a hint of resentment.
My heart is constantly conflicted with my stature – so do I shrink or do I rise?
Do I SHRINK? – The indifference or resentment I experience is what I like to call, “How dare you rise” syndrome. Where we see someone’s success and not only do we refuse to acknowledge it, but we are mean to each other because of it. You don’t know how many times I’ve endured being ignored or snubbed by women. Church is the worst. Some people have been really, really unkind. (I’m using my church words) It’s become a door that gives me anxiety to have to walk through each week. Physically my stature doesn’t change, but I’m pretty sure I drop ten inches every time I enter the building. Anyway, the whole attitude reeks of “Other people may think you are something special, but let me tell you – I don’t. You are nothing to me. In fact, I refuse to even acknowledge you.” I can spot that from a mile away. Each time it’s like a dagger to my soul. Do you honestly think that we as women, and as people- ever outgrow the need for love and acceptance? If you think we can “success” our way to immunity in this arena you are kidding yourself. We always need our sisters, and we always need their love. We will always need that sense of community. Honestly, these are the women I spend a lot of time loving really hard. I want them to know I’m in their corner. I’m not about me, I’m about US. I’m paving the way for you, and I know you are doing the same for me. We all have sacred gifts to give and I honor yours as well.
Do I RISE? – As any women can attest that when it comes to admiration, “love” hurts. Admiration normally means being put on a pedestal that we never asked to be on. Whether for how far we’ve come, current success, or the pressure for consistent performance, it’s stressful. It feels like you have to constantly keep announcing… “And for my next act…world peace.” Admiration is something that is always short lived, because the second we show an ounce of flaw- we come crashing down off that pedestal that we never asked to be on. In my own experience, people are devastated by my weakness- and I’m not allowed any wiggle room to be a human being. I hope you never know what it’s like to have your friendship, your intimacy and your association with others be contingent on your perfection. It means never really having a friend that you can be yourself or be honest with. I can’t say that it’s lonely at the top, because I don’t feel I’m anywhere near the summit. However, I can attest that it’s awfully lonely in the middle. The nausea of expectation and fear of your world getting even smaller can make you scared to keep climbing. Some women get off the ladder because of this very thing. It’s what’s described as “The loneliness of leadership”. I shudder to think of all the gifts this world has lost at the hands of success scars.
The Cost of “Failure”: I think the only thing worse than paying the price of success, is the cost of “failure” in the eyes of our peers. I hate even using that word, cause it’s so far from the truth. When a woman chooses a life that makes her happy, some times we women feel it is our duty to be critical of her choices. If she chooses to stay home and raise children – she’s “wasted her potential.” If a woman chooses less than a master’s degree, then she’s treated like she lacks the aptitude to have an opinion on any political issue or social construct. If she never marries, we can’t help but wonder, “What’s wrong with her?” If she chooses not to, or finds that she can’t have children- she must be selfish. If she is thin and beautiful, it’s cause for resentment. If she’s plain or plump – she’s either looked past or considered undisciplined. Sigh.
You know, I’ve always resented the 1-10 scale some men use to “rate” women. Placing a number on a woman based on physical attributes is repulsive. Maybe my years have jaded me, but at least a man’s scale is binary. We know where we stand with him.
A women’s judgement is completely suggestive, mostly based off how she’s feeling about herself today. This is EXHAUSTING. Seriously, think about it! With how critical we are of each other, I can’t help but wonder – what in the world would it take for a woman to get a 10?
In the words of Elizabeth Bennet, “I never saw such a woman. Surely she would be a fearsome thing to behold.” (if you don’t know Jane Austin, I’m judging you. 😉
Sisters, here’s the take away. In all my conversations with women combined with my own experiences – it’s safe to say that we’re all struggling to feel welcome in our tribe. We are living in a mode where we are scared to make room for each other. We can be very critical and unkind. We need to mentor more than we manipulate, support more than we sabotage, and help more than we hurt. I think our ancestors would be sad to see that the shackles they shed, have become the shackles we put on each other. We are the key to our own oppression, so let’s liberate ourselves. Their sacrifice means that we get to define what “opportunity” means for us, as women. Whether that means staying home to raise your family, or being a lawyer, or cleaning toilets to feed your babies… it’s all warrior work. So use your powers for good. Help a sister out. Give each other room to breathe. This life is ROUGH, and we’re all taking turns being in the fetal position. The only thing women will ever get from me is a high five celebrating that we’re all upright today. Let us lift each other with love and loyalty.
All My Love,
Our country was born of men who longed to be free.
Men who longed to speak what was in their hearts and to worship their God, whomever they believed him to be. Men with a desire to be the master of their own destinies- to rise above their given station and build the life of their dreams.
Through much sacrifice, these great men built a bridge for all of those that would follow them. Each generation adding to their legacy. It wasn’t a perfect history by any means. Full of bumps and bruises- thousands of generations have experienced the growing pains of making a nation great. Many wars have have been fought to ensure our founders dreams were made available to ALL MEN. It’s no surprise that we are still getting there.
The beauty has been in the progress. Throughout our history, countries around the world have admired America for what she stood for. The Statue of Liberty we know was a gift from France, but few know the beautiful history about how the idea of her was conceived. It was believed to have come from not only the sculpter himself, Frédéric Bartholdi, but also a staunch abolitionist, Édouard René de Laboulaye – a passionate supporter of the Union in America’s Civil War. With the abolition of slavery and the Union’s victory in the Civil War in 1865, Laboulaye’s wishes of freedom and democracy were turning into a reality in the United States. To honor these achievements, Bartholdi and Laboulaye proposed that a gift be built for the United States on behalf of France. Both hoping that by calling attention to the recent achievements of the United States, the French people would be inspired to call for their own democracy in the face of a repressive monarchy.
So in New York Lady Liberty sits, inscribed with a poem written by Emma Lazarus, her famous words read: “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Her words would eventually give rise to the nickname: The Golden Door.
Our nations endeavors gave rise to many nicknames, such as: “Land of the Free”, “Home of the Brave”, “Land of Opportunity”. The Chinese actually call the United States of America “Mei-Guo,” which translates to “beautiful nation.”
For centuries now, Immigrants have flocked here seeking prosperity in all aspects of their life. We rejoice in adding them to our family. It’s on the backs of Immigrants that this great nation was built.
America wasn’t looked up to because our history was perfect, or because our people were perfect. We were looked up to because we learned how to overcome the obstacles that laid before us. A self reflective nation, we weren’t blind to the problems that existed, and we did the work. A messy work, no doubt. It was around the dinner table, our fore fathers talked religion, politics, theology and industry. Passionate for sure – but these men always left the table as friends.
Now, I’m not here to give you a history lesson, only to set the stage. When I look around these last several years, I can’t help but feel that “our people” have lost their way.
For more than the last couple of decades, I think its fair to say that the United States has more accurately resembled the “Divided States.” It seems like every class is at odds with someone. Gay vs Straight, Black vs White, Rich vs Poor, Immigrant vs Native, Religious vs Non Religious, Muslim vs Christian, Millenials vs Gen X, Republican vs Democrat, etc. I could go on, but it’s just sad. There isn’t a sect that isn’t at odds with someone. We all are feeling the pain of that everyday, as we see the worst of humanity on endless loop via social media. I have to tell ya, I’m on here a lot less. Can’t stomach the unkindness.
However, these past two weeks I’ve seen the tides turn, in a very literal way.
As Hurricane Harvey has wreaked it’s havoc, hundreds of thousands were displaced. Some lost everything they owned, some lost everyone they loved. Seeing the devastation down there, it’s hard to truly wrap your head around all of it, especially the very long road ahead to rebuild lives left in complete ruin.
Story after story of tragedy, heartbreak and of loss, yet here’s where beauty meets darkness in its face. Yes my friends, “our people” showed up…and they showed up HUGE. We have breathed new life into “The American Way”. Coupled with each story of tragedy, have been amazing stories of selflessness, service and love. Person after person- bringing their gifts and willing hands to save their brother or sister.
All difference was washed away with the floods, leaving only a desire to see humanity saved.
We honored the elderly, the way they should be.
and the youth were appreciated for the gifts they bring to the world.
We saw people of all races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds- taking care of one other…
Each church was represented in the service of their fellow man. All praying to the same God for help for their brothers and sisters. No thoughts of theology, just calling on the powers of heaven, united in a cause.
All were grateful for the strong arms of good men…
The strong arms of good women were equally as important.
We fed the hungry…
sheltered the homeless…
and found friendship in places we may have never looked before.
We wiped the tears of our sisters in every shade…
This is the most beautiful picture I have ever seen. This is what humanity looks like. It’s what true sisterhood looks like. It’s what love looks like.
America…this is the real us. We showed up, in the “American Way”.
We have driven thousands of miles to help strangers. We have given, even when it hurts. We have seen the best in each other in the worst possible circumstances. We have loved our neighbor as ourselves. This is the America I have always believed in, that I will always believe in. We are surrounded by goodness everyday. May we never forget our roots. Let us continue down this road of unity and love and may God BLESS AMERICA, land that I love.
I’m proud of us.