Thanks, Tom

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Cognitive dissonance… it’s that uncomfortable state we experience when something we’ve been trained to believe in gets proven wrong, but we still can’t let go. 

Like when you first discovered the truth about Santa or the tooth fairy. Or the first time you admit that college isn’t necessarily the best choice for post high school. Or when you tell people that Jesus was Black. Or when a Black man is a cop assigned to keep white people safe at an anti-Black rally. 

Since the murder of Mike Brown, I have consistently wondered about what it feels like to be a Black cop in Amerikkka because in my mind “Black cop” is an oxymoron. 

When Black people are the most common targets of racial profiling and police brutality, how does someone grapple with being Black in blue? 

That’s one of the first questions I had when this guy took coffee out to the National Guard as they were stationed on the streets of riot filled 1967 Detroit. 

There was a moving scene where he uses his uniform privilege to rescue a Black teen who was caught outside after curfew. The teen was anything but grateful because he had clearly decided he was ready to go toe to toe with the officers. 

After the Black US Marshall walked him into safety, the teen looked at him with contempt and said “Thanks, Tom.” Alluding to “Uncle Tom” the catchall term used for Black people who are knowingly pandering to white people. 

This Black Marshall needed a job. The 1960s were hard for Black people. No one blames him for trying to provide for his family. But when and where do we draw the line? When do we decide to put our Blackness back in front and say no to participating in the demise of our people?

The guy in the film watched these white officers torture, brutalize, torment and murder young Black men and still was on their side. It wasn’t until he became their victim that he rethought his stance. This is him being interrogated as a suspect for the crimes he watched. I felt everything but sorry for him. 

How many stories of Black officers being shot at or treated harshly when they were out of uniform do we need before we acknowledge that a seat at the table doesn’t help if it isn’t your own table?

Sitting at the table with your oppressor doesn’t mean you’re welcome there. See how dumb that logic is? More Black police officers doesn’t mean more opportunities for justice. It means more Black people positioned against their people. 

#OhCAE, I’m done for now. 

You’re Already Black Enough 

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Two years ago, I went on a prilgramage through Israel. I walked on land I’ve read about all my life. I stood in places that I had only imagined. I was baptized in the Jordan, took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee while listening to “How Great Is Our God” and I swam in the Dead Sea. The entire experience was life altering. Some memories are recorded here on my blog, some are pictured on Facebook, but there’s one I haven’t wanted to share until now. 

Picture it Israel 2015…

It was around 75 degrees outside and kinda cloudy so not exactly why I’d consider swimming weather, but I definitely didn’t want to come all the way to the Dead Sea and not get in! I’m the queen of just doing stuff to say that I did it. (A blog all by itself!) 

But I didn’t wanna just do it for the fun of it. We were told that the sea is dead because it’s so salty that it kills any species of animal that tries to live in it. It also has so many minerals in the thick clay textured mud at the bottom of the sea that acts as an exfoliant. 

So here I am swimming and playing in the sea just enjoying my life. 

And I noticed that people are putting the mud on their bodies. They have it on their arms, legs and faces. I hear them talking about how good it feels! So naturally, I have to join in. I’m not gonna miss an experience! (Especially since I’d already had a great olive scrub facial days before.) 

So I joined in the fun! I could barely stand in the mud. It was so thick and sticky, but each scoop felt amazing in my hands and I loved how it felt on my skin. I knew I looked as hilarious and childlike as everyone else so I had a friend snap a pic. 


I got back in the water and that’s when he said it. “Claricha, you don’t need that. You’re already Black enough.”


(I wish this guy was Black, btw.)

I didn’t even know how to respond to that. I didn’t even know if it was really happening. Before I could gather my spinning thoughts of “Did he just say?” “Lord, I know You don’t want me to go off in the middle of the Dead Sea!” “He really said that to me? To me?!” he had gleefully swam away. 

That night I sought counsel from a female Black pastor who I’d bonded with on the trip. She helped me come up with a script so that I could address the statement and the next morning I delivered. 

But here I am two years later, to the day, still stunned by how easily those words flowed from his mouth and how LEGITIMATELY shocked he was by my offense to the statement. He had no idea it sounded racist until I told him. 

As a young person, I know how to relate to seasoned people. As a woman, I know how to be successful in a man’s world. As a Black person, I know how to live in a Whitewashed culture.

The opposite is rarely true. Privileged people are privileged because they have the luxury of living life without ever considering  how their words and actions could be perceived by people in other groups. 

This is just another example of why it’s sometimes a hard choice live life as a Black Christian. Church culture and Christianity don’t shield us from the unintentional and intentional traumatic Anti-Black or racist acts/words. 

OhCAE… I’m done. 

I Know You Probably Believe That

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OhCAE, y’all. I’m just gonna sum this one up before I really get into it. Sometimes you just have to let people live in their reality. 

I know it’s annoying when people hold certain beliefs, but you have to know those thoughts come from somewhere. And sometimes you just have to be content with living contrary to their beliefs. 

Octavia Spencer’s character, Dorothy Vaughn, in Hidden Figures was undoubtedly my  favorite. Not only was the epitome of “Each one reach one” with her refusal to take a promotion if her whole squad couldn’t come because she took it upon herself to teach them what she taught herself. 


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But she also didn’t have a problem letting people just live with their thoughts.

In the scene where Dorothy was in the bathroom with the white lady, who had been a stereotypical white lady throughout the whole movie, 

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Mrs. Mitchell said to her “You know, Dorothy, despite what you may think I have nothing against y’all.”

Dorothy stops mid stride turns around and with a gentle smile she responds, “I know. And I know you probably believe that.” 


(☝🏾☝🏾 actual picture of me and my friends when she said that. lol)

But seriously though, Dorothy’s response just sits with me. It’s exactly how I want to respond every time I hear a white person say “I’m not a racist but…” Like… Yes, you are but I’ll just let you live because white supremacy and anti-Blackness are so tightly woven into the fabric of our global society that people think their sentiments are normal. They believe that they’re one of the good ones because they’ve never physically harmed anyone. They have no idea how their unwillingness to see how they’ve participated in blocking opportunities for POC and all of their other microaggreessive acts are racist. 

I spend a lot of time trying to educate and spread knowledge to ignorant people, but I’m taking a page from Mrs. Vaughn’s book that is summed up by this profound lyric…

Let people live with their delusions. Provide the counternarrative with your life. 

OhCAE?!

Melanin = Dangerous

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Once I was in the pool at my apartment complex with my friends. There was a group of guys across from us standing around talking. We weren’t paying attention until one of them said “Swear to God, you never tried coke before?” The others also seemed shocked that the guy they were talking to had never tried it.
This came to mind as I read comments about #ChristianTaylor wasn’t just a regular college student because he was clearly on drugs. He was a law breaking thug.
I lived a relatively kosher life as a college student, but still was very aware of the ease at which I could get access to anything. Maybe I was just a potential thug.

Or maybe we just really have an issue with prescribing specific labels to only Black people. 

OhCAE. I’m done. No need to go too deep with this one. 

Dear All Lives Matter

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Dear All Lives Matter,

The schools of Detroit Public Schools (DPS) are being stripped. The teachers are being forced out and being made to look like the villains. Before you know it, DPS won’t exist. Children are being forced to go to schools that don’t have heat, updated books, or enough certified teachers to teach. Everyone knows that a quality education is one of the prerequisites to a successful life. The lives of those children matter because all lives matter.

You might have heard about the Sick Outs, but just in case you haven’t let me catch you up. DPS teachers are calling in sick, in droves. So many are calling in because they really are sick. They’re sick of losing their benefits. They’re sick of taking paycuts. They’re sick of having to teach 40 students per class. They are sick of losing funding. They are sick of being blamed for the failing system. They are sick of knowing that their school district is being intentionally and systematically dismantled by the institution that claims to be supporting them, the state. They are sick of not being able to live lives like people with full time jobs. Their lives and livelihoods matter because all lives matter. So yea, they’re sick, but probably not as sick as our neighbors in Flint.

I know you know about the genocide poisoning unfortunate event that is the lead filled water that’s plaguing the city of Flint. So far, only ten people have died. You and I know that even ten is too many because all lives matter. Different organizations are working together to donate bottled water to the citizens of Flint. This needs to happen because city officials have officially declared that the brown colored water is safe to drink and bathe in.

Detroit and Flint used to be heavily populated cities. They attracted lots of people in decades past because so many jobs were available in car plants. Over the years, the jobs were moved to the suburbs, but the people (who couldn’t afford to move) stayed. Schools are funded based on the property values of the homes surrounding the schools. If neighborhoods are poor so are the schools. Poor schools lose resources and materials. Then, class sizes increase and test scores decrease. The government uses the test information as proof that the teachers, administrators and school board are inept and the solution is for the state to take over. This happened in both Detroit and Flint.

I could say more, but I want this message to reach the people it’s intended to reach before I divulge more details about the crimes being committed against Black people of color  poor people citizens of Michigan so please send this to the leaders of All Lives Matter of Michigan.

Fundamentally, we agree. All lives matter. The way we show that is different though. Let’s meet and discuss this.

Peace,

CAE

P.S. Please tell the modern day slave auctioneers who break up families  Child Protective Services (CPS) that it isn’t ok for them to come and take citizens of Flint’s children because they are refusing to pay water bills for polluted water.

  

Kanye, It’s Not Just George Bush

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“In 2011, more than half of the children entering foster care in the U.S. were children of color.
Black or African American children are disproportionately more likely than other children to be reported, investigated, substantiated, and placed in foster care.
Twenty-seven percent of the children in foster care are African American, double the percent of African American children in the population in America.
Children of color, especially black children, and often American Indian children, face significant disparity within the child welfare system. They are more likely to have longer placements in out-of-home care, are less likely to receive comprehensive services, and are less likely to reunify with their families than white children.” (I can’t find the exact source of this quote, but it comes from this site which focuses on defending the rights of children.)

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I had this one professor who always talked about her children. She talked about her four “homegrown” children as well as her four adopted children. From the way she described their relationships, she loved them all the same.
She is white. Some of her adopted children are not. She has a sister who could not conceive so she too opted to adopt. She told us that her mother loves all of their children, but when she introduces them to others she makes sure to differentiate between her biological grandchildren and adopted ones. It doesn’t bother her much, but her sister hates it.
Of all the children they adopted between the two of them, seven, none of them are Black. And according to her this was on purpose.
She said that she would love them just the same as she does the ones she birthed. She would have held them to the same standards as her other children without question. So I had to know why she had not adopted any Black kids because according to the stats, there’s a much larger pool.

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The answer was simple, although she’d love them wholly, her mother wouldn’t.
Families like this can help us to shine the light on a problem we try desperately to ignore. Americans, on the whole, don’t like Black people.

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Do you think I’m being too harsh when I say that?
Well… Let’s take the lesbian couple that made a big splash earlier this year when they sued a sperm bank because they got the wrong sperm. One of the partners was impregnated and they wanted the children to be biologically related to each other and for one to be related to each of the partners. So they contacted the bank so that the other partner could get impregnated with sperm from the same man, but they found out it had been mislabeled and the sperm they had received came from a Black man. According to what I’ve read, they totally love their biracial baby, but they are upset because 1. That’s not what they paid for. 2. Now they have to move because they know their rural town is not going to accept a Black child and they want to be around ppl who can help with things like her hair and culture…
#Pause you’re telling me that this close minded community accepts a lesbian couple, but will have problems with a biracial child?

Ok. Maybe you’re still not convinced.
You do know that the KKK still exists, right?
You do know that White people are more likely to use and possess illegal drugs, but people of color are more likely to be in prison for it?
You do know that White on White, Latino on Latino, any race on that race crime is just prevalent as Black on Black crime, right? But “Black on Black Crime” is the only one that is a term that you actually hear.

If you don’t believe me still just go on Facebook and read the comments on any article or video about race. The trolls will show you that racism is alive and thriving and that Black people are often the target.

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Here’s an entire article dedicated to showing how White SUSPECTS are treated better by media than Black VICTIMS.
We have to stop denying the existence of the prevalence of negative thoughts about Black people. Our communities are suffering. Our country is suffering. Our children are suffering. Shine the light on this issue so that we can deal with it. Too many babies have been born into families that courts deem unfit for raising them. Let’s give them a fighting chance and adopt them. Give them a home. You’ve seen the horrifying statistics and when these kids age out of the system, the stats say that things only get worse for them. Be the change. Share the love. Adopt a child.

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What do Malcolm X, John Lewis and The Maze Runner have in common?

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What do Malcolm X, Congressman John Lewis and the new movie The Maze Runner have in common?

Well, the first two seem obvious. They are both well known leaders of the Civil Rights Era. How do they connect to that movie though? Take a moment to think about it…

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OhCAE. You give up?

First, have you seen The Maze Runner? No? OhCAE. Let me tell you a little about it without spoiling it. There’s a whole bunch of boys who found themselves in this place and they’ve created their own society because they’re sure there is no way out. They have two guys run through the maze every day to possibly find new pathways that might get them out. A new guy, Thomas, comes in and he is convinced that there has to be a way. The others who had been there tell him to just follow the rules that the society has set up and he’ll be safe. Don’t rock the boat and the people who put them there would continue to supply them with their food and supplies every month. But he couldn’t take it. He really wanted out. So Thomas broke the rules because he was desperate to have a life that he knew was better.

Does that little synopsis help connect the pictures? No? OhCAE. Stick with me.

Congressman John Lewis is well known for his bravery when he faced the police on Bloody Sunday in Selma, Al in 1965. If you don’t know anything about it, google it, but its name can give you the picture that it wasn’t pretty. I heard John Lewis speak twice this year and both times he talked about how he found the courage to do what he did. Both times he said that he knew he was going to get in trouble, but it was good trouble, necessary trouble so that they could change the world.

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“Find a way to get in the way…” That has been quietly replaying in my mind since I heard it the first time and it YELLED at me when I saw The Maze Runner and the quote and the movie combined made me think of when I read a quote by Malcolm X when he said

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The boys who had been stuck built a society where they relied on and completely trusted their oppressors. They trusted them so much that they were angry when the new guy came and found a way to get into trouble, necessary trouble and he changed their world. He had a clear understanding of who the oppressors were and even though they offered them a satisfactory life he wasn’t satisfied because he knew there was more available. He had to go against the grain and break out of the relationship with the people who had put him in that desolate place.
Once he started others joined and most of them made it out.

Malcolm X makes a good point because we can be manipulated into trusting in something that’s relegating us to a position much lower than we were designed to be. Once we recognize the oppressor John Lewis encourages us to get in their way. Once we recognize the oppressor and get in the way like Thomas did we can gain the respect and support of others to change the world.

OhCAE. I’m done.