I Am Affected. And I Am Mad.

I have followed the Michael Brown/Darren Wilson story from Day 1. Before it was national news. Before the protests, the riots, the statements, the testimonies… I wrote this last night in a 5 minute frenzy of trying to collect my thoughts.
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I have a 10 year old little brother, in middle school. Yes, a 10 year old, in middle school (because he’s a smarty pants and skipped a grade). All he cares about is who is his friend today and why they might not be his friend tomorrow. And singing, and dancing, and performing. He called me this week, excited that he gets to sing the national anthem for his school’s basketball game. And the dream just expanded instantly. “Wouldn’t it be cool if I get to sing the national anthem at a NY Giants game one day?” (Giants are my favorite team, and consequently, his favorite team for the time being.)

And then last night, I thought about how someday his life could be taken just because someone else felt threatened by his mere presence. I actually thought the words “I hope he doesn’t grow up to look scary.” The thought that his life could be taken over something meaningless, and by someone who has no knowledge of his talents, hopes and dreams, really just shattered me.

And, frankly, I’m getting tired of writing these posts. I’m getting tired of being worked up over indictments and convictions that will never come. Tired of learning of another young Black Man–especially ones who are college-bound, with no criminal background–that has been shot and killed. Murdered, if we’re gonna be correct about it.

Tired of people saying that we “fake care” and want “fake justice” and that we will be talking about other things in the morning. Yeah, I will talk about other things in the morning. But I will never ever forget the history that is being made. I will never forget the action that I contributed to. I will never forget Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and countless others.

I always said that I didn’t think I would have the courage to do what so many did during the original Civil Rights Era. But now, I’m over it. I’m fed up, and I’m ready and willing. This is our Civil Rights fight now. Generation Y, the Millennials, whatever you care to call us. We’re paying attention. And, we are not letting the injustice fly.

Finding a New Normal..

My boyfriend and I broke up. We’re on good terms and everything. But, I’ve been thinking about how it’s gonna take some time for things to get back to normal. And then, I realized– I don’t know what normal is, lol. Normal for me was him making my day with a text message, checking in throughout the day to see how he’s doing, going out and doing things with him.

That was normal. Now, I have to figure out how to find a new normal.

Not saying my life revolved around the man, because it definitely didn’t. But when you’re so used to speaking to someone, seeing someone, being around them, consulting them, etc..that becomes your normal.

Everything is kinda out of whack right now. And it will be, until I find my new normal.

I think that’s the hard part of breakups. You have to figure out what you did with your life before you shared it with that person.

College…for why?

(Yes, for *why.* When it makes so little sense, you can’t apply proper grammar. For. Why?)

 

Maybe my experience is just so totally different from everyone else’s. But it’s the only experience I truly know.

I’ve always been told, “Go to college and you’ll be able to get a job that you like, or at least get a job in the area of study you spent those four years on.”

But. Here I am. An entire year and some change later… and, nope. No job in my field. And up until the beginning of this year, I was working in the same student position I had been in since my freshman year of college.

What makes it worse, is that I have friends who either didn’t finish, or didn’t go to college at all, and have better jobs than me, make more money, etc. lol. How’s that for irony?

Now, don’t get me wrong– I have a cool job, and I like it. But, I know it’s not what I went to school for. It’s not my passion. And, that’s not something I have control over.

I always tend to get frustrated when people suggest going to grad school as a solution. Umm, if school didn’t work for me the first time…WHY would I want to do the exact same thing again? C’mon. I don’t like school. I don’t want to be a professional student. I want to do something. I want to create. I need a break, a chance. But that feels like it’s not gonna happen.

I think I’m supposed to be a writer..or something. Who really knows at this point. But, I guess this is a start.

I dunno.. I feel like I got got. Went to college, put in my four years. Did more than enough internships to become “a more viable candidate…” but yet..nada!

Oop.. do I sound bitter? Hmmm, maybe..

I’m running out of ideas here.

The Butler & such…

I think The Butler was a great movie—the kind that should be made and shown to every generation. But, I think what made it such a great movie was the fact that it followed one man’s life and his interconnection to the Civil Rights movement. I loved the parallelism of his life vs. his son’s life and how they finally began to start understanding each other. The movie was very well done—totally on the long side, but every scene was relevant and further told the story.

The thing I loved most is that it did not solely focus on the black struggle during the slavery and civil rights era. Those are the movies that I tend to get annoyed with. I actually told myself that I wouldn’t be seeing any more of those movies that only focus on how bad WE were treated by THEM. I don’t have the time to live in the past like that, and get mad over something that not only cannot be changed, but will hinder me from living my life in the now.

I don’t like giving away details since everyone may not have seen it yet, but what makes The Butler movie so different from the others is that you were able to witness the black struggle while also witnessing black prosperity, in a way. This movie teaches work ethic, standing for what you believe in, etc. It doesn’t simply show Blacks getting beat up on (although some of that was in the movie as well), but that was not the focus. The focus was one man. His life. His family. And how that all managed to intertwine with the Civil Rights Movement.

Frankly, I can’t understand why everyone is feeling the need to put out movies solely focusing on the slave and civil rights era. 12 Years a Slave is definitely on my radar, and I just don’t think it’s a movie that I will be seeing. I know the history. I know it was bad. Why must we continue to focus on how bad it WAS. If anything, we should focus on how bad it still IS. Work to change that, to improve the current situation.

Knowing that race relations are much better than they previously were, but still nowhere near ideal, why continue to make movies that highlight how bad things used to be? Why get all riled up over something that happened decades ago? I just feel that these movies that constantly show the mistreatment of black people by white people are overdone. It’s time to move past the past and start on the present and the future.

Agree or disagree, that’s just my two cents.

Kamil McFadden Interview

I recently did an interview for The CW 69 with Grown Ups 2 actor, Kamil McFadden. Check it out!

Untitled..

I just saw Fruitvale Station. In light of the Zimmerman trial, my thoughts were rather heavy. I had to get them out the best way I know how, which is writing.

I’ve grown up mostly around white people. My father grew up in the projects of Harlem and was determined to allow his children a better life than the one he had. He moved us to Fayette County, GA–Peachtree City to be exact. PTC was an extremely white neighborhood, still dominated by the white majority. I remember being the only black kid in my grade, and one of four black kids in the entire middle school.

I knew I was black and I knew they were white. But it didn’t really matter to me. It didn’t seem to matter much to them either.

I knew that there were differences, but I never really knew what it meant to be black in this society. I’ve figured that out more and more in my young adult life than I ever thought possible in my tween and teen years.

I’ve realized that being black doesn’t mean simply having more melanin and being of a darker complexion. Being black in this world means some people thinking you are lesser, inferior even, sometimes. Being black means your life can be taken by another black person and no one notices. Being black means your life can be taken by someone of a different race and your murderer maybe get a year or two in prison; or may be found not guilty at all. Being black means having to try harder than everyone else to get a job, to prove yourself, to maximize your potential. Being black means having to “talk white” and “act white” in order to succeed in the world.

After Zimmerman was found not guilty, I tried to stick to the facts of the case, only arguing what I knew as evidence. But, I didn’t really voice my own opinion much. Now, I will.

When George Zimmerman was found not guilty of killing Trayvon Martin my heart dropped. I looked at the tv thinking maybe the verdict wasn’t real, then wondering if it could be appealed. I thought about my little brother, and how he’ll have to go through things that I’ve never even dreamed of, simply because he will be a man. A black man. I had to think about my male friends who have been guilty of Driving While Black. I’ve seen my own father pulled over before–not for speeding, not for running a red light. But for driving an expensive car in a nice neighborhood, late at night–and being black while doing it.

The verdict in the case did not tell me anything I didn’t already know. Instead it solidified things I’ve been told, things I failed to recognize for years. It told me that things haven’t changed as much as I thought, as much as I’d hoped. It told me that my brother’s life, and other young black men’s lives are not as valuable as some others may be.

“The system” seems to be working pretty well. We live in a society where the system is flawed and set up to get and keep black men either dead or in prison. So you can’t tell me that it’s not working well. And some black men are working with it, doing every possible thing to be profiled, to be labeled, to be the typical black man that every old white lady is scared of.

We have to do better. You can’t count on “the system” to work for you when all it’s been built to do is work against you. You can count on yourself, you can count on your community. But, you have to want it.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” -Mahatma Ghandi

Just like the guy in the film, I commend black men who are there to raise their children. Black men who are enrolling and graduating college. Black men who are working in corporate America, and are upstanding citizens of this country we live in. Give them something to commend you for. Give them a reason to think that we are just the same as anybody else, and not a people to be feared.

I know this whole post is scattered, and it probably jumps topics and doesn’t make much sense, but.. it’s out. So there it is.

From Africa to America: Mehamed’s Story

19 February 2013

Just by looking at his face, you can tell he has a story. One eye permanently closed, the other a little foggy; a nose strewn with scars; a scar from the middle to the left corner of his forehead; and one perfect smile.

Mehamed Gomez was nine, living in the Gode Region of Africa (near Ethiopia). He had no set language, and no real home, being of a nomadic people. There was no thought of technology, and most things in life for him were agriculturally based—whatever you needed, you either caught or created yourself. Gomez describes the land as “beautiful, wild and raw.”

However, the words that Gomez uses to describe his original home are the exact description of what changed his life drastically. His family was torn apart by a pack of wild hyenas. He was in need of serious medical attention when a few missionaries found him after the attack. The missionaries didn’t have the ability to give him the medical attention he needed so badly, so they arranged to have him come to the United States to treat him.

Gomez spoke no English, and couldn’t quite comprehend what was going on. He finally came to the conclusion that he would be here in America for a few weeks—just long enough to be treated, and then return home to Africa. However, he soon found out that there was nothing for him to go back to.

The host church of the missionaries had a family volunteer to have Gomez stay with them for the duration of his operation. After a few weeks, they asked him if he’d like to stay with them in America. He said he “felt loved and like I was meant to be there.”

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From this point, Gomez’s biggest challenge was learning English so he could better adjust to American culture. He said he learned a lot from the television—a concept which in itself was completely foreign to him. He said that he found technology to be fascinating. On a trip back to Africa, he failed to describe just what “technology” was to his native people. He said, “I hate this comparison, but it’s almost like Heaven. You know how you just can’t describe it until you get there for yourself? But, you know it’s great.”

Gomez shared that because birthdays were not significant in his culture, his family estimated that he was nine years old. He later found out that he was actually about 11 years old, but he still celebrates birthdays as if he was nine when he came to America.

After living here for two years, Gomez entered the public school system, in the fourth grade. He went through the motions of not truly understanding, and by sixth grade he knew and understood what school was, and was starting to do some work. “And by work, I mean, 2+2 = 4. I was so behind,” he says, as he thinks back to his middle school days. Although he was initially extremely behind, he made it through high school and is on track to graduate from the University of West Georgia this spring.

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While adjusting to the American school system originally presented itself as a challenge, making friends came easily for Gomez. The social aspect of American life, for Gomez, was easy enough to figure out. He said, “I know it was two different cultures, but I realized that all boys and girls are the same.”

The only social problem Gomez faced was the issue of being an African American from Africa. “I didn’t fit the ‘black’ stereotype. Black people would say I’m not a true Black. But I would think to myself, ‘I’m actually the truest Black.’”

Gomez used these comments to reflect on the type of person he wanted to be. He said that he concluded that he could either change who he was to conform to the ‘black’ stereotype, or he could choose to just be himself. “Who do I want to be? Do I want to fill the stereotype to make them happy, or be true to myself?” he explained.

He chose to be the person that he was born to be, and not to conform to what others expected of him. Although the answer to the question, ‘Who do I want to be?’ has not fully been answered for Gomez, he knows he wants to make a difference. When asked about his accomplishments in life, he simply said, “I know I’ve made a difference in friends’ lives, influenced them for the better. I think my real accomplishment is realizing my potential, and pursuing that.”

Gomez attends the University of West Georgia, where he studies business management. His goal is to get into graduate school as an Economics major. He wants to secure a job that will allow him the financial stability to travel back to Africa to contribute to their education system. “That’s something I am looking forward to,” he said.

Gomez said he believes that coming to America was all in God’s plan for him. Living here has given him a broad perspective of what life is about; taught him how people are the same even in different cultures; and given him an appreciation for technology, and how easy life can be. He summed up his experiences in both worlds by saying, “Even the poorest person here is richer than anyone where I was from. There was no one to give you handouts… Being born here, you are given so much. I hope to bless others as I have been blessed.”

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