I’m Exhausted…

Being a woman is hard. Being a Black woman is hella hard. As women, sometimes we have to fear for the safety of our person. As Black women we balance that fear with the knowledge that our Brown skins has been weaponized and we are responsible for the carnage in its wake. We understand and are socialized to this mortal imperative. Women must stay vigilant and on alert. We must protect our person from a scary world that may want to harm what they find vulnerable. Oh the energy needed to always be alert…

I’m exhausted. Being a mother of beautiful Black sons is the most rewarding and terrifying job I’ve ever had. It’s said, to be a mother is to live with your heart outside your chest.

Mother and son.

We are one.

We are ever connected by an ethereal tether supplying love and life to both our beings. I’ve multiplied and my person has expanded, my heart carries my heartbeat. The fear for my person has also multiplied and expanded.

It’s imperative I remain vigilant and alert of my person at all times, on guard and on standby for the persons that carry my heart.

My charge is important, this mission is life or death. Truth is there’s a frightening world that often seeks to attack or silence me because the unheard will always be vulnerable and worse invisible.

Im exhausted. I expend copious amounts of energy; mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally to protect my person, and the persons that carry my heart. I’m a human shield strategically placed to cover their vital organs of identity, efficacy, and affirmation until their rite of passage is complete.

While simultaneously shielding and building I mustn’t seem angry or out of place. I’m expected to excel professionally and personally because I’m “magical”. BLACK GIRL MAGIC!! It is a powerful gift and often my curse.

I must work!! I must be diligent in educating my sons about who they are, from whom they descend, to be polite, guide them, allow autonomy, require accountable, how to move slowly, not scare law enforcement, be mindful of anger in public, be strong but not a hero, please don’t look threatening. Remember our first rule “Make it home to mama, let me fight the battles”.

I’m exhausted. Just a little rest…No, I have no time. I must attend every protest, coordinate every boycott and temper my passion because the justified outrage of my oppression isn’t palatable.

My body and mind used as currency. Societal scabs and scars are the price of freedom, and the cost of living drags me hogtied behind its Ford pickup of Justice, Supremacy and American Way.

I’m exhausted, often broken or bruised. Diagnosed with the terminal disease Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome, I’m dismissed for acknowledging my pain while being blamed for having it. I want to rest, but I can’t because I’m magic. I’m a STRONG BLACK WOMAN. It’s the heaviest and most debilitating symptom of my condition.

I’m exhausted, but I must remain vigilant and alert. It is necessary to be aware of my person at all times. I am on guard and at the ready for the persons that carry my heart. There’s a freighting and evil world waiting for us. Lurking constantly, attacking confidently because there is no justice for the invisible, expendable, and criminal.

I’m exhausted. To be African-American is to be African without the memories and American without the privileges. It’s to collectively live at war with the most basic of privileges; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I’m exhausted.

Signed

-A Dream Not Deferred

-The Tenth He Mentioned

-The Result of Fannie Being Sick and Tired

D. R. Daughters

Colorblind: “the social faux pas”

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In today’s society the idea of diversity and inclusion is often followed with rhetoric of “colorblindness” or cultural sensitivity. The idea that we are all the same and used race to separate us.  And while the social construction of race has been used as a divisive tool for grouping and categorizing our neighbor, the idea of being colorblind, to me, is almost as offensive as calling me a derogatory word. How boring would it be to look out into nature and see all the flowers the same color because they are flowers?  You would miss raging red roses, dancing daffodils, and ostentatious orchids.  This same concept goes for the human race. I don’t need anyone to be sensitive to my beautifully-sun-kissed skin.  I don’t need  your approval of my culture or my heritage.  Don’t be sensitive or tolerant of my blackness, respect it.

Becoming a Diversity Specialist has come with the unique task of creating a Cultural Competency Training Module.  It’s required research abound and rewrites a plenty.  The many documents, journals, studies, and presentations on the subject has made one salient idea clear; no one knows it all.  There are many theories on how to teach people to simply “interact”.  Popular ones are “Cultural Sensitivity Training”, “Cultural Competency Training”, “Diversity Training”, “Multicultural Training”, etc.  Below are examples of a few:

Cultural Sensitivity is being aware that cultural differences and similarities between people exist without assigning them a value- positive or negative, better or worse, right or wrong” (Dabbah http://redshoemovement.com/what-is-cultural-sensitivity/)

This theory sounds like tolerance.  If in a world of beautifully diverse people we can only deem ourselves “tolerant” will we each reach inclusivity. “Don’t be sensitive to my Black, respect it”.  Sensitivity training conveys the message that you need to coddle those different than you.  It allows for an undertone of hierarchy because it gives each individual the ability to play “Cultural God”.  In essesnce to be conscious of others but “don’t play favorites”.  It is inaccurate and would inevitably cause cognitive dissonance.  Autonomy and value systems afford us the right to decide if we do or do not like something.  Discrimination, to treat differently, is the ultimate “faux paus”.  Prejudice, preconceived opinion, even worse than the former because you’ve assigned judgment or guilt without knowledge or upon biased opinion.

So then what’s next?

Cultural competence involves understanding and appropriately responding to the unique combination of cultural variables—including ability, age, beliefs, ethnicity, experience, gender, gender identity, linguistic background, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status—that the professional and client/patient bring to interactions.” (http://www.asha.org/Practice-Portal/Professional-Issues/Cultural-Competence/)

There is not concrete-all-encompassing definition for the word “Cultural Competency”.  Many trainings take place across America, and even the world, and there is no centralized definition for the word.  Each institution gets to ascribe their own précising definition to the term.  Also, since there is not standard on which the training must be built, and they are all different, how then could anyone be certified as being “culturally competent”?  If you take a training at a Alabama State University and leave to work for Arkansas State University your “Cultural Competency Training” does not follow you.  No one person can deem anyone fully competent.  It is not transferable like a degree or scholastic certification.  So, how can effectiveness be measured?

The word competence is defined as “the ability to do something successfully or efficiently”. In a world as vast as ours, how would anyone ever train or teach someone to respond “appropriately responding to the unique combination of cultural variables”.  It would be a never ending task and learning process.  One would need to spend so much time learning everything about everyone the practice of the learning would never take place.

Over the course of my research the concept of which I’ve fallen most enamored is Cultural Humility.

Cultural humility is the “ability to maintain an interpersonal stance that is other-oriented (or open to the other) in relation to aspects of cultural identity that are most important to the [person].[1]” Cultural humility is different from other culturally-based training ideals because it focuses on self-humility rather than achieving a state of knowledge or awareness. “ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_humility)

The concept of this theory or training is simply. “I bow to you.  I acknowledge I do not know everything about you or your culture and I am will to learn”. It is an openness to understanding “the other”.

Cultural humility was formed in the physical healthcare field and adapted for therapists and social workers to increase the quality of their interactions with clients and community members.”  This idea not only allows for objectivity but enlightenment.  There is no certificate to be received upon completion or adoption of this principle, only the reassurance that you are headed in the correct direction and respect of your fellow man.

The charge here is simple.  In a culture shaped by divisive rhetoric and distain for “the other”, take time to acknowledge change first starts within.  Make efforts to push past your own biases.

  1. Utilize tools to help with this such as the Harvard Implict Bias test. https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html
  2. Take Action. Seek people who run counter to stereotypic views, increase contact with people outside your own demographics, and try to think of things from the perspective of others.
  3. Be Accountable. When confronted with bias, take the time to examine your actions or beliefs. Think of how you would explicitly justify them to other people.

 

(http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/implicit-bias-2016.pdf)

 

Remember that silence is collusion. If you hear something you know to be wrong and you do not address it, you are complicit in the act. Elie Weisel said, “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

Do not be colorblind.  Do not see us all the same.  Examine the beauty and the depth of each individual person and culture.  Look past the primary dimensions of diversity and be willing to be culturally humbled at the creatively crafted cornucopia that is the human race.

D.R. Daughters

THE COLLECTIVE

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It is easy to say “God is ever-present”, “God is in control”, “He is my rock”, “Ye thou I walk”, and every other scripture, song, or saying that has been repeated and engrained in you for years. It is a far harder thing to continue looking your child in the face who looks like Emmett Till, Trayvon Martin, and Michael Brown and not be overwhelmed with fear and hurt. I truly feel saddened and confused. I wasn’t even listening to the news or radio this morning when it hit me. I began to cry uncontrollably. My heart ached. I felt the pain of a people in my core. I knew it was not just mine, it was too heavy. I was hit with a collective burst of confusion, hurt, sadness and anger of a state, a nation, the world. It floored me. When I could finally breathe and had just a moment of clarity the only thing that came out of my mouth was “My God!!!”. This wasn’t a question, a statement, a praise. It was a cry for help. I knew in using only the words “My God” He heard me say “help me Lord”, “restore, oh God”, “touch Father”, “move Lord”. Then I remembered why I say, “God is ever-present”, God is in control”, “He is my rock” and every other scripture, song or saying…. I do firmly, boldly, and with an unbridled faith declare; “I believe if OUR community came together more, and with as much enthusiasm, passion and the longing for changing, as we do to protest, to just PRAY, I know there would be an amazing, and astonishing change in the atmosphere. “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am in the midst.”(Matt 18:20) Right now we come together Sundays, when angry, ect. Our collective “Prayer Network Coverage Map” looks like Sprint service. It’s real pink on the east coast, spots of pink in the Midwest, a little coverage down south. and then large gaps of nothing. Last night there were protest and vigils held as far as England, Australia and more for something and someone that happened in Ferguson, MO. This proves we are connected. ALL OF US, as a whole, one collective body!! Cry that your brother, shot your brother…Own them both (Michael and the policeman) or you are no different that him. Mourn your brother, yell in confusion of racism, feel empathy, and sympathy… but above all PRAY, PRAY WITHOUT CEASING and with expectation!! #MichaelBrown #pray #learn #lean #trustGodpraying

The Awakening

I died so spiritually and was awakened so sinfully
I was covered in lust and bound by transgressions
I yearned unceasingly
I wanted unyieldingly
My thoughts roamed incessantly
This feeling lingered relentlessly

I was awake and alive and so consciously dead
Unhealthy and unhelpful but the ending I do dread

Like a sweet, numbing poison I drink to my death with a smile
Justifying my actions with my feminine wiles

It’s electric, magnetic,  intelligent and rude
It’s passionate,  sexy,  and erotically crude
Damn You!

Hurt….

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I HURT….I LOVED

If I plucked a rose what would it say
Would it tell me you  love me
Or a harsh truth Ive tried to delay
Am I “Waiting for Godot”
Is my patience in vain?
While I wait and it hurts
Did you notice my pain
Did my love not hold…
Was my heart not enough?
My tears feel so heavy
My heart feels so rough
I feel burdened and broken,
Raw and exposed
My essence uncovered
My soul is unclothed,
I loved wholly and fully
With an unmitigated audacity…
My hurt fuels my anger like a never-ending stream
So loud, so hot, like flaming coals that scream
Unabashed is my hatred
Unbridled is my anger
Hurt completely….I loved!!!!!
-D.R.. Daughters