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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Enough will never be... Enough.

Another day. Another week. Another month. Another unarmed black man... murdered. Before this continues, let me start off by disclaiming this is ONLY my opinion (some points are supported by actual facts), but this by no means is geared towards changing your mind on anything that is written in this post. My goal is to open your eyes where you may have been afraid to, even if only during the time you're reading this (for which I am appreciative if you make it to the end of this).
My warning to you... this may be intense.
Unless you've been living under a fairly large rock or purposely avoiding the news lately, a 49ers quarterback has been, for lack of a better phrase, "stirring the pot". Yes, I purposely left his name out for the mere fact that if you actually read the name, you'd stop reading the post.
<< method to madness, please continue >>
It's popped up quite a bit on my social media feeds over the last few weeks which warranted a response with this blog post. I can promise you this...  I won't be offended if you don't agree with what is written below, but so long as you keep an open mind, we'll both get something out of it.

For Real This Time...
We can't deny the following: A conversation has been sparked. A conversation has begun. A conversation needs to continue. You know what's missing from this conversation? Compassion, understanding and the removal of anger as to what he's doing being replaced with the genuine curiosity as to why he's doing it. If I may, why has society become SO "angry" when he decided not to stand for the national anthem? Why does it make society so uncomfortable that a man of color deciding to make a statement in the most peaceful way possible make the masses "uneasy"? Please disregard the fact he's half white and was raised by white parents, it does not take away from the fact he's still viewed as a black man. It does takes away from the core issue here, which is the injustice that so many people have subconsciously/unconsciously ignored.

I feel this strong need to join the conversation, and perhaps maybe start one with you. I want to do my best in answering some of the questions/statements I've seen on my feeds. I hope being who I am can shed a little perspective from the viewpoint of someone you know. Even if you don't know me personally, I hope I can emit some light on an incredibly dim situation.

What is he actually protesting against?
The protest is against the police brutality against those of color that has been occurring in recent days/weeks/months (but has been going on for generations, but that's besides the point). It's not about the flag. It's not to say all cops are bad. We know they're not, but hat isn't the point. When someone of color is murdered by an officer of the law on film, the case goes to trial (or in other cases it gets thrown out), and the officer in question is placed on paid administrative leave, the response shouldn't entail "All Lives Matter". We get that, but again, that's not the point either.

Just as a reference point (told you... facts), for those who may be thinking there is blatant disrespect to the anthem and what it stands for, here is a stanza from the Star Spangled Banner that may or may not have been the "tipping point" for what sparked this conversation/controversy...

No refuge could save 
The hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, 

Or the gloom of the grave:...

If you are unsure of what this particular stanza actually means, it glorifies slavery in the worst way. Granted it is no longer a part of the anthem that is sung, but just because it's not sung does not mean it doesn't exist. So when Mr. 49ers QB decides "enough is enough" and takes a knee, quietly (which by the way, he had done a couple of weeks before anyone noticed), it bothers so many people. Why?
But so much progress has been made, why is this such a big deal?
You know something? You are right. A great deal of progress has been made, but when a woman is killed in custody because of a broken tail light, a man is killed for selling CDs in front a convenient store, a man's car has broken down, he has his hands up, he's unarmed and he's murdered, unfortunately, a large amount of that "progress" goes to shit.

You may (as well as are entitled to) believe what you'd like to and continue to think that racism doesn't exist but it's hard to not believe the facts that are presented. Sure, some of you may be saying/thinking, "Well, he didn't comply with the law." "He should've done what was asked of him." "We don't know what happened up to that point." All valid points. You know what else is valid within these points? Murder. You have to admit, it's hard to argue that. And yet, the fact that so many people are in actuality arguing against this point... THAT makes it a "big deal".

Why now? What's the point?
There will never be a perfect time to deal with anything that makes society uncomfortable. Change, of any kind, can be a scary thing and when people are pushed beyond their comfort zones, one of two things can happen: change or regression. I'm not sure about you, but I am beyond heartbroken to continue to read/watch/hear the news of yet another black male who was unarmed and murdered by an authoritative figure for reasons that will never make sense. I am beyond heart broken that when people of color are telling to society to "Stop Killing Us" and the response is "But...". I'm beyond heart broken to see the grainy cell phone video of someone's father, brother, uncle, son murdered for reasons my brain will never comprehend. So you ask, "Why now?" My response, "why NOT now?"

Again, let me apologize for the insertion of yet another disclaimer, but I want to keep reminding those of you that have made it this far in reading this post this is how I'm currently feeling about everything that has been going on. And before the rebuttals begin with all of the gusto about race, socioeconomic status of Mr. 49ers QB or the fact that you think he's being an " ungrateful brat", hear me out.

I have friends / family in the military, past and present (& I'm sure at some point, the future). I also have friends / family who are in law enforcement. They are great people and would trust them with my life. I, for many years, have stood when the anthem was being played. Even at home, unless I really really REALLY had to pee, I was standing for the anthem. I didn't think twice about it. It's just what I've always done.

Then here comes Mr. 49ers QB and this idea of not standing. I'll admit, I was a little thrown off by it as I'm sure many of you were as well. I, too thought it was disrespectful to the values of this country, but the devil's advocate in me thought "Well, he has the right to protest how a certain demographic is being treated, does he not?". Then I did some research as to WHY he took a knee.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong (no, seriously, please do), doesn't the first amendment afford him this right to take a knee, peacefully? He's a citizen of this country who has exercised his right to free speech (or in this case, not to speak), yet... his peaceful protest is a problem. He could've rioted, marched, used his celebrity status to voice some choice words that would've sparked national outrage. He took a knee, quietly... and that's what sparked the "outrage". It's no disrespect to those who have put their lives on the line so that he may be afforded these freedoms. However, when his black counterparts are being murdered without any form of justice, I ask with the utmost sincerity, where does the "disrespect" really come into play?

When our founders were constructing the constitution and the freedoms of its people, they were not for all men to be created equal under God. Sure, it's a nice notion, but let's keep it 100 here. These were written at the HEIGHT of slavery. Can you, in good faith, honestly believe that a black man living in this country thinks he has the exact same freedoms that are afforded to his white peers when he's followed in a store? Wearing a hoodie? Holding his hands up and informing law enforcement that he is a medical professional trying to help his patient, but is still shot anyway? I sure don't, and I can't imagine that you honestly believe that either.

I'm going to be brutally honest here. If you are not a person of color, have not experienced what it feels/fears like to be a person of color in this country, there is no way to fully comprehend what's going on. And you know something? That's okay! Seriously, it's okay. Most people of color aren't looking for your understanding. We are looking for your compassion, acknowledgment and comprehension of the severity of what's been occurring to our people for generations.

If I may provide an example that could provide a legitimate example as to what's happening. Imagine you're Jewish and someone tells you "the Holocaust" never happened. 6 million people weren't murdered. Families weren't ripped apart at the seams and Hitler wasn't as bad of a guy history made him out to be... it's the same thing! The evidence proved that this atrocity actually happened and to this day, people will still question it's validity. Sound familiar?

So when we say "Black Lives Matter", it means we matter too. Our ancestors paved a road drenched in blood, doused in tears, and for what? To be murdered with our hands up by those who took an oath to protect us? You can feel the tears flowing from their graves knowing this isn't what they fought for...

Frederick led the anti-slavery movement. Toussant led a revolt against slavery. Rosa sat in the front of the bus. Malcolm preached of equality and peace. They, along with many others, all mattered. Their lives mattered. The lives of the Sandra Blands, the Alton Sterlings, the Treyvon Martins... they ALL mattered. You can continue to express the notion of "All Lives Matter. The first amendment affords you that right, but understand this... All Lives Will Matter When Black Lives Do. It's that simple.

I am aware I may not have hit on all points you may have thought I would have with this blog post. There was so much more I wanted to write, but enough is enough, in more ways than one. I am open to any conversation you'd want to have with me regarding this. I am not here to fight / argue / change the beliefs of any who reads this. I am merely writing this as a means of release for myself, for anyone else who's heart may be hurting but didn't know how to express the pain they may be feeling, for any exchange of peaceful dialogue... or none at all. My hope is there will be a continuing of conversations and the coming of some understanding of what it could feel like to be on the other side of all of this... whatever that may look like to you. 

I wish I knew who drew this. What a horrifically powerful drawing...
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope this has, in some way, opened your eyes. If it didn't, that is okay too. Again, this isn't meant to have you agree with what was written. You've done more than you know just by making it to the end of this post. That,... is a start xoxox

Monday, June 13, 2016

It's About Being A Human... Period.

Stuck... just stuck. Between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Please understand this... if you continue to read this (which I hope you will), this will only give you a window from one perspective... mine. These are not super solid facts, but they are rooted mostly in common sense, and since this has been weighing heavily on my heart, a blog post was the only way I could see to express what was in it.
this... so accurate

It's difficult to not go online and see what people are saying/posting, especially after the horrific events that occurred in Orlando this past weekend. You try to avoid it, but one post leads to another, one click leads you to another link, and another link... you get it. The outpouring of love, support that has stemmed from this makes my heart smile (slightly) through this tragedy. But with everything else in this world, with the good comes the ugly... the REAL ugly. When a presidential nominee (might have thrown up in my mouth a little bit writing that) responds to a tragedy with "appreciate the congrats", my first thought is "is he serious? no, for real... is he FUCKIN serious?" I'm not apologetic for dropping the F bomb here. It's BEYOND necessary. Or when I see friends' post that they're afraid to go to Pride celebrations because they're fearful of their lives. Or friends sending me text messages asking me to stay home while expressing the mind numbing terror that is surging through their souls, this would explain why my heart only smiled "slightly" and that didn't last long.

When trying to make sense of it, I can't. There is nothing about it that makes sense. I ask so many questions to myself that look/sound like: "what would make someone do something this horrible?" "where did all of that hate come from?" "Are you not exhausted from hating something/someone you don't understand?" Maybe the real questions are: What is it about the Gay / Lesbian world that makes you so uncomfortable? Is it because it goes against your norm? Is it because you think it's wrong? And please refrain from throwing bible verses at me. In no way does it say that Jesus' love for me has limitations/perimeters on it because I'm a woman who loves a woman.
I mean, seriously! Explain that to me, please... don't worry, I'll wait!

Now, for a moment, if you could do me a huge favor and imagine this. You are living your life, job, bills, friends... not a "care" in the world and then... there they are. The love of your life. The one you want to spend the rest of your life with. Now, imagine your love for them is looked at as an abomination. Extreme right? The world judges you, makes endless negative comments towards how you love this one person, but you're confused because it doesn't directly affect them in any way. Your lives are also threatened because of who you love. Now, again, imagine if you lived in a world where if loving a man was wrong because you're a woman? What if, as a woman, you couldn't hold your man's hand in public, or worse, you couldn't marry him? *gasp* Changes the game, doesn't it? Now I ask Why should it be any different for me? I'm human, just like you. I do my best to be a contributing member of society, like you. I don't break any (of the good) laws, and I may throw a few sarcastic remarks here and there. I just want to make those around me smile, so why can't I love who I want to love? And above all WHY do you care so much? Your relationship with your man doesn't affect mine with my lady, why does it really matter? The heartbreaking point I'm trying to make with this, my girlfriend and I are already iffy about holding hands in public because of how we'll be perceived by others and whether or not we'll make YOU uncomfortable (sad isn't it?). Sadly, the events in Orlando will, for sure, cement this feeling further. It shouldn't but it will... also heartbreaking.

In continuing this heartbreak, when I read posts (I told y'all it's so hard not to) talk about the "gay agenda". My first thought was, "you can't be serious, right?" but you are, with every fiber in your being, you believe in that as much as you did when you were little and thought Santa left those gifts under the tree for you (sorry to break y'all's hearts if you thought he still existed). In the event no one has cleared up this "misunderstanding" for you, let me be the first to tell you it's not an agenda. It's the way of life you have the ability/opportunity/privilege to live every day, without question, without ridicule, without judgement but because I love a woman, it's an "agenda"? Please oh please put that mess in the trash with the rest of your inhumane ideals of what life "should" be. Of course, you are entitled to think/feel/say what you want, but understand this. If you think that love & acceptance should come with restrictions to suit your comfort level(s), you're doing the adult thing ALL wrong.

What puts this on another level of sadness is in about a month's time, we will be on to the next "story". This will be obsolete until the year anniversary comes up, and the media feels some type of ridiculous obligation to mention the tragedy and any "updates" (spoiler alert: there won't be any) on gun laws, and how the LGBTQA community is dealing with this a year later.... blah blah freaking BLAH! Every day, I try to be a beacon of positivity. Some days are better than others, plus it can't happen all of the time, because that's not realistic. I do what I can to see the silver lining in every situation. Honestly, this is a vicious cycle. The same pattern will continue, nothing will change and situations as volatile as this one will get worse before it gets better... which, once again, is absolutely heartbreaking.

In case you haven't picked up on it, this post feels all over the place. It's very reflective as to what's going on in inside of my heart right now. And also with this country, It's ALL. OVER. THE. PLACE! What I can take away from it is this... There is evil everywhere. Moving away won't solve the problem. Thinking it doesn't exist is SURE not a way to deal with it. Whenever something like this happens, I always call my dad, the tree huggin' hippie, who has always found a way to bring love into the equation, no matter how dire the situation is. With that, I'll leave you with his words... "You're not meant to understand the horrible things that happen. You will drive yourself crazy if you do. You have to find a way back to love. Love heals everything. Yes that might sound cliche and obvious, but it's all true. Don't let the fear consume you. You have to live your life the most authentic way you know how. If you do that, everything else will fall into place for you." Love that man.

I'll leave this here for you... just to ponder, if you want.

Hope this gave you a clearer view of perspective of someone you know. If at any point you have questions about the contents of this post, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. I am always up for having adult/non argumentative conversations about this thing called life. By no means will I attempt to change your mind on anything, but if we can come to an agreement throughout the conversation that love is love is love IS love, than that's all any of us can hope for. As sucky as Monday's can be, I hope you are able to find love on this day, and every other day! xoxox

Thursday, April 28, 2016

LDRs... A Beast I'm NOT (that) Afraid Of

"How you do it?" "Are you all still together?" "Isn't it difficult to be in that situation willingly?" These are just a "few" of the questions I'm constantly asked about being in a long distance relationship (or as they are so lovingly known on social media as LDRs). Listen, some days, I don't know how we've managed to get THIS far either, but my response to all of this is, "clearly there's a lot of love between us, huh?"

There are SO many things I've learned from being in a long distance relationship, and have learned about myself as well as what my limits are, but here are a few of the key take-a-ways I've learned from being in a long distance relationship that could also be applied to long term relationships...

Keep the dependency LOW

Look, there are days I want to talk ALL day long, and there are other days where I'll only say two words... to anyone. It's about balance. I know we can go HOURS (again it's about balance) of not talking but when I see her name pop up on my screen, it makes my heart smile, and that, to me, is important.
Communication has to be Creative

Most conversations start with "how was your day?" or "What's the weather like on your side of the country?" but other times the conversations could revolve around current events and what we think about them or "I came across this BuzzFeed article that made me think of you". There are times the conversations get intense and our differences in opinions are night and day, and you know what? that's MORE than okay. I don't need (nor want) someone to agree with everything I believe in (how boring would that be?) but when it comes to the latter, the respect for the alternative opinion has to be there, and with us, it is very present. It's always good to keep the conversations interesting while finding that balance between intense & silly (I'm REALLY good at the silly part).

can you hear me now?

Avoid "Dangerous" Situations

If we know we are going out for an extended period of time that could potentially cut into our "end of day" phone call/FaceTime, two things always happen... 1. a phone call/text before going out to "reassure" the other person that they're thinking about you. 2. a text that you've made it home from your night out. It's not about taking away the independence of your significant other, but when we're 3000+ miles away, knowing you've made it home safely is more important than how your night was (that comes later, of course).

Plan a trip away from your respective "comfort zones"

As much as my heart lives on the East Coast, I love traveling to the West Coast. She's expressed her love for traveling to the East Coast. Sometimes it's okay to just get away from your home to be somewhere else for a period of time. But sometimes, it's also good to go to a place where neither one of you has been before or one of you has gone to, liked it a lot, and wants to share that with you. You learn A LOT about a person when you travel with them, but it also helps grow the relationship.

Care Packages are Cool

Sometimes I'll be on Amazon (sometimes??) and I'll come across something that reminds me of her, so I'll throw it in my cart and wait until pay day. The phone call/text I get when she's not expecting it might be the cutest thing I'll ever witness. Or the time she scoped out my Pinterest boards and bought something for me that was on my "wish list"... it's never been about the materialistic things, but who doesn't like a little snail mail from time to time? Little gestures like this help keep the "awww" in the relationship.

Honesty doesn't (and shouldn't) feel like a chore

Always always ALWAYS make it a point to stay as honest as possible, even if it might hurt to hear what the other person is saying. There isn't a moment where we feel we can't trust each other. The lines of communication are always open, so this is never a worry of mine... or hers! There will be times where the conversation will get uncomfortable and could very much feel as though you're being punched in the gut, but better to hurt by the truth than be destroyed by the latter, know what I mean, jelly bean?

Goal Setting is relatively Important

We know that we're not going to be in a long distance relationship forever. At some point, it will get "old" and we'll find a way to be in the same time zone. At the same time, we also know that we don't know exactly when that's going to happen and that's okay too. Talking about it/revisiting the conversations about what the future could look like are healthy, especially to know that even though we may not be on the same page, at least we're in the same book. Future talking can be fun, and there's no additional pressure from either party to make something happen immediately. We know we're in it for the long haul, so there's no current need to floor the gas pedal on it.

follow the (non-yellow brick) road? SURE!
I hope this has given you a little bit of "insight" on what it looks like to be in a long distance/long term relationship. I'm SUPER private with this stuff, but because I'm asked about it quite frequently, I figured I'd blog it. Besides, nothing is ever easy... if it were, it wouldn't be worth it!