An Exposure of Two Wrongs

I’ve been sitting with a burden for quite some time, and now I’m very tired of it.

Some time ago, I received two documents. One was a very colorful meter, and the other was an explanation of said meter. Developed by a professor at Northwestern University , The 8 White Identities might be one of the most heinous things I have ever seen passed off as educational curriculum. It breaks up the entire population of White America into subcategories in an effort to teach them about how much work they need to do to be better people to people of color.

I will never knock freedom of speech. However, I really do wish there were such things as crimes of manners because I cannot think of anything more rude to do to any group of people, especially when the same approach has been used against the race that this curriculum is supposed to be helping

Let me explain: being from Alabama and having a dialect that sounded more like Caucasian people than a Black person, I learned that this particular characteristic made it easy for Caucasian people to say certain things to me that they would not dare say to another black person. The best example for the purposes of this post would be the multiple times that a Caucasian person, in relaxed conversation, has shared with me their view of how black people should be categorized. In many of these shares, I was told that we should be seen in certain groups as follows: decent Blacks, smart Blacks, uppity Blacks, cool Blacks (“you know, like you, Adi!”), a few other levels that I can’t quite recall, and of course, niggers.

I can’t really say which part shocked me the most; the statements or the confidence with which the statements were made. Somehow, it was assumed that because I sounded more like them and had a love for the same kinds of music and such, I would agree and validate this misguided way of thinking about other human beings. In some cases, I gave rebuttals in attempts to educate, and in others, I simply remained silent. The temperature of the room matters, right?

Now, that I’ve seen this same mindset being taught in the opposite direction from a college level, I admit to having been absolutely livid when I first saw it. Now, I’m mostly heartbroken because I remember how I felt when told how deplorably I should see my own race. It makes NO sense at all that the same narrative many believe to be the fuel behind this nation’s racial disparities is being used to dominate the race originally blamed for perpetuating it. It is a snake willfully eating its own tail, and there is something deeply wrong with a snake that will do such a thing to itself. A body is not whole (or sane) if it is willing to do irreparable damage to half of itself in order to make the other half feel better.

If we are so blind that we can honestly claim to not already know the kind of national trauma such a narrative as The 8 White Identities is creating, we are in way more trouble than we think. We’ve already seen it, and now we’re behaving as if we truly believe it will, somehow, produce positive results this time around. It doesn’t matter who wrote it, how educated they are, or the motive behind it. It was wrong when so confidently used to treat me like some 8th world wonder, and it is presently wrong to so confidently make people feel like they owe some penalty for simply having been born with paler skin than others. Literally, no one likes to be considered as no more than a list of cold definitions on a sheet of paper, but we just keep on doing it…with the same results.

The only two categories any human being really fits in are either loved or hated. There are no grey areas in this. We either love a person or we hate them. Is it a loving thing to prefer ridiculing a person for what they may not know? Is it a loving thing to teach one group of people to harshly judge another? Is it a loving thing to teach a group of people to hate itself…that they should be sorry for being born since they don’t understand what it is to be another race or nationality…or to consider themselves unworthy because the people they’re supposed to look up to tell them so?

If I have no reason to apologize for being black (and I don’t), it would make no sense to make a white person regret the color of their skin either. So, why have we allowed this meter to appear useful at all when if such a thing were to be created by a white professor regarding 8 Black identities, that professor would be fired and sued to homelessness within a week’s time…and we all know it? Just why?!

And what does this teach us Black people? Are we supposed to see things like this and think, “Finally! An educated approach to our racial crisis. We’re gonna be free at last!”? According to The Racial Healing Handbook, we are to be excused for speaking rudely, ridiculing, or even flat-out abusing white people since we’ve been so oppressed by them for so long. So, maybe we are supposed to be glad this meter exists so that we can decide who is good enough for our kindness, or compassion, and our love. Apparently, they have to earn it in a way that we shouldn’t have to.

How about “NO”! How about we start taking responsibility for our part in this racial mess? For starters, we can start speaking to ourselves differently. We are not slower in the mind than white people. We are not lazier than white people. We are not gonna be just like our lowdown mommas or daddies. We are not destined to forever be a race of hoodrats, government leeches, or alternative school wall flies. I know that’s what we have been taught (a lot of us by our own stressed out, overworked, depressed, anxious, and single parents), but we need to learn how to speak a different language that can be understood by everyone; a language of renewal of our minds and spirits…a language of victory over the oppression we no longer need to carry.

I’m pretty sure it seems like I’m asking black people to just take the high road…yet again…, but recognizing our value and taking responsibility for the legacies we leave have nothing to do with high or low roads. I’m not asking us to put ourselves last or to allow others to lord themselves over us. I’m also not asking anyone to lower standards so that we don’t have to exert ourselves to reach them. I’m asking us to rise to meet and/or exceed them. No matter what we feel has been taken or withheld from us, we need to own up to the fact that some things taken or withheld were either willfully given away or outright refused.

We all have the same rights. We all have the ability to organize and exercise our rights. I get it, I promise! You could fill a novel-sized stack of paper with the number of times you’ve been told how hard ‘the man’ will try to keep you down, but the idea that ‘the man’ has any real power to keep anyone down has always been a lie.

From the time of emancipation, we have had the ability to stand up, grow up, and live up to the legacies our forefathers tried to leave us. Yes, more white people had the money (and the power that too often comes with it), but how did we get to the place where we are now allowing that money and power to be so important that we would give up our minds, souls, and votes in exchange for what other people think we should just shut up and be satisfied with? Who told us to do that?

My grandmother and aunt – my parents – never once told me I would be just like my mentally ill mother or my absent father. They never stood in my way of trying anything that wouldn’t hurt me or anyone else. They let me try. Some of my teachers told me I would never amount to anything, and that hurt me and stole my hope sometimes, but my parents were proud of every little creative, athletic, or goofy thing I ever did. They taught me about the love of Jesus and how to use it to love myself and other people. They constantly spoke life into me even through my worst moments. They were present even when they didn’t understand.

They spoke to me in the language of love, grace, unity, and victory – with all of God’s precious creations (people). Nothing about color, gender, politics, religion, or lifestyle ever entered into it. Even if the subjects came up, they always seemed to end with my parents telling me that that person – whoever they were – was made by God and deserved to be loved as much as God loves me. And oh, how He loves me…and you!

I am so sorry if you have been spoken to in the language of brokenness, hurt, anger, and glorified struggles. That is not how God intended for any of us to be treated or spoken to. Your worth is not measured by human definitions of worthiness, but by the Creator of the heavens and the earth who makes nothing and no one without a purpose. Your worth was measured by love before you were ever born.

If you have grown up never understanding any (or some) of this, it will take quite a bit of time to unwrap the current state of your mind to make room for a new and deeper understanding of your place on this earth…in our nation…in your neighborhood…in your home. All I’m asking is that you seek the answers for yourself.

Words have power. How we see ourselves at the heart of us is always going to matter more than the color of our skin. Being black (or white, or Mexican, or Indian, or whatever) isn’t going to get you a good job, get you a good education, find you a good spouse, help you raise happy and productive children, or get you into heaven. It will be the Spirit of love, the Spirit of power, and a sound mind that will help you reach the goals you’ve been taught don’t belong to you…the things you’ve been taught to be jealous of and hate others for because you don’t yet have it. The love of God, of yourself, and of others is something no one can take away from you as there are no laws against it. Neither are there laws against the power of thought, emotion, or creative industry (use what you love to love the world). Use the brain and heart you were given to change the world’s mind about you. Use them to change your mind about yourself. Use them to change your mind about others.

You are…They are…We are…ALL so much more than a meter developed by any professor in any university. We have got to stop blaming people for things we are equally responsible for changing, and that will all start with how we choose to see ourselves, how we perceive others who are not like us, and how we represent both.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: Everyone is more like you than they are different. We all have the capacity to hate, and we all have the capacity for love. I’ll let you determine how much of which you can hold, which one will free you, and which one will destroy you faster than any person’s opinion of you ever could.

Love is hard, but love will always be worth it.

Beat the Stay-at-Home Blues

| 10 Steps to Keep Yourself Motivated |

For many of us, the stay-at-home orders are looking less and less like a blessing every day. Even introverts are feeling put upon and are not appreciating the feeling of being obligated to be introverted. What started out as a great opportunity to reconnect with our families and reorganize our homes has turned a corner, and now, the days are running together, sleep patterns are being disrupted, and motivation has gone on a leave of absence. This time of refreshment and relaxation has grossly over-stayed its welcome. Unfortunately, there is no getting away from it for now, so what do we do to reclaim our motivation and get our biological clocks reset?

I firmly believe in keeping things simple, and I’m here to share the little things that can have a big positive impact on your day.

Start Your Day with Completion

When you get up in the morning, finish one small task. It doesn’t have to be anything major or life-changing. Whether it’s brushing your teeth, showering, reading your devotional, or taking the dog out, finish something. Simply don’t allow yourself to slip into your day too slowly.

Don’t Stop

Use the momentum from your first completed task to guide yourself for the rest of the day. While the days are looking a whole lot alike, there’s no reason they have to. Do the next thing.

Control the Scroll

Many of us are spending more time on social media than normal, so why not make it work for you. Be more intentional about what you consume while scrolling through your platforms. Look for the things that are going to fill you with hope for the future that we are sure to have once this all blows over. Filling our heads with conspiracy theories, political propaganda, and time-stealing questionnaires can rob you of both valuable time and peace of mind.

Reflect

This is an empathetic nod to those experiencing occupational and financial loss during this time. It is unfortunate that many of us have been taught to gauge our worth according to our abilities to provide for our families, because when our livelihoods are taken from us, we feel like we’re disappointing our loved ones. I’d like to encourage you to remember why you’re alive. Whatever your family dynamic, somebody loves you and wants you to know that your value revolves around so much more than money. I am so sorry that this is your ‘right now’, but remember that trouble doesn’t last always. The sun will set on this, and a brand new season is sure to come.

Like a Boss

Just because we are forced to remain indoors, there is nothing written in stone that says we have to slum it. Jogging pants are super comfy, but they also make it very easy for us to be okay with laziness. The more that happens, the less we want to be motivated. So, get up and get dressed. I’d like to challenge you to do those extra things that you would normally do for yourself when preparing for work. Do this for at least 3 days if for no other reason than to refamiliarize yourself with the good habits of self-care. Do your hair. Put that makeup on. Spritz that perfume. For this day, at least look like a boss.

Lighten Up

We don’t have to take ourselves so seriously. Yes, this is a challenging time, but there is no reason to throw in the towel on anything, and this includes having a little fun. Just to see if I could accomplish a set number of things in my day, I sometimes make a game out of it. I set timers, put on some music, and get cracking.  No, life is not a game, but lemons are no longer bitter or sour once you learn how to turn them into lemonade.

Take a Snapshot

When we look through our social media walls, we see various pictures from people who just like to share their lives with everyone. My suggestion here is that you take a snapshot of at least one thing that makes you smile each day. It can be a little difficult to remember the good things when the bad things seem to be so overwhelming, but we can be intentional in our gratitude.

Write it Down

Perhaps this is a time to start keeping a journal of some kind. Just like this publication, make a list of some of the challenges you are facing and write out the possible solutions for each one. We can’t fix everything, but we can see things more clearly when we get them in front of us for acknowledgment and processing.

One Thing at a Time

As mentioned in number 8, we simply cannot fix everything, and it benefits us greatly not to try. Grieving over the things we can’t do anything about can cripple our abilities to be grateful for anything. So, take stock of the whole mess and separate what you can do from what you can’t. Then, only focus on the things that you can do something about. Even if it’s only something small, just do something!

MOVE!

Get up and move! How many pounds have we gained while taking advantage of not having to get up and move? Not to out myself, but holy buckets! Your girl is gonna need to start running! I am determined to turn back the clock a little by means of moving myself around a LOT more, even if I can only walk back and forth down my hallway for 15 minutes at a time. We don’t need this stay-at-home order to increase diabetes or high blood pressure cases. This is not a time to become unhealthy versions of ourselves. So please, let’s back away from the chips, grab a vegetable and go for a nice walk…run…dance…jump…something!

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