I was scrolling through Instagram one quarantine 2020 evening when I saw the caption of a video that read “THIS IS MURDER!” Well, I’m not watching that video!
I had no desire to watch a cell phone video of someone being murdered. Not another one, so I kept scrolling and moved on with life. However, it was hard to participate in social media without being bombarded with the news of George Floyd being killed by Minneapolis police. I continued to turn a blind eye and engage with more upbeat content like funny memes and inspirational quotes. Then I was sent a link to an Instagram video recorded by a pastor and decided to watch it. This white pastor talked about his feelings on the George Floyd incident while getting emotional. I finally decided to watch the murder video.
I couldn’t get through the entire eight-minute video of a handcuffed man lying on his belly begging for his life while a police officer casually suffocated him with his knee on his throat and his hands in his pockets. I watched as much as I could until I became sick to my stomach and turned it off. It was truly sickening. The murder, the murderers, the state of the world was utterly sickening.
But I needed to see that video.
I live in a small town. It’s very conservative and predominantly white. I think about how uncomfortable I feel when I see the Trump 2020 flags waving proudly from the back of pick-up trucks, or the white couples sporting their matching “I stand for the flag and kneel for the cross” t-shirts to Walmart. I feel like the racism here can best be described as “The Emperor’s New Clothes” type of racism. There are a people walking around town scantily clad in their racism, but believing they are fully draped in the finest garbs of acceptance. Other members of the community who do wear their acceptance are still afraid to tell their neighbors that their racism is showing, because if they don’t see that they are proudly wearing their acceptance, then they are fools!
You know the story.
I’ve already had a few racist experiences in this town (my toddler twins have too) so I spend most of my time trying to conform. This black girl from Baltimore, tames her afro, tucks away her “Black Girl Magic” and “Melanin Queen” t-shirts, and uses her code switch voice 24/7. I can’t afford to bring any more attention to myself than I already do being a black girl in a white world.
I can be black. I just can’t be “black” black, right?
But as that sick feeling in my stomach started to dissipate, I realized that I haven’t done anyone any favors by silently conforming, especially myself. I feel like God is asking more of me. He’s ready to present opportunities to me that will require me to be unapologetically Christian, or unapologetically female, or unapologetically black. AND…AND there may even be a situation where I have to be unapologetically black, Christian, and female. I can’t walk into these spaces cowering for others, afraid to step with confidence. I can’t be afraid to be who I am and what I am. I’m a black woman? Wear It! I’m a Christian? Proclaim It! I battle depression? Own It! I survived domestic violence? Use It!
As I prepare to attend school in the fall, I felt like God was trying to tell me that it’s time to be unapologetically dope; unapologetically me. My new ministry/career is mental health, and my days of mental bondage have to come to an end. It’s my personal Juneteenth. I can’t run from any of it; the good, the bad, or the ugly. It’s time to proudly embrace America being the land of the free and thee home for the even the descendants of slaves.
After spending a year in grief counseling, I started to see that my life needed a major overhaul. Yes, my boyfriend died making me the single mom of our infant twins, but I was still grieving my loss of innocence from decades of abuse. I decided to turn my pain into a new purpose and to share this journey with others that may need some motivation.