The Church is Called to Be Political, Not Silent

One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s name without the “Reverend” in front of it. Earning a doctoral degree is certainly an accomplishment, but Rev. Dr. King’s political and civic action was fueled by his work as a spiritual leader. The man who looked on as President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act spent more time preaching from pulpits, singing hymns, and pastoring a church than people often remember. With the clear view of hindsight, it is easy to see no conflict between his faith and political action.  In fact, Rev. Dr. King is the only American to be honored with a national holiday arguably because of his courageous and skillful ability to create political change through the power of his faith-based morals.

Churchy Things People Say That Don't Really Help At All

Several years ago, the media reported that there was an extremely important message from the President that would be interrupting evening programming. No one knew whether the news was good or bad and I remember Twitter had some hilarious predictions (Michelle is dropping a mixtape!) and somber ones (we're entering another war in the Middle East -- eek!) As we waited for the POTUS, I mentioned to my two roommates, "I'm starting to get nervous." One scoffed and said "It doesn't really matter what he says; Jesus is Lord and God's got it all under control. Worrying doesn't do anything so stop wasting your time. Where's your faith?"

The only Nat Turner I acknowledge is… Nat.

Several months ago, when I heard whispers of a film based on Nat Turner, I didn’t believe it. It seemed too good to be true. Then it was purchased at Sundance for a record $17.5 million, the trailer dropped and I was GEEKED. Actually, we (my fiancé and I) were geeked, because there’s rarely a time where we both want to see the same thing. (He’s a “Walking Dead” fan; I’m more of a “This is Us” kinda gal.)  

Three Ways You Can Be A More Informed Citizen Once You Finish Complaining About The Media

The media** is biased. But so are we. Let me explain. 

A few days ago, I ran with a local runners’ group, and we paused at a beautiful “Love” mural to have a moment of silence for “people suffering all over the world… especially in Paris.” Save for those of us catching our breath in the chilly fall air, all was still and then one runner said “And Kenya!” I glanced in his direction, undecided if I appreciated his spontaneous candor or if I was annoyed by his marring of this solemn moment. That dichotomous feeling has plagued me for the past few days. After the run, I caught up with the outspoken fella -who turned out to be Ethiopian-American- and asked, feigning curiosity, “What is the capital of Kenya anyway?” He drew a blank and when I used my acting chops to affect an aha moment, I said “I think it’s Nairobi… yeah that’s it.” 

Teaching Kids Respect for Authority AND for Themselves: The Balancing Act

My first experience with Spring Valley High School was a scary one. I was a scrawny seventh grader who had barely made it onto the varsity track team (which was basically a come one come all type situation) and we were headed to Columbia to compete against Spring Valley's track team. Although I went to a suburban high school, our co-ed bus full of seventh graders to high school seniors was pretty rowdy and spirited.  Until the bus slowed and we all saw the sprawling campus with what looked like hundreds of track athletes in impeccable track suits, stretching with the uniformity of a Marine Corps. The bus grew quiet - almost respectful -  and as we took our beating that year, Spring Valley became imprinted on my mind as the gold standard to work towards. By my senior year, our women's track team had eked out one win against Spring Valley through some kind of Remember the Titans like underdog strength, but I will never forget the fear they inspired at our first encounter.

Ferguson, Missouri is Everyone's Concern

Yesterday afternoon, I met up with a friend in a coffee shop to do some work, and he started streaming the press conference from the Ferguson Police Department providing some follow up to the death of Mike Brown (at the hands of a police officer.) Immediately, I was uncomfortable. We were in a room with a few other people of various backgrounds, and for whatever reason, I felt it was inappropriate to draw attention to our concern about the passing of this young black teenager. I didn't want to ruffle feathers; I wanted people to believe that I was one of the safe Black people that wouldn't make them face hard questions.

An Open Letter to the President

Dear Mr. President:

For the past several days, I've been debating an issue regarding your administration with a few friends, all ardent supporters of yours. All of us have read your books; we've donated and voted for you in both 2008 and 2012. Some of us even volunteered for your campaign and we all resisted the urge to unsubscribe from your well-meaning, but relentless emails. One friend in particular, has over time become more and more frustrated with what he perceives to be your selective concern for citizens. He believes that while you may personally care about all Americans, your public concern is limited to specific groups, namely those who wield the most political weight and media opportunities. In short, he believes you have neglected the poor, who are often black and brown. My reflex was to defend you and I did. Yet, the more I discussed the issue with him and others and coupled it with research, I found myself struggling to continue to defend you in good faith.

True Southern Hospitality (and Christian love)

Ah. I love the South. The sizzle of hot, juicy yet crispy fatback in a cast iron skillet is one of my favorite sounds and always reminds me of South Carolina. Since my grandmother's passing, I haven't had any, and I can't bring myself to ask for it in these hipster California grocery stores. Soul food isn't all I miss about living in the South. It's also the traditional style of Southern Baptist churches. My home church had a strong, vibrant membership but was small enough that if I wasn't there, it was noticed. The hymns I sang there and the motherly love I received was enough to have me humming joyously on my way home.

You Give Jesus A Bad Name (More than just a Bon Jovi Parody)

North Carolina is pretty awesome, specifically Charlotte. It’s pretty. They have several Cook-Out locations. Gas is only priced at half past ridiculous. My mom lives there, and my niece is only an hour or so away. But it seems like someone sneaked a couple bigotry roofies in everyone's sweet tea.

North Carolina is often viewed as a “purple state” because it is home to a fair share of both Democrats and Republicans. In 2008, North Carolinians voted for President Barack Obama and went Blue for the first time since Jimmy Carter’s administration. But yesterday, the country was reminded of just how red North Carolina can be. 

Don't Let History Pass You By!

On December 13, 1945, a cleaning woman and part-time janitor/barber welcomed a smiling brown boy with the odds already stacked against him to Memphis, Tennessee, a proud part of the Jim Crow South. His parents moved to Georgia and he grew up on a farm there where he lived a poor but happy life. His father worked three jobs to keep the family clothed and fed and encouraged him to get a college education. Just three years after the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, this young man went on to attend the prestigious Morehouse College and graduate with a degree in mathematics. From there he started working for the military while pursuing a master’s degree in computer science.

Journal Entry from the Guy Who Created The N Word

Today's post was not written by me, however, I found it extremely insightful, albeit chilling in its ability to shed light on what describes as "probably the most offensive word in the English language." Please read and share your thoughts on the post. If you don't mind, also share your thoughts on the N word. Do you use it?

It's Not as Black and White as You Think (Interracial Relationships)

By a large margin, my most popular blog post is "Reasons to Date a Black Man". Many people presumed that I have an unwavering loyalty and dedication to dating and/or marrying a Black man. These people are mistaken.Every woman (and man) has a list of things they consider important when choosing their significant other. Some things are requirements (a desire to have children) and others are preferences (a college degree). For example, I prefer men taller than me (notice I said taller than me, not necessarily tall). I prefer men who like to read books. I strongly prefer men who are willing to adopt at least one child. This doesn't mean I won't end up married to a man who's 5'7" and can't make it through a magazine article. 

What's in a Name?

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
National Council of Negro Women
Congressional Black Caucus
Smithsonian National Museum for African-American History

All of the above represent people from the same racial/ethnic background. I've been called them all to describe my ethnicity, but I've never really been sure which one most accurately describes my ancestry and identity.

The Hair Post (Live from Liberia!)

In the whirlwind of preparation, I didn't get the chance to let you all know ahead of time, but I am in Liberia with the Lott Carey Mission School, visiting with students. Please forgive the typos, lack of pictures, and any other aesthetic concerns. I have to type quickly while I have electricity!

I've started and stopped this blog post several times because my feelings on hair range from "I am not my hair" to "my hair is a major part of my image and presentation to the world." I've come to realize that both statements are true.