#TruthToTN

I've lived in the state of Tennessee for my entire life. 

The landscape is beautiful. The people at heart are beautiful.

However there's some problems. Actually there's a lot of problems. 

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We're okay with being the home of Elvis Presley and country music. But we're not okay with admitting that we're the home of the KKK. We don't talk about it. We don't talk about how some of our historic landmarks are plagued with racism. We don't talk about how that racism has continued on and swept under the rug as "not a big deal". 

We don't talk about how we have a large percentage of people dealing with substance abuse. We don't talk about the amount of homeless youth and veterans that we have. 

But we do talk about religion. We talk about freedom. We talk about families. We talk about politics. We talk about all of these things but we don't talk about how these are connected. We don't talk about what these things are. 

We don't talk about the truth and I'm tired of it.

I'm tired of being ashamed of my state. I'm tired of seeing people give me looks of pity when I say I've lived in my city and my state for my entire life. I'm tired of being the punchline of every joke that has to do about lack of education or lack of lack of intelligence in general.

I'm tired of watching politicians promote their biased agenda that would only spread their own fears and put more money in their pockets instead of doing things to help us move forward.

The people deserve the truth. 

We deserve the truth about science.

We deserve the truth about other nations.

We deserve the truth about our government.

We deserve the truth about the diverse people that make up our country.

The people deserve more.

We need to stop being afraid of what we don't know and understand and educate ourselves on what's beyond the four corners that make up our state. 

Making Changes

This past week I flew to Houston, Texas and attended the Creating Change conference of 2014. It was my first time attending and I definitely believe it was well worth it.

Let me just start by saying my attendance almost didn't happen. Thanks to Snowpacalypse Jr. I missed my first flight. Not only that but the lovely people that were getting me there were trapped in Atlanta for the same reason. But once I got there the education began.

Seeing old friends. Making new friends. Being in the presence of Laverne Cox.  Education at Creating Change 2014.

Seeing old friends. Making new friends. Being in the presence of Laverne Cox.  Education at Creating Change 2014.

I had the impression that I would learn information about networking, activism, and get a general understanding of how to make things happen back home in Chattanooga. I definitely got all of that. But I also got a better understanding of myself and revelation of what life is like for others like myself. 

As I've stated in one of my previous posts, I didn't always like what I saw in the mirror. I suffered depression and felt a distinct feeling of isolation. With every session and workshop that I attended that was a resounding sentiment that kept recurring.

(Mental health and mental care have been given such a stigma in our culture. No one wants to talk about it. No one wants to be tested. No one wants to seek help. No one wants to seem "weak". )

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It never occurred to me until this conference that I needed to congratulate myself on doing the things that make me...me.  I've never had the notion of congratulating myself on doing the things that have kept me here. I've always given others the necessary shout outs for helping me get through rough moments. But I've never given myself the shout out. I've never thought about the brilliancy and beauty of my mind and soul that kept me here. 

There was a session I went to that focused on liberation. Which is the one thing I didn't know I needed but once it was revealed to me I realized it was everything I needed.

I'm already taking selfies of myself to give myself the confidence. But this session helped me see the second part of what I need to do. Take the control back that I let people have over me. Take the power back that I've given to people because I want others to be happy. 

It's okay to want other people to be happy. Just like it's okay to want and demand happiness for myself. Because I deserve it. I deserve to be happy. I deserve to be proud of the things that make me happy. 

I deserve to be free from the self punishing mentality that I often put myself in.

I deserve to be free from the limitations that society puts me in.

I deserve to be free.

That's what I'm taking away from Creating Change 2014. 

Next time I go (which will happen without a doubt...) I want to see more of this. I want to see more liberation. I want to see more brown faces. I want to see change happening while I'm there and not just when we leave. I want to see less lectures and more interactive training sessions.  I want to do all the things that are important to me. I don't want to have to choose between one subject and the next. I want more combinations.

I want more change. 

#BlackPowerIsForBlackMen: Letters from Brothers Writing to Live

#BlackPowerIsForBlackMen: Letters from Brothers Writing to Live

We are a collective of black men dedicated to challenging the ideas of black masculinity and manhood through the written word. Through our work we explore the ugliest parts of ourselves and our community, in the hope that we can illuminate the beauty that we know exists as well. We challenge each other daily to create and be more than what this racist, patriarchal society has raised us to be. But simply wanting it will not do. It requires tons of hard work, and much of that work includes listening to our sisters, black women, who tend to bear the brunt of our messiness. Unfortunately, in this regard, we have been woefully absent.

 

When the hashtag #Blackpowerisforblackmen, created by Ebony.com editor Jamilah Lemeiux, took over Twitter, it was a clear sign that we haven’t been doing enough. Thousands of our sisters (and brothers) tweeted for hours about the imbalance in our community. We, black men, tend to pride ourselves on our anti-white racial supremacy activism but often fail to reach out and consider the pain and trauma faced by the women in our lives. Our culture actively denigrates the very existence of black women. We take their love, support, nourishment, and spiritual presence for granted. As a whole, black men have not reciprocated our love and support in a way that affirms the humanity and dignity of black womanhood in the face of white supremacy, patriarchy, heterosexism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, sexual violence, physical and verbal abuse.

#Blackpowerisforblackmen became the call, and as black men dedicated to fighting alongside our sisters, we have taken up the responsibility of answering. As individuals, we recognize where we have fallen short, and as a community we make a promise to participate in deep self-reflection and correction. 

This ain’t just an apology; it’s a commitment.