It completely blows me how we have begun using the term “Peaceful Protest.” In my opinion, there ain’t nothing peaceful ’bout a protest. They are loud and disruptive even when we just sit in silence on the hot pavement for 8 minutes and 46 seconds remembering the amount of time it took for George Floyd to die underneath the weight of a cops knee.
Ain’t nothing peaceful ’bout that.
I distinctly remember the girl in front of me shedding tears as we sat in the heat. There was another person nearby that kept breathing loudly. I felt antsy and kept thinking, “This is taking a long time.”
Of course it was a long time – A long time to choke – A long time to gasp for air – A long time to sit and watch because you’re too afraid to help for fear of losing your own life – A long time.
There ain’t nothing peaceful ’bout a protest.
It’s disruptive to the spirit. We shouldn’t even have to be out there. And yet, here we are, yelling, marching, speaking, singing, chanting and sitting in anguish waiting for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to pass by.
Ain’t nothing peaceful ’bout that.
It’s disruptive to the world. Somebody won’t be able to drive their regular route. Someone will be annoyed by large numbers of people gathering to speak their minds. Others won’t understand why now during a pandemic. Doesn’t seem like the police care about killing us even though there’s a pandemic so why should we stop protesting?
There ain’t nothing peaceful ’bout a protest.
Secretly, I’ve been replaying the feeling of being surrounded by people, by my friends and shouting chants and feeling like that even if I shout as loud as I can, things still won’t change. Secretly feeling like burning the whole city down and knowing that the media would spin that too. Hating the fact that I cringed the first few times they dropped an F bomb in a chant and then later screaming F bombs as loud as possible because the reality of being of no value to prejudiced and discriminatory systems, organizations and the government finally dawned on me. They don’t really care about us, so “F” them.
Ain’t nothing peaceful ’bout that.
Even prayer becomes protest. I pray the Psalms that ask God to devour my enemies and their children’s children. I implore God to not leave my people desolate because we are His. I beg God to give us victory and to slay the giant that is racism and poverty and bigotry and health care disparity.
Everything about a protest disrupts. It disrupts the status quo, traffic, people’s mindsets, hearts and the atmosphere. It’s disruptive and rightfully so. It’s loud and rightfully so. It’s chaotic and rightfully so. It’s organized and rightfully so. It’s painful and rightfully so.
My heart has been vexed ever since… My spirit is disturbed… I haven’t been at peace since
1 The Lord is my shepherd – but sometimes my needs aren’t met
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters – but somehow, I don’t feel peace
3 He restoreth my soul: Only to lead me into darker paths for his name’s sake – a lot of people do a lot of things in your name and a lot of those things have harmed us and caused irreparable damage.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear all the evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me – but will they protect me?
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies – I’m afraid to sit down. Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over with fear.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life but it will never catch up to me and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever at the hands of the evil walking, living and breathing in a world you created.
I’m having a hard time this early morning. Not because it’s early, but because the world I live in is evil. It’s not just among the gutters of systemic racism and the actors who continuously perpetuate it. The evil isn’t only present in the school to prison pipeline or the prison industrial complex. I’m not just talking about the evil that causes Black mothers and birthers to receive far less care from doctors and OBGYN’s during childbirth. Nor I am only alluding to the evil that spews from the gun triggers of racist white or complicit cops into the countless bodies of my Black siblings. Not even the hands, knees or holds that choke us out of our last breaths. Nah not those.
I’m talking about the evil that is present amongst us in the Black Church. The form of evil that allows Black male pastors to act like the oppressors in one of the few places we as a people should freely love and care for one another. I’m talking about the evil that stares us in the face when our Black boys and girls are allowed to live in dangerous and violent homes because their daddy is the head deacon. I’m talking about the evil that’s complicit with looking over the Black women and girls and children who need its care the most.
We are walking through the valley of the shadow of death these days and honestly…I fear all of the evil.
I’m also talking about the evil that takes place when our sons and daughters are told that instances of sexual abuse, assault, incest and molestation are their fault. The evil that prevails when Black women trust a Black man to look out for them but he instead takes advantage of her.
Even more-so, I’m talking about the evil that prevails when Black women turn a blind eye to the peril taking place in another Black woman’s life.
I know what I’ve read about Oluwatoyin Salau. Her story is not a standalone issue. It is, however, a single drop in a bucket full of similar and even more horrific stories. Stories where women have been deceived. Not cared for. Overlooked. Thrown away. Ignored. Defiled.
Murdered by hands with skin the same color as her own.
I sometimes, and dreadfully say that I expect this type of thing from someone of a different race because they don’t value us in the first place.
But when your spiritual and physical death comes by the hands of those you trusted because you were skin kin…I have a loss for words.
Black Women…All we got is us.
We gotta look out for each other. We gotta stand up for each other.
Black Men…You gotta do better.
You gotta stop taking what’s not yours. Stop using your power to hold us down.
Black People…We gotta speak out. We gotta stop acting like this evil world loves us and love ourselves.
All this evil. I see it. I hear it. I feel it. I fear it.
Sure God has not given us a spirit of fear…
…but what happens when we trust God with our lives? With the lives of our children and our loved ones? What happens when we trust God and bad things happen? What happens when we devote our lives to standing up for God’s creation within the Black community and are killed by the hands of those we are fighting for?
I just don’t know anymore. I sit with the questions knowing I may never have the answers. But I do know that God’s integrity is on the line. I keep hearing my friend and sister Janiece Williams, MDiv., say this in my head.
“God, your integrity is on the line.”
You can’t keep letting this happen to us, to our friends or to our family.
I haven’t done so hot in this arena truth be told. I usually end up with guys who love and care about me but who have varying fundamental differences that ultimately make us incompatible. It’s tough because at my age I have begun feeling and hearing the tick of my internal clock. And I know I’m young, but Haley so kindly reminded me that once I reach 34/35 in 2 – 3 years, a pregnancy will be considered high risk. I’m over her and bad dating connections!
Dating while parenting is super tricky. I have to remember to set a good example and to think through my dating choices with supreme scrutiny. I can’t get swept up too soon or fall in love with reckless abandonment or throw caution to the wind (things that my personality would prefer to do) because I have to think about the entire picture. It’s not just about my life. It’s about my daughters life too. Will she be comfortable with him? Will they get along? Will I be comfortable with him taking a parental role in her life? Will the dynamic change too drastically to make a blended family work? So many cautionary thoughts plague me, yet I keep putting myself out there. Why?
I recently told a guy in response to him saying that he was intense, “LOL I’m a Scorpio, I live for intense. I’m just looking for my last intense love that’s all.” That text packed so much truth for me. Way more truth than I initially realized I was sharing.
While I don’t subscribe to the in’s and out’s of astrology, I have found one thing to be true: People born under “Scorpio” have intense personalities. Something about them draws you in. And likewise, they are drawn into intense connections. They do many things in extremes especially when it comes to love. What my text revealed for me is that my love relationships have to be intense in order for me to even be interested. There has to be an intensity about the person. He has to be passionate about something and enjoy throwing himself into his interests and goals. I can just about name every real relationship that I have been in was with someone who was intense.
That text also revealed that I’m done playing games for real. That I’m not even getting involved with you if this can’t be it for us. I want that last intense love. I want to know that my person, who ever he is, isn’t turned off by my desire to love him and to be loved as fully and as humanly possible. I don’t want excuses, I don’t want waiting games and or even a rush to the finish line (marriage), I just want a guy who is ready for what I have to offer.
That level of intensity poses a problem though. You guessed it, I’m a mama. A future clergymama at that. That intensity might work for us in a bubble, but I don’t know how that works with Haley because it’s blown up in my face twice now. Two intense relationships that ultimately didn’t last because there was more to the story than just us. Thankfully, it wasn’t because Haley couldn’t or didn’t fit into the picture but because we couldn’t reconcile our energy in ways that were conducive to a successful relationship. Yes, everything about being and wanting an intense relationship isn’t good. Sometimes you don’t know when to stop arguing or how to let something go. Sometimes you get tunnel vision and miss the fact that you and that person don’t even have the same moral standards. Sometimes you get so sucked into the light that it burns you.
That level of extreme draw and magnetism can hurt you. So, I have trouble dating while parenting because I’m like a moth to a flame. But there’s still something very alluring to me about the passion and shear joy that comes along with finding your forever person, someone who will throw themselves into being with you as much as you throw yourself into being with them.
As a future clergymama, this packs a double whammy for me. I’m already deeply devoted to ministry in ways I never knew were possible. Will I have more to give? Will they understand my devotion to God’s service and to the service of others? Will he be interested in supporting that? Or will it just be for me? Of course I want someone who is supportive of the work I will do within the church but I also want them to have their own thing if ministry is not their calling.
Ultimately, I trust God to lead me because God has this love thing on lock. And the way God loves me so intensely, I know that there is a human version of that somewhere out there for me.
Today, I just want to share a list of prayers I have been saving and praying throughout my life, pandemic and mostly recently protesting
God of the Ghetto, Who dwells in the margins, Who hears the cries of the oppressed—sees their affliction because of their oppressors, feels their pain, God who breaks bows and shatters spears, Who brings chaos to heel with a word, Who plunders the enslavers, And leads captives to into wide open spaces with songs of joy, please protect the rebels tonight – Andre Henry
Dear Lord today, embarrass my enemies, favor my friends, strengthen my circle, fortify my family and increase my reach – Rev. Jamal Bryant
Lord, my prayer is simply to change us where we don’t reflect You – in character and deed. Help us to see the world needs You and Your divine touch to make crooked places straight and barren places flourish. It is Your power in us that enables us to be change agents in the world. Equip us for these days ahead and You will be glorified for the victory that’s on its way. Go in peace my friends, taking the love and power of Our Lord Jesus Christ with you. Amen. Annetrice Hewitt
I know you’re thinking “What is she talking about now?” Okay, just keep reading.
There are some things that I may need to clarify for a few of you. This blog is not just an attempt to work through what’s happening in the world. It’s my way of tightening the lens on the things that really matter to me most. It will tell the truth, make you laugh, make you think and occasionally – you might just roll your eyes. I’m ok with that because this blog and my brand, JasSings, is focused on the things that are at the center of my life. The M’s!
#Millennialhood: I was born in 1988. I’m a 31 year old Black woman living in America…everything I do has something to do with my perspective on the world based on my life experiences in this day and time. Love it or hate it, but it sure does make for good commentary!
#Music: I love music. I love how words come together with melodies and harmonies, rhythms and sounds to create masterpieces. Music feeds my soul and singing heals me. So, I’ll write about music, songs, and musical ideas as it relates to my culture and what’s happening in the world. It’s a major part of how I’ve been able to evolve over the years.
#Ministry: In case you didn’t know, I’m a rising 3rd year (last year like law school) Divinity School Student. I am currently an Inquirer within the Presbyterian Church USA denomination, which means I’m working towards ordination. Ministering through song led me on this path and I have been fighting this ministry thing for a long time. Eventually, I just gave up. I got tired of God visiting me in my dreams and leaving me cryptic messages! This blog will talk about what it’s like doing ministry.
#Motherhood: This topic is simple and complex. It covers what it means to be a mama in the 21st century AND it will intersect with what it’s like to be a music-loving millennial, and future clergymama. My womanhood is wrapped up in there somewhere too and I’m looking forward to teasing it out just a little bit more every time I write, whether it’s done explicitly or not.
Finally, this blog will talk about…
#Money: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m not trying to make money off of this blog but let’s be real – we live in a capitalist society. A lot of what we do everyday, includes or requires money. It would be a shame to miss the opportunity to discuss money and all of the ways it slips through our fingers! We have to do better! Well maybe I’m just talking about myself. 🤷🏾♀️ It’s not all about the money, but money will pop up here and there.
You know what’s wild? How do I reconcile being a Christian and Black in today’s world, specifically the USA? I want to have godly love for all but people don’t have love for me because of the color of my skin. I know you are reading this thinking, “Jasmine who doesn’t love you because you’re Black? Shame on them. We love you!” Here’s the thing, as a Christian, I’m my brother and my sister’s keeper. That means when you don’t speak up for my Black kinfolk when they’re killed in the streets, then you don’t really love me. It means if you can’t feel the weight of “I can’t breathe” from the voice of a Black man pinned between the ground and a White cops knee, you can’t love me. When a black woman is killed in her own home because the police showed up to the wrong house and you have nothing to say, you don’t love me.
There are too many injustices and opportunities for you to love my Black Jesus loving skin and yet you fail. So, I’m having a hard time loving you back. It’s not petty, I’m human. I feel enraged. I am angry. I want to flip tables proverbially and literally. I want to throw caution to the wind and protest. I want to walk outside my home and feel safe. But I don’t. I want to walk around the block for exercise but I feel paralyzed by fear. But God has not given us the spirit of fear. So, I drop that fear and begin to think other things. I begin to think about all of the times I wished I had your life and your privilege. What would I have done with it? Would I have squandered it away for me and mine? Would I have killed you to assert my authority? Would I justify my actions by quoting scripture? Would I call you thugs, and savages? Would I say that you were animals?
I want to honor the God in me by being a person of peace and love. But you don’t love my Black body. You don’t love my daughter. You don’t love my brothers. You don’t love my cousins. You just keep killing us. Lynching us in whatever way you see fit: in prisons on death row for crimes we didn’t commit, in streets with our hands up, in our cars as we reach for our wallets, and under your knees.
You just keep killing us and I don’t know how to love you and watch my people die. At some point, Jesus flipped tables and protested the ills of his day and time. And as you can see, we have already begun doing the same. If you love me, you’ll support us. You’ll speak up for us. You will use your power for good and not more evil. If you love God the way you say you do, you will help us carry this cross until systems are overturned and the kingdom of God reigns on earth as it reigns in heaven.
You know what’s wild? I’m Black and Christian in Amerikkka and I’m finally figuring out how to free myself from your noose.
3 days after my 11th birthday, I woke up at my Grandmother’s house. I tried to sneak and play my aunts Nintendo before anyone woke up. Turns out, everyone was already awake. My Mamal called me down to the living room of her split level home. As I came down the stairs she told me to sit down. She carefully explained that my dad was out with friends the night before. Some people were shooting into the crowd outside of the place where my father had gone to hang with friends and to dance the night away. My dad had been shot. I asked her if he would be ok or if we could go visit him in the hospital. She told me no.
3 days after my 11th birthday, I woke up to a day full of promise only to find out that my father was murdered. It was the winter of 1999. November 20th, 1999. It took a week to burry my dad. My mom sang at the funeral. I wept in my Great Great Aunts lap
In 20 days, it will be the 20th anniversary of my father’s death. I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that ever since late August of this year I have been falling apart. Emotionally, I have been all over the place. Reeling. Upset at the thought that my 31st birthday is around the corner, and all I can think about is my father’s life being taken away from me.
In 20 days, I’ll still find myself dealing with some recent deaths. Two people from my church passed away recently. One person in his own opinion was “…just a dumb country boy who learned how to paint for a living.” He sent me and my daughter on our first real vacation together. We stayed in his Florida condo for free and we were able to take one of our church buddies with us. As we drove down, he called to check on us and to make sure we were being safe. He made sure he purchased our tickets to Disney World a few weeks in advance. It was one of the kindest things a man had ever done for me without me asking. He checked on me for several weeks following that as he painted and made minor repairs around the church. When he passed, I sang at his funeral. It knocked the wind out of me.
The other member of my church who passed felt like family. She was my circle sister, chancel choir singing, compliment giving, recommendation letter writing, leave a little make-up on your birthday card giving, sorority sister, grandma, aunt and friend. It’s strange to think of a 90+ year old woman as your friend. But when she looked me squarely in the eyes as frequently as she could and told me how much she loved me, I knew that she was divinely sent to me to be a friend. That’s partially why when her health declined, I silently refused to go see her. I couldn’t bare looking her in the eyes anymore because I knew that God was going to eventually call her name. When she passed, I sang at her funeral. Strangely, it gave me peace.
The loss of my two church friends who I know loved me in differing ways reminded me of all the ways we can show people how much they mean to us.
Dealing with death at any age is traumatic. Like the time my Uncle Brian and my Great Grandma Doris died in the same week, so I attended a funeral on Friday and a funeral on Saturday. I wasn’t right for weeks after that. Or like the time when my younger cousin Tamia and her baby passed away. Seeing her and her baby boy in the casket nearly took me out. I had nightmares for several days after that. Dealing with death at any age is traumatic, but when I was 11, my family had no clue how to deal with a grieving child. That wasn’t their fault. It wasn’t really anyones fault. They did the best they could do.