Kneeling is Disrespectful?

With all the talk about kneeling during the national anthem, I couldn’t help but think, at what point did kneeling become a bad thing? When I think of kneeling I think of a form of submission and vulnerability. As I drove into work this morning, I tried to think of a time when I saw someone kneel and I thought it was disrespectful.

Here’s what flowed through my head:

When I played football. Yes, I was a member of the first woman’s full contact football team in Seattle, the Seattle Warbirds. I remember when one of our teammates got hurt, and as we watched the paramedics take care her off the field our team and our opponents all took a knee. Soooo disrespectful…

Image result for football kneels for injured playerI remember when my friend who I met playing football. Invited me to come to church with her on Ash Wednesday. I had never been to a catholic church before. Once we selected a pew to sit in, I remember almost tripping over her because she kneeled at the end of the pew as she used her hand to signal the cross over her body. That was disrespectful…and in the church.

Kneeling in Church

I remember the countless times on any of the sports teams that I was on, when the coach asked us to “Take a Knee” or “Huddle up”. Coach I’m sorry you made me do it. Disrespectful.

DBSH volleyball

I remember a time when Tim Tebow was one of the most notable football figures because he kneeled during football games. He said it was to honor God, but who would do that by kneeling? Disrespectful…WWJD

I think of all of the civil rights photos of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and all of our civil rights leaders kneeling on the steps of courthouses. Kneeling during protest marches. Kneeling in hopes that they wouldn’t get beaten, hosed down, or disrespected in some kind of way. Oh, they were definitely…Disrespectful.

MLK

I could see the image of Queen Elizabeth knighting individuals in England and all of them kneeling for the honor. Nobody kneels before the Queen…Disrespectful.

QE Knighted

I think of how many times I’ve seen a man proposing to a women and everyone waits in anticipation of him dropping down to one knee. That’s kneeling…So technically your fiance’ was an asshole. Disrespectful.

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I remember the times in which I’ve seen people give themselves up to the police and in doing so they drop to their knees and lift there hands in the air. Well this is flawed because we’ve seen them get shot any way. It’s definitely…Disrespectful.

civil rights kids kneeling.jpgI think back to when I spent the night with my grandmother and she made me get out of bed to kneel beside her to pray. Who does that…Disrespectful.

I’ve wanted to kneel several times for my elders out of respect. Disrespectful.

At what point did kneeling becoming offensive?

What? Wait? What did you say?

Kneeling became offensive when a Black man kneeled to bring attention to the injustices of Black people in America.

colin

Oh I get it now; it’s offensive because you made up this entire thing that kneeling is no longer a sign of submission, vulnerability, love, respect, concern, prayer, etc. But it’s offensive because you know longer believe in kneeling for any of those things and it’s disrespectful because you believe the United States is flawless. And by know means, god forbid a man and definitely not a Black man has the constitutional right to call out the continued injustices towards Black people. Because Lord knows you’re not racist and you do have one Black friend and instead of this movement being about a specific social issue, you had to make it about you.

Wow, you make me really proud to say, I’m happy that I’m not watching football this season (#nflboycott). Because god-forbid that we have any commonalities, when you can’t wrap your little brain around what kneeling truly signifies.

Is it really about the flag, the veterans or whatever else you want to make it about? Or is it that a BLACK man refused to stay in his place? You know that corner that you love to put BLACK people in and you dare them to speak, especially when they are telling the TRUTH.

 

 

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Kneeling is Disrespectful?

What Do You Say…

What do you say to the cousin who has loss their cousin
What do you say to a person who’s family member was killed
What do you say to the cousin who has loss their best friend
What do you say to the grandfather who has loss their granddaughter
What do you say to the aunt who has loss their nephew
What do you say to the sister who has loss her brother
What do you say to the uncle who has loss their niece
What do you say to the grandmother who has loss their grandson

What do you say to the nephew who has loss their auntie
What do you say to the brother who has loss their lil brother
What do you say to the mom who has loss their son
What do you say to the daughter who has loss her father
What do you say

It’s gonna be alright
He’s in a better place
She’s in a better place
The cops is going to get them
This to shall pass
You’re gonna be alright
It’s all in God’s plan
It happened for a reason
They lived a very long life
Gone too soon
She’s with them now
In do time
What a great celebration of life
Take the time to grieve
Gone but not forgotten
He would have enjoyed that
She would have loved that
Be grateful for the time we did have
May she
May he
Rest in Peace
Bless their heart

One of my favorite college professors, Dr. Damu Kenyjatta once said, “When it’s your time, it’s your time.” We were sitting in the theatre and he was giving us one of his many wisdom sessions. He blew my mind with that one, “When it’s your time, it’s your time.” I remember thinking to myself, “Damn he’s deep”. Now I know some of the best wisdom is pure logic. Believe you me he said much deeper stuff than that.

But what he didn’t say was, although it’s their time. It doesn’t mean it won’t hurt any less or that it will even make sense.

Lord, I don’t get it. I’m sitting here trying to wrap my head around it and it doesn’t make sense. I don’t know what I’m suppose to do. I don’t know how I’m suppose to respond. I don’t know what I have done or what my family has done to have to go through this again.

Hell I don’t know if I understand anything. My family’s situation is first and foremost because their the closes to me. But, at the same time, I don’t know why the world is going through so much pain, from natural disasters, to shootings, health scares, fires, etc..etc…etc. You name it, it has happened and is happening. I’m all about feeling, but right now the only feeling that is consistent is pain.

I can hear the elders say, “He will never put more on you, than you can handle.”
Bull crap.

Every time, I think I’m going through something tough. You remind me that some body else has it worse. But my pain is real dear God and I don’t know how to make everything better. It seems like the norm is pain. Pain on top of pain. Pain greater than any one man, woman, or child can take. Lord I don’t know….

I don’t know how to be strong. I don’t want to be strong. I want to stand tall, stretch my arms out to my sides as far as they can go, lay my head back and yell at the top of my lungs, THIS IS FUCKED UP GOD! THIS IS SO FUCKED UP! and then scream until I run out of breath.

Out of respect, I’m not going to do that. Instead I’m going to wash this wine glass. Climb into my bed and cry until the tears stop flowing. Then remind myself that the only thing I have left to give to my family and to the world is love. Because lord knows, I have nothing else to give. Know matter what the cause was, it’s never gonna be okay. I don’t get it. I will never understand it and all I want to do is hug my family.

The answers may never come and the pain may never go away. What do you say to a person who’s heart is broken and joy won’t come in the morning?

R.I.P Peace Cuz

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My favorite recent pic of my cousin Maria. Saturday July 29, 2017 – Ms. Helen and Maria                   Maria passed away September 13, 2017
What Do You Say…

Where Are We Going

What’s up
Heading to the store
Is that right
That’s right
What are you getting at the store
I ain’t decided yet
So why are you going to the store
Because I want something
So you’re going to the store and you don’t even know what you want
That’s right
That gots to be the dumbest thing. I ever heard
You calling me dumb
I didn’t call you dumb
It’s the dumbest thing I ever heard
So I’m dumb
I didn’t say that
Then what did you say
What are you going to the store for
I don’t know, maybe some skittles
Everybody likes skittles
Taste the rainbow
What the Rainbow Coalition
Huh
Al Sharpton’s Rainbow Coalition
What, I said Skittles
For Al Sharpton
What
The Rainbow Coalition
Al Sharpton isn’t the Rainbow Coalition…
Yes he is
No that’s Jesse Jackson
Yeah the Jackson’s were like rainbows
What
Remember the rainbow from the carton
The Jackson Five
Yeah the bell-bottoms

Hey where ya’ll going
To the store
What ya’ll getting
The Jackson Five, Rainbow Coalition, and Jesse Skittles
I like Skittles, Jackson Five gonna be at the store
Rainbow Coalition
Why ya’ll walking so fast
To get Jesse
I thought you were going to the store
I am
We are
For what
To get skittles
And to see Al Sharpton Skittles Jesse Jackson Five
Everybody likes them
Especially the skittles
It’s a rainbow
What?

You Going
To the store

This was an excerpt from my short play End of the Rainbow. It was written and performed in 2012.  

 

 

Where Are We Going

Self Inflicted Stress

The last couple of days, I’ve been dealing with family stress. It’s not my families fault. You may say I brought it on myself. Over the last three weeks we had two deaths in our family. My amazing Aunt Beulah passed away at the age of 93 and two weeks later her brother, my uncle Joel Jackson passed away at the age of 94. At first glance, you may be saying, wow they lived very long lives. However, the next point is that this means my grandmother Ms. Helen has no living siblings. But then if you dig in a a little deeper then you will say, well she is the baby of the family, so everything appears to be in it’s natural order. That’s how I can deal with it on paper. Reality seems to have beaten me up in a different way.

Joelbackright(l.to.r) Aunt Marie, Uncle Dool, Auntie (Ola Mae), Joel, and Ms. Helen (my grandmother)
(seated) Myrtle Gillard (not pictured Aunt Beulah)

I live in Seattle, Washington and my family lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Although, I’ve lived in Seattle for seventeen years; instantly when I hear of a death or someone being sick in the family my first response is to try and go home. Sometimes it works out but most of the times it doesn’t. Despite not being there I always seem to try and find a way to be connected to what is happening. For my Aunt Beulah, I was able to write a piece about her that my niece read during her service. (That was dope.) For my Uncle Joel my sister asked me to send pictures of him that they could use for the bulletin/program. This is what stressed me out.

You see, I have a massive collection of family photos. I’m pretty proud of my collection. I knew I had this one particular picture of Joel but I wasn’t sure if I had to many more. But yet and still, I was happy to go through my collection. As I’m going through the collection, of course I’m finding pictures of everyone else. Therefore, I spend some of the time, taking pictures of the pictures to text to my family. To remind them of some of the moments from the past. About mid-way through my collection, I began to get nervous. I started to feel like I didn’t have any pictures of my uncle, but at the same time I knew there was at least one picture with his hands up. Because he didn’t want me to take his picture.

It happened, I went through the entire collection and all I had found was one group photo and nothing of Joel by himself. I became real sensitive to the situation. Why don’t I have any pictures of him? I know he didn’t like me taking pictures of him, but I still should have at least one? Am I missing some pictures? Let me think, did I move some pictures to another part of the house? What am I going to tell my family? I can’t believe I don’t have any pictures. The stress was building…

I decided to go to bed, and pick up the search the next day, when my mind was clear. I got home from work, cooked dinner, took a shower, ate dinner and began searching for pictures of him again. I remembered that I did have a folder of pics that I had pulled out for a documentary project. I found the folder went through it and I found a couple more group pics, but nothing of him by himself. I sat on my bed and had moments where I would cry just a little bit, because I was going to let down my family. How could I not have any pictures? I’m a failure.

More importantly, where was the one picture that I knew I had? Why can’t I find it? I sat there for a while and then I decided to go and check in another room. In a matter of minutes I found the picture with his hands up. I questioned why I had moved the pic but now it was like a precious piece of gold. I held it to my chest. I instantly felt the weight lifted from my heart.

Joel handsup

I don’t even think my family would be able to use it for the service, but that didn’t even matter anymore. I have a picture of my uncle Joel and that’s all I care about.

No more stress…RIP JOEL

Me and Joel
Me and Joel (2014 I think)
Self Inflicted Stress

Sunny vs Cloudy Days

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The sun is shining. We are finally starting to get a taste of summer. Around these parts we really appreciate what the summer brings. It not only highlights the beauty of the Pacific Northwest but it also lightens our spirits. Some of us are use to the cloudy somewhat rainy winters, but when that sun starts to show itself regularly we instantly light up. I have this thing I say, when the sun comes out it seems like people will just sit anywhere to get a taste of it. On the sidewalks and in any little patch of grass they can find, because they know we have to take it all in while we can. We really and truly appreciate its presence over here.

I’m starting to fill that way about violence in our communities and throughout America. The only difference is the winters are year round and there are only short flashes of summer. We’re going through these constant moments where this person is gunned down, beaten up, or violated in some inhumane way and those people over there are killed in a massive shooting or even bombed. Then when we get that brief moment where nothing has happened and we begin to very slowly and cautiously come out of the grief. BOOM!!!

It’s happened again.

On Monday, the young lady that works with me. Came into the office and I could tell that she wasn’t herself. Hell I wasn’t myself. We spoke a little while about the murder of Charleena Lyles, but then like always we tried to focus on the work. We went through our workday like normal tackling our workload. It seemed pretty much like a typical day in the office, once we got in our grove.

When the time came for me to leave for the day. I stood up and she said, “Sharon, I just have one more question before you go.” I looked down into her eyes and they were a little glossy, so I made sure I gave her my undivided attention. Then she said in her most sincere voice, “What do we do?”

As her boss she is somewhat use to me having the answer. Hell I’m use to me having some kind of answer. I slowly reached for my chair and sat back down, looked her in her eyes and said, “Suryanka, I don’t know”.

 

I don’t know when the sun will continue to shine and if the cloudy winters will ever stop again. I just don’t know.

Sunny vs Cloudy Days

Setting My Mind Free: The Prayer

airplane wing

I can’t make this stuff up.

Today is Tuesday, May 23rd and I’m on a plane headed to Denver for a three day meeting for the National Performance Network’s LANE (Leveraging A Network of Equity) program. It’s been a rocky morning. I left home a little late, morning traffic was a little thick so that mixed with my lateness, I was about 10 minutes late to the Park N Fly. Arrived at the airport, then one of there employees tells me to go to a different checkpoint (#3) and I knew that was taken me further away from my gate, but I went with the flow. Arrived at where my favorite bagel shop should have been but is no longer. It’s being replaced with some entertainment business. Settled for the restaurant near where I was, only to have servers ignore me for about 10 minutes. After getting my food 20 minutes after I ordered it. I made my way down to the gate listed on my boarding pass only to realize they changed the gate and instead of 4 it was 1. Board the plane and tell a man he’s in my seat and when he gives me this look of confidence. I look at my boarding pass and realized I was wrong. Then for no reason at all I struggled to get my headphones, my pillow, my iPad out of my bag and to put my seatbelt on.

Breath…deep breaths…wuuuu saaaa…

Once settled, my bagel turned out to be good, they included a fruit cup, so that made me feel a little better about it costing me $12. Finished eating and decided I would work on writing part two (now part three) of the Setting My Mind Free blog. To reveal what it was that appeared in my head as I was sitting on the back deck watching the ferry, listening to the music of the waves, and feeling the radiant heat on my face.

Now I’m on this plane in a window seat, the sun is heating the side of my face. As we ease into the sky, I’m captivated by the beauty. I open my iPad and go to the notes app. Once in notes I decided to checkout some of the writings I had stored on there. Just to be reminded of what I had wrote and see if by chance any of the writings would spark something new for me to write. The first piece I came across was the notes for the podcast I recorded on Sunday. (Still working on creating a podcast so it’s not ready for the public yet but will be soon.) After reading part ways through I then navigated to the Notes on iPad section of the app. And believe you me I couldn’t believe I came across this piece I wrote on August 31, 2016.

Amen Amen Amen Amen

I’m starting my prayer at the end
Because that’s where my story begins
I’ve taken the steps in DC to approach you
As my feet hit the pavement
My fingers found your name
I was instantly drained

I made it this far
With you being the angel in my heart
As I have moved through time
Wondering, why mine

You were called
And you went
From protect and serve to
I promise to defend the constitution
To six feet deep with a cemented sign and grass covering
Your head to your feet

As my tears roll
I need a minute to vent
I need to get this off of my chest
Because I can’t let it rest

WHY DID THEY TAKE YOU FROM ME
NEVER CAN I LOOK INTO YOUR EYES
HEAR YOUR LAUGH
OR FEEL YOUR HEART BEAT NEXT TO MINE
I DON’T KNOW YOUR VOICE
OR IF YOUR SKIN IS SOFT OR ROUGH
ARE YOUR TEETH BRIGHT WHITE
OR DO THEY HAVE A HINT OF YELLOW
ARE YOUR FEET PRETTY
OR ARE YOUR DOGS CRUSTY
DO YOU WALK WITH SWAG
OR ARE YOU JUST A SHY GUY
WHAT DO YOU SMELL LIKE AFTER YOU WORK ON YOUR CAR
WHAT DO YOU SMELL LIKE WHEN YOU GO ON A DATE
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE FOOD, COLOR, TIME OF YEAR
WHAT MAKES YOU SMILE
WHAT MAKES YOU SAD
WHAT WILL MAKE YOU KICK SOMEBODIES ASS

BROTHER WHY DON’T I KNOW THE TRUE YOU

I’m trapped in this world
Knowing you were here
You left before I appeared
I’m constantly longing for you to be near

Father God,
I come to you today
Asking you to give me strength as a pray
Let me forever feel his presence
Tell him I love him and I wish he were here

Dear Lord, I pray for the cousin they took away

Sitting on the deck on Whidbey Island, I thought I wasn’t searching for anything. I thought I just wanted to step away from the chaos of life and just be still. However, my mind on the deck and on the plane told me and showed me that it was time to share my connection to Brother with the world in an honest and loving way.

Trust yourself and don’t be afraid to set your mind free.

 

Setting My Mind Free: The Prayer