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In Light of Recent Shootings How do we Heal?

My Condolences to the Loved Ones of our Recent Losses

This article is written in light of recent shootings including the deaths of Philando Castile, Alton B. Sterling, and of deeply cared for Dallas police officers, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Smith, Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarripa, and Brent Thompson- who have been assigned to serve local American communities.  All of these men were a group of fathers, husbands and sons to caring family members. 

I send my heartfelt affections, words of comfort and mourning for these unacceptable deaths.

It is important that we take the time to grieve these losses and seek to understand those in pain from every angle.  While doing so, it is also vital that we ask the strenuous questions needed to gain thorough healing to the racial wounding we are now experiencing.

Whether one believes these deaths are due to racism or simply another police altercation, it is important to understand why some African Americans may feel deep pain centered around subliminal systematic prejudices.  If you have an interest in gaining a glimpse into this perspective then continue to read this article…

The Root of Racial Tensions

We are clearly in a moment of racial tension in our nation, but this is not a new tension.  Many are calling it a new sort of racial “Civil War” but it does not have to be so.  We are dealing with a buried cancerous seeping wound that we, many times, have chosen not to address because of discomfort.  It is a hidden, covert vice that we have been bound to for hundreds of years.

This vice is being unveiled by the gracious hand of God.  We are now seeing what was always there.  And this is a step towards needed surgery, healing that can only come from the Greatest Surgeon’s hand, tenderly taking our wounded hearts, our stiffened minds and our confused souls into His alleviating, supple, lucid way. 

“This is the way” He whispers to our longing ears, “walk in it.”

This is a test. 

An open book test.

A test we have taken many times.

A test we have done well in and a test we have failed.

Are there underlining factors that we are avoiding facing?

All the more, it is a test we cannot pass until we are willing to study our past.  And oh, what a past we must examine.  The reality is that it is a shameful, difficult, painful, emotional past.

It is a past we would much rather cover up, hide away, and pretend like never happened.

But when we ignore it, this past of ours, the American people, we find ourselves in a worsened state.

The fact of the matter is the soul of America is now 240 years old and was established with some moral wrongs intertwined, in the deep rooted foundation of our nation.  In 1619, we hosted a crew of Middle Passage slaves from the coast of Africa to the beloved colony, Jamestown, Virginia.  This was 157 years before we established our separate identity and independence from Britain.

Democracy was established, it was birthed for all except the African slaves.  They did not choose this New World and it was not a prosperous, sought after experience for the bound and shackled.  It was more like a nightmare come to life, all was suddenly taken, they were forced into quarters with people so strange some thought they were living in the Underworld.

In the year 1776, July 4th of 1776 to be exact, we experienced the birthing of this nation.  A few days past (in 2016) we celebrated this heroic day and rightfully so, but have we forgotten the plight of these people?  It is hard.  The stories are gut-wrenching.  The truth is too difficult to face but the consequences of ignoring this bygone era has proven to be fatal.

We must understand that our olden days deeply affect us, they explain how we arrived to where we are and it is a beautiful story even with all it’s many ascensions and descensions.

The truth is too difficult to face by the consequences of ignoring this bygone era has proven to be fatal.

In many ways, we are all products of Mother America.  America’s 240 year old soul has experienced a great deal of trauma.  That trauma is affecting our ability to “get along” today but our lack of education around why these emotions are so strong, why we are facing such a “misunderstanding” is causing a great deal of suffering.

This must be rectified.

The Danger of Blaming the Victimized

Many would say that blacks have to take responsibility for their own actions, it’s been hundreds of years and they cannot pull the “race card” or bring up slavery in 2016.

Even blacks may feel they have to separate themselves from this painful past and move on in reconciliation.

But if we do this too quickly, as we have done in the past, we will never deal with the issue at hand.  We will skim over it from both angles in an attempt to move on…

For many years, blacks have been expected to cross the line between forgiveness and self-hatred.  Forgiveness is good.  It is Biblical.  It is necesssary.  It is Christian.  And it should never be done away with; yet we are provided with a boundary line.

We have to understand when our forgiveness, especially with a past of systematic victimization has become painfully abusive to the oppressed party involved.

For us, this is not a matter of forgiveness.  This is a matter of not allowing our good to be spoken of as evil.  We should not allow our good to be slandered.

Understanding The Historical Factor

We have to understand that when an entire people group has experienced dehumanization, when ex-slaves such as Sojourner Truth or Harriet Jacobs saw their masters as gods because they could not mentally process such abuse with a Sovereign God’s leadership of earthly matters…we do not need to place the blame on this people.

We are in need of healing.  And this healing must occur from the place of empathy.  We are in need of renewed confidence.  We are in need of seeing ourselves as worth being treated in all aspects of life (emotional, spiritual, physical, civil) on the same playing ground.

Because we are human.  We are your brothers and we are your sisters.

There are subliminal ways that we have yet to receive the basic rights given to someone of other privilege.  And the color of one’s skin, rather than the content of their character, should never be the determining factor regarding how they are treated.

Responding to the Crisis in Love

There is a way to respond in humility, in love, in graciousness, and in the Spirit…removing the fleshly responses or violent ways we may have seen in others recently.  There is a way to respond in gentle love yet resolved dedication to our rights.

And that is what we will do as the people of the United States of America. 

We will take the time to understand the plight of our brothers.  We will humbly repent without sympathy (feeling sorry for someone else’s trouble, grief or misfortune).  Because sympathy is not true love.  It is why many times we feel like others are belittling us, looking down on us poor African or African American peoples due to our lesser lot in life. 

Rather, we are going to look to one another on level playing ground asking the hard questions, “What would it be like if my forefathers had to fight to be married?  Fight to be considered a human?  Fight to have basic rights such as voting, protecting their wives and children from sexual exploitation and walking into the same building as another?  What would it be like if generations of people, my people, my forefathers had to rise above all of that mistreatment?  What would it be like if I had to live in a world where my skin color alone caused others to talk down to me or treat me as if I “may be” a criminal?  What would it be like if every time I tried to pastor or move into a neighborhood where I was the minority people whispered concerns or gave me strange looks all because I am different?  What would that world be like?”

We as the American people need to ask these questions because if we don’t we will continue to see this cancerous disease begin to touch our own homes in some way, shape or form.  We cannot continue to turn a deaf ear or blind eye.  And yes, we must forgive.  We must be non violent.  We must be meek.

While finally talking about the eruptive 397 year old wound beneath the surface of our everyday lives.

So we the American people must rise to the decorum of the occasion with a heart of empathy (the feeling that you understand and share in another person’s experiences or emotions) if we want this disruption to finally be healed.

Written in Genuine Peace, Concern, and Prayer for all the lives of those we have lost at a time in history we so longed to celebrate the Foundation of Democracy and Freedom.  Instead we were faced with an unwelcomed death toll.  May our redemptive history be the story of our future.

Sincerely,

Jade Lee

Writer, Speaker and Indebted Descendant of our Beloved Harriet Tubman

9 July 2016

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Why Black Women are Silently Suffering with Depression

By Paige Smith

Depression has become the silent assassin on the black community. Like any mental or physical illness, depression doesn’t discriminate against anyone. Yet in the black community depression has long been stigmatized as a condition African Americans, in particular African American women, don’t deal with.

Terrie M. Williams, author of Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting opened up in a CNN interview with Soledad O’ Brien on how for years she silently suffered with depression. She admits that she felt so much darkness and pain but never opened up because she had to wear “the mask”.

Although on the outside she seemed to have it all together, having a successful publicist career with high profile clientele, for her even the small task of getting out of the bed in the morning and taking a shower was “the hardest thing”.

So many black women are like Williams, feeling engulfed by the weight of depression but for the sake of their careers, their marriages, their ministries, their reputations, they pull it together, put on “the mask”, and continue on, seemingly conquering the world.

Yet this “Black superwoman syndrome”, as JLO and Ebony have coined it, is crippling Black women who feel the need to be strong for everyone else, often at the expense of their own mental health. (Read more “The Danger of Being a Superwoman” on JadeLee.org and “Depression and The Black Superwoman Syndrome” on Ebony.com).

As a young black woman I’ve seen it in my life and so many others. Black women who are pillars for so many others, carrying the weight of the world to the point of mental and emotional breakdowns.

Some would say that “black women are the back bone of society”, yet depression is what can be a result when that back bone begins to bend under the strain of mounting pressures, with no support to lean on (Soledad O’Brian).

I know for myself and many other Black women, we can find ourselves in the throes of anxiety and depression yet find it so difficult to reach out of our internal darkness for help.

This “darkness” can look different for many, and some women like Terrie Williams may seem to be doing perfectly fine, but be suffering from depression.

According to www.mentalhealthamerica.com some symptoms are:

1. A persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood, or excessive crying
2. Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain

3. Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders and chronic pain

4. Irritability, restlessness

5. Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling “slowed down”
 Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness, pessimism

6. Sleeping too much or too little, early-morning waking

7. Loss of interest on pleasure in activities, including sex

8. Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions

8. Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts

If you or a loved one have experienced any of these symptoms, I encourage you to reach out. Nothing is more important than your well being and your mental health.

You don’t have to be strong for everyone. In fact, opening up to someone who accepts your vulnerability can bring immense healing. Consider talking to a therapist and allowing yourself a safe place to discuss how you’ve been feeling beyond “the mask” you may feel the need to wear.

You deserve happiness. You deserve joy. You deserve beauty for your ashes. You deserve the ability to be an authentic woman, without the pressure to be a “super” version of yourself.

Open up today, your physical, emotional, and mental life could be saved because of it.

Here are some encouraging scriptures to read for meditation:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Philippians 4:8)

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him” (Psalm 40:1-3)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Do you have any tips for someone struggling with depression?  We want to hear from you as our readers.  Please share in the comments below.

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Healthy Body Image in African American Women

Did you know that every one in two African American women are obese? But we have the highest self-esteem of women in our nation? Education is one of the most powerful mediums to overcoming this foe in our community of high self-esteem but sometimes unbalanced views. Our goal is obtaining a healthy body image for ourselves, daughters, friends and families. As we gain more understanding regarding the significant empowerment that comes from healthy living, we can learn how to creatively change our diets and lifestyles, all while continuing to be the glue of our communities.

Sources:

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/curvy-hurts-black-womans-severe-struggle-body-image/story?id=24777077

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4696065

http://healthpsych.psy.vanderbilt.edu/2009/AfricanAmericanBodyImage.htm

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/black-women-and-body-image/2012/02/24/gIQAuvkIeR_gallery.html

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Allowing GOD to fight my battles?

imageBy Jade Lee

Suffering and saying nothing back, this was a day I would have to allow GOD to fight my battles.  I pull up to the gas station. I pull out my card to begin pumping gas.  I swipe my card and enter my zip code.

It does not work I do it a couple more times thinking, “What’s wrong with my card?” Then I realize I’m typing in the wrong code. As soon as I finally get it right a youthful sports car zips up right in front of me. I’m standing between my vehicle and the gas pump about to pull the pump out. It’s not long before I realize there’s a young white man whose face has turned bright red in fiery anger. He’s yelling at me, at the top of his voice.

He’s railing angry words declaring that, “There’s lanes…you’re not going total my car!” And I respond with an even tone saying, “I apologize.”

But I know at this point he does not hear a word I am saying. And I know at this point it is a very act of GOD that I am being so kind or calm.

In my head, there’s a quiet storm, not a calm.  I’m preparing myself for the worst.  Is this the day when for the very first time I am about to be called the “n” word?

Is he about to get out of his car?

Is he thinking he can do this because I’m a caramel young lady in the Deep South or because I’m a woman?

Maybe he grew up seeing his parents do the same, specifically his father.

But it was probably just because his car was almost totaled and he loved his baby.

But it’s sad I have to wonder…could it have been rooted in racism?  If anything happens to me will there even be true justice served?

He then storms away angry. He storms away driving speedily out of the gas station

He drives just as quickly as he did a moment before when I was turning into an establishment and suddenly a vehicle appears out of nowhere driving right towards me.

I’m shocked by his cars appearance and almost hit him. He swerves away from me just in the nick of time.

But I never expected him to turn around, follow me to the gas station, drive up to me and yell at the top of his voice with verbal assaults.

Me, a young black woman alone in the south, in a really uncomfortable situation, feeling danger.

06 Sep 1957, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA --- Elizabeth Eckford ignores the hostile screams and stares of fellow students on her first day of school.  She was one of the nine negro students whose integration into Little Rock's Central High School was ordered by a Federal Court following legal action by NAACP. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

06 Sep 1957, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA — Elizabeth Eckford ignores the hostile screams and stares of fellow students on her first day of school. She was one of the nine negro students whose integration into Little Rock’s Central High School was ordered by a Federal Court following legal action by NAACP. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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I didn’t know what he was about to do next. Yes, he was that angry. Irrational angry. I’ll get out of the car in your face angry. I may hit you with my car angry.

It was at that point the wisdom to say nothing that would escalate the situation kicked in, which is not necessarily in my “first hand nature.”

Of course afterwards a slew of great responses rolled throughout my mind. I could have said this and this and this.

But none of that foolishness would have placed me in a safe position or him in a place where he would not take it to an even more dangerous place.

Thousands of years ago, Jesus was railed upon with more than words. People were driving nails into his body, he was trust upon a cross and a crown of thorns was driven into his head.

Yet, He said nothing. He was quiet as a sheep going to the slaughter. And He did nothing wrong.

He paid the ultimate price and it wasn’t His fault.

There is a time when we need to speak up, to report an incident, to declare it from the mountaintop until justice is served.

Then there are moments we need to be silent, allowing the LORD to bring justice. We see leaders in the Civil Rights Movement act in this way, motivated by the teaching of Jesus.

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And we can all learn a lesson of holding our peace as He did on Calvary, for just a while longer.

To pray for our enemies as I was challenged to do, knowing this was his issue, not mine.

And to give it over to the King like a bird flying out of once so tightly gripped hands.

Then our souls are free to forgive, to let go, to move on into peaceful quietness.

Is there someone who has violated you, abused you or mistreated you? Perhaps it is time to lose yourself from the grip of their words and actions knowing their behavior is not your burden to carry.

And to quietly allow the LORD to bring justice in a way you could never while praying for their healing and letting them go; you will then experience a sort of revival-resurrection that you’ve probably been waiting for due to pain.

Meditation: 1 Peter 2:21-25 MSG

“This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step. He never did one thing wrong, Not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:21-25‬ ‭MSG‬‬

My Prayer for you: Father I pray for those who like me were in a situation they felt violated or mistreated. Maybe it’s because they were discounted, lied to, talked about, verbally or physically assaulted. Maybe they have wrestled with areas of self blame for their current situation and wondered why it happened, what could they have done to have hindered such a situation? But today I pray for the freedom from self blame or condemnation that comes with release, with truth. And I pray for the Liberty that propels us into peace when we let go, we forgive and we loose the burden of others at their worse. And we give it all to you, trust you to fight our battles while wishing for their deliverance or salvation. In our quietness, make us more like You, setting appropriate boundaries on all our relationship while loving harder. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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How General Harriet Tubman Can Inspire Us Now

Did you know Harriet Tubman was a Union army spy and war hero of the American Civil War?  This information is unsung to many in the American historical narrative.  Instead, we imagine United States Commanders, Generals and Colonels such as Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, or George Custer.  It is really hard to place an African American face to our instant connotation to the words “Civil War General” or “Army.”

Yet according to www.mrnussbaum.com, “African Americans played a prominent role in the Union Army during the Civil War.  Over 200,000 African Americans, equaling 10% of the entire military force, served in the Union military. 37,000 died fighting for the Union.  Most were escaped slaves who served in segregated units under white officers.” 

In other words, one out of every 10 Union soldiers were African American mostly ex-slaves.  But this was not always the case.  At first, blacks were not even permitted nor seem to be capable of being a part of the army.  This was due to the deep racial perspective that had infiltrated even those in the most northern regions of the nation.

A Divine Act of GOD would have to occur before these men would be seen as safe or competent enough to join forces against the Confederate army, who was at this time seeming to dominate the war.

And that was exactly what occurred.  Fitting to her affectionate name, Moses, Harriet Tubman would, in one sweep reflect the same paramount and heroic acts that Moses had conducted thousands of years before as he brought his people group out of a similar slavery.

The chattel slavery of the Jews was a strong, physically oppressive system, empowering the Egyptians to live strong, lavish lives as the major world power.  Alike the Biblical narrative, Harriet Tubman would find herself chosen to free her people “down by the riverside”.

For Moses, it would be the Red Sea bordering Egypt and housed betwixt the continents Africa and Asia.  For Harriet, it would be the Combahee River of South Carolina. 

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The Red Sea Moses would have crossed with the Children of Israel.

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Combahee River, “as seen by Harriet Tubman Bridge from Highway 17.” www.wikepedia.org

Harriet Tubman had traveled down to South Carolina in the year 1861 (around 46 years of age) with “a group of other abolitionists who headed south to assist refuge slaves who (had) escaped to safety behind Union lines.”  She was known as a nurse, a scout, a teacher and was about to become a famous spy in the Union army. 

She has already escaped from slavery herself, in the year 1849, twelve years prior to coming down to South Carolina in service.  She then freed at least 70 slaves through the same Underground Railroad system.  This heroic act would prepare her for the next purpose in her daring calling.

In the year 1863, two years after having arrived to this coastline in the deep south, she would be used in a unheard of manner as both a female and African American.

Sarah Bradford, a contemporary of Harriet Tubman, agreed to write her biography in Harriet’s latter years.  She was in need of money and facing poverty as a large benefactor to her community.  In Sarah’s book, Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman, she wrote of Harriet’s “first hand account of the Combahee River expedition” in which Harriet and others would free over 700 slaves:

When our armies and gun-boats first appeared in any part of the South, many of the poor negroes were as much afriad of “de Yankee Buckra” as of their own masters.  It was almost impossible to win their confidence, or to get information from them.  But to Harriet they would tell anything; and so it became quite important that she should accompany expeditions going up the rivers, or into unexplored parts of the country, to control and get information form those whom they took with them as guides.

In other words, the black slaves were being so mistreated and experienced such degradation that they did not trust a single white soul, including the Union army.  Yet they were more than likely the ones made to place the underwater mines (“torpedoes”) into the river.  Their confederate masters would have put them to this dangerous work.

But it would not be long before this would all work against the Confederate army. 

Harriet worked closely with Colonel Montgomery, who also aided the John Brown raid  only four years prior (October 16, 1859).  Largely in spite of Union army hesitancy and general battle practices (lining up in two straight lines to combat), Montgomery and Tubman would lead a covert operation behind enemy lines.

And Harriet had the inside information which only she, a trusted black woman, could receive.

In the spring of 1863 she ingeniously worked with Montgomery to gain two gun-boats with the very first group of black men placed in military uniform.  This would have been unheard of and never seen.  History was in the making.

She took these men across the span of nine separate plantations across the South Carolina border.  On June 3, 1863 they would burn and flood these money making hub of rice fields, destroying a major store of Confederate income.

In conjunction, about 170 slaves were rushed into these boats in a panicky, frantic somewhat humorous scene, also described by Harriet as completely out of the control of their master’s drivers, “In vain, then, the drivers used their whips in their efforts to hurry the poor creatures back to their quarters; they all turned and ran for the gun-boats.”

It was a great moment of rejoicing as she recalled how they “laughed, an’ laughed, an’ laughed.”  These women, mirroring the visual of skilled African women, carried pails of rice on their heads, fresh off the fire, children hanging onto their dresses and pigs brought on board.

They beat on the side of the jam packed boats, desperate to never be left behind to the misery they had been experiencing.  And Harriet would sing songs of deliverance as they responded back with a loud shout, “Glory!”

Mission accomplished.

The masters fled; houses and barns and railroad bridges were burned, tracks torn up, torpedoes destroyed, and the object of the expedition was fully accomplished.

The Confederates were held back as Montgomery arranged black soldiers with guns to shoot off into the woods holding them back in fear.  As if this story could get any more amazing, not one person died in all this warfare, except the Confederate soldier named Fripp.

Because of Harriet’s willingness and great work, black soldier would be admitted into the Union army becoming 1 in every 10 soldiers as they proudly died for the free land we can now all experience.

This is the land in which we can release a huge smile on our faces as we shop in a retail store, looking down, getting our change and seeing the face of the woman of many firsts…Harriet Tubman.  The great pioneer and leader is now on our currency as a reminder of her still relevant words,

Every great dream begins with a dreamer.  Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.

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Coping with the Unexpected Foe…Infertility

Jade Lee

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after one year of unexpected intercourse (six months if the woman is over age 35) or the inability to carry a pregnancy to live birth.”

I have been fighting this unexpected foe of infertility knowingly and unknowingly, for over 11 years now.  And it is not an easy battle.  But primarily because of the shock.

You never expect to hear that you are infertile or to not have children.  No, I was not one of those women who sit and think and think and think about having children, how my wedding will be planned, the perfect home…but I did subconsciously assume my life would be #1 Go to College #2 Get Married #3 Run Professionally #4 Live in a Mega Home #5 Have Children #6 Live Happily After.

At first it was not even a shocker that I was not getting pregnant, I was so consumed in my profession- ministry- that I did not think much about it, and I was happy to enjoy the free time of being childless.

But as time went on and on and on, it would be soon that I realized my great desire to mother, after having helped many young women with their birth journey.  I was even helping deliver babies. 

It got harder and harder to not have a “family” of my own.

And then the truth sank in, doctor visits began, reports came back, multiple surgeries came, and I was at a loss for words.  My heart was in shock and shattered to pieces, not because I didn’t have faith but because infertility is a grieving process.

I particularly had a major lack of education on reproductive health and the chances being 1.5 times higher for people of my skin complexion to have children.  Yes, yet another startling statistic regarding the African American community.  Sometimes the question echos through my head, “When will it ever end?” regarding the black plight.

My image of a infertile woman, was a rich, white, maybe celebrity woman walking into a clinic to get an IVF treatment or have a surrogate child.

This is all I had ever seen.  It never even crossed my mind that black women struggled with this issue which is apparently a very strong myth not isolate to my own perspective.

Why do black women face this at a higher rate? 

According to Resolve, the National Infertility Association, “Many of the factors leading to this higher incidence is our hesitance to visit the doctor, as well as higher rates of conditions such as fibroids.  One way to squash this myth is to start talking.  By opening an honest and guilt-free dialogue,w e can step towards removing the stigmas that holds so many of us hostage.”

This is why sharing our stories is so important as we find the grace to do so, and why I so openly am sharing my own faith journey through this sometimes grueling process.

This battle is occurring not only on a first time basis, but secondary infertility grips the wombs of many women unexpectedly.

This simply means a woman has already experienced a full term birth, yet cannot seem to get pregnant sometimes for years after having a child.

This can be as hard or even harder for women because of how shocking it is to go through this difficulty, according to Marlo Schalesky, author of Empty Womb, Aching Heart.

Here are a few facts about infertility that will help you cope with this very painful reality for every 1 in 8 women:

  • Do not allow guilt to become your guide or friend.  When facing this sickness, it is easy, especially in a Christian context to believe you have received the judgment of Michal.  Maybe GOD is punishing me!  Then the thoughts begin to go on to all the wrongs, the sexual immorality of your past, a man of GOD you may have offended.  Resist this urge knowing that GOD loves you unconditionally and although there are consequences for our actions, the finish work of the cross redeems our sins.  He forgives, loves and the majority of infertile women are not being condemned due to sin.
  • Self blame or the blame of your spouse is not healthy nor valid.  When we face a situation that is beyond our control it is really hard not to search for the object of blame.  Starting with GOD, we want to know WHY?  And, WHY ME?  Why do I have to go through this?  Why are all these other women getting pregnant and I can’t seem to get pregnant?  Why isn’t my body cooperating?  What is wrong with ME?  Why does GOD not love me?  Why is my spouse’s body broke? As this storm of questions rage in a woman’s mind, it is important to remind yourself of the love HE has for you even in a plan that is nowhere near what you expected.  At the end of the story, in the midst of the conflict, we will find peace and a plan beyond what we could see.  Instead of blaming our spouse, let’s work together to find the healing we need.
  • Finding the joy of the LORD is an active and sometimes daily pursuit needed in this walk.  We have to press into His joy when we want to give up, wallow in the very real situation of hours of medical situations, hospital bills and challenges.  I came to a point where I had to let it all go, forget about it and get Determined to Enjoy the moments of life I had; I would not allow infertility to steal my life away.  Focus on the blessings in front of you to find a joy beyond your situation.
  • Find a support group.  This may start with your husband, a doctor, even just one friend or an infertility group in your area.  This is going to be needed in a journey that seems to be inconsistent day by day.  We all have our good days and then the really dire ones where we need an understanding, listening ear.
  • Don’t feel guilty to say No.  If you can’t seem to get through baby showers, Mother’s Day, or women’s church groups full of expecting young mothers, it’s okay to say no.  It’s okay to take a leave of absence and do something that will get your mind off of what you do not have because of something beyond your control.
  • Know when to let go of the battle if it gets too much.  One of the most freeing moments in the fight has been letting go but not after a lot of wrestling.  One day I simply decided that I had to give this over to the LORD.  I had to trust Him because ultimately He is the Only One who can cause my womb to be filled.  And I refocused on what He had for me to give to others right now. 
  • If needed, get counseling.  From what I have read and heard, most couples facing infertility will fight depression.  Sometimes this gets overwhelming to a point of needed professional help in knowing how to continue living your life in a world full of new parents, baby aisles (Target, the grocery store) and daily reminders of how your life should be…if not for this frustrating issue.  Many couples benefit from a season of having a listening ear that knows what to say in such a sensitive area (most people do not know what to say at all and say all the wrong things).

There are many more tips I could give you in fighting through this battle but all in all, I am praying for you, standing with you and willing to listen to you.  You are not alone.

If you know someone struggling with infertility or may be going through this yourself, please share this message with them; maybe it will be just the hope they need to press on through One More Day of Faith.

Blessings!

Jade Lee

 

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Discovering A Lost Identity in Africa

Upon leaving the coast of South Africa my heart was full to overflowing. I wept many tears and cried everyday in Africa.  

The tears I cried were an expression of Christ’s heart for a people that has been oppressed, forsaken and forgotten for hundreds of years.  This people is all around the world, identified as the African diaspora.  His heart deeply cares for her wounding and neediness.

I’ve been to Kenya twice and this was my third trip to the continent of Africa. But this particular experience was so deep and rich for me.

It is even more intensified as I am in the middle of in depth research of the history of America’s national racial wounding.  Going back to Africa this time meant more to me than ever before; I soon would realize I was crying tears for an entire people group.

I was in pain over the needs I knew the African American community had and how we were suffering due to generations of mistreatment.  Sure we can forgive and have forgiven much, yet there is oftentimes a lack of understanding of the need for comforting the pain we have experienced.

We had a 17 hour flight to Africa! It was nothing but the grace of GOD that helped us and we made it through jet lag still able to gain

We had a 17 hour flight to Africa! It was nothing but the grace of GOD that helped us and we made it through jet lag still able to gain.

This occurs as we weep with those who weep.  Romans 12:15

I sat with hundreds then with a small group of college aged young adults ready to approach life.  They were at a crossroads without much, no parents, these children were orphans now become adults.

What would they do next?  How would they become successful leaders in their nation?  How would they regain the control of their economy?

Understanding the history of Africa is vital.  Understanding the history of Africa is healing. Understanding the history of Africa is to know the missing pieces of the black community.

And I picked up a few pieces to that lost puzzle, but it was a painful experience.

One specific moment really grabbed my heart and opened my eyes to reality.  I sat in a small room with these recent high school graduates as they shared their viewpoint of GOD.

We split into small groups sharing inspiring stories and helping them move forward in finding purpose (akin to what most young adults their age need).

But as we began to share the African American storyline their eyes lit with interest.  This was foreign information; the shock and deep concern displayed on their young faces gripped my heart and wrung it out until the tears later escaped my eyes.

Our roots run deep into the soil of Africa, a long, lost land that we must reconnect to if we want to fully heal. There are blessings we as African Americans can both give and receive from Africa.

Our roots run deep into the soil of Africa, a long, lost land that we must reconnect to if we want to fully heal. There are blessings we as African Americans can both give and receive from Africa.

They had never heard of a people who were considered and treated as less than humans.  It was heartbreaking to find our distant cousins and tell our story.

Knowing them was like a mirror, we could more clearly see ourselves.  We could see what has been taken from us, in a way, unknowingly.  We were able to see our blessings in America, yet see the little treasures that had been stripped from our identity:

We are just now approaching the age of African American natural hair care discoveries.  We are indulging in shea butter, argan oil, twist outs, coconut oil and lots of hair moisture.  For years, we have had to ReLearn the Basics because we were in survival mode.

How do you focus on hair care, oral tradition, body care and the like when you are traumatized by the rape of a loved one you cannot help, the violent beating of a son you cannot stop, the ripping of a daughter from your very hands, the laws that dehumanize and separate you from the remainder of this foreign land or the covert prejudice that surrounds you in the workplace?

As we heal, we must go back.  There are stories, information that has been casually and naturally passed down from generation to generation in Africa.  It may or may not even be recognized as especially significant until you go and see the differences with your own eyes.

For me it was a different experience.  It was glaringly different than the white Americans who traveled with me.  

And I was marked.

Black women all over the world are beautiful, we shared the graceful message that the gospel brings with these young adult women who just graduated from High School. These women would now receive the identity needed to give hope to those they are called to influence.

Black women all over the world are beautiful, we shared the graceful message that the gospel brings with these young adult women who just graduated from High School. These women would now receive the identity needed to give hope to those they are called to influence.

I was marked with a burden, a blessing, a deep longing to see use healed.  Self discovery gripped my heart as I longed to bring back the lost treasures engulfed by the Middle Passage.  

And this provided HOPE.

The songs of these young adults, the strength I felt encouraged me.  I thought of the strength I have seen many times in the African American Episcopal, Baptists and other black congregations.  The power that only a slave spiritual brings as you hear it sung was identical to the power I felt behind these songs.

The force I felt when only a gospel song is sung was the same force I felt behind these songs.

The strength behind a beat a staccato like war sounds was the same strength I felt behind these songs.

At that moment, we were one.

They were not African and I was not African American.  There was a connection beyond our time that was connected through the fact that we had the same ancestors.  And I was experiencing what I would call HOME.

I felt a sense of belonging that I have yet to feel in the states.

While all the while I knew I was American to the core.

This connection…will be valued forever and the identity I have experienced will heal many as together we discover all the MISSING PIECES it is now to time to collect.  It is time to ReGather.

And through this journey.  We will now heal.

Africa is so gorgeous, the people, the food, the entire experience. As we flew back home, over the Atlantic Ocean my heart was immersed with love, remembering years past...how my ancestors were lost, dispersed on the Middle Passage over this same ocean. And I saw renewal, refreshing, a restoration of a people ready to now Go and Reach the World.

Africa is so gorgeous, the people, the food, the entire experience. As we flew back home, over the Atlantic Ocean my heart was immersed with love, remembering years past…how my ancestors were lost, dispersed on the Middle Passage over this same ocean. And I saw renewal, refreshing, a restoration of a people ready to now Go and Reach the World.

 

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Why Black Mothers Beat their Children as a Cultural Norm

Paige Smith

I’m a mother of a one year old whirlwind of joy and love. As his mom it’s my responsibility to show him this through modeling, teaching, and discipline. Yet as a Black mother the expectation is that I will, rather that I must, beat my child…He’s curious, energetic, outgoing, and fearless. He wants to explore the world, meet everyone in the room, and get on the stage to dance around who ever is speaking or performing. Like any one year old he’s quickly learning boundaries and right from wrong.  What is the best way to discipline him and help him discover these boundaries?

Disclaimer: This article is not to say that spanking your child is never an option in any situation or that sparing the rod is advisory in our opinion.  It is to challenge a system that has been in place since slavery creating unbalanced cultural norms in our own viewpoints of ourselves and how we raise our children in the black community.  Have our viewpoints regarding our own abilities to use corporal punishment without self-control shaped our thinking towards ourselves in comparison to white children?

The “why” behind spanking is what I hope to explore in this article. The roots behind the corporal discipline so embedded in the Black community is one I and I’m sure so many other women want to uncover.

Many would say the answer is glaring after simply turning on the news as headline after headline reveals another senseless young Black death.

We are in a time when innocent Black bodies are beaten mercilessly on the streets, when entire majority Black communities are tear gassed and spitefully called animals by law enforcement, when a social media movement has to be birthed to remind a nation that the existence of the Black race matters.

In light of a society that seems to be ever more threatening to Black lives everywhere, the response of most parents is two fold, both on opposite extremes. One response is to shield their children from everything, raising them in “safe” pristine suburban neighborhoods, screening their music, friends, and even attire from anything too Urban.

Yet another response is one a majority of Black parents take which is to remove the possibility of future police harassment through current corporal punishment. Many Black parents fear the very real likelihood their children will experience some type of profiling or negative treatment because they are black. They respond to this fear through “beating” their children straight, before society can.

I was spanked and so many others of my Black friends and peers were. It was a mark of our childhood that may not have been pleasant but one many of us look back on with gratitude or even fondness. Many of us will boldly stand for corporal punishment and insist because of that physical discipline in our childhood we became better adults.  And to some degree this is true.

Yet as I researched corporal punishment I began to see an unsettling divide between black parents who believed in spanking their children and every other race. In the Black Christian community it was even higher.

Scripture like “Spare the rod and spoil the child” has constantly been referenced in the Black church yet could it be that in a fear of “spoiling” our Black children we have taken up the rod too often?

My point is not to stigmatize Black parents for beating their children, the Bible does instruct us to physically discipline our children. I simply wanted us all, including myself, to ask ourselves if we have overemphasized corporal punishment as a Black community, and to search out the reasons if we have.

Why do black parents feel a stronger need to physically discipline their children more than parents of other races?

NFL star Ray Lewis opened up in an emotional interview how he went to bed many nights with bruises, but continues to say if his mother wasn’t as hard as she was on him the “streets would have gotten [him] the way it got many others.”

It seems Lewis believed he needed more violence to deal with him, to prevent him from becoming another statistic.

A real question is whether his white counterparts at the NFL felt the same growing up. Did they also feel the need to go to bed almost every night with bruises in order to become upstanding men?

Lewis believes his beatings were his saving grace from a life on the streets, leading him on the path to success and stardom, but other Blacks are opening up about how scarring their childhood punishments were.

Stacey Patton, Black BBC writer and author on a book on the intersection of race and corporal punishment profoundly reflects on her childhood:
“As a young child, my adoptive mother stripped me naked and whipped me with switches, belts, hangers, shoes, and extension cords.

She left physical and emotional scars and called her parenting techniques “spankings” or “good butt whoopings.”

Her reasons? Because the Bible said it was right, she loved me, she wanted to protect me from the mean streets, drugs, early pregnancy, and white people who she said wanted to beat me up, lock me in a jail or leave me for dead in the streets…

I ran away at age 12 and bounced around in foster care before landing a scholarship to boarding school.”
While for Ray Lewis he believes spanking made him the man he is today, many like Stacey Patton became who they were despite the beatings.

“Spanking” or beating has become a standard of Black parenting unquestioned for decades but with abuse cases like the Adrian Peterson controversies and heart wrenching stories like Patton’s coming to the surface the harmfulness or effectiveness of uncontrolled spanking has to be challenged.

Asadah Kirkland, author of Beating Black Kids calls spanking a “cultural epidemic” that she believes needs to stop. It has been proven to lead to low self esteem, depression, and even some cases suicide. She urges parents instead of physically disciplining their children to talk to them, get into their world, and show respect to them to also have it given back.

The debate on spanking is one that is sensitive touching cultural, religious, historic and racial areas that can be uncomfortable. Yet for the sake of our children and our future it is a conversation that we need to bring back to the table.

We need to talk about what it means that Black children are beaten by their parents more so than any other of their counterparts of other races.

Are Black children more unruly? More rebellious? More “hardheaded”? This is a notion that is hurtful, dangerous and is rooted deep in the marshes of slavery.

We have to remember Children, no matter what race, are a blessing given by God Himself for us as parents to steward with love and wisdom.

I encourage you to reflect on why you may be spanking your children, is it too often, is it in a controlled environment or done out of a belief that black children need this more than other races to make it; I also encourage you to explore other alternatives in addition to corporal punishment.

Remember, it’s the heart of the matter that really counts. If you’re a parent ask yourself, Why spanking? Do I need to beat my child to show them something is wrong in every incident or am I simply perpetuating what I’ve experienced?

The word of God tells us to physically discipline, but discipline is meant to correct wrong behavior, not traumatize or abuse. Our children are precious gifts, let’s all handle them with the care and reverence we all deserve.

“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” (Psalm 127:3)

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From Ferguson to Flint: Is there any Hope?

Paige Smith

“And they shall rebuild the old ruins, They shall raise up the former desolations, And they shall repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭61:4‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Flint, Michigan was once a booming motor town that has now gone nearly bankrupt. It has become as one commentator said “forgotten by America”. Forgotten until a terrible water crisis brought this city to the limelight of the nation.

What happened in Flint?

Crippled by a 30 million dollar deficit, in an hasty attempt to cut costs in the city, the city officials also decided to cut corners in an area so vital to each of its residents, its water system.

The water which was previously funneled to the city through Detroit, switched to The Flint River, a much dirtier source than the famous Great Lakes.

Not only did the city officials decide to switch to a dirtier water source they also circumvented the process of purifying the water properly by making sure the water didn’t become corrosive in order to save money.

The result was catastrophic. As the river water passed through old lead pipes into the city, the lead began to lace into the water, poisoning it more and more.

By the time the water reached Flint homes, it was already toxic. A researcher tested the water in one Flint home and found it would be considered toxic waste in a lab.

When residents demanded clean water at multiple town hearings they were dismissed and told the water was safe, and to simply boil the water.

Flint has a population of 102,434 residents. That is 102,434 people that were exposed to lead poisoning (suburbanstats.org).

What’s so bad about lead?

Lead is 100% toxic. It can lead to miscarriage in pregnant women, abnormal development of sperm in men, high blood pressure, memory loss in adults, and developmental delays, constipation, and vomiting in children (mayoclinic.org).

The effects of lead are irreversible and permeate every part of the body, the brain, the lungs, even one’s DNA (CNN).

In 2016 it is tragic to know the Flint water crisis can happen, that those in power can decide the fate of an entire community.

Many have wondered would the decision have been the same if Flint wasn’t a majority Black impoverished city?

It has been said America has transitioned to a post racial society, yet incidents like the Flint Water Crisis, in a city with a population of 57% Black residents, reveal racism isn’t a bygone of the past but still a very present threat to our society.

Ferguson, Missouri, yet another city with a majority Black population of 67% Black residents also experienced a crisis the nation still feels the wounds from today (census.gov).

As Michael Brown was shot to death by a white police officer the city went in an uproar, and an all out war between residents and officers ensued, with images of race riots paralleling those of the King years. Another city reeling with the pain of another slain Black youth at the hands of police brutality.

In the light of the painful realities of cities like Ferguson and Flint, one begins to ask, Where is the hope for Black America?

Where is the security for those who have experienced or seen their brothers and sisters terrorized and killed by the same law enforcement meant to protect them?

Where is the comfort for those who watched thousands of New Orleans residents with their same skin color drown in flooded waters or die on rooftops waiting in vain for their government to come to their aid?

Where is the hope for those who watch appalled as a whole community is poisoned and ignored for two years while their children slowly get more and more ill?

Is it in a presidential candidate? Is it in a student rally? It is in a bill or speech or sermon?

The good news is there is a God who cares about those who are poor, those who are oppressed, and those who mourn, even if those currently in power do not.

There is no greater social justice advocate than Jesus. When He came to earth He came to bring good news to the poor, to free prisoners, to heal the brokenhearted, to comfort all who mourn (Isaiah 61) and He is raising up a generation of those who will walk in that same heart and Spirit.

Those who will not use their power to tear down cities like Flint, but instead will “repair the ruined cities” and “rebuild the old ruins” (Isaiah 61: 4).

I saw a shining glimmer of the hope for Black America last week when I witnessed a nearly all white group of all ages willingly sit down and learn about grueling racial atrocities in our history and learn about how to truly go about racial reconciliation. They listened intently as a powerful Black woman spoke to them of the deep racial wounds of our nation in truth and in love.

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” And they shall rebuild the old ruins, They shall raise up the former desolations, And they shall repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭61:1-4‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Hope is not found in one act or candidate but in every single one of us. It is in me, it is in you. It is in us deciding to be the hands and feet of Jesus. To approach our nation, in many ways a place of racial desolation, and raise it up in love, in unity, and in reconciliation. Only then will we see beauty for our ashes.

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Healing Racial Wounding in America

Jade Lee

There seems to be a common belief that slavery and racism is over.  It’s time to move on.  It’s time to let go.  It’s time to act like it never happened because it’s better now.  It’s not that bad anymore.  And…

You are not a slave.  And I am not a slave master.

Yet these words from William Lloyd Garrison concerning the viewpoint the majority of whites had of freed slaves in America reflect the mentality revealed through recent events such as Ferguson.  Are blacks still annoying “pests in the community”?  Garrison had a way of getting straight to the heart of the matter; if this is still the case perhaps there still remains a slavery/slave mentality under a different name (slavery to Jim Crow to the penitentiary to systematic abortion to contaminated water sources -it’s all from the same racist heart positioning). 

In one breath, colonization orators tell us that the free blacks are pests in the community; that they are an intemperate, ignorant, lazy, thievish class; that their condition is worse than that of the slaves; and that no efforts to improve them in this country can be successful, owing to the prejudices of society. In the next breath we are told what mighty works these miserable outcasts are to achieve—that they are the missionaries of salvation, who are to illumine all Africa—that they will build up a second American republic-and that our conceptions cannot grasp the result of their labors. Now I, for one, have no faith in this instantaneous metamorphosis. I believe that neither a sea voyage nor an African climate has any miraculous influence on the brain.” (Davis 191)

I have been so overwhelmed to the point of tears in seeing the black community suffer and struggle. Today I was at the bank where I happened to glance over while lamenting to my husband about the African American plight.

My eyes fell upon a young black girl, probably in her early twenties “going crazy” at her steering wheel. She was literally throwing her head back and forth, throwing her hands up in a display of utter frustration.

I could see the anger rushing through her body as she physically communicated years of generational pain.

As I watched her and others going in and out of this bank, more and more displays of misplaced turmoil began to become evident. After this traumatic action she regained her composure pushing her foot on the gas pedal, driving into reverse and exiting the bank.

My heart began to wonder, why didn’t I go to help her?

Why was both my heart and my body frozen in disbelief?

But it was too late. I continued to lament over the injustices being done to the black community as my husband sits quietly listening. Then another act.

I see a black “family” walk out the bank, looking like they are moving towards their car or the projects a few steps away. The woman begins to curse at her child loudly…more pent up emotion fume out of her heart. The same emotion came out of her as the young girl in the car. 

Again I see generations of expression locked up, their actions express the very words I am preaching in the car to a one man congregation.

Why haven’t we got over it?  Because in our hearts, our marriages, our communities, our children, our schools, our lives…it has never really ended.

The trauma is real.  It is continuous.  It is consequential.

Tears begin to well up in my eyes as I see systematic poverty surrounding me in a parking lot, as I think of a congregation, mainly white, that I recently shared with…my heart is overflowing with grief.

I recall this morning, watching a video from Flint Michigan. The woman, with tired, emotionless eyes begins to tell of her plight,

“This…” she touches her carefully placed hair, “is not mine…” A few moments later I would realize that the lead in the water had scabbed over her scalp, as she would bath in it daily, she began to notice patches of hair falling into her hands.

“Do I have cancer?” she wondered to herself, but of course this was NOT true. She was simply in need of basic human curtesy. But why give it to her if in this great nation, in the year 2016 she is no longer, never-ever considered a human by her governmental system who had the funding to keep her out of this systematic death sentence.

These words may seem extreme to the one who has been brainwashed to believe it is all over.

There is no more racism.

In fact, recently I heard a politician say the shocking words of a story between a police officer and a young black boy, “You are not a slave and I am not a slave master.”

This is so sad in 2016 that we believe this rhetoric. Of course he is still a slave and you, in many ways, have changed the system to another name. But we are still in the same bondage-mess. It’s the same as slavery.

There was a day and time where even slavery was hidden as white pastors would visit the south and a sadly humorous scene would begin to play out. Slaves were made to act, to appear happy, to lie and to show their best. When asked how they were being treated under the sheer terror of it all, they would say all was well.

Then the white community around them would continue to play out their roles, master, forced father, slave owner, abuser, denial-pastor.  Yet a few, like Garrison, raised their voices as a trumpet crying out in a wilderness.

And these same lies, these acts, this hidden demon of America, even with all the injustice in the black community continues today.

How can we say it is better now? How can we say we have grown? How can we have reconciliation meetings that actually work when we do not FEEL the pain of the black community, when we do not KNOW the extent of pain blacks feel, when we do not take FULL ownership of our own heart positioning?

The injustice rolls on and we must call the victimizers to full responsibility if we are ever to see change. We, neither black nor white, can completely separate ourselves from the actions of our community, our race or our family.  Someone has to take the heart of Daniel and repent on behalf of the injustices of his nation, his people, his actions.

We can’t blame the angry black people for their oppressed responses.  No, we are not victims if we choose not to be, but there will be a response when someone is told they are not being victimized, yet deep in their heart they know something is wrong.

Repentance of the heart, deep Godly sorrow must begin to spring forth if we are ever to see change. And we must weep not out of pity or feeling sorry for those poor black folks we are going to help. We must weep out of the compassion we would feel if we were in their shoes, as fellow humans. We must understand the historical context and that today is the same if your skin is black.

Is there a problem today?  Yes there is.

72% of blacks are fatherless.

69% of blacks have unintended pregnancies (unmarried).

60% of blacks live in poverty.

30% of blacks have abortions although we are only 14% of the population.

44% of blacks make up new AIDs patients although we are only 14% of the population.

82% of black women are obese.

See: www.blackdemographics.com, www.cdc.gov for more information.

If you want to do something about this actions are not the solution prior to true heart examination.  Start by asking GOD to show you if you have somewhere in your heart looked down on the black community and if the generational trauma on your side of the fence (whether black or white) has affected your overall perspective of blacks.  Read the above paragraph asking the LORD if any of these perspectives have seeped into your heart.  They are strategic stereotypes that were placed in the nation’s hearts to try to move blacks out of America post slavery (and they begin prior to that).  These stereotypes place the blame on a people who had no rights, no money, were considered animals and did not have a fair playing ground. 

Do you feel like we are past the effects of slavery and should just move on or do you feel like we still have significant work to do in healing the race issue of America?