History Lesson

There is no celebration of Nazi Germany in Germany. In the immediate aftermath of WWII, most references to the Nazis were purged, at least in public. It took a couple of generations to look honestly at the hate that led to the horror but in the 70s and 80s, Germans took a hard look at their collective contributions to the holocaust and decided who they had been wasn’t who they wanted to be.

It has been approximately 180 years since the American government started forcing native-born Americans from their ancestral homelands in the southeastern to designated Indian Territory.

It has been 153 years since the War of Rebellion when the Americans occupying that stolen land, committed treason rather than free an enslaved people.

I wonder if the land of the free and the home of the brave will ever have the courage to look honestly at its own history of oppression?

Inhale History, Exhale Fantasy…
Inhale Reality, Exhale Revisionary…
Inhale Courage, Exhale Cowardice…
Just Breathe…

#JustBreathe
Reflection With Renita

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Fair and Balanced

I read an article last week that included an interesting poll that compared the negative press of #45 with three of his predecessors. The article suggested that the overwhelmingly negative reporting (from even Faux News) was a result of some bias, that there should have been more balance.

That comparison reminds me of the comments made by #45 that there were “very fine people on both sides,” of the violence that erupted after hate groups, ostensibly protesting the removal of a statue, but chanting “You will not replace us/Jews will not replace us” clashed with anti-hate groups.

It’s a way to normalize the hate by suggest that it’s the reporting not the behavior that is negative.

Inhale Truth, Exhale False Equivalence…
Inhale Truth, Exhale Alternative Facts…
Inhale Truth, Exhale Bold Faced Lies…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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Discernment

I always think of discernment as the ability to see beyond the obvious when making decisions. And yet, I don’t think discernment was even required for Americans to have made decisions last fall that would make our present more palatable.

Because it was obvious to me that a candidate who surrounded himself with white supremacists who ran the spectrum from Jeff Sessions’ “good ‘ole boy’ southern racist” to the full blown “blow it all up” beliefs of Steve Bannon, was probably not going to be a president who continued the efforts to provide healthcare to all Americans or examine why Americans make up 5 percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of the incarcerated population…

What was required by Americans was the willingness to actually look…

Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, MSG

Inhale Examine, Exhale Ignore…
Inhale Knowing, Exhale Ignoring…
Inhale Discernment, Exhale Ignorance…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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Memorial

My curiosity about regular Germans’ attitude regarding the Holocaust led me to visit the Dachau Memorial Museum while stationed in Germany. Dachau was one of the first concentration camps opened by the Nazis and became a training center and then “model camp for the SS in the perfection of the inhuman concentration camp system, a training ground for the extermination camps of Auschwitz, Majdanek, Treblinka, etc.” 1

SS 2nd Lt. Heinrich Wicker surrenders Dachau camp to Brig. Gen. Henning Linden.

Over 200,000 prisoners were registered to Dachau from 1933 to 1945; approximately 32, 000 were liberated by the U.S. Seventh Army on April 29,1945.

Walking the grounds and being in the barren barracks was a somber and sobering experience.

To compare that hallowed ground to the delusional monuments celebrating the confederate leaders of a failed, treasonous effort to dismantle the United States is beyond disrespectful.

Inhale Recognition, Exhale Disregard…
Inhale Respect, Exhale Disdain…
Inhale Reverence, Exhale Delusion…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

1 Barbara Distel, Ruth Jakusch. (1978).“Concentration Camp Dachau 1933-1945”.

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Failure to Lead

One of my favorite books about Vietnam is “Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam.” As you might surmise from the title, the book is a scathing, unflinching indictment of the leaders who prosecuted the Vietnam War. The author was particularly hard on the president who he described as having a “real propensity for lying,” an obsession with loyalty and leaks and being so narrowly focused on his political fortunes that he ignored what was best for the nation.

The author is H.R. McMaster…that’s right, the current national security adviser to #45.

And every time I see him on TV defending the indefensible, I wonder…why?

There are opportunities you should never take advantage of because they’re going to pull you away from what God has called you to. There are places you should not go just because they’re bigger and better. You’re going to get there and realize you never should have gone because they’re bigger and messier, not better.” ~ Andy Stanley

Inhale Calling, Exhale Distraction…
Inhale Legacy, Exhale Expediency…
Inhale Clarity, Exhale Chaos…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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Ethical Leadership

Over the last few weeks, military leaders have emphatically voiced their objections to #45’s endorsement of hate and discrimination. Some have questioned the right of these leaders to respectfully disagree so publically with the Commander-In-Chief (CIC). I would argue that while military members are expected to adhere to high standards of professionalism, respect for the Chain of Command and the CIC has never meant to follow orders without regard to military ethics, American tradition or moral law…

A moral leader assesses his own beliefs, how those beliefs are manifest in his actions and the actions of his unit, and how closely aligned those actions are with the expectations of his nation, service, and mission.” Col Paul E. Roush, Retired, USMC

Inhale Disagreement, Exhale Disrespect…
Inhale Disagreement. Exhale Denial…
Inhale Disagreement, Exhale Discord…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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To Lead…

History is full of examples of gifted leaders who used their innate leadership skills for selfish, even evil outcomes. #45 has used his skills to unleash and condone the virulent racism which has undergirded America since its’ founding.

It really doesn’t matter whether he agrees with their bigotry; for selfish or evil reasons, he has given them permission to act on their hate.

We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.” ~ James Baldwin

Inhale Lead, Exhale Goad…
Inhale Leading, Exhale Instigating…
Inhale Leader, Exhale Ringleader…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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Crucial Crucible

Every leader has experiences, often traumatic, that test who they are and sometimes transform who they are. Leadership guru Warren Bennis calls these moments “crucibles” and they require leaders to “examine their values, question their assumptions, hone their judgment.”

As much as the descendants of the sons and daughters of the confederacy would like to view Robert E. Lee as a hero, in his crucible moment, he choose …despite some misgivings… to lead the effort to secede from the United States for the purpose of keeping a people enslaved.

That does not make him a hero….

Some crucible experiences illuminate a hidden and suppressed area of the soul.” ~ Warren Bennis

Inhale Vision, Exhale Oppression…
Inhale Test, Exhale Treason…
Inhale History, Exhale Revisionary…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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No More SuperWoman

Even as we decry the burdens placed on our shoulders, women expect perfection of each other and ourselves. I’m working on letting go of doing it all and giving my sistren permission to do the same…

Let’s live lightly, freely, courageously, surrounded only by what brings joy, simplicity, and beauty…” Shauna Niequist

Inhale Self-Love, Exhale SuperWoman…
Inhale Letting Go, Exhale Doing It All…
Inhale Empathy, Exhale Judgment…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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Training Superwoman

I get a lot of “you’re so strong” comments, mostly from white women, occasionally from other women of color…almost never from other black women. Our Black Girl Magic, SuperWoman training starts early. Be Strong…Be Tough…Don’t Cry…are lessons we are taught to prepare us for a world that doesn’t permit black girls to just be girls.

I sometimes wonder if we are responding to reality or creating our reality…

He told me not to cry…He taught me to be strong…Tough girl is what I had to be…” ~ Beyonce, Daddy Lessons

Inhale Strength, Exhale Isolation…
Inhale Resilience, Exhale Loneliness…
Inhale Boundaries, Exhale Barriers…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflection With Renita

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