I’m Black and I’m Proud

I am a black woman living in America. Therefore, my experience, whatever it might be, is a black experience.

It might not be your black experience…it might not mirror the experience of many or any black people in America, but it is a black experience … ‘cause I’m black.

Blackity, black, black…

Black.

“Say it loud! I’m black and I’m proud!” ~ James Brown and Alfred James Ellis, songwriters

Inhale Experience, Exhale Exclusion…
Inhale Similarities, Exhale Separation…
Inhale Differences, Exhale Division…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
#Authenticity

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Otherism

There is no universal black experience in America, no one way of being black, yet black people STAY tryna revoke folks’ black cards, trade those who have transgressed or deny other people’s blackness based on …
the familiarity of their lived experiences…
the amount of melanin in their skin…
the ingredients in their potato salad…
the political party with whom they identify…
how they speak English…
the race of their significant other …
their perceived level of “wokeness”… etc. etc.

My question…how does any one thing become the signifier of blackness?

“I am because we are.” ~ Ubuntu Philosophy

Inhale Experience, Exhale Exclusion…
Inhale Similarities, Exhale Separation…
Inhale Differences, Exhale Division…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe

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Bi-Racial

I have always understood that most black Americans have some European DNA but I recently read a study which reported essentially ALL black American descendants of enslaved Africans have European ancestry.

Hmmm … so, basically errbody.

That means whether the introduction of European genes in your black gene pool was limited to the rape of an enslaved ancestor by a white male (a frequent occurrence after the transatlantic slave trade was halted), or your DNA reflects a more recent and/or consensual ingress of white DNA…it’s in there.

And I think that is a good reason to dispense with the “blacker than thou” dismissal of our more obviously mixed race brothers and sisters who claim their blackness.

Inhale Inclusion, Exhale Exclusion…
Inhale Unity, Exhale Division…
Inhale Humanity, Exhale Separation…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe

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Revolution

Whether you advocate a revolution or incremental repair to a broken model of leadership really depends on how much you are suffering. Those suffering the least are less likely to relate to those enduring the most…and less likely to want a radical change.

“You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out …” Revolution, The Beatles

Inhale Empathy, Exhale Apathy…
Inhale Relatability, Exhale Exclusivity…
Inhale Connection, Exhale Separation…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe

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Representing

The kids on Haviland Drive integrated Harlan Elementary long before busing was mandated in my small hometown of Florence AL. The concept that my behavior was a reflection of my family was stressed and understood by me from a young age…and while I don’t remember a direct conversation, I somehow knew that, to my white teachers and classmates, I represented how Negro children behaved.

Pretty heavy stuff for a third-grader…

“Don’t embarrass me in front of these white folks.” ~ Black Mother Saying

Inhale Represent, Exhale Embarrass…
Inhale Reflection, Exhale Separation…
Inhale Respect, Exhale Disgrace…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
#Representation

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My America Too

My TL around Veteran’s day was full of posts from Vets, some of whom I didn’t know had served, and families of vets honoring loved ones. Included was a post from a woman I respect, discouraging people of color from joining the military to serve this country, which does not always honor us.

And while I get the sentiment, it also made me sad. Because there are many ways to effect change in America to include changing its institutions from the inside. Because since integration in 1948, the American military has often been at the forefront of social innovation. Because now is not the time to separate, now is the time to take a stand, to look America in the eye and declare… “It’s my America.”

“What one does realize is that when you try to stand up and look the world in the face like you had a right to be here … you have attacked the entire power structure of the Western world.” ~ James Baldwin

Inhale Knowledge, Exhale Cynicism…
Inhale Stand Up, Exhale Separation…
Inhale Involvement, Exhale Absence…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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My Community

I don’t usually miss the Chicago Marathon. If I’m in town, I’m usually on the east side of Michigan Ave, between 13th and 14th streets, rooting for anyone I know, calling out the runners with names pasted on their shirts, and reminding them there is less than half a mile to the finish line. I’ve seen sweet proposals, runners supporting other runners who are just trying to finish and efficient emergency response when needed.

This year I stood next to a family from Iowa as they waited patiently for their runner, pride streaming down their faces when they spotted her. I cheered for Brittney too, and for the husband who spotted his wife standing next to me and detoured to get some love.

I felt the energy of my fellow Chicagoans standing next to strangers and encouraging other strangers to FINISH…and it felt good.

“People are hard to hate close-up. Move in.” Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness

Inhale Community, Exhale Separation…
Inhale Connection, Exhale Distance…
Inhale Civility, Exhale Disinterest…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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Why Am I Talking…

The acronym WAIT (Why Am I Talking) is a coaching tool I learned from a fellow coach that I use when I find myself talking instead of listening.

I use it while coaching and it’s also helpful in personal conversations about difficult subjects, or when I find myself trying to control the conversation or in a conversation competition with the other person.

I think it’s a tool American’s could really use right now.

“They didn’t notice the gracious pause he’d take after someone would finish a sentence, the way he’d give folks the chance to take air back into their lungs, before he’d fill the space up with his own breath and words.” ~ Cynthia Bond, Author Ruby

Inhale Listening, Exhale Speaking…
Inhale Intuition, Exhale Preconceptions…
Inhale Connection, Exhale Separation…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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American Religion

White American Evangelicals would have you believe Jesus is white, white American males are oppressed and the only terrorists in this country are of Muslim ancestry. And that they, individually and institutionally, are not the direct beneficiaries of “talents” stolen from black and brown bodies…

I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion, while you go right on sinning. When you put on your next prayer-performance, I’ll be looking the other way. No matter how long or loud or often you pray, I’ll not be listening. And do you know why? Because you’ve been tearing people to pieces, and your hands are bloody. Go home and wash up. Clean up your act. Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings so I don’t have to look at them any longer. Say no to wrong. Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless.” Isaiah 1: 14-17, MSG

Inhale Love, Exhale Religion…
Inhale Love, Exhale Hypocrisy…
Inhale Love, Exhale Separation…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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Interdependence Day*

Just because you think you’re not being impacted by oppression in this country, doesn’t mean you’re not being impacted by oppression in this country. The privileged in this country are complicit in and culpable for the continuation of racist institutions that systemically oppress the less privileged.

Jesus said, “I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave.” ‭‭John‬ ‭8:34-38‬ ‭MSG

Inhale Interdependence, Exhale Independence…
Inhale Connection, Exhale Separation…
Inhale Freedom, Exhale Enslavement…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
#MyAmericaToo

*Interdependence Day coined by Reesheda Graham Washington

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