Loving Ourselves: No Permission Necessary

If someone asks me what is one of my favorite things to do, I would tell them it is to glean wisdom from humans with more mileage, more experience, than I. I am always humbled by humans I meet who have been doing their passion for 30 years or more. That means that when they were getting started, I was getting started – at 2, telling my parents, “No.”

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of hearing President Obama speak in Selma, televised on CNN. I also had the privilege of meeting an outstanding woman of God, D. Hillman. She is a wife, a mother of 5, a minister and an activist. I also had the privilege of talking with Mr. Chisolm. He is a husband, a father of 5, a minister and an activist. As I recalled my conversations with them and our President’s message, I reflected on the experiences of Black people in the Americas and in Africa. I was so thrilled while speaking with them that I was inspired to write this post.

 

In this post, you will read a list of a few things Black people can and must do to exercise our inalienable right to love and care for ourselves unapologetically.

  • Affirm the existence of Black people by speaking to them when walking down the street or standing in the grocery store. If you can’t speak, smile. Many of us were brought to the Western Hemisphere by force , be it Cuba, Brazil, or New Orleans (one of the largest slave ports in America). We’ve come too far not to greet one another.
  • To black men: don’t assume that another Black women must be interested in you because she is greeting you. Allow yourself to be loved as a brother by a sister.
  • To Black women: celebrate Black women. Her best image is a reflection of beauty within you that permits you to affirm her. Compliment her hair, her smile, her style of dress, or her approach. If you find yourself judging because you don’t understand, converse with her with the intention of lifting her up and enlightening yourself.
  • Mentor, tutor and converse with Black children and Black Youth. We have to stop waiting for systems to work with and/or rehabilitate our children. I am also tired of White people running to work with our children and diagnosing them with behavior disorders that are congruent with their perceptions of our communal negligence.

 

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  • Work with Black children and Black Youth without feeling the need to explain your commitment to seeing Black people succeed. Whites don’t explain their establishment of businesses, private schools, and keeping employment and housing opportunities within their networks. Asians and Latinos don’t continually explain why they want to build a health center or promote their culture through language immersion programs. We can ALL succeed. True success is inclusive. Black people don’t have to assimilate and forget who they are in order to be considered successful.  Almost every other ethnic group living in the United States has had opportunity to build socially and economically. The systemic perpetuation of thwarting Blacks from building creates the need for more emotional and mental healing, which – after at least 50 years – can create generational setbacks.
  • Celebrate what is natural to us regardless of what American society has programmed us to question or detest: our connection to God and the spiritual realm; our kindness; our beauty; our intuition and insightfulness; our value for community, family and edification; our vibrant laughter, and our vibrant praise of God.
  • Support Black businesses without without fearing accusations of being a Black Nationalist.
  • Mentor Black men with the intention of training their spirits and minds – not just their bodies. Stereotypes that create limited opportunities start with us.
  • Recognize God’s role in the making of Black people. Most of us have no idea who we are as a people before the arrival of European explorers with the Bible in one hand and a gun in the other. We are not White people’s problem or White people’s burden most desperate of redemption. As we learn who we are before the mass kidnapping, enslavement, and colonization, we will find out who we are in God. God made us leaders, kings, queens, educators, engineers, and architects. In no way am I saying that Africans were not in need of Christ. Indeed, all nations need God. But the way it was done…I’ll stop there.

Mr. Chism said that Black people have such a hard time in the United States and across the Hemisphere for many reasons. One is that we are programmed to divorce ourselves from ourselves  as African people adapting to life in the United States. We are captured on camera as welfare mothers and dope-dealing fathers who give birth to delinquent youth. Subsequently, many turn their backs on God because generational injuries are sustained. But Mr. Chism said, “To turn our backs on God is to turn our backs on our Greatness.” WOW. That is so deep. You will hear my spirit’s response to it as it sinks in.

Being Black is not a curse or a mystery. It is more than a color. Black is an experience.  It symbolizes resilience and excellence. Being Black doesn’t require divorce. It requires us to recognize the affinity between our divinity and our struggles. God continues to use Black people to sketch drawings for pictures of liberation for humans across the globe. Just look at Slave Rebellions in the Caribbean, Emancipation in the United States, Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Black and Brown Lives Matter Movement.

 

Happy Being a Blessing,

Ashley

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