Sunday, December 20, 2015

Some thoughts on Submission

Stay where God put you. Go where God sent you. Do what God asked you.
Including every boss who treats you wrong, and every coworker who talks behind your back, and every unfair category of evaluation. Including all racism and every time you take responsibility for something you didn't and would never do. 

Because the Lord wants us to have power over circumstances and demons and death and destruction and sin. He wants you to be the solution looking for the problem.  But you can't do that if you won't submit, stay in place, take a knee, FORFEIT A RIGHT. Let them talk about you. 

Be a David. Be a Joseph! Be an Abigail. Be a MARY. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

#GetAfterGrateful 12

When November started I was having internet connectivity issues so I didn't get to do the daily "I'm thankful for"s.

Today I'll start with being thankful for churches. Integrity's Voice of Victory Church where God is exalted, the enemy is defeated, and Jesus Christ is Lord! I'm blessed that they have supported constant increase in my prayer life. I'm blessed that I have seen the power and glory of the Lord at work with my own eyes and I am motivated to share it with those who have not yet seen and do not yet believe.  I also want to shoutout other Oklahoma-based churches making regional and nation-wide impacts that have greatly supported my life and walk: Life.Church (recently the Midwest City Campus, but also the main OKC and South campuses) and Frontline Church. Thank you for letting me sit and serve with you while I was learning to take my place in the Kingdom. I look forward to more and more shared experience in the future. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Loving the Teacher Life

Every now and again I get a little emotional because I love my crazy, tragic, sometimes almost magic, awful beautiful life. 

We passed out report cards today and that always requires a bit of counseling on what we need to do better next week and next quarter. I pulled an all nighter Wednesday into Thursday preparing those grades. Even though I got 8 hours of sleep last night, my body is still catching up.  I've been nursing a headache since noon. 

Two of my little loves ask me every game day in class (and some days in between) if I'm coming to the game. Today I was honest with him. I said "I'm coming, but only because I know it makes y'all sad when I don't. I'd rather lay in bed and read a book." He said "Whatever Miss Hylton. You already know what it is." And then after a few beats: "Thank you." 

On Tuesday, one of the first students who impacted me at my current school transferred unexpectedly. I was looking forward to seeing him all the way through graduation. 

Tonight, our football team is wearing pink socks and gloves and carrying pink towels. Our coaches have on pink gloves and light reflector tape. This is our pink out football game for #breastcancerawareness . Our cheer, dance, and flag girls have pink socks and bows in their hair. We have a game like this for every sport. 

Langston University's band is here with us playing through our senior night. 
10 years ago I was getting my academic letter jacket with my mama, Grammy, and PaPa on a night really similar to this one. 

When our players ran in, the fans released pink balloons instead of the usual Falcon blue. 

So when the national anthem played, I looked around, and couldn't figure why there were tears in my eyes. Then I thought of Ann Michele. And couldn't say much but, "Thank you, Lord, for trusting me with all this." 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Truth. Beauty. Inspiration.

I'm a teacher and a writer/poet, but the newest love of my life is Younique cosmetics. 

I've always been into fashion, but have never liked how some people make it out to be only shallow and useless. What I've noticed about myself as I spend more time in the mirror is that I have developed a TRUE love for my own BEAUTY and I am INSPIRED to make myself better. I appreciate so many aspects of beauty, and I sometimes envy those of you who are barefaced and beautiful! But I no longer want to change myself into someone else. I only want to make myself the best I can be. 

The longer I work with this company, the more I love it. Not only will I never use another mascara, but I'm becoming increasingly loyal to using our products over any others. This is not just because of the makeup quality, but because of the company's commitment to supporting victims of domestic and sexual violence. The Younique Foundation provides resources and a yearly conference to aid in these beautiful women's healing process. Our mission is to uplift, empower, motivate all women, but especially those the enemy has attacked. 

A year ago I created an umbrella brand for all my endeavors. 

Truth - I do my best to live my life by the Truth, letting it change and shape me, letting it minister to people through my poems, leaning and trusting in the Word, the Christ. I also believe the truth is one of the only things that can uplift a woman who has been abused. 
Beauty - I honestly believe that submission to and understanding of the truth allows beauty to bloom where it was hidden. If we can believe in our beauty, it can empower us. 
Inspiration - And finally I know that we live by inspiration. If we can inspire a woman to be her best self, it will motivate her to keep going when the going is tough. 

I am so much a work in progress. But if ever the truth or the beauty the Lord has entrusted me with can uplift or inspire or empower someone and motivate them, then I will be eternally grateful and blessed. 


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Beauty Heals Broken Hearts

In my last post (skip the video and the book review) I talked about how God's desire is for us to behave in a way that attracts people to His goodness.  That should trump any beauty regiment or product sales.

On May 3, did baptisms. I stood in the sanctuary and jumped and danced and lifted my arms in worship, and cried and cried and cried.  I had an ecclesiastical epiphany.  I knew on a deep level that everything in the world: every task, every product, every relationship is utterly meaningless until someone's life is changed in a way that leads them to the cross of Christ and the realization that those who find God find the life for which we were created.

"And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."

That afternoon, I posted this status to Facebook:

"I've never posted anything like this before. But it feels right, so I'm gonna go with that. 
My spirit just said "You are going to feel like your life is in shambles (with brief, sporadic spots of hope and peace) until you have allowed the Lord to create a full-time ministry through you."
So. There it is. Anyone who knows about ministry jobs, or who wants to pay my bills so I can quit my job, hit me up."

10 people were so gracious as to respond thoughtfully and compassionately.  The prayer team at LifeChurch gave me a ton of support.  I had two really meaningful and important conversations with women of God who I have always looked up to.

In six weeks, I have learned two indescribably important lessons:

  1. God speaks clearly. Always. 
    • Problems arise when we are not properly positioned to hear and understand what He is saying.  I was moved by God's love for us, by His investment in returning us to our place of ruling the earth as extensions of Him.  I was also overwhelmed and disappointed at school. I was in pain that I was trying to rationalize away.  I was guilty of not allowing Him to be my strength and my joy and my help. That last statement about ministry jobs was my flesh denying God's ability and willingness to redeem my current and past ministry roles and callings.  There's an old LifeChurch sermon about how when some people landscape, they do it slowly section-by-section. Others raze the whole property and start over from scratch.  You can guess which category I'm in.
  2. You can often discern God's voice because He is telling you what you don't want to hear (but what lines up with His word and what is right). 
    • At the beginning of last school year, the Lord provided me with Bible verses to guide me, as well as a prayer team that supported me and gave me words of wisdom.  A guiding scripture for my teaching career has always been "those the Lord calls he also equips." But I was not letting Him equip me. I was not utilizing prayers and the anointing, or group accountability to do the job the Lord had assigned me.  Some of the pain was to purify me and some was self-inflicted.  God did not want to abandon His process by validating my weakness and lack of trust.  I am a teacher.  At least for now. 

The Lord was very clear when He spoke to me. "...until you have allowed the Lord to create a full-time ministry through you."  What He did not say was "...until you quit teaching." What He did not say was "...until you work at a church or in the mission field." He told me to allow Him to lead and to allow Him to hold the paintbrush.

Teaching is a ministry, I just have to be willing to serve.

But I also was placed in the path of a servant who loves the Lord and wants to free His daughters from sexual abuse and slavery.  I was so inspired by his compassion and simplicity (sometimes it's simple - if not easy: find safe houses, rescue women and girls) and determination (to put a permanent end to sex trafficking worldwide).  His project, Broken Hearts, is in the very beginning stages, but he planted a seed in me and I know will continue to do so for others.

Through a conversation with my sweet friend Ericka, a makeup artist and manager for MAC, about her passion for the company's philanthropy, I was reminded about Younique's dedication to domestic violence awareness (DVA) and support for victims.  This is not my first time working for DVA.  For three years of college, my sorority made a large effort to promote awareness.

I also remembered that my friend Maria has transitioned her mission to save souls in Haiti to include helping Haitian women rise up from their discrimination and high rate of violent and sexual victimization and empower them to create better lives for themselves and their children.  Her Jasper House will open this year.

In the USA, Christians spend a lot of time talking about how women hurt themselves by the relationships they choose, clothes they wear, friends they model.  We talk about our petty and catty tendencies.  We talk about working versus nurturing our family and about church leadership or back-row seats.  But we ignore the enemy's darker and more violent attack on our femininity and our ability to see, embody, maintain, and exude the beauty God had in mind for us from the beginning.  We don't talk about violence and sexual assault.

And we definitely don't ask ourselves enough if we can help.

In September, it will be a year since I focused my creative energies around three words: Truth. Beauty. Inspiration. Through my recent revelations and the lens through which I now see so many things (advertising, pornography, the premature and exaggerated sexualization of young women), I will be narrowing that focus down even further.

The Truth is Yeshua, the Messiah, the Savior, the soon returning and reigning King. "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to [humans] by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). He is also the Word, our logos - the reason we do anything (John 14).

Beauty is everywhere and IN EVERY ONE OF US, especially women of God.

We are called to use that beauty to Inspire others towards the greatness inside them, whether our husbands, our students, our best friends, our church family or the world.

I am working on a plan and system by which I dedicate my Younique sales, book sales, and performance payments first, to paying off my credit cards so that I can reallocate my salary toward an apartment and then house of my own so that I can be hospitable to others. Secondly, and more importantly, to donate and undergird the missions of Broken Hearts and the Jasper House.

Until (and even after) I have generated the funds to be able to allocate and reallocate them, my makeup photos will take on a more focused connection to the beauty in us already and the healing and empowerment God desires for us.

This post is plenty long enough, but there will be more and more and more on this topic in the future. Thank you to my Bold, Brave and Pretty sisters who helped me get here!

What can you do to help?
Buy makeup!
Buy my poetry book! Contact me for instructions.
Pray for me!


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Book Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

First, a few notes:

  • I will never cease to be amazed by old dystopian authors' ability to look into the future and accurately predict what will happen that will suck.
  • I, although a nerd and a teacher to boot, am a 26-year-old product of the high-tech, fast-paced 21st century. 
  • In the case of this book, I am reading like a writer, more than like the average Joe.

Basic concept:
The short novel takes place in the indistinct future. Bradbury (author), writing from 1953, does a phenomenal job of predicting the affect television will have on society.  Books are now a threat to the status quo and must be burned.  Firemen start the fires that burn them. The novel's only round, dynamic character is Guy Montag, a fireman.

My observations, opinions, and analysis:
There is a very high level of symbolism in this novel.  Because I listened to the audiobook - and because I'm not always as smart as I think I am, some of it was lost on me.  This means most of it would be lost on the average high school student and many adults.  The literary allusions were just within my range of familiarity, which means all other people with literature and library degrees would get them, but it's a toss-up for math majors and computer tech guys. 

I found the biblical allusions, and the veiled theme that the Bible is the most important book capable of healing a world totally destroyed, touching and understated.  This is good in that the 21st century populace will not be preached at and moralized to.  This is bad in that lack of biblical knowledge will send the allusions right over your head. The words carry double the weight when you know where they came from. 

My aesthetic reactions and recommendation:
The book is short - 5 hours by audio, 150 pages of text. This is good, because some of the imagery and symbolism and allusion drags.  Having only one (real) character, for me, can be tiring.  There's a section very near the end where Guy is caused to wonder what knowledge really is and where it is kept. I am slightly ashamed to say, I cried. If I think about it too hard, I will cry again.  This is probably not a reaction the average person should expect. You've got to really really love books. 

If you have it in your mind to pick up Fahrenheit 451 and read it, you are probably very ambitious, or a nerd, or you like a challenge. If that's true of you, do it. Pick it up, read it, struggle through it, get all the way to the end.  If you are not a reader, this is not a starter book. If you haven't read anything since high school and you're older than 20, this is not how you want to reacclimate yourself.  If you read the Bible (specifically not in the NLT or Message translations), you might want to give this a taste.  See how it goes.

I don't think I could teach this to anyone, but AP students, or seniors who had been through a rigorous English curriculum.
8 out of 10 points.  That's my standard rating.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

God Don't Like Ugly

No other age group can misdefine, misuse, and wear out a term like teenagers.  The title phrase has been around for scores, but I never used it in my vernacular until my students started arbitrarily calling each other "ugly." If you're playing around and make a weird face, "that's ugly." If you get mad when your friend was "just joking," that's ugly. If your friend doesn't know what other fake insult to throw at you, you're ugly.  If you are legitimately unattractive, you're ugly.

But I quickly noticed that calling people names is ugly. So is coarse joking and rebellion. So is grudge-holding, retaliation, and complaining.

Most days when I put on my makeup and take too many selfies and post them, I use the hashtags #PrettyOnTheInside #PrettyOnTheOutside.  I discovered long ago that I didn't want to have on tons of makeup and the cutest outfit but have a pattern of ugly behavior.  If my natural curls are on fleek but I just finished using my harsh sarcasm on a student, I am out of order.

I realized that so many "pretty girls" are like this.  Their faces are attractive, but they are not gracious, they are not sweet, they are critical, vain and unfriendly.  I've been that way before.

After four years being a part of the IVVC church family, people started telling me I was sweet and welcoming.  This was new to me.  I've always been smart, sometimes supportive, always creative, and direct, but rarely sweet.  I got the Attitude Award in junior high cheer because "when she has a good attitude, she has the best, and when she has a bad attitude, she has the worst."  It took me a long time to figure out what happened at church that made me sweeter.

It was the concentrated, saturated basking and soaking in the presence of God.  It was spending 2 to 10 hours every week in the Holy Place understanding how small and insignificant I am and how great and generous and loving God is.

When you spend time in His presence consistently, you come away radiant, like Moses.

As I scroll through Instagram looking for makeup artists and fashion bloggers to inspire me, I always wonder, "Is she also pretty on the inside?"  As I put my face on every morning, I wonder "Is my personality prettier today than yesterday?"

John and Stasi Eldredge write about the healing and redeeming power of beauty, how it invites and inspires.  I want to be one of those women who can't ever be called ugly, regardless of whether my face is bare or made and whether I'm slaying or keeping it lowkey.


Sunday, March 29, 2015


There comes a moment when all of the voices in your life become too loud.

My rapper friend L.T.Z. has a song with this chorus: “My mom’s friends say ‘Do what makes you happy.’ My pop’s friends say ‘You look just like your daddy.’ My high school friends say, ‘Man, you still rappin’?’ What kind of friend you gon’ be when you look at me?”

We all live under multiple sets of expectations:

  • Our parents want us to do certain things – and we are lucky when both parents want the same thing.  
  • Our spouses want us to do certain things. 
  • Our bosses want us to do certain extracurricular things.  
  • Our pastors want us to do certain things.  
  • Our fitness trainers
  • Our dietitians
  • Our neighbors
  • Our fellow-PTA members
  • Our mentors.   

All the different streams of advice can become overwhelming.

None of these people are trying to hurt us.  In the worst case scenario, they have a misguided understanding of our role in the world and think we need to behave how they say in order to keep the globe on its axis.  They mean well.  They most likely are under the distinct opinion that this course of action will make you happiest.

But when your boss wants you to take on another project that could lead to a promotion, and your husband wants you to spend more one-on-one time with both him and your middle daughter, and your pastor wants you to lead a small group, you have to look at your calendar and the bags under your eyes and understand that not every person’s advice is relevant at this moment.  Something has to yield.
(In my example, it probably seems obvious to choose family, but our choices aren’t always obvious.)

When faced with several opportunities to do something good, which do you pick? When forced to put one thing you love in front of something else you love, which do you pick?

This is when it’s best to respectfully thank all your wise voices for their advice and get on your knees with your Bible open.  Only God can show you which task or relationship needs your attention right now.  Life is about balance and everything has its time and season.  Every person and every task has seasons of yes, no, and wait.

Lao Tzu is credited with saying, “At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”

I am guilty of “loving too much,” being interested in and excited by almost anything.  I want to be a teacher whose kids pass their state tests with flying colors and can brilliantly analyze Ayn Rand and Stephenie Meyer and X-Men.  I want to be on the national list of dope poets, listen to all the rap music and a spattering of all other music, and make the leaderboard of Younique cosmetics presenters.  I want to do yoga every damn day, distribute Shaklee health products, coach high school cheer, and rock healthy, huge, natural hair.  I want to co-lead a small group of Christ-followers who are doing everything they can to make earth look like heaven.  And I want to marry a dark-skinned African and have at least three smart, artistic, athletic, loving, well-adjusted kids who function well as a team. And read 50 books in a year (or 25 books every year). And fill out a March Madness bracket as someone who knows which teams are good.  And run a 5k.  And be a weekday vegan who cooks 90% of the meals at home.

Are you starting to see my problem? There’s almost no way in the world to accomplish all these goals at once.  This is a bucket list.  This might be a bucket list and a half, despite the fact that I plan to live to be 100.  And different people from different areas of my life want me to accomplish each of these goals sooner rather than later.

I’m reminded of a scene in the movie Uptown Girls.  Brittany Murphy’s character has a bunch of possessions she claims to love, but she is recently broke and needs the income that selling many of them would bring in.  Her friend tells her she must “streamline. Find your center.” She means: not everything here is truly important to you. Some of it can be “sold” to “pay for” something that is closer to the core of who you are.

Some of us spend too much time underneath others’ words and we have forgotten the strength and intelligence of our highest selves, the selves who are closest to God, who have His words hidden in our hearts.  Some of us have become too invested in things and people that are not essential to us reaching our most important goals.

When confusion comes, take in all the advice, take inventory of all your baggage, then sit down with nothing but the truth and figure out what is truly attached to your core.


Monday, March 9, 2015

SAE Just Showed Us Why There's Not Enough Love For All of Us

Disclaimer: If you have not read this BLACK SAE's post, do that first. Seriously, his is more relevant, closer to the issue.  His takes priority over mine. In fact, here's a video too.

Disclaimer: I am a Christian. We are supposed to look at deeper issues than race. Me and Jesus are working on that. Until we get it worked out, this post will be written and read.  As Anne Lamott told us writers: "Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth."  Knowing me, there will be an equally expository and self-deprecating piece on a faith-based reaction later on.

Disclaimer: If you don't intend to read ALL of this, do me a favor and don't read any of it.  If you're Caucasian American, something near the top will piss you off.  Not "it might," it definitely will. So either commit to your decision to be pissed off, or don't even read beyond here.

Disclaimer: I will not name any organization beyond the one whose reputation we no longer have to protect because they are done for.  I am doing this for several reasons: 1) One of my best friends is Greek to her core and she gets very upset when I discuss this. 2) I, personally, did not have a single blatant racist experience at college. In fact, I knew some very interested and sensitive advisors.  I know that if I start naming orgs, then they pop up in Google right along side the most guilty party.  I'm not mad at them; I am just participating in the national discussion.  3) I'm a teacher and I hate playing into people's laziness.  If you want to know where I went to college, it's in the public domain, as is the name of the organization I was (am?) a member of. But I would argue that it doesn't matter.

Disclaimer: I represent absolutely no one. I am just a Latinegra telling her story.

Some terms you should know:
PWI/PWC/PWU - Predominantly White Institution/College/University; everything that wasn't founded by a person of color.
NPC - National Panhellenic Conference - the governing body of (predominantly white) female Greek social organizations
NPHC - National Pan-Hellenic Council - the governing body of both male and female Black Greek organizations
NIC - North-American Interfraternity Conference - the governing body of (predominantly white) male Greek social orgs; the larger version of IFC - Interfraternity Council
Rush/Recruitment - the process of choosing or being chosen for a Greek org
BSA/BSU - Black Student Association/Union - an organization on a campus that unifies African American students on that campus and usually stays connected to the BSA/BSUs of other nearby colleges/universities. These organizations were originally formed as shelters for Black students at PWIs (perhaps those who did not want to be sheltered in the NPHC Greek system). For obvious reasons, BSA/BSUs don't exist at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (while NPHC orgs were originated at HBCUs and thrive there).


Once upon a time, I was born into a college-educated, well-spoken, well-read, well-traveled family of not all Black people.  My uncle married a white lady back when it was a big deal.  Her family lives close to mine, so from the second I was born my cousins were all the colors of the race spectrum.  My white cousins and I used to love to confuse people by telling them we are cousins and then explaining how.

Once upon a time, I was smart and snobby - oh wait, that hasn't totally changed - and I had expensive tastes.  I wanted to go to a "good school" with other smart, driven people who understood how brilliant I was.  I also wanted to be close to my friends (primarily the mixed one I was in love with, and the 2 white girls I was friends with, and the black guy I could never get to date me); wanted to rise through the ranks of leadership and accolades just like we had in high school.

I picked a private PWI.  Because I was an idiot.  Most socially conscious people already know that the university's status as private is at least partially why it's a PWI. It's hella expensive.  I am getting a second job next week in order to work at paying it off.  Most expensive decision of my life.

At Any University America, you have pre-school activities for incoming freshman.  They throw you several parties, all of which say, "Thanks for your money! Here's all the fun stuff you can do with it!" But they leave out that "all the fun stuff" will cost more money.  At Any University America, NPC and IFC Rush (see the terms above) is one of the pre-school activities. So you sign up for classes and dorms and buy parking spaces and books, but before you ever set foot in class you decide if you want to be Greek. I find this ridiculous.

NOW, at Any Large Public University America, the NPHC (see terms) members are standing at booths and stomping the yard (yes, that is a real thing) during orientation week, telling poor, naive, misguided Black kids like me, "Hey girl, you don't wanna rush those organizations. They don't care about our community. Wait a year, keep your grades up, come to our mixer next month, and rush for us next semester/year."

But at my tiny, private university in America, there were not enough Black students interested in any one NPHC org to charter one, so there was no Black Greek presence on campus.  Not only that, but there was another Black girl in an NPC org there.  I saw her and said, "Yes! Someone who gets me!" Plus my friends from high school were all Greek - one white girl in the org I subsequently joined, the mixed guy and the black guy both in another org on campus.  I went to that university to be with my friends.  Why not go big or go home? I didn't have a Black community to save me. And I didn't think I needed saving.

After all, there's quite enough love for all of us. There's quite enough joy and quite enough laughter to chase away gloom, for my sisters, all my sisters are in this very room.

From the first second I walked across the threshold to the last alumnae event I went to in an attempt to continue being sisters with women who I had very little in common with, every woman I met in that house respected me as a human, as an intellectual, as a member of the same organization. They treated me like a sister to the best of their ability.  All problems (there were not many) were a result of simple, natural personal conflicts (they didn't love my best friend's personality either and she's white) that occur regardless of race and class. I do not hold a single one of the women who were members at the time I was a member at fault for anything anyone else has ever said or done. They were sweet. They almost made me believe that racism was past.  In that room, for three years, there was quite enough love for all of us.  I even met several girls from other chapters of this org and they were all lovely to me as well. 

Second semester freshman year, I started dating a senior from one of the state universities who was also a member of an NPHC org.  From the first moment I mentioned it, he never stopped lecturing me about how being a member of an NPC org made me some kind of race traitor.  I heard that from the next guy I dated too - a graduate of the same university, but in a different NPHC org.  I heard that from the most recent guy I dated - a graduate of a different large public university, but from the same NPHC org as the first.  The point is: the bewilderment was pervasive. Why in the world would I give them all my time and money and fancy dresses and photos?

I was so naive.
Why not? I asked.
We're all human. I said.
This is 2008. I said.
They like me. I said.
They think I'm smart. I said.
They put me in office. I said.

My junior year, the BSA at my school started becoming much more actively involved in campus happenings and I was drawn in.  I felt the tension immediately.  Ask my best friend - who was pretty high on the totem pole of our org; I started talking about "black stuff" a lot all of a sudden.  Junior spring, I went with BSA to the Big Twelve Conference on Black Student Government.

Talk about CHANGE MY LIFE!
Here's a statement to make all the Black people mad at me too: I was so pleasantly shocked to find out that there were large quantities of Black people who were just as smart, organized, and driven as me - they just all went to other (cheaper) schools!

I got knocked down several notches that week, that year.  If I'm not the smartest Black kid in the U.S. there must be another reason or set of reasons why I am the smartest (okay, okay, fourth-smartest) Black kid I know.  Maybe it's regional.  Maybe it's because they were all smart enough to choose cheaper schools.  Maybe it's because they were so smart they got full-rides to east and west coast schools instead of staying in the dirty south where most of the racists are hiding.

Maybe the answer is not simple.

Maybe I wasn't as smart then as I thought I was.

At Big Twelve, I started understanding for the first time how institutional racism works. How the white sorority girls at all schools act afraid of the Black athletes who speak American Black English Vernacular and listen to their sweary, offensive rap music way too loud. I started understanding how I could listen to our music, and speak our language, and still want to change the world.  I started seeing that there was value - more value - in sisterhood and brotherhood among my actual sisters and brothers than among white people.  I started seeing who had my back.

When I transferred universities, I met a few girls who were members of an NPHC org who also tried to convince me to denounce my white org.  I didn't hold any real allegiance to them any more.  But I wasn't ready to let go of the idea that I could represent some kind of shift in the world, where I could be in that white org because my friends were, because they wanted me as their sister.

And until Sunday night watching SAE chant about lynching niggers who can't join their organization and Monday afternoon reading this mean-spirited, prejudiced, and hilarious response that I understood their point.

Why did the SAE members chant that? 
Because every single thing comes down to who has your back and whose back you have. SAE wanted us all to know they don't have any niggers' backs. None of us. Not one. Ever.

Not if we want friends to party with on the weekend.
Not if we need a lift because our tire went flat.
Not if they are the cop and we are driving 10 miles over the speed limit to our friend's house to take them medicine because they are sick.
Not if we need a job.
They will never have our backs. We're just niggers.

Why did that prompt me to tell my story?
In this article linked above, Dante wrote, "How many other frats saw that video and their first thought was 'WHEW! Thank God they didn’t catch our shit on video too!'?" and I laughed, before realizing that is the question I've been asking myself for 5 years. Will James (see the first posted link, which you should have already read) is sitting somewhere putting on a fake smile for his baby boy because his "brothers" were nice to him just like my "sisters" were. I was reading that article and crying, because I know exactly what he meant.  I know it with hundreds of dollars and hundreds of photos and a dozen semi-formal gowns, and a song that promised me there was quite enough room for all of us.  But can I say with any certainty that my (former) org will never make national news for singing something racist? You can say yes, because in general women are classier than men.  You can say yes, because we are smarter than to film ourselves being stupid.  But until you can show me the founding documents where Ethel and Beth and Odette (not the founders' real names) stated that they welcomed members of all races, then we will never know.  There might be a chapter in Mississippi singing a song just as ugly.  And my "sisters" will keep saying they love me until that video is leaked.  Just like Will James's "brothers" loved him.

I am not mad about ridiculous obvious racism like SAE's chant.  People suck.  I'm over it.  I get mad when people who are otherwise intelligent behave as though they are oblivious and unaware of systemic injustice and racism.  I get mad when a woman looks me in my eyes and tells me there's enough love for all of us but won't stand up to protest for the remanding and imprisonment of Daniel Holtzclaw who is charged with 26 counts of abuse to Black women on the east side of my city.  That's what our philanthropy is for, isn't it?

Or was my ex-boyfriend right? They don't care about it when it's our community.

Why did I write this?
We can't do anything but tell our stories and hope the collection will show the world what kind of mess we have always been wading in.
SAE is talking about lynching niggers and an unarmed Black person still dies every 28 hours at the hands of a person who is not prosecuted. They might not be connected; or they might be two sides of the same coin.

Questions Black People Will Ask:
Why didn't your parents tell you not to join a white org?
They did. I was both naive and stubborn.
They were also unable to clearly articulate the specific and compelling reasons why I shouldn't.  "Don't do it" has never been a convincing argument, especially not from your parents who told you not to walk and chew gum or sing at the dinner table.  I needed convincing, real life, anecdotal, convincing reasons.

What do you mean you don't know any smart Black people?
I know a TON of them now. I didn't know them then.  They stayed away from me because I was always looking down my nose at them. That perspective was my fault, not ours. I now understand that what makes Black people seem less smart than white people is really systemic racism in our education system and in our society.  I know now.  I'm sorry.

If you had it to do over what would you do?
Go to a large public university and not be Greek at all.  

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Brokenness Over Belligerence

"She only cusses when she's angry and she only gets angry at the right things." - me about myself on 9-3 after doing a bit too much research into educational malpractice.

There's a song by Matthew West called "My Own Little World." When I hear it on K-Love or read through the lyrics, I see privilege (many people of color would call it "white privilege" although it's more about money than race). But I also see a man who knows he is operating from a place of privilege and wants to change it.  He sings, "break my heart for what breaks Yours," and I know that the heart of God is broken by needless and senseless violence, death, greed, poverty, depression, bullying, the abandonment and abortion of children, inequities in education and opportunity.  All of that breaks the heart of God. I know it and so does Matthew West. 


I also know that, by God's standard, hatred is never ever appropriate.  I recently learned through a pastor that, by God's standard, apathy is not appropriate either.  So I can't hate the guy who doesn't give a flying fig about education equity.  He's not all bad anyway. 
I can't hate the people on my timeline who care more about property damage than the loss of a life, hundreds of black lives. Those people are not all bad. They are teachers and church organizers and in general they are sweet.

It's so much easier to be angry than to be hurt.

If I could have, rather than sitting with my friends and cussing about the injustice of adults of who mistreat or inadvertently screw up the futures of children, I would have cried.  For me, anger is almost never anger at its root; it is either fear or grief.

The appropriate thing to do when you're afraid - if you're a Christian and you walk in the authority you share with Christ - is to fight off the devil and his schemes (usually through intercessory prayer and declaration of the Word).  God did not give us a spirit of fear.  So comforting ourselves with our anger is actually akin to cowardice.  Because we are afraid to fight, we are going to let the devil win and simply throw a little tantrum to keep up appearances.

The appropriate thing to do when you feel grief is to cry - especially if you're a woman.  I once picked up a book that I wanted so badly to read.  It is If You Have to Cry, Go Outside by Kelly Cutrone.  I was inspired by her bravery and her determination and her ability to remain professional no matter what.  But I know now, the Lord would not give me the stamina to read that book because that is not a concept I need further internalized in my life.

Sometimes our hearts get broken and when that happens, there is no better reaction that to release the pain and anger.  Too many times we mask our grief as aggression and our fear as anger.

Remember that there is a blessing in the storm.  Remember that the Lord has not brought you into the desert to leave you to dehydrate and die.  Remember that He works all things together for our good.