by guest blogger, Kai Wall
Recently, I stood my ground against individuals who were in positions of authority over me. They were disgustingly abusive, frighteningly racist and seemed to expect me to respond to their frequent attacks on my dignity with a compliant timidity. As it seemed with Sandy Bland when she encountered the rouge state trooper in Waller County, Texas my initial thoughts were these people have got to be kidding. The experience was surreal. As things escalated I used my intellect, reasoning and "strong black woman attitude" as my tools of protection. My tormentors only became more venomous, just as the trooper had become with Sandy. As I witnessed Sandy's encounter, specifically the contrived stop followed by his mean-spirited, condescending tone and confrontational attitude, my barely healed wounds began to reopen. When he pathologically informed her he would "light her up," I felt terror because that was the message I more or less received at my point of no return. My spirit meshed with hers as I understood the doom that awaited her. My tears flooded as I knew she would not be okay. My heart ached as I knew she would not make it out of this one alive. As I returned to a clear state of consciousness I thought I am wounded. I've been greatly harmed, but I am still alive, while Sandy is not. I owe it to her to pick up the pieces and become whole, because I am still here. I have a chance to begin anew, while Sandy's fate has been permanently sealed. Sandy, what happened to you was not fair. The irony is not missed that your death was caused by the very same conditions you fought so valiantly and honorably against. I will pick up the pieces not only for myself, but also for you. Your death will not be in vain. ©2015 KCW
I am inspired. So much insight and awareness and at 16 years of age . . . I'm impressed. Amandla Sternberg taught many this week through a video she originally posted on Tumblr from a school project, "Don't Cash Crop My Conrows." In the video, she eloquently explains cultural appropriation:
"What is so complicated when it comes to black culture, the line between cultural appropriation and cultural exchange is always going to be blurred. But here's the thing: Appropriation occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations or stereotypes where it originated but is deemed as high-fashion, cool, or funny when the privileged take it for themselves. Appropriation occurs when the appropriator is not aware of the deep significance of the culture that they are partaking in. Hip hop stems from a Black struggle, it stems from jazz and blues, styles of music which African-Americans created to retain humanity in the face of adversity."
Unsurprisingly, Billboard Music, a well-known international publication covering the music business reduced her poignant, educated message to one of immaturity and anger as they tweeted, "Hunger Games" star Amandla Stenberg criticized Taylor Swift and Madonna for "rampant" appropriation of Black culture." However, the 16 year old response was as inspiring as her original message (tweets shown below.) Again, as we often do on this blog: block out the negativity and noise to pay attention to the lesson at hand. Amandla Stenberg asks a question that has been asked on social media for years now:
When I see young people taking a stand for what they believe, I'm intrigued. Let's support and show her love. Be sure to follow her on Twitter, Instagram and "Like" her on Facebook. Also, share this and let me know what you think!
Whether it's in film or a testimonial during an Oprah's Master Class, whenCicely Tyson speaks, we listen. and we are inspired. At 81 years of age, as she accepted the Living Legend Award at this years BET's Black Girls Rock, there was no difference.
We were inspired.
"At the early stages because I had to fight for a decent role or just to even be considered, there were a number of issues that I felt I needed to address and so I opted to use my career as my platform. For young Black women, they have to understand that there is no reason why anything you choose to do in this world, you cannot do. If you can be Black and live in this world, you can be anything you want to be.
One day at a time, Sweet Jesus. I was told I have three minutes to speak.... (took me three minutes to get up here.) I thank this entire audience for all the support you have given me over the years. I want to say to the young women here tonight: the moment anyone tries to demean or degrade you in any way, you have to know how great you are. No one is going to bother to put you down if you were not a threat to them. One of the things that I urge you to do, Do unto others as you will have them do unto you, Respect yourself and the world will respect you. Respect elders. Remember that we are standing NOT on their shoulders but on their backs. You have to understand that we are the seeds of the work of our elders."
“Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Oftentimes I highlight the work and service of women under the category: #sheSpeaksUP! Today, I highlight someone who speaks up not only in her accomplishments, but her service to her community:
Upon meeting Karen Cecile Wallace, I knew she had IT. What is IT? It is that 'thing' I encounter upon meeting people who are selfless and work to build a better community locally as well as abroad. They have a story and through their service, we listen.
Karen is a part of floWERS! (focused ladies of Worth, Excellence, Resilience and Strength!) She is the epitome of what floWERS! represent: Ambition. Service. Drive. Selflessness. With a significant amount of pro bono hours (free legal service hours to the community), she continues to give. Karen has a background as an adjunct professor, youth mentor and a corporate attorney. Her foundation in public policy and nonprofit organizations prove she has what it takes to accomplish the mission of her latest endeavor: The Violence Prevention Funding Campaign.
Karen currently resides in her hometown (Chicago) and is a member of Trinity United Church of Christ. She is highly regarded in the Cook County Bar Association and has worked with various school systems, organizations and churches in her community throughout the years. Along with the heart of teaching, advocating and mentoring, Karen’s work is admirable and meaningful. She gives back with excellence. Just recently Karen launched the campaign fund for violence prevention in Chicago that I will follow and update you about toward the attainable goal of $200,000.00.
We need your help. With its crime rate, Chicago is seen as the most unsafe city according to a recent study.
There is always hope. By the time you read this, I hope you join me and Karen in doing more for your local communities as well as giving back in service to other communities. As we often see, in times of injustice (e.g. police brutality in the Black community), many people hark upon the 'lack of attention' that ‘black on black’ crime receive throughout the nation. Usually this argument is counterproductive as well as a distraction. It seeks to support the notion that no one cares about the violence happening in our own communities which is untrue. It further gives rise to questioning community activism in these areas. Please note that nationwide, there are several organizations, churches, activists, community leaders, teachers and parents serving in this capacity. Let’s not discount their work and service, but join them in the fight against violence while speaking against different injustices.
Now, let me tell you about Karen’s campaign that I wholeheartedly support. Karen is seeking funding for an initiative that will help different churches and organizations with established programs for the youth in Chicago. The purpose of this campaign is to reduce gun violence in the city. Contributing to this campaign will help fund these established community based violence prevention programs that have a proven track record and assist them in expanding the reach of their programs. With her experience and commitment, I know that Karen and her committee will be successful in finding the organizations and churches to assist through this heartfelt mission. They will conduct due diligence in researching these programs by identifying groups that have been effective with their violence prevention programs. The funding will essentially help improve the lives of both boys and girls. The approach of the programs may be anywhere from home and school visits, mentoring and other types of outreach.
What you can do to help?
So... the other day I was in a group discussion about sexual assault on campuses and how (in 2014) many colleges still handle complaints irresponsibly. Many colleges opt to handle the cases internally (not wanting to receive bad press I suspect.) Therefore, they prefer keeping it 'hush-hush' while placing much of the burden and shame on the victims. You know, "she wasn't supposed to go out with him after a certain time of night or invite him into her dorm and everyone knows she wasn't supposed to wear THAT on the date." It is a sad state of affairs. Again, in 2014.
I'm so glad that a group of students have joined Columbia University's Emma Sulkowicz in bringing awareness to this issue. She is a survivor herself and what began as Sulkowicz's project for school has the power to become a movement on campuses nationwide.
According to Columbia Spectator, "The collective carry was organized by Carrying The Weight Together, a group of students and alumni who want, according to the group's site, "to help Emma carry the weight of the physical mattress, give her and other survivors of sexual assault in our community a powerful symbol of our support and solidarity, and show the administration that we stand united in demanding better policies designed to end sexual violence and rape culture on campus." Emma plans to carry the mattress around on campus until her alleged rapist is no longer on campus. Read and see more (tweets and activism) on The Huffington Post about support for Emma Sulkowicz.
Thank you for stopping by.