The time is now

By Sharieka Breeden 

Shielded in suits…Planting false proof, drenched in fear, working to stop us from being here. You call it in accident. I call it genocide.

Promotion of guns, everywhere we turn.

How can you call yourself pro-life when you express little concern about those who exist?

When will we learn, when will it matter? Treat us like we are walking destruction or natural disaster.

Sick and tired. Tired of being sick of he treatment and the failed nutrition.

Whether it’s a gun or the food, human kind is facing doom unless we stop being quiet about the elephant in the room.

Inferiority in the workplace. Inferiority in the court and the church. How can you make a living when you don’t feel equal at work?

We must stop it, put an end to it now.

Time to search for answers and find out how.

No need for words like later… Let’s do this now.

Have a sense of urgency, a sense of pride.

Journey on like Harriet, revolt like Nat. Make sure their spirits are alive.

Either stand together, or elevate above those who see that we fall… Because justice isn’t supposed to be one-sided. It’s for all.

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Will to live

There’s this urge within us all to be acknowledged for existing. 

Digging deep to be heard, shouting out, hoping someone will listen.

We must live, feel, see and be connected it to it all.

Thoughts and emotions develop, attached to the world we live in. 

All along we hold unto to this concept of self in pursuit of the truth while they push for something else.

Standing on a  strong foundation as everything seems to crumble… 

Look in the mirror and see an image as you struggle to reflect on the issues.

The issues that plagues our daily lives.

Removed from the violence, yet attached, even if we haven’t been been hit we still feel attacked.

Tears stream down their face as the world watches them on a platform.

There’s an urge within us…. The urge to be heard when we cry out.

Genocide…we dig deep until we all die out.

They hear our cries, feel our support. We are not in the picture. We work to define our role, make our precense known.

Recognize us for the concern we have shown.

We know what we want to give, give what we need. 

There’s this urge within us all to be acknowledged for existing. 

Before it Happens

By Sharieka Breeden

An incident involving an 18-year-old black man being shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo. is causing unnecessary divide.

We need to gain our strength, focus and let this serve as the foundation for us to combat other wars (poor nutrition, unfair prison sentences, killing each other, poor representation and perpetuating stereotypes through music and media, failed educational system) that our community is facing.

The unfortunate tragedy is one that will go down in American history as an unnecessary injustice. Members of a grand jury decided to let Darren Wilson walk free.

The same energy and attention we have given this situation needs to be given to the issues mentioned earlier.

Wilson did not receive a charge that would even indicate that he shot let alone killed Michael Brown.

It is an unjust, crime, and form of brutality anytime a law-enforcement officer takes matters into his own hands and takes the life of an unarmed individual.

For me, Brown’s life was an example of the lack of value and worth that a black life has in America. It serves as proof that in the eyes of some, store merchandise valued at no higher than $2 is worth killing us over.

While the issue has earned the attention of many and it does shine a light on police brutality and improper handling of the black community, it also serves as a reminder.

Brown’s body remained in the street to instill the same fear in blacks that Willie Lynch wrote about. The thought alone is disheartening.

His killer walking away is discomforting and a clear reminder that this country’s fabric only covers the back of some.

The irony in that is that the fabric of this country was finely stitched together by the same people who picked the cotton for the fabric to exist, yet our backs don’t feel covered.

While Brown’s death is tragic and attention to the issue is important and protests are understandable, we must open our eyes as a black community and as activists and individuals concerned with the human condition.

Too many individuals in our communities die from senseless violence.

This alone should evoke fear in you that is greater than any other fear. The continual killing of the black race may result in us becoming extinct.

Brown’s death should remind us all that that there is work that must be done in our black communities to fight oppression.

As a county, we’ve witnessed race serve as the reason people hate. We’ve witnessed racist individuals take peoples lives by lynching them and shooting them.

We’ve also witnessed the spirits of blacks killed by unfair and lengthy prison systems handed out based on bias laws.

Why is the life of a black man taken by a white officer so much more meaningful than that of one taken by another black person?

(Is the white man viewed as more adequate, or more humane or less likely to kill? Can’t we see the issue in that. We make Gods of them and act shocked by their actions.

Our focus right now should be education, getting back to our roots, putting God first and not letting any individual have power over us while understanding that we need to work to empower our communities.

Let the protests continue. Let them serve as the foundation and catalyst for us to grow and reach our potential.

Open your eyes to black lives loss that the media fails to magnify and that we as a community and a people overlook. We need to stop killing ourselves and see the value and worth in our own community and skin tone. This is just as important and necessary as Justice being served in Brown’s case. We are still viewed as 3/5 of a human in this country. That must change.

What happened to Brown was wrong.

There was a lot of wrong before that hot summer day though. We need to open our eyes and see what’s going on.

Let the fire and fuel from this battle continue to burn in a war against ending disparities and injustices.

Fight against the perpetuation of negative stereotypes and becoming statistics.

Fight to help stop another 18-year old black man from sitting in jail for senselessly taking the life of another black person.

Every time we take one of our own lives, two or more lives is gone. This is in issue. They kill us and walk free. We kill us forget about us, failing to even acknowledge it.

Both are issues.

Death is always the same. Murder is always murder.

Protest but empower and focus.

Race has become an issue in the cases that have occurred in the last five years.

The issue is worthy of protest and attention. I find myself saying this about many issues faced in our communities. Along with seeing it as important and media worthy when a police officer shoots down a black individual, we need to establish the value of our lives and see every death as significant.

We need to lift each other up in our and understand the power that is within us based on where our history stems from.

Fight before it happens so that it will not happen again and if it does the value and worth of our lives will be evident before someone else tells us we are important.

Don’t let your interest in the human life and condition stop here.

Continue on for Brown and others.

End the divide.
Truth

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Truth is

We are taught how to say fancy things and dance in settings where the music sounds fancy enough to move our feet to.
Captured by the elegance and essence that doesn’t escape us when the allure is too much to overlook.
Dollar signs equate to fine wines and calculated times when you are stuck in stuffed atmospheres where jokes about aromas that nobody else can smell are common.
Fine views where the window shows infinite and endless moments.
Long 9-5 working against us, competitive opponents.
Houses that you talk about, we’re renters but you own it.
Don’t realize until you’re up on it that you really don’t want it.
Sacrifices to break commitment and fill the void that creates other people’s longing.
Trees they just sway from side to side while we watch them.
We feel the breeze that motivates their sway.
Caught, captured by the sunlight that takes us and dances with us until moonlight comes to kidnap us and pulls up into spaces where we can’t and don’t fit. Cramped counterparts,
Oh isn’t this wine fine.
Discipline becomes a state of mind . Level of respect underneath water, drowning with insecurities and emotions that comfortably make you accept the unacceptable .
Laughter soothes you when you have been displaced by status and perception.
Equality, status and ranks- ruled out by what’s in their banks.
I never let the sign in front of the dollar serve as my motivation.
It’s always something deeper, something like chasing the allure.
Saying we did it, letting the sun shine through and kill the doubt of not being able to.

You Come Out

Is being openly gay a neccessity? Should people be required to state their sexual orientation? Men and women who are heterosexual have been relieved of the burden of  people working to expose them or forcing them to to state who they love and why they love them. In the world we live in, people don’t pry at a young straight woman to explain why she is into men. It’s what some consider natural and normal. It is what is expected of us. People set standards based on religious beliefs and personal opinions. Where do people find the time or the need to trouble others by deeming their self-righteous perspective  as valid?

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More importantly, how can anyone determine that the traditions they’ve carried out and lived their lives according to are the universal codes of existence for all people? There are those advocating against people’s rights and expressing their disdain when it isn’t required. So I am thankful for individuals like All-american University of Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam who is willing to stand for a cause and stand for the right to be identified with respect, acceptance and without being treated unfairly or unjust.

Sam has helped to increase the visibility of the LGBT community. I thank him for not being afraid to be open and for allowing the world to get to know a man who is a force to be reckoned with on the field. His decision to speak out and answer to the curious souls who come expecting something that they are not entitled to have help to erase limitations and boundaries.  No explanation is owed about a component of someone’s life that has no bearing on the human being they are.

For some, there is a need to know and demand an explanation they feel they are owed. People tend to get fixated on defining and determining who they want family members, friends, and people to become. They are fixated on shaping the lives of others to resemble what they are used to looking at. Close your eyes and your mouths when an individual is involved in love that is not causing detriment to a helpless individual that is being victimized. Open your eyes to domestic violence, poverty, racism, sexism, prejudice, hatred—speak out against these issues. They are issues, they are battles that need to be fought.

When two people are invested in each other, it is their business. When another individual pursues someone (consenting age, consenting mindset, consensually) no one should stand in the way of the connecting of those individuals based on a difference in belief. Stand up and stand strong. Thank you Michael Sam for being an athlete and more importantly a human being who has used his voice to humanize what people treat like an unacceptable way to exist. You have become another face in the fight for equality. Because leaders come few and far between, usually the world of sports and entertainment lead and the rest of the world follows. No one is forcing the acceptance of anything that would jeopardize someone’s belief system. We are only asking that you don’t invade in people’s business or pass judgment or burden people to be who you think they are destined or required to be.

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I respect and support the decision of Michael Sam to open up and share a piece of himself (certainly can’t define everything about him). It’s not something to hide. I force myself to think about why people need to know. Then I think of how important it is to have a voice like his be expressed. We need figures who can help erase some of the stigmas and the notions that come with being gay. Capable, smart, athletic, attractive members of society who love just as anybody else does. These are the people that Michael Sam represents when he builds up his courage to share his reality.

The relationships don’t change.  How could they. Two people, two hearts, two minds. Yet and still people work to find out the mystery between same sex couples. Members of society work to rally against rights of others.

We are not in a position to determine who someone should love. Comments and conversations where people dig to find out the components of same-sex relationships and their purpose. People are curious about what takes place. They feel like they are owed an explanation. I find people searching their minds frantically to try and force others into living the traditional lifestyles that they lived.  It’s almost as if there is a high sense of insecurity with knowing someone who is doing something that is considered unconventional.

So, do we need to answer the questions of when it started, how do we know, or listen to statements about something having to go wrong in life? What good does it provide to cater to curiosities of those who judge and want to hear responses so that they can try and correct and provide what they deem as a necessary cure. I congratulate you Michael Sam and for those who build their life around defining the lives of others-YOU COME OUT.

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Hoods off

It’s 2014 and the new year is only about 20 days old. It’s just a little under the two year mark for the passing of Trayvon Martin.  It was a fairly nice day (few clouds, slightly dark sky, no hint of sunshine) and I was sitting in my car, waiting for a friend to return from a local corner store with a sign that left me perplexed. In two years time quite a bit has happened. President Obama is in his second term, Kobe Bryant has gone from the leagues most potentially threatening scorer to a man whose pockets are lined with money as he’s sidelined, and Oprah Winfrey’s network (OWN) has moved forward progressively after the initial struggles.

Then there are those things that have remained the same or worsened. Current day statistics show that 1 out of every 6 men ranging from the age of 25 to 54 is currently unemployed, our country’s politicians are caught up in scandals and disagreements about how progress can be made, and stores are implementing policies that seem to resemble the same prejudice and profiling that played a role in George Zimmerman’s inexcusable killing of Trayvon Martin. That’s what I was reminded of as I sat in my car in the parking lot of the corner store.

As George Zimmerman works to make a profit on the death that so many of us demanded justice for, all I can do is reflect and observe. During a trip to a convenience store in Pinetops, NC I noticed a sign that read “No hoodies on in the store please.” After my first glance at the sign, I realized that I needed to ask myself a very serious question. Before doing so, I read the sign again.

If the Trayvon Martin case had never happened, would I express interest on a tactic or request that seemed to help a store owner or manager carry out profiling and potentially discrimination? I also asked if we needed to enter public places without our faces being revealed. Then I returned to my real self and my real state of mind…

Hoodies are not the issue. The issue is what can be hid under the hoodie. A piece of clothing doesn’t define an individual or their actions. Crimes can be committed with or without a hoodie. Had the store owner put the sign up as a result of the case we all rallied for justice for?

Was the sign placed in the window to keep a certain group of customers out?

In spite of what purpose the sign served, it helped to perpetuate ignorance and an excuse for George Zimmerman’s actions that day.

When members of the KKK rallied in the land of the free and home of the brave with hoods on, they weren’t banned or forbidden. Their voices were heard and their ill practices and unjust mindsets were used to put fear in people. They never revealed their faces, they hid behind fabric. While their actions were and still are blatantly inhumane, their wardrobe was acceptable. It was not a fashion statement or something that a young group of black men were a part of.  It was an agent of protection and secrecy.

With profiling comes stigma and association. People associate hoodies with young black males who they anticipate will snatch their purses or steal minimal items from their stores. Yet and still a hoodie doesn’t need to be worn to commit either crime.

In society, it’s important that we eliminate the actions that are being committed and stop trying to eliminate people that are falsely associated with crime. No hoodies doesn’t equal no crime. It equals eliminating a certain group of people who store owners are associating with crime.

Fear will cause prejudice and racism to be embedded into people’s hearts and minds allowing them to carry out hateful actions like the one that was committed almost two years ago when the life of a young Black male was taken because of who he was allegedly and for what he was clothed in.

After years of African Americans picking cotton and the fabric which many of us wear on our backs, we are stuck in a society that refuses to stare the real issue in the face. We are trying to ban what we can not see, when instead we need to challenge ourselves to see the real person under the hoodie. It doesn’t require removing it or them. This is bigger than a sign in a window. This is much bigger than what we can and can’t wear when entering a convenience store to make a purchase.

This is opening up and ending practices that promote prejudice and allow stereotypes to be perpetuated.

Hoodies on as long as there is no torching of the cross and people aren’t being lynched because their skin tone matches the night sky. Those are the hoods that we need to do away with…Yet and still somehow, even in 2014, with or without those hoods on the KKK still manages to carry out actions that create injustices in society. They may not march as consistently with hoods on as they did during the days of the civil rights movement, but they march.  Hoods are no hoods, the threat is real. Let’s make real and reasonable requests.

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To Do List…

By Sharieka Breeden

As people we are not in a position to know God’s plan. At the start and end of everyday our mind forms a to do list. No matter how minimal or frivolous the tasks may seem to others, the items on that list are top priority to us. For some the list may be finding a way to get their next fix and answer to the threatening calls of addiction. Then there are those who are thinking about their morning run or workout.

No matter what the task, we all consider what we want and need to do. Even if it’s very unimportant to our loved ones, coworkers and peers, we still are bent on dedicating our time and effort in putting all of our vested interest into it. On occasion, we consider what others may need us to do and we become consumed with feeling hassled about whether there is enough time in the day for us to pay bills, prepare meals, and make the money to do these things. We become fixated on fulfilling personal and societal expectations.

When we make plans or set up a to-do list, we plant our minds firmly on it doing everything in our power to make sure that nothing comes between us and the completion of what we feel is top priority.

Then as the day journeys on we are hit with the unexpected and with a spontaneous act that takes up by surprise. The element of surprise is really something. It’s present in good and bad news. It lines our existence. A phone call about a loved one falling ill may take us by surprise. That same one elevating beyond the illness to greet life with a new ambition will surprise us as well. God’s blessings and will is beyond amazing when it aligns with a persons desires and ambitions though. Most of the time only something coming from God can put a stop in our plans and change our direction.

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We have plans and aspirations but all the aspirations and plans of humankind combined can’t measure up to one of the highest powers plans and intentions to help shape and mold us. The to-do list that we have are great for organizational purposes but what God will have us to do and prepares us to to is not always listed in an orderly and structured fashion. As people are we ready to do what we weren’t aware we would be called to do before going to sleep and after waking the next day?

Are we prepared to arrange our lists and be spontaneous enough to explore the experience and journey that God wants to carry us on. Even if you miss your fix, or have to schedule a later run, go with God because you may be getting ready to engage in the process of evolution and progression right before your eyes. There is nothing that can provide anything more worthy for us to do.

To Do List:
1. Let go
2. Let God
3. I will
What’s on your to do your list?

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Chaka Khan

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Musical great who made music that always told us something good…

Personal Philosophy

By Sharieka Breeden
Over the course of the past two months, I’ve asked myself several questions.
How can we progress as a people?

Do dreams and reality conflict?

Do any two humans share the same passion for life?

How many times is the same truth presented to us before we accept it as the truth?

I have asked myself these four very different questions before sunrise and as the day shifts to night.

Whether it is our love life, our professional career or our religion, we have a vision for what is ideal for every aspect of our lives. With that being said, I arrived at this , the response for all of these questions is related.

My thoughts are as follows:

Progression comes from being our best selves and encouraging others to do the same. In order for us to progress we must live the dream of a perfect reality where all people are consistently reaching their goals and where dreams are not just visions of the night.

Humankind as a whole has a passion for life. Even those who can only see the darkness in this illuminated existence must possess some passion to continue on. There are various people who exist because the thought of doing anything else instills fear in them and then there are those who are able to open their window in the morning, let fresh air hit them in the face and watch the sun align with the soul. (They do it with a deep appreciation).

They are passionate about every breath-passionate because they’ve encountered another phase of life that isn’t worth being passionate for. They have encountered a reality that is not a dream so they can’t progress. They find their progression in looking out on life.

The truth is that we all want to dream up a reality that will present our best selves. We work to progress and help to shape a society that we are all passionate about building and being a part of.

What passions will we dream about for our perfect reality? Will anybody share our dreams?

I am still asking these questions.

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