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One Nation Under God

Since there is no advice, no guidance, and no lesson learned to identify here, all I have to offer is the prayer in my heart. Dear God,

I pray for every single soul who is mourning right now.

Whew, what a year it has been and we’re still just in the third quarter. Quite frankly, I’m tired. I think we’re all tired. We’re tired of bad news, confusion, civil unrest, and a severe lack of normalcy. We’ve lost some greats this year to include Kobe Bryant, John Lewis, and most recently, Chadwick Boseman. They were literally superheros in the Black community who will never be replaced. They gave hope and inspiration to all of us and we will miss the profound light that was so evident in each of them.

Additionally, we’ve lost jobs, businesses, contracts and opportunities. Some of us have lost loved ones or even had to fight through sickness this year personally. It has all just really been a lot. People have been home for several months now, children have been out of schools, and we’re all just…..exhausted. We’re mentally fatigued and physically overwhelmed. And it just seems like the blows won’t stop coming.

As I reflect on what it means that I’m a part of a community that is disproportionately affected by COVID-19, disproportionately impacted by mass incarceration, and most likely to be racially profiled and/or even killed by police, it’s all just too much. Being Black in America feels like a full-time job of having to remember to be perfect, harmless and most of all, silent. We have to continue working everyday when our spirits are unsettled. We have to put on brave faces and smile at co-workers when we’re filled with rage. We have to choose between checking an ill-intentioned joke at work, or keeping a paycheck. We have to shrink ourselves and diminish our naturally strong demeanor as not to be intimidating, because you know, being Black with a perspective makes you angry. We have to code switch at work, and be less than authentic to our true selves, to keep everyone else comfortable.

Our history has been wiped from the history books, our reparations have never been paid, and quite frankly, this country has done nothing to rid itself of the heavily ingrained systemic racism that built the very foundation of this land of the free, quite literally, for some. The disproportionate incarceration of Black and minority people, providing equitable resources, education, and opportunities, and leveling the playing field for intentionally disadvantaged groups in this country are not real agenda items for any of our “leaders.” Yet to point these things out equates to being a self imposed victim who can’t seem to let go of the past. One of my favorite conservative talking points around the discussion of systemic racism is “show me the law that oppresses Black people.” The only response I can think to utter to that statement is: are you dumb?!

Obviously there is no actual law that will say you have the right to provide inadequate funding for Black communities and schools, that banks and mortgage companies can impose stricter policies on minorities, that opportunity zones can be brought to your community with a huge intent to price you out, or that police should specifically target Black people. Instead, enough room is left for laws to be upheld and interpreted by people who don’t mean us any good. First one that comes to mind is the 13th amendment that basically states that slavery is illegal except as punishment for a crime. Slave patrols and night watchers, which later became police departments, literally were designed to control minorities. Capturing them meant continued free labor, the legal side of slavery. Stevie Wonder could see it and I’m honestly so tired and exhausted from explaining this to people who know exactly what we’re talking about but can get away with selective color blindness. Do I hate the police? No! Do I want them held accountable when they carelessly and lawlessly take a life? Yes!

There have been many times in recent years that tragedy within the Black community has caused an uproar. Most recently though, after the murder of George Floyd the country literally parted like the Red Sea, and the evidence of good vs evil was identified in every encounter. More conversations were being had. People started making more intentional efforts to educate themselves. This period caused me some tension filled conversations/encounters, some anger and rage, and loss of acquaintanceship with certain people. I heard some people say “I’m not losing friends over this.” Well I’m so sorry to hear that but I am. And happy to do so. A quote from James Baldwin comes to mind, “we can disagree and still love each other, unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.”

From there, other injustices against our people continued to occur, with us landing at our latest outrage, Jacob Blake. With all that is going on in society, I think now is probably the worst time to live in a majority white city. From the moment we got here three years ago, I was never comfortable, never really made friends, and it never, ever felt like home. I had a major meltdown in the first few months once I realized what it meant to live in a place that is 3% Black. My son was the only Black child in his Kindergarten class, then the only one on his flag football team, then again on his basketball team. I literally cried to my husband stating that we’d made a horrible decision and that this just didn’t feel right. Each year I started to dislike it more and more. Now, I flat out hate living in Santa Clarita. It’s a beautiful suburb within LA County, with great schools, lots of amenities, and one of the safest cities in the country. I live in a beautiful gated community with resort style amenities, and I FLAT OUT HATE IT! I think this is my first time expressing that publicly.

Being a Black woman in Santa Clarita has proven difficult. I’m a pretty cool person who can get along with almost anyone, but what I’ve found here with these women in particular is that they don’t necessarily mind my presence so much as they hate my voice. A lot of white or white passing “friends” will tolerate you so long as you don’t ruffle their feathers. Don’t ask questions. Don’t speak truth. Don’t feel. Don’t heal. Don’t kneel. Don’t stand. Don’t protest. Don’t resist. Just be. Be complacent. Be Scared. Be attacked. Be hunted. Be lynched. Be murdered. Just don’t complain and don’t inconvenience them in the process.

You wouldn’t believe some of the arguments I’ve had with people who were so called “friends.” People whose children have been in my home and mine in theirs. You see, in order to be the token Black friend, you need to be quiet and complacent. Most really don’t want to deal with the authentic know, the BLACK you! Instead, many of them choose to play colorblind to the issues that plague myself and my family. They see my big, natural hair and that Black girl magic that I exude so proudly and they tell me that they “dig me.” But when it comes time to take a stand for racial injustice, to pick a side, to acknowledge wrongdoing, they suddenly go blind or they “see both sides.”

There was a woman who befriended me who was the admin for a local Facebook group that she invited me to. The group usually posted local events or things that impacted the local community. Well in the group one day, she posted an article about an upcoming protest. The first comment I see on the thread is “All these dumb protestors need to go home and quit being followers. More blacks are killed by their own than by police, and all lives matter. I’m sick of this.” The comment was left there for days with no response. Of course, I was triggered for multiple reasons. I simply responded stating that “if all lives actually mattered, then we wouldn’t be in a fight for Black lives. Period.” The admin of the group jumps in right away stating that this is inappropriate for the group. Now when the white woman made derogatory comments towards an entire race of people, that was appropriate for the group…..for days. But when I respond, NOW it’s not the place.

These are the types of antics that are used to silence us while also pretending they don't know what they’re doing. This woman literally tagged me in a response stating that she could “see both sides, but it’s just not the place here.” What she really meant was, she agreed with the original commenter and only took issue when I challenged it, at which point made her feel uncomfortable, so now she gets to control the direction of all of this because society has taught her that she can.

I’ve had so many of these encounters where countless white women have felt that they could dictate my thought process and what words I’m allowed to use or not. They think they can tell me how to feel or how to express what I feel. They think they can tell me what my experience is living in this country and the things that I have to teach my children about their own survival here. I just can’t for the life of me understand what gives one the right? When women talk about rape and molestation, I don’t chime in, you know why? Because I can’t speak to that. I’ve never encountered such an entitled group of people who have no idea what a boundary is and were apparently raised to feel like the rules don’t apply to them, than I have in Santa Clarita.

Since then, a group of Black teenagers were hanging out in the area and ended up getting attacked with a knife by a homeless white man. Again, these are children, teens. When the police arrive, who do you think they pulled their weapons on and placed in handcuffs?! You bet, the black kids! The comments that I saw in the mom group following that incident were just disgusting. It made me sad that my children have to go to school with these people’s children. I honestly don’t even care to regurgitate some of the foolishness that I saw from that page. All I know is that I don’t want to live in a place, where the majority of people get to claim not to see color in an effort to look the other way if they ever see my little Black boy and girl being unfairly treated. Because “what is white privilege and you guys think about color too much right?!” No, I just can’t accept that. It’s lazy and quite frankly offensive that you even think we’re dumb enough to believe that you didn’t recognize all this melanin, all this Blackness, and all this greatness that is us.

Even with all that I stand proud and celebrate the dopeness that is being Black, even in a room all by myself. Our very existence, our heritage, our culture and our history deserve to be celebrated. Our many triumphs, inventions and creations in the face of more adversity, racism and hatred than ANY other group of people in this country, are all things to be proud of! We are the definition of making lemonade out of lemons hunny and the people are mad about it! We are a resilient people. We are strong. We are unbreakable. We are educated. We are swaggy. We are light and love. We define the culture. We set the tone and the trends. We come in all shades with varying hair textures, different languages, and dialects and all of it is BEAUTIFUL!

I always try to end with some type of insightful message, but honestly I don’t have one today. Since there is no advice, no guidance, and no lesson learned to identify here, all I have to offer is the prayer in my heart. I want to share it with you exactly as I feel it:

Dear God,

I pray for every single soul who is mourning right now. I know that people of every race, color and creed are hurting for various reasons. Some are facing financial hardship due to job loss or even the loss of a business that they’ve built from the ground and watch be destroyed in a matter of weeks. Some are hurting because they have lost loved ones due to COVID. Others feel lost with no real plan of action because we’re living in an unprecedented time in which none of us have seen before. And so God, for that I lift up our Nation. I lift up every heart towards you. And I pray that one day we will truly be One Nation under God.

But Lord, in the meantime, there is a specific group of people who are beyond hurt. God, we’re beyond frustrated, angry and filled with rage and right now because I feel even myself turning cold, I say that we need you to intervene. We need you to soften our hearts, to hear our prayers, and to hear our cries. We pray for a day that we don’t have to go above and beyond to prove our worth in a society and a Nation that never believed we were worthy to begin with. Strengthen our people to stand boldly in the fact that we have all that we need within us, to affect the change that we’re begging others to give us. God, I pray to see us come together as a collective, so strong and so mighty, unlike anything this Nation has ever seen before, and that we would stop asking for things you’ve already told us were ours.

So God now we claim it. We claim financial increase, financial freedom, community and generational wealth, and legacy. Your word says that if you are for us, who can be against us and right now in Jesus name we stand against every single attack of the enemy. We stand against racism, discrimination, and racial injustices. We stand against leaders more concerned with fighting each other on the basis of irrelevant party lines than doing the right thing for the people they swore to represent. We stand against homelessness, financial inequities, and inequality. We stand against remaining silent in the name of Christianity and any erroneous belief that YOU don’t see color because we know that you created color and you gave us the ability to see it all. We know that you have called us to seek justice and correct oppression and so we vow right now to always speak against wrongdoings of any kind and at any time. We vow to stand boldly in the face of any enemy who comes to kill, steal, and destroy our people. We cast out divisive tactics that have us fighting with each other, when we need to be putting on our full armor and uniting on one accord.

So God, right now we call out the names of some of those who have been targeted, attacked, killed, beaten, and unfairly incarcerated because of the color of their skin. We pray for the families of Jacob Blake, Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Kalief Browder, Atatiana Jefferson, Aura Rosser, Kendrick Johnson, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, Botham Jean, Philando Castille, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamla Horsford, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Walter Scott, Alton Sterling, Stephon Clark, Eric Garner, and an unreasonably long list of so many others. Cover and protect their families. Mend their broken hearts. Help them to find triumph after the tragedy, joy after mourning, and renewed faith after total devastation. Equip the rest of us to stand with them and to ensure that they’re names will always be said and their impact never forgotten. We pray for complete covering for our children, our families, our friends, our neighbors and ourselves. And now God, we just pray for total peace even in the midst of the storm. A peace that surpasses any level of human understanding. I count it already done and I thank you in advance. In Jesus' mighty name we pray. Amen.

With Love,

Michelle L.


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