» Vessel. Voice. Visionary.

Because, its my time.

Shock Value

I am deeply frightened. I go into a state of panic, literally afraid for my life. Why? Because of the reality of the world I live in. I am an African American female, living in a society that systemically and institutionally reinforces the notion that my life doesn't matter. Lately, especially in light of the recent police shootings, I tense up when passing police officers. I look at them to make sure they're not looking at me and when they are, I try to look as "normal" as possible. I often look out my rearview mirror as I pass a police car, to make sure they're not u-turning and following me or turning their lights on. A couple days ago, I actually got stopped by a state trooper while driving. He was calm and pleasant enough about the situation but then again, there were three other people in the car with me. But then, on my way back, taking the same route I had gotten stopped on, I was literally ready to cry. This time I was alone. I felt stress in my fingertips and my heart started beating so fast when I thought I saw a police car behind me. I had already thought of how to get to my recorder on my phone quickly in the event that I was stopped again earlier. At that time, I was on the phone through the bluetooth in my car and I ready to tell her to record had I been stopped. I couldn't wait to get out of the suburban neighborhod, where I feared I would be stopped, harassed, beaten, arrested, and/or sexually assaulted.

Some may read this and go, "your fears are invalid", but even as I type, another black boy is being shot to death. Some may read this and go, "how likely is that to really happen though?", but even as I type, a police officer has been arrested for sexually assaulting eight African American women, with the possibility that there's more not known about. Still others may read this and go, "racism doesn't exist anymore. We're colorblind. Those people deserved it; they're criminals", but even as I type, the numbers of unarmed, innocent black and brown people being killed keep going up. My fears are NOT invalid. I am NOT exaggerating. I have logical reasons to be afraid of walking to my apartment at night which happens to be in an increasingly white neighborhood. I have logical reasons to be afraid that I'll get a call that my boyfriend has been brutalized or worse by the police. I have logical reasons to be afraid that my brothers may call me collect from jail. I have logical reasons that someone I know will be dead by the years end. So please don't tell me I shouldn't feel the way I do, especially if you don't share similar fears.

The only thing keeping me from curling into a ball and staying in my apartment, as well as telling everyone I know and love to do the same, is God. His Grace and Mercy are keeping me and my loved ones protected and He is all I can put my trust in because justice? It doesn't quite work too well for my kind. Pray for this world y'all; it's a crazy crazy place.

In His Awesomeness

"Castillo San Felipe del Morro has seen over 400 years of history. Inside these walls, people lived, worked and died. Their stories are a part of this place".

"It is an aesthetic. Talking to your neighbor is an art. To communicate is the meaning of life--the conversations, the smiles. Alienation is a sickness". 

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Both quotes were collected as I was on vacation in Puerto Rico, which by the way, was AMAZING! The first quote was taken from a sign in Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a fortification in San Juan. It was built over the course of 250 years to protect Spain's hold over Puerto Rico, an island everyone wanted. (Please research it, you won't be disappointed!). As I walked through the fort, I was in absolute awe and was stilled. I walked where centuries of soldiers walked, slept, trained, and died. I looked out upon the waters that those very same soldiers looked for their enemy. I sweated from the same sun that the soldiers woke up to. It took my breath away. Not that I've never went to a musuem in my lifetime, but it was different this time. It was different because for some reason, it was real to me. Sitting in the chapel where I'm sure hundreds of soldiers prayed that they either wouldn't die, would die with honor, for protection for their families or an end to the war, sobered me. And in the course of the tour, I thought about the awesomeness of God. That He gave humans the ability to build this majestic fort, in all it's intricacies and beauty, with tools that we would look at as inferior today. That He would allow a structure like this to be in existence for their centuries, our centuries and centuries to come. That in every carving and chisel, He showed Himself

Above is a picture I took of the fort. Like, wow. This is where I see God. In the way the water hits the rocks, but never washes them away. In the way I can see the ocean, the world beyond me, through the iron bars. In the way that the very same walls I touch to absorb the feel, absorbed the feel of hundreds of cannon balls repeatedly. To see and experience the walls that "people worked, lived and died" in is to experience God in His awesomeness. 

That brings me to my next quote. These words were said by one of the employees of the hotel I stayed at (which by the way, I would recommend a million times). He was talking about the reason why Old San Juan, where I stayed, was so beautiful to him. It was very close knit, houses were right next to each other, with balconies directly in line with one another. One could be walking and see right into one's home, while they watched tv or washed dishes or even where they slept. He told us how one man fought to preserve this sense of community within Old San Juan, the historic colonial style, while others wanted to tear it down and become "modernized". He expressed his displeasure with the latter with the words above. Now, the reason why what he said stuck out to me is because as this world becomes more "technologically advanced", we lose the sense of humanity. All the advances in phones, and computers, and buildings, and social media, and this and that, cause us to be more individualized, more alienated--and the man is right--it is a sickness. We can't talk to one another, can't communicate in a healthy way. We don't know who lives next door to us, let alone who we're in relationships/friendships with. We have dinner with our phones, sleep with our phones, wake up with our phones, walk with our phones, swim with our phones, fly with our phones, shower with our phones, cook with our phones, and the list goes on. Anything we want to do, you can bet someone has designed something to allow us to do it. We can no longer hold decent conversations because our 140 characters can do that for us. It makes me sad and I am both a victim and perpertrator. When the end of your life comes, what will you remember? The latest technology you had access to or the people you loved that you didn't? The amount of followers/friends you had on social media or the lack of them in real life? How much of your life you could connect to one device or how much of your life was broken? When I think of the fort and the tools it took them to build it, I only think of it how much we would say how they are inferior if used now, but just think--after hundreds of years, it's still standing. Houses that are built today fall to pieces in less than 10. Nothing is built to last, merely built to please--to look good but have no substance. It also makes me think of the true meaning of life. Is it to gather everything available and become tech saavy or LIVE? I would go with the latter. God created us to communicate, to bring joy to one another, to be there for one another in the time of need. He created us to be something, to do something, but most of all share something

So the next time you have a chance to upgrade to a better phone, or move to a more modern home, or post a photo from your family gathering on social media, take a second to think. Will this matter