» 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.

Do You Ever Wonder?

Warning: May contain graphic material. 

"Please don't let me die". I'm weeping as I write this, as if I heard him say those words. I didn't; but my mind envisions what they would have sounded like out of his 16 year old mouth. I wonder if they knew-- if they all knew that moment. I wonder as they were shot, choked, beaten, if they knew they were not gonna wake up in a hospital bed imagining their luck. I wonder if they were at peace. I wonder if their killers wonder too. I know that was morbid, but isn't the state of our country the same?We live in a society where black and brown lives don't matter and we end their lives without second guessing. We marginalize entire communities and systemically oppress a whole population.Do we wonder why? How? When? When it will stop? I really wanted to write an intellectual and stimulating analysis about what is going on in our reality, but for some reason, I can only sit here and imagine them. Not intellectually, but humanly. Think about who misses them and what they are missing. It's a lot to think about and it results in a lot of tears, but I think it's a task that needs to be undertaken. How can we dismantle a system if we never take time to truly realize the humanity of the lives taken? It's not just "another one"-- it's a "one", "one" who meant/means more to someone than being the face of the movement. Let's remember that as we press forward with the fight: we fight for every single one of them.

Until next time,

Trust Him

Yesterday I received news that may potentially change the course of my life. My response? Understandably frightened, yet strangely peaceful. It's still a shock but the peace came from somewhere beyond me; it came from God. I intentionally gave it over to Him immediately and said "I'm not even gonna trip. You know this". I was scared, afraid of what I had heard, but I went out of my way to put me aside and start the process of trusting God. As I explained it to a friend of mine, she asked how I felt. I told her I wasn't sure, and that I might be hysterical tomorrow but at the moment, I was cool. On one hand, I was cool because it hadn't really hit me yet but at the same time I was cool because I realized that this had not taken God by surprise. He had known that it would come my way. My response of being distraught? Didn't quite fit. Yes I'm human, and as it sinks in,  it may very well make me cry and be sad, but instead of doing all that and then trusting God, I'll just do the latter first. Too often we respond in our human way, tire ourselves out, and then look to God for strength. Instead, what we should do is cast our cares on Him before they even start getting too heavy to carry. We can feel, we can process, but if we do it after we've turned it over to God, we can be victorious in the midst of our battle. Wouldn't it be a shame to lament over your situation only to turn around and see God already worked it out? Trust Him. Completely and firstly.  Until next time,


Last week Wednesday was the three year anniversary of my father's death. I cried. A lot. I cried because I missed him. I cried because I wouldn't see him again (at least here on earth). I cried because there was so much happening in my life and so much that he had missed and yet, so much that he would continue to miss. I also cried because I was overwhelmed with school. I cried because I found myself making sacrifices that I didn't necessarily want to make. I cried because I was missing my family and what was happening with them, missing my friends and what was happening with them. I cried because I wanted to be home. But most of all I cried because I was sad. I cried because everything was not "A" okay in my life. I cried because I had a right to look at the happenings in my life and wish they were happening another way. I cried because I could. And that was the most liberating thing ever. I was in touch with my feelings; I was in tune with where I was. My mental and emotional state tied into together and physically, I released. For you to understand why this was such a big deal would mean for you to understand that for a long time, I didn't know how to process. I didn't cry often because I wanted to be strong and I didn't want to admit that I wasn't superwoman. I didn't allow myself to be in the moment and feel because it would signify that things weren't perfect. But last week, I let that go. Last week, I embraced my humanity and acknowledged my current state of being. It was a beautiful thing. And though I was sad, and I cried, I felt free. I felt like me--and that was what made me strong.

For you, it's okay not to be okay. Cry. Scream. Be upset. Get angry. Be in the moment and feel what you feel. It's not weakness, rather, it's strength that you've embraced your humanity. The best part? When I am weak, that's when He is made strong, and I prefer His strength than mine. <3

Sticking To Your Guns

Hey y'all!! I know I haven't blogged in a while. :| please forgive me. School started and everything has just been a blur in trying to find a groove. That being said, in what I've experienced so far, I want to share a couple things I've learned. 1. Stick to who you are. Often times, when we are faced with with a new reality or new environment,  we clam up, and hold back who we really are. We want to please others, seem politically correct, not offend people etc. But at the end of the day, no matter what you're faced with, stick to your guns about what you believe in and who you are. Don't allow the environment or people to change the core of who you are. Yes, there are things you can learn and apply, but to become a totally different person based on external influences is not the best thing to do in my opinion, especially if you're not comfortable with making that decision. 

That leads to my second point:

2. Being uncomfortable doesn't always mean expanding your knowledge. There will be times where you learn something new or are exposed to something different and it makes you uncomfortable.  Not because the thing is inherently bad, but because it counters what you already know. However, this is not the rule of thumb. Don't assume everything that makes you uncomfortable you have to incorporate into your belief system. Some things will clash with your values, but if that value is important to you, and is responsible for part of who you are, I don't think you should automatically disregard it based on "new knowledge". We can grow and learn and become open to new ideas, but it doesn't mean it has to shift all of who we are.

It may seem like I'm talking a bunch of gibberish, but I think too often we allow others to condemn our foundations and core beliefs. We end up believing and accepting things we don't actually believe in and it makes us insincere and not genuine. Yes, being racist or sexist are not things you should purposely not change, but work through it, process it and then change. Being forced to change rarely ends well. Respect people. Love people. But don't allow people to change who you are based on what should be accepted or acknowledged.

May not make much sense now, but one day, I'll be able to articulate it better lol.

Until next time,

Teach Her To Be A Woman, Not A Wife


As a young woman, you're constantly thrown messages of abstinence and purity. All of the older women talk about saving yourself for marriage and making sure you're not giving your goodies to anyone that doesn't give you a ring. But then, they also teach you to cook, to clean, do laundry, citing the primary reason not that you're a woman (that's second), but because you need to know how to do it for when you're married. Herein lies the issue. I don't think that we shouldn't learn these things, but I think we're growing up in training, being taught how to be a wife, not a woman

I was having a conversation about the reason why I don't go out much, and why it was hard for me to just get up, go out, and stay out late. Part of it is because I just don't do the "going out" life, but moreover the reason was because I was thinking as a "wife", not a "woman". I have a boyfriend, and a younger female friend that also doubles as one of my roommates. I joke around and call them my little "family". So if and when I go out, they're the first ones on my mind. I want to have fun, but I also want to come home in time to be able to talk to my friend before she goes to sleep or to be there if something's wrong. I want to come home in time to call my boyfriend and relay the day's events before he goes to sleep or be there if something's wrong. My "family" is first on my mind. But the thing is, I'm not a wife or a mother. I'm a twenty one year old girl with no kids and no ring. Yet, I think as if I do and that's the issue. Of course everyone isn't like me, but I feel like the messages we send to young women cause them to think in similar patterns. We create a mindset that trains girls to grow up waiting to be married, waiting to find the one that will honor them, and love God more than he loves them. They grow up waiting for their Boaz, but what if he never comes? What if everyone doesn't get married? What if everyone doesn't even have a boyfriend? What then? Then we wonder why girls get caught up in these foolish relationships or consumed in lust. It's because we're not teaching them to be women. We're not teaching them skills to be self-sustainable. We're not teaching them to love themselves regardless of whether a man loves them or not. We're not teaching them to be pure because they're valuable and mean something. We say "boyfriends don't get husband privileges", which refers to sex, but if all they know how to do is be a wife, sex isn't really what we should be focused on. If a young woman is cooking for her boyfriend when he comes over, or helps with him with his laundry when they go the laundromat but doesn't have sex with him, is she really still saving herself? By no means do I approve of sex before marriage, but it shouldn't be the focus of what we teach our girls. The privileges should extend to more than just sex.

Maybe I'm dreaming but why can't a young woman find herself INmarriage? Why can't she explore cooking, cleaning, and pleasing with her husband? Why does she have to be a complete package prior to her ring? Maybe you might say because that's the woman's place or what will she offer the man if she doesn't know how to do those things or no man will want to marry her but I don't think that's true. I think if we taught our girls how to just BE, just BE a woman, a man would still want to marry her with no experience in those things. In all honesty, maybe that's one of the reasons so many marriages are failing. We prepare our girls to meet a man's physical and sexual needs--the tangible, but don't teach her how to stimulate his mind or how to support his visions. We don't teach her how to have visions of her own, outside of his, so that he can see that she has the intellectual capacity to aspire to something. We don't teach her to constantly evolve into her womanhood or to make sure she takes care of herself, getting things like her hair and nails done regularly. We don't teach her how to take of the woman she is, without having to feel guilty that she's neglecting her family. Look around. As much as things glorify sex, they glorify marriage as well. Take a look at these commercials for example. Take notice at how many times you see a ring on their fingers, even if the commercial is about laundry detergent. Take a look at those that supposedly write books or blogs for "single women" and constantly refer to "when you're married" or "when you find the one" or "him this, him that". We can train our girls to be women, without talking about them being wives. Some women that had no woman to teach them or any self-help books to read when they had their first child still did fantastic jobs in raising their kids, drawing on their maternal instinct and what they felt their child needed. I believe the same can happen in being a wife. I believe a woman can be a great wife without teaching or books because they realize who they need to be in relation to who they're with.I am not dismissing the advice of women who have done it before, because I do think it can be valuable; I just don't believe that's all we should rely on.

I wholeheartedly agree with the Bible's stance on women being in submission to their husbands, but I do not think that God intended for them to not to stand in and of their own as well. He created each one of us with a special purpose and when we do not teach our women to first fulfill their God-given purpose instead of seeking after a marriage, we deter them from stepping into all that God has for them. I have every intention on being married in the future, and I believe that I'll make a great wife, but I'm not there yet. I'm still at a place where I'm learning who I am and I want to keep it that way. I love my boyfriend but I don't want to turn our relationship into a proving ground for marriage instead of a time where we can enjoy one another. Of course, seeing a future with him is necessary, but I also need to see and experience a present. I want to enjoy hanging out without looking at the clock cause my "family" is waiting. I want to invest everything into building myself and following God's purpose for me, and I wholeheartedly believe that as and once I do that, I'll be able to truly enjoy and build a successful covenant. 

Women, love God and love yourself. Allow Him to prepare you by His standards for Himself, not for a man. <3

**This is a general thought and not meant to be representative of all women.**

Side Piece

I'm sorry; when did being a part of "#sideni**anation" and "#sidebi**hnation" become a thing? As a matter of fact, when did being a side piece to a relationship become something to strive to, to settle in, to be comfortable with? It's nausea ting to watch people, of course of my generation/age glorify the position of being a side piece. Why? Because it's not cool. There's nothing respectable about it. It's not an accomplishment and definitely not a honor, yet I see post after post, status after status, picture after picture with comments corroborating the foolishness. What happened to our morale? Our sense of monogamy? Our pride in being someone's only, not main or number 1 of many? 

Maybe you'll say I don't understand. On the contrary I do, I've been in those shoes, both as a side piece and as a main girl. As a main girl, it crushes you. You find out your boyfriend is stepping out on you & building something else with someone. It makes you question "why", "what does she have that I don't" "what do I do that makes you wanna do that" and ultimately, "why am I not enough". It makes you feel inadequate, makes you question all the qualities you do and don't possess. It embarrasses you and puts you to shame. You constantly flip flop on whether he means enough for you to give him another chance or walk away. You try over and over to forgive but it breaks your heart because you don't know if you want to. As a side piece, the experience is not too different. At first, it's cool, maybe even cute, like "yea your man runs to me & you don't even know" or you feel good cause he tells you "you get me. She doesn't understand me the way you do". He whispers the sweet nothings in your ear & makes promises of leaving her for good to be with you. And then, reality sinks in. Time passes, and then more time, and more time, and you realize you guys were no more closer to being together than the first day. You can't ask questions like, "where are you going" when he steps out or "who's that on the phone" when it's ringing at 1am. You can't be seen with him in public, so while he's flaunting his main girl, you're off to the side, getting into your feelings, knowing you don't have any authority to voice them. You don't meet the family, the friends, the nothing. I get it. I know what it's like to be in both positions and I never want to know again. 

But why would anyone want that to be glorified? Why would anyone want to willingly sign up for that? For a life in the unknown? Having "hoes" isn't it. Being a side piece isn't it. Grow up. Make up your mind. Act like a responsible adult. By signing up to be a side piece, you settle for way less than you're worth. You rob someone of the opportunity to love you and only you with the all of them and treat you how you should be treated, like royalty. By getting a side piece, you string along someone who thinks they're getting the all of you, not allowing them to be free because they deserve better. Either position isn't fair, and it just isn't worth it. Love yourself enough to love yourself and not settle. 

Side pieces are not, will not, and have never been something to attain to. Stop.

Cut the String of Brokenness

Growing up, I had a lot of "friends". It was never an issue to make them because I deemed myself a social butterfly. Talking to people was rather easy for me, and subsequently making friends was too. Being older, the same isn't true. It's not that I've lost my charm for talking to people, it's that I allowed my circumstances to push people away. You don't realize how much things hurt you until you look behind you and recognize the string of brokeness that follows. I had broken relationships with people because of how hurt I was. I pushed those that cared away because I lumped them with those that appeared to but didn't. Now I look around at the lack of friendships I have, and quite frankly, it makes me sad. I want to have friends that I can call and say "get dressed, we're going out" or vice versa. I want to have friends that if my boyfriend goes out or my closest friend/roommate is with her friends or out, I don't have to be lonely, laying in the bed watching tv. I want to have friends that I can be transparent with, have fun, without worrying about whether they're thinking about how "holy" I should be. Going away to college was a great experience for me in that it taught me to be independent and such, but the experience also took me from my home, my friends, and my family. I know I have them, but in Philly, they aren't tangible. I can't go see them or hang out. That's what different about now. My boyfriend and roommate are both "home". Seeing their friends or family is as simple as a drive or train ride. I don't share the same simplicity. My journey takes more than three hours to another state. Maybe that's the saddest thing--when I am most in need of my comfort, it's out of reach. 

BUT, the point of this post is not all about being sad about not having friends- it's about this: cut the string of brokenness. Too often we get so wrapped up in situations and people that hurt us that we go out and sometimes unintentionally, hurt those around us. We don't let people get too close for fear of hurt, or we push away those that care because we don't see why or how they could. We lump everyone together and think the world is out to get us, when in actuality, either a small insignificant number or frankly no one is. Living in hurt hurts. Living in hurt stunts growth. Living in hurt limits the possibility of truly enjoying life and all that it has to offer. Living in hurt continuosly gives control to the source of the hurt. I lived in hurt so long and was so deep into it that I didn't see that I was isolating myself until it was revealed by others and ultimately by myself when it was too late. I realized I had isolated myself when I could scroll down my phonebook, or better yet, look around the room and realize there was not a single person I had an actual substantial friendship with. I realized I had allowed my hurt to consume me to the point where "are you okay?" wasn't even a question anymore--it became the statement of "oh she's just having another one of her days/moments". Living in hurt robs you of the ability to love and I think more importantly be loved. It's okay- you're human. But at the end of the day, you're not the only one who has ever been hurt and you surely won't be the last. The hurt that you're going through isn't unique unto you. Others have experienced debilitating hurts, and yet, they manage to still love and be loved.

Bottom line: Be mature enough to realize that as long as there is life within you, there is life to be lived. Forgive. Forget. Move on. Most importantly, never lose your ability to recognize, receive and reciprocate love. 

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". 


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

Behind The Wheel

I drove. For the first time, I didn't drive in a limo or another person's car. I was behind the wheel of the car that drove in the funeral processional. It was the marker of how grown I was; this time, I wasn't being shielded from the pains of death--I was head-on in it. It felt weird, icky almost. I didn't want to do it once it began. I wanted to relinquish control, be able to give up the wheel and retreat to the back seat where I could stare out the window and imagine myself somewhere else, or escape to sleep. Now, this post isn't all about death and neither is my blog; rather it's about the process of growing up. It's not easy. It comes with great rewards and great pains. Driving behind the wheel made me acknowledge that I had a license, a car, a degree, an apartment, bills to pay etc.---grown up responsibilties. It also made me acknowledge that even when I didn't want to do something, it didn't matter. If it had to be done, it had to. I realized the sacrifices of growing up. It was my boyfriend's uncle so of course he shouldn't have driven, and his little sister couldn't drive so I was the perfect and only candidate. It was the last place I wanted to be, but the only place I needed to and should have been. I had my own battles, but my boyfriend needed me in his so I had to put my adult pants on, and even if it hurt, be present. 

The greatest lesson though, is past the sacrifices themselves--it's the strength in the sacrifice. The last funeral I went to didn't work out in my favor; I was a big ball of mess, and I didn't think I would be able to go to funerals for a long time. Now, I'm sure I won't be attending funerals all "willy nilly", but I made it through this one. And I'll make it through another one day. There is an untapped well of resilience within me. In my process of growing up while getting older (because they can happen independently of one another), I realize that there is more in me than I give myself credit for. I am more than even what I allow myself to be. The sacrifice that day didn't show my strength: my strength showed my sacrifice.

The Ultimate Paradox

Death must be the most paradoxical thing I know. With few other things does a dichotomy exist. How does one both rejoice and mourn over death at the same time? How is one supposed to be grateful that their loved one no longer has to feel the sting of life on earth while simultaneously acknowledging the void that they have left? This week should be one of the happiest weeks of my life and for the most part, it is. I am graduating from college after four years with a bachelor's degree. I did the major I wanted and I have nothing but brightness in my future. But, one piece of the puzzle is missing, and pieces of other puzzles are making their way into mine.

My father died when I was eighteen years old, three years ago on July 30th. It still seems like a foreign concept to me. People have said that they've seen me grow with dealing with it and that is true to a degree, but the other truth is that I've done a great job of covering how I really feel. As a newly elected minister in training, I never really got a chance to do the whole mad at God, lock myself away from civilization and refuse to get out of the bed thing. I had to immediately display grace and strength and be joyous that my father was in the bosom of the Lord as a believer. But looking back, that stifled my grieving process. I didn't realize that I could still love God with the all of me and love the all of who my father was to me as well; after all, God gave him to me. Now, three years later, I struggle with crying and mourning because I don't even know what it truly looks like or feels like. In one of the happiest weeks of my life, facing one of my biggest accomplishments, one of my biggest motivators and supports isn't here to celebrate with me. Yea, I get the "he's looking down on me" but I want him to be looking face to face WITH me. How do I both celebrate the joy of walking across the stage while realizing that it's happening without my dad in the audience? To be honest, there's a little twinge of guilt because I want to be beaming with pride but.....

Then, there's the other pieces of puzzle. My boyfriend experienced a loss in his family. He is fresh in a grieving process, as is his family and naturally, he's sad. But herein lies the dichotomy that is death, even past just the concept of it. The effects of death are far-reaching. Here, I want and should be there for my boyfriend but I want and should be there for me and my special day too. How do I balance? I feel awkward and even a tad guilty being happy around him as he mourns, but I then feel guilty not being happy because I deserve to; all because of death.

For me, death has just been a thief. I'm sure over time, I'll see it as a blessing in all parts of me, but for now, everything in me doesn't have that viewpoint. I want to cry but I don't want to cry, I want to lock myself away but then I want to be around others. I want to heal but then it hurts too bad. Deep down inside I know I'll get it one day; until then, I'll deal as it comes. One day, I'll be able to tell my story and be okay with how it all turned out.

Dad, this week is for you.

It Was Never Physical....

Growing up, I never classified my neighborhood as the "hood". Up until high school, I believed I lived in a respectable middle class community, with respectable middle class adults and respectable middle class children. I thought it was a far cry from what I knew to be the "projects--a tell-tale sign of the "hood", with its tall buildings with the scent of urine and poverty. I thought I was a bit better than that. But, as I got older, I realized the hood was never really about buildings; it was a mental state of being. Someone could grow up never living with my "tell-tale signs" and still consider themselves as growing up in the hood--and suddenly, I was watching it happen. Respectable middle class children were suddenly gang bangers, drug dealers and muderers. How could this happen in my respectable middle class community? How could I suddenly start barely missing bullets on my front porch? How could I begin to hear stories of those I laughed with be the ones who were hunting for blood? How could I begin to get mail with return addresses of prisons? How? Because, the "hood" became a mindset. All of a sudden, it was okay to turn homes into drug businesses, and streets into territories. While I was busy thinking war only happened in the projects, I was faced with the reality that armed forces lived doors down from me. But all of this angered me, and it still does to this day, almost ten years later. It angers me that the same ones that watched me grow up, from a little baby girl, to old enough to get "hollered at", were killing one another. It angered me that life no longer was viewed as sacred, but rather a trophy or pat on the back once it was taken. It angered me that the possibility of hearing that my brothers were either in jail or dead increased greatly. Most of all, it angered me that a mental "hood" was created where no physical "hood" lied--we did it to ourselves. We created the space where cops had to patrol and where body bags began to line up. We created the fear. We started the war. And now, the war continues. The sad part? It won't end. Not until every one is missing, in jail or dead and even then, the seeds of the "soldiers" will probably continue the disgrace of a legacy. Hopefully, a day will come where peace is a reality. Until then, RIP to the fallen soldiers of the mental war....