Saturday, March 24, 2012

Trayvon Martin

This week I have spent more pissed off than usual.

Trayvon Martin is my brother. My son. My cousin. My friend. My grandson. My nephew. My boyfriend. My classmate. My godson. My neighbor. My student.

You wouldn't know it by looking at me. I'm white. I will never have the experience that people of color have being immediately perceived as threatening by the color of their skin. I would never presume to say that I understand how that feels. It's not possible. I was born white, by no special talent of my own. I didn't choose my privilege, but I have it just the same.

But I will never stop working for justice. Trayvon Martin is still my family, is a part of all of our families. Every day that Trayvon's killer is not brought to justice, a little bit of all of our souls dies. I implore you to not just let this news make you sad for a moment then you move on to your regularly scheduled life. We cannot sit idly by.

Trayvon was killed because he was black. That was the most threatening thing he had going on. For everyone who thinks we live in a post-racial society, I say, really?! I urge everyone to take a good hard look at themselves--because this didn't just happen in Florida, it could've happened anywhere.

Tomorrow I will be joining a march and rally in Los Angeles, in support for Trayvon Martin and his family. It has been one month since he was murdered, for walking while black. It's not okay. What kind of message are we sending--that someone can be killed for the color of their skin, and there will be no punishment? We cannot let that be true.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Being Ms. B

For the last eight months, I've had an alter ego: "Ms. B." My roommate Jackie has told me that she even prays for "Ms. B" as a different part of me.

This is what I hear a lot of every day:

"Ms. B! Ms. B! Ms. B! I need help! Can I go to the bathroom? Can I play with this? Ms. B! She said a bad word! He hit me! Ms. B! Ms. B! Ms. B!"

Every afternoon, I transform into Ms. B. We have fun, but there are rules. We get to play outside, do fun arts and crafts, have snack... but mostly we have to do homework. And it's not negotiable, not matter how much my 5 & 6 year olds cry about how they don't want to do it. I have to be tough on them, but it would be a disservice to them not to be. At the same time, I make sure each and every one of the children in Urban Compass knows that I love them, that I care about their success and happiness, that I am rooting for them.

We have many volunteers that come once a week; the kids are always sooooo excited to see them. They run and hug them, insist that the volunteers sit with them, play with them, tutor them. I used to feel a little ignored in these cases until I started reminding myself that I have a different role in this. They expect to see me every day. It's a given that I'll be there. I help provide a consistency that they don't have in many areas of their lives, and that is even more valuable. They're not as excited to see me, because they trust that I will always be there, and is humbling knowing I can be there for these kids this way.

Every single day I am amazed by these children. They are so strong, smart, funny, beautiful and incredibly resilient. These kids keep me going in the times of darkness.

I cannot hope to completely change their lives. I am such a small piece of the puzzle, I can only hope to be a positive influence on them. I can do small things, like show them they are loved, they are valued, help them with their homework, provide them a safe place to go after school, encourage them that the sky is the limit. I can only hope that maybe some of those small things might make a bigger difference somewhere along the line; that I can be part of some small change in the direction their lives go.

I am so blessed to have the opportunity to work with these amazing children. They have taught me so much, and I am so proud of the progress they have all made. I love being Ms. B. These kids have so much love to give, and I am honored that some of it comes to me.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spirituality Night: Closing Prayer

God, Our heavenly mother,

We come to You as humbly as we know how. We thank You for the beauty You have given us on this planet--the sky, the earth, the trees, the people, the love, the art, the generosity, the perseverance. We thank You also for the beauty of pain, of suffering, of fear, of exhaustion, of vulnerability.

We ask that You help us to always remember that we can still find You through the entire span of human experience, through the struggle. Be with us as we seek You out in our daily lives.

Be with us as we live in community. Be with us in our work. Be with us in our relationships with others. Be with us during the "life is good" moments, and in the moments we want to give up.

Thank You for showing us that we are all connected. Help us to always remember that we can always find common ground.

Guide us to the places we will find You, and guide us to find You in places we never imagined.

Bless our community and our work. Bless our families and friends that have paved the way for us. Bless the world and use us to heal the pain. Help us learn from everyone--for everyone can teach us something.

We must remember that You aren't through with us yet.

In Jesus' name,


Monday, March 12, 2012

Lessons From One Tree Hill (Part 3)

This is a series on the lessons that have come from the show One Tree Hill, one of my favorite shows. See Part 1 and Part 2.

Sometimes the beauty is in the attempt.

Lucas and Julian are sitting in the park despairing over the fact that the movie they were working on got shut down. Dixon, the crazy director, comes along and shares some words of wisdom:

"Here's the piece of the puzzle you boys are missing. Sometimes the beauty is in the attempt. We took a shot. We gave it everything we could, and we did it well. It just didn't work out. Now when that happens, you got two options. You can sit in a public park pouting and drinking cheap beer, or... you can celebrate the attempt! For the friendships you've made along the way."

I struggle with the fear of failure, of rejection, of being wrong. A lot of people do. I think that is why this moment in the show One Tree Hill was so powerful to me--to remind myself that life is all about taking chances. Sometimes things don't work out, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't have taken the chance. Failure is part of the journey of life, and to live a full one, we will fail sometimes. And sometimes the beauty is that we made the attempt in the first place, and that's all we can really ask for.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"My Rapist Doesn't Know He's a Rapist": A Photo

Lessons From One Tree Hill (Part 2)

This is a series on the lessons that have come from the show One Tree Hill, one of my favorite shows. See Part 1 here.

Another moment I found especially powerful was in season 4. The characters do a project where they learn from their classmates, and then take a picture reflecting the goals, dreams, fears of the other person. Brooke, like many teenage girls, feels that she is not enough. Not pretty enough, not talented enough, not smart enough, not good enough... It is something that even she, the most popular girl in school, deals with. It makes me think of what a world could be like if we didn't have these expectations of perfection coming at us from all different angles.