DEAR WHITE PEOPLE: Movie Review

It’s no secret that racial tensions are alive and well today. For black people this movie was brilliant and laced with truth and statistics. Why do you think real housewives of Atlanta (all the housewives shows) get so many views? People love to watch that mess and guess what? Who mainly watches it? A Caucasian audience, the same group who purchase 70 percent of the rap music played in this country. The point of Dear White People was to bring the dialogue and stereotypes to the forefront. To expose the fact that black people are lumped into a group and if you divert from that said “group” you are trying to be White or you have to earn your acceptance from the White community by proving that your education takes precedence over the color of your skin.

The movie also revealed the inner tension amongst the black community. Some of us aren’t the next Malcolm X and all White people aren’t bad and awful, nor are they all racist. That would be a narrow view of people. It is ignorant to lump everyone in one group. I’m learning not to label people racist so quickly. I believe a lot of people are uneducated about black culture and therefore make assumptions and statements about black culture based on the news or TV shows. A lot of people do not live in an area where there are black people. So what they grasp of our culture is media based. Unfortunately, the media is biased. As much as we would like to think racism is dead it isn’t. When you turn on your TV and you watch who the reporters choose to interview on local television (Antoine Dodson, Sweet Brown), you know there is an agenda-get ratings. While we all laugh (myself included) and joke, the truth is, people view black culture through that lens. Let a Black person be dressed nice and articulate their words and it’s as if you are apart of a zoo, everyone is fascinated that you have been “tamed”. When in fact, slang was never allowed in my household and my dad was a stickler about our presentation and dressing nicely.

My daddy
My daddy

Honestly, growing up, I did not like my skin color. Lighter the better. I wished God made me light like my dad. I felt the inner struggle of being called “white” because I was educated and articulated my words. On top of that I was homeschooled. Can you just guess how many black kids were at the homeschool group? Like 10 out of over a 100. It was hard to find people to identify with. The reason I personally didn’t struggle that much with being the only black person was because my parents never allowed us to view our skin color as a disadvantage. Truth is, no matter that country or area of the world you are from, in America, people see black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and indian decent,etc. we are all lumped in groups based on looks. No one is going to look at me and see that my great grandmother was half white and we are of German decent on my paternal side, no one will look at me and know that. They just see black and my hair.

Now as an adult, I have learned how to love myself and love my heritage and culture. I have also become quite aware of how differences still exist. While my crew and friends are diverse, the world does not look at me the way they do. We have worked hard to build a friendship. We have worked hard to learn about one another’s cultures and have engaged in hard conversations with one another.

Dear White People was a breath of fresh air for me. One of the opening lines said “Dear White People the amount of black friends you need to have so you don’t seem racist has now been raised to 2.” It challenges popular culture and shows that black young people are trying to hold onto their heritage and be a people who can be proud of who we are and where we come from. I don’t want to give up my culture to fit in. It won’t happen. I’ve spent my young teen years trying to camouflage my heritage. My great grandparents and grandparents fought too hard for my freedoms for me to throw their hard work away. I want to be apart of breaking stereotypes about black culture. The news and mass media paint us in such a negative light. FACT: There are bad people everywhere of every color.

I so desperately wish hair, color and everything else weren’t dividing factors. I wish it wasn’t something that kids got teased over. I wish we could all get along. I wish we could have these hard conversations without fear of retaliation from one side vs. the other. I wish we could unite and learn from one another. I wish people didn’t point out when all the black people are on one side of the room like its a big deal. No one says anything about segregation until a group of black people are sitting together amongst white people and all the sudden we have a non “blended” group. Why is this an issue? Why do we make it an issue? Trust me I wrestle with this because there are things that I have said and done and wondered, why do I think my hair is not as good because it is corse? Why have I thought I’m not as beautiful because my skin is dark? Why have I thought, I don’t want to marry someone dark so my kids won’t be dark and have to deal with being teased? Why? I have a lot of questions and not many answers besides a burden to pray and a heart to see Black people believe the best of themselves and understand that they can accomplish their goals and don’t have to give into the status quo that we are less than, because we are not. No matter what our skin color is and where we are from, we all have purpose and value.

I love teaching and helping. I love telling people about black culture and explaining our jokes and humor. I would teach a class or hold a webinar for people wanting to learn more about black hair and how to do it. Especially for the adoptive moms. Raising a black child can be hard. Trust me, if I have experienced it and felt the differences and feeling out of place and I had two black parents, imagine what a kid who doesn’t have that will feel like? It’s tough and I’m praying for all of you as you navigate tough waters.

Moving forward starts with people coming with open hearts and minds and leaving their backpack full of junk behind (maybe we need to throw out some tables as James suggested). It’s time for our nation to realize that racial tensions and biases still exist. That’s why Ferguson is experiencing so much tension. It’s evident that local leadership must change. Whatever the story, black youth being killed by the police is a problem. We have a justice system to deal with offenders accordingly (I am not going to get into our flawed justice system dialogue, that is a whole different discussion).

Something has got to change. It’s starts with us. It starts with knowing who our local leadership is. Not only that, we need more diversity in politics and we need for more minorities to get engaged in representing the communities. Especially communities whose demographics are predominantly minorities. We need to educate our youth and young adults on the importance of local elections. It’s imperative that we learn the value of voting. 

There was a lot of depth in movie. Although it was presented in a funny manner, the purpose was to make people think. To me it’s great way to begin the hard discussion that needs to occur between cultures. My friend, James Hill said it best in his article “Don’t Invite Me to the Table (Allow Me to Help You Turn it over and Take it out)”

However, I am fervently convinced that we cannot have constructive dialogue until we are first willing to partake in deconstructive dialogue. I believe with all my heart that if our unity is based on a fallacy, blessed be division. Moreover, I am all for inclusion, however, when our ‘inclusion’ is used as a subtle tactic to eviscerate a movement of all its raw and influential potency, it becomes nothing more than a co-opted tool of Satan and must be extinguished at the root. It does us no good to ornately decorate a table in the midst of burning house. We preserve ourselves, not by taking a seat at a table that is sure to be consumed in fire, but, rather, by having enough sense to know that sitting down is not what we need to be doing as the roof is caving in on us.

I understand that removing a table concretized in moral folklore is never easy. Many have taken pride in the so-called table of reconciliation. You’ve told many jokes on this table. You’ve shared countless half-off appetizers on this table. There is no way you can muster the strength and courage to flip over the table of unseen power and privilege. Don’t worry, we see your struggle.

Allow us to help you take it out. We never liked that table anyway.

I am thankful to be apart of a generation willing to get dirty and tear off the roofs of oppression. A generation willing to go to bat for one another. This movement happening in Ferguson, Hong Kong and all over the nation and world is about people of all colors standing up for freedom and saying NO MORE.

hong kong protest

Comment below, I would love to hear your thoughts.

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At My Worst

Sometimes I get that feeling. That looming feeling where I don’t want to deal with people. I don’t want to talk, offer grace or mercy, I want to be left alone. How jerkish of me? Seriously. Just because I feel overwhelmed and under pressure and feeling the weight of change, does not mean that I need to be a jerk inwardly or overtly. Honestly, being a jerk in my mind isn’t good either. I have found myself mentally complaining about people. Ugh, I am tired of that person because___________ (fill in the blank). The list could go on. I hate that this is how I have felt the past few days. This is a little funk that has to end.

I am well aware that my attitude affects every area of my life. LITERALLY. If I am complaining and griping about one thing it trickles into everything. I in turn become unproductive because I am worrying about everything I have to do. It’s in these moments that I wonder what in the world I am doing? AND why am I doing it? My attitude causes me to lose focus. When I get distracted I wonder why I am doing what I am doing…if I stay focused, I am able to plow forward without needing every detail.

Instead of beating myself up for my bad attitude, I am learning to acknowledge it, repent, and choose to change my attitude. I decide to be happy or sad. I decide to treat others with respect regardless of how they treat me. I have to make those choices. Today I did not chose kindness. I was easily agitated. I gave in to pity and doubt. I hate this feeling where I feel “ugly.” In my heart I displayed an ugliness that is not welcoming or attractive to anyone. It’s my weak moments that I am reminded of how much God loves me and offers me grace and mercy everyday. I am not perfect but I am making an effort to walk in love with the people I come in contact with.

I am sure I am not the only one that has felt this way. What are some of the ways you choose to overcome your attitude or daily struggles?

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Beauty in Community

There is something about community that is alluring and scary at the same time. In community I’ve been talked about, lied to, betrayed, and misunderstood. Especially in the Christian community there can sometimes be this undue pressure to present yourself perfectly. To be perfect.

I’ve been discovering this past year the true beauty amongst the ashes of broken people. I am convinced that those who have been forgiven much love much. There is something about restoration and change causes us to love God out of a place of gratefulness and humility. It’s such s vulnerable place. When you have messed up the last thing you want is to hear “I told you so”. You just want to come as you are and know that next time you will do your best to make good choices.

I never understood the enormous value of authentic community until I began living my life honestly and not hiding my faults. I started confessing my sin to trusted friends instead of keeping it between “me and Jesus”. I began to hear the pain of others and realized that I could relate to their struggle and pain.

One of my best friends, Julie, showed me what true community was all about. I was trying to avoid people earlier this year and she had just met me but would not leave me alone. I joke with her and say that she stalked me constantly! She text me and asked me to hang out,go to dinner, and asked random fitness questions. She was persistent in making sure I was not sitting at home alone all the time, therefore we would spontaneously hang out. Her friendship did not stop there. She heard my vision for HHope and asked how she could help. She asked me to share the vision and wanted to be apart of helping. She had just met me! I was so surprised by her thoughtfulness. She herself had just come to know Jesus like 8 months before she met me. Her honesty and vulnerability was compelling. I learned so much from her life and willingness to serve others. It reminded me of what a person’s life looks like when Jesus transforms them. Because of her I have learned more about authentically loving people. The text messages, emails with devotionals,prayers, or phone calls are all so huge. Julie and Jessica were an answer to prayer because my close friends weren’t in the same city or got married. I was missed having a community of people near me. These two were an answer to prayers.

When I moved to Austin I was not seeking community. I knew like 2 families but lets face it, there were no young 20 something singles. So I was planning to just live devoid of community. I had plenty of friends back home so I did not think I needed people here. I was WRONG. I was so wrong. We all need community. God dropped me right into the best Restore (Life group, small group, etc. Every church calls it something different) group of young adults. I made some of the sweetest friends and people who make Austin home for me. Without this restore group, I would be pretty lonely. That is the honest truth. I am thankful God moved me here in October rather than January.

A girl from our group had a need and we rallied around her to help meet that need. Her need was met in less than 30 minutes. Literally. Authentic vulnerability and honesty can truly set you up for a blessing. This is what the church is all about, community.

I am learning that God has all the details planned out. So if you are looking for community or devoid of community, I pray you find some people. Take a leap of faith and attend a small group or get to know your neighbors and the people you live near. Living life with community is truly the deepest blessing.

I am learning so much from the Tangible Kingdom study we are doing in our restore group about the importance of community. Although I have heard this stuff in church before, it’s different because I am really endeavoring to live it to the best of my ability.

So jump out, leap, and welcome new adventures. Where ever you go, God will put the right people in your path and give you the right community.

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