10 Months of Change

Change isn’t easy. I have been leaning into this change and thus been on a blogging hiatus. Now, I will catch everyone up on the past 10 months of life.

That one time I had two weeks to pack up my life and convinced my brother to dive my U-Haul to Austin.
That one time I had two weeks to pack up my life and convinced my brother to dive my U-Haul to Austin.

10 Months ago I moved to Austin with only two weeks notice to pack up my belongings and say goodbye to the people who have loved me so well. I had no expectations for moving or what would come my way. I just said “YES”. This “yes” has quite simply changed my life.

While in Austin, I’ve done everything I have never done before.

  1. I moved in with strangers and lived with them for two months. Thankfully they are not strangers anymore, they are friends and I am forever grateful for their kindness.
  2. I moved into an apartment with a friend of a friend who I met once. She turned out to be a wonderful roommate and person to live with.
  3. I only know one family here in Austin. No other friends.
  4. New job. New co-workers. New foster families.

I would love to say that following Jesus’ plan for me to move here was easy, but it wasn’t. I wasn’t prepared to be the one of the few black faces in a white place (Austin is 8% African-American, yep-you read right), I wasn’t prepared for the homesickness, the longing for my friends, missing my family, hard work days, and tearful nights wondering if I made the right decision. Stepping out to do something new is not easy. I have had to fight through the lonely moments because I know I’m supposed to be here. Trust me, I have tried to bail out and hightail it to Houston in anyway possible. One main thing I have learned here is consistency and trust.

Let me tell you, it hasn’t been easy but Jesus has blessed me with an amazing community of women and friends. They have loved me so well and I have such an amazing small group.

Pictures are worth a thousand words and these few images represent how good life has been over the past few months. There are so many people who have made Austin home and I only have a fraction of the pictures to represent who they are. The bible studies, small groups, BTB group, dinners, birthdays, and much more have made Austin so inviting. I have the best church, filled with the most loving and genuine people on earth. The joy I have today, trumps every hard tear-filled day since I have moved here. God bless my saint of a mother who listened to me cry and want to give up and encouraged me to stay put and push through, because life is hard sometimes (also, I am dramatic…) but God is good.

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ANC youth. Hands down, some of the coolest students in Austin.
ANC youth. Hands down, some of the coolest students in Austin.
Thanks to our small group, we met and now we are going to be roommates :)
Thanks to our small group, we met and now we are going to be roommates 🙂
Jada. My little love.
Jada. My little love.
This woman has been a strength and joy to me. Tasha, thanks for believing in me.
This woman has been a strength and joy to me. Tasha, thanks for believing in me.
When your Houston friends come and finish up filming for the HHope Documentary- life gets a little sweeter.
When your Houston friends come and finish up filming for the HHope Documentary- life gets a little sweeter.
Random road trips to thrift, get Steel City Pops, and Melt ice cream in Ft. Worth are necessary in the summer.
Random road trips to thrift, get Steel City Pops, and Melt ice cream in Ft. Worth are necessary in the summer.
Hair time with Remy. We both survived which gives me hope for doing my own child's hair one day.
Hair time with Remy. We both survived which gives me hope for doing my own child’s hair one day.
It's fun to dance at the Easter church service in downtown Austin.
It’s fun to dance at the Easter church service in downtown Austin.
Alison and Angie would try to convince me to run a marathon if they could but I am thankful they stuck with a 10k. Ha
Alison and Angie would try to convince me to run a marathon if they could but I am thankful they stuck with a 10k. Ha
Steel City with my road trip buddy.
Steel City with my road trip buddy.
Inner/Middle
Inner/Middle
The most precious teen mom and friend.
The most precious teen mom and friend I get to help through HHope (my non-profit for teen moms).
The United Nations.  We bring the diversity.
The United Nations.
We bring the diversity.
Katie moved to ATX and life here got better.
Katie moved to ATX and life here got better.

These people

Some of the best people in ATX
Some of the best people in ATX

Thank you Austin- Morriss family, for loving me so well.

Although life in Austin has been good, I was concerned about leaving my high school life group behind, as well as, many special friendships. What happens to the friends you leave behind? Your people, your best friends. Well, you just keep up with them. The past 10 months these people and more have stayed in my life. We made time for each other.

My small group girls in Houston
My life group group girls in Houston
These two. Rooftop talks about life and love. The have visited me 3 times or more since I moved and helped me on the hard days.
These two. Rooftop talks about life and love. The have visited me 3 times or more since I moved and helped me on the hard days.
I mean this guy. My dad has supported this ATX adventure 100%. He has come to visit and check in on me several times. Gotta love this guy.
I mean this guy. My dad has supported this ATX adventure 100%. He has come to visit and check in on me several times. Gotta love this guy.
My best friend and mother. She is a beautiful soul.
My best friend and mother. She is a beautiful soul.
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Juneteenth with my sis Mandy.
My music soul sister and laughing buddy. Holland, MI is too far but seeing you twice a year has been a great gift.
My music soul sister and laughing buddy. Holland, MI is too far but seeing you twice a year has been a great gift.
And of course, this guy- my delayed twin by two and a half years, has been the best supporter of me doing something new.  {Brother Myron and Sister Faitth. He gets my humor and laughs at all my jokes.}
And of course, this guy- my delayed twin by two and a half years, has been the best supporter of me doing something new.
{Brother Myron and Sister Faitth. He gets my humor and laughs at all my jokes.}
My college roommate. Our theme song is " I cant go for that" by Hall and Oats And "Work out" by J.Cole. This should tell you something about our friendship.
My college roommate and best. Just when she moved to Houston, I moved to Austin-tragedy. Our theme songs are ” I cant go for that” by Hall and Oats
And “Work out” by J.Cole. This should tell you something about our friendship.
My boo. Thankful that I have gotten to see her face several times this year. There's nothing like life-long friendships.
My boo. Thankful that I have gotten to see her face several times this year. There’s nothing like life-long friendships.
Because when you pass through Columbus, TX heading to Houston, its always necessary to stop and see your best friend.
Because when you pass through Columbus, TX heading to Houston, its always necessary to stop and see your best friend.

What have you always wanted to do? What’s holding you back from doing that thing? What’s holding you back from moving to that new city or state? Whats holding you back from applying for that school? Whats keeping you from doing something different?

LEAP PEOPLE, LEAP. Then LEAN INTO IT and KEEP LEAPING.

It only gets better.

xoxo

Thank you MLK

Thank you MLK for paving the way for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

For paving the way for me and all the other black men and women in this country.

For putting up a good fight and promoting non-violence.

For being the original leader of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, because they do matter.

Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.-MLK

You and many others went to jail for our people.

You and many others led the way and got beaten for our freedom.

While we have come a long way, we still have work to do.

Its in times like these that I wish you were here.

Times where the church is needing healing.

Times where Facebook can be platform for division and not much change.

Times where young unarmed black men are being shot and no one is held accountable.

Times where it would seem that the police and the black community are at war.

Times where the people of all colors are demanding justice.

Its in times like this, where I feel like the movement stopped when you died.

Our people lost hope and got discouraged.

Our people gave into mental slavery.

In some ways, it feels like we are back to the 1960’s Riots.

In spite of the statistics and facts, we are still pressing on.

Some may never truly understand what it means to us have a Black President.

Some may not understand this movement.

To the white brothers and sisters, that stood and continue to stand with us, thank you. I know that some of you did want to help MLK’s dream come true.While in someways that dream was fulfilled, in other ways his work did not get finished,there is more work to be done. Will you still stand with us?

Thanks to MLK breaking down walls, some of my best friends are white.

Color does not divide us.

I pray we as a black community can continue the work MLK was after.

I hope, we can have hard conversations without fear of what people will think about us.

I hope, we will have the boldness to stand up for our rights and use our voices, intellect, and determination to make a difference in our communities.

I know, we can build a bridge and tear down walls of deep seated racism and prejudice in this country.

That starts with you and me and the church.

To the church: As MLK said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.”

 May we open our hearts and minds.

Speak with love and compassion.

But may we NOT remain silent.


The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, 

begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. 

Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.

Through violence you may murder the liar,

but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.

Through violence you may murder the hater,

but you do not murder hate.

In fact, violence merely increases hate.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Change=Work

Have you all seen this vine(https://vine.co/v/OvV1WMBqKVj)? My future brother-in-law sent us siblings this video via text and I cried laughing. He talked about how he was nearing the finish line for finals and barley making it. As much as that video made me laugh its my reality too. I have been juggling quite a lot. I’ve been feeling like my dreams are too lofty. My goals are too high. How will I ever accomplish these things? Its that place where you want to pursue your dreams but you have hit a wall or “writers block” of sorts.

The kid in the video wanted to stop. He did for a second but he kept going anyways. He did not stop! I think the same needs to ring true for our generation on many levels. We must press on towards our dreams and goals but with all this talk about equality, justice, and change, we must be ready to do the hard work. Change does not come easy. We will be uncomfortable, we will get tired, we will want to give up, but if we want to make a difference for our children, we have to suck it up and not just write about it on Facebook. We have to get to work. Getting to work looks different for each person. Maybe you need to finish college? Maybe you need to write a letter to your state representative? Maybe you need to find out who your state representative is?Maybe you join an advocacy group? Maybe you need to go to law school or become a doctor? Maybe you need to invest in your children or husband? Maybe you need to start a business/non-profit? Maybe you need to write a book? Maybe you need to get your Masters degree? I digress.

hong kong protest

The hard truth is, it takes work to see change happen. If you believe you are called to step up and be apart of bringing any type of change/influence to your home or community, it will require work and sacrifice. Bottom line. It will mean saying no to hanging out with friends, No to that vacation in the middle of finals that you haven’t studied for, No to going to the movies, just plain old NO. When you are endeavoring to do something great or out of the ordinary, you can’t let FOMO [Fear of Missing Out] get in the way of your progress. FOMO will prevent you from making progress. It will hinder you.

Doubt and fear is your enemy. They never want you to win. In fact, against them you stand no chance when you give into their lies. To “them” figuratively, you will never be great. You will never have a good job. You will never reach your financial goals. You will NEVER. You will NEVER because you aren’t good enough, brave enough, strong enough, smart enough, or capable enough. You don’t have what it takes. You have no connections. You have no money. You don’t have the tools necessary to succeed. You will FAIL and they know that will be true the minute you decide to wallow in their lies.

Doubt and Fear, how I hate you. I hate you because I give into your lies sometimes. I question my abilities and I stop working hard because you tell me I CAN’T and I WON’T and sometimes let myself slip; I start to believe you. 

To my friends writing/speaking/listening on the front lines about racial tension and trying to be apart of the solution: I applaud you, please keep fighting. To my friends starting non-profits/business/etsy shops/etc. keep going, keep designing, keep networking. To the mommies and daddies getting little sleep and making a sacrifice so this next generation can be graced with a child who has character and integrity, thank you. We are all working hard together. Now is not the time to get relaxed. Now is not the time to stop dreaming. Now is not the time to say “maybe one day”. Its time to hit the gas, not press the break.

Don’t let logic get in the way of doing something you have never done before. In the words of Nike: Just Do It.

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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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Say Goodnight & Go: Farewell HTX

“Why am I feeling drawn to this place?” I just came to visit friends. Yet every time I visit my heart is being pulled in a million directions. “What am I supposed to do?” These are my thoughts as I woke up July 6th. I head to church with my friends and cry all during worship, later that evening as I drive to whole foods, and I called my older brother crying. I cried all day (I feel so lame saying how much I cried but whatever…). It was evident that my heart was being moved. I did not want to address these feelings. A looming sense of loss covered me like a blanket. I sat on the roof of whole foods looking upon a city with a lot of questions and prayers. After eating my ice cream and reading some of a book, I left whole foods and headed home. I headed home knowing that I was going to move to this city. As scary as the moment was, I also felt a deep sense of peace.

This past year has been hard yet so beautiful for me. In spite of that, I realize how much growth needed to take place in my heart and life in order to be prepared for what God has for me in this next season.

On September 15th, I found a note in my journal from June 2011 that said “I think I am supposed to move to Austin but I am not sure when.” I forgot all about that note and moved on with my life and moved to Houston. I began working for Arrow Child and Family Ministries. A year and a half later, I resigned, and started my job at MD Anderson. It was at MD Anderson that I realized I did not have a passion for corporate america. I have a passion for families and adoption. I am a social worker. That’s my thing. I needed to return to doing something I was passionate about.

Thirty minutes after finding that journal entry on September 15th, I was emailed a job posting by a friend at my old company. Immediately applied for a case management position in the Austin area. Five minutes later they called to set up a phone interview. A few days later, I got the job and gave my two weeks notice, just like that.

I walked away from everything comfortable.

Everything that was set up for me.

I walked away from a successful career in corporate america.

None of this was in my plan and trust me I am a planner. My room may look like a nightmare most days but my plans are laid out and my binders are organized. This is the first time in my life I have needed to exercise radical obedience. What an adventure it has already been and I haven’t moved yet.

So here I am, completely humbled.

Not even trying to figure anything out anymore.

I am going.

Houston I have about 7 more days to soak you up.

Since I am not far, this is merely see you later. Not goodbye.

xoxo

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P.S.

HHope will still carry on in Houston. I will be working towards establishing HHope in Austin.