Believe It

I was fantastically moved by today’s baptisms at Emmanuel Baptist Church, my home base in Brooklyn. Members, guests, and families applauded, snapped pictures, shed tears as several young people were dipped into water with a prayer for this profound new chapter in their lives. I found myself covered in goosebumps.

I felt a sense of deja vu: I was instantly reminded of taking my own walk with my other mom, Deacon Ruth Corbett, in August 2001. I knew I liked the vibe of EBC on my occasional visits–the straightforward messages, preached to people who looked like me, who struggled like me. I didn’t hesitate, compelled to squeeze past my pew neighbors to join the fellowship. I was welcomed warmly and blessed for my epiphany.

I was baptized on September 19, a week after brutal terrorist onslaughts in the US, attacks that found me in SoHo, on a patio watching firsthand a second plane crash into the towers. What followed was a blur of a colleague’s apartment crammed with trembling co-workers, ash-covered and blank-eyed survivors, frantic check-ins with classmates, friends, sorors, and family (my aunt was in an adjacent tower; we waited an agonizing 10 hours to hear from her). Fourteen years later, no country appears safe from violent, pointless attacks, as witnessed just in the past two weeks. I hope that our new members find community, camaraderie, and a sense of security through renewed faith, as I did. In the meantime, I’ll live day by day, with mercy and grace. I wish the same for us all. Cheers.



Filed under General Writing, New York, quickie


basic silhouette1-blackI’m intelligent. I have perspective, can put events and people in context. I know what’s happening in my country is #NotAllCops, but the latest video making the rounds (a teenage girl of color violently dragged from her high school desk by a cop for having a cell phone) makes me livid to the point of catatonia. It’s hard to concentrate, or work effectively, when the men in the white hats are exuding pure darkness. I resent the force hired to protect us, and coldness is setting in. They face danger in doing their jobs…. And?

I don’t want to feel this way; I don’t want to pass beat cops with disgust, or look through them as if transparent, or feel indifferent as to their safety. But I’m human, and I can only see people who look like me abused, assaulted, and killed for so long before the rage bubbles up. I don’t want to call them in an emergency. I don’t want to see their uniforms, I don’t want to trust them to be the good guys, New York’s “finest” (as vague a term as I’ve ever heard). From what I’ve learned this summer, I shouldn’t drive, lean against a hotel, attend a BBQ, turn my back in a wheelchair. And I *definitely* shouldn’t be a teen with a cell phone in school. To quote a friend, I should basically avoid “blacking while black.” Where does it leave me?

Currently it leaves me with resentment, bitterness, numbness. It leaves me with a humanity I struggle to hold together as its foundation is tested almost daily. It makes me feel less like myself and more like a stranger who wants to spit epithets & demand retribution. All of which would undoubtedly give those cloaked in blue an easy fallback that I’m disgruntled, violent, needing to be locked up. And as we know, even a local jail may be a death sentence.

What I can do now is take breaks. From media, social or otherwise. From the endless parade of videos. A traffic stop gone wrong. A stop and frisk gone wrong. A cell phone mistaken for a gun are you f*cking kidding me gone wrong. I’m meditating, and praying, and leaning on my humor and the humor of my friends, because I feel threatened. Not in a vague sense. I feel directly threatened as a black woman in this country, and currently, ironically, and unhappily, I have to choose to ignore the plight of others some days to save my sanity. I feel off balance, traitorous, cold blooded. In this way I survive. Every day I hope to do more than that, but for today, my armor is thick. It weighs me down, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s what I have. I want to move through the world today safe. Time will tell if I do.


Filed under A Bit of Real Life, General Writing