I was told that in life, I would come across some trying times — that I should be prepared to be strong and fight with all of my heart. Those trying times are now upon us but my heart…was built for war. ~Toi Powell
Memories of my past and moments not so distant, reverberate within my chest as I summon the pain I once buried. The pain, it hurts. It burns within me like hot lava beneath a violent earth, promising to rupture at the slightest disturbance.
There ought to be another word to describe the breaking of ones heart besides “heartbroken.” The word just doesn’t do the act, nor the result of it, justice. It is much deeper than that. A heart and spirit so shattered and bruised should not, by any logical standard, function, at all.
The calluses surrounding my heart has formed a protective barrier, enshrining the glowing red shards left over from life’s battles. Whatever is left of it still feels, still hopes, still hurts.
When the first thing you have ever loved introduces the sting of betrayal and dishonesty, there is a special kind of “pain” that seems unrelenting. No matter how much modern medicine has tried to heal it, it cannot heal this. The pain of disappointing, hurtful, abandoning parents/loved ones, the first gods before you knew one, that kind of pain, it never leaves you. Therapy is but a tool, although helpful, tricks your mind into looking past it — to move forward so that you can function as a decent human being in society. But the heart, it knows. It never forgets.
Love is, of course, what our souls desire. It is our purpose. It is what the universe is made of. Procreation, mating and passion, begets life, creation and continued existence. So beautiful, so magical, yet at times, so unattainable. How exhausting is the journey, to have found it and in no fault or in every fault of your own, you have lost it?
Oh the heart, my 5 star general-ess, tired, worn and battle ridden. On the front lines, disabled, yet always charging full steam ahead. My general-ess is bold and brave. She feels and fights not only for her host, but for others who have fallen in life’s battles along the way. She expands, beyond her capacity to love those who cannot love for themselves. Her compassion reaches to the darkest corners of the earth, straining to touch them all. But compassion comes at a price.
Compassion cannot exist without feeling. As overwhelming as it is, one must feel. But how can a broken, wounded heart absorb the pain of others, being so close to the brink of its own devastation? Displacing ones own pain to make room for more, is like playing shuffleboard in a small box, the size of a deck of cards. The worlds pain is my Titanic, and I am desperately stuffing it into a small…box of cards.
Everything hurts. I feel everything. From war ridden countries, to babies without mothers. Genocides to homicides my heart aches to a throbbing beat. Civil rights, women’s rights, Immigration, religious rights, African American rights, LGBTQ rights, Native rights, justice for rape and domestic victims rights. Any basic rights denied to a simple human being on the face of this earth infuriates me. It tears at me. It haunts me.
My fore-fathers and fore-mothers taught us what institutions of education has failed to instill within us. When pain becomes unbearable, and betraying thoughts of surrender to the forces of evil begin to weigh down, there is a moment, if you catch it, where your fear blossoms into courage.
My ancestors had courage. They learned how to live with the pain and used it to fight for freedom, for equality, to fight for the right to love. Blockades of injustice tried to sever their spirits from their souls purpose, tearing families apart, litigating against them for being, different. Still, they used that pain to push on, the fire in them ignited forever. Every strike against them, armored their hearts for long, weary battles and equipped them with the capacity for compassion along the way.
I am a daughter of my forefathers and mothers and I am learning, as they did, to live with and to use the pain. Harnessing strength from them and within, I summon the pain from my memories past, and moments not so distant. I exhume the horrifying truths and disturb the slumbering, violent earth. I arm myself with ammunition against tyranny, patriarchy, discrimination, racism, sexism and greed.
My chin ascends to the heavens from which I came as I use these tools life has given me along the way, to fight. My compassion isn’t without consequence as I grasp the red hot blade of the worlds pain to wield it in battle against the rising evils.
Love is my saving grace. For it is because of love that I have the courage to fight. My 5 star general-ess is bold, strong and brave. She lives to fight another day. I was told that in life, I would come across some trying times — that I should be prepared to be strong and fight with all of my heart. Those trying times are now upon us but my heart…was built for war.
It’s so exciting to write you once again and this time, to share my vacation experience with you! My luv and I went to the beautiful country of Mexico, but not just to Mexico…to CANCUN! I know it sounds cliché, – Spring break = Immature fun, but we went during the summer when it was raging-teenager-hormone free! If we saw any, they were there with their parents… praise Jesus cause I can’t deal!
Anyway, my luv and I weren’t alone. My mother and her husband actually double vactioned with us although we left them during the day to embark upon our own private time which equaled – EXCURSIONS! They had a blast all on their own! They actually had more time to enjoy the resort than we did!
We were only there for 5 days so we had to jam pack everything into one huge experience. The 1st day was a bust because whoever’s idea it was to fly and connect in Mexico city must’ve been drinking while they booked our flights. #1. Mexico city is the worst place to catch a connecting flight. Hardly any structure for US immigrants, no English speaking employees to guide us through the line and it was so big we had a hard time finding our gate…which we eventually did with moments to spare! – But enough of the negative reviews on Mexico city because the rest of the trip was amazing —- exxxxxxcept when we flipped over on a jet ski in the middle of the ocean but – we’ll get to that later.
The color of the water was spectacular – the beaches amazing, although there was so much seaweed it made it a difficult swimming experience, just being in another country was everything I hoped it would be – Hot weather, beautiful water, amazing culture, kind and humbling people and excitement to last me until my next trip!
The Paradisus Resort was BEAUTIFUL! It was a 4 star hotel with real vegetation hanging from every balcony, level and floor. It was like living in a real life Oasis. We bought the Royal Suite package which allowed us a butler, exclusive access to private dining areas, private pools (no kids – pa-raise Jesus) and every service you could’ve wanted. 24 hour room service we hardly used and scented pillows with Lavender and Vanilla, Eucalyptus with white tea were some awesome services included in the package! Yummmmm happy snoozing!
Day 1 we arrived pretty late so that was a bust thanks to our booking agent getting us on a connecting flight but, whatever. We were beat by time we arrived. We had dinner at one of the all inclusive restaurants (Taco’s – not my choice) but I noticed their portion sizes were extremely small. If you wanted a big adult sized meal, head to the buffet. You can make your own plate and you have waaay more options.
Day 2 my bf and I got up and dressed for the pool. We decided to book our excursions 1st thing. I think we did the best thing by booking the entire week at once because every day we knew what we were doing, where we were goin and what time we’d be back. Scheduling your life is key, why not your vacation UNLESS you’re on vaca specifically to rest. Then you’re best bet is to just go with the flow.
Our 1st excursion on day 1 was the worst experience for me (insert overturned jet ski). It was no surprise to me that my bf couldn’t swim. Although he was in the Navy for 6 years, somehow he got through it without really grasping how to swim “correctly”. He’d told me months before this vacation that he couldn’t swim but I begged him to try a water sport. Just TRY! He’d have on a vest, so he’ll be fine. After MUCH deliberation he obliged, so here we were, finally in Mexico and we sign up for ….Parasailing. Parasailing. What does swimming have to do with parasailing…. shut up and wait…you’ll see. lol
In order for us to parasail, we had to get on a JET SKI to get to the boat that was already in the middle of the ocean. Insert sigh. I’ve never been on a jet ski but I was willing. I’m SUPER adventurous and always open to a new experience but when they told us that we both had to ride behind a guide …I counted 3 grown ass adults on a jet ski…scary but we went on. They told us to bring a camera but if it got wet they weren’t responsible…ooookay so I brought my brand new Nikon DSL D3200 and wrapped it in a plastic bag and the guy placed it in a compartment of the jet ski.
We got on and OMGGGGG he was flying all over the place, jumping waves and I was holding on to him for dear life and my bf holding on to the guys jacket with me in between them for dear life. WTF! Then he stops. Mid water…land just a blink in the distance. He hops off and disappears under the water. BABE! Where the hell did he go?
He appears and in broken English says he needed to take the seaweed off the rotors and for ME to hold the jet ski steady while he basically somersaults over us to get back in front. JESUS give me balance! Be a weight, an anchor, a bouey… cause I can’t!
He finally gets seated in front of me and I think ok, we’re safe, we’ll be there in a moment. Not even 3 minutes later, he stops again and does the same thing! This time as he’s trying to re-board, i’m trying with all of my might to hold it steady, but this Cirque du sole trick he did over my head caused us to flip ALL THE WAY over! The ENTIRE jet ski was upside down, me and my bf were underwater and of course he’s trying to swim up to the surface but he’s pushing me beneath him! I thought OMG this is it. We’re gonna die right here, right now!
I swam away from him and when I came up for air he apologized of course but he was holding on to this rope on the back of the jet ski I hadn’t even noticed previously. I was ok because I can swim, but I more more worried about him. To my surprise, he was very calm. (Must have been that Navy training kicking in I guess) insert eye roll.
I get back on the jet ski 1st, and wait for everyone else to get on behind me. I am absolutely terrified, but everything works out and we continue our journey. Of course i’m crying all the way to the boat because I convinced my bf to try water sports and this is what happens! I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t come all the way down there to lose him to the ocean! Oh hell no!
We finally get to the boat and discover that my camera didn’t survive the journey. It stayed in the compartment but water got inside of it. So you know I was annoyed but not as pissed off because at least we were alive. I did a no no and tried to turn it on which I’m sure ruined it.
Parasailing was even more stressful because after that near death experience, we go almost a hundred + feet in the air with no belts, no harness – just a 2 seater something. Everytime the wind blew or the boat accelerated, I thought we were gonna fly out! That was it. Get me off and get me out!
Needless to say, we went back to the company we booked with, told them of our horrifying experience and demanded we change our next excursion. Guess what it was…..Jet ski’s! yeeeeeah, no.
So they booked us for a day trip to the island of Isla Mujeres which we did on day 2.
It was absolutely beautiful! We took a boat there which was spectacular! Tequila on the boat, entertainment from the crew and a relaxing ride along the gulf. When we arrived, there were hammocks, beach chairs and a nice little beach to relax. We passed that up and rented a golf cart to explore the island. It was beautiful. We saw Iguanas, some ruins, tons of unoccupied houses, and the views were breath taking.
When we got back, we had a buffet lunch and hopped back on the boat to take us to the downtown area of the island. We walked, did a little shopping, but mostly just explored for 2 hours. So many merchants tried to get us to come into their “little shops” (their words, not mine) and buy over priced knick knacks. Yeah, if everything was handmade, how come every store had em? LOL
I opted to haggle some guy for 2 gorgeous necklaces $15 for 2. I’d seen them sold at so many shops that when someone approached me on the street with a bag of them I couldn’t resist. The stores were selling them for $20 each.
(here I am at happy hour at work with my fun co-worker wearing one. It’s twisted cause I’m having a good time at happy hour! But the middle is supposed to drip towards the center)
The next day we went on another day tour to Tulum! It was Marvelous! – and HOT! 1st we got picked up late by our tour bus and then had to listen to a very vocal, highly IQ’d gentleman from Australia who talked everyone’s ear off all day. I thought he was interesting but the hotter it got the less he talked!
1st we went to see the pyramids in Tulum. Awesome, breathtakingly beautiful but there was not an ounce of shade so as my bf and I speed walked throughout the entire complex of ruins, I forced myself to take in the hot breathtaking experience. I was beautiful but damn it was hot as hell!
Next they shuffled us off to a little jungle in the middle of nowhere to eat a quite decent buffet lunch – even though they rushed us. We then strapped on our gear to go zip lining! It was amazing and for my 1st time, I had a blast! After that, we rappelled into a cave and then changed to snorkel in a fresh water cave with tiny little fish and bats, bats, bats! Guano anyone?
It was a long ride back but it was such an amazing experience I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
On our last day, we managed to fit in a speed boat excursion! That was fun and scary because I’ve never driven a boat before, let alone in open water (read above about my new fear of open water) speeding behind boats being inches from the water.
Once we stopped and anchored to other boats, I was the only one from my family that hopped into the ocean and snorkeled along the great barrier reef. Talk about amazingly beautiful!!! It’s like a whole other world down there. Quite alien-like and awe-inspiring. I always seem to have a new appreciation for the Universe, creation, God and life itself when I snorkel.
I hated to leave that wonderful oasis of beauty, grandeur, lost and rediscovered ancient ruins. I was more emotionally attached to this place than anywhere I’d ever been before. I watch the History channel and I researched the ancient pyramids, drawn to their mystery, history and architectural achievements. I never thought I’d see one up close and I did…and it was AMAZING.
If you are drawn to a special place and feel the urge to travel, do it. We only have one life. Make the best of it. I know I will!
I come to you as an aunt or future mother whose heart is too fragile to see you as yet another victim of a society that was not built for you. The pain of mothers past, present, and unfortunately, the future supersedes anything the human soul can possibly comprehend. Your beauty as black men has been replaced by fear from those who never have or ever will understand you. Unfortunately, this stigma has been placed upon you before your parents were even born.
Although you may feel equal to your peers of other cultures, you must remember for your life’s sake, that you are not; at least not yet. The fact that I am writing this is painful enough to admit, yet, it is the only advantage you will have in life. If you understand the difference between you and your multi-cultural brothers, you will understand what your fathers and brothers before you have come to understand and….you just may have a chance.
The times we live in are truly a time of confusion, heartache and pain. Painful that we are only fifty or so years out of segregation where people like you were bound by laws of this United States that criminalized you for being who you are. Simply for being…who…you…are. It’s painful that in the face of injustice from those who have owned us, sold us, oppressed us, killed us and destroyed our families and even with the insurmountable evidence against them, it is still not enough to lift the bounty from your heads.
Those who hate you and want to destroy you will do it, even with the law on their side. It’s painful that peaceful protests are rocking this country, yet the media would rather show the small few who loot and burn so they can generalize us all, rather than understand our pain. It hurts to read the comments on social media from “friends” of a different race who assume we are merely complaining and can’t relate to our suffering. And speaking of suffering, it pains me to go to work every day and suffer in silence as the visuals of our dead men laying in the street rack my brain, mixed with deadlines of work I could care less about.
The only dead lines I fear are the chalk outlines of young black men who look just like you.
My heart is heavy with despair as I must prepare you for the life you are about to enter as a black man in America. It’s unfair, it’s humiliating and it hurts but you MUST heed my warning or else your young lives will add to the millions of young black men whose lives have been taken from us way too soon.
There are some rules that you as black men must be aware of and it applies to you and only you. Here are a few:
Do not let your frustration or anger of being racially profiled, followed, harassed, and frisked or provoked cause you to REact in the way they expect- in the face of law enforcement. This includes being loud, belligerent, ghetto, untamed or simply upset. There are some who will use even the excuse of a sneeze to kill you in cold blood.
Do not walk with your hands in your pockets in public places. If your hands are cold, wear gloves. Pockets were not made with you in mind. The image of you has been plastered on TV and ingrained in the minds of people who are not like you, brainwashing them to fear you. And because they do, they do not see you searching for warmth but instead searching for a gun we all know you don’t have. They will call the police who will take their word over yours and never stop to ask you questions before shooting you dead.
This is one of the hardest things I will have to tell you but you will only have your own judgment to guide you. As scary as it may be, WHEN the police wrongfully approach you (and in your lifetime this will happen more than a few times), you MUST stand there and face fear directly in the face. Do not move unless they tell you to. Answer them and follow every direction they give. As humiliating as the demands, you must comply. I know it will hurt physically, emotionally and spiritually but your highest priority is to stay alive! DO NOT give them a reason, although they need none. Even as I write this, I know that this too is a gamble. Like facing a beast in the woods, do you stand still so you don’t provoke it, or do you turn and run because you know either way, you’re dead? I beg of you, do not run. Live to survive another day, to find another way to rise above this.
If you want to record your interactions with police, use your phone but have it out before they approach you. They do not want to see you reaching for anything. Be polite, answer questions and although you have rights, unfortunately – these rights do not apply to you. Be aware. You have a right to record and to ask questions but, as a black man, this is a provocation. They will see you as a threat and use this as an excuse to do what we have already seen them do and get away with it.
Last but not least…
Do not forget the fallen. Whatever you do, remember their roles in this universe. To bring awareness to an epidemic much larger than any known disease this world has ever seen. Racism is your biggest enemy and it has been killing our people for hundreds of years. There have been more black lives taken since the beginning of slavery til the very day you read this letter. Do not become another one of them. Always remember those who came before you.
I am weak and drained with sadness from the injustice plaguing this country but I have found the strength to instill in you the truth of what it is like to be a black man in America.
Although I have not listed every occurrence, know that racism hides behind closed doors, grand jury’s and badges. If you know this, then you know you must find a peaceful way to make a change.
You are powerful, strong, beautiful human beings and change can happen but, it starts with you. Sometimes it seems as if you must represent yourself in ways only Jesus can. Like you must be perfect to even have half of their respect, but you must think and grow beyond that. You must find ways to protest injustice without inciting violence, looting, destruction and pain; which not onlyaffects others but also affects your own people.
You have a responsibility to educate yourselves in your history, in the trends of disparity among our culture so that you may have the tools you need to finally defeat this enemy.
You are our future and though they may target our future with police brutality, I won’t let them succeed which is why I am leaving you with these words of advice.
You will be carrying on where others have left off but what are most important are two things:
Do not forget the fallen
Always remember to keep love and peace in your hearts. No matter how hard it becomes you must hold on to your humanity, no matter how hard they try to take it away.
Be strong my young black children and never forget the fallen.