As You Were…

16 February 2015 | By andrena in DatLife, General, Health | No Comments Yet


“As you were” is a standard military command. It means, literally, “[return] to your previous posture”. Soldiers must snap to a formal “attention” position when an officer enters their presence, and the officer issues this command to indicate they may resume their prior activities”

I was invited to an event last night, that has left such a nasty taste in my mouth and in my spirit. For the sake of the everyone involved, I am not going to name the place. It was a “Valentines Chat and Chew”. I had never been to the place before. I didn’t know any of the women there, we did have a common ground though, which was NOT HIV.

I believe it is important for me to mention that I was in my clerics. I was coming from the office. If I had went upstairs to change my clothes, I would’ve sat down on the bed, switched on the telly and that would’ve been the end of that. I wanted to continue my birth-month celebration, and I wanted to surprise someone who has been begging me to come out. (She actually didn’t make it last night – thanks be to God). Talk about divine providence.

I was very impressed with the hospitality of the director, who asked me to call her when I got outside, because of the different parking lots, which were located side by side. She didn’t want me paying, and actually came outside to point me in the direction of the free parking lot.

The evening began well enough. I felt welcomed and part of the group. A lot of ice-breakers. I could’ve done without all the brain teasers though…my brain is teased enough in ministry, crunching numbers and words. It was a warm group. Many of us also had recovery issues in common, and it was interesting to hear the different brief stories. No war stories…just being able to identify with other women. A lot of laughter, food was okay…we chat and we chewed.
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02 February 2015 | By andrena in Church, DatLife, General, Racism | No Comments Yet

Background story:

I was able to verbalize some of my feelings about the “privileged photo shoot”, in a conversation today. I have been trying for a few days to put into words what it was that made me feel uneasy. First and foremost, let me say that those photos are horrific, and the idea that cops are using US as target practice is an abomination in the face of God, as you will.

I understand privileged folk may feel the need to “do something”. I understand that intentions are honorable and pure. I understand that with all that is going on, folks just want to make it better some how. I do understand that.

However, at the same time that the photo frenzy was going on (in fact, two days before), another article came out informing the public that, that particular training program has been suspended. Sometimes we shouldn’t jump to conclusions until all the facts are in.

I spoke to some police officers around here, and they agreed that it was horrific. It was odd that they didn’t even know what was going on. They hadn’t even heard of the issue. What they did share with me that they do not train on images…but on silhouettes. Images of black bodies being used as target practice is painful.

I don’t know what is helpful for us working together towards a more fair and equitable society. Until we can sit in the same room and use the word racist and openly acknowledge *racism* instead of giving it different terms, why don’t we just call this song exactly what it is: racism.

While sitting at any table where the power dynamic is unbalanced…and the context is different, I would think it would be appropriate for the persons in power to ASK: “How can we help?” “What can I/we do to help get you to a place of wholeness, fairness and justice?” Maybe we just need you to be quiet and stand along side us.

I thought of this yesterday, as I marched and looked on each side of the crowd, in front of the crowd, and behind the crowd…were cops escorting us from point A to point B. One might say, we were being corralled…but actually I am sure it was for our protection. They weren’t yelling at us, they weren’t saying anything to us (with an occasional hand wave or nod). They were in a position of power and they were riding alongside of us. There are some out who will probably think I am not *thinking as someone who is righteously indignant* if I am talking of the police in those terms – whatever. It is how I am feeling as I am writing.

No one asked me if a ‘picture’ would help the cause, would take away the triggering pain of seeing those images. In fact, it was done rather secretively, it was only by accident that someone sent the link to me. I actually didn’t catch on in the beginning that it was for the white privileged clergy to join. I have seen pictures of friends of whom I haven’t heard a peep from during the last blatant cases of cops killing unarmed black males. It is fairly easy to sit behind a computer and send in your picture. There’s no dialogue involved, no movement outside your own comfort zone. There is camaraderie in numbers though. Your numbers. I wonder if privilege feels safety in numbers? (Rhetorical question)

Let me also be clear. I am not afraid of the police. I am not gonna lie and say I am not afraid of a bullet. That I am. I have had guns pointed at me, and in my direction. I have stood toe-to-toe with the NYC Police Department, I have been arrested in a civil disobedience action. I am not afraid to post my picture. They probably already have it on file. But I’ll be darned if I am going to make anything easy for them. They have taken enough. And sadly, will probably continue to take. Sam Cooke sang: “A Change is Gonna Come”… until it does, all of what is happening seems to be the nature of the beast.

I have been pondering over how to say this in a way that doesn’t offend anyone, because I know a lot of you. And I know you mean well. So, please don’t take offense! And please don’t go away thinking: “Damned if I do, or damned if I don’t”. Please hear what I am saying. I can’t speak for all black folk. I can only speak for myself. I am not speaking expecting a dialogue, just needed to get my thoughts out.

Stand with us…don’t DO for us, unless you know it is what we need. Let us know that you are outraged, ask us what WE can do together. This is not a *privileged* battle.

If you haven’t seen Selma…see it. Take your children. Begin a dialogue there.

Peace and “Welcome to the Story”

… and now what?

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