Petty Politics

The majority of Americans watched the State of the Union address last night. President Obama spoke on topics such as equal pay for women, police reform, and free community college. Obviously, Kio and I have many opinions about our government and the state of the Un-United States of America. Equal pay for women won’t matter for Rekia Boyd. Michael Brown was robbed of the chance to experience community college. Our fallen brothers and sisters that have died in the name of service and protection by the thugs in blue won’t see the days of police reform. Actually, none of us might see that day, but I digress.

Because I can be a bit of a cynic, I am highly critical of President Obama. I rightfully hold him to a higher standard. I found myself rolling my eyes during some of the State of the Union address, but I also saw flickers of the ’08 Obama that I voted for. Then Mr. President flashed ’08 Obama and blinded all of America!

Let’s give a round of applause for Mr. 2 Termz! President Obama dusted off his library card last night, kicked down the door of the library and read Republicans for filth. Of course, the interwebs and social media went into a frenzy after Mr. President delivered the line, “I have no more campaigns to run. I know because I won both of them.”

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Chile, I got my entire life! I didn’t know the “better politics” Mr. Obama spoke of meant petty politics. Mr. 2Termz left Republicans bald and holding on to their edges. He snatched wigs, closures and Brazilian bundles and I am here for it!

I expected to see plenty of negative comments from Republicans on my various social media newsfeeds, but my eyes were spared. Instead mine eyes saw the glory of the coming of Mr. 2Termz! The lack in negative commentary could be attributed to my social media cleanup. For those of you who find yourself arguing with the ignorant, I have found that the “unfriend/delete” button is the greatest weapon of activism. Our justice is not contingent upon the knowledge of fools!  Or maybe my Republican friends might have just tapped out for the night. When you get slayed by an epic read, the best you can do is walk away and give a “girl, bye” or in the words of Atlanta Housewife Porsha “You are a Contradictory” Williams, “Bye, ashy.”

Here at Lost in the Sauce, we can be the pettiest of Patricia’s. We appreciate a good read. We enjoy a good helping of tomfoolery. We often bask in the shade. In the midst of all of that, we still stand for justice. We don’t mind saying #BlackLivesMatter. Most importantly, we #StayWoke. Without a shadow of a doubt, Kio and I have resolved to be the change and set the world on fire. As much as we appreciate how President Obama gathered the Republicans last night, we hope that ’08 Obama is here to stay. We do not want Mr. 2Termz to be quickly replaced with Mr. Respectability Politics. Mr. President, we ask that you stick to your word. Neither one of us want to see you electric sliding and backpedaling in the coming weeks.

Last night, you told Rebekah and Ben’s sob story. While listening to their story, I texted Kio and said “Rebekah and Ben do not represent me.” She replied, “I don’t even know them.” Though their story represents some Americans, their story does not speak to “us.” 

Their story isn’t Eric Garner’s story.

Their story isn’t John Crawford’s story.

Their story isn’t Tamir Rice’s story.

Their story isn’t Rumain Brisbon’s story.

Their story isn’t Kio’s story.

Their story isn’t my story.

Our story is told every 28 hours with every murder. Our story is told by every non-indictment, every vilified victim and every justified killing. Every uncovered body and every blood soaked sidewalk tells our story. We seek to retell these stories through our efforts of activism, protests, die-ins, rallies and marches. Mr. Petty President, will you narrate our stories? Mr.2Termz, will you be the voice of our movement? Mr. I Read Republicans, will you advocate for us during the remainder of your term or will you tootsie roll back into your role of passive politics?

We are rooting for you, Mr. President! We want to be able to thank you for more accomplishments this year, but for now, thank you for the read of the century. We will #neverforget.

-Tashara

Vilification and Justification

During his acceptance speech at the Golden Globe’s, Common said that Selma changed his humanity. I can completely agree with him. Ferguson changed my reason for existing. When we constantly say, “Stay Woke,” we are not spewing out a phrase just to be cute. We’re not throwing out another #hashtag that we want to trend. We are begging you to be conscious. We are pleading with you to open your eyes. We are insisting that you pay your rent.

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Every 28 hours, a black man or woman is murdered by a police officer. Therefore, roughly, every 28 ½, a black man or woman is vilified by the media. Math isn’t my preferred subject, so we’ll just say every 29 hours a police officer’s actions are justified.

I am one of the “good ones.” You could even go a little bit further and label me as a “Respectable Negro.” I wouldn’t say I’m New Black like Pharrell and Kendrick Lamar, but I am an educated, ambitious, successful black woman in America. I’m Southern. I’m sweet. I dress well. I love Jesus and I’m nice to people. Apple pie is America’s favorite dessert, so I suppose I’m the peach cobbler for black people or maybe the sweet potato pie. If I were to be in a compromising situation with a police officer, all of my sweet “Southerness” would be thrown out of the window.

The media would slander me and contrary to popular belief, respectability politics would not save me.

I wrote a Facebook status the other day about an experience in Kroger. I needed to stop at the grocery store to get a few items. I went into Kroger in all black, combat boots and a hoodie. I got all the side eyes in the produce aisle. Not because the grapes looked sketchy (they did), but because my very existence in addition to wearing all black was intimidating. Not because I’m an intimidating person, but because my skin is intimidating to people. I passed on the overpriced, sketchy grapes, but I couldn’t help but to think that those who side eyed me and grabbed their purses probably thought that my EBT card was low and I needed to feed all of my kids. If something would have gone down in Kroger that day, the media would have painted a picture of a militant, angry Black woman who went into Kroger looking for trouble.

Let’s just map out all of my characteristics that the media would use to build their case against my character.

  • I enjoy the occasional glass of wine = alcoholic
  • I’m an introvert = Sociopath
  • I’m an activist = militant, terrorist
  • I’m divorced from a former Marine = unpatriotic, traitorous and I’d probably slut shamed.

Some of you might be reading this and thinking that the above illustration is a bit superfluous, but this is the reality of a black person in America. For instance, no one cares that Michael Brown was enrolled in college. The storage manager has repeatedly said that Michael Brown was not the person who robbed his store. Despite these truths, the lies and slander of Michael Brown’s character is what rings true in the minds of those who choose to believe that an innocent young man was a “thug” and deserved to die. Tamir Rice’s age was a non factor to those who dismissed his murder. Aiyana Jones was labeled as a casualty of war.

If I were to be gunned down in the streets, my efforts to advocate for humanity would be erased and replaced with whatever the media would cherry pick to destroy my character.

Put a loved one into the forefront of your mind. Think of the good and bad about them. If they were to die, what would you want their legacy to be?

In 28 hours, you will have a choice. Which narrative will you believe?

-Tashara

Freedom

I learned a new word today – eleutheromania.

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This word, or rather, this condition, is characterized by the insatiable need to travel, and a general craving for freedom.  Now, for me, discovering this word was something akin to finally learning the name to that song that’s been stuck in your head for the last week.

See, I’ve been experiencing eleutheromania for the last year or so, and let me tell you – it is an… interesting issue.

This blog started out as a way for Tashara and I to share with the world our experiences and observances as we muddle through our respective quarter-life crises.  And I’ve spent the last year desperately trying to get my life together.  I’ve worked for three different companies in the last year, I’ve transitioned through two Master’s programs, and moved twice, all in an effort to find myself.  About three months ago, something happened to me that’s never happened before:  I got fired from my job.  It wasn’t an exciting event – there were no explosions or conflict –it was simply a “we need to make room in the budget and your position is optional” kind of thing.  And yet, it was catastrophic to me.  I’d been barely hanging onto my sanity as I struggled to pay my bills and navigate through this thing called life and that particular setback was crushing.   It was paralyzing.  I had no idea what to do, where to go, how to even begin to put things back in order.

So, I just kept moving.

About two months ago, I sold half of everything I owned and packed the rest in a UHaul and moved across the country to Ohio – leaving everything I’ve ever known behind.  I left my house and my home and my safety blanket and I was scared to death about what was coming.  I had no idea what life looked like, how I was going to make it work.  I had no plan… nothing.

Then, one night, laying in a borrowed bed in a little room, I realized something.

For the first time in months- I could breathe again.

For the first time in as long as I could remember, I had that elusive feeling of freedom – of not being tied to anyone or anything – of being able to forge my own path.

While I was going through my personal freedom revelation, though, there were bigger things going on around the nation, and around the world.

About two weeks after I left Alabama, Bob McCullough got on television and explained to the world why Darren Wilson would not be charged with the murder of Michael Brown.  In one overblown, self-righteous speech, Mr. McCullough lit fire to a movement which had been simmering below the surface for longer than I can remember.

Ferguson (literally) changed everything.

In the weeks since, the outpouring of activist support and solidarity has completely bowled me over, and the #blacklivesmatter movement is the civil rights demonstration of our generation. Even under criticism and duress from all of the “powers that be”, my fellow activists have neither bent nor broken.  Instead we have held strong in the face of adversity and continued to plow on toward our goal of freedom and equality.

For me, the exhilarating liberation I’ve felt in my own life has allowed me to seriously evaluate what I want out of life, and one of the things one the forefront of my mind (and my social media accounts) is being a meaningful part of this movement.

And as we enter into 2015, I’ve decided that my personal theme for the year is #cultivatelove  – in all aspects of my life, for myself and for everyone around me.  This includes showing love to and making room for love for my people, and my community.

Because the truth is, we aren’t free – we are far from it.

There is something seriously wrong with this country and the way that we as citizens are treated by our government, and by its agents.

And although I’m happy about the progress I see happening around me, I’m not fooled in the slightest.  There is still so much work to do and we have a really long road ahead of us.

But one thing I do have, for the first time in a long time, is hope.  And that is more powerful than any of the weapons the opposition can craft in their arsenal.

So this year, I’m still trying to #settheworldonfire… with love.  And I hope you’ll join me.  We can do this –together.

Love, peace, and power…

Kio

New Year, New Woke

Happy New Year!

When we first started this blog, Kio and I, wanted to be life tour guides for lost Millenials. Then, the Ferguson decision changed everything.

Ferguson changed our blog.

Ferguson changed our lives.

Our blog turned from a witty, humorous advice blog to a call for activism. Of course, like true Millenials, we followed our passions onto another path.

Now that it’s Monday and day 5 of the new year or Page 5 of 365, we want to encourage you to Stay Woke this year! Every year people make resolutions that they give up on after a week. The saints go on fasts and start Bible challenges that they do not complete. We all bombard the treadmills at Planet Fitness and then fall off before Valentine’s Day.

This year, we want you all to stick to your resolutions. We want to hold you accountable and we also want you to hold us accountable! Here’s a few tips to get your year started on the right foot and to keep you marching throughout the year:

  • Set a motto for the year. My motto for this year is “Live a life of service.” I want to be less focused on me and more focused on serving God and others.
    • Try to find supporting quotes and phrases to keep your motto in your mind. If you’re a spiritual person, find a scripture or quote to help you. I’m memorizing, “Galatians 5:13, You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”
  • Once you’ve set your motto, surround yourself with it. Put it everywhere! Make it your cell phone wallpaper. Write it on your bathroom mirror. Stick it on the refrigerator. Wherever you are, there your motto should be.
  • Set your goals and seal them. Each year, I write down everything I want to accomplish whether it be “work out more often, but don’t be guilty when you can’t make it to the gym,” or “smile more and don’t scrunch your eyebrows so much.” I fold up the papers and put them in a mason jar or inside a vase. Throughout the year, I’ll go look through the jar/vase just to be sure I’m on track. Check the picture of my Jar of Dreams for this year.

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  • Be held accountable. This is the most important weapon to have in your arsenal. Most people do not follow through with their resolutions because they do not have a firing squad behind them who won’t allow them to quit! Surround yourself with people who are in the fight with you. If there are people in your life that are not supporting you, then you might need to reevaluate your circle. Join a Facebook group of like-minded people, go to networking events, Bible studies–whatever you need to do to meet people who are on the same path as you.

This year could be the year for you to accomplish everything that you’ve put off in years past. Be awake. Be aware. Be ambitious. We are cheering you on. Go be the change and set the world on fire!

-Tashara

Love in a Time of Warfare

“When they ask us what our legacy was, we will tell them we built movements where we held each other down in love and in struggle. We will say that we resisted resiliently. We will look to leaders who loved and sustained each other intimately. We will tell of how we organized intersectionally not as just an exercise in intellectualism, but because our very lives depended on it. We will remember and restate resoundingly that Black [queer, trans, gender-non conforming] love is revolutionary and liberating.”

~ Samantha Master

Yesterday while scrolling through my newsfeed, I came across a story featuring two young activists from Ferguson, MO.  Of course, I’ve been inundated with stories, pictures, etc. from what is shaping up to be the Millennial Civil Rights Movement (coining that) over the last few weeks – so much so that I was beginning to grow weary of the constant heaviness of it all.  But this story was different – this story was amazing in that it told the tale of two women who fell in love and got married, in the middle of a war.

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According to the article (here), Alexis Templeton and Brittany Ferrell, both Missouri natives and prominent figures in the Millennial Activists United organization, met while demonstrating in Ferguson in the wake of Michael Brown’s murder and later, the failure to indict his killer, police officer Darren Wilson.  The couple made it official this week by getting married in a small ceremony surrounded by a handful of family members and friends at the St. Louis City Hall.

What struck me so much about this story, and made me want to share it with you all, was the pure brazen optimism present within this couple.  That they are women on the frontlines of our budding revolution – women who have seen and experienced firsthand the callous ways in which this great nation denies marginalized people their very humanity – and still chose love and hope is awe inspiring to me.

To be a woman who is both Black and Queer is an especially difficult space to exist in within our society.  Daily, I find myself at war with all of the oppressive images and messages around me tell me that my very existence as a Queer Woman of Color is an affront to society.  Daily, I am told by the “mainstream” that people like me do not deserve life, freedom, or happiness.  Daily I am erased by the status quo.

And yet.

And yet I still find inspiration and strength within myself and my brothers and sisters who remain in this fight with me.  While many people may see Alexis and Brittany’s marriage as “cute” or a “feel good story”, as I’ve seen it mentioned a few times already, I see it as a revolutionary act of defiance.  I see it as an amazing statement designed to let the world know that we are all deserving and capable of love and happiness, and that no matter how much mainstream America seeks to erase us from view, we will still shine on.

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Congratulations Alexis and Brittany – and thank you for refusing to be anything but your beautiful, beautiful selves in a world that wishes you were anything but.

~ Kio

Set the World on Fire Challenge – Day 16

Set the World on Fire Challenge – Day 16

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**Disclaimer: I started this blog prior to the National Black out Day last Sunday. I do believe that National Black Out day was a step in the right direction. I appreciate the efforts; however, I hope to see more work being done outside of prayer.

Dear Saints,

Is this letter really necessary? Do I need to go from church to church preaching the gospel of, “please move outside of these walls!”? Do I need to cry, yell, and throw a fit? Do I need to go to a church convention, run down the aisle, grab a mic, & give y’all material for memes and songs? What do I need to do to get y’all to act? Please tell me because I will do it.

I think we forget that Jesus didn’t have a home church. He didn’t lead a small group every Tuesday. He wasn’t head of the usher board. Yes, He fried the fish for the plates to be sold after service near Bethsaida that time, but that’s pretty much the only “churchy” thing I can recall. My point is that Jesus was not part of the prosperity driven, watered down gospel, I’m sticking with my own kind, segregated on Sundays, Americanized church.

What we are experiencing now is not the dream. You’re not going to sit on your pews or in your chairs on Sunday and tell me that this is what our God wants for His people. You’re not going to fix your mouth to say that this is the dream Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought and died for. And most importantly, you’re not going to even try to tell me that 1.) Our country is not turmoil or 2.) This turmoil doesn’t concern you.

Saints, don’t do it.

It’s enough that churches are closing their doors every week because we can’t keep the lights on, attendance is low and the community doesn’t respect us anyway. It’s enough that we’re mocked, ridiculed, and the butt of all jokes. It is enough that we can’t get together outside of the walls because we love to be comfortable so much that doing anything outside of our air conditioned, stain glass windowed, pristine sanctuary is too much to handle.

Enough is enough.

I’m too tired to slap y’all on the wrists. I’m too tired to put y’all in time outs. I’m too tired for reprimanding. We don’t have time for all of that. Where are you, saints? We need you! It is no secret that the black community is inundated with faith. We do not go to counseling because we go to church (another thing I am working to change in our culture, but that’s another sermon for another day). We really don’t read the Bible for ourselves, because, well, we go to church and what Pastor so and so says, goes. We do not give directly to our communities because we give to the church and expect the church to give for us.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not here to come for the church, but also I am not naive, deaf or dumb. No, the system will not protect those it was not built for, but don’t we believe that the church was built for us? Where is our protection?

Lord knows, I love Him. Lord knows, I live for Him. Lord knows, I love His people, but y’all truly perturb me. The writer of the book of James has told us that faith without works is dead. This can be interpreted many ways, but let’s just be elementary with it.

Your faith needs feet!

People used to think that good works were required for salvation and even though that is faulty theology, a little part of me wishes we could go back to that. If you needed to gather “good works tokens” for salvation, y’all would be out here pounding the pavement! But instead the saints are just content with being saved and silent. That’s not going to cut it anymore.

So what is it going to take, saints? Another 16th Street Baptist church bombing? A church was burned down in Ferguson, but nobody cares.

You walked into church this past Sunday wearing all black and stood for solidarity. You walked up to the altar and received prayer. Did you walk out changed and accepting a role as a solider in this fight? I hope so. I really, really hope so.

Next Sunday, I hope to write a blog showcasing my saved brothers and sisters putting in work. I applaud the churches that have stepped up and stepped out. Seeing pictures of church members shutting down the streets of Chicago has moved me to tears. Please don’t make me write another blog begging y’all to stop silently praying, being meek and carrying on. You can be the loudest in worship, shout, and speak in tongues, but when it comes to working towards building our communities mouths are closed and feet are frozen.

Something is wrong here, church. If you don’t see it, then I’ll pray that your eyes will be opened, your heart will be pricked and that the fire that Jeremiah said was shut up in his bones will ignite inside of you. We do not have time to keep playing.

Wake up and stay woke. It’s up to us to set the world on fire.

-Tashara