Generational Slavery and Systemic Racism

Race Card

What most people don’t realize is that SLAVERY ended at the very least, 3 to 4 generations ago. My own grandfather was born just 7 YEARS AFTER slavery ended! He was 61 years old when my father was born.  That means my grandfather was immediately and deeply affected by systemic racism, the KKK, and Jim Crow laws because he was still treated as a slave while he and his parents (former slaves) “sharecropped” on some of the very plantations that enslaved them.  My grandfather experienced that…  Then, my parents had to drink out of “Blacks Only” fountains and had to use back doors, not be served at the restaurant counters, had to sit in the back of buses, etc. before the Civil Rights Act was signed in 1964(the year I was born). This country can never move forward until it acknowledges that the generational effects of slavery still exists today.

It’s important to note that when Blacks—in present day America—continue to speak against atrocities we still suffer, it is because it has only – ONLY been 51 years since the CIVIL RIGHTS Act was signed. That’s barely a generation ago! We are still fighting to be treated like human beings and with dignity and respect. It took 100 years after slavery ended before our 15th Amendment Rights were upheld with the Voting Act of 1965.  Here we are 50 years later still fighting for the right to be treated as human beings during encounters with law enforcement.  We’re still fighting for promotions we worked hard for.  We are still trying to dump the “slave mentality” mindset among our people.  Systemic Racism is a generational stain on our civilized society.

Therefore, we ask that you please stop telling us we’re using the “Race Card” when we continue to point out the ways in which we are still being disenfranchised.  Don’t “remind” us that because we now have a Black President, it means we’ve “arrived” as a race and are being treated equally. There were MANY “successful Blacks” back in the days after slavery but at the end of the day, they were still less than human to racist whites and had no rights.  And… President Obama is still the most hated and disrespected President ever to be in office and the only one that is referenced in a derogatory way due to his skin color.

Please do not compare our struggle to the people who are crossing the Mexican border and fighting for US citizenship or, the LGBT community who are fighting for “equal rights.”  Mexicans came here by choice – they are not experiencing generational pain and suffering. They did not have children snatched from their arms and sold at auction.  Regardless of how life is for them in Mexico, they can still go back.  Their homeland is simply across a border.  The LGBT community are not forced to be who they are. Their fight to marry cannot be compared to a people who were transported over the ocean in rancid ships, put on display at auction, and brutalized for 400 years.  They are not a transplanted people still vilified because of something they cannot hide – their color.  If they did not say they were LGBT, chances are, no one would notice.  Color cannot be hidden. I am not downplaying their struggle but it is not the same as ours and the continued comparisons actually downplays what Blacks have suffered (and still suffer) in this country. The only group of people–in this country–who can truly have a voice by comparison are the Native Indian due to their annihilation in their own land. They were invaded and victimized and sent to reservations as this country went to Africa and brought us here. That is the harsh truth and hopefully one that we can overcome.

We ask that you stop “tone policing” us when we attempt to tell stories of our daily struggle as a Black person.  Tone Policing is when a non-Black (usually White) person tries to tell a story that has the appearance of a ‘struggle’ in an attempt to downplay our experience.  For example, if I tell you that I was the only Black in a classroom and was bullied by other kids, don’t tell me that you were bullied as well.  It is not the same thing.  Also, don’t tell us to not be angry in the face of blatant injustice. That is tone policing.

Understand that it is not a reflection on you as a person (unless, of course, you are racist).  It’s our life and something we cannot apologize for if it makes you uncomfortable.  Maybe we would like you to simply listen and realize that the pain is real and the anger is justified. Maybe we’d like to know that you have the character to stand up to anyone in your circle who is racist and doesn’t understand that we are people too. Maybe we’d like you to bring up the latest atrocity in the news and ask us how we feel about it. Or.. tell us how you feel about it. But whether you do this or not, we will continue to speak out and be our own advocates to the best of our abilities.

This must sink in…It took 100 YEARS before we got Civil Rights and were able to vote without taking a “test” or being killed and again, that was ONLY 51 years ago. Please don’t tell us to “get over it” because it’s not over yet… Systemic Racism, and its affects, are still very much alive in the United States. Blacks are still experiencing the GENERATIONAL RIPPLES within our communities.

Copyright 2015 Kim R Woods
all rights reserved

Get Out of The Rut: The Character Resume

Resume_Of_Your_Character

Sometimes we go through life in a rut and don’t even realize we are in it.  One day, we become aware that something isn’t quite right but yet, we can’t seem to put a finger on why. Not realizing that there is a “second” resume on the table– one of character and integrity.  This particular resume erodes the trust and respect of friends and loved ones and undermines our potential for success.  It’s the measure of who we are as human beings as it relates to how we treat others and respect ourselves.. What it is not  is the typical life errors and mistakes that make us perfectly imperfect and human. Sadly,we live day-to-day without knowing this is the self-destructive road on which we travel. Sometimes we need to actually read this resume in order for it to resonate.

But there is good news. There is a way out.  First, we have to accept personal responsibility for our actions and become determined to make a change.  But before that can happen, truth and self awareness must come into play.  It is time to rewrite the “life resume” we have so unwittingly crafted.  Different from an employment resume, this life resume encompasses behaviors and irrational beliefs that hinder personal maturity and growth. Second, once we have acknowledged the existence of this resume, we begin to seek ways to repair the damage. It’s not easy but then nothing worthy of gaining comes “easy”.  If your “life resume” remotely resembles this, then it is time to self reflect.

Character Lacking

1120 Integrity Way

Distrust, IL 90321

Objective:  To enhance current skills while increasing sense of entitlement.  Willing to not take responsibility for my actions, blame others for my problems, and avoid all opportunities to have a viable and successful future, while manipulating those who love me and are willing to give me a free ride.  Forever tethered to people who have no concern for my life, I have no intention of making changes that will set me on a self-sufficient path.  Seeking those who will elevate my current lifestyle, cosign the negativity in my life, all while stroking my ego and helping me to get nowhere in life.

2013  Child Support Evasion, Location Irrelevant

Charismatic and charming

Multiple “people creation” skills current count: unknown

Avoidance expert

Party enhancement supplies

Anger management expert

Female/male abuse expert

2010  Possession of stolen items, Location Irrelevant

Spent 8 years ‘abroad’ and learned new techniques

Excellent detection avoidance systems and analysis skills

Adapts to unexpected situations such as drop and flee

Experience in resale retail

1999  Gun possession by felon, Location Irrelevant

Expert at weapons concealment

Weapons purchase and resale

Can fire at multiple targets with 10% accuracy

1998   Drug possession with intent to sell, Location Irrelevant

Promoted to sales

Customer service oriented—delivered day and night

Top seller in crew (er, distribution department)

Excellent officer detection skills

1996  Burglary, Location Irrelevant

Lock expert

Keen sight – look out expert

Escapes detection with ease

Salesman of the month

1995  Drug possession, Location Irrelevant

Carried drugs upon person in order to get high

Well versed in lighting and inhaling, snorting, and needle work

Alcohol extraction expert

EDUCATION

         Unimportant

HOBBIES

          Running (er, jogging)

Skills

Weapons, stealth, Facebook and Instagram, fashion, feigning innocence, alcohol inducement, People making, partying, finger work (“throwing those signs”), and manipulation

References

          …?  Holla back?

POEM: I AM SANDRA BLAND

I am Sandra Bland

It’s sadly unsurprising that another Black person has fallen once again while in police custody—having suffered unnecessary brutality during a traffic stop.  It screams the question: Since when did a routine traffic stop become a high risk assignment for Black women? It’s a question I now have to ponder every time I drive my vehicle.  As the tragic death of 28-year-old Sandra Bland is being investigated by state of Texas and played out in the media, I’ve realized that I am Sandra Bland.

I am Black and proud and speak too loudly

At the injustice I see all around me

My skin is darker than a berry, but not too sweetly

Am I acceptable to blind ignorance, you see

Because when the eyes of those who hate rest their gaze

Upon me, my humanness dissipates

into a misty haze and all that is left

Is rage, war, and violence-

against my body’s softness

Their need to destroy the femininity that is me

Because I…am Sandra Bland

My life is seen as an inconvenience to abusers of power

But I’m not popular to those blinded by the rays of my darkness

Shining a beacon upon my guilty countenance

Because justice precedes some but doesn’t proceed for me

Because, I… am Sandra Bland

Passing through this life is a struggle

Over my shoulder I shuffle

Looking into the night for the bright

Swirling lights that can remove me from this life

Driving, shopping, walking, and speaking I am guilty as charged

Black woman… at large

Red incites a bull to rage

But on this stage

Black puts us in a cage

Or a coffin

But I’m not balking because I’m free

And as long as I breathe

I will continue to be

Because Sandra Bland is me

Therefore boldly I’ll proclaim

to say her name

From every mountain top

And I will not stop

The thunderous roar

Until injustice is no more

In this land, we will continue to stand

Because I am… Sandra Bland

©2015 Kim R. Woods All Rights Reserved

Olympic Dreams Should Never Die…

DayshaWith so much tragedy and uncertainty going on in the media- from the China & Greece stock market crash to the continued violence on the streets (in Chicago)– we sometimes forget to celebrate greatness.  Well, I’d like to celebrate a young lady who is not “famous” but whom, through hard work and dedicated parents, was able to raise the bar for herself–securing a chance to compete at the National Track Meet in Jacksonville, Florida.

Daysha Tillman is a 16-year-old track star at Shepard High School in Palos Heights, IL.  She is an Olympic-grade athlete with dreams of competing there one day.  The purpose of this article is to help her and her family raise money to cover the cost of her travel, expenses, and equipment–allowing her to participate at Nationals the week of July 27th.

Her parents, Sam and Keshania Tillman, have raised their 3 girls and 1 son with honor and integrity and in spite of the financial strain, they have made sure that their kids studied hard in school and competed in the sports of their choices.  All 3 of the girls have participated in sports- softball, basketball, and track–giving their absolute best.  The youngest daughter, Daysha, has her eyes set on the Olympics and has trained hard to progress in her sport.

Daysha has qualified to go to Nationals—she was all conference winner with 4 FIRST PLACE medals as well as placing strong in down state track meets.  This young lady is a highly intelligent, hard-working, and gifted athlete. I believe that she has more than earned this opportunity to be able to go and compete without worrying about how her parents will pay for it. It is my honor to be able to help them raise the funds.

Our children are not born to fail.  They have the ability to achieve greatness and all that is required of us–both parents and the community–is to fan the fire that is already underneath their feet.  Daysha Tillman’s feet are meant to fly.  We just need to give her a nudge.

To support Daysha’s efforts please go here

Public Shaming and the Suicide of a Child

Isabel Laxamana

Once again public shaming has reared its ugly head- this time with disastrous results.  The latest victim is 13-year-old Izabel Laxamana – a student at a Tacoma Washington middle school .

We seem to forget what it was like to be a child. I wasn’t a bad child but I did challenge my parents and was punished accordingly. As with most kids it ebbs and flows until the time comes when both parent and child “survive” this thing called parenthood.  I also had insecurities that are normal to most children.  13-year-olds (boys and girls) deal with issues such as weight, acne, clothing styles, the opposite sex, and yes- hair. They are entering the age of discovery and self-awareness.

So is it really a shock that a young beautiful girl with long thick flowing locks – in the beginning of discovering herself- would become devastated and suicidal after not only losing her hair, but having the event put in public display?

It truly begs the questions -why are parents so eager and willing to humiliate their children? Why has this become a new “tool” in parenting?  What are they trying to prove and to whom are they attempting to prove it to? How is this helping the child to correct behavior and more importantly, is the possible psychological and self-esteem damage worth the risk?

Apparently for Izabel Laxamana, the risk was far greater than the reward. Because we now live in an advanced technological society, her parents felt the best way to punish her was to chop off her hair and post it online.

This isn’t “punishment”- its cruelty.  It’s a form of cruelty that not every child can handle and I’m willing to guess that most children can’t handle it.  That is why this young girl -in the beginnings of her youth and self-discovery- climbed onto a bridge and without hesitation, jumped to her death.

There is no doubt that as her parents mourn her death, the “likes” and kudos are up ticking on YouTube and Facebook as yet another progressive salute to a great punishment strategy. So now I’m compelled to ask again, do you still think public humiliation/shaming is a good way to punish a child?  If you still feel this way, then shame on you.

Baltimore – Another Tinderbox of Destruction

Freddie Gray

Admittedly, I haven’t kept abreast of the news in the past 2 weeks so I was shocked when someone told me to turn the TV on and watch the riots in Baltimore.  25-year-old Freddie Gray died from injuries he suffered while under police custody and some of the protests morphed into riots.  So once again we have a case of a young black male detained, brutalized, and murdered by police officers.  We have another situation in which protests are necessary to demand justice in a system that holds no value to the human lives of black people. Our anger is valid and completely justified. It’s a deeply rooted anger that owes no apologies and demands justice.

Yet, instead of protesting and bringing attention to the atrocities, there are some who have chosen to lash out in anger and burn down or loot businesses that serve their neighborhoods.  It sounds very revolutionary, militant, and reminiscent of the days of Angela Davis and Huey Newton but the reality is that violence only begets more of the same.  It doesn’t effect change.

The anger that has bubbled over in Baltimore and all over America is not about Freddie Gray.  It’s about a system of racism that has infested the very heart of the black community.  The police have no respect for blacks but the problem isn’t them.  The problem is at the top.  The officials who continue to cover up and protect rogue cops.  The commissioners, district attorneys, mayors, and others who refuse to do the job they were elected to do- serve and PROTECT their constituents.  The problem is us– the ones who continue to vote blindly (and that includes along party and racial lines) to keep these people in office.  Why should they care?  What message have we the people clearly given them at the polls?  Why work harder and with integrity when they know that they will either run unopposed in the next election or voters will punch “Democratic” or “Republican” regardless of their level of service?

Instead of educating ourselves on how the government works and finding out who to put pressure on, we sit back and wait for Freddie Gray to happen so that we can jump on our laurels and protest on Facebook and other social media.  We want heads to literally roll and would rather burn down viable and needed businesses in our own backyards than to figure out how we can individually and collectively make a difference.

Of course CVS is insured and will build again.  But will they rebuild in the area where they suffered the loss?  Blacks have lived in some of the most disenfranchised areas in this country.  I get it- we are the “throw-away” people.  Brought here and abandoned after we no longer served our original purpose. Our neighborhoods are full of entire blocks of abandoned or burned out structures, pot-holed streets, liquor stores, and low-valued housing.  We step outdoors and see emptiness and despair.  So in our minds how will a few more fires take away from what is already a bad situation?  I challenge you to ask yourself “how will continuing to destroy it help rebuild it?”

What did burning down a neighborhood CVS pharmacy do to help the community?  It removed a convenient location that your 70-year-old neighbor walked to for her medication.  That’s what it did.  You see, not everyone has a car.   The bus stop is not always within walking distance for an elderly or otherwise physical restricted person.  Sure, something will eventually take its place but how will that help those who need it now?  Will the masked young men who are out there rioting and protesting knock on her door and offer a ride to the next closest pharmacy?

As the mother of a black man who has seen more than his share of unjust interaction with police, I am angry.  I want to break something and scream at the top of my voice “enough!!”  But that won’t make a difference.  What makes a difference is putting pressure where it needs to be:

  •  Protests – non-violent shows of solidarity
  • Vote responsibly- show them that if they don’t do what they promised, they’re fired
  • Businesses – support black-owned businesses. Stop supporting Nike and the like
  • Finances – teach our children to stop “flossing” and become financially responsible
  • Petitions – Pressure officials to enforce policies and create ones that protect everyone. Force them to create “enforceable” standards, become tougher on hiring, disciplining, and FIRING of officers
  • Education – Refocus our goals in educating our children in business, politics, and finances early on
  • Community – BRING THE VILLAGE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY

Yes, I’m angry but how can we be “heard” or taken seriously when we’re burning and looting our own communities? Why does every protest have to be violent and distracting?  Sure, it gets attention but who really hears us? It’s easy for us to debate this on Facebook and other social media from the safety of our keyboards.  We need to come together and effect REAL CHANGE.  The stark reality is that this will die down eventually–just as it did with Trayvon Martin, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, and the countless others before and since them.

Another young man is dead—dying a painful and brutal death.  Let’s find a way to use that to get him justice.  Burning down the city is not the answer.  Huey Newton had no room for God while he was running the Panthers but even he finally had to say: “As far as I am concerned, when all of the questions are not answered, when the extraordinary is not explained, when the unknown is not known, then there is room for God because the unexplained and the unknown is God.”  Violence is not the answer- Martin Luther King taught us that and he influenced change.

When the dust settles from this riot all that will be left are more abandoned structures and lost businesses – in black neighborhoods—and NO solutions.  Angry people fight.  Angry thinkers find ways to change it.  Let’s find a way to change the tide and stop throwing gasoline on everything.

CVS

(c)2015 Kim Woods All rights reserved

“Just”- Use it Sparingly

Justify Until we Stop Thinking

I guess that’s why it’s called ‘controversy’-  not everyone agrees.  The controversy I’m referring to is Willow Smith’s nipple shirt.  This isn’t about the “Free the Nipple” movement. I don’t think it’s appropriate attire for a 14-year-old child. Others believe I’m going overboard because it’s just a shirt.   I feel, however, that It removes boundaries and sets them up to be victimized.  I disagree and the word “just” makes it sound innocent enough.  It “just” doesn’t work for kids as well as it does for adults. I’m not saying this leads to bad behavior or that Willow is a bad kid. Willow is a rich, sheltered child who can afford to be expressive.  That doesn’t hold true for the average American kid. We live in a society that complains about out-of-control kids and yet we’re afraid to set boundaries. In fact, we continue to remove them in the name of  “freedom of expression”.  “Just”… There’s just something about that word:

  • Just a joint, until you get hooked on crack or meth- between ages 16-25 I’ve had guys tell me “do just one line of coke for me”. Just one. Just…
  • Just sex, until you get pregnant
  • They’re “just” boys – until the behavior escalates
  • It’s “just” a conversation (or kiss, or hug) with that married person, until they have that affair
  • Just one more drink, until you wreck the car
  • Why not add: Just 4 killed/18 wounded over the weekend in Chicago. As opposed to 82 shot, 14 killed last July
  • He’s just a child and it’s just a dollar he took. Give him a break, mom/dad. It could be worse.

My son wanted “just” a tattoo, a cell phone, a pager, a TV/VCR in his room, and pierced ears when he was 13.  I told him when he turned 18 he could have as many tats as he wanted.  He’s 32 and doesn’t have any tattoos (though he did get his ears pierced :-)!  His priorities shifted as an adult and he didn’t think about tattoos anymore.  I have nothing against those things.  I didn’t feel that a black male teen in Chicago had a reason to have tattoos, pagers, and cell phones in the early 90s.  And, I was right.

Is it possible that “just” opens the door to something “more”?  Is it just a scratch that’ll heal, or one that will fester and require antibiotics?  Is it just a scratch in the paint that’ll buff out, or is it one that will cost five hundred dollars to remove?  Yes, I’m an “over thinker”.  I’m the person who studies heavy traffic ½ mile down the road to determine my next lane change or whether or not I should exit.  What seems “innocent” to some can actually be of potential harm to others.

I didn’t raise a girl but I’m 100% sure if I did she wouldn’t possess that particular shirt.  There are so many ways to raise a girl and teach her to love her body and to empower her sexuality.  At 14, this is not the way to encourage it because let’s face it, it invites the wrong kind of attention. In her mind she’s expressing liberation and freedom (I guess). But that is not what a pedophile will see when they see a child walking down the street wearing that shirt.  Grown women are being followed, harassed, and attacked for deflecting unwanted attention.  It’s not just a shirt–it’s a slippery slope.

So as far as “just” goes, there are reasonable ones and questionable ones.  I feel that Willow’s nipple shirt falls into the latter.  Just… In retrospect, maybe I should’ve tried just one line of coke to find out why everyone else was so fascinated. Just one.

I’m “just” saying, this is just my opinion…

POEM: Battle Road

Battle Road

Remember many years ago when you were just a young boy

And your only concern was candy, games, and toys?

You did not have a single care in this world,

For at your mother’s breast you were cared for and nurtured.

But as you became older and grew into your teens,

You began to realize that life was not all that it seemed.

As you careened your way into manhood, your path was not quite paved,

You lived by your own terms and there were prices that you paid.

It was then that you began to see the outcome of your heavy loads,

Childhood was suddenly gone, and you found yourself on the Battle Road.

It is a road on which all boys must travel as a young man,

With time on your side and your future in your hands.

It is where you take your hard knocks and learn the value of your life,

To your credit you endured all the pitfalls and stayed in the fight.

Perseverance, love and faith are the marks of the manhood code,

For without them you would not have survived on the Battle Road.

Now older and wiser you have paid your dues,

And you can now live your life as you so choose.

Because your trials did not kill you… they only made you stronger,

There is an awareness of your existence you did not have when you were younger.

You have reached a milestone that continues to pave your way,

Your feet have become steadier… you no longer bend and sway.

Your convictions are more steadfast, your integrity more secured,

Life now tells the story of all the personal wars you have endured.

So cross over into this milestone with triumph and expectancy,

For within you are the visions that will soon become your legacy.

And be proud that you crossed over it… you will now reap the mother lode,

Because only a man can say that he overcame the Battle Road.

 

 

 

 

©July 2005 Kim Woods
All rights preserved

Not Popular, But Sincere…

Silenced

I believe that there exists a misguided assumption that I think myself to be without struggle or blemish.  That can’t be further from the truth. My life is a painting of heartache, physical and emotional pain/abuse, financial struggle, and much MUCH more.  My past is a labyrinth of bad choices, wrong turns, half-truths, and regrets.  It is also filled with beating impossible odds, last minute triumphs, learning of self, loving of self, and speaking truth. I’ve learned from all of it and I’m still learning.  This is why I do what I do…

We each have a calling on our lives to do something meaning, fulfilling, and spectacular.  We achieve this in a variety of ways: giving service- volunteering time, money, resources, writing, speaking, arts, etc.  Some of these avenues require personal transparency and some do not.  I chose the route of transparency because this is the uncomfortable path that I feel can help someone.

It’s important to understand that I don’t write for the understanding of ‘scholars’, politicians, or other types of pundits.  I write for people who are searching for answers or who are searching for people who can somehow relate to their situation.  I write for people who don’t have time, patience, or even the ability to sift through extravagant prose to find understanding of a simple concept.  That is not assuming that anyone is ‘ignorant’.  There are many levels of education and understanding- that is a fact.  What I simply mean is that “less is more” for the particular impact I seek to make at this moment in time.

Amazingly, we have so much technology available to us that we are forgetting how to think in a most basic way.  Just go out for a drive and witness how much worse drivers are now than just 10 years ago. Cell phones and computers think for us, process requests quickly, and require nothing more than for us to tap a few keys.  We’re chained to technology and so are our children.  There’s a huge disconnect. There needs to be a return to the basics of thinking coherently.   Our children are dying, being neglected or otherwise abused and so much of it is avoidable.  Those are the conversations we really should be having. We have to figure out how to bring the “village” back to our neighborhoods.

My voice is not going to always be popular but it will be sincere.  My words are not going to be judgmental but they won’t always be “politically correct” either.  How can anyone grow when they have to measure what they say for fear of offending?  Our lives have impact on others and if we can just understand that, then maybe, just maybe we can somehow enjoy a better existence in this world. Maybe we can learn to respect and help one another.  I can choose to stay silent, pretend that life is great, and puppies are cute. Or, I can be courageous and press forward and hope that someone even braver than I will share these nuggets with whomever they know it will help.   If that means it helps or impacts one person, then that is a good day.  If you feel that what is shared on my blog or The Bolder Sister will help someone, please share.  If you would like offer sincere feedback or suggestions for content or topics, by all means please send an email to krr.2000@yahoo.com.

I Said “YES”

A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps. Proverbs 16:9

photo (2)robert frost photo I remember when I use to say “NO” to just about everything that stretched me well beyond my comfort zone.

“No” to leading a presentation. “No” to making that sales pitch. “No” to sharing my ideas in meetings. “No” to networking and meeting up for lunch to discuss opportunities and possible book deals. Those “NO’s” cost me, big time. They affected my walking, living, breathing and existing in my purpose.

Of course if I had many of those things to do over again, I would definitely jump at the chance; but I can’t go back and turn those specific “no’s” into “yes”. I can, however, start saying “YES” more often, right now.

Ever since I began facing my fear and doubt head on, my life has changed for the better. I am no longer afraid to take risks and do the things that use to scare the hell out of…

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