Guest Post | “Fight for Social Justice” with Tiff & Lu

Today we continue our Monday series of perspectives on #BlackLivesMatter, racism, police violence, and living Black in the United States. For today’s post my niece Tiff and her daughter Lu share a photograph which speaks to their passion for social justice.

Tiff is an activist, and she is teaching her daughter to stand up for herself and for others. Lu was only a few months old when she participated in her first protest–against migrant children being separated from their parents and placed in “cages.”

Here, Tiff and Lu participate in a recent #BlackLivesMatter protest. Tiff is always on point with her signage, but Lu’s position on the issue of race and social justice is so profound that we have little choice but to lean in and listen.

Let’s get this right before Lu grows up. We don’t want her to [still] be fighting racial injustice at the ages of 18, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 75.

Voting: Your Right and Responsibility

Protest Art on display at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Since we are heading to the polls in a couple of days, I decided to share a two-minute video reminding Americans why we must vote. In the video, my 83-year-old relative recounts her experience with attempted voter suppression and finally casting her first vote for U.S. President.

I’ve heard far too many “reasons” people don’t vote or didn’t vote in this or that election. As Cousin Marie declares, “your vote is where your rights are.” A decision not to vote may eventually lead to revocation of certain rights.

Despite the struggle between Democrats and Republicans that is constantly thrown in our faces, your vote should not be about party affiliation or who makes the most noise. Make an effort to ignore what one candidate or political party says about the other. Avoid the all-day news commentary. Steer clear of social media. Make time to research each candidate for yourself. Take notes. Make lists. Think about what you want for our country, and vote for the individuals whose actual values most align with your own principles–hopefully, principles rooted in love for humanity. Pay attention to what they do, not just what they say.

In short, as my friend Uzoma O. posted as his Facebook status recently:

Stop being Democratic or Republican. Be honest. Have morals. Show empathy. Value integrity. Be a good human.

If it all still sounds like noise to you, vote anyway.

I’ll spare you the lecture on how many people fought and died for our right to vote.  I realize our right to vote includes our right not to vote, but I hope you choose the former. Why? Because beyond being a right, voting is also a civic and sacred responsibility.

In his sermon this weekend, my pastor reminded the congregation that in voting we comply with two of the directives of Micah 6:8–to act justly and love mercy. In voting, we raise our voices, protest, and do our part to right societal wrongs. We stand up for social justice and we work to make compassion and kindness part of our personal and national character.

There’s too much at stake this election season. Your vote–your voice–is far more powerful than silence. Nothing is gained through inaction.

Lighthouses!

My friend Kem recently returned from a family vacation to Martha’s Vineyard.  Do you know what I found in the mail today?  That’s right! A postcard she sent days before her return.

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Cape Poge Lighthouse. Photo by Paul Rezendes

Cape Poge Lighthouse is located on Northeast tip of Chappaquiddick Island.

Kem wrote that she always thinks of me when she visits a new place (how sweet!) and that my camera would be quite happy with the beauty of Martha’s Vineyard (I agree!).  The lighthouses were her favorite sites while there.  She talked about her trip and included pics of some of the lighthouses in a recent blog post.

I love lighthouses too, not only because they are beautiful structures but because of their interesting histories.  The Cape Poge Lighthouse postcard prompted me to take another look at the other lighthouse postcards I’ve received over the last several years.

Take a look:

Map of the Lighthouses of Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Until the Cape Cod Canal opened in 1914, every vessel sailing between Boston and points south had to weather the dangers of Cape Cod’s dreaded sand bars that thrust out into the Atlantic Ocean. In 1797, the U.S. government constructed the first lighthouse on Cape Cod. These lonely sentinels have since provided guidance to mariners.

Click the link for more information on the Cape Cod Lighthouses.

Scituate Light (Cedar Point), Massachusetts

Scituate Lighthouse–a historic lighthouse of the War of 1812. This lighthouse is located at the entrance to the harbor and offers a beautiful view of the coast and the harbor.

The Cape May Lighthouse, New Jersey

Situated on the southern tip of Cape May Peninsula where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, Cape May is recognized by the United States government as the country’s oldest seaside resort.  The Cape May Lighthouse, built in 1859, is operated by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The St. Simons Lighthouse, St. Simons, Georgia

The St. Simons Lighthouse was built by James Gould in 1810. It was destroyed during the Civil War and rebuilt in 1872.

Great Lakes Lighthouses

Left to Right–

Great Lakes Lighthouses

Although the two “Great Lakes Lighthouses” postcards seem to feature the same houses, there is an additional house in the postcard above–Seul Choix Lighthouse, Lake Michigan (middle white lighthouse).

I received the postcards in swaps from 2010-2016.  However, the final postcard in my very small collection of lighthouses is a “souvenir” I picked up in San Francisco after a visit to Alcatraz Island.

Alcatraz Island Lighthouse

The Alcatraz Island Lighthouse was the first one built on the U.S. West Coast, located in California’s San Francisco Bay. It is located at the southern end of the island near the entrance to the prison.

I enjoyed revisiting the lighthouses and reviewing the many other (unrelated) interesting postcards I ran across.  I encountered many that deserve blog posts, so look for some “flashback” postcard posts in the near future.

I think I just added a visit to all the U.S. lighthouses to my travel bucket list.  Maybe, I’ll get started this summer!

Have you visited any lighthouses lately?

Thanks for thinking of me, Kemi, and for prompting the visit down postcard lane.

Microblog Mondays: “I Will No Longer Hide in the Shadows”

Need Meets Love and Compassion

“I Will Be The Place Where Need Is Met with Love and Compassion”

If Trump does no other good, we must acknowledge that the reality of his presidency has awakened a slumbering nation.  Many finally realize that we can no longer resist in silence and leave the fate of our nation in the hands of elected officials, many of whom for too long have served their own political interests and agendas and have paid attention to their constituents only when it was time to collect votes.

"I Speak for the Trees Too."

“I Speak for the Trees Too.”

I am particularly proud of the way one of my nieces, Tiffany, has “awakened” and is [re]claiming her voice. She has been wearing out her boots marching and standing up for human rights and against oppression since the day Trump took office.  On that “fateful” day, she responded to her peers who claimed to be taking a social media hiatus to avoid the political talk and conversations.  In a post that I’m sure set their teeth on edge she called them out of their stupor and demanded that they finally see her and her struggle as a Black woman.

I’m glad that many of you can take a social media hiatus, avoid Facebook for the day and disengage from political conversations. I’m glad that you can “take a break” from all of the hate and negativity that you feel you are seeing. I don’t have that luxury.

I cannot take off my skin.
I cannot un-know what it feels like to have white men tell me that they’ve “never had a black girl suck their d*** before.”
I cannot go back and ask all the things I wanted to know in science classes dominated by men who made me feel inferior, insignificant and ignored.
I cannot forget the fear of being followed and harassed for miles on the highway and being spoken to in demeaning ways by men in grocery stores who thought that they had every right to behave that way.

I will march and I will raise my voice. I will face fear and the pain of the things that have shaped my heart and kept me silent and left me afraid. I will not ignore and turn my back to hate. I will look hate directly in the eye and say, “no more.”

Brokenness mends best out in the daylight, and I will no longer hide in the shadows.

Tiffany marched again this weekend, this time in the 11th Annual Moral March in Raleigh, North Carolina, coordinated by the NC NAACP.   “Big” sister Erin–one year older–who is also socially conscious, marched with her. They were interviewed by WRAL News.

With Erin at the Moral March in Raleigh, North Carolina--being interviewed by WRAL

With Erin at the Moral March in Raleigh, North Carolina–being interviewed by WRAL

Tiffany is about more than the march. She realizes real change takes more than getting her boots dirty.  While there are things happening in the political arena that we can’t ignore, there are crises in people’s personal lives that need immediate attention, so she’s doing what she can to make life better for others.  This year she’s participating in the Make-a-Wish Trailblaze Challenge to “raise funds and grant wishes for children with life threatening medical conditions.”  It is her goal to “enrich their lives with hope, strength, and joy.”

Travel and Protest: In the airport standing up for immigrants and against the travel ban

Travel and Protest: In the airport standing up for immigrants and against the travel ban.

Thank you for coming out of the shadows, Tiffany.  The world needs you!

March on…

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Wisdom from My Dad: If He Fails, We All Fail

I had no intention of watching the inauguration of the 45th president of the U.S.A. or any of the inaugural festivities. In fact, if I could hide from media coverage of the presidency for the next four years, I would.  The grace, dignity, intellect, and character of President Barack Obama makes the Trump we’ve seen thus far a hard, hard pill to swallow, but my dad checked my attitude with the advice he posted on Facebook this morning:

Well folks, today is the day. “Out with the old, in with the new.” I hear that some are asking us to not watch the inauguration.  I disagree.  My dislike of Trump is not so much his politics but his character. If you believe MLK’s words, don’t judge a person by the color of their skin, but by their character.  Trump doesn’t meet the standard of what I consider a person with good morals.  No matter. He is in.  My job is to watch how he acts as POTUS. We must not be foolish and hope he fails.  If he fails, we all fail.

If he fails, we all fail.

Regardless of our political leanings, it’s our job to “stay woke,” as my 70+ year old colleague in academia expresses, and see to it that Trump and his administration work on behalf of the citizens of the United States and, where necessary, of the world–especially those who are disenfranchised and suffering under the weight of systemic oppression.  We must march on and continue the fight in every reasonable way possible.  (Because) No matter who is president, “the struggle is [all too] real” for too many of us and we have a long, long way to go.