TUESDAY TAKEOVER: Grace to Listen and Understand

It’s no secret we are currently in the midst of social and societal unrest. These days, Love thy neighbor seems to fall on empty ears, or worse — fully heard, but then met with the leveraging of conditional statements and accusatory excuses to exempt oneself from obeying the Golden Rule. In other words, it’s like MadLibs for hate speech out there and I, for one, am not enjoying all of the fill-in-the-blank descriptors lighting up my social feeds lately. A couple examples of said HateLibs:

  • If you are of [insert: “____” skin color -or- “____” descent], then you are automatically a [insert: ignorant slur].
  • If you [circle one: support / don’t support] my views on [insert: specific social movement -or- religion -or- political issue -or- pizza toppings], then you are a [insert: noun with derogatory descriptor].

Just to be clear, we all know that the best way to enjoy a Hawaiian Pizza (ham & pineapple topping) is to throw it in the trash, right? If not, then we clearly cannot be friends. [J/K… mostly.] Okay, but seriously — is it all just a fiery game of semantics, or have we actually started to buy into / live out the results of these trending HateLibs? Oh, how I wish all of this was just a temporary and curable adverse effect of Maskne-induced narcissistic mood swings! But deep down, I know that isn’t the case. These are matters of the heart, and our hearts, my friend, are all very, very ill. Even with the best of intentions, we can sometimes do more harm than help, which is why I have decidedly been slow to speak as tensions have intensified in recent months, specifically race-related tensions.

While I could spout off a myriad of myopic little factoids resembling a “Reasons I’m not Racist” checklist, I’d be running the risk of you completely missing out on the point of this post. For reference, this one is not about me or race relations through my eyes or my voice. In fact, I fear that my voice on the topic has more potential to come across as either bandwagonist, ignorant, hypocritical, self-righteous, or worse: self-serving. Because the truth is, the only shoes I’ve ever walked a mile in are my own. How could I possibly see the world through the eyes of my friends with darker complexions than mine, much less advise the interwebs on how to do better?

So, I sought out one beautiful voice in particular to share her unique perspective as a Black woman, daughter, wife, mother and friend. Her name is Jasmine, and she is a precious gem I met at Florida State University during our days in Apparel Design classes before making the switch to FSU’s Fashion Merchandising Program. Her lightheartedness and positive spirit have always known no end and she is the kind of momma I hope to be one day. Additionally, her sense of humor is always on-point, her personal style is fire, not to mention that her heart for Jesus and the way she loves her family and friends are further proof that complexions of all shades are meant to be complementary, not contrasting.

Jasmine made my heart leap when she agreed to be today’s “guest blogger” for my VERY FIRST official Tuesday Takeover! I couldn’t be more honored to share with you her honesty, eloquence, wit and wisdom. Jasmine — thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing with us the impactful words that God has placed upon your heart.

Written by Jasmine:

Katy gave me this beautiful opportunity over a month ago… A MONTH AGO! She was so heartfelt and genuine when she asked and I was immediately overwhelmed with emotion, at the thought that she wanted me to use her blog (her forum and heart song) to speak my truth. With everything going on I was sure I would have something written up in “no time”.

I was confident that I had enough “context” — being a black woman, married to a white man, raising 3 biracial children in the south, to write about racism and the current civil unrest. I was absolutely sure that I was going to be able to write down 33 years of life lessons and experiences and tell “the people” what I felt “they” needed to hear. The next week rolled around, and then another and then another and embarrassingly another. Guys I went completely radio silent. In fact I just stopped responding. I know, I know, complete #jerk move… I know. Katy was patient, kind and understanding. Not one time did she shame me for taking what I considered so long, in fact she sent the sweetest notes of encouragement along the way.

Definitely not a #jerk move, Jasmine!! In all fairness — you all should know that as it would turn out, I too became a bit backlogged over the last several weeks since Jasmine first sent me her draft — so we both had some delays! Only God knew when the time would be right. 🙂

-Katy

What I didn’t realize at the time was how much I needed to write this blog. I was convinced this was an opportunity for me to share with everyone my pain, my frustrations and my dulled senses to racism. That this would be an opportunity to make “you guys get it”. I was convinced this was going to be MY moment to tell YOU something. But isn’t God so amazing? Isn’t he just the most wonderful craftsman? What I saw as lost hope and confusion, God used Katy, and this offering of her blog, as an ultimate blessing.

Y’all this year has been traumatizing! I’ve never been so heartbroken over the state of our nation. I’ve never questioned my identity and purpose more than I have in the past few months. I’ve been angry… infuriated. I’ve seen the ugliest sides of people I considered friends and have had to confront new racisms within my own loved ones. Aunts, uncles, cousins that celebrated marriages and births and milestones with me, were now sharing and spewing the most hateful rhetoric about people who looked like me, looked like my marriage and looked like my children. Guys I found myself obsessive about Social Media. I was waking up reaching for my cell phone. I wouldn’t go to bed without making sure I politely responded to every nasty comment I could find with a fact based and articulate “mic drop”. I was depressed and anxiety ridden. I was crying at night every night inconsolably, though my sweet husband tried… oh he tried.

Racism isn’t just black and white (pun totally intended). Biases aren’t always blatant, stereotypes are real and white privilege doesn’t negate how hard you may have worked to achieve your success. I like to think that I’m open minded and try my hardest to educate my mind and my soul. I’d be lying if I said that we didn’t have a problem in this country. I personally believe that you can’t advocate for all lives mattering without fully acknowledging the disproportionate emphasis on the black experience in America. As I mentioned previously I am a black millennial mother of 3, working a full time job in corporate America, married to a white male in a city name after a confederate general in a suburban community literally named Plantation. I mean….yikes…right? I believe in the right to protest, I believe in voting, I believe in advocating for the unheard, I believe in having integrity, I believe in basic unalienable rights for ALL, I believe in humanity and I believe in Jesus Christ. And if there is one thing that I know, it’s that my God is a way maker.

In my “quiet time” of re-centering and refocusing this past month, I have been amazed that each time I’ve felt hopeless, I’ve also become hopeful. That each time I feel exhausted by the world I’m invigorated to make it better. I could talk you all day about systematic racism, African American incarceration, mismanagement of healthcare for African American women and the data surrounding their unnecessarily high mortality rate during childbirth. I could argue facts and statistics about single parent households and voter suppression. I could tell you name after name of a black person (or black child) killed at the hands of authorities. I could sit you at my dinner table when I have to explain to my children that someone may treat them badly solely because they don’t like how they look or solely because they don’t like how their “mommy” looks. I could tell you all the times in my life I’ve been told I talk like a valley girl or been told I’m articulate or don’t “sound black”. I could tell you about the times I’ve heard “for a black girl” follow compliments I’ve received.

I’ve actually lost count of all the times I’ve been the only person of color in a room, at a party, at Mother’s Day luncheon at a church! But in writing this I realized that I’ve been called to be an ambassador and advocate through a lens of grace. For every time I want to retaliate I’ve learned it’s an opportunity to listen. For every time I’m met with an argument it’s an opportunity to try and understand. Understanding and listening doesn’t yield submission or defeat. It doesn’t deem your thoughts or beliefs irrelevant.

Listening and understanding opens doors. It opens respectful communication. It ushers in love and appreciation. It welcomes growth and change. Listening fosters agape love. Regardless of your political views, religious background or color of your skin every single person on this earth is capable of love. What the world needs now, is love sweet love. It’s the only thing that there is just too little of. As my praise playlist stays on repeat I’m soothed by the words of a current fave … “You are… Way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper, Light in the darkness, My God, that is who You are.”

Thank you for blessing me with your time and attention. Thank you for reading my words and letting me share my heart. Be blessed and be challenged to listen and try and understand someone who is different than you!

With love and the fullest heart,

Jasmine

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2 Comments

  1. September 30, 2020 / 5:36 pm

    What a beautiful post! I think what resonated with me is the idea that we can all use that moment to listen to another point of view- even if/when we deeply disagree. I truly believe that if we love God, and love people well, then we are going to figure out these deep tensions in our country! Thank you for sharing your point of view Jasmine!

    • Jasmine
      October 2, 2020 / 10:11 pm

      Gentry! Thank you so much for reading my heart. Unfortunately many people seem to be clinging to divisive things and we’re losing sight of our initial call to all to action from God which is to love our neighbors and strive to be more and more like Christ. The God I know is a God of love, peace and restoration! Amen Lady! ❤️

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