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Posts Tagged ‘racism’

tulips frozen and bent in snow

I grew up in the northeast, where life is lived in four seasons.

There’s summer, when it is hot and humid, sunny, and bright, equally tiring and energizing. There’s fall, with crisp air, apple picking, and landscapes adorned by trees of both evergreen and ever changing colors of leaves. There’s winter, when the joys of newly fallen fresh snow, can too quickly evolve into an unsettling long season of grey, when the ground and sky and time seem to lose their distinction. Then one day a red robin appears, soon joined by its friend, a blue jay, and spring emerges with flowers that bloom, and the season of sun and gentle breezes replaces the cold and the drear. Ah.

Life. Love.

But sometimes it snows in April. 

The sight of a flower stooped over, frozen, bent, and crushed by the weight of ice and snow, breaks us from the inside.


Time is supposed to move forward, but here we are, again.

We held out hope for so long during a long winter, then just as quickly as the birth of spring was actualized, or so we thought, our hearts were broken as hope unborn had died.

Prince, Uncle Rogers Nelson, The Artist, gave us words and a symphony of rhythm and sounds that helped us to name and excavate feelings we had but didn’t always know how to define or to tap. 

Prince created space for us to experience our full selves.

When he died we were left to process our grief, seemingly alone, and so we turned to Prince’s catalog. In our shock and grief at the unexpected snowfall, we lied on couches, with eyes closed, listening. Just listening. We thought we were numb. Instead, we found ourselves feeling. Then like the trees, and the flowers, we began to grow towards each other. We lit candles. We sang. We swayed. We danced. We clapped. We stared. We cried. We gathered. We met ourselves.

As I pen these words it is 2021, and it indeed snowed in April after a long, extended winter, from a spring a year ago that never fully appeared.

Every day has been Groundhog Day.  We wonder if we can handle one more day. We wonder is there a point in hope that spring will come?

The thing about Prince’s poetry is that it doesn’t rush us through our moments. It has us sit with  and steep in this moment, without worrying about what comes next.

“Sometimes it snows in April

Sometimes I feel so bad…

Sometimes I wish”

Sometimes there are days like today when I wish.

Sometimes I wish.

Sometimes I…

Wish.

Some.

Time.

And for today, I’m going to sit with that.

Sometimes it snows in April Simone Monique Barnes

Reflecting of the lessons Prince gave us, to be in the moment, and to experience our full selves.

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I am slowly beginning to wean myself off of social media in the mornings. It used to be fun. One could start the day with a dose of information, cuteness and joy.

Instead I now open Facebook and take a deep breath in wonder, “What mean and cruel thing has happened in the world today?” I am relieved when my senses are assaulted with birds dancing to music, children covered in peanut butter, and grandpas amusingly dancing to the music of their grandchildren’s generation.

Today was not one of those days.

A teenage boy made a clock at home and brought it to school. He ended his day in a juvenile detention center because teenage boys of Muslim Sudanese descent living in America should know better.

I find myself thinking what I would have instinctively said to that young man were he my son, nephew, cousin, mentee, or friend, “You cannot make something electronic like this at home and then bring it to school; they’ll think you’re a terrorist.” And instantly I am heartbroken with myself, because even that protective thought is cruel and unfair.

Despite the world around them, in reality what I would say (and what I am saying today) to youth is “No one has the right to limit your potential.”

I am sad. Very sad. Because for so many kids this is their reality, the scars that shape their adolescence and adulthood.

This is the world I live in.

But I haven’t lost all hope.

The candles of creativity and innovation are lit by the flames of curiosity and wonder. What the world needs today is more light. My educator heart breaks for all of the lights we extinguished today.

All is not lost. I am reminded that for every person who blows out a candle, there are several others ready to relight its flame.

I remember that I am a member of a Christian church in Texas that hosts an iftar dinner each year during Ramadan to share a meal and conversation with Muslim members of our community.

And then I read the Comments section of the Dallas Morning News’ story on Ahmed prepared to wince, but instead am surprised at the high volume of commentary in support of this child and others.

And then the #IStandWithAhmed hashtag is born, breathing new air into my life. The world isn’t completely insane.

He’s vowed never to take an invention to school again.”

But, still, there is a child, a child, who now has the memory of what it feels like to be handcuffed and fingerprinted by police. A child whose name will forever be connected to the words arrest, bomb and terrorist whenever his name is googled. And there are children and families who right now are telling themselves, be careful, be safe, it’s too risky, don’t do it.

Youth is supposed to be filled with sparks of wonder, imagination and curiosity.

I refuse to let social media bring me all the way down today. So I’m adding more oxygen to my fire by listening to dose of my freedom song playlist, so that I can be ready to relight those candles whose flames have been temporarily extinguished. I need the reminder that

  • Oh Freedom
  • Freedom is Coming [Oh Yes I Know]
  • Freedom is Coming Tomorrow
  • A Change Gone Come
  • Someday We’ll All Be Free

For those of us and those of you who felt lights dimmed a little today, in the words of the late Donny Hathaway,

Never mind your fears
Brighter days will soon be here
Take it from me, someday we’ll all be free…

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Cultural Appropriation Photo Scavenger Hunt

The Kahnawa:ke Youth Forum is hosting a scavenger hunt.

Although I can’t officially participate in the actual scavenger hunt contest, I do see a pinterest board in my future…

#KYFdecolonize

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